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Major league salaries and revenues: A glimpse into the dynamics of the new gilded age at the high end

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mlb

Over the past 50 years, the average major league salary has increased, in real, inflation-adjusted dollars, by about 40-fold. The average major league salary was $108,280 (2015$) in 1965, and is about $4.25 million this year.

(The median salary is currently about one third of the mean. Before the free agent boom the median was about three quarters of the mean).

average major league salary

Here’s a statistic that could pierce the heart of a Koch brother like an icy-cold dagger: Next season, Zack Greinke’s salary will be essentially equivalent, in inflation-adjusted terms, to the entire National League player payroll in 1968. (The average MLB salary was $141,000 in 1968, again in 2015 dollars, and there were 250 roster spots in the NL that year, meaning that the NL’s total payroll was about $35 million).

On the other hand, major league owners aren’t exactly having to make Thursday Kraft Mac & Cheese night or anything:

fangraph

So while major league players as a class — protected as they are by one of the last powerful unions in the USA — have been making bank, their employers have been doing even better. In other words, ideally-organized employees, who have a skill shared at any one time by only a few hundred people, and which generates more than $9 billion of revenue a year, have been losing considerable ground in regard to the division of that revenue to the capitalists who employ them. That in its own not so small way is a comment on the essence of the new gilded age.

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