Ellsbury worth 22 Hank Aarons?


Q: What is the “TAKE AWAY”  from the Ellsbury signing?

We baseball fans tend to gripe about how the players in MLB are making “obscene” amounts of money to play a game, but we rarely look at the comparable salary numbers for “non-players”—the rest of us [the 99%], who pay to watch them perform.

“The grotesque rise of baseball salaries reveals everything that’s wrong with the American financial system.”

[ Edward McClelland, The Stadium Scene, “The Other Kind of Moneyball.”]

“I know, but I had a better year than Hoover.”

[Babe Ruth’s response to his salary of $80,000 being more than the President’s $75,000 in 1930.]

Polls show that the vast majority of Americans believe that a star player in MLB deserves  much more than member of Congress gets [$174,000].  So, say, Jacoby Ellsbury, is worth at least as much as 10 members of Congress and worth an annual salary of $1.75 Million [we rounded in favor of the talented Mr. Ellsbury.]

But, what is the annual salary of Jacoby Ellsbury?

"A: $153 million over 7 years = $21.9 million."

What does the President of the United States get per year?

A: $400,000 [plus a generous expense account].

So, let’s call it HALF of a Million dollars for the “Leader of the Free World.”

If Ellsbury is making $21.9 million and the President gets $.5 million, that means that the talented Mr. Ellsbury is making about 44 times more than the President.

Ruth was ahead of President Hoover by just $5,000, $80 to $75 thousand dollars

In 1972 the highest-paid player in MLB, Hank Aaron, earned $200,000 per season—“the equivalent of around $1 million today. Aaron’s salary was 18 times the median household income in the United States.

If Mr. Ellsbury was making 18 times the median household income, he would be making $864,000 a year.  His Yankee contract call for him to be paid about $22 million per year.

"Is Mr. Ellsbury worth 22 Hank Aarons?"

Q:  How does a Hank Aaron Rookie Card compare to an Ellsbury RC?

A:                                                 $150                                         $2,950

Over the past 40 years—the period of rising economic inequality that former Slate columnist Timothy Noah called “The Great Divergence”—Americans’ incomes have not grown at all, in real dollars.

But baseball players’ incomes have increased twentyfold in real dollars: the average major-league salary in 2012 was $3,213,479. The income gap between ballplayers and their fans closely resembles the rising gap between CEOs and their employees, which grew during the same period from roughly 25-to-1 to 380-to-1.” [1]

According to the Central Intelligence Agency, income distribution in the United States is more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador. Income inequality is actually declining in Latin America even as it continues to increase in the United States. Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic.” [2]

But wait; lest you get the impression that all Professional [get paid to play] baseball players are rolling in greenbacks, consider:

“The players and owners are doing well, while minor leaguers are indentured servants with a Powerball ticket. The Giants just released Andrew Kown, who was a fifth-round pick by the Tigers in 2004. The 30-year-old pitched 10 minor-league seasons, and he might have earned as little as $3,000 in some of those seasons. If he can’t latch on with another team, he’ll enter a real-world job market that doesn’t need the only skill he’s been developing for the last decade.

Now that’s a problem within baseball’s weird, incomparable world. The industry is thriving, but only for the people who aren’t spit out the other side after a decade of trying.” [3]

The minimum salary for a player on the 40-man roster of a MLB team is about $400,000.

How do the incomes of the 99-percenters compare to Jacoby Ellsbury’s?

If you are one of the country’s 814,470 Construction Laborers, making $34,490 a year, you are making .0016 of his annual salary, or, he is making $21,966,000 more than you.

If you are one of the 84,960, Flight Attendants, who might serve the talented Mr. Ellsbury on a team flight, you are probably making about $42,340, or around .0015 of his annual wage.

If you are a Preschool Teacher, Except Special Education, your $30,750 is less than a Construction Laborer by about $4,000 a year and around .0010 of the talented Mr. Ellsbury’s.

If you are a minimum wage worker putting in 40 hrs a week, your monthly paycheck, before taxes and deductions is $2.75 x 40 hrs = $110 x 4.25 weeks = $467.50.

