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A Look at 2014 MLB Salaries

For the first time since the 1998 season, a team other than the New York Yankees has the highest payroll in major league baseball. The Los Angeles Dodgers, who began their spending spree prior to the 2013 season once new ownership took control of the front office, has surpassed the traditionally cash-flush, free-spending Yankees by nearly 33 million dollars, according to figures compiled by the MLB Player’s Association, team officials and representative agents. At an estimated 241 million, the Dodgers are far ahead of every other team, including the Yankees (208 million) and the Philadelphia Phillies (a distant third at 187 million). Not surprisingly, the team also boasts the single highest-paid individual player, starting pitcher Zack Greinke, who’s slated to take home a whopping 28 million in 2014. Greinke’s more celebrated teammate, two-time and defending NL Cy Young winning hurler Clayton Kershaw, will receive ‘only’ 19 million.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Houston Astros own the lowest MLB payroll at a mere 44 million. Coincidentally or not, the team has suffered three consecutive seasons of 100+ losses, lending some validity to the idea that spending less equates to winning less. However, of the six lowest payrolls in the majors, four of them (Cleveland, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay) reached the postseason in 2013. Conversely, only three of the top six highest payrolls (Boston, Detroit, the Dodgers) earned a playoff berth, making the above argument open for debate.

For all MLB teams, starting pitchers and first basemen, on the average, are the highest-paid positions, with 19 out of 30 teams having either of those two positions as their biggest salaried players. The third-highest paid players toil in the outfield, followed by third basemen, second basemen and shortstops. Surprisingly, since the position is generally considered to be the most important overall, there are no catchers who are their teams’ highest-paid player.

Just five seasons ago, only four major leaguers earned salaries exceeding 20 million dollars per season. In 2014, a whopping twenty major leaguers will be paid in excess of 20 million for their services, led by Grienke’s 28 million. Not far behind are Philadelphia teammates Cliff Lee (P) and Ryan Howard (1B) at 25 million each. Both the Dodgers and Yankees will shell out 20 million-plus to four players each (Grienke, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford of the Dodgers and Mark Teixiera, CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury of the Yankees). Although he’s never made an appearance in the U.S. major leagues, Pitcher Tanaka is a unique case, having signed a contract with the Yankees after a bidding war primarily due to going 24-0 in the Japanese major leagues in 2013. Of the twenty players slated to receive 20+ million, eight (Grienke, Sabathia, Tanaka, Lee, SF’s Matt Cain, Philly’s Cole Hamels, Detroit’s Jason Verlander and Seattle’s Felix Hernandez) are starting pitchers, while seven of them (Gonzalez, Teixiera, Howard, Texas’ Prince Fielder, Minnesota’s Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols of the Angels and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera) are first basemen. Four of the remainder (Kemp, Crawford, Ellsbury, Washington’s Jayson Werth) are outfielders, while Seattle’s Robinson Cano plays second base.

As expected, the 2013 class of free agents cashed in admirably over the off-season. In recent seasons, the Yankees have pulled back from pursuing high dollar free agents, but in the winter of 2013, they reverted to their free-spending ways, convincing not only Tanaka and Ellsbury to join them, but also securing C Brian McCann and OF Carlos Beltran to don the pinstripes in 2014. McCann, the longtime backstop and team leader in Atlanta, will earn 17 million in 2014, making him the highest-paid catcher in the majors. Other free agents who signed significant contracts during the off-season include Cano, Philadelphia’s A.J. Burnett, Tim Hudson, San Francisco, Texas’ Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson of the Mets, Jhonny Peralta to St. Louis and Omar Infante with Kansas City.

Despite being outspent by the Dodgers, the Yankees will have the highest average per player salary at 8 million, followed by the Dodgers at 7.7. Not surprisingly, the frugal Astros have the lowest average salary per player at $506,500, which isn’t much above the league’s minimum salary of $500,000.

