Meet baseball’s $36 million man

What’s a player really worth?

Stuck with traditional statistics, that depends upon how you feel. Are homers the key? How about hits? Is batting average most important of all? Should pitchers be judged on ERA? Or is all about wins?

They’re all great questions that, posed to your average fan, will result in an inevitable range of subjective answers. We value different skills– and, accordingly, different players–for different reasons, none of which have quite everything to do with winning, and all of which should be consumed only with a healthy dose of dollars-and-cents perspective.

Regular readers and active traders know how PROTRADE’s Moneyball Valuation System offers clarity, objectively measuring a player’s total game. But in sports, better performance means more dollars. That’s why last week, we started calculating MLB Moneyball Salaries, converting those performance ratings into cold, hard currency.

Yankees SS Derek Jeter is hitting .339 this season, playing like a $5 million per year major-league superstar. Problem is, he’s actually a $20.6 million per-year major-league superstar. He’s been good this season, but not good enough to earn his considerable keep.

Meanwhile, $20.4 million per-year Bronx superstar Jason Giambi is outplaying his pay grade. PROTRADE values his season-to-date performance (extrapolated through 162 games) at $25.6 million.

Yankees P Mike Mussina is just about earning his $19 million per-year salary, exactly. And newbie CF Johnny Damon– he’s been worth about $18 million thus far, $5 million better than the $13 million Boston wouldn’t pay.

In rejecting Damon’s hefty salary demands, the Red Sox proved the point that even "big market," wealthy teams care deeply about value. Boston could have afforded the All-Star, and he might have even proved a better CF option than anyone the team might recruit to fill his void. But at $13 million per-year, they made the decision that Damon wasn’t worth it.

Browse our Moneyball numbers, position-by-position, and it isn’t hard to see why. Among CF, only the Mets’ Carlos Beltran ($13.6 million), the Braves’ Andruw Jones ($13.5 million), and the Cards’ Jim Edmonds ($12.1 million) earn in that range. This season, Beltran ($16.8 million Moneyball Salary) and Jones ($15.4 million) are outperforming their salaries. But Edmonds–  he’s playing at but a $2 million clip.

1B Albert Pujols is more than making up for his St. Louis teammate. The slugger is performing at a $36 million pace– tops in baseball and enough to make him, at $14 million per-year in contract salary, one of the league’s five most underpaid players.

Who are the others? How about overpaid? On your team? Check out our Moneyball  section today, and root and cheer with perspective.

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