With opening day quickly approaching, teams are hurrying to get their teams ready. Teams are offering sums of money to the top players for them to come to their team instead. I looked at the top paid baseball players in 2021 and evaluated to see if their skills matched that paycheck.
Astros pitcher Zach Greinke was drafted by the Royals in the 2002 draft. After a few years with Kansas City, he was traded off to Houston. Since then, he’s easily been at the top of the list of pitchers. In 2020 alone, he had nine walks and 67 strikeouts. But is it good enough for a $31 million payday? That’s insane! In 2020, he pitched in six different games. The Astros won only half of those. Greinke also only pitched about 67 innings in 2020 compared to his average of 200 a year. Of course, we have to bring in the fact Covid-19 shortened the season last year, therefore, we couldn’t play as many games. But pitching not even half as many as you normally would? Greinke is getting older now and needs to pitch as many innings as possible in order to keep that salary high.
Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg has been with the team since 2010 when he was first drafted. In 2020, he pitched only five innings all together. In that one game, he threw one walk, two strikeouts, and allowed eight hits. Not the best outing. It resulted in a loss, but it was only five innings. In a normal year, Strasburg throws about 150 strikeouts and pitches in about 30 different games a season. Do these below average stats equal his salary of $35 million? I don’t think so. The pitcher goes out, throws a few pitches, allows ten runs, and gets paid $35 million? It doesn’t add up.
Another Nationals player, Max Scherzer, had a way better 2020 season. He played in 12 different games and pitched about 67 innings. In those innings, he threw 92 strikeouts and 23 walks. With Washington being his third team, he’s being paid about $36 million. Those innings and games added up to a lot of wins for for the Nationals and took them far in the season. Scherzer did a lot to help them get this far and deserves a big paycheck like that.
The new Yankee pitcher came over last season from the Astros. Playing in 12 games, he pitched about 73 innings. He threw 17 walks and 93 strikeouts and helped the team nearly all the way to the World Series. When he played with the Astros, he was paid about $35 million dollars. But that amount also grew over time as he extended his contract. When he was traded to the Yankees, his very first contract was for $36 million. In the already shortened season, the pitcher was making more money to play less games, though his skills do add up. His average speed is 97.1 mph and can bump his fastball up to 99 on a good day!
The veteran Angels player is the only one on the list who is not a pitcher. Instead, he’s a center fielder that has an amazing swing. In 2020 alone, he had 56 hits- 17 of those being home runs. He’s been with the Angels for ten years now. Perhaps it’s his loyalty that has brought his paycheck up to $38 million dollars. In his ten years of major league baseball, he’s hit 302 home runs and helped his team get better over the years.
The most expensive players are obviously pitchers. They do the most important job on the field and get paid the most for it. The median salary for a rookie pitcher is about $5.2 million, whereas a returning star can sign a contract for over $20 million.
The players who get paid the least amount of money include designated hitters and catchers. Designated hitters I understand. They get put in the lineup in stressful situations every once in a while, their only job is to hit RBIs. But catchers? They have one of the most challenging positions to fulfill. Both DHs and catchers average about $8 million their rookie year, and then only about $16 million when returning.