Comparing Win Efficiency in North American Professional Sports

NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk (PBT) must be quite bored, as they only have news about the lockout and the National Basketball Association (NBA) season potentially being cancelled to really talk about.  That said, they did post an interesting article today about the concept of win efficiency in professional sports.  The question they were asking, was whether NBA franchises had the best win efficiency, as determined by the number of wins generated by a teams payroll.  The calculation which they pull from a Bloomberg Business Week article is calculated by:

After calculating that “cost per win” number for each team across all four major sports over the last five years, Boudway found the standard deviation for each team within their respective sports. Using that standard deviation — dubbed “Efficiency Index” for the purposes of that particular post — Boudway was able to compare across leagues, and determine the spenders who are getting the greatest payoff per dollar spent relative to their competition.

You can click on this link to see the numbers.  One thing I had a question about was the differences in the number of games played.  Win efficiency is an interesting thing, as I have noted in previous posts about the Tampa Bay Rays, Oakland A’s, and the book Moneyball, there are some teams which are able to win games with lower payrolls.  I decided to play around with the Bloomberg numbers, and normalize them for the differing number of games played by each team.  This produced quite different values than the Bloomberg report.  In fact, it went from having a mix of teams from different leagues at the top, to having mainly NFL teams.  In this, when I corrected for the differences in number of games played, it displays that the NFL is clearer the most efficient at the top.  The problem is of course one of sample size.  The NFL has such a small number of games in a season compared to the other leagues, that it is hard to be able to truly compare a single season of NFL teams (who play 16 games) against MLB teams (who play 162).  Additionally, we have to take into account that the leagues have different structures in regards to salary cap rules (MLB has no salary cap, the rest do).  This thus creates the case where some teams are probably forced to be efficient because they don’t spend much, and because of low number of games for NFL teams, means they are able to seem to be very efficient.  I’m not going to say that the teams at the top of this list are better at money management, or have much more effective management, because those kinds of generalizations are hard to make when we are talking about leagues with different structures.

My numbers (sorry for the length).  First column is their rank, second is their rank in the Bloomberg rankings.

