September 17, 2019

Crunching Some Numbers on the Cubs

Everyone’s buzzing about the Cubs this week. 108 years is a long time to wait for a championship win! In honor, let’s take a peek at some numbers that are floating around. That’s always fun.

Ticket price mania

World Series ticket prices soared to an average of over $6,000. That’s an insane price, especially when you compare it to the averages for each team:

The beloved Cubbies had a huge edge over the Indians in terms of drawing fans this past season, averaging just under 40,000 tickets sold per home game at Wrigley Field, compared to 19,650 at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Tickets were much more expensive for Cubs’ home games too, averaging $51 a seat in the regular season, compared to $25 for the Indians.

Although, I am sure everyone who made it to the game on Wednesday to witness Chicago win in the flesh feels like it was money well spent.

Revenue, valuation, etc.

Forbes has the Cubs’ revenue for the 2015 season at $340 million — its highest figure ever — and an operating profit of $50.8 million, although numbers vary slightly by source. The future earnings will no doubt continue the upward trend now that the team broke the curse.

At the beginning of the 2016 season, the Chicago Cubs were ranked 5th in Major League Baseball based on their valuation of $2.2 billion, an increase of 22% from 2014. However, it remains to be seen if they can move past the Yankees (1st, $3.4 billion), Dodgers (2nd, $2.5 billion), Red Sox (3rd, $2.3 billion), or Giants (4th, $2.25 billion). A 2014 statistical analysis suggests that, “Winning clearly has a positive impact on franchise valuation, but its effect is limited based on market.”

Time will tell if the first World Series win in 108 years will make a difference, but I have a feeling the Cubs will hop at least the Giants next year. Regardless, the Ricketts family paid $845 million for the club back in 2009 and are probably happy with their return so far.

Payroll home run

According to Bleacher Nation’s 2014 commentary, the team was getting a reputation for being cheap until this year.

For a number of years – the years relevant to the present day, anyway – the Chicago Cubs featured a competitive, but not upper echelon, payroll. With the surprise success of 2003, and the attendant increases in revenue, payroll rapidly ascended, and the team actually began the 2004 season with the sixth-highest payroll in baseball at $91.1 million. Payroll lingered at that level until the 2007-08 ramp-up, associated with a number of high-profile free agent signings, and concurrent with the Tribune Company’s multi-year effort to sell the Cubs.
Chicago Cubs payrolls from 2007 through 2013 (with MLB rank):

2007: $115,943,318 (5th)
2008: $130,508,691 (5th)
2009: $141,632,703 (3rd)
2010: $142,410,031 (4th)
2011: $140,608,942 (6th)
2012: $107,708,021 (10th)
2013: $100,859,265 (15th)

The Cubs were still pinching their pennies in 2014 and 2015 per Baseball Prospectus:

  • 2014: $92,677,368 (19th)
  • 2015: $120,337,385 (13th)

Finally, the Cubs loosened their belt and “bumped up its overall payroll by 42.6% in 2016, the largest increase of any team in the league. The total player payout this year is about $172 million, or just over $5 million per player,” as discussed in Fortune last week.

To compare, the Cleveland Indians “got much more bang for the buck while making it to the World Series, with a payroll of $96 million, averaging $3.2 million per player.”

Maybe it was the investment in players that made the difference? Maybe it was luck and timing? Maybe a little bit of both? Who cares… they won.

Ok, other than uniform numbers and on-base percentage — any other noteworthy numbers out there? Share them below.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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