Organizational Rankings: #1

And we reach the end – the healthiest organization in baseball.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays
#19: San Francisco Giants
#18: Minnesota Twins
#17: Chicago White Sox
#16: Baltimore Orioles
#15: Seattle Mariners
#14: Philadelphia Phillies
#13: Los Angeles Dodgers
#12: Texas Rangers
#11: Oakland Athletics
#10: Los Angeles Angels
#9: Arizona Diamondbacks
#8: Atlanta Braves
#7: Chicago Cubs
#6: Milwaukee Brewers
#5: New York Mets
#4: Cleveland Indians
#3: New York Yankees
#2: Tampa Bay Rays

#1: Boston Red Sox

Ownership: A

There are lots of not-so-flattering stories about John Henry and Larry Lucchino that make the rounds, and given Henry’s involvement in the shady three way sale of the Red Sox/Marlins/Expos and Lucchino’s issues with Theo Epstein, they’re pretty easy to believe. However, those stories don’t undo the fact that Henry’s ownership group has breathed life into the Red Sox franchise – upgrading Fenway Park, adding new revenue streams, and investing in the team in ways that simply weren’t happening before. They flex their significant financial power every winter, and have leveraged the Red Sox brand to give them non-monetary advantages as well. They want to win, they back it up with significant capital, and they’ve built the Red Sox into a team that can sustain high level payrolls and make a profit.

Front Office: A

Theo Epstein gets a lot of credit for building the Red Sox roster, and he should, but more than that, he should get credit for building a front office that brings many different voices together. It’s far from a one man show in Boston. Allard Baird and Bill James, Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington, Tom Tippett and Craig Shipley – lots of voices with different ideas, all working for the same goal. The Red Sox aren’t just an organization of stat-nerds pushing their Ivy League degrees on people – they look for every advantage they can find, and will go to anywhere from Japan to the Independent Leagues to find talent. Having a significant amount of money certainly helps, but the Red Sox spend it well, and the results are a franchise that is run as well as any in baseball.

Major League Talent: A

The offense is going to be one of the best in the league. The starting rotation is strong and deep. The bullpen is even stronger and deeper. There are question marks about the roster, but they aren’t the kinds of fatal flaws that will sink a team. There’s depth behind the question marks, and so much excess pitching that swinging a deal to patch a hole won’t be particularly hard. The core of the team isn’t exactly young, but they don’t have any onerous contracts on the books that will keep them from reloading in future off-seasons, and the ’09 roster is certainly good enough to win right now.

Minor League Talent: B+

The system has more quantity than high level quality, with Lars Anderson as the elite prospect and then a bunch of good but not great prospects after him. Michael Bowden, Daniel Bard, and Josh Reddick are talented players but not likely to become stars. Junichi Tazawa opened some eyes in spring training, but questions about his role linger. Ryan Westmoreland, Michael Almanzar, Casey Kelly, Nick Hagadone and Ryan Kalish provide some long term hope. The farm system is good but not great, but when this is the weak spot of your organization, you’re doing a lot right.

Overall: A

Well capitalized owner who wants to win and invests in the product? Check
A cohesive front office that combines scouting and statistical analysis? Check.
A major league team that can win immediately and has pieces to build around? Check.
A minor league farm system that will replenish the major league roster? Check.

The Red Sox are the cream of the crop in baseball right now. There’s a reason players are taking discounts to sign with them, that they aren’t experiencing a brain drain in their front office, and that they win a lot of baseball games. They’ve built a baseball juggernaut, and it’s going to take some pretty large mistakes to bring down the Evil Empiore 2.0. Get used to the Red Sox winning, because it’s going to be a frequent theme going forward.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


49 Responses to “Organizational Rankings: #1”

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  1. YC says:

    We’re #1! ? Chants of a Red Sox Fan

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  2. Jim says:

    We’re # 1!

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  3. ThundaPC says:

    I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again. I don’t like the Red Sox but I respect the hell out of them.

    The Red Sox organization is like a swiss army-knife. They can sign big time free agents, make quality trades, find undervalued pieces, build through the farm system, maintain a winning team…..and really, what can’t they do? Any positive thing other organizations can do these guys are probably doing it too. Incredible.

    And since we’re at the end of this long, adventurous feature I would like to say thanks to Dave for taking the time to put in what has to be a massive amount of work to put together this ranking. It’s a same the comment sections didn’t turn out as well as people hoped but this has been an excellent way to pass the time in what has become the longest Spring Training period in MLB history.

    9 More days.

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  4. Blackadder says:

    I really can’t see how anyone could disagree with this ranking. The Red Sox are just exceptionally strong in every dimension, as Dave argues.

    What really strikes me is just how much better the top three organizations are than everyone else.

