I love the Cleveland Indians and baseball. Really, I do. The problem is that I want to love both of these things a whole lot more. Unfortunately for me (and many fans like me) the commissioner Bud Selig and the powers that be haven’t kept up with the times in terms of structuring the game so it is conducive to my consistent fandom. Nothing could be more representative of this fact than the contract that Derek Jeter just signed to remain a living statue in the New York Yankee museum in the Bronx. Jeter is long past his prime, yet due to his past performance and vaunted “intangibles” he has been rewarded with $17 million per year for the next three years at the age of 36. On top of all that, Jeter is somehow “unhappy” due to some unpleasantness during his veritable bank heist. Regardless, I decided to do ask the question. What if baseball was a perfect market where every player was paid exactly according to their value? Oh, and what if Derek Jeter was the baseline for that value?
For simplicity, I decided to use the WAR (wins above replacement) statistic and I have decided to only talk about hitters for this article. Derek Jeter had a WAR of 1.3 for 2010 according to Baseball-Reference.com, good enough for 170th in the Majors a year ago. So, if that becomes the baseline and Derek Jeter is worth $17 million, what is everyone else worth, per season by comparison? Now for the fun…
(Earmuffs, Scott Boras.) Shin-Soo Choo was second in the majors a year ago with a WAR of 7.3. Based on Derek Jeter’s salary of $17 million dollars for next year, Shin-Soo Choo could be worth as much as $95,461,538. Someone get the Dolans on the phone and let’s get this extension talk started.
How about some other Indians? Asdrubal Cabrera tied Jeter with his 1.3 WAR and would make $17 million. Jayson Nix isn’t as well-served. His WAR of 0.1 means that he gets paid $1,307,692. Then again, that is almost $900k more than he makes today. Cleveland Indians’ rookie Carlos Santana had a WAR of 2.2 and would make almost $29 million. Shelley Duncan would make just over $13 million. Trevor Crowe would make just over $9.1 million. Believe it or not, compared to Jeter, Hafner deserves a raise. He made $11.5 million, but his WAR made him worth $34 million even.
(Earmuffs Eric Wedge and the Seattle Mariners.) Unfortunately for Luis Valbuena and his negative WAR of -0.1 he would have to pay us $1,307,692. I think I just heard the Dolans perk up. That’s nothing compared to poor Grady Sizemore. In his injury shortened season he owes BIG to the tune of almost $12 million. Sizemore’s salary is only $5.7 million so he is going to need a second job. Maybe Playgirl?
Obviously this is all silly, ludicrous and just for fun. Here are the top ten. Remember this next season when you have to watch the Indians “compete” against the larger payrolls in the majors. Remember this the next time the Indians are lucky enough to compete in the playoffs and the Red Sox pull a “pinch hitter” named J.D. Drew off the bench who makes north of $17 million per year.