The Smartest Spenders in Sports

Which teams spent the least on wins, and/or won the most? We crunch the numbers and come up with some surprises

A general manager’s job is to turn payroll dollars into wins. We’ve run the numbers on the last five NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL seasons to see who’s done it best—by winning often, spending little, or (sometimes) both.

Our method: By culling player payroll data from reported sources and pairing them with wins and losses over the last five completed seasons, we calculated an average cost per win in each league. Based on that number, we measured (by standard deviation) how far each team varied above or below the league norm. The result is a cross-sport rating of how every U.S. franchise compares to its peers in squeezing wins from money. We call it the Efficiency Index.

— with Benjamin Lindbergh, Kenton Powell, and David Yanofsky

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