HIGHEST-PAID PLAYERS BY POSITION (salaries in millions)
Starting Pitcher- Grienke, Dodgers (28)
Relief Pitcher- Rafael Soriano, Nationals (12)
Catcher- McCann, Yankees (17)
1B- Howard, Phillies (25)
2B- Cano, Mariners (24)
3B- David Wright, Mets (19)
SS- Tulowitzki, Rockies- Reyes, Blue Jays- H. Ramirez, Dodgers (16)
OF- Kemp, Dodgers (21.2)
OF- Crawford, Dodgers (21.1)
OF- Werth, Nationals (20.5)
DH- A. Soriano, Yankees (19)

When all the financial data is gathered and analyzed, several facts can be determined. First, neither a willingness to pay players exorbitant salaries or go the opposite direction and tighten purse strings guarantees success or failure on the field. Secondly, the old baseball saying that the quickest route to the major leagues is to don the “tools of ignorance” (i.e. catcher’s gear) doesn’t necessarily guarantee a hefty paycheck, and thirdly, for parents aspiring for their kids to become big leaguers, lead them to either the pitcher’s mound or have them become familiar with a first baseman’s mitt.

Top 10 Moments in the 2013 MLB Season

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox

10. The Banged-Up New York Yankees
Picked to be AL East favorite, the Yankees instead were hit by crippling injuries to a half-dozen or more key contributors. Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis, Mark Teixiera, Curtis Granderson, Travis Hafner, CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte were sidelined for either most of the season or a significant portion of it. That the team remained in contention for the postseason up until the last two weeks of the season is a credit to manager Joe Girardi.

9. Evan Gattis Emerges Out of Nowhere
Barely an afterthought when spring training began, 27-year old rookie Evan Gattis benefitted from Brian McCann’s early injury to earn a slot with Atlanta. His power from the right side helped the Braves get off to a blistering start and although he eventually cooled down, he finished among the NL’s rookie leaders in HRs and RBIs.

8. Max Scherzer’s Dominance
Frequently overshadowed by Justin Verlander, Scherzer emerged as one of the top aces in the AL. Verlander was up and down, but Scherzer dominated from the start, breaking out to a 13-0 start, earning the starter’s role in the All-Star Game for the junior circuit. He went on to a 19-1 start and finished at 21-3, leading Detroit to the AL Central title.

7. Big Expectations Fall Flat With the Angels
A year after signing big money free agents C.J. Wilson and Albert Pujols, the Angels opened up their checkbook again to corral Texas slugger Josh Hamilton, leading to predictions that they would run away with the AL West title. Instead, the team got off to a miserable start, with Hamilton hitting under .200 through the early schedule. Pujols, plagued by nagging injuries, wasn’t much better and played barely half the season before being shut down.

6. Chris Davis Goes Long
Following his 2012 breakout season (33 HRs), expectations for similar numbers for the slugging Baltimore first baseman weren’t surprising, but with a major-league record 16 RBIs in the season’s first four games, “Crush” was easily the big early-season buzz around MLB. Davis would go on to lead the majors in homers (53), RBIs (138), extra-base hits (96) and total bases (370).

5. Matt Harvey Gives the Mets Hope For the Future
Ever since he set a Met’s franchise record with 11 strikeouts in his 2012 major-league debut, expectations surrounding Matt Harvey bordered on the ridiculous. With 19 strikeouts in his first two 2013 starts, the hype surrounding the 24-year old appeared to be valid. Harvey earned NL Pitcher of the Month for April and was named the NL’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game at the Met’s home ballpark, Citi Field. In late August, Harvey was shut down after being diagnosed with a UCL right elbow tear and underwent Tommy John surgery in October and is expected to miss the 2014 season.

4. Pirates End Twenty-Year Postseason Drought
The last time the Pittsburgh Pirates participated in the postseason was 1992, and late-season collapses in recent seasons appeared to jinx the once-proud franchise. In 2013 however, the Bucs never eased off on the gas pedal and eventually snapped the longest under- .500 streak in North American professional sports history by clinching a winning record in early September. The team subsequently earned a Wild Card spot in the NL postseason.

3. Puig Energizes the Dodgers
On June 3rd, the high-payroll Dodgers were struggling with injuries and subpar performances and were being written off as NL West contenders. When Yasiel Puig joined the lineup that evening, one of modern baseball’s most impressive turnarounds was hatched, with the 22-year old Cuban defector breaking out with one of the more productive first months in history. He would go on to put up numbers second only to Joe DiMaggio in his first month, as well as being the first player in MLB history to be named Player of the Month in their very first month. Puig helped the Dodgers to the NL West title, finishing with a .319 average, 19 HRs and 42 RBIs.

