Taxes, Multi-Millionaires, and Baseball Players

When the IRS issued its statistics for the different income categories of taxpayers in 2009, I heard that 8,274 people had incomes over $10 million. I looked up MLB salaries in 2009, and saw that 86 players earned at least $10 million that year, including Kerry Wood, Gary Matthews, Juan Pierre, Eric Byrnes, and Jose Contreras, to name a handful of the least impressive members of that group. 86 out of 8,274 works out to 1.039%, which strikes me as a huge percentage of the population of $10-million plus, considering how small an industry MLB is and how few players it employs. In 2009, 433 players earned $1 million or more, .40% of the 108,096 Americans who did so.

By comparison, in 2000 11,215 Americans earned at least $10 million, a number probably inflated by the tech bubble that burst that spring. I count 14 MLB players in 2000 with at least $10 million of salary, or .125%. So, the percentage of players in the $10-million plus class went up by about nine times over the course of the 2000s. Meanwhile, the average players’ salary went from $1.988 million in 2000 to $3.24 million in 2009. So, at the MLB level wealth became much more highly concentrated among the richest players as the decade wore on.

By the way, here’s a chart from the AP showing how MLB salaries grew from 1989 to 2000:

Average MLB salaries since 1989
Year Average % Inc.
1989 $512,804 NA
1990 $578,930 12.9
1991 $891,188 53.9
1992 $1,084,408 21.7
1993 $1,120,254 3.3
1994 $1,188,679 6.1
1995 $1,071,029 (-9.9)
1996 $1,176,967 9.9
1997 $1,383,578 17.6
1998 $1,441,406 4.2
1999 $1,720,050 19.3
2000 $1,988,034 15.6
Published in: Uncategorized on November 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. So even in baseball the rich get richer more quickly than the rest. Interesting to see that as society’s income stagnates overall, we continue to splurge on entertainment, thus contributing to the huge salaries in baseball and other sports.
    Interesting stuff, Bill


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