The terms "underpaid" and "overpaid" suggest a grading of performance based on the value paid for that performance.
In Major League Baseball, with the rapid increase in salaries over the past two decades, value is has become an all-important commodity. Small- and mid-market teams especially consider a player's overall value according to performance as they carefully manage their budgets.
Based on last season's performance, we will assess each MLB team's most underpaid and overpaid player. It's not an exact science, so value can be interpreted in different ways. But in most cases, a player's overall performance will dictate their outcome.
Underpaid: Wade Miley
2012 Salary: $481,000
2012 Stats: 16-11, 3.33 ERA, 1.182 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, 8.9 H/9
It's probably a no-brainer to list Miley as the underpaid performer for the Arizona Diamondbacks. As a rookie making near the major league minimum, Miley's 2012 performance was clearly of huge value to the Diamondbacks.
Overpaid: Chris Young
2012 Salary: $7 million
2012 Stats: .231 BA, 14 home runs, 41 RBI, .745 OPS, eight SB
Young missed a month early in the season with a shoulder injury and then suffered a quad injury in September as well. His production dropped dramatically as did his effectiveness on the basepaths.
Underpaid: Craig Kimbrel
2012 Salary: $590,000
2012 Stats: 1.01 ERA, 42 SV, 0.654 WHIP, 16.7 K/9, 3.9 H/9, .120 BAA
After a tremendous rookie year in which he was the unanimous selection for Rookie of the Year honors, Kimbrel followed up with an even better second season.
Obvious the return value for the Braves was through the roof.
Overpaid: Dan Uggla
2012 Salary: $13 million
2012 Stats: .220 BA. 19 home runs, 78 RBI, .732 OPS, 26.7 percent strikeout rate
Uggla struggled through much of the first half of the 2011 season but rebounded to hit a career-high 36 home runs.
In 2012 Uggla suffered career lows in both home runs, RBI and OPS. Not quite what the Braves envisioned for their $13 million investment.
Underpaid: Jim Johnson
2012 Salary: $2.625 million
2012 Stats: 2.49 ERA, 51 SV, 1.019 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 7.2 H/9
Johnson certainly found his niche as closer for the Baltimore Orioles, leading the majors with 51 saves.
The late innings for the O's were almost automatic with Pedro Strop, Darren O'Day and Luis Ayala leading the way along with Johnson.
Overpaid: J.J. Hardy
2012 Salary: $7 million
2012 Stats: .238, 22 home runs, 68 RBI, .671 OPS, 106 K
After setting career highs with 30 home runs and 80 RBI in 2011, the Baltimore Orioles rewarded shortstop J.J. Hardy with a three-year, $22.5 million contract.
Hardy regressed in 2012 with an OPS a full 130 points below the previous season and setting a career high with 106 whiffs.
Underpaid: Cody Ross
2012 Salary: $3 million
2012 Stats: .267 BA, 22 home runs, 81 RBI, .807 OPS
Ross' value had slipped after a disappointing 2011 season for the San Francisco Giants. The Red Sox swooped in and snatched Ross up for the bargain basement rate of $3 million.
It's safe to say the Red Sox got more than their value back in return.
Overpaid: Josh Beckett
2012 Salary: $12.45 million*
2012 Stats: 5-11, 5.23 ERA, 1.327 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, 9.3 H/9
The Red Sox included Beckett in the trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in August, putting an end to a career that saw both highs and severe lows. Beckett's low in 2012 was a perfect example of an overpaid star not even coming close to expectations.
*- Figure paid by Red Sox before trade; overall salary $15.75 million.
Underpaid: Starlin Castro
2012 Salary: $567,000
2012 Stats: .283 BA, 14 home runs, 78 RBI, 25 SB
In his three seasons with the Cubs, it's become clear that Castro has become not just one of the core players on the roster, but a player the Cubs want to build around.
Castro signed an eight-year, $60.5 million contract that kicks in next season, so the Cubs got well more than their money's worth in 2012.
Overpaid: Chris Volstad
2012 Salary: $2.655 million
2012 Stats: 3-12, 6.31 ERA, 1.617 WHIP, 4.9 K/9, 11.1 H/9
After acquiring Volstad from the Miami Marlins for Carlos Zambrano, he was simply awful for the Cubs.