2. A Most Unusual Ending
Game Three of the World Series, bottom of the ninth, score tied with one out and runners on second and third. Cardinal OF Jon Jay hit a sharp driver to Boston second-sacker Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia threw home to erase baserunner Yadier Molina, followed by C Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s throw to 3B in an attempt to end the inning by getting Allen Craig out. Instead, the throw sailed into left field, and when Craig arose to race home, he stumbled and fell over 3B Will Middlebrooks. Craig was easily thrown out, but 3B umpire Jim Joyce ruled obstruction on Middlebrooks, allowing Craig to be awarded home with the winning run. Such a play had never occurred in postseason history.

1. From Worst to First
Expectations were somewhat lowered following a miserable last-place 2012 season for the Boston Red Sox, but the Boston Marathon tragedy appeared to inspire and spur the Bosox into one of the franchise’s most dramatic turnarounds in their history. Led by veteran slugger David Ortiz and a group of bearded journeymen, Boston swept through the American League with clutch hitting and timely pitching. The “Dream Season” culminated with a 4-2 World Series triumph over St. Louis, with Ortiz turning in one of the Fall Classic’s most memorable performances.

Five Reasons Why This Has Been The Craziest World Series Ever

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The 2013 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox has had its share of interesting moments through five games. In Game One Dustin Pedroia was the victim of a terrible call that could have changed the course of the game and the entire series. However, that would be topped just a couple of games later.

1) Both Fan Bases Are Passionate About Their Teams

This is one of the rare World Series match-ups where both fan bases are passionate about their teams. While fans of the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins were certainly happy to see their teams in the World Series in past years, the Cardinals are the top team in St. Louis and the Red Sox are what Massachusetts is all about. To put things into perspective, tickets to the Cardinals game against Boston on Monday night went for $400. Tickets to a Rams game in St. Louis that same night went for $10.

2) David Ortiz Is Hitting Over .700

It is rare that a player goes 3 for 4 in a single game. To see a guy getting a hit in 70 percent of his at-bats over five guys is ridiculous. In a sport where hitting .300 makes you are one of the greatest to play the game, Ortiz is in another stratosphere right now. There is a good chance that he is solidifying his claim to a spot in Cooperstown in several years.

3) Game Three Ends On An Obstruction Call

When you think of obstruction, you probably think about some political battle brewing in Congress. However, obstruction is a thing that end a baseball game. In Game Three, the St. Louis Cardinals were awarded home plate after the umpire determined that the Cardinals runner had been illegally tripped as he was trying to advance past third base. If St. Louis wins this series, that could have been the call that decided everything.

4) Jon Lester Is Pitching Out Of His Mind

Jon Lester will be the MVP of this series if the Red Sox are able to seal the deal on Wednesday or Thursday. In each of his two World Series starts, he has gone 7.2 innings while only giving up one run. On top of that, he has struck out 15 batters while only walking one. Among the pantheon of World Series pitching performances, this has to be among the best of the best.

5) The Series Could End On Halloween Night

The seventh and deciding game of the series would take place on Thursday night in Boston. With everything that has gone on in this series, it would only be appropriate that the two teams would settle things on a night traditionally known for pranks and other hijinks.

The Cardinals and Red Sox are closing in on the final chapter of their outstanding series. Regardless of who wins this series, the true winners are the fans of baseball and sports everywhere. Instead of looking ahead to the day when pitchers and catchers report in February, fans are going to be rewatching and reliving one of the greatest World Series in the last 10 years.

Get Your World Series Championship Gear Immediately Following the Game at FansEdge.com – Click to View: Red Sox, Cards

2013 World Series Preview

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The 109th World Series will feature the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox and will open Wednesday evening at Boston’s Fenway Park. This will be the fourth Fall Classic between the two, with the other meetings occurring in 1946, 1967 and 2004. St. Louis won the first two series, while the Red Sox swept the Redbirds in 2004 to win their first world championship since 1918.

Boston and St. Louis finished the regular season with identical records (97-65), marking just the third time in World Series history that teams with identical records will face each other. The 2013 Series also features two managers (Boston’s John Farrell and St. Louis’ Mike Matheny) making their managerial debuts in the Fall Classic.

The Cardinals were crowned National League champions for the 19th time following victories over Pittsburgh and Los Angeles in the NL playoffs, while the Red Sox dispatched of Tampa Bay and Detroit to reach the World Series for the 13th time. St. Louis has won 11 World Series titles while Boston has emerged victorious 7 times in baseball’s Fall Classic.

