One of my favorite times of the year is when Forbes releases their annual team valuations for teams across sports, and it’s an especially cool time once they get around to putting a valuation on the baseball teams. The reason why I’m interested in this is because it’s always interesting to see just how much money these teams are pulling in nowadays. Personally, I remember being shocked when I started seeing sports teams with a valuation of one billion dollars. Now here we are in 2020 and all but one MLB team is worth at least a billion dollars.
As a matter of fact, there are eight teams who are actually worth two billion dollars now. The Braves aren’t there yet but they’re knocking on that door. According to Forbes, the Braves are currently worth 1.8 billion dollars. They’ve been on a steady path of growth in valuation since 2015, which is when their valuation skyrocketed from $730 million in 2014 to $1.2 billion. While plenty of teams saw a huge leap in valuation during that same particular window due to revenue from big TV deals, I wonder what was a big reason for that rocket ship to billionaire-ville for the Braves?
Thanks to the Braves being a publicly-traded company due to their corporate ownership, we already had a very good idea of just how the Braves were pulling in their money. A lot of that was due to the stadium and common sense would point towards that being the case as well. Also, Forbes echoed what was mentioned in the linked FanGraphs post above — the Braves are also doing pretty well with TV money as well.
Revenue from the ballpark, combined with their local television deal (over $80 million last season) will keep the Braves in very competitive financial shape and should enable them to keep their young stars in the fold.
So with the TV money being where it’s at right now and people like me and you continuing to go to the ballpark on a somewhat regular basis, this all means that the Braves are doing pretty well for themselves right now. Forbes also thinks that the Braves are getting a lot of bang for their buck when it comes to their Wins-To-Player Cost Ratio metric. According to Forbes, having a score of 120 in that department means that the particular team achieved 20 percent more when compared to the league average in 2018. So with that in mind, the Braves have a Wins-To-Player Cost Ratio of 124. It’ll probably stay that way for a while for them and I wonder what’s helping to drive that number for them?
For comparison’s sake, the Astros finished with 133, the Twins had 129, Cleveland had 126, so that’s the neighborhood that the Braves are in in terms of being cost effective with somewhat similar levels of player expenses. As a sidenote, the Rays absolutely broke this scale as they had a Wins-To-Player Cost ratio of 215. It pays to be obscenely cheap and good at finding and utilizing talent, I suppose.
Overall, it’s really interesting to have some sort of idea of where all of these teams are at right now from a financial standpoint. It’s especially interesting since it’s one of the few chances that we’ll get to talk about the current state of sports since everything’s locked down at the moment. Fortunately for sports teams, it’s a pretty good time to be, well, a sports team. While it’s a near-certainty that a lot of teams are going to be losing plenty of money due to the necessary social distancing measures that have been instituted during this pandemic (and the Braves specifically are going to be losing a big ol’ chunk of money if they can’t use the stadium that’s been making them a ton of money), if it’s just one season then nearly all of these teams will still be fine in the long run.
It’s a far cry from the days when teams were always just one bad season in their bank account away from skipping town for good. It’s still a huge bummer to not have baseball to talk about every single day, but this is also a reminder that things are going to be just fine once the Braves and the rest of baseball return to whatever the new normal ends up being. It’s also a reminder that holy cow, the Braves are rolling in money right now.