Recession, what? While college graduates work as busboys in their hometown bars or stock cotton candy cones in the local amusement park, baseball continues to offer monstrous contracts to its most monstrous stars—with first basemen being the biggest beneficiaries.
Just this year, first baseman Albert Pujols inked a 10-year, $254 million contract with the Angels while Prince Fielder signed a nine-year, $214 million deal with Detroit. The second-and fifth-priciest contracts in the history of the game. First basemen Miguel Cabrera and Mark Teixeira also crack the top-10 highest salaries, and this week, the Cincinnati Reds reportedly signed Joey Votto to a 10-year, $225 million contract; the fourth-largest ever.
So, what's the deal with first basemen? Since the game began, these lumberjack-shaped (and sometimes just plain plump) figures have always been some of the most sought-after free agents. Their raw power strikes awe in opposing teams and puts fans in the seats. They can change the outcome of a game with one grand swing and hit balls harder and farther than Pedro Cerrano.
But over the years, many first basemen have not produced for their pay. They get injured. They strike out too much. They have mental breakdowns. They don't win championships. They eat too many hamburgers. So, let's take a look at these guys. The ones that just couldn't live up to their pay grade and should really only be brought out for a home run derby or the Coney Island hot dog eating contest.