Silly-season is back. That time of year when the deserving, somewhat deserving and completely undeserving alike get to strut their stuff at the All-Star game.
But what would it look like if players were selected for the game purely on the basis of how much money they were earning? Here is a list of the top earners at each position with an assessment of their All-Star-worthiness:
Catcher: Chris Snyder, Pirates ($4.75m)
Snyder is currently platooning with not-quite-legendary Ryan Doumit for a third-placed team in baseball’s worst division, the NL Central.
First Base: Ryan Howard, Phillies ($18m)
This is a lot of money for someone having only a .351 OBP and 92 strikeouts. Next season his $25m/year contract kicks in, which will be right about the time the Phillies start kicking themselves for giving it to him.
Second Base: Dan Uggla, Braves ($12.4m)
The Uggla trade was supposed to cure Atlanta’s power outage of last season. And sure, he’s in double-digits in home runs but the batting average of .175 is beyond awful.
Third Base: Aramis Ramirez, Cubs ($15m)
$15m doesn’t buy you what it used to, and Ramirez won’t be getting a sniff of All-Star selection any time soon. He’s a free agent at the end of the year and the Cubs are looking forward to it.
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies ($15.8m)
Tulowitzki is going to the All-Star game as backup to flavour-of-the-month Jose Reyes. Tulo started the season posting MVP-esque numbers but has since settled down to being merely excellent. No-one on earth “earns” $15.8m per year, but compared to his peers, so far this year, he’s pretty decent value.
Outfielder: Jayson Werth, Nationals ($18m)
Werth, bereft of the lineup protection he had in Philadelphia, has stunk the place up good and proper in DC. .224 average and only 30 RBI’s would have him warming the bench if he was back with the Phillies.
Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee, Phillies ($24m)
Lee had one of the best months of any starter in baseball, ever, this June. Five wins and an ERA of 0.21, he looked unhittable every time out. Overall he’s been out-performed by Halladay and Hamels in his own rotation, but the three of them deserve their All-Star berths.
Closer: Brad Lidge, Phillies ($12.5m)
In the last year of a horribly misjudged contract extension donated by GM Ruben Amaro Jr, Lidge hasn’t pitched all year because of elbow and shoulder injuries. When he comes back, he’ll be anywhere between second and fourth choice to close out games and won’t be back with the team in 2012.
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Twins, ($23m)
For two years he looked like the MVP of the universe. This year he’s just another catcher with gammy knees. He’s got another seven years at $23m per after this year, so the Twins better hope he gets himself right.
First Base: Mark Teixeira, Yankees ($22.5m)
Loads of power (league-leading 25 HR), horribly inconsistent contact (.243 Ave). He’s not in the All-Star game and rightfully so.
Second Base: Brian Roberts, Orioles ($10m)
Currently on the DL with concussion symptoms from a May 16th headfirst slide into first base. A very solid player but not an All-Star.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees ($27.5m)
A-Ro(i)d is the starting third basemen for the AL All-Stars and he’s really very good…but no more than that. At $10m less per year it would be a pretty fair contract as he enters his late middle age in athletic terms, and settles into a post-steroidal performance level of 30-35 HR’s per year.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter, Yankees ($17m)
No power, no speed, no range, no bat speed, no further comment.
Outfielder: Carl Crawford, Red Sox ($23m)
The five-tool stud has been AWOL in his first year in New England. History says he’ll be back in the All-Star game next year and looking at least not horrendous value for his contract.
DH: Travis Hafner, Indians ($14.3m)
Designated hitter isn’t so much a position as a lack of one. Hafner’s spent nearly half the time on the DL so far, but is bouncing back with a .341 average.
Starting Pitcher: CC Sabbathia, Yankees ($23m)
ERA’s are down across the league, so Sabbathia’s 3.05 mark is good for only 16th in the AL. Some have bleated that being third in the league in innings pitched should trump everything else but as effective as he’s been, there are plenty of hurlers performing better than him this year.
Closer: Mariano Rivera, Yankees ($15m)
Rivera has a lovely ERA (1.91) but has blown four saves in 25 chances. Deserving All-Star? Barely. Worth $15M? Not a chance.
So out of the 17 highest paid players at their position, a measly four will make it to the All-Star game, no more than three or four are playing up to the level of their contract, while as many as five are only on their team’s roster because the size of their contract makes it impossible to get rid of them.
They say you get what you pay for.
Turns out they were wrong.