Earlier this week, the folks at the LA Times put together a pretty sweet, interactive tool that can compare where each MLB team has spent its payroll for the 2013 season. I highly, highly recommend that you check it out. I find the disparity of team payrolls across the league to be a frustrating and fascinating subject, but it’s never been presented in such a simple and visually pleasing way. The tool lets you compare any two teams and even allows you to scroll over each position to see a list of the players and the cost of their 2013 contract.
The second I discovered the tool I immediately compared the Brewers to their NL Central opponents. I wanted to see exactly where each NL Central team stashed their cash, hopes, and dreams for the 2013 season. So you can see for yourself, below are the low-tech results. For the complete, interactive experience, please check out the links above –
Note — though the LA Times did a bang up job with this tool, they did count Corey Hart’s contract in right field for the Brewers’ graph. So the Brewers’ right field half-circle should be significantly smaller. As Hart’s $10.3M should be shifted to first, which would shrink the right field half-circle to reflect Norichika Aoki’s $1.25M. That said, I feel like the tiny speck at first base does perfectly represent the predicament the Brewers have been in at first base since losing Hart to injury for the start of the season.
The Reds have stashed their cash with Joey Votto at first base ($19M) and a pitching staff that takes up over half of their total team payroll — $55,706,366 out of $106,855,533. This includes $16.4M to Bronson Arroyo, $7.4M for Johnny Cueto, and $4.7M for Aroldis Chapman. Brandon Phillips also makes a healthy $10M at second base.
The Reds hoped their young, left side of the infield could be a source of production at a limited price. Both Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart are making $527,500, while their respective back-ups Jack Hannahan and Cesar Izturis make more than the Reds regular starters.
Finally, the Reds dreamed that a new lead off hitter could improve their offense. So they pulled off a three-team trade that brought Shin-Soo Choo and his $7.375M price tag to Cincinnati. Choo as been everything they hoped for and more. His .441 wOBA is the sixth best in baseball. Right between Miguel Cabrera and Bryce Harper.
The Cardinals are also heavily invested in their pitchers and, if you include the $14.2M contract for Yadier Molina, they’re spending $67,598,00 for their $116,790,787 payroll on their battery. Of course, that includes $12.5M for Chris Carpenter, who won’t even pitch this year. Cardinals are also spending heavily on their corner outfielders with Matt Holliday making $17M and Carlos Beltran making $13M.
The Cardinals were hoping for a strong season from Rafael Furcal and paid him $7.5M according. But a lingering elbow injury required Tommy John surgery and will, most likely, keep him out for the entire 2013 season.
They’re also dreaming up ways to get both of their heavy hitting, and relatively inexpensive, first basemen at-bats. Allen Craig signed a five-year, $31M extension in the off-season but is making only $1.75M this year. Matt Adams, aka Babe Ruth’s body double, is making $490,000 in 2013. Recently, he’s been injured but, in his 29 plate appearances, he’s hit three home runs and compiled a .629 wOBA. Small sample size but, literally, huge potential.
For the 2013 season, the Pirates are spending a whopping 2/3rd of their payroll on pitching — $45,422,000 out of $66,805,000. More amazingly, $30M of that $45M is going to two pitchers, A.J. Burnett ($16.5M) and Wandy Rodriguez ($13.5M).
The Pirates could only dream of getting the type of production they are from Starling Marte, whose $500,000 salary is a bargain compared to his production. Marte’s +1.8 WAR is fourth best in baseball, tied with Carlos Santana, Miguel Cabrera, and Manny Machado.
The Pirates also hoped to get better behind the plate and are paying Russell Martin $7.5M to do so.
The “rebuilding” Cubs are also spending more than half of their payroll on pitching — $62,183,00 out of $106,837,810. Past that, they’re still delivering wheel barrels of cash to Alfonso Soriano, who’s making $19M this year.
The Cubs hope that Starlin Castro earns his $5.8M this year. To start the season, the promising young player is having an average year at the plate and has already committed six errors. All together, Castro has mustered a +0.2 WAR, which is fourth worst amongst qualified SS.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are dreaming of big things from their first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who’s making $498,000. Rizzo’s .269 AVG may be lower than they hoped but he’s made up for it by already blasting nine home runs.
Finally, the Brewers are the only team in the NL Central that doesn’t even come close to spending half of their payroll on pitching — $35,807,000 out of $88,828,333. The percentage spent on pitching would be even lower if not for the $11M going to Kyle Lohse. Obviously, the big money is going to the bats of Rickie Week, Corey Hart, Aramis Ramirez, and Ryan Braun.
The Brewers hoped Carlos Gomez would replicate the second half success from 2012 and, this off-season, locked him up through 2016 with $28.3M. This year $4.3M is being paid to him and, so far, he’s been worth every cent. Gomez’s +2.6 WAR leads the MLB and is +0.5 points higher than the second place player, Evan Longoria.
Of course, the Brewers could only dream that Jean Segura would play as well as he has. His $492,000 salary is the lowest for any of the Brewers starting position players, and his +1.6 WAR ties Troy Tulowitzki for the best amongst qualified SS.
If you’re still with me after all those numbers, definitely check out this great interactive tool. Seeing payroll numbers listed like this carries a lot more weight than just starting at a list of numbers.