(Baseball StL) -- The answer is at the end of this article. But first, a little more perspective on why that is so important to the team and the player.
According to Cots, the baseball salary bible, here are the top 22 most lucrative baseball contracts in history for position players (non-pitchers):
1. Alex Rodriguez, $275,000,000 (2008-17)?
2. Alex Rodriguez, $252,000,000 (2001-10)?
3. Albert Pujols, $240,000,000 (2012-21)?
4. Joey Votto, $225,000,000 (2014-23)?
5. Prince Fielder, $214,000,000 (2012-20)?
6. Derek Jeter, $189,000,000 (2001-10)?
7. Joe Mauer, $184,000,000 (2011-18)
8. Mark Teixeira, $180,000,000 (2009-16)??
9. Buster Posey, $167,000,000 (2013-21)
10. Manny Ramirez, $160,000,000 (2001-08)?. . . Matt Kemp, $160,000,000 (2012-19)
12. Troy Tulowitzki, $157,750,000 (2011-20)?
13. Adrian Gonzalez, $154,000,000 (2012-18)?
14. Miguel Cabrera, $152,300,000 (2008-15)?
15. Carl Crawford, $142,000,000 (2011-17)
What you notice right away is that all of them are power hitters who produce runs. You don’t see any slick fielding .250 hitters here.
Now let’s look at some thing else Let’s look at the highest paid catchers and second basemen, historically the players with the lowest batting averages and the lowest salaries.
After Mauer and Posey, the next five catchers are:
Yadier Molina, $15,000,000 (2013-17) ?
Jorge Posada, $13,100,000 (2008-11)
Mike Piazza, $13,000,000 (1999-2005) ?
Mike Napoli, $13,000,000 (2013-15)?
Miguel Montero, $12,000,000 (2013-17)
And the top five 2nd basemen are:
Ian Kinsler, $15,000,000 (2013-17)?
Dan Uggla, $12,400,000 (2011-15)?
Chase Utley, $12,142,857 (2007-13)?
Brandon Phillips, $12,083,333 (2012-17)
Aaron Hill, $11,666,667 (2014-16)
What do you notice about the highest-paid players in these two positions? Well, yes, they are above average fielders. But they also hit well above the average for their position as listed in the first article.
So if you are not a power hitter who produces lots of runs or a power pitcher who commands eight figures, you can still make a very nice living in the major leagues if are a middle infielder or a catcher, as long as you can hit for average and get on base once in awhile.
Okay, how does a .250 hitter who won’t get big money or job security become a .300 hitter with both?
One Hit a Week. Yes, that’s all it takes.
Major league players typically get about 500-600 official at-bats a year. Walks, hit by a pitch and sacrifices do not count toward batting averages so while a major leaguer may get to the plate more than 600 times, the average official number of at-bats is about 500 or so. (Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals once had 700 official at-bats in a single season, a remarkable feat since injuries and days off usually dilute the number of opportunities a hitter has).
If a player has 500 official at bats and gets 125 hits, his final average is .250. But if he gets just one more hit a week, he adds 25 hits and ends the season with 150 which becomes a .300 average.
Lay down one bunt, beat out one infield hit, get one bloop single or one off the pitcher’s glove and it all adds up to more hits, higher on-base percentage, more runs scored, more RBIs, more wins and a bigger, longer contract.