Taking the Dodgers to the Extreme

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Dodgers gave one of the biggest contracts in baseball history to Zack Greinke. On Sunday, the Dodgers gave a big contract to Ryu Hyun-Jin, who has never before pitched in the majors. The Dodgers still might not even be done, and neither of the moves this weekend came as a surprise, because as we’ve established, the Dodgers have all of the money. The Dodgers have money and a baseball team, so it only makes sense that they would spend liberally to improve the baseball team. These Dodgers aren’t your daddy’s Dodgers. These Dodgers are your older brother’s Yankees.

As the Yankees have made a goal of exhibiting financial restraint, the Dodgers have been like “**** that” and they’re prepared to enter 2013 with the highest payroll that baseball’s ever seen. It was not very long ago that the Dodgers were bankrupt. Then there was the Hanley Ramirez trade. Remember the Hanley Ramirez trade? Then Brandon League, and Shane Victorino, and Joe Blanton, and acquiring the Red Sox. Then Greinke. Then Ryu Hyun-Jin. Yasiel Puig was in there somewhere. So was an Andre Ethier extension. Of course, like everyone else, the Dodgers have their limits, but we’ve been given no indication that the limits are being approached.

What this is, first, is interesting. The Dodgers are basically like a cartoon, like something that can’t exist in real life. It’s as if they’re trying to make up for those years they had to track every penny. If there’s a free agent, and he’s good, you might as well figure the Dodgers have interest. If there’s a free agent, and he isn’t good, you can still make your jokes, because the Dodgers might sign everyone. It had been a little while since baseball had a team like this. And baseball has never had a team quite like this.

What this is, second, is interesting in a different way. Imagine yourself as a Dodgers fan, if you aren’t one already. It has to be all kinds of exciting to be in the middle of everything, so able to flex so many massive financial muscles. But now think about the coming season. The expectations are going to be lofty, the pressure on the team unlike the pressure on anyone else. Is it actually going to be fun to root for the Dodgers? What is the experience when winning feels required? I know that Yankees fans have had complaints in recent years. It’s easy for a high-priced team to start to feel soulless, and I don’t think we’re in it only for the winning.

What this is, third, is interesting in still another way. The Dodgers make one want to mess around with hypotheticals. The Dodgers, presumably, have limits. But what if the Dodgers don’t have limits, or at least not limits that can reasonably be approached? To what extent can the Dodgers “buy a championship”? Could they buy a 120-win team? Could they buy a 130-win team? What if the Dodgers were to have the highest-priced player at every position?

This is an extreme hypothetical, but I had to sate my curiosity. So I went into the numbers and built a 2012 roster based on the highest average annual values. I took the five highest-paid starting pitchers, and in the bullpen I quit after four since it’s not like the Dodgers could reasonably acquire seven proven, expensive closers. I also didn’t really fill out the bench since proven, good, expensive players wouldn’t volunteer to occupy a reserve role. This is only one team for one year, but the results are interesting, I think:

Position Players

C Joe Mauer
1B Ryan Howard
2B Dan Uggla
SS Jose Reyes
3B Alex Rodriguez
LF Carl Crawford
CF Matt Kemp
RF Torii Hunter
OF Ichiro


SP CC Sabathia
SP Cliff Lee
SP Johan Santana
SP Matt Cain
SP Tim Lincecum
RP Mariano Rivera
RP Jonathan Papelbon
RP Heath Bell
RP Joaquin Benoit

I gave the team Ichiro because Crawford missed a lot of time, but Ichiro had the same average annual value as Jayson Werth and Vernon Wells. It’s not really important. You could fill out the rest of the bench and the bullpen, but that also wouldn’t be really important. Where this gets interesting is when you start adding together the 2012 WAR. For pitchers, I used RA9-WAR, to capture what actually happened. I gave each unnamed bench player 1 WAR. I gave each unnamed reliever 0.5 WAR. Again, little details; not really important.

This group of players would’ve been good for about 49 WAR in 2012. You can give or take a few as you desire. The zero-WAR baseline comes out at 42.5 wins, meaning this group of players would’ve been expected to win about 92 games, give or take a few as you desire. A team that wins 92 games is a good baseball team, but it is not an extraordinarily good baseball team. The Giants actually won 94 games. If this team existed in 2012, it probably would’ve made the playoffs, but it wouldn’t have been a juggernaut.

