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Mailbag: Most Expensive Starters (Per Inning, 2008-2010)

Posted by Neil Paine on March 22, 2011

B-R reader Don recently asked about the most expensive starters per inning pitched (apropos of the Yankees' infamous Carl Pavano contract). Since the average MLB team payroll was approximately even from 2008-2010 (see below), I can calculate dollars per inning for those years using just raw salaries.

Year Avg Team Payroll
2010 $90,711,996
2009 $88,837,600
2008 $89,495,289
2007 $82,556,300
2006 $77,409,987
2005 $72,957,113
2004 $69,022,198
2003 $70,942,071
2002 $67,469,251
2001 $65,355,444

I considered a pitcher a "starter" if more than half of his games pitched were starts. Here were the most expensive starting pitchers per inning from 2008-2010:

Pitcher G GS Start% IP Salary $/Inning ERA FIP
Kelvim Escobar 1 1 100% 5.0 $20,750,000 $4,150,000.00 3.60 3.60
Jason Schmidt 4 4 100% 17.7 $30,434,802 $1,722,724.64 5.60 5.07
Matt Morris 5 5 100% 22.3 $10,037,283 $449,430.58 9.67 6.83
Dontrelle Willis 30 27 90% 123.3 $29,000,000 $235,135.14 6.86 6.24
John Smoltz 21 20 95% 106.0 $19,500,000 $183,962.26 5.35 3.47
Tom Glavine 13 13 100% 63.3 $9,000,000 $142,105.26 5.54 6.04
Jeremy Bonderman 50 42 84% 252.7 $33,500,000 $132,585.75 5.31 5.12
Jake Westbrook 38 38 100% 237.3 $31,000,000 $130,617.98 4.06 4.28
Carlos Silva 57 55 96% 296.7 $33,250,000 $112,078.65 5.82 4.38
Carlos Zambrano 94 78 83% 487.7 $53,625,000 $109,962.41 3.71 3.84
Oliver Perez 65 55 85% 306.3 $30,500,000 $99,564.74 5.17 5.30
Erik Bedard 30 30 100% 164.0 $16,250,000 $99,085.37 3.24 3.87
Tim Hudson 64 63 98% 413.0 $40,000,000 $96,852.30 3.03 3.99
Johan Santana 88 88 100% 600.0 $56,005,062 $93,341.77 2.85 3.65
Mike Hampton 44 34 77% 194.3 $17,975,184 $92,496.66 5.00 4.71
Barry Zito 99 98 99% 571.3 $51,500,000 $90,140.02 4.43 4.41
Chris Carpenter 67 66 99% 443.0 $39,643,554 $89,488.84 2.74 3.24
Pitcher G GS Start% IP Salary $/Inning ERA FIP
Brandon Webb 35 35 100% 230.7 $20,500,000 $88,872.83 3.47 3.31
Gil Meche 77 66 86% 401.0 $35,200,000 $87,780.55 4.60 4.33
Jake Peavy 60 60 100% 382.3 $32,500,000 $85,004.36 3.51 3.56
Randy Johnson 52 47 90% 280.0 $23,100,546 $82,501.95 4.24 4.15
Chien-Ming Wang 27 24 89% 137.0 $11,000,000 $80,291.97 5.78 4.21
Pedro Martinez 29 29 100% 153.7 $11,813,351 $76,876.47 5.04 4.80
Jeff Suppan 91 76 84% 440.7 $33,750,000 $76,588.50 5.11 5.41
A.J. Burnett 101 100 99% 615.0 $46,200,000 $75,121.95 4.42 4.07
Aaron Harang 78 75 96% 458.3 $33,250,000 $72,545.45 4.71 4.54
Hiroki Kuroda 83 82 99% 497.0 $35,299,999 $71,026.15 3.60 3.48
C.C. Sabathia 103 103 100% 720.7 $50,571,428 $70,173.12 3.07 3.27
Roy Oswalt 95 94 99% 601.7 $42,000,000 $69,806.09 3.44 3.59
Ben Sheets 51 51 100% 317.7 $22,125,000 $69,648.48 3.63 3.96
Chris Young 36 36 100% 198.3 $13,625,000 $68,697.48 4.13 4.81
Vicente Padilla 71 70 99% 413.3 $28,025,000 $67,802.42 4.49 4.51
Brad Penny 58 56 97% 323.7 $21,750,000 $67,198.76 5.01 4.51
Derek Lowe 101 101 100% 599.3 $40,000,000 $66,740.82 3.95 3.77
Pitcher G GS Start% IP Salary $/Inning ERA FIP
Nate Robertson 81 52 64% 319.7 $21,250,000 $66,475.50 6.08 4.86
Daisuke Matsuzaka 66 66 100% 380.7 $24,999,999 $65,674.25 4.07 4.16
Mark Buehrle 100 100 100% 642.3 $42,000,000 $65,386.61 3.97 4.15
Josh Beckett 80 80 100% 514.3 $33,433,332 $65,003.24 4.39 3.68
John Lackey 84 84 100% 554.7 $36,033,333 $64,963.94 4.02 3.96
Kenshin Kawakami 50 41 82% 243.7 $15,667,332 $64,298.22 4.32 4.28
Kevin Millwood 91 91 100% 558.0 $35,237,784 $63,150.15 4.58 4.56
Andy Pettitte 86 86 100% 527.7 $33,250,000 $63,013.27 4.09 3.92
Jarrod Washburn 56 54 96% 329.7 $19,700,000 $59,757.33 4.20 4.62
Ted Lilly 91 91 100% 575.3 $34,000,000 $59,096.18 3.63 4.15
Javier Vazquez 96 91 95% 585.0 $34,500,000 $58,974.36 4.17 3.87
Mike Mussina 34 34 100% 200.3 $11,071,029 $55,263.04 3.37 3.27
Roy Halladay 99 98 99% 735.7 $40,000,000 $54,372.45 2.67 3.03
Jason Marquis 75 74 99% 441.7 $23,750,000 $53,773.58 4.56 4.46
Doug Davis 68 68 100% 387.7 $20,750,000 $53,525.37 4.53 4.62
Greg Maddux 33 33 100% 194.0 $10,000,000 $51,546.39 4.22 4.06

