Calculating the modern-day contract worth of baseball’s legends

An article recently written by David Schoenfield of ESPN showed how the monetary value of the WAR statistic (Wins Above Replacement) is getting greater and greater by the year. It’s so valuable in fact, that at 24, Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins has signed the largest contract in the history of sports based on the calculations of his future Wins Above Replacement. Schoenfield’s article showed how Jeff Sullivan of and Dan Szymborski of ESPN were able to calculate how much Stanton’s contract (within about $10 million) was going to be.

What was crazier though, is that they were able to calculate the monetary value of Babe Ruth if he were a present day player signing a 13-year contract. That 13-year deal would be worth around $1.06 billion, yes, BILLION, with a B. So here’s how Jeff, Dan and David were able to break it down. David took both ideas and put them together, he assumed one win above replacement was worth six million dollars and added 5% annual growth each year.

At age 25, Ruth had a WAR of 11.9, multiply that times six, and get an eye-popping $71.4 million. At age 26, Ruth had a WAR of 12.9, multiply that times six, and get 77.4, but need to add 5% to each year, so take 5% of 77.4 which comes to 3.87 and add them together. At age 26, Babe Ruth would have been worth $81.3 million in the modern-day.

*25: 11.9 WAR ($71.4 million)
26: 12.9 WAR ($81.3 million)
27: 6.3 WAR ($41.7 million)
28: 14.1 WAR ($97.9 million)
29: 11.7 WAR ($85.3 million)
30: 3.5 WAR ($26.8 million)
31: 11.5 WAR ($92.5 million)
32: 12.4 WAR ($104.7 million)
33: 10.1 WAR ($89.5 million)
34: 8.0 WAR ($74.5 million)
35: 10.3 WAR (100.7 million)
36: 10.3 WAR ($105.7 million)
37: 8.3 WAR ($89.4 million)
*Taken from David Schoenfield’s article

Bringing The Great Bambino’s grand total to $1.06 billion over a 13-year contract.

It also must be noted that Babe Ruth made a total of $785,000 in his career.

Since Babe Ruth is almost unequivocally the greatest hitter of all time, I figured I would use the same formula to calculate out some other random baseball legends’ modern-day worth over a 13 year span.

Walter Johnson – Johnson is thought to be one of the greatest pitchers to ever play the game, some say the greatest. One of baseball’s early power pitchers, Johnson’s fastball apparently reached 100mph. With a career ERA of 2.17, 3,508 strikeouts, he also has the most shutouts in MLB history with 110. He pitched for the Washington Senators from 1907-1927, Johnson also has the second most wins in MLB history with 417.
Actual 13-year salary: $136,200
Current 13-year worth: $690.5 million

Rickey Henderson – Very few could do it like the ‘Man of Steal’ – in his illustrious 25 year career, he won one MVP award, 12 stolen base titles, two World Series wins, 3,055 hits, an MLB Record most career runs, with 2,295, an MLB record 81 lead-off home runs, an MLB record 1,406 stolen bases, the list goes on. Henderson even had a Golden Glove award to add to his list of accolades.
Actual 13-year salary:$20.5 million
Current 13-year worth:$678.6 million

Cy Young – Young had an illustrious 22 year pitching career that lasted from 1890-1911. In that 22 years, he won an MLB record 511 games, pitched an MLB record 7,356 innings, three no-hitters, and pitched an MLB record 749 complete games. Cy Young finished his career with an ERA of 2.63 – stats that are almost impossible to even come close to.
Actual 13-year salary: (total amount he earned is unknown)
Current 13-year worth: $721.5 million

Ty Cobb – The stats that Ty Cobb had in his career are so crazy they almost don’t even seem real. In 24 seasons, Ty Cobb had 4,191 hits, 117 home runs, and retired with an MLB record batting average of .366. His 4,191 hits are second all time to Pete Rose.
Actual 13-year salary: $165,333
Current 13-year worth: $834.1 million

Lou Gehrig – The Iron Horse is probably the greatest first basemen in baseball history. In a 17 year career that was tragically cut short due to being diagnosed with ALS, he amassed 2,721 hits, 441 home runs, to go along with two MVP awards. Gehrig played in 2,130 straight games, and is looked at as the second or third greatest hitter of all time, his value is almost unmatched.
Actual 13-year salary: $297,500
Current 13-year worth: $876.7 million

(Editor’s note: These salary predictions are calculated by the Wins Above Replacement, they do not all start at age 24. They were taken from the best 13 consecutive years of the player’s career.)

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