Saturday, December 1, 2007

MLB Market Data

It has become a common refrain of sportswriters and others to bemoan the fate of small market teams. Their argument, to summarize, is that the financial system of Major League Baseball is fundamentally unequal, and that certain teams possess resources that other teams cannot. I intend to explore this argument through a combination of market and financial data.

Peter Gammons, in his latest blog entry, summarizes the perceived problem of inequality in baseball well:

"It doesn't matter how much luxury tax the Yankees pay or how much Steinbrenner money goes to Kansas City, Minnesota or Tampa Bay. Hank Steinbrenner is going to use his AmEx to win. He gets a year's grace from some of the taxation because of the new stadium that opens in 2009, but if you're out there in a small market, how scary is this winter, with the realization that the Yankees and Mets are both about to open new revenue-cow ballparks?"
(Peter Gammons, "The Rich Get Richer," subscription required, Accessed 1 December 2007)

Gammons and others argue that teams in the largest markets, defined by them as Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York have an inherent advantage. Let's look at some data to see how big these markets are relative to others.

The Baseball Almanac has already done an analysis based on 2000 Census Data (Al Streit, "Baseball Markets," Baseball Almanac, , Accessed 1 December 2007)

Unsurprisingly, New York and Los Angeles are far and away the largest markets, followed by:
Chicago, Baltimore/Washington, Oakland/San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, and Texas (presumably Dallas/Fort Worth).

First, let's update Streit's data with the 2006 population estimates (only MLB markets included):

(U.S. Census,, Accessed 1 December 2007)

RankCombined Statistical Area2006 Population Estimate
1New York (Mets, Yankees)21976224
2Los Angeles (Angels, Dodgers)17775984
3Chicago (Cubs, White Sox)9725317
4Baltimore/Washington (Nationals, Orioles)8211213
5Boston (Red Sox)7465634
6Oakland/San Francisco (Athletics, Giants)7228948
7Philadelphia (Phillies6382714
8Dallas-Ft. Worth (Rangers)6359758
9Houston (Astros)5641077
10Atlanta (Braves)5478667
11Miami (Marlins)5463857*
12Detroit (Tigers)5410014
13Toronto (Blue Jays)51131491
14Phoenix (Diamondbacks)4039182*
15Seattle (Mariners)3876211
16Minneapolis/St. Paul (Twins)3502891
17San Diego (Padres)2941454*
18Denver (Rockies)2927911
19Cleveland (Indians)2917801
20St. Louis (Cardinals)2858549
21Tampa Bay (Rays)2697731*
22Pittsburgh (Pirates)2462571
23Cincinnati (Reds)2147617
24Kansas City (Royals)2034796
25Milwaukee (Brewers)1706077

*No Combined Statistical Area defined, so Metropolitan Statistical Area used
1. Census Metropolitan Area data used from Statistics Canada

Some initial observations:
1. There is a massive disparity in market size among the top 8 teams and between the top 8 and other 22 teams.
2. Boston is the largest single team market
3. The Minnesota Twins could best be described as a mid-market team.

I thought it might be useful to divide the dual markets in half so that I could look at a team by team listing. This is obviously very rough, though of course, the home markets themselves are rough (just look at the reach of the Braves, Cardinals, Red Sox, and Yankees). Then, I used the team payroll data from (CBS Sportsline, "MLB Salaries," Accessed 1 December 2007), and divided the amount spent by the number of people in the home market. The results are below:

RankTeamMarket SizePayroll$/person
1Milwaukee Brewers17060777098650041.60803
2Kansas City Royals20347966711650032.98439
3Cincinnati Reds21476176890498032.08439
4St. Louis Cardinals28585499028682331.58484
5Seattle Mariners387621110646083327.46518
6San Francisco Giants36144749021905624.96049
7Baltimore Orioles4105606.59355480822.78709
8Chicago White Sox4862658.510867183322.34823
9Oakland Athletics36144747936694021.95809
10Cleveland Indians29178016167326721.13690
11Chicago Cubs4862658.59967033220.49709
12Minnesota Twins35028917143950020.39444
13San Diego Padres29414545811056719.75573
14Boston Red Sox746563414302621419.15795
Avg.Mean Average4878178.2382633066.2319.05252
15Colorado Rockies29279115442400018.58800
16Detroit Tigers54100149518036917.59337
17New York Yankees1098811218963904517.25856
18Toronto Blue Jays51131498194280016.02590
19Atlanta Braves54786678729083315.93286
20Pittsburgh Pirates24625713853783315.64943
21Houston Astros56410778775900015.55714
22Philadelphia Phillies638271489428213 14.01100
23Arizona Diamondbacks40391825206754612.89062
24Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim8887992109251333 12.29202
25Los Angeles Dodgers888799210845452412.20237
26Texas Rangers63597586831867510.74234
27New York Mets1098811211523166310.48694
28Washington Nationals4105606.5373475009.09671
29Tampa Bay Rays2697731241235008.94214
30Florida Marlins5463857305070005.58342

Of course, the value of this data is limited, since it doesn't take into account revenue sharing. My next post will attempt to correlate market/payroll data with revenue sharing. In the meantime, I hope this provides some food for thought.

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