Volstad's K/9 rate was the lowest of his career and his H/9 rate the highest. His WHIP was a career high as well.
Volstad was waived by the Cubs and picked up by the Kansas City Royals in late October.
Underpaid: Chris Sale
2012 Salary: $500,000
2012 Stats: 17-8, 3.05 ERA, 192 K, 1.135 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 7.8 H/9
Sale was everything the White Sox wanted and more in 2012. After transitioning to the rotation from the bullpen, Sale delivered in a major way. He is on his way to becoming one of the elite southpaw starters in the game.
Overpaid: Philip Humber
2012 Salary: $530,000
2012 Stats: 5-5, 6.44 ERA, 1.539 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 10.0 H/9
He may have thrown a perfect game, but for Humber that was the only bright spot in an otherwise dismal season.
Humber was placed on waivers at the end of the season, and he'll try to earn a spot in the rotation for the Houston Astros next season.
Underpaid: Todd Frazier
2012 Salary: $461,000
2012 Stats: .273 BA, 19 home runs, 67 RBI, .829 OPS
Without Frazier's efforts in 2012, the Cincinnati Reds may not have won the NL Central Division title.
Taking over for the injured Scott Rolen at third base and then later in the season for Joey Votto at first base, Frazier not only filled in admirably, he helped the Reds maintain and grow their division lead.
Next season, it's safe to say that Frazier's name will be penciled into the lineup every day. He's earned that right.
Overpaid: Scott Rolen
2012 Salary: $6.5 million
2012 Stats: .245 BA, eight home runs, 39 RBI, .716 OPS
Rolen has had a brilliant career, but the past several seasons were marred by shoulder injuries. Once again in 2012, Rolen missed almost three months of the season and is contemplating retirement.
Underpaid: Michael Brantley
2012 Salary: $495,300
2012 Stats: .288 BA, six home runs, 60 RBI, 37 doubles, .750 OPS
Brantley took over in center field full-time with Grady Sizemore down for the count, and he was one of the few bright spots in otherwise dismal season for the Indians.
Overpaid: Ubaldo Jimenez
2012 Salary: $4.2 million
2012 Stats: 9-17, 5.40 ERA, 1.613 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 9.7 K/9
A number of players could have been considered for this slot, but Jimenez was indeed troubling throughout the entire season.
His velocity was down and his command was an issue all season long. After a stellar first half in 2010, Jimenez hasn't even been close to the same pitcher since.
Underpaid: Wilin Rosario
2012 Salary: $480,000
2012 Stats: .270 BA, 28 home runs, 71 RBI, .843 OPS
Rosario placed fourth in voting for the National League Rookie of the Year Award and figures to continue improving. At just 23 years of age, the Rockies at least have a bright future behind the plate in Rosario.
Overpaid: Jeremy Guthrie
2012 Salary: $8.2 million
2012 Stats: 3-9, 6.35 ERA, 1.688 WHIP, 4.5 K/9, 12.1 H/9
To say that Guthrie's short time in Colorado was a disaster would be putting it mildly.
Guthrie was shipped out of town after just over three months for the equally disappointing Jonathan Sanchez.
Underpaid: Austin Jackson
2012 Salary: $500,000
2012 Stats: .300 BA, 16 home runs, 66 RBI, 12 SB, .856 OPS
After a runner-up finish for Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, Jackson slumped a bit in 2011. However, last season Jackson came back in a big way.
Jackson became a force at the top of the Tigers lineup, leading the league in triples and setting career highs in home runs, RBI and OPS.
Overpaid: Ryan Raburn
2012 Salary: $2.1 million
2012 Stats: .171 BA, one home run, 12 RBI, .226 OBP, .480 OPS
If Raburn only got paid the major league minimum, he would have topped this list for the Tigers. After serving well in a utility role for four seasons, Raburn was released in November.
Underpaid: Jose Altuve
2012 Salary: $483K
2012 Stats: .290, seven home runs, 37 RBI, 33 SB, .740 OPS
At just 22 years of age, Altuve has established himself as a leader on a young and inexperienced Astros team.
Overpaid: Carlos Lee
2012 Salary: $9.25 million*
2012 Stats: .287, five home runs, 29 RBI, .697 OPS
With an expanding waist line and a shrinking OPS, Lee's production over half a season for the Astros wasn't even close in terms of what he was paid to deliver.
