Baseball players put in a lot of hard work, and for that they’re paid as good as any pro athlete in the world. The National League values their pitchers, and that’s evident when looking at who their top earners are. These are 2012′s five highest-paid players in the National League.
1. Johan Santana, Mets – $23.1 million
It was tough to pin down exactly what expectations to have for Johan Santana at the beginning of the 2012 season. On one hand, he’s a four-time All-Star and has been one of the most consistent names in baseball for years. On the other hand, this was his first season back after missing all of 2011 with a torn anterior capsule.
Santana’s season has been very middle-of-the-road, which is just about what most analysts would have expected. His ERA of 3.98 isn’t in line with what would be expected of someone earning $23 million, but he’s shown flashes of the talent that has been on display throughout his career: In June, he threw the first no-hitter in Mets history. It might take until next year for Santana to return to his full self, or he might simply be past his prime. Fans will have to wait and see.
2. Cliff Lee, Phillies – $21 million
Cliff Lee has the second-highest pay of any player in the National League. His salary of $21.5 million for this season comes as part of a 5-year deal worth $120 million that he signed in December of 2010. Unfortunately for Lee and the Phillies, the pay hasn’t looked justified during every performance. His 3.70 plus ERA is his worst since 2007, and the Phillies as a whole have suffered.
3. Roy Halladay, Phillies – $20 million
Another Philadelphia pitcher makes the list, with Roy Halladay being the third highest-paid player in the National League at $20 million. Like Lee, Halladay is a terrific pitcher who is just giving up a lot more runs than he has in the past. While the last two seasons saw his ERA come in at less than 2.5, this season his ERA is sitting at plus 4.00. That figure is his worst in almost a decade. Between his and Lee’s weak efforts, it’s clear that the Phillies bullpen is struggling despite having some very talented players.
4. Ryan Howard, Phillies – $20 million
Seeing the Phillies on this list again is probably upsetting to most of the team’s fans. Despite having three of the five highest-paid players in the National League, the team is sitting dead near the bottom of their division. Ryan Howard’s absence throughout the season is a major contributor to that, though. His return on July 6 has been a slight spark. Unfortunately, it’s just too late in the season for him to make a difference on the team’s postseason chances. He’ll collect his $20 million this season and hopefully come back recharged for 2013.
5. Carlos Lee, Marlins – $19 million
For a player making $19 million, Carlos Lee has had a somewhat quiet season. Being 36 years old doesn’t help a player, but wasting away in Houston probably wasn’t the best way to keep his morale up, either. He was traded to Miami in early July, and has since been productive in games against the Brewers and Cubs, hitting a Grand Slam against Chicago. He’s boosted the fortunes of the Marlins, but likely won’t impact their postseason hopes.
What’s amazing to look at is the fact that there are three Phillies on this list. Although injuries have been a big problem for the team this year, their poor record and high payroll prove that a large payroll can’t buy a championship. Teams have to be smart with how they allocate their finances, even in a sport like baseball where salary caps aren’t a concern.
About the Author: Tomas Shapiro likes sports so much, he chooses to write about it in his free time. If that’s not crazy enough, he sleeps with ESPN on at night to keep his brain wired to sports. Tomas recommends Pro Sports Memorabilia for the best in authentic baseball memorabilia including autographed items and display cases.