Where Did The Dollars Go?, Part 1


One word that’s practically a guarantee to spin the heads of some of the Redleg faithful is payroll. Over the past few seasons, the club has elected to increase the payroll dollars in an attempt to bring a winning and contending team to the city. Along the way, there have been and will continue to be snags, mistakes and what appear to be downright blunders. It’s part of the business. We may not always agree with the moves the front office makes, but as diehard fans, we “deal” with them.

Last season, the Reds posted their highest Opening Day payroll in club history by posting proposed payroll of $114,170,439. While it was only an increase of $8M compared to the previous season, it marked an increase of some $27M compared to just two seasons prior.

Let’s look at all facets of the 2014 team. Below is a breakdown of the starting eight and the bench. You will notice some players named in the table were not with the club at season’s end due to various transactions.

[table id=26 /]

You obviously notice the inclusion of average salary and percentage. That percentage is based on total payroll, and keep in mind this is the 2014 Opening Day payroll, not that of the end of the season.

And look at the starters. Four of those drew a salary of $600K or lower. Consider the seasons produced by Todd Frazier and Devin Mesoraco. They certainly earned their paycheck in 2014. One “stat” that I like to look at on Fangraphs is their Value stat. I’ve previously mentioned that here and I use that as guide of sorts. Take a player’s FG value and compare to what the club paid him. It’s not exact by any means, but sometimes the differences are mind-blowing. More on that in a bit.

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  • Per the table above, you may be taken aback that there are more players that earned $1M+ this past season than the starters. Then you should think of two words: team control. Frazier, Cozart, Mesoraco and Hamilton all fall under that. Their total salary is barely over $2.2M which slightly eclipses what Skip Schumaker made this past season. Think about that for a moment.

    But as you could have easily determined, the starters are generally paid a fair amount more than bench/role players especially those that have produced on a somewhat consistent level in their playing days. The Reds had a few subs collect a higher paycheck than some regulars, but we all know one reason why that is the case. When we look at the pitching staff, the same will also occur, but I believe you already are aware of that as well.

    Why does this single number, the value stat, fascinate me? One reason is that we will hear or read that 1 fWAR or bWAR is worth x number of dollars. In a way, this can provide you an instant “analysis” if a player has performed on the level with his salary. Grated, as with some stats that appear these days, there can be a flaw or two in how is it determined.

    Let’s bring a little of the value into scope, just for fun.

    Best values

    1. Todd Frazier: FG value = $25.6M
    2. Devin Mesoraco: FG value = $24.1M
    3. Billy Hamilton: FG value = $19.5M

    Worst values

    1. Skip Schumaker: FG value = ($7.0M)
    2. Jay Bruce: FG value = ($5.9M)
    3. Ryan Ludwick: FG value = ($3.5M)