A quick note on process: We utilized a variation of FanGraphs’ formula for the 25 Most Overpaid Players, but flipped the logic on its head. We looked at $5.4 million as the payout-per-game-won for a MLB player (an approximation), multiplied by that player’s 2014 WAR (so far), and subtracted that total from their current salary. That leaves us with his current market value and a ranking of the 25 most underpaid MLB players in 2014.
4. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox – Starting Pitcher
Salary: $3.5 million
Current Market Value: $19.7 million
The Chicago White Sox have been falling fast in the AL Central, but they have two bright spots: rookie, Jose Abreu, who is absolutely murdering baseballs; and unequivocal staff ace, Chris Sale, who signed a $32.5 million contract back in 2013 and has just recently won his ninth game. Sale leads baseball in win-loss percentage (.900) and has an ERA hovering right around 2.00. If you compare Sale’s salary to some of the bloated starters on our 25 Overpaid list, it’s hard not to see the value in the guy.
3. Jonathan Lucroy – Milwaukee Brewers – Catcher
Salary: $2.1 million
Current Market Value: $20.6 million
A catcher on this list? In the top 3? Wow, right? The recent All-Star and current Milwaukee Brewers Jonathan Lucroy is sharing a list with some of the most elite young talent in the game, because he’s a flat-out winner (read: 4.2 WAR). As fantasy baseball nerds might say, baseball is a game of “position scarcity” — i.e. top talent at specific positions is a rarity. And Lucroy mans his station with tremendous ability, something many of his ilk don’t come close to equaling. Back in 2012, he inked a five-year, $11 million contract, an incredible bargain for the Brewers organization, if you ask us.
2. Paul Goldschmidt – Arizona Diamondbacks – First Baseman
Salary: $1.1 million
Current Market Value: $22.7 million
Without a doubt, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt is one of the best first-basemen in baseball — and is the lone star of the team, which has basically been deep-sixed. Not to mention the fact that he’s making nearly $10 million less this season than so-so utility infielder Martin Prado, who made our Most Overpaid list. Last season, his team was the beneficiary of his breathtaking 7.3 WAR, due, in part, to his 36 home runs and 125 RBIs. He was rightly minted in the offseason for five years at $32 million — but he may prove to be worth a ton more before his career is over.
1. Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels – Center Fielder
Salary: $1 million
Current Market Value: $30.3 million
That’s some pretty cheap fish, if you ask us. This steal of a deal is only good for this year, though. The Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout signed a six-year, $144.5 million contract; but is playing 2014 for a paltry $1 million. Although he got off to a slow start in 2014, his productivity has come back in a big way (as has his WAR), and all analysts are pretty much unanimously predicting greatness from him throughout his budding career (of potential Hall-of-Fame proportions). So unless he gets hurt in some freak accident on the way to the ballpark or shows tremendous regression, this is the cheapest you’ll ever see Trout on the market.
By Will Levith for the ScoreBlog
Sources: Salary data: Yahoo Sports; WAR data: Baseball Reference; Formula: FanGraphs.com
Feature Image Credit: Keith Allison