Salary vs. Performance

Ben Fry, 2005

What baseball teams are spending their money well, and how does it change over the course of the season? This piece started from a curiosity over how mismatches in spending don’t always translate to on-field advantages or disadvantages.

This sketch looks at all 30 Major League Baseball Teams and ranks them on the left according to their day-to-day standings. The lines connect each team to their total salary for the year, listed on the right.

A steep blue line means that the team is doing well for its money, which reflects well on the team’s General Manager. A steep red line implies that the team is throwing away money. The thickness of the line is proportional to the team’s salary relative to the others. Click a team to highlight its line for better clarity.

Drag the date at the top to move through the season. The first few days of the season are omitted because the rankings to (at least) that point are statistically irrelevant.

This project was originally thrown together in a couple hours as a fun hack, but after making the rounds on the internet for several years and being over-analyzed, it was rebuilt in 2012 to use JavaScript/Canvas and add a few features.

About the data

The original 2005 version was built with Processing and Java. You can see previous seasons using that version here: 20052006200720082009, and 2010. Other details and updates for that version are here. A description of how the original version of this project works, along with all its source code and the methods used to grab the data, can be found in Visualizing Data, a book Ben Fry wrote for O’Reilly. (Read more about the book here.)

Salary lists are sourced from the USA Today Salaries Database. Win/loss scores are calculated from MLB.com.