Which goes to show how much and also how little practically limitless spending can accomplish. We still can’t predict player performance very well, nor can we predict which players will get hurt and which will remain durable. Long, expensive contracts frequently end up looking a lot worse at the end than they did at the beginning. There are better high-priced contracts than others, and the Dodgers might in theory spend more wisely, but on the other hand, Andre Ethier. Spending a ton of money everywhere greatly increases the odds that your baseball team will be good, but one needn’t be too concerned that the Dodgers will start buying championships. It’s not nearly that simple. The Dodgers have only so many roster spots, and players get worse and break down. Even the expensive ones.

It’s fun to entertain the idea of the Dodgers having the most expensive players at every position. If they’d done that in 2012, they would’ve been good, but they probably would’ve come up short of winning the World Series. Baseball is still sufficiently unpredictable that the Dodgers might never accomplish what they’ve set out to accomplish. To paraphrase so, so many people, they still have to play the games, and money can buy you only so much. Good luck to the Dodgers, because they, like everybody else, are going to need it.

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

68 Responses to “Taking the Dodgers to the Extreme”

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  1. John says:

    What the 2012 payroll for this roster?

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  2. Matt says:

    Don’t see what this accomplishes.

    Would be more interesting to put their current set roster down and then fill in the blanks with the highest priced free agents. Leave Gonzo at 1B, Hanley at SS, Ethier in RF, Crawford in LF, Kershaw at SP1, etc.

    Also, did this account for time on the DL and replacement level subs (or in this theory, better than replacement level subs)?

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    • LK says:

      It seems to me that you’re looking for a rigorous analysis of a hypothetical 2013 Dodgers team. What this was was a non-rigorous look at how building a team isn’t as simple as throwing a dump truck of money at it (despite what Yankees detractors often think).

      It may be that you think your hypothetical article would be more interesting. Personally I found this article to be more interesting than what you’re talking about, and I don’t know that you can criticize something for not accomplishing what it was never intended to accomplish.

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      • Or... says:

        Or, a simplified version:

        LK, looking in Matt’s direction: “Tell me how my @ss tastes! Tell me how my @ss tastes!”

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  3. byron says:

    Could you do a version of this where you could pick any player for a position that had signed their contract on the open market? So not necessarily the highest paid player, but the best player who had reached free agency before they signed their current deal. For the sake of the Dodgers, it might be worth starting them with Kershaw, too, since they, well, started with Kershaw.

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    • Nivra says:

      But that requires 20/20 future vision. Since at the point they signed their deals, no one knew who would live up to the deals and who would bomb. Using AAV is a good indicator of who the market thinks the best FA’s are, and is better than using hindsight, which really is 20/20.

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  4. Ned Colletti says:

    I hadn’t quite thought of this. I’m going to make a few calls…

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  5. evil kevin towers says:

    4 years from now:

    “we’re bankrupt! selig, owners, bail us out or the sport will collapse! we couldn’t have seen this coming!

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    • Antonio bananas says:

      Really? Do you know how much they’ll be getting in tv revenue? They are unique now, but my guess is this is just the beginning.

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  6. Pressure on Donny baseball to see what he can do with a stud roster. No playoffs, goodbye Donny.

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    • Gomez says:

      Same pressure Joe Torre, Terry Francona and Joe Girardi faced every year.

      All he has to do, and all he can do, is put the right guys in the right order on the lineup card and see what happens.

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      • Tony LaRussa says:

        Absurd! Every decision made by the manager has the very balance of the game on the line! You know what happens when you bunt for a hit instead of sac bunting? Chaos. Pure chaos.

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  7. Impossibles says:

    But all you’re valuing is 2012’s highest contracts.

    A more apt comparison would be to make a team of the highest contracts given out to free agents at each position for the last 3 seasons to see where the Dodgers might be in 2-3 years.

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  8. LTG says:

    Ryan Howard really drags that team down.

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  9. Jesse says:

    If i was a dodger fan i would be scrounging around Man city blogs trying to figure out my psychic quandaries.

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  10. wilt says:

    Do this same exercise, but substitute the WAR generated the year after each player signed their respective contracts. I am guessing the team wins would be much much higher.

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    • Jason B says:

      Really? Ryan Howard and Carl Crawford exploded after signing mega-deals? And A-Rod, and Uggla, and…and…

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  11. Chickensoup says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    I see the underlying point of the article, but I disagree with it.

    Your point is that money doesn’t buy championships. It’s the same argument Selig uses to say that baseball has parity, which it mostly doesn’t.

