City Size and Baseball

Common wisdom holds that the larger city teams in baseball have the advantage, with all their added financial resources and the like (think George Steinbrenner). Well, as discussed in the most recent WSJ Science Journal article by Sharon Begley, A New Study Shows How Baseball Myths Can Hurt the Game, the economist J.C. Bradbury has quantified this effect, among many others. While it turns out that it’s a real effect, it’s not huge:

Oh, and the big-market/small-market question. Every 1.58 million residents produces one extra win per season, Prof. Bradbury calculates, using data from 1995 to 2004. Based on population alone, the Yankees should win 10.61 more games than Milwaukee.

Calculating “population-adjusted wins,” he shows which teams did better than their city’s size predicts — and which did worse. I’m talking about you, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee.