Unlike the Oakland A’s version of moneyball, the Atlanta Braves are actually making money. And judging from their recently released 2018 earnings, they are making a ton of it.
Mark Meltzer reported in the Atlanta Business Chronicle that the Braves took in $442 million in revenue last year, up 14.5 percent from the $386 million they took in in 2017 — and up nearly 69 percent since their last season at Turner Field.
Liberty Media, the owner of the Braves, said the increase in revenues had largely to do with the Braves winning the National League East and earning some homefield playoff games. That brought in revenue through more ticket-sales and increased profits from concessions.
But another profit source for the Braves has been the real estate it owns in the Battery. Due to increased occupancy rates in 2018, the team generated $38 million more in revenue from its real estate holdings.
While the 2018 numbers have not been released for all the other Major League Baseball teams, in 2017, the Braves ranked 8th in the league with its $336 million in revenue. The $442 million they made last year would have moved them up to 5th place on that list.
The list, compiled by Statista, starts with the Yankees at $619 million and is followed by the Dodgers at $522 million, the Cubs at $457 million and the Red Sox at $453 million.
According to Forbes, the Braves are currently considered the 12th most valuable franchise in baseball at $1.625 billion. The Yankees top that list too, at $4 billion, followed by the Dodgers at $3 billion and the Cubs at $2.9 billion.
If you did not read Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball,” it tells the story of how the A’s used an algorithm to hire players they determined would score runs. This resulted in them hiring and trading for less sought-after players, but winning more games. Coincidentally, the A’s ranked dead last in 2017 in revenue.
As fans, most of us are probably more concerned with what the Braves are doing to win another pennant and put the team in contention for the World Series. Well, if you base success off of payroll, the Braves current roster ranks 20th out of 30 teams in terms of money spent. Statistically speaking, they didn’t have any superstars last year. Freddie Freeman had the 7th highest batting average and Nick Markakis had the 6th most hits. As a team, they statistically were better than most, but not really in the front of the pack. They had the 5th highest batting average, but were 19th in home runs, 11th in on-base percentage, and perhaps the most important team hitting statistic, they were 10th in runs scored.
The pitchers did a little better. They had the 7th best earned run average, allowed the 3rd fewest home runs, and again, most importantly, allowed the 8th least amount of runs.
It’s hard to say that Liberty Media did a lot in the off-season to drastically improve the Braves. Although it does feel great to get Brian McCann. He always looked out of place in another team’s uniform. And they took a chance on 33-year old Josh Donaldson. He is a former American League MVP third basement, but has been plagued by injuries the last several years. It would have been nice to get a dominant pitcher, but the Braves are touting their young talent as potential game-changers.
We have a team that will compete and we have a stadium and an atmosphere that makes going to a game an awesome experience. The Battery has grown so much and will continue to grow with an up and coming $200 million expansion. Getting to the game early and hitting the bars and restaurants is way more important than it was at Turner Field.
The only thing standing in the way of continued revenue growth could very well be the continuation of these record rainfalls. Otherwise, Let’s Go Braves!
Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases.
*The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group