The Two Million Dollar Home Run


bal-slugger-pedro-alvarez-to-return-to-orioles-on-minor-league-deal-pending-physical-20170311October is here, but the calendar’s turn finds the lights dark at Camden Yards. Instead of a playoff reprise, the Orioles have earned themselves a long off-season. Pretty soon, the hot stove rumors will start flying. For now though, let’s talk about the touchy subjects of money and wins.

The O’s spent $2.2 million per W, in 2017. In case you were wondering, you can buy an Agera for that lofty sum, so it’s a fair chunk of change. Baseball stats are about context, however, and that figure means nothing by itself. So, here’s how it compares to that of their AL East brethren.

2017 Dollars per win

Orioles: $2.2 million
Yankees: $1.8 million
Red Sox: $1.7 million
Rays: $806,000

(Figures calculated using data from Spotrac, and does not include retained salary)

Those still smarting over the Orioles’ late-season flameout might want to avert their eyes, but here’s how those same clubs’ records turned out:

2017 AL East Standings

Red Sox: 93 – 69
Yankees: 91 – 71
Rays: 80 – 82
Blue Jays: 76 – 86
Orioles: 75 – 87

Only three teams had more total salary commitments tied to their 25-man roster than Baltimore: the Dodgers, Giants and Yankees. The Yankees, of course, were more efficient spenders by virtue of winning 16 more games than the O’s. They and the Dodgers will be attending the playoff dance. The Giants and Orioles will not.

The Two Million Dollar Home Run

On September 18th, Pedro Alvarez deposited a 394 foot home run over the right field wall at Camden Yards. It was his 27th and final home run of the season. Twenty-six of those dingers won’t count towards his MLB total, however, because they occurred at Triple-A Norfolk.

Alvarez was paid the handsome sum of two million dollars to spend his summer rotting away in the minors. While two million is a rounding error on baseball’s wage scale, it’s certainly more than whatever figure you and I will file, come next April.

By the time the club signed Alvarez, they already had Mark Trumbo back in the folds, having signed the outfielder/DH-type to a pricey contract. And, they had already traded for outfielder/DH-type Seth Smith. And, they already had a first baseman/DH-type named Chris Davis lying around.

That’s without even mentioning first baseman/outfielder/DH-type, Trey Mancini, whose level of success couldn’t have been predicted by even the rosiest-eyed of talent evaluators. It’s no wonder Alvarez couldn’t make the team, with so many mouths to feed.

So, why sign him at all? You ask. Well, that’s kind of the point. It’s just yet another example of the Orioles’ lack of a cohesive plan. They threw money around randomly instead of addressing areas of need (pitching, for instance). In the process, they ate up a roster spot that could have been filled by someone whose best days are ahead of him, instead of in the past.

The proof is in the pudding – or, in this case, the win column.


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