    It’s not that the dodgers can buy a championship. 5/7 game series are too short to guarantee anything like that. What they can buy is consistantly being contenders unless they financially restrain themselves or have too much dead money tied to bad FA acquisitions (red sox last year) or injuries. The Yankees have proven that money buys the playoffs, which is all you can really ask for from a team.

    I guess my question to anyone who supports or “likes” the current system is this. If baseball had a salary cap (and floor like football) why would that be a bad thing? What is actually wrong with that kind of system?and why is it better to allow teams who happen to be in some of the largest cities in the country to buy consistency like that instead of having front office management be constrained and making that as much a part of the success as the players performance?

    Realistically the only thing I can think of is that MLB is afraid that certain teams that feed the (inter)national baseball machine might become irrelevant if they didn’t have a money advantage because they’ve never had to make honest real choices, just sling some cash around and reel them in. Because realistically while having a system where financial constraints would expose the bad GMs, noone in Zimbabwe is a Rays fan

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    • The Artful Dodger says:

      You act like teams in large markets in football don’t have an inherent advantage (like the ability for the player to market themselves). All a salary cap would do is transfer money from the players to the owners, and that remains the case even with a floor.

      Revenue sharing has already allowed owners to compete despite their market size, and salary caps/floors have been proven to hurt small market teams rather than help them. If the A’s can compete on a payroll of $52M, why make them spend $70M or whatever your floor would be? That makes them spend an extra $18M on major league payroll, instead of investing it into their minor leagues or draft or what have you.

      Link for why caps are bad for small market teams: http://blogs.forbes.com/mikeozanian/2010/12/01/salary-caps-have-widened-the-money-gap-in-pro-sports/

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      • ortho says:

        The link you posted is saying that salary caps have caused large market teams to make more profit than small market teams. That’s different from saying that salary caps don’t increase competitive balance. So the link isn’t really supporting your argument.

        Further, your example with the As has a flaw – the As can’t invest an additional $18M in the draft, because MLB recently hard-capped draft bonuses, and did the same for the international amateur market. It doesn’t seem likely you’d be able to add $18M worth of value investing in your minor league system.

        You make the statement “Revenue sharing has already allowed owners to compete despite their market size”, but do you have anything to back that up? Here’s a link to analysis showing a strong correlation between payroll and wins:


        Last year, the Yankees spent about 350% of what the Padres did. That is not competitive balance, unless you’re arguing that somehow payroll doesn’t correlate with wins.

        Your link does point out how salary floors have caused small market teams in others sports to have financial problems, and that’s a definite negative. But to say that a salary cap (and floor) ONLY transfers money from players to owners is wrong. It also improves competitive balance.

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      • The Artful Dodger says:

        Ortho – it wouldn’t let me reply directly to your comment – but you make several good points. I know MLB recently capped draft spending which I think is idiotic, but I meant it more hypothetically, that letting teams spend or not spend as they want is more beneficial – but that wasn’t clear at all.

        I don’t think that payroll has no correlation to winning, I’m sure that it does, but I also think that you CAN win without it and we’ve only progressed as far as we have in baseball because teams have been pushed to try new things to gain advantages that aren’t money. I don’t have hard evidence on that, it’s just anecdotal, but that seems to be the case. I’m open to being wrong on that.

        And revenue sharing has allowed teams to compete beyond their market size, I’m not sure what evidence I need on that aside from that they receive additional money that they otherwise wouldn’t have. I think the biggest problem there is that they don’t reinvest it into the team (Loria, Glass are big offenders here), so I guess a floor helps in that situation.

        Those are just my thoughts. I’m not a proponent of complete competitive balance. I like to see things thought out and executed. I like to see teams prolong their windows of competition and then have to start over. I appreciate the process and the intelligence it takes to do so. I think small market teams can compete, I think they just need smarter front offices and luck. I don’t pretend to say that that’s fair, but perhaps I just don’t like it fair. I can live with that. I like having a team to hate like the Yankees, and underdogs to root for. That’s all nostalgic and anecdotal. I don’t have the hard numbers to back up that emotion – but it is the way I feel. I’m open to being wrong there too.

        Thanks for the education :)

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      • ortho says:

        @ The Artful Dodger – I am with you on the draft spending cap. Pumping money into the draft was a great way for teams to spend money in a way that made sense for their situation and circumstances. The cap seemed like a straight up cash grab by the owners, and the players union didn’t resist because its current members weren’t harmed by the cap.

