Probing the Forbes Figures (Baseball Prospectus)

The Forbes baseball team value estimates have been released, and in my latest spin at Baseball Prospectus, I take a look at what this means for stadium deals, the Mets’ and Dodgers’ debt woes, the Rays contraction rumors, and the future home of Albert Pujols (subscription required for this one, though on the Rays issue you can also check out my related post at

For sports economics geeks, it’s a rite of spring right up there with unpopular politicians throwing out first pitches: the annual release of Forbes magazine’s baseball team value numbers. The tradition goes back to 1990, when Michael Ozanian first published estimates of MLB teams’ finances for Financial World magazine; when Financial World disappeared in a puff of mismanagement in 1998, Ozanian took his spreadsheets to Forbes, where they’ve appeared ever since.

For years, sports economists treated the Forbes numbers as kind of a business-side equivalent to fielding stats: probably not all that accurate, but worth looking at because, hey, they’re all we’ve got. All of that changed, though, after last summer’s Leakgate, in which internal MLB documents leaked to Deadspin revealed the financial details for several MLB teams—and the income numbers matched the Forbes figures almost exactly… [read more]