2012 Minnesota Twins: How Minnesota's 5 Highest-Paid Players Are Performing

Matt LindholmContributor IIJune 21, 2012

2012 Minnesota Twins: How Minnesota's 5 Highest-Paid Players Are Performing

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    With the millions of dollars that MLB players earn, fans cannot help but demand the most from top money earners.  In other words, fans expect that only top talent is rewarded with top money.  Twins Territory is no exception to this merit-based idea.

    Twins fans have been particularly aware of player performance and pay since the team lost its label of "Small Market Franchise" in 2010.  That year, the Twins inflated their payroll by nearly half, paying Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau a combined $37 million year.

    Currently, Mauer, Morneau and three other Twins players makeup 62.2 percent of the team's payroll.  Some are having good seasons, some are having bad.

    This article evaluates Minnesota's top five money-earners' current season performances and tests that against their current season salary.  The intention of the article is to decide whether or not these five players are living up to their 2012 salaries.

5. Francisco Liriano: $5.5 Million

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    Francisco Liriano has mostly under-performed for himself and for a pitcher who earns $5.5 million (+/- $1 mil.) a year.  As of now, Liriano is on pace to pitch a 2-17 record, 145 HA, and 17 HRA and currently has a 5.74 ERA and .250 BAA.

    In comparison, the average pace for starting pitchers with comparable salaries is a 15-10 record, 3.74 ERA 87 HA, 21 HRA, and .250 BAA.

    In an average Liriano season, he pitches a 12-12 record, 4.35 ERA, 174 HA, 18 HRA, and .249 BAA.

    The bottom line: Liriano's record and ERA are a major concern this year.  However, his HA, HRA, and BAA are solid.  Due to his record and ERA, Liriano is underperforming for himself and for a person of his salary.

4. Josh Willingham: $7 Million

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    Thus far in 2012, Josh Willingham has excelled for himself and for a player with his pay. Right now, Willingham is on pace to hit 34 HR, 111 RBI, and 94 R, with .279/.387/.549.

    To compare, the league-pace for outfielders with similar earnings is 21 HR, 74 RBI, and 82 R, with averages of .290/.347/.465.

    In an average season for Willingham, he hits around 27 HR, 90 RBI, 80 R and averages .263/.363/.480.

    The bottom line: for the most part, Willingham is outperforming for an outfielder in his pay-range and definitely far exceeding his average yearly stats.

3. Carl Pavano: $9 Million

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    Carl Pavano has mostly under-performed for himself and for a starting pitcher who earns around $9 million a year.  As of now, Pavano is on pace to pitch a 5-12 record, 199 HA, and 22 HRA and currently has a 6.00 ERA and .313 BAA.

    In comparison, the league pace for starting pitchers with comparable salaries is a 11-11 record, 3.95 ERA 92 HA, 23 HRA, and .255 BAA.

    In an average Pavano season, he pitches a 13-12 record, 4.39 ERA, 229 HA, 23 HRA, and .281 BAA.

    The bottom line: Pavano is under-performing for himself and for a pitcher his pay-grade.  It also does not help his case that he is currently on the DL. 

2. Justin Morneau: $14 Million

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    So far in 2012, Justin Morneau has had an subpar season compared to his past year and to current seasons of players with similar pay. Right now, Morneau is on pace to hit 25 HR, 81 RBI, and 56 R, with .234/.304/.458.

    In comparison, the league pace for first basemen with similar salaries is 29 HR, 100 RBI, and 89 R, with averages of .325/.412/.569.

    In a normal year, Morneau hits 30 HR, 113 RBI, 87 R and averages .279/.351/.497.

    The bottom line: quite simply, Morneau performing well below for his normal self and for someone of his pay.  Though it is nice to see his power returning.

1. Joe Mauer: $23 Million

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    Thus far in 2012, Joe Mauer's offensive performance has been mixed compared to his past seasons, and to current seasons of  other $18 million-plus per year infielders. Currently, Mauer is on pace to hit 7 HR, 81 RBI, and 79 R, with .314/.415/.427.

    To compare Mauer, the league average pace for franchise infielders with similar salaries is 27 HR, 99 RBI, and 78 R, with averages of .277/.343/.472.

    In an average Mauer season, he hits 14 HR, 89 RBI, 96 R and averages .323/.404/.468.

    The bottom line: a mixed performance. Besides his current OBP, Mauer is below his normal year numbers.  Additionally, he is outperforming similar salaried players in BA, OBP, and R, however, he is lacking HR, RBI, and SLG.