Salaries of baseball’s not-so-glistening stars

Brendan Cross

Many professional athletes nowadays make in a year what most of us could never dream of making in 10 lifetimes. Twenty-six of the top 50 sports contracts of all time belong to baseball players. Some large deals include the famous San Francisco Giant’s signing of Barry Zito for seven years and $126 million in 2007, the Texas Ranger’s signing of Alex Rodriguez for 10 years and $252 million back in 2001, and the more recent Los Angeles Angel’s of Anaheim signing of Albert Pujols before the 2012 season for 10 years and $240 million.

While these contracts are certainly large, they are outliers to what an average professional baseball player would make. The average salary of a player at the start of the 2012 season was a little over $3.4 million. This, of course, is a lot to the average person, but in professional athlete standards, it is almost next to nothing.

Most people cannot justify why athletes make so much. A lot of people will say something along the lines of “he is just a bench player, he hardly plays, and he is bad when he does. I could do that.”

Chances are, no you couldn’t. The only time we really get to see professional athletes is when they are actually playing in a game. What we don’t see are all the countless hours of preparation that actually goes into playing. For instance, a pitcher who is starting on any given day has to, or at least should, be watching hours of footage on the hitters he is going to face, on top of working out and traveling and all of the other preparation that we do not get to see.

The average baseball player career only lasts for about five years. That certainly isn’t a long period of time at all.

To top it off, the player has an 11 percent chance that his career could end at any point, according to a study done by a research team at the University of Colorado.

Players who play 20 years or more and never get hurt are extremely rare. If you take the $3.4 million yearly salary average, and multiply it by 5, you would get $17 million. That is certainly a lot to an average person. But, an average person who works a 9-5 job does it for roughly 40 to 50 years (assuming you work from ages 20-70) of their life, not five. 17 million divided by 50 years is $340,000 a year. I would of course be happy to make that, but it is a much smaller number than some of the gigantic contracts you see.

A lot of athletes who retire or have injury shortened careers tend to just fade away and are never heard from again, suggesting that they perhaps, are completely out of work, because sports was the only thing they could do.

Physical health is another issue. Athletes, of course, have injuries and one must assume most other jobs are not quite as injury-riddled as sports. Injuries, such as concussions, could not only end a season or a career but can also affect a player down the line. Many youngsters growing up have the dream of stepping onto a baseball field, football field, tennis court, or the field of play of whatever sport it is that interests them, and some day becoming a professional. The chances of that are very slim. Those who are lucky enough to do it for a living, and become modestly successful at it, should reap the rewards that come with it.