        As far as the competitive balance thing goes, there’s a part of me that agrees with you. It absolutely feels more special and amazing when teams like the As and Rays can field winners on shoestring budgets, and I definitely cheer for any small market team if (Cub fan, so I should say ‘once’) my team is out of it. And I agree too that there’s charm to teams having unique identities, with financial resources playing a part in that. You can almost anthropomorphize the teams, which adds to the narratives.

        On the other hand, MLB is a competition, and it bothers me that it’s a grossly unfair competition. No one would sign up for a fantasy league where my team gets two picks per round and your team doesn’t get to start drafting until the 6th round. It’s pretty demoralizing to feel that the deck is stacked against you, and I completely understand some of the fan apathy in many of the smaller markets.

        Looking at a recent example, why should the Royals have had to trade one of the best prospects in the game for a number 1 starter when they could have signed Zack Greinke instead? Increasing their payroll from $60M to $80M would only put them at around 20th in payroll next year. Hell, if they really wanted to go all in they could have signed Greinke AND traded for Shields. Unfortunately, this wasn’t even an option, while the Dodgers blow past $200M to pair Greinke with Kershaw. If I’m a Royals fan, I’m not feeling great about MLB’s competitive balance.

        In any case, MLB seems to be a long, long way from ever having a salary cap, if for no other reason than that revenue sharing would have to be completely reworked to give far more money to the low revenue teams. All the owners, small and big market, are making money with the current system, and the players are seeing salaries skyrocket, so where’s the incentive for change? The only ones getting it bad are the fans of the Pirates, Royals, and Padres…

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      • The Artful Dodger says:

        @ Ortho I see what you mean and don’t disagree logically. All I can say is that KC didn’t HAVE to trade away Myers and COULD have signed Greinke…it just would have eaten into their profits. Glass is worth a ton of money and could absorb any type of deal. The Twins’ Pohlad is worth billions. Just because they spend on a budget doesn’t mean they HAVE to. TB is a better example as their owners don’t have the same type of cash coming into the game, but even so, most of these teams can afford to spend more than they are. They choose not to and I respect that, but then claiming they HAVE to make moves that damage the long-term health of the franchise seems questionable.

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    • Mutumwa Mawere says:

      Manheru Litshone njani! Ben Zobrist forever! Siyabonga kakulu!

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  12. Bab says:

    Do the same but for the top WAR players at each position based on the 2012 season and compare the salary difference and estimated/expected win total. Might be interesting.

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  13. channelclemente says:

    The A’s and Marlins thank the Dodgers for the charitable contribution.

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  14. Colin says:

    I feel like the Dodgers ownership might be engaged in a quest to see how quickly they can push a professional baseball club into bankruptcy. Maybe this is something insanely rich people do for fun?

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    • t ball says:

      Do you know how much the Dodgers’ revenue is increasing over 2012? They have supported a payroll well over $100M for several years now. They will increase their expenses by over $100M in boosted payroll, but will increase their income by twice that. They’re fine.

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  15. Robbie G. says:

    The Dodgers might want to upgrade at 2B and 3B while they’re going all Brewster’s Millions on us. Shouldn’t the Braves offer Dan Uggla for a minor prospect just to see what happens? Isn’t every single team with a big unwanted contract making this exact offer to the Dodgers right now? And isn’t there a chance that ownership stupidly says, “Hey, I’ve heard of him, let’s do it!” Like they presumably did in that deal with the Red Sox?

    It is going to be extremely satisfying to watch this team fail spectacularly.

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    • That Guy says:

      Minus Greinke, they sorta did already, and yeah, I thought it was funny.

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    • Ray says:

      So trading for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett was stupid? I’ve heard it all now.
      “Hey, I’ve heard of him?” Really? Give me a break.

      This team is no Boston Red Sox.

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      • Jason B says:

        “So trading for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett was stupid?”

        Might not be “stupid”, but may well have been…something less than brilliant.

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      • Naveed says:

        It was absolutely a bad trade. Adrian Gonzalez is good, but Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett are both grossly overpaid, and the trade filled up the Dodgers’ outfield, preventing them from being in on a number of good players.

        Let’s say that Nick Swisher, Josh Hamilton and Anibal Sanchez could have been had for the money the Dodgers are paying for Gonzalez, Crawford, and Beckett. (This seems reasonable to me.) Which group of players would you rather have? Then consider that the Dodgers gave up prospects to get the Red Sox players. It was absolutely a bad trade.

