It Pays To Be An All-Star

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I am fascinated with MLB player salaries (all sports salaries for that matter), and I wanted to know if it was worth anything to the player to be selected to an All-Star team. I know players typically have incentives built into their contract for achievements such as this, but they usually fall under the category of a one time bonus. What about their actual salary? Is it affected if the player makes an All-Star team?

The Logic

To bring this question to light, I first compiled a list of every player that has been selected to an All-Star team from 2002 - 2013. I chose to use this time frame to keep the salaries at a somewhat comparable level to today's. Go back to far in history and player salaries are significantly lower. Once I had my list of players, I found the average player salary for each of those years as well as an average for all years combined. I then gathered those same players' salaries for the year after they were an All-Star. A quick subtraction formula gave me the difference for each players' salary before and after they were an All-Star. I calculated the mean of those values to understand if player salaries increase or decrease the year after an All-Star team selection and by how much.

The Numbers

The total average salary of pre-All-Star players from 2002-2013 was $6,811,333. The total average salary of those same players for the year after they were an All-Star was $8,436,326. That's a difference of +1,624,993. The average difference was calculated to be $1,517,550. Below is a bar chart breaking down the difference in player salaries from year to year.

It seems that an All-Star selection can increase a player's salary significantly; on average by $1,517,550. What does this mean for MLB players and teams? For players, it means do everything you can to get on the All-Star team. This includes those goofy campaign videos players use to gain publicity and in turn get votes.

Lucory's campaign video:

For teams, a player achieving All-Star status seems to be a catch 22. Or is it? Of course the team wants all of their players to play like All-Stars, but it will cost them in elevated salaries if they actually make the team. I don't think this bothers clubs though. For one, I am guessing (since I do not have the hard data) that teams gain some cheap branding from a player's involvement in the All-Star game and two, the increase in the players production on the field elevates his market value which would most likely demand an increase in salary.

For a future post I might look deeper into the average increase (or decrease) in WAR or RC by a player who makes the All-Star game compared to their increase in salary. This will help teams realize whether an increase in a players salary in truly warranted. It would also help teams determine how much to increase a players salary if it was found to be a worth while investment.


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