Money Can't Buy Happiness, But What About World Series Championships?

By Investopedia Staff | November 09, 2009 AAA
Money Can't Buy Happiness, But What About World Series Championships?

Much has been made about this year's World Series champions, the New York Yankees, and their astronomical payroll. Many critics point to the estimated $208 million the Yankees spent in player salaries in 2009, and claim the "Bronx Bombers" simply "bought" the World Series championship. While it's true that the Yankees far outspent any of their opponents this past season, it's hard to argue with the results: they are baseball's best in 2009.

With this in mind, we've decided to take a look at World Series champions over the past 10 years and analyze whether big bucks can buy World Series success.

The Yankees have spent big dollars throughout the decade, and it's paid off with two playoff appearances in nine of the past 10 seasons, and four World Series appearances, but you'll never believe how much they actually spent to get there. With the likes of A-Rod, Jeter and C.C., the Yankees were able to bring the World Series championship back to the Bronx for the first time since 2000. The Red Sox have matched the Yanks as far as titles, and have kept up with New York in spending as best they could. It took a group of "idiots" and the greatest series comeback in post-season history to reverse the Curse of the Bambino in 2004.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have quietly put together a team that will be considered a contender in the years to come. Their 2008 title was well deserved, and Chase Utley reminded anyone who wasn't sure that the Phillies were "World Bleeping Champions"! The Angels and Cardinals have been two of the most consistent teams in the past decade, and spent just over half of the Yankees' payroll during that period. That said, both teams have had their fair share of playoff disappointment, all things considered.

The Diamondbacks battled the Yankees in an unforgettable seven-game series just weeks following the tragic events of 9/11, and walked off as winners in game seven against the greatest post-season closer of all-time. The White Sox followed up an improbable Boston World Series win with an inspired run of their own, led by fiery manager Ozzie Guillen who's never been one to mince words. Finally, there's the Marlins, who in their only trip to the post-season this decade rode some incredible pitching, clutch hitting and Steve Bartman (sorry Cubs fans) to a stunning upset win over the big-spending New York Yankees.

Read on for a more in-depth look at each team, and to find out just how much it costs to win the World Series.

The New York Yankees - $1.5 Billion, 2 Championship Wins
Taking a closer look at this year's Yankees, it's obvious that the Yankee brass was intent on building an immediate winner. With the doors opening on New Yankee Stadium following a disappointing non-playoff finish in 2008 (the final year for Old Yankee Stadium), the Yankees brought in big-name free agents C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett to bolster their chances. With the addition of these players to an already impressive line up, which includes the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, the Yankees reclaimed their spot as the AL East champions, winning 103 games and dominating the Twins, Angels, and Phillies on their way to their record 27th World Series championship. Breaking down the season by salary, the Yankees' opening day payroll was $201 million, meaning the Bronx Bombers paid approximately $1.5 million per victory this season. The Yankees also began the new millennium as World Series champions, winning the title over the Mets in 2000. That season, the Yanks won 87 games, and had a combined payroll of $113.3 million, roughly $1.3 million per win. Taking the Yankees' payrolls for the past 10 years, the Yanks have spent approximately $1.5 billion - easily the most in baseball. That equates to $750 million per championship. Keep in mind, however, that the Yankees have missed the playoffs only once during this period. New York demands a winner, and the Yankees fit the bill.

The Boston Red Sox - $960 million, 2 Championship Wins
Tied with New York with two championships this decade is New York's biggest rival, the Boston Red Sox. After more than eight decades without a championship, the Sox finally vanquished the "Curse of the Bambino", and captured the World Series in 2004. That season, the Sox spent $125 million on a bunch of "idiots", who shocked the baseball world by coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS to beat the hated Yankees, eventually steamrolling the St. Louis Cardinals on their way to the World Series championship. Big Papi, Manny, and the Sox repeated the feat in 2007, sweeping the Colorado Rockies to take their second championship in four years with a payroll of $143 million that year. Boston has spent approximately $960 million over the last 10 seasons, roughly $480 million per championship win.

The Philadelphia Phillies - $706 Million, 1 Championship Win
Next we have the Philadelphia Phillies, which represented the National League in the last two World Series, falling to the Yankees in 2009, and beating the surprising Tampa Bay Rays last season with a payroll of $98 million. The Phillies have come on strong the past few seasons, winning the NL East the past three years, and seeing their payroll rise substantially the last two. The Phills have not spent nearly as much as the Yankees or Red Sox over the past 10 years, but have managed to build a strong ball club anchored by the likes of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies have spent a total of $706 million over the past decade, winning just the single title and reaching the playoffs in only the past three seasons.

The Los Angeles Angels - $844 Million, 1 Championship Win
The only West Coast team to win a championship this decade, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim did so in 2002, defeating Barry Bonds and the San Fransisco Giants in a thrilling seven-game series. The Angels were a middle-of-the-pack team that season by payroll standards, spending only $61.7 million and surprising many with their victory. Since their championship, the Halos have become one of baseball's biggest spenders, nearly doubling their payroll from their World Series season last year. While the increased spending has made the Angels a consistent playoff team, they have yet to return to the World Series since their win. Having spent $844 million on payroll for the last decade, the Angels have been unable to cash in on more than one championship.

The St. Louis Cardinals - $834 Million, 1 Championship Win
The St. Louis Cardinals took home the 2006 World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers in five games with a payroll of $89 million. The Cardinals have managed to maintain a relatively stable payroll over the past 10 years, averaging the 10th highest payroll over that period. Unfortunately for the Cards, they have spent a total of $843 million this decade and have only brought home a single championship.

The Chicago White Sox - $660 Million, 1 Championship Win
The White Sox broke their own long World Series drought the year after the Red Sox, winning the title in 2005. That year, the "South Siders" spent $75 million on payroll, which looks pretty reasonable compared to some of the other figures we've seen. Since their title, however, the Sox have become one baseball's biggest spenders, ranking in the top five in payroll in three of the past four seasons with little playoff success. These recent years in increased spending have ballooned their 10-year total to $660 million.

The Arizona Diamondbacks - $497 Million, 1 Championship Win
Who could forget the 2001 World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees? With America still recovering from the devastating attacks of September 11, the D-Backs and Yankees provided sports fans with an unforgettable seven-game championship series, with the Diamondbacks coming out on top. That season, Arizona ranked eighth in the league with a total payroll of $81 million. Since then, however, the Diamondbacks have become one of the thriftier teams in baseball, ranking in the bottom half of the league in payroll since 2005. For their one World Series title this decade, the D-Backs have spent only $497 million, quite low in comparison to others on this list.

The Florida Marlins - $360 Million, 1 Championship Win
Finally, we have the Florida Marlins, one of baseball's cheapest teams. The Marlins have only made the playoffs once in the 2000s, and won the World Series in the process. By defeating the mighty Yankees in six games in the 2003 World Series with a payroll of only $48 million (less than one-third of the Yankees' $148 million payroll that same year), the Marlins prove that it takes more than just money to win it all. Florida has only spent $360 million the entire decade on player salaries, ranking this team 27th in the league in payroll, on average. That said, this team's lack of success outside of 2003 suggests that spending definitely plays a role in a team's long-term success.

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