The New York Yankees, who play in the biggest media market in the United States, are often compared to the Oakland Athletics, who play in one of the smallest markets. The Yankees franchise is a baseball empire, with a record 27 championships and the largest team salary roll among MLB teams. The Athletics, on the other hand, are on the opposite side of the spectrum. They have a moderate payroll but still have been performing extremely well for the past ten years without deep coffers to rely on. The reason for their success? Analytics. The Athletics focus on statistical analysis and scout players with high cost-to-performance value, as immortalized  in the 2011 Oscar-nominated film Moneyball.
The axiom  “you can’t buy wins” has been tested throughout the league since the Athletics took the MLB by storm in the early 2000s, and it seems to be true. The Kansas City Royals, who have one of the smallest team budgets, reached the World Series, the annual championship series that concludes each MLB season. The Athletics finished first in its division, outperforming both the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. The Yankees and Boston Red Sox, two of the wealthiest teams, both failed to reach the World Series last year.
But a team’s performance is not strictly correlated to its value and profit margins. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Yankees, and Red Sox are not always the best in their division, but their team value and annual revenue is much higher than low-cost-high-performance teams like Oakland. Fans want to watch a team with star players, and they usually congregate  in the biggest cities. As a result, teams with star players get the richest television deals to support their spending habits, creating a virtuous cycle that ensures the biggest markets sign the biggest stars.
What do you think of Moneyball, and the use of analytics (“sabermetrics”) in professional sports? Are they effective at leveling the playing field between big market and small market teams? Have analytics come to dominate your favorite sports leagues?