Despite currently having the worst record in baseball, the lowest payroll this century and the third-worst attendance rate in Major League Baseball, the 2013 Houston Astros are set to become the most profitable team in league history.
According to a Forbes report, the Astros are set to pull in an estimated $99 million in operating income this season, which is nearly as much as the estimated operating income of the last six World Series championship teams combined.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the Astros began the season with a league-low $26 million active payroll and have since reduced that to under $13 million.
This is attributed to team owner Jim Crane gutting the team of its most expensive athletes, while simultaneous developing its farm system, since buying the team in 2011. Soaring television revenues have flowed into the baseball franchise, while the payroll expenses have dwindled in comparison.
The Astros will only pay its players an estimated $21 million in salary and bonuses – down $56 million from expenditures in 2011.
However, the Astros currently have won only one-third of their games this season with a record of 43-86 – the worst in the major leagues. Of all MLB teams who have played since 2005, not one has finished with a worse winning percentage than the Astros.
Forbes reports that a good chunk of this extra cash will likely go toward servicing the debt of owner Jim Crane, whose purchase of the team was a highly leveraged one – and who is currently making more money than any baseball team owner in the history of the league.