Fun with Career Earnings

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Baseball is booming. There is so much money in the game today, it’s not even funny. You can thank the bigger and more modern stadiums, the abundance of lucrative endorsements, and the historically great attendance numbers. Take a quick glance at B-Ref’s Highest Career Total & Single Season Salaries list, and you can’t help but feel some combination of jealousy, humor, disgust and confusion. $106,616,066 in career earnings for Shawn Green? How the hell did that happen? Ditto $78,860,000 for Matt Williams, $70,677,500 for Tim Salmon, and $65,743,750 for Kevin Appier.

It’s no secret that baseball is a well paying occupation, but just how well paying? You might be shocked.

Omar Daal has spent 10 years in the league with seven different teams. He has a 68-78 career record and a 4.55 career ERA, yet somehow raked in $25,084,000 during his career. Even more perplexing, his largest single season salary was the $5,625,000 he earned in 2000 with the D-Backs, the year he lead the NL with 19 losses.

Atlanta’s trio of Hall of Famers accounted for an ungodly 795 wins (and 154 saves). Even more ungodly is the $380,579,793 that Mad Dog, Smoltzie and … uh … Tom banked for just one World Series victory.

Lenny Harris, the all-time pinch hit king with 212, took home $11,268,222 in his career. That’s $53,151.99 per pinch hit.

Remember Jim Abbott? The guy with one hand that no-hit the Indians in Yankee Stadium back in ’93? That dude made $12,960,500 during his career. Did you know that he didn’t spend his first day in the minors until 1996, when he was 28 years old and already a 7-year big league vet? Crazy.

It pays to be a lefthanded pitcher. Randy Johnson has taken home $152,449,473 in his career, Al Leiter $68,100,100, and (are you ready for this) Mike Stanton $30,903,001. He’s made ONE career start!

Remember one-time great Yankee prospect D’Angelo Jimenez, the guy who just kinda faded into the background after the Yanks traded him to the Padres, yet somehow always seems to be playing in those obscure Tuesday afternoon ESPN televised games? He’s made $6,220,000 in his career. Unreal.

Albert Belle, one of the biggest douchebags to ever play the game, made $97,376,194 during his career. This is the same guy that despite missing the entire 2001 season due to injury, sued the Orioles for his $76.50 in per diem money, and WON.

Speaking of douchebags, Curt Schilling has taken home $106,158,000 in his career, or about $0.07 for each time he opened his mouth.

Generation K fell short of their considerable promise, but they still combined to make $61,605,500 during their careers. Of course, Jason Isringhausen accounts for $47,560,000 of that total. Did you know that Bill Pulsipher made $8 an hour in 2002 working as a groundskeeper for the High-A St. Lucie Mets?

The old “next generation of shortstops” – Jeter, A-Rod and Nomar – did reach their potential (for the most part, Nomar’s weighin ’em down now) and have banked a combined (make sure you’re sitting down) $377,996,949 in their careers. We’re talking about three guys on the right side of 35. How much will the current next generation of shortstops – Reyes, Tulowitzki and Hanley – combine to make in their careers? I’m guessing a ton, because they’ve already taken in $7,326,000 if you count Tulo’s $2,300,000 signing bonus.

Don’t feel bad for journeymen. Jeff Fassero pitched for nine teams during his career, making $28,631,501 in the process. Mike Morgan wore 12 different unis in his career, and banked $20,575,000. Reggie Sanders once changed teams in six consecutive offseasons, and has $41,909,000 in the bank to show for it. Jose Vizcaino suited up for nine different franchises in his career, and pocketed an unbelievable $26,107,158. Craig Counsell, Craig freaking Counsell, has earned $13,680,001 for holding the bat real high over his head and having a career OPS+ of 78. Then again, he did score the World Series winning run not once, but twice in his career, so I guess he’s worth it.

Enrique Wilson has made $3,376,500 in his career, Miguel Cairo $5,725,000, Rey Sanchez $13,467,500, and, Luis Sojo, every Yankees fan’s favorite bad utility player, managed to make $4,840,00 in his playing days. Come back after you finish banging your head against the wall.

David Eckstein gritified and scrapificated his way to $13,304,999 in career earnings. Scott Podsednik ran really really fast to a $6,375,000 career payday. Scotty Brosius made $22,563,000 for being on the right team at the right time. Imagine if any of ’em were any good!

The Dodgers paid Darren Dreifort $63,882,000 for 872.2 innings of 95 ERA+ ball. The Angels have paid John Lackey $10,303,333 for 1161.1 innings of 116 ERA+ ball. Yeah, the boys in blue got the shaft on that one.

The $65,133,000 Billy Wagner has made in his career is the greatest total for a guy with zero career starts. Trevor Hoffman is second on that list with $59,309,000 in career earnings. Just think if either had any postseason success!