*- Approximate salary Astros paid before Lee's trade to the Miami Marlins on July 4, 2012.
Underpaid: Jonathan Broxton
2012 Salary: $2.53 million*
2012 Stats: 2.27 ERA, 23 SV, 1.402 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 9.1 H/9
Broxton reinvented himself as a closer last season. No longer armed with a blazing fastball, Broxton turned in a terrific performance with the Royals before his trade to the Cincinnati Reds.
Not only was the value good for the Royals, they received two minor league prospects in return for Broxton as well.
Overpaid: Jonathan Sanchez
2012 Salary: $3.175 million
2012 Stats: 1-6, 7.76 ERA, 2.044 WHIP, 6.1 K/9, 11.0 H/9
This was an absolutely disastrous trade for the Royals. Sanchez was simply awful. GM Dayton Moore did well by unloading him to the Colorado Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie in July.
*- Approximate salary paid by Royals before trade to Rockies.
Underpaid: Mike Trout
2012 Salary: $461,000
2012 Stats: .326 BA, 30 home runs, 83 RBI, 49 SB, .963 OPS
After winning a Rookie of the Year Award and making the MVP award balloting a bit interesting as well, Trout is probably the biggest no-brainer on this list in terms of underpaid players.
Overpaid: Vernon Wells
2012 Salary: $21 million
2012 Stats: .230 BA, 11 home runs, 29 RBI, .682 OPS
Anyone making over $20 million should not be relegated to bench duty.
Underpaid: Clayton Kershaw
2012 Salary: $7.5 million
2012 Stats: 14-9, 2.53 ERA, 1.023 WHIP, 9.1 K/9, 6.7 H/9
If it weren't for a career year from a knuckleball pitcher, Kershaw would be displaying back-to-back Cy Young Award trophies on his mantel. At $7.5 million, Kershaw was a bargain.
Overpaid: Juan Uribe
2012 Salary: $5.295 million
2012 Stats: .191 BA, two home runs, 17 RBI, .542 OPS
After a career year with the San Francisco Giants in 2010, Uribe has been a complete bust farther down the California coast. The Dodgers are still on the hook for another $8 million next season as well.
Underpaid: Steve Cishek
2012 Salary: $480,000
2012 Stats: 2.69 ERA, 15 SV, 1.304 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 7.6 H/9
Cishek shined for the Marlins in an otherwise dismal year in South Florida. He stepped into the closer's role after Heath Bell spit the bit in his first year in Miami.
Overpaid: Heath Bell
2012 Salary: $6 million
2012 Stats: 5.09 ERA, 19 SV, 1.555 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 9.9 H/9
Bell never got untracked in his only year in Miami, losing his closer's role early after several blown saves. Bell came back to close later in the season but was clearly nothing like the player who dominated for the San Diego Padres.
Underpaid: Ryan Braun
2012 Salary: $6 million
2012 Stats: .319 BA, 41 home runs, 112 RBI, 30 SB, .987 OPS
In many respects, Braun put up a better year than his MVP season in 2011. Braun set a career high with his 41 homers and became a 30/30 man for the second straight season.
Overpaid: Francisco Rodriguez
2012 Salary: $8 million
2012 Stats: 2-7, 4.38 ERA, 1.333 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 8.1 H/9
Rodriguez's season wasn't terrible, but to pay $8 million for a setup man with an ERA above 4.00 is obscene.
Underpaid: Ben Revere
2012 Salary: $492.5K
2012 Stats: .292 BA, 40 RBI, 32 SB
Revere became a wanted man after putting up a solid 2012 season. He'll now be patrolling center field for the Philadelphia Phillies for the foreseeable future.
Overpaid: Nick Blackburn
2012 Salary: $4.75 million
2012 Stats: 4-9, 7.39 ERA, 1.713 WHIP, 3.8 K/9, 13.0 H/9
Blackburn's performance in 2012 was so bad that he was removed from the 40-man roster when he was demoted to Triple-A in August. The Twins owe him another $5.5 million for the 2013 season as well.
Underpaid: R.A. Dickey
2012 Salary: $4.25 million
2012 Stats: 20-6, 2.73 ERA, 230 K, 1.053 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 7.4 H/9
After winning a Cy Young Award, Dickey won't be underpaid any longer.
It just won't come from the New York Mets.
