Is the MLB a Level Playing Field?
There was an interesting article in the newspaper today about the respective salaries of all the MLB clubs. A record 14 MLB players will earn at least $20 million this season, more than double from two years ago. Baseballs average annual salary is $3.45 million. With no salary cap it will be interesting to me to find out at the end of the season how closely the final standings of the team reflect the amount that the club has spent on players’ salaries. Here are the lists, by division:
East Total Payroll Average Salary
New York Yankees $197,962,289 $6,186,322
Boston $173,186,617 $5,093,724
Baltimore $81,429,999 $2,807,997
Toronto $75,489,200 $2,696,043
Tampa Bay $64,173,500 $2,291,911
Detroit $132,300,000 $4,562,069
Chicago WS $96,919,500 $3,876,780
Minnesota $94,085,000 $3,484,630
Cleveland $78,430,300 $2,704,493
Kansas $60,916,225 $2,030,541
LA Angels $154,485,166 $5,327,075
Texas $120,510,974 $4,635,037
Seattle $81,978,100 $2,927,789
Oakland $55,244,700 $1,973,025
Philadelphia $174,538,938 $5,817,965
Miami $118,078,000 $4,373,259
New York Mets $93,353,983 $3,457,555
Atlanta $83,309,942 $2,776,998
Washington $81,336,143 $2,623,143
St. Louis $110,300,862 $3,393,317
Milwaukee $97,653,944 $3,755,921
Chicago Cubs $88,197,033 $3,392,194
Cincinnati $82,203,616 $2,935,843
Pittsburgh $93,431,999 $2,187,310
Houston $60,651,000 $2,232,731
San Francisco $117,539,938 $3,920,689
LA Dodgers $95,143,575 $3,171,453
Colorado $78,069,571 $2,692,054
Arizona $74,284,833 $2,653,030
San Diego $55,244,700 $1,973,025
Source: USA Today. Based on documents obtained from the MLB Players Association and club officials are filed with MLB’s central office.
Surely this does not represent a level playing field. Major League Baseball is one of the very few sporting competitions world wide that does not have a salary cap. Instead it has a luxury tax. This tax is paid if a clubs payroll exceeds a certain figure (determined annually). In 2011 that figure was $178 million. The club is taxed on the amount of money they are over the figure and the money goes to the league and is put into the industry growth fund.
To date only the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers and Los Angeles Angels have been forced to pay the luxury tax. The tax was introduced as a means of making the competition more even. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that the teams with the biggest pay rolls like the Red Sox and the Yankees have been seriously overrepresented in post season appearances as opposed to clubs such as Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh with meagre pay rolls in comparison, who have between them only made four appearances in the post season in the last decade
Now a PE teacher at Nelson College. I coached the Nelson College 1st XV 2000-2008 and Nelson Rugby Football Club (tap...tap) 2009-2011.
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