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Home Maury Brown Inside the Numbers: Average Salary for MLB in 2009

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Inside the Numbers: Average Salary for MLB in 2009 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 01 December 2009 15:58

MLBThe average salary in Major League Baseball was just under $3 million for the 2009 season, based on an annual report released by the MLB Players Association. The league average of $2,996,106 for 926 players was an increase of 1.37 percent from 2008 average of $2,925,675, the smallest increase in average salary since 2004 when MLB saw the average salary decline from the year prior.

Leading the way was the New York Yankees with an average salary of $7,663,351 for 28 players. That was an increase of 11.66 percent from 2008 when the Bronx Bombers had an average salary of $6,862,918. The Yankees average salary was $3,032,658 higher than the second highest average salary held by the Chicago Cubs who’s average salary was $4,630,693 for 29 players. The Yankees have topped the highest average salary ranking for the past 11 seasons.

The largest percentage of increase from 2008 to 2009 for average salary came by way of the Florida Marlins who increased their average from $868,261 in 2008 to $1,327,968 for 31 players in 2009, an increase of 52.95 percent.

The largest drop in average salary for 2009 goes to the San Diego Padres, who saw their average salary drop below $1 million ($959,165) or a decrease in average salary from $1,720,590 in 2008, or a decrease of 44.25 percent.

Pittsburgh had the lowest average salary in 2009 of $790,167 for 31 players.

According to Ronald Blum of The Associated Press:

Six teams among the top eight by average salary made the postseason, joined by Colorado (15th at $2.93 million) and Minnesota (17th at $2.66 million). The Rockies and Twins were both eliminated in the first round.


Among regulars at positions, first basemen took over with the highest average at $7.39 million, passing designated hitters ($7.34 million). Third basemen were next at $6.46 million, followed by starting pitchers ($4.66 million), outfielders ($4.58 million), shortstops ($4.44 million), second basemen ($4.32 million), catchers ($4.07 million) and relief pitchers ($1.78 million).

Average salary is based on total salary divided by the number of players on the roster at the end of the season. The Associated Press, using different calculating methods reported that the increase in average salary for the league was 2.4 percent compared to The Biz of Baseball’s accounting of 1.37 percent. The MLBPA calculations will be slightly different than MLB’s based on different accounting methods. Those figures should be released in the next few weeks (normally the week before Christmas).

Other points of interest from the report:

  • Call it the A-Rod Factor – The AL Mean for third basemen was more than double what the NL Mean was. The AL had an average of $9,230,865 for 11 players compared to an average of $4,118,967 for 13 players.
  • The DH – The Designated Hitter (with 80 or more games) accounted for an average of $7,336,833 for 12 players.
  • Give Me Some Relief – The NL had 110 relievers compared to 84 for the AL (10 or less starts; 25 or more relief appearances). The NL had an average of $1,601,673 for relievers compared to $2,018,336 for the AL in 2009.
  • Youth Is King – Out of the 926 players in the league last year, 249 had Major League service time of less than 1 year and 101 players with service time of 1-2 years. There were 17 players with 15 years or more service time.
  • Where the Money’s At – The “sweet spot” for ML service time is between 14 and 15 years of service time. Those 8 players had a Mean of $8,082,883
  • Money, Money, Money – In 1967, the average salary, as calculated by the MLBPA was $190,000. When accounting for inflation, that would be equal to $121,227 today. With a 2009 average salary of $2,996,106 and using the the average salary in 1967, when accounting for inflation, the average salary has risen 2346.74%

Select Read More to see the Minimum, and Average Salary as well as the Average Salary for each of the 30 Clubs in MLB last season compared to the same figures for 2008.