Overpaid: Jason Bay
2012 Salary: $16 million
2012 Stats: .165 BA, eight home runs, 20 RBI, .536 OPS
Does this one really have to be explained?
The Mets thought so poorly of Bay they rushed him out of town with a negotiated release.
Underpaid: Raul Ibanez
2012 Salary: $1.1 million
2012 Stats: .240 BA, 19 home runs, 62 RBI, .761 OPS
At 40 years of age, Ibanez is well past his prime, but he provided terrific value for the New York Yankees, both in the regular season and the postseason.
Overpaid: Alex Rodriguez
2012 Salary: $29 million
2012 Stats: .272 BA, 18 home runs, 57 RBI, .783 OPS
Rodriguez's stats have been slipping each since 2008, especially as his body continues to break down more and more.
The Yankees only have five years and $114 million to go. Just a drop in the bucket.
Underpaid: Brandon Moss
2012 Salary: Approximately $500,000
2012 Stats: .291 BA, 21 home runs, 52 RBI, .954 OPS
Moss didn't join the team until the first week of June, but he certainly provided value, both with his bat and his versatility in the field.
Overpaid: Kurt Suzuki
2012 Salary: $3.27 million*
2012 Stats: .218 BA, one home run, 18 RBI, .536 OPS
Suzuki never got untracked for the A's in 2012 and was dealt to the Washington Nationals in early August.
*- Approximate salary paid by A's before trade to Nationals.
Underpaid: Juan Pierre
2012 Salary: $800,000
2012 Stats: .307, 25 RBI, 37 SB, .721 OPS
After getting no offers at all during last offseason, Pierre agreed to a minor league contract with the Phillies for $800,000.
To say he delivered on that money fivefold is probably an understatement. Pierre was clearly one of the most consistent performers in the offense all season for the Phillies.
Overpaid: Ryan Howard
2012 Salary: $20 million
2012 Stats: .219 BA, 14 home runs, 56 RBI, .718 OPS
Howard came back from a torn Achilles' tendon in early July, so it may not be totally fair to include him on this list. However, the .718 OPS was almost 200 points below his career mark and the .219 average was 52 points lower as well.
Underpaid: A.J. Burnett
2012 Salary: $5 million*
2012 Stats: 16-10, 3.51 ERA, 180 K, 1.241 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 8.4 H/9
Burnett was outstanding in his first season with the Pirates, taking the reins as the ace of the staff. The Pirates only paid $5 million of Burnett's overall $16.5 million, adding salt to the wounds for the New York Yankees. The Yankees gave up on Burnett and were more than happy to fork over cash along with Burnett in February.
Overpaid: Erik Bedard
2012 Salary: $4.5 million
2012 Stats: 7-14, 5.01 ERA, 118 K, 1.472 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 9.2 H/9
The Pirates took a chance on Bedard, who showed promise with the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox in 2011 after several injury-filled seasons.
However, Burnett was released by the Pirates in August after several poor starts following the All-Star break.
Underpaid: Chase Headley
2012 Salary: $3.475 million
2012 Stats: .286 BA, 31 home runs, 115 RBI, 17 SB, .875 OPS
Headley's breakout season likely stopped continuous trade speculation, and the Padres will likely look to lock Headley up long-term in the not-too-distant future.
Overpaid: Orlando Hudson
2012 Salary: $5.5 million
2012 Stats: .211 BA, one home run, 11 RBI, .577 OPS
The Padres were so disenchanted with Hudson that they released him in May, despite owing him $5.5 million for the entire season along with a $2 million buyout of his 2013 option.
Underpaid: Marco Scutaro
2012 Salary: $2.4 million*
2012 Stats: .362 BA, three home runs, 44 RBI, .859 OPS
What Scutaro did during the regular season doesn't even begin to describe the overall value he provided for the Giants.
His exploits during the postseason made him priceless.
Overpaid: Tim Lincecum
2012 Salary: $18 million
2012 Stats: 10-15, 5.18 ERA, 190 K, 1.468 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 8.9 K/9
Lincecum struggled mightily during the regular season.
However, he made up for his struggles with terrific relief efforts during the postseason. However, there has to be some concern for the two-time Cy Young Award winner at this point.
*- Approximate salary paid by the Giants following trade from Colorado Rockies.
Underpaid: Tom Wilhelmsen
2012 Salