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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Sports, like entertainment, pays for star power.

Despite the sometimes conflicting metrics it's much easier to identify the best players than the best actors. Judging actors is completely subjective. Judging start power is somewhat subjective.

MVP: should money be considered? Thursday, November 8, 2012

... even though I do not embrace WAR let's try it for this purpose: determining a dollar value for wins.  Let's use WAR as calculated by baseball-reference.com...

​salary / WAR = $$$ per WAR:
Trout $500,000 / 10.7 = $46,729
Cano $14,000,000 / 8.2 = $1,707,317
Cabrera $21,000,000 / 6.9  = $3,043,478

Well, that puts MVP into an entirely different perspective.​

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Sports teams like movie studios determine bang for the bucks by attendance and related things. For 2015 Forbes magazine estimates that Robert Downey, Jr. was the highest paid actor at $80 million. That's much more than:
Miguel Cabrera: $22 million going up to $28 million in 2016
Mike Trout: $6 million but going up, up, up: $16, $20, $34 million.

MVP criteria: MONEY! Does the value of Mike Trout decrease as his salary increases? Wednesday, November 25, 2015
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The quick answer is yes, Trout's value decreases. But that considers only the quality of Trout's performance. And this is not new.

Babe Ruth got his highest salaries at ages 35 and 36: $80,000 per season in 1930 and 1931 when the country was in the great economic depression. Amazingly, Ruth led the American League in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in both 1930 and 1931:

WAR Position Players  s c a p y
1.Ruth (NYY)10.3
2.Gehrig (NYY)9.6
3.Cronin (WSH)8.4
4.Simmons (PHA)7.8
5.Foxx (PHA)7.1
6.Gehringer (DET)6.5
7.Reynolds (CHW)6.3
8.Morgan (CLE)5.7
9.Cochrane (PHA)5.5
10.Goslin (2TM)5.3

WAR Position Players  s c a p y
1.Ruth (NYY)10.3
2.Gehrig (NYY)8.8
3.Simmons (PHA)7.5
4.Cronin (WSH)6.8
5.Averill (CLE)6.1
6.Chapman (NYY)6.0
7.Bishop (PHA)5.9
8.Goslin (SLB)5.6
9.Cochrane (PHA)5.4
10.Webb (BOS)5.4

Ruth's Yankee teammate Lou Gehrig was paid $25,000 from 1928 through 1934, Gehrig's triple crown season, after which his salary was decreased to $23,000. Part of that was Gehrig's personality but it was also because Gehrig, as great a player as he was, lacked Ruth's star power.

The Philadelphia Athletics paid Jimmie Foxx $16,666 1931-1933; Foxx led in the triple crown stats in 1932, including 58 home runs, and was AL MVP in 1932 and 1933. After hitting 50 homers for the Red Sox in 1938 and being named MVP for the third and final time at age 30, the salary for Foxx increased from $20,000 to $27,000, his highest.

The Yankees paid Joe DiMaggio his star salary even after he no longer was one. In his final three seasons, 1949-1951, DiMaggio had WAR 4.4, 5.3, 2.9; salaries: $100,000, $100,000, $90,000. Supposedly the Yankees wanted DiMaggio to come back in 1952 at his same salary but he declined, famously saying "I've played my last game of ball".

The final big season for Mickey Mantle was 1964 at age 32.

Cumulative hitting stats through age 32. Monday, August 17, 2015

My favorite player, Mickey Mantle, peaked at age 32 in 1964.  I wanted to see how he compared with others at the same age

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Mantle played four more seasons, all sub par . Mantle received $100,000 1963-1968. And like DiMaggio, the Yankees wanted to continue to pay Mantle his high salary but, also like DiMaggio, Mantle retired at age 36.

In 1965 at age 34 Willie Mays hit 52 home runs and was MVP for the second time. His salary was increased from $90,000 to $105,000 and went up to $165,000 for his final two seasons at ages 41 and 42 when he was barely a shadow of his former self.
Photo of Hank Aaron
Hank Aaron at age 39 broke Babe Ruth's career home run record early in 1973 and went on to hit 40 homers in 392 at bats. It was his last productive season. Aaron was paid $200,000 that season and the next, his final with the Braves. Allan Huber "Bud" Selig, owner of the new Milwaukee Brewers, traded for Aaron in November 1974 and paid Aaron $240,000 in both 1975 and 1976 to be much less than a shadow of his former self. Selig later was commissioner for a couple of decades.

So maybe the Angels will recoil from paying Mike Trout $34 million at age 26 in 2018 and trade him. What team would pay Trout so much? Maybe one that values star power as much as production.

Data, including salaries, from baseball-reference.com

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