Most overpaid MLB athletes

New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer. © Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer. © Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports Logo staff

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When it comes to Major League Baseball , how much is too much? Well, according to a recent survey of baseball fans, it appears most things within the sport are too expensive. Whether that be players’ contracts, the prices fans have to pay to watch their teams or just the sheer spend of an MLB franchise. Costs are spiralling and fans aren't happy about it.

MLB player salaries comparison

There are currently 15 players in the league who earn $30,000,000 per year, or more. Right at the top, Max Scherzer’s contract at the New York Mets dwarfs that of everybody else, with the future Hall of Famer picking up $,43,333,333 annually – over $6,000,000 more than the second biggest earner, Mike Trout, at the Los Angeles Angels.

Scherzer actually earns 1,251 more than the average American (the median American salary coming in at $34,612). He even earns nearly nearly 40 times the median salary of all MLB players, who pick up $1,187,500 on average. That’s what you get when the Mets are paying someone a fraction shy of $30,000 per inning.

Infographic - MLB player salaries comparison

How to spend Max Scherzer’s salary

To put Scherzer’s contract into some sort of perspective, it may be worth considering what you could do elsewhere with his annual salary because just over $43,000,000 gets you a lot.

Consider for a moment some expensive aspects of American life. Think major events, university fees or filling up your car. Want a ticket to the Super Bowl, well Max Scherzer money would get 6,372 of them. Want to go to college? His annual salary could put 192 students through four years of education at an Ivy League school. Cost of fuel going up? How about swapping a year of Scherzer pitching for gas for every single person in the state of Vermont because his pay packet could fill up a 15-gallon gas tank 774,501 times.

Infographic - MLB How to spend Max Scherzer’s salary

Fan opinions on MLB salaries

Despite all of that, and the fact that 70% of baseball fans feel that MLB players should be paid less, Scherzer falls among the top five players who fans believe deserve the best pay. So while they may think he earns too much, they also think that if that money is going somewhere, it probably deserves to go to him. They’re not sure what that pay should be, but agree that he should be among the best-paid in the game. The other four players making up that list are Mike Trout ($30,000,000), Aaron Judge ($19,000,000 ), Bryce Harper ($27,538,462) and Mookie Betts ($22,500,000).

There is an element of confusion, however, and it clearly depends who you ask, because Harper and Judge both make the top five of players who MLB fans believe deserve a pay cut. They join the Los Angeles Dodgers’ David Price, along with the Yankee pair of Aroldis Chapman and Gerrit Cole, in players to earn beyond their talent or output.

The fact that Cole, Chapman and Judge all make the list isn’t surprising. When asked which teams overpay their players, the New York Yankees topped the poll. Following them were the Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, Mets and Los Angeles Angels. In general, 77% of baseball fans feel that MLB should have a salary cap.

Infographic - Fan opinions on MLB salaries

The cost to MLB fans

This comes as part of wider consensus from fans about the spiralling costs of following their team. A huge 90% feel MLB games have gotten more expensive to go to and 61% have specifically not attended games because of the cost.

Multiply the game getting more expensive with the cost of living going up, and it’s easy to see why. Just over 70% think inflation will keep them from attending sporting events in the future and one in three have changed plans to see sporting events because of inflation. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the Yankees also top the list of MLB teams that people think overcharge their fans, along with the Red Sox, Dodgers, Chicago Cubs and Mets.

Infographic - The cost to MLB fans

Methodology: In May 2022, we surveyed 1009 baseball fans to get their feedback about MLB players and games. Respondents ranged in age from 19 to 86 years old. The average age of respondents was 40. 54% were male, 45% female, and 1% were non-binary/non-conforming. We determined the median American salary using data from the Social Security Administration. Average house sales were determined using U.S. Census data, and average car prices were determined using Kelley Blue Book.

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