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    • Ted says:

      Well I don’t know about the Rays, and the Red Sox and Yankees are on the top of the list in large part because of there massive payrolls.

      However the Red Sox are also extremely well run and that is a great combination.

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  5. YC says:

    The fact that the Boston Red Sox is such a great organization is one of the reasons that I am not shy to say that I am a Red Sox fan, even though I live in Los Angeles. The Red Sox organization is like a bright, glowing star that has no sign of dimming, but waiting to get brighter.

    Dave, I thank you again for the incredible piece that you have written for us in the last 3 weeks. Both the quantity and the quality of the work that you have done for us has been top notch. Reading your rankings made me think once again about the elements of being a successful baseball franchise. Plus, you made working on my job a bit more enjoyable, and I am grateful for that.

    Thank you, Dave Cameron.

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  6. Walter Jones says:

    I love that considering the amount of quality players the Sox picked up even in the past few months, the only guy in the “Related Batters” box in Craig Shipley.

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  7. Jerry says:

    Yeah, they’re not my team, but they are a damn good team and I respect that. Even if their bandwagoners get annoying.

    This has been a great series – I’m kind of disappointed it’s over. But only for another 9 days or so. :)

    Thanks so much for the work, Dave!

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  8. Ryan B says:

    Great insights and overall a quality series. I hope this is continued in the future to see how teams improve or otherwise from year to year given the categories.

    Dave: In the list of rankings, Tampa Bay and New York are both listed as #3.

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  9. SamW says:

    A great series–thank you! It has been my introduction to FanGraphs and I’m looking forward to seeing this done again in the coming years. I’m sure I’m not the only one who sees tons possibility for extending this analysis–certainly I’d like to see further elaboration on the components of each of the four categories, more detail would be real interesting too. Not that all that’s a criticism–I just think you hit on a great question and a fascinating way of looking at ballclubs’ success over time, and it could generate lots of discussion and research. Anyway, thanks for this!

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  10. Alex says:

    I agree that the Red Sox deserve to be number one and I agree with the grades for the first three categories, but I think that the Red Sox’s farm system is a little bit overhyped and I think that B+ is a rather aggressive rating considering that a team like the Indians which is quite deep and strong in their farm system only received a B+ as well.

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  11. mattymatty says:

    Thanks for all your hard work, Dave. I hope it was at least half as much fun to write as it was to read.

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  12. Sammy says:

    Just like to chime in my thanks for this series. You know how much the USSMers/LLers appreciate your work, and I’m glad you’re starting to get some well-deserved national exposure, here and in the WSJ.

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  13. Bill says:

    How can all A’s and a B+ average out to an A !?!? Your a IDIOT. I’m kidding, this was a great series of posts. It was a pleasure to read. It serves as an excellent season preview. I don’t agree with all the rankings, but it’s hard to criticize the top three. As an O’s fan, this is a somewhat upsetting dose of reality, but at the same time, I realize that two years ago, using the criteria on this list, Baltimore would have been challenging Washington and that college team that’s ranked above them for 30th. So, I can’t be too upset. As a baseball fan, I’m happy that pretty much every team in the top twenty is moving towards the Boston/Tampa method of building a ballclub. I think the game in general will be better than it has ever been.

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  14. Sammy says:

    Just out of curiosity, I was wondering if you’d be willing to share any earlier drafts you had of these rankings. I think seeing where and how dramatically some teams moved around before the final version would be far more enlightening than answering the calls to be more “transparent” about your criteria.

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  15. Pat says:

    It should be pointed out that the farm system probably would’ve been rated A-, A just two years ago, and the Sox have done an incredible job integrating prospects to the major league level. Buchholz is no longer prospect status, but he is certainly a David Price level type of pitcher.

    Pedroia (enough said).

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    • YC says:

      This is a really good point. Just in 2008, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie all extinguished their rookie status, and all four of them were among the prime prospects in the Red Sox system. To graduate that many upper tier prospects and still manage a B+ for the Minor League System is impressive.

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    • Jon says:

      Buchholz is not even close to Price. Bucholz is on the same level as someone like Phil Hughes, which is very good but not on Prices level.

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      • Nateg26 says:

        Jon, to say that Buchholz is no where near price is silly. While Clay struggled with his first chance around last season, his sample size coming into the majors was bigger than Price’s and more effective. In 22 innings in ’07 Buchholz threw 22 innings and had a K/BB of 3.97 and a 2.97 FIP that included a no hitter. Here’s Prices line over about 14 innings his K/BB was 2.57 with a 3.42 FIP. Sure he pitched insanely well in the playoffs, but that was a total of 5 innings and out of the bullpen. Buchholz has looked fantastic all spring and there’s no indications against him pitching more like 2007 than 2008. Don’t ask me how you can possible say that’s the same level of Phil Hughs, especially with nothing but a very subjective opinion to back it.