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      • vicki says:

        i’m not so sure, naveed. ‘overpaid’ doesn’t resonate when money is no object. dodgers took a look at the next few (weak) free agent classes and agreed to take the known quantities, contract-wise, of agon, cc and beckett. (2/31 is a great deal for beckett.) while it feels like the dodgers will sign everyone they go after there are certainly no guarantees. it was the old bird in the hand.

        i thought the trade was great for boston, and good for LA.

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  16. Jason says:

    What I’m surprised with is that the other owners approved this ownership group. I presumed that the ownership selection process would create an outcome where the old owners would have reasonable assurances from new owners that they wouldnt bid up the price of labor to much. Wasnt that the argument against Mark Cuban? Did the Gugenheim group pull a fast one on MLB?

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    • suicide squeeze says:

      They haven’t really bid up the price of labor, though. The Greinke deal was far from ridiculous, and all of the other acquistions were just taking bloated contracts off of other teams’ hands.

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  17. Xeifrank says:

    Bunch of notes/thoughts.

    1) The current Dodgers team vs your hypothetical, which one has more WAR?

    2) Dodgers are now the favorites to win the W.S. at 5Dimes at 7.5 to 1 odds. The Nationals and Rangers were overtaken and are both 8 to 1.

    3) As a Dodgers fan, it is a double edged sword. I don’t really want to win this way, though of course winning is fun. And I don’t really want to lose this way either. As an analogy, it feels a bit like paying for sex. Not that I’ve ever done that, but you’d much rather know you can get lucky based on your own personality and looks. It feels a bit like Charlie Sheen has taken over this team full of hookers.

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  18. Bill says:

    BREAKING: Dodgers buy out US government debt; prevent fiscal cliff. Ned Colletti to oversee federal government’s day-to-day operations

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  19. tommywolverine says:

    “The expectations are going to be lofty, the pressure on the team unlike the pressure on anyone else. Is it actually going to be fun to root for the Dodgers? What is the experience when winning feels required?”

    The answer to this is that we LA fans already have extensive experience with this kind of team. The Lakers are expected to win a championship every year here, and they’re king in this town.

    LA fans care about winning and drama. It’s Hollywood.

    If the Dodgers wanted to catch up to the Lakers in popularity, this spending spree + getting Adrian Gonzales aboard for the Hispanic fanbase are the right kind of moves to make.

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  20. Well-Beered Englishman says:


    Any chance of a contrasting post with the best possible roster assembled only from players making the major league minimum salary? Would Team Minimum come out that far behind Team Extreme?

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    • Cubzen says:

      Just having Trout would go a long ways towards getting that ~50 war. If you count Harper (made $500k) and I have to imagine you could put together a team that would be at least competitive.

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    • tyler says:

      just quickly looking up only rookie eligible pitchers by WAR, i think this staff would be something like Miley/Parker/Fiers/Lynn/Harrell as starters and relievers McGee/Herrera/Cook/Doolittle plus 3 generic 1 WAR relievers. This is good for about 29 wins.

      Plus team minimum is going to be great in 2014. just you wait!

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        Okay, time to answer my own question. I used $500,000 as the cut-off, so every player here is making something between $480k (minimum) and $500k. Team payroll cannot be more than $12.5M.

        2012 Team Minimum
        C A.J. Ellis
        1B Paul Goldschmidt
        2B Jason Kipnis
        SS Zach Cozart
        3B Brett Lawrie
        LF Giancarlo Stanton
        CF Mike Trout
        RF Josh Reddick
        BENCH Todd Frazier, Martin Maldonado, Jose Altuve, Desmond Jennings, Allen Craig

        SP Chris Sale, Wade Miley, Jarrod Parker, Lance Lynn, Kris Medlen
        RP Jake McGee, Kelvin Herrera, Vinnie Pestano, Greg Holland, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle, Kenley Jansen

        Tragically cut from team: Ross Detwiler, Lucas Harrell, Pedro Strop, Sam LeCure, Craig Gentry.

        In calculating total 2012 WAR for this team, I made the team WAR more comparable with the Extreme Dodgers WAR by doing two things: (1) dividing bench bats’ WAR by 2, and (2) only using WAR from three relievers.

        Total 2012 WAR of Team Minimum: 63.2

        With a baseline of 42.5, Team Minimum could go 106-56.

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      • Well-Beered Englishman says:

        Erm, correction. Due to a mental error, I LEFT THE BENCH BATS OUT ENTIRELY.

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    • Robbie G. says:

      Why the need for hypotheticals?