(All data used in this post came from Baseball-Databank.org.)

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 at 11:23 am and is filed under Mailbag, Stats. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

10 Responses to “Mailbag: Most Expensive Starters (Per Inning, 2008-2010)”

  1. Greg Finley Says:

    Of course, if a pitcher misses the whole season (because of Tommy John surgery or somesuch), then his salary per inning is infinity.

  2. Very true. This only includes players who pitched in at least 1 game, though.

  3. John Autin Says:

    Neil -- Any chance of expanding the table to reflect the quality of the innings pitched?

  4. #3 - Good call, I added ERA and FIP.

  5. John Autin Says:

    Thanks for the extra data, Neil.
    Where on B-R can I find FIP data? -- player stats and/or an explanation of how the number is derived?

    I'm intrigued by the large difference between Johan's 2.85 ERA and his 3.65 FIP, over a 3-year, 600-IP span.

  6. We don't have FIP on B-R (yet?), but you can read about it at the Hardball Times, Wikipedia, or Fangraphs. Fangraphs also has FIP leaders; their version of WAR actually values pitchers using FIP (unlike our Rally WAR).

    It's a DIPS stat, so only the 3 True Outcomes (HR, BB, SO) are considered. The formula for 2008-2010 was: 3.2 + ((13*HR + 3*BB - 2*SO) / IP). League average ERA and FIP are going to be the same, but the range of FIP is much more compressed.

  7. You don't really need "Quality of Innings" added to see Roy Halladay has been a ridiculouls bargain (54K per inn). Roughly the same as Jason Marquis and Doug Davis over the same time-frame.

  8. an interresting but little off topic challenge would be evaluating the most expensive PA by adding the pitchers $/BF plus the batters $/PA not restricting the pitchers to starters and only counting the seasonal salary per BF or PA.

  9. [...] Mailbag: Most Expensive Starters (Per Inning, 2008-2010) (Baseball-Reference). Peavy and Perez show up here as well. So do former and current Padres Aaron Harang, Greg Maddux, and Chris Young. [...]

  10. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    I'm not certain you can call Halladay a bargain at 54k.

    Total team payroll averages 61,500 an inning. So if you are an average team, that only leaves you 7500/inning for the whole rest of your team when he's pitching!

    He may be worth it, but dang. Anybody who isn't a top notch pitcher can't possibly be worth that much.