AVERAGE SALARY (by Club - 2009 and 2008 compiled by MLBPA)

Club Rank '08 # players
2009 % (+/-) 2008
N.Y. Yankees 1 28 $7,663,351 11.66% $6,862,918
Chicago Cubs 2 29 $4,630,693 -0.97% $4,675,883
Boston 6 29 $4,581,533 9.16% $4,196,967
Detroit 7 30 $4,434,909 6.89% $4,148,959
St. Louis 12 28 $4,416,937 32.15% $3,342,380
LA Dodgers 5 35 $4,334,635 -0.84% $4,371,154
LA Angeles 3 28 $4,223,942 -7.38% $4,560,457
Philadelphia 11 31 $4,055,455 19.49% $3,393,916
NY Mets 8 38 $3,764,567 -3.87% $3,916,288
Atlanta 16 28 $3,680,180 36.65% $2,693,161
Houston 9 30 $3,464,718 -4.04% $3,610,588
Chicago W. Sox 4 28 $3,458,400 -23.18% $4,501,832
Seattle 13 32 $3,377,771 3.27% $3,270,666
Milwaukee 10 30 $2,937,499 -17.55% $3,562,592
Colorado 17 32 $2,926,721 14.59% $2,554,035
San Francisco 18 32 $2,899,400 21.11% $2,393,955
Minnesota 21 30 $2,664,878 37.73% $1,934,886
Kansas City 23 30 $2,621,263 43.99% $1,820,423
Texas 20 33 $2,402,506 20.64% $1,991,413
Tampa Bay 27 28 $2,297,365 44.04% $1,594,997
Arizona 14 30 $2,168,853 -28.07% $3,015,390
Cincinnati 24 36 $2,153,075 23.13% $1,748,586
Cleveland 22 28 $2,007,420 5.33% $1,905,804
Toronto 15 31 $1,825,987 -35.47% $2,829,826
Washington 28 33 $1,685,950 24.95% $1,349,305
Baltimore 19 31 $1,684,182 -15.61% $1,995,760
Oakland 25 32 $1,469,254 -15.60% $1,740,764
Florida 30 31 $1,327,968 52.95% $868,261
San Diego 26 34 $959,165 -44.25% $1,720,590
Pittsburgh 29 31 $790,167 -34.21% $1,201,117


Average baseball salary as compiled by the MLBPA and the minimum salary

Year Minimum Average Notes
1967 $6,000 $19,000
1968 (A) 10,000 NA
1969 10,000 24,909
1970 12,000 29,303
1971 12,750 31,543
1972 13,500 34,092
1973 15,000 36,566
1974 15,000 40,839
1975 16,000 44,676
1976 19,000 51,501
1977 19,000 76,066
1978 21,000 99,876
1979 21,000 113,558 (B)
1980 30,000 143,756 (B)
1981 32,500 185,651 (B)
1982 33,500 241,497 (B)
1983 35,000 289,194 (B)
1984 40,000 329,408 (B)
1985 60,000 371,571 (B)
1986 60,000 412,520 (B)
1987 62,500 412,454 (C)
1988 62,500 438,729 (C)
1989 68,000 497,254 (C)
1990 100,000 597,537 (C)
1991 100,000 851,492 (C)
1992 109,000 1,028,667 (C)
1993 109,000 1,076,089 (C)
1994 109,000 1,168,263 (C)
1995 109,000 1,110,766 (C)
1996 109,000 (D) 1,119,981 (C)
1997 150,000 1,336,609 (C)
1998 170,000 1,398,831 (C)
1999 200,000 1,611,166 (C)
2000 200,000 1,895,630 (C)
2001 200,000 2,138,896 (E)
2002 200,000 2,295,649 (E)
2003 300,000 2,372,189 (E)
2004 300,000 2,313,535 (E)
2005 316,000 2,476,589 (E)
2006 327,000 2,699,292 (E)
2007 380,000 2,824,751 (E)
2008 390,000 2,925,679 (E)
2009 400,000 2,996,106 (E)
2010 400,000


(A)   First Basic Agreement between Clubs and Players Association

(B)   Salary figures have been discounted for salary deferrals without interest, at a rate of 9% for a period of delayed or advanced payment

(C)   Salary figures discounted for deferrals without interest or buyouts, and signing bonuses increased at 9% for a period of delayed or advanced payment

(D)   $150,000 in the last 1/3 of the 1996 season

(E)    The interest rate  for deferrals with or without interest, buyouts and signing bonuses set at a rate described in Article XV(K) of the Basic Agreement for the period of delayed or advanced payment (NOTE: Starting in 2001, salary deferrals, buyouts and bonuses have been increased or discounted to the prime rate in effect on the Nov. 1 following the season plus 1 percent)

Source: Major League Baseball Players Association






Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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