Touching BasesNovember 04, 2010
MLB Salaries Over Time
By Jeremy Greenhouse


Several data sources were used including most prominently The Baseball Almanac and The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

EDIT: Per commenter request, linear scale:



Would be interesting to see other job categories on the same graph. I'm guessing we wouldn't see the same growth.

Jeremy - The league minimum was $80,000 in 1954? Somehow I don't think so. You may want to rethink the scale of the Y axis.

Could you add MLB median to that plot? I feel like that might be more informative. Maybe not.

Mike, I think I have a book I can refer you to.

Peter, it's been adjusted for inflation. I wasn't around back in 1954, so it's tough for me to think of how much $6,000 really was, so I multiplied it by 8 or 9 to put it in terms I can think of.

James, I would have preferred to have used the median as well, but I don't have that data.

Sorry Jeremy. Missed the current US dollars on the left edge of the graph.

Since modern-day MLBPA, minimum salary has never decreased. Prior to the Marvin Miller, the minimum remained unchanged for 40 years. In 1967 minimum was $6,000. In 1968 & 69 - $10,000.

70: 12K; 71:12750;72:13500;73/74:15K;75:16k;76/77:19k;78/79:21k;80:30k;81:32500;82:33500;83:35k;84:40k;85/86:60k;87/88:62500;89:68k;90/91:100k;92-96:109k;97:150k;98:170k;99-2002:200K;2003/04:300k;2005:316k;2006:327k;2007:380k;2008:390k;2009-10:400K.

Of course, there were cost of living adjutments made in years listed abobe when the minimum remained the same in successive years.

Greg, thanks for commenting.

I assume you are disputing the fact that the chart makes it appear that minimum salary decreased. That is due to wages not keeping pace with inflation.

My data actually showed that from 1954-1965, the minimum was $6,000 and then it was $7,000 in 1966 and 1967. Otherwise I believe we are using the exact same numbers.

@Jeremy and Greg: So this chart is in real dollars?

Why make this graph log based? Seems misleading.

@Jeremy K - Exactly. A simple linear scale would show a HUGE discrepancy in the rates of increase. I suppose the only point of using a log scale here is if you were attempting to say that the league average has not risen all that much -

Mr. Greenhouse, what about a similar chart in linear scale, and an explanation of why you used log? I don't have a point to make, I am just really curious why -

Brad, yes. I've been made aware that current U.S. dollars means the opposite of what I thought it meant. It is in real U.S. dollars, however, I think it is more clear to say current U.S. dollars, even though the DLS disagrees.

Jeremy and Darian, I was not trying to make any point with this graph. I've added the linear scale to the bottom of the post. I think the graph looks better aesthetically on a Log scale, and the minimum wage salaries are dwarfed to the point you can't make them out with much precision on a linear scale.

Jeremy, I understand you were not trying to make a point - but, serendipitously, it seems the second linear scale graph makes one.

I wonder what it would look like of you could eliminate, say, the top 1 or 3 or 5 or 10 individual MLB salaries, top 10 percent, etc- I mean, I am sure I know or can guess about what it would look like, but it would be interesting to see how much flatter the avg would be -

Thanks for the charts!