  1. 4    New England Patriots    -0.3375
  2. 7    Indianapolis Colts    -0.3
  3. 12    San Diego Chargers    -0.27
  4. 20    Baltimore Ravens    -0.215
  5. 27    Pittsburgh Steelers    -0.1925
  6. 28    Green Bay Packers    -0.19
  7. 30    Atlanta Falcons    -0.185
  8. 1    Nashville Predators    -0.184420649
  9. 33    Philadelphia Eagles    -0.175
  10. 37    New York Giants    -0.1575
  11. 41    Chicago Bears    -0.1425
  12. 42    Tennessee Titans    -0.1425
  13. 5    San Antonio Spurs    -0.136935092
  14. 6    San Jose Sharks    -0.135830777
  15. 44    New Orleans Saints    -0.135
  16. 10    New York Islanders    -0.126996255
  17. 2    Florida Marlins     -0.126493546
  18. 11    Atlanta Thrashers    -0.120370363
  19. 3    Tampa Bay Rays    -0.115494108
  20. 13    Phoenix Coyotes    -0.111535841
  21. 14    Utah Jazz    -0.110431526
  22. 15    Los Angeles Lakers    -0.108222896
  23. 16    Pittsburgh Penguins    -0.10711858
  24. 49    Tampa Bay Buccaneers    -0.105
  25. 17    Orlando Magic    -0.100492689
  26. 19    St. Louis Blues    -0.099388373
  27. 21    Denver Nuggets    -0.093866797
  28. 8    Pittsburgh Pirates     -0.09349523
  29. 9    San Diego Padres     -0.092709556
  30. 52    Dallas Cowboys    -0.0925
  31. 53    New York Jets    -0.0925
  32. 22    Chicago Bulls    -0.091658167
  33. 23    New Orleans Hornets    -0.091658167
  34. 54    Jacksonville Jaguars    -0.0875
  35. 24    Detroit Red Wings    -0.08613659
  36. 26    Boston Celtics    -0.085032275
  37. 32    Phoenix Suns    -0.080615014
  38. 18    Arizona Diamondbacks    -0.071496352
  39. 35    Dallas Mavericks    -0.070676177
  40. 36    Portland Trail Blazers    -0.070676177
  41. 38    Carolina Hurricanes    -0.069571861
  42. 39    Atlanta Hawks    -0.069571861
  43. 43    Houston Rockets    -0.061841655
  44. 25    Oakland Athletics     -0.061282588
  45. 29    Washington Nationals     -0.058925565
  46. 31    Texas Rangers    -0.057354217
  47. 46    Anaheim Ducks    -0.053007133
  48. 34    Cleveland Indians    -0.051854497
  49. 47    Buffalo Sabres    -0.050798502
  50. 63    Denver Broncos     -0.0475
  51. 40    Kansas City Royals     -0.046354778
  52. 45    Colorado Rockies    -0.040855058
  53. 55    Minnesota Wild    -0.036442404
  54. 48    Cincinnati Reds    -0.035355339
  55. 50    Milwaukee Brewers    -0.032998316
  56. 51    Toronto Blue Jays     -0.032212642
  57. 68    Minnesota Vikings    -0.03
  58. 57    Dallas Stars    -0.028712197
  59. 58    Washington Capitals    -0.027607882
  60. 59    New Jersey Devils    -0.027607882
  61. 60    Vancouver Canucks    -0.02319062
  62. 61    Cleveland Cavaliers    -0.022086305
  63. 56    Minnesota Twins    -0.021998878
  64. 62    Detroit Pistons    -0.02098199
  65. 64    Oklahoma City Thunder    -0.017669044
  66. 65    Chicago Blackhawks    -0.016564729
  67. 66    Charlotte Bobcats    -0.015460414
  68. 67    Miami Heat    -0.014356098
  69. 69    Philadelphia 76ers    -0.011043153
  70. 70    Florida Panthers     -0.011043153
  71. 71    Arizona Cardinals    -0.01
  72. 72    Carolina Panthers    -0.01
  73. 73    Atlanta Braves    0
  74. 74    St. Louis Cardinals    0.005499719
  75. 79    San Francisco Giants    0.012570787
  76. 77    Los Angeles Kings    0.014356098
  77. 81    Baltimore Orioles     0.020427529
  78. 75    Houston Texans     0.0275
  79. 76    Kansas City Chiefs    0.0275
  80. 86    Houston Astros     0.029069945
  81. 91    Los Angeles Dodgers    0.036141013
  82. 78    Seattle Seahawks    0.0375
  83. 82    Boston Bruins    0.037546719
  84. 83    Golden State Warriors    0.037546719
  85. 84    Los Angeles Clippers     0.038651034
  86. 85    Colorado Avalanche    0.040859665
  87. 87    Indiana Pacers    0.043068295
  88. 88    Toronto Raptors    0.043068295
  89. 89    Montreal Canadiens    0.043068295
  90. 95    Los Angeles Angels    0.043997755
  91. 98    Philadelphia Phillies    0.0487118
  92. 80    Cincinnati Bengals    0.0525
  93. 93    Columbus Blue Jackets    0.053007133
  94. 94    Tampa Bay Lightning    0.058528709
  95. 99    Detroit Tigers    0.061282588
  96. 96    Milwaukee Bucks    0.06294597
  97. 100    Seattle Mariners     0.06363961
  98. 101    Chicago White Sox    0.064425285
  99. 102    Washington Wizards    0.091658167
  100. 103    Memphis Grizzlies    0.097179743
  101. 109    Chicago Cubs    0.097423601
  102. 104    Sacramento Kings     0.103805635
  103. 111    Boston Red Sox    0.104494669
  104. 90    San Francisco 49ers     0.11
  105. 105    Ottawa Senators    0.110431526
  106. 92    Buffalo Bills     0.115
  107. 113    New York Mets     0.120993827
  108. 108    New Jersey Nets    0.129204886
  109. 110    Calgary Flames    0.143560984
  110. 97    Miami Dolphins    0.1475
  111. 112    Toronto Maple Leafs    0.152395506
  112. 114    New York Rangers    0.200985377
  113. 116    Philadelphia Flyers    0.228593259
  114. 121    New York Yankees    0.228631193
  115. 117    Edmonton Oilers     0.234114835
  116. 106    Cleveland Browns     0.255
  117. 107    Washington Redskins    0.2675
  118. 119    Minnesota Timberwolves     0.312521219
  119. 120    New York Knicks    0.314729849
  120. 115    Oakland Raiders     0.4825
  121. 118    St. Louis Rams     0.585
  122. 122    Detroit Lions    0.805

You will notice that in both rankings the Detroit Lions are dead last.  When you lose most of your games, you just can’t be considered to be very efficient unless you are paying your players close to nothing.  While adjusting for the number of games changes things a bit, there is still a 0.95 correlation between Bloomberg’s rankings and my adjusted ones.

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