A minimum wage worker is earning $5,610 per year.  If Mr. Ellsbury gets 600 ABs in 2014, he will be paid about $33,000 for each AB.  For every 5.88 ABs, if he gets a hit or is out, Mr. Ellsbury will be paid an entire year’s salary of a minimum wage worker.

"But, how does YOUR income compare to Jacoby Ellsbury’s?"

We have listed a few common jobs at the end of the article for your comparison, but, in round numbers, suppose you are making the average medial salary in this country, about $48,000 and change; that would put you at about .002 % of the talented Mr. Ellsbury.

That means that he is worth 500 of you; 625 Construction Laborers, 666 Flight Attendants and 769 Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education.

Few people respect the supreme talent set it takes to play Professional baseball more than me; baseball players deserve to be paid appropriately, but, after looking at the numbers in this post and looking at the Ellsbury salary, which is now #9 in the Top Ten of MLB player salaries…

"Does that sound about right to you?"



Day in and day out fans are analyzing some of these contracts trying to determine if players are worth what they are being paid. With all of these figures being thrown out during the offseason it leads one to wonder, what were players making around 50 years ago?

Well, the numbers are drastically different from the salaries being earned today. In 2012 the average Major League salary was $3,213,479 and the league minimum salary was $480,000. Compare that to 1966 when the average salary was $16,000 and the league minimum was $6,000 and it seems almost outrageous.

One thing that is the same throughout baseball history is the top players make the most money. In 1963 Willie Mays was the highest paid player with an annual salary of $105,000. Today the highest paid player is Alex Rodriguez who makes an annual salary of $29,000,000.

Now of course you have to take inflation into account when you make these comparisons. In 1963 $1 had the same buying power as $7.63 does today. If you take Willie Mays’s contract in 1963 and take that inflation into account he made the equivalent of $8,011,150. The MLBPA has also worked hard to improve contracts for players since Marvin Miller took over in 1966.

Another reason for the large difference in contracts is the popularity of baseball and the amount of money MLB teams make. In 1963 the top five payrolls were held by the Dodgers ($257,000), Yankees ($182,000), Giants ($137,000), Tigers ($104,000), and Cardinals ($79,000). Today the top five payrolls are held by the Yankees ($228,995,945), Dodgers ($216,302,909), Phillies ($159,578,214), Red Sox (158,967,286), and Tigers ($149,046,844).

Players today have benefitted greatly from the work done by the MLBPA and players before them.


[1] Edward McClelland, The Stadium Scene, “The Other Kind of Moneyball,” April 15, 2013http://www.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2013/04/justin_verlander_contract_the_grotesque_rise_of_baseball_salaries_reveals.single.html

[2] Timothy Noah, “The United States of Inequality: Why we can’t ignore growing income inequality,” http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_great_divergence/features/2010/the_united_states_of_inequality/introducing_the_great_divergence.html

[3] Grant Brisbee @mccoveychron on Apr 16 2013, http://www.baseballnation.com/2013/4/16/4229588/mlb-salaries-baseball-millionaires-what-about-the-children


# in US                  JOB TITLE


309,740                 Computer and Information Systems Managers


98,020                   Human Resources Managers


207,580 Construction Managers


225,970 Education Administrators, Elementary and Secondary School

9,13O                    Funeral Service Managers


11,770                   Insurance Appraisers, Auto Damage


1,030                     Farm Labor Contractors


61,140                   Tax Preparers


31,720                   Forest and Conservation Technicians


1,811,66O            Counselors, Social Workers, and Other Community and Social Service Specialists


38,020                   Community Health Workers


11,200                   Judicial Law Clerks


470,200 Miscellaneous Postsecondary Teachers


340,350 Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education


5,530                     Orthodontists


30,560                   Pediatricians, General


2,633,980             Registered Nurses


232,860 Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics


53,920                   Orderlies


71,500                   Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers


13,890                   Animal Control Workers


3,810,750             Personal Care and Service Occupations


814,470 Construction Laborers


84,960                   Flight Attendants