Clayton Kershaw and 10 Players Who Are Outperforming Their Current Contracts

Ally Williams@@itsallyduhhCorrespondent IJanuary 5, 2012

Clayton Kershaw and 10 Players Who Are Outperforming Their Current Contracts

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    In the winter meetings, we tend to hear about mainly the big names and huge contracts or trades. However once these players sign their contracts, they are expected to produce.

    While some will flop or become dead weight for their respective teams, others will rise and show management exactly why they signed him.

    These are the players that may have been given a mediocre contract, but they played like they deserved to earn much more.

Clayton Kershaw

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    The way Clayton Kershaw pitched this season, his $500,000 contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers almost didn't seem fair.

    Kershaw dominated all season and was eventually named this season’s National League Cy Young award winner. Best $500K the Dodgers have spent in a while.

Craig Kimbrel

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    Another young pitcher, Craig Kimbrel, did way more than live up to $419,000—way more. The National League Rookie of the Year posted a 2.1 ERA and led the league with 46 saves last season.

    The Atlanta Braves may not have made the playoffs, but they have plenty more opportunity with Kimbrel as their closer for years to come.

Jacoby Ellsbury

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    Jacoby Ellsbury had a great 2011 season as one of the bright spots in a disappointing season for the Boston Red Sox.

    Ellsbury will be getting a huge extension but for $2.4 million, he definitely lived up to his contract.

Pablo Sandoval

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    On a team dealing with monstrous contract mistakes—see: Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand—Pablo Sandoval has played well over his contract's worth.

    He is one of—if not the only—source of offense on the San Francisco Giants and certainly improved over the past year after losing 38 pounds.

Alex Avila

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    Alex Avila is another player still on his rookie contract. He came through big this season, taking over as catcher when Victor Martinez was the DH.

    Avila ranked No. 18 on Keith Law’s list of the top MLB players under 25 and was also mentioned a few times in the MVP ballots. It was a great year for Avila and his contract is worth less than half a million.

Evan Longoria

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    Evan Longoria will enter the fifth year of his contract this season, and so far hasn’t disappointed the Tampa Bay Rays.

    Longoria’s contract is back-loaded so he will see a much bigger payday this year. However, his solid clubhouse presence and role as a franchise player for the Rays has been worth more than his pay so far.

Mike Morse

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    The Washington Nationals are beginning to look like potential threats through their trades and prospects. Mike Morse is one of those players who are a great part of the Nats.

    His contract is slightly over a million dollars, which is a meager sum compared to many other high-profile first basemen. Morse has already earned his contract with his .303 average and 31 home runs in 2011.

Alex Gordon

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    Alex Gordon was well worth his one-year, $1.4 million contract last season. His batting average was 10th best in the American League.

    His talents in left field earned him a Gold Glove. Gordon should get an increased salary because he went above and beyond in the one he has right now.

Gio Gonzalez

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    Gio Gonzalez is one of the newest members of the Washington Nationals. He was paid $420,000 in 2011 with the Oakland Athletics.

    That contract was well worth Gonzalez’s 16-12 Oakland record and 3.12 ERA.

Matt Cain

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    Compared to most of the other guys on this list, Matt Cain is absolutely loaded. That doesn't change the fact that Cain has been phenomenal with the San Francisco Giants.

    The 26-year-old righty logged his fifth straight year of 200+ innings pitched and finished his 2011 campaign with a 2.88 ERA.

    Tim Lincecum and his contract negotiations have taken the spotlight for the Giants, but Cain has been a solid workhorse and will be right behind Lincecum in his high contract demands once his current deal is completed after this season.