In Major League Baseball’s salary structure, players are often severely underpaid during their first six seasons. It is not until they have been in the majors for six seasons and become eligible for free agency that the great players start to reap the rewards of their great play.
We can get a good sense of the imbalance in baseball paychecks if we look at this seasons best players and compare how much they are making in 2011.
To do this we will use Wins Above Replacement (WAR; via Fangraphs.com). WAR is nice all-around statistic that measures how many wins a player is worth above a replacement player off the street. One nice benefit of WAR, is that it allows us to compare the values of all players, regardless of their position.
Below is a look at the top players in 2011 based on WAR (green) and how much each of those players is making this season (blue)…
Data via Fangraphs.com and Cot’s Contracts…Adrian Gonzalez’s salary includes a $6 million signing bonus he received for his extension that begins next season.