Does the MLB Payout for Power Hitters?
Originally, I assumed that the more homeruns a player hit the more they would be compensated. Especially in the American League where there is a designated hitter in place of the pitcher. In my research I found this to be untrue throughout the league; on an average as well as between the American League and National League. On the sheet “Max HRtoPay Correlation” the National League has a higher correlation of pay to the league leader in homeruns each year than the American League at just under 13% compared to about 2% respectively. However, there is a rather large outlier in the American League. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees was signed to a rookie contract of $622,000 per year compared to the league average pay of $4,380,000 when he led the American League with an astonishing 52 homeruns. The highest paid batter in the American League that year, Miguel Cabrera, was paid $28,000,000 while smashing 38 total homeruns that season. It can be expected for Aaron Judge to sign one of the largest contracts in Major League Baseball history when he becomes a free agent in 2020. However, even when Judge is not included in the data set the correlation rises to just a weak 0.3%. If the 2017 season was not considered for neither the American League nor National League the correlation for the National League would drop to an astonishing .013% correlation of pay. This is because of Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins signed one of the highest paying contracts in the league today for an annual salary of $25,000,000. He lived up to this payday by leading the National League in homeruns with an astonishing 59. The most by a player in over 15 years.
Even when taking the overall average of each league and comparing pay to number of homeruns there is a very weak correlation. Reference sheet “Average HRtoPay.” But, again the National League had a higher correlation between annual pay and homeruns with just below a 4% correlating value; while the American League was close to zero with an astoundingly low .025% (See chart “Average Pay and Number of Homeruns Correlation”). This is rather interesting considering in the National League there is not a designated hitter to take the pitchers place in the batting order, and pitchers are notorious for being power hitter especially for power. On average, in the last 15 seasons the American League hits just 2 more homeruns per year than the National League but is paid about $3,000,000 more annually. This proves the statement, “correlation does not mean causation.” When considering annual salaries, great pitchers are among the highest paid players in the league. Pitchers rarely get an At Bat, much less hit homeruns on a consistent basis. Their total salary and yearly homerun count is taken into the averages of the Major Leagues count which lowers the total average of homeruns while increasing the rate of pay.
In conclusion, power hitting is great for baseball spectators; however, there are several factors that go into a player’s pay rate in the MLB. The league is not focused on only those who can hit the long ball. Ace pitchers are receiving some of the highest contracts in history over the past few years. However, I expect a change in years to come. I believe the correlation will rise between league leaders total number of homeruns and their annual salary, especially come 2020 when Aaron Judge signs a new contract. This sample size is rather small; however, I could only find statistics on players annual pay through the 2003 season. This correlation would be subject to change if the pay was known for players throughout history.
MLB 2019 Payroll Tracker, Spotrac.com. (2003).
https://www.spotrac.com/https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/payroll. (Accessed April 16, 2019).
Major League Baseball & MLB Encyclopedia, Baseball Reference. (2003).
https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues. (Accessed April 16, 2019)