      Team Extreme = Dodgers
      Team Minimum = Rays

      I expect real life Team Minimum to have a better record over the next five years than Team Extreme. And Team Minimum just traded away a potential Cy Young candidate for a bunch of prospects, whereas the Dodgers just gave Zach Greinke a huge wad of cash.

      All things being equal, you’d rather have as much money to spend as possible. But you still have to manage your money properly and make rational decisions.

      What distinguishes this Dodgers organization from the Yankees during Brian Cashman’s run is that Cashman realized that his team had more money than everybody else and that he could (and should) hold out for best of breed players. Consequently, there were times when the Yankees roster was comprised of an unusually high number of All-Stars, future HOFers, and borderline future HOFers. The Dodgers are not exactly holding out for best of breed here. How many position players are top five in MLB at their position? Matt Kemp, probably. Anybody else? Probably not.

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      • jdsmitty says:

        agon is definitely in the convo for top 5
        crawford was #2 in LF WAR in 2010 (last healthy year)
        ellis was actually tied for 5th in WAR at 4.1 with matt weiters in 2012 (ignoring ruiz and his amphetamines)
        hanley top 10….ethier top 10…. and not to mention cruz had a 2.6 WAR in ~300 PAs…
        not necessarily sustainable but cmon now lezbehonest they aint scrubs

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      • Robbie G. says:

        Carl Crawford’s last good year was in 2010, which will be three (!) years ago next season. No reasonable person considers him to be a top five LF at this point. A.J. Ellis had what is likely a fluke/career year in 2012 and he still wasn’t a top five C. You are seemingly conceding that neither Hanley Ramirez nor Andre Ethier is top five at their respective positions. Although you’re right about Adrian Gonzalez; I didn’t realize how weak the current crop of starting MLB 1Bs is at the moment. We should probably consider him to be top five at his position in 2013, although even then, is he worth the price tag? I doubt it.

        Take a look at some of those big payroll Yankees and Red Sox teams from recent years. Each team pursued best of breed at each position and often achieved this goal. And the Dodgers have even more money to play around with. If you can put together “The Best Team that money can buy,” and the Dodgers basically can right now, why not attempt to do this? Accept that it won’t happen overnight and develop an achievable strategy to piece together the best possible $200+ mil roster and you wind up with a VERY different roster than the one the Dodgers will trot out onto the field in 2013 (and beyond).

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      • vicki says:

        (i enjoyed watching crawford fail in boston; i just wouldn’t count on his career being over at 31. any production will be cake, but healthy cc could end up being the prize of that trade.)

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  21. tyler says:

    as a phillies fan i can say that for the statistically minded, there will always be something fun to root for in a team where the ownership is not burdened with the thoughtfulness or common sense that comes from having to worry about things like a “budget.” There will always be a dry spell–maybe an 8 game losing streak or an opposing pitcher that just dominates the team every time– that will result in plenty of the “free X prospect” tweets that make smart fans feel smarter.

    so dodgers fans of all stripes will have some version of fun rooting for their team.

    and non-dodgers fans will have way, way more fun rooting for the team to fail.

    and then 2 years from now the dodgers will be just “pretty good” but stuck with ungainly contracts and we can all start our hypothetical “if the dodgers eat most of the contract could they deal crawford to the Rays for Wil Myers?”

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  22. Michael says:

    One thing this analysis misses with the 92 wins is that a team with an infinite budget could also correct any mistakes after a year. The Dodgers in 2012 could have just released or traded Ryan Howard and replaced him with Albert Pujols, while still paying Howard’s salary. They could not convince Pujols to be a well-payed pinch hitter, but they could bring him in to replace their mistake contract of a few years earlier in Howard.

    This point is not just a theoretical exercise. I remember a few years ago the Yankees signed Rondell White and he was awful. They could afford to trade him and pay much of his salary and get someone better.

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  23. vicki says:

    are they better than the 1927 yankees?

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  24. LHomonacionale says:

    As a former small-market fan I get frustrated when people misunderstand the idea of ‘competitive balance’ being about the moral hazard of big markets buying themselves championships. Spending on Free Agents is a hazardous process, as everyone knows, and no guarantee of success. But understood from the perspective of the small-market teams, it is impossible to compete when your WAR is being bought out from underneath you. It’s not that these teams can’t bring in high-class free agents to push them over the top for a championship, it’s that the constant cycle of its talent being bought up makes competitiveness a pipe dream.

    A team can hope to keep an anchor piece signed to a long extension, but any championship team is going to need a number of role players to complement him. With free agency, a team simply can’t hold onto all its pieces long enough, or add enough others, to consistently compete.

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