POSITION MATCHUPS
Adam Wainwright gets the opening game assignment, squaring off against Boston’s Jon Lester. The remainder of St. Louis’ rotation will probably be NLCS MVP Michael Wacha, Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn with rookie Shelby Miller available if needed. After Lester, Boston manager John Farrell will trot out John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavey. Although the Cards have an obvious (on paper) advantage, Boston’s starters are all capable of going 6-to-7 innings, then turning it over to the bullpen and closer Koji Uehara (ALCS MVP), who has been almost unhittable since early summer. The Cardinals have gotten good work from Trevor Rosenthal in the postseason. Advantage St. Louis.

Catcher-Yadier Molina, STL vs. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, BOS
Molina is the heart and soul of the Cardinals, both at and behind the plate. His handling of pitchers is unmatched, and baserunners test his arm reluctantly. Saltalamacchia is nowhere near as polished, and he’s struck out in 15 of his last 27 at-bats. A huge Redbird advantage.

1B-Matt Adams, STL vs. Mike Napoli, BOS
Adams has filled in impressively for the injured Allen Craig, but he lacks Craig’s clutch-hitting ability and experience. Napoli has been one of the Bosox unsung heroes of 2013, delivering several clutch hits late in the season and making positive contributions in the playoffs, making this is pretty much a dead-even matchup.

2B-Matt Carpenter, STL vs. Dustin Pedroia, BOS
These two serve not only as offensive sparkplugs for their respective lineups, but are very similar in their approach. Carpenter had his breakout season in 2013, while Pedroia has long been recognized as a star. As close a matchup as there is, Pedroia’s experience gives him the slimmest of edges.

SS-Pete Kozma, STL vs. Stephen Drew, BOS
This matchup provides the classic “good field-no hit” comparison, with very little offense expected from either. In the field, Drew’s occasional lapses in focus has cost the Red Sox on a few occasions, while Kozma, although not flashy, is fundamentally sound and has even delivered some postseason offense. The edge goes slightly to the Cards.

3B-David Freese, STL vs. Xander Bogaerts, BOS
Freese’s lingering right calf issue has hampered him at bat. His defense is sometimes shaky, and his October offense has been non-existent. Bogaerts wasn’t expected to be in the lineup until 2014, but Will Middlebrook’s subpar play left Farrell with little choice. The 21-year old has all the skills, but the World Series is not AAA-ball. For that reason alone, give a slim edge to the Cardinals.

LF-Matt Holliday, STL vs. Jonny Gomes/Daniel Nava, BOS
Holliday can (and has) delivered enough this season to keep him in the lineup, especially with the absence of Allen Craig. The Gomes/Nava platoon provides little power and is so-so defensively. Slight edge to Holliday’s experience.

CF-Jon Jay, STL vs. Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Jay may find himself platooned with Shane Robinson, since the latter is wielding a hot bat. No one has more 2013 postseason hits than Ellsbury, and the Bosox need for that to continue. He led the majors in stolen bases despite missing much of September, and how he manages against Molina could set the tone as to how the Series evolves. Advantage Boston.

RF-Carlos Beltran, STL vs. Shane Victorino, BOS
Beltran has proven to be an absolute beast in the clutch, while Victorino, despite his .125 BA in the ALCS, is still the gritty consummate ballplayer. Give the Cards an edge however.

DH-Allen Craig, STL vs. David Ortiz, BOS
Craig’s late-season foot sprain affected the otherwise power-deficient Cardinals. Big Papi continues to wield a potent bat, but other than his heroic grand slam in the ALCS, he’s been relatively quiet in the postseason. Ortiz may even play some 1B in Busch Stadium games, which should be interesting, to say the least. Give the Red Sox the slightest of advantages here.

Boston has been a running offensive team all season, but with Molina behind the plate, look for them to scale back considerably, unless they have early success testing his arm. Craig’s return gives the Cards needed punch, but how effective he is after a long layoff remains to be seen. All in all, it’s difficult to expect St. Louis’ stellar starting pitching to suddenly fall apart, and for that reason, the pick here is for the Cards to win in six games.

