Increasingly over the past number of years, the ridiculous amount of money given to some players in Major League Baseball has skyrocketed, with many receiving $200 million contracts, and even one player, Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins receiving a whopping $320 million contract. Players receiving these $200 million contracts have become a norm, but as the old saying goes “money doesn’t buy championships.” This in recent times has been embodied by the San Francisco Giants, as GM Brian Sabean has built a championship winning team through the farm system, whose primary focus is winning through chemistry and character development, rather than spending the most money.
While this overspending is sometimes a necessity to gain and retain players of a superstar status, which are often the key to winning championships, it can more often than not be more vital to a team to develop talent through the farm system, as these players may contribute just as much to the team at a fraction of the cost. This is referred to as the ‘Moneyball’ approach, perfected by Billy Beane with the Oakland Athletics, which has now been immortalized in the 2011 film of the same name. Due to this success, and the increased focus on analytics in all sports, teams are trying to opt for role players who can give them supreme effort and efficiency for their money, rather than paying a higher price to get only one superstar player, which does not always pay off.
With that being said, here is the one player from each American League team that I believe gives them the best contributions and value for their price, based on average salary and recent production.
15 Baltimore Orioles: Caleb Joseph - $523,500
14 Boston Red Sox: Mookie Betts - $566,000
13 Chicago White Sox: Carlos Rodon - $518,000
12 Cleveland Indians: Danny Salazar - $536,200
11 Detroit Tigers: Nick Castellanos - $536,500
10 Houston Astros: Carlos Correa - $516,700
9 Kansas City Royals: Alcides Escobar - $2,625,000
8 Los Angeles Angels: Matt Shoemaker - $530,000
7 Minnesota Twins: Byron Buxton - $512,500
6 New York Yankees: Dellin Betances - $507,500
5 Oakland Athletics: Sonny Gray - $527,500
4 Seattle Mariners: Taijuan Walker - $528,600
3 Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria - $2,916,667
2 Texas Rangers: Rougned Odor - $522,700
1 Toronto Blue Jays: Marcos Stroman - $515,900
Much was made of the late 2015 return of young Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman and he lived up to it, going 4-0 in the late stretch of the season, backing up veteran David Price to give the Jays a solid rotation to go with the jaw-dropping offense, led by Donaldson, Bautista and Encarnacion. Since the departure of Price to the rival Red Sox, Stroman has taken on the role of ace within the organization and is thriving in this position, posting a record in early 2016 of 4-0, with an ERA in the mid 3s, proving that the front end of the Jays rotation is solid for years to come, especially with the low salary, allowing money to be used on other players.
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