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      • alskor says:

        I agree with Nate. One was the top pitching prospect in baseball in 08 and the other was the top pitching prospect in baseball in 07.

        So, for what youre saying to be true, if David Price throws up a rookie season with 76 IP of 4.82 FIP then his stock would go right in the s*****. This is only true on the internet, not in MLB. Rookie debuts don’t mean all that much.

        They both have Ace upside. Price has a better fastball, but Buchholz has better secondary stuff, and outside of those 76 IP – better command.

        I dont think anyone in their right mind is arguing Buchholz OVER Price right now. 100% of people would take Price… BUT, to say “Buchholz is not even close to Price” is pretty silly.

        Also, Hughes is not on the same level. His stuff hasnt been elite like it used to be for almost two years now. The results dont concern me – but the scouting reports do. Even when he was struggling last year Buchholz’s stuff looked great and he was racking up K’s. He had a mechanical flaw in his delivery that has since been corrected. He lost some confidence because of this and scuffled a bit but his components were still pretty damn good.

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      • Collin says:

        I’d say that Hughes is on the same level as Buchholz. He’s been set back by injuries but he’s still very talented. I’d rate Price a little higher because he still has a pretty ridiculous ceiling and wouldn’t be surprised to see him coming out of the gates like Joba.

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      • mark says:

        I’m flabbergasted at Nate’s reply and that someone actually agreed. He throws out the “sample size” card and then cites 17 innings, and then rolls his eyes at small sample size? What kind of LSD are you on, champ?

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      • Nateg26 says:

        To be honest Mark, I’m pretty surprised at your response. I prefaced the statement by saying that their statistics were similar breaking in against major league hitters. You’re right, that Judging w/ such a small sample size is not very reliable, but the fact is that, statistically speaking (this is a baseball stats website after all) the two are very similar, and that I didn’t understand where the idea that Buchholz is so far inferior to price comes from. Also, on the scouting end (if the stats aren’t good enough), it appears Price is experiencing similar growing pains to what Clay went through last season. In Price’s own words, he has lost his slider. This points most probably to some issue with his mechanics, similarly to the way Buchholz struggled mechanically much of last season. If this were 6 months after Clay’s no-hitter rather than 6 months after Price’s impressive playoff run from the bullpen you’d be singing a different tune. Explain to me how the two are so far apart (with more words than your completely un-backed opinions).

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      • Doug says:

        Price is left-handed.

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  16. Typical Rays Fan says:

    God, I hate the Red Sox

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  17. Bill in FLA says:

    Thank you, Dave. Your posts on Fangraphs and USSM are one of the treats of the day while waiting for the season to begin.
    Congrats on the Wall Street Journal reviews also.
    When you become a GM some day down the road, save my email address. I’d be happy to do some bird dog scouting for your team in my area of South Florida.
    Again, thanks for the hard work and passion for the game.

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  18. Nathan says:

    Its both funny and sad to think that the lasting image of this amazing series will be haggling over how to calculate a freaking GPA.

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  19. JI says:

    I really enjoyed this series. Good work!

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  20. Fresh Hops says:

    If you’re not from Boston, rooting for the Red Sox is like rooting for UNC or UConn or one of the other perennially dominant college basket ball teams in the tournament. (Waivers for Tarheel and Husky graduates granted.) Doesn’t anyone like an underdog in baseball anymore? Boston? That’s like rooting for the biggest dick that’s not your just because it’s really big.

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  21. Teej says:

    I thought you might get a little crazy and put Tampa Bay in this spot, Dave! But alas, you always resort to reason. Can’t argue with the Red Sox at all. The franchise is a steamroller, and there’s really nothing they can’t do.

    Awesome work on the series. It’s been fun. I hope you don’t let the comments dissuade you from doing it again. A lot of us got a ton of enjoyment out of it, even if — god forbid — we actually have a slightly different opinion on how a few teams should be ranked.

    Here’s to baseball. Cheers, everyone.

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  22. funkybass says:

    Actually your analogy is completely broken. Because you don’t root for someone else’s dick. I can’t even recall rooting for my own dick; i think in most cases the dick is rooting for you so it can do its job. Thanks for your attention/

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  23. Wally says:

    Good work, I’m excited for next years list!

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  24. Decatur says:

    This series was awesome. One of the most fun things I’ve ever read about baseball. After the 2009 payrolls come out, you might want to reference them in these entires and put this entire 30-part series in a sidebar as reference material – so you see the link to the master-list of the rankings every time you enter fangraphs.