The three Molina brothers have combined for $21,293,500 in career cash, led by Bengie‘s $16,060,000. That total is dwarfed by JD Drew‘s career mark of $52,091,688, never mind factoring in contributions from brothers Stephen ($1,500,000) and Tim ($202,000). Half-brothers Orlando and Livan Hernandez have combined for nine World Series appearances, five World Titles, and $72,725,000 in career earnings, and counting. The brothers Giles take the cake though, with Brian and Marcus combining for a ridiculous $72,763,501. (Most of that is Brian’s, obviously).

Some guys made so much money in their careers, they don’t need a snarky comment. Check out this insanity:

David Bell: $23,679,000
Jay Bell: $56,762,500 (funny how he hit 38 homers in 1999, nearly double his second largest total of 21)
Jeff Conine: $32,615,000
Ray Durham: $59,704,000
Damion Easley: $24,767,500
Cal Eldred: $18,662,001
Roberto Hernandez: $44, 912,000 (!)
Bobby Higginson: $52,054,000 (!!!)
Eric Hinske: $14,850,000 (and what exactly has he done?!?)
Charles Johnson: $38,232,500
Jose Lima: $24,075,444
Mike Leiberthal: $53,407,999
Matt Mantei: $27,029,999 (oi vay)
Jose Mesa: $34,596,169
Matt Morris: $42,812,810
Dan Plesac: $23,104,446 (we’re talking about a LOOGY here!)
Pokey Reese: $11,940,000
Ruben Rivera: $2,915,300 (doesn’t include profits from selling Derek Jeter’s shit)
Bip Roberts: $17,154,000
Shane Spencer: $2,966,550
Randy Velarde: $14,701,500
Robin Ventura: $67,135,000
Todd Zeile: $40,767,999

So yeah, if they didn’t before, don’t baseball players seem really overpaid now?

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  • zack

    Great post, though I’m not gonna touch this one b/c it will make me and my graduate student, trying to be an educator stipend seem even more pathetic. Ah, yay capitalism!

  • Around The Majors

    I never wished more to be a mediocre to below average ball player than now.

  • NJYankee41

    Is it safe to say that a baseball player just needs one good (or decent) year in order to be set for life?

  • Ben K.

    That total for the three Next-Gen shortstops will blow past $700 million when all is said and done. That’s pretty insane.

  • Jon W.

    My favorite has to be Jason Kendall and his $68 mill plus. That’s $963,100.90 per homerun. He has to be one of the most overrated players in the history of baseball.

  • Spike

    I would have thought that Shane Spencer made a bit more than that.

    • Ben K.

      Shane didn’t play long enough to get an undeserved contract or escape his arbitration years really. But $2 million ain’t chump change if he invested it wisely.

  • Tripp

    Man. And all I want is a measly $20,000 to pay off student loans.

  • Sean McNally

    The Todd Zeile mention lets me tell my favorite Yankee game story…

    I was in Baltimore to watch the Yankees play the O’s (the game where Jack Cust fell down trying to score in extra innings with no one covering the plate).

    Anyhoo.. walking out there’s this mother holding up a custom New York license plate that reads (swear to God) “LUV ZEILE” so her kids can track her in the crowd presumably.

    Me, being me, shouts at the top of my lungs “LOVE ZEILE? HE SUCKS!” Apparently right next to the aforementioned kids.

    Later, as we’re all filing out, I’m next to said mom and her kids come up behind her and said: “That’s him, Mommy, that’s the man who said that bad think about (Uncle?) Todd.”

    Mom: Well, he’s a nice guy.
    Me: Yeah, well, so am I, but I don’t get millions to be a horrible ballplayer.
    Mom: Hurmph (speeds away)

    My outburst apparently resonated with Brian Cashman, since Zeile was released the next day.

  • samiamsports

    holy sh*t I never fealt so underpaid on my life

  • rbizzler

    I am very excited to see Bip “The Igniter” Roberts on the list. That guy was born to play for Dusty Baker.

  • Chip

    Looking at this, what kid could possibly give up baseball for basketball or football? That’s unbelieveable that these guys get that kind of money for being really bad. I mean if Dan Plesac and Craig “freaking” Council can make over 10 mil for usually being the worst player on their 25-man rosters then anybody should be able to do it!

  • jboogz

    Wow. That is the definition of fiscal insanity. Does this take into account off-the-field marketing money?

    Hows about my favorite semi-new booth guy Al Leiter at almost 70M! I think he’s one of the best broadcast guys even though he hasn’t been doing it a long time. And thankfully he puts Kay in his place during games.

  • King Tom

    Great (if sad in the scheme of things) article/analysis.

    I do think in a cosmic sense, it’s only fair that Sojo earned more than E. Wilson.

    I recently started (re-)reading Roger Kahn’s October Men (about the ’78 Yankees) and one a page I was on tonight, he writes; “A lesson, or one of many lessons, learned from this mendacity is that in 1978, like today, the salaries that athletes earn are as nothing compared to the profits harvested by the television companies from CBS to FOX to YES that market those athletes directly or through satellite or cable systems.

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