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2013 MLB Regular Season Wrap-Up

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With the 2013 MLB season completed, a look back at pre-season predictions and projections shows that very little went as expected. Prior to Opening Day, prognosticators looked into their crystal ball and picked the Los Angeles Angels in the American League and the Washington Nationals of the National League as the teams to beat. Given the Angels off-season acquisitions (Josh Hamilton, Tommy Hanson) and the return of Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Mike Trout, it was hard to argue with the choice. However, Hamilton went through a horrific slump and Pujols was shut down in mid-summer to injury. As for Washington, their breakout 2012 season made them pre-season favorites, but a slow start and injuries (Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper) plus sub-par performances by 2012 standouts (Steven Strasburg, Adam LaRoche) kept them behind the curve for most of the season.

Other teams that fell short after being predicted to at least capture their divisions were the Texas Rangers, who did manage to earn a wild card tie-breaker (which they lost) to Tampa Bay. 2012 World Series champs San Francisco, despite staying relatively the same personnel-wise, saw their talented pitching staff virtually fall apart (with the exception of Madison Bumgarner) and finished 16 games out in the NL West. The New York Yankees suffered an almost unbelievable string of injuries (Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera) which forced a slew of changes and scrambling to fill key positions. To their credit they managed to stay in the playoff hunt up to the final weeks. Jeter and A-Rod’s futures are still up in the air, but it’s certain that long-time aces Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte won’t be back. The Yankees are facing an off-season filled with more questions than answers, especially the future of free-agent 2B Robinson Cano. The Yankees hated rivals, the Red Sox, were one of the season’s more pleasant surprises, winning the AL East by five games and tied with St. Louis for the major’s best W-L mark at 97-65. Boston improved an amazing 28 games from 2012, with new acquisitions Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes and perennial standouts Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jacoby Ellsbury stellar from start to finish. The long-suffering Cleveland Indians were another big surprise in 2013, with manager Terry Francona pushing all the right buttons to guide the Tribe to a wild-card berth, helped by a season-ending nine-game winning streak. Cleveland’s dream season was abruptly ended with a loss in the play-in game at home versus Tampa Bay however.

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Two teams that more or less met expectations were the Detroit Tigers (AL Central champs) and the NL Central champion Cardinals. Miguel Cabrera of Detroit flirted with becoming the first major-leaguer in history to win back-to-back Triple Crowns only to be slowed late in the season by nagging injuries, although he did win his third consecutive batting crown and wound up with 44 HRs and 137 RBIs to go along with his .348 BA. Baltimore’s Chris Davis edged out Cabrera with 53 HRs and 138 ribbies. The always strong St. Louis pitching staff remained so, and a new star emerged in 2B Matt Carpenter. Heading into the playoffs, their key power hitter, 1B Allen Craig, may or may not be available, which could pose a stumbling block. Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday and pitchers Adam Wainwright and rookie Shelby Miller all played key roles. The big surprise in the NL was the Pittsburgh Pirates, who snapped a 21-year playoff drought by finishing 94-68 and advancing to face the Cardinals by virtue of beating Cincinnati in the NL’s wild-card playoff game.

Also surprising was the domination displayed by Atlanta in the NL East. The Braves held first place for all but one day and finished 10 games ahead of the Nationals. The Braves led the NL in HRs, with five players slugging 20 or more, while both the rotation and bullpen remained consistently strong all season, especially closer Craig Kimbrel, the most dominant finisher in MLB. The Dodgers struggled mightily with several injuries, and had been essentially written off by early June. Instead, sparked by the call-up of rookie OF Yasiel Puig, the team turned things around and won the West going away. Puig was a nightly SportsCenter fixture with his freakish athleticism and exuberance, off-setting the extended absences of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Clayton Kershaw and fellow starters Zack Grienke and Hyun-Jin Ryu form an outstanding rotation, posing a challenge for playoff opponents.

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Individual AL standouts included Detroit’s Cabrera and Ps Max Scherzer (the major’s lone 20-game winner) and Anibal Sanchez, Baltimore’s Davis and Adam Jones, Mike Trout of the Angels, Oakland’s Bartolo Colon and Josh Donaldson, Tampa’s Evan Longoria, Matt Moore and rookie Wil Myers, and Texas’ Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre. In the NL, St. Louis’ Carpenter, Craig, Molina and Wainwright turned in sterling seasons, while Atlanta’s Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Chris Johnson and Kimbrel all had career years. Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt drove in 125 runs, Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutcheon and Pedro Alvarez were the Bucs batting leaders while Francisco Liriano won 16 games. Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer won the NL batting crown, and young pitchers Matt Harvey of the Mets and Jose Fernandez of Miami gave notice of future greatness.