    I copied and pasted ESPN’s 2008 payrolls and put your org. health ranking in parentheses, just because I was curious what it would look like. It would be interesting to see the year to year spread between organizational health, wins, and mlb payroll (and possibly minor league expenditures too). You don’t have to do that right anytime soon (Lord knows you work hard enough), but it’s something to think about the next time you update.

    Also, the Tampa Bay Rays link (the #2 ranking) still links to the BoSox page, so it might be hard for someone to find the Ray’s ranking a couple weeks from now.

    (3) 1. NY Yankees 207,108,489
    (5) 2. NY Mets 137,391,376
    (22) 3. Detroit 137,290,196
    (1) 4. Boston 133,220,112
    (17) 5. Chicago Sox 121,189,332
    (13) 6. LA Angels 118,825,333
    (10) 7. LA Dodgers 118,188,536
    (7) 8. Chicago Cubs 117,954,333
    (15) 9. Seattle 116,876,482
    (8) 10. Atlanta 102,849,666
    (21) 11. St. Louis 99,624,449
    (20) 12. Toronto 97,001,500
    (14) 13. Philadelphia 95,479,880
    (28) 14. Houston 88,930,414
    (4) 15. Cleveland 78,970,066
    (19) 16. San Francisco 76,194,000
    (6) 17. Milwaukee 74,687,499
    (24) 18. Cincinnati 74,117,695
    (25) 19. San Diego 72,626,616
    (23) 20. Colorado 68,655,500
    (16) 21. Baltimore 66,806,249
    (12) 22. Texas 66,312,326
    (9) 23. Arizona 66,202,712
    (27) 24. Kansas City 57,855,500
    (18) 25. Minnesota 56,932,766
    (30) 26. Washington 54,166,000
    (26) 27. Pittsburgh 48,689,783
    (11) 28. Oakland 47,167,126
    (2) 29. Tampa Bay 43,422,997
    (29) 30. Florida 22,650,000

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  25. Jeff says:

    If there was a reality TV series re:Red Sox Front Office, I’d watch it. And I’m a Yankees fan. They are an unbelievable nimble and innovating sports business.

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    • The Typical Idiot Fan says:

      I smell a sitcom!

      Theo: *walks into the break room* Hey! Who drank the last of the coffee and didn’t make another pot!?

      Bill James: It probably wasn’t me.

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  26. Wally says:

    Anyone have predictions for what next years list will look like?

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    • Wally says:

      Here’s a first (quick) guess:
      #30: Washington Nationals
      #29: Seattle Mariners
      #28: Houston Astros
      #27: Kansas City Royals
      #26: Pittsburgh Pirates
      #25: San Diego Padres
      #24: Cincinnati Reds
      #23: Colorado Rockies
      #22: Detroit Tigers
      #21: St. Louis Cardinals
      #20: Toronto Blue Jays
      #19: San Francisco Giants
      #18: Minnesota Twins
      #17: Chicago White Sox
      #16: Baltimore Orioles
      #15: Atlanta Braves
      #14: Philadelphia Phillies
      #13: Los Angeles Dodgers
      #12: Texas Rangers
      #11: Oakland Athletics
      #10: Los Angeles Angels
      #9: Arizona Diamondbacks
      #8: Florida Marlins
      #7: Chicago Cubs
      #6: Milwaukee Brewers
      #5: New York Mets
      #4: Cleveland Indians
      #3: Tampa Bay Rays
      #2: New York Yankees
      #1: Boston Red Sox

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      • John says:

        I doubt Dave will be dropping the M’s to #29 anytime soon.

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      • Brusilov says:

        30. Washington
        29. Houston
        28. Pittsburgh
        27. San Diego
        26. Seattle
        25. Detroit
        24. Kansas City
        23. Cincinatti
        22. Milwaukee
        21. Baltimore
        20. Colorado
        19. ChiSox
        18. San Francisco
        17. Los Angeles
        16. Cubs
        15. Toronto
        14. Atlanta
        13. Minnesota
        12. Oakland
        11. Texas
        10. Arizona
        9. NY Mets
        8. Philadelphia
        7. Cleveland
        6. LAA of Anaheim
        5. Florida
        4. NY Yankees
        3. Tampa Bay
        2. St. Louis
        1. Boston

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      • Wally says:

        Interesting ratings, I’m curious what brings St. Louis so high?

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    • Jcs says:

      A prediction for 10 years from now would be more interesting

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  27. Rob in CT says:

    On the one hand, this is annoying, as I’m a Yankees fan. On the other, it’s pretty cool, since I’m a baseball fan (married to a Red Sox fan, no less). It illustates the impact of good (or poor) management. The Red Sox’s failure to win for so long was, for the most part, the product of poor management/ownership. Now, with smart management & ownership, they’re a juggernaught. That makes for great baseball.

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