Pal Eldredge

’Pen Pal


Monday, August 20, 2001

How much is Babe Ruth
worth to you?

OK, by now you've read or heard about the exorbitant contracts being doled out to some of today's baseball players.

In case you haven't been informed, here are a few of the big-money contracts: Alex Rodriguez (Texas Rangers), $252 million over 10 years; Manny Ramirez (Boston Red Sox), $160 million for 8 years; Derek Jeter (New York Yankees), $189 million for 10 years.

Let's look at A-Rod's contract and break it down to numbers you and I can relate to as it compares to our annual salaries. $252 million for 10 years means $25.2 million per year. He'll receive $69,041.09 per day (based on 365 annual days and not the days in the baseball season), or $2,876.71 per hour, or $47.95 per minute.

He brushes his teeth and A-Rod gets $47.95!! Based on his 2000 statistics, A-Rod will receive $45,487.36 per at-bat (not plate appearance), and $155,555.55 per game.

Now let's take a look at A-Rod's offensive statistics for the 2000 season: games (148), at-bats (554), hits (175), doubles (34), triples (2), home runs (41), home run percentage (7.4), runs (134), RBI (132), walks (100), strikeouts (121), stolen bases (15), slugging average (.606), batting average (.316). Pretty good stuff, right?

Here are Babe Ruth's offensive statistics for 1921 and 1927: games (152/151), at-bats (540/540), hits (204/192), doubles (44/29), triples (16/8), home runs (59/60), home run percentage (10.9/11.1), runs (177/158), RBI (171/164), walks (144/138), strikeouts (81/89), stolen bases (17/7), slugging average (.846/.772), batting average (.378/.356).

How about those numbers? There are more. Babe Ruth's career stats are mind-boggling. He had 714 home runs, 2,211 RBI, and a batting average of .342.

Yes, I realize that the money given to today's players includes their defensive abilities, so I'm puzzled at Manny Ramirez's contract, because rumor has it he can't even catch a cold in the outfield, let alone a fly ball.

I guess a case can be made for A-Rod being the best all-around player in the game. The Ken Griffey Jr. fans may disagree or the followers of a Barry Bonds or Derek Jeter.

In my mind, no one is worth that kind of money to play a kid's game, but if we all try to put ourselves in the shoes of the athletes, we can understand that if the owners are lolo enough to pay that kind of money, then why shouldn't the player take it?

I have a suggestion. How about a contract paying the player X amount of money, and if he does what he's supposed to and puts up the numbers, he gets paid. If he doesn't, then money gets subtracted. Why not take an average of the RBIs over the player's last few years and make that be the number he must reach or pass. If he doesn't, he gets docked.

So let's get back to A-Rod and the Babe. If A-Rod is getting all this money, what would the Babe get? In every category, except his steals in 1927, Babe Ruth out performed Alex Rodriguez.

What do you think, baseball fans? What would Babe Ruth be worth if he were playing today?

There wouldn't be enough money for the rest of the team to pay Babe Ruth his market value for 2001.

Pal Eldredge is a baseball commentator for KFVE
and former varsity baseball coach at Punahou School.
His column runs Mondays during the Major League Baseball season.
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