I spent a little time putting together a spreadsheet of some of the income/expense numbers published by Forbes for 2018, so I could compare the O’s to other teams. I note, up front, that I don’t consider their revenue and operating income numbers to be that reliable, as I believe they omit equity payments from team-owned RSN’s, obviously a huge factor for the Orioles. But, I worked with what I had.
I added one line item for each team: non-player expenses. That is derived from a simple formula: Revenue – Operating Income – Player Expenses = Non-Player Expenses. This should include all the front office expenses, scouting, development, analytics, Latin American operations and other “infrastructure.”
Here is where the O’s ranked in various categories, with some commentary. Keep in mind this is 2018.
Revenue: $251 mm, 26th in MLB, ahead of only Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Miami and Oakland. It is only 38% of the revenue earned by the Yankees and 49% of the revenue earned by Boston. The league-wide mean in this category was $330 mm and the median was $289.5 mm.
Operating income: -$6.5 mm. The O’s were one of only three teams operating in the red in 2018, the others being Toronto and Miami. The mean operating income was $39.6 mm and the median was $32 mm.
Player expenses: $161 mm, 13th in MLB in 2018. Forbes’ figures include not only salaries, but benefits, so they run higher than the payroll figures you read elsewhere. In any event, $161 mm in player expenses for 47 wins is laughably bad. The mean player expenses were $156 mm and the median was $157.5.
Non-player expenses: this is the category I calculated as explained above. The Orioles were dead last in this category in all MLB, at $96.5 mm. The mean was $133.8 mm and the median was $113 mm. So if you want proof that the Orioles weren’t spending enough on infrastructure, there it is. It will be interesting to see how much this figure is increased when Forbes publishes its 2019 figures. I will make a separate post getting into this topic in a little more detail.
Gate receipts: $42 mm, 26th in MLB, ahead of only Cincinnati, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Miami. By comparison, the Yankees had gate receipts of $284 mm and the Red Sox $221 mm. The mean in this category was $94.1 mm and the median was $71.5 mm.
I have a number of thoughts and comments on this data that I’ll post later. These include some thoughts on how MASN impacts these numbers, and some of the “noise” in the revenue and non-player expense figures league-wide. But the raw numbers are pretty interesting in and of themselves.