Though the Kansas City Royals may have only won 71 games on the field in 2011, they proved to be quite cost effective on their investment return.
Sporting a payroll of just just over $36 million, Kansas City paid $508,817 per win in 2011 which ranked second in the major leagues, behind only the American League Wild Card winning Tampa Bay Rays. With the second lowest payroll in baseball the Rays turned a $41 million payroll into 91 victories, or $451,138 per victory.
To no surprise it was the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees who spent the most in baseball per win. Though the two clubs did win 90 and 97 games respectively, Boston spent an average of $1.80 million per win, while the Yankees paid $2.09 million per win this season.
Digging further, there is a math calculation called Marginal Dollars Per Marginal Wins that takes into account the efficiency on the field. It takes out the bias that the majority of the lowest payroll teams in baseball will almost always be near the top.
Starting with the worst clubs in terms of how they use their money and what the return product was on the field, the five worst teams were in order- Houston Astros, Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, Seattle Mariners, and again the Yankees.
Tampa Bay again proved to get the best bang for their buck as they finished first in this calculation as well. Arizona, Kansas City, the Cleveland Indians, and Pittsburgh Pirates rounded out the top five. Milwaukee and the Texas Rangers joined the Rays in the top 10 as playoff teams that were the most effective with their money spent.
Though Kansas City, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh all finished with losing records in 2011, you can argue that all three franchises are on their way up with a lot of young talent that is starting to put a better product on the field for their respective clubs.
You can view the report and read more details about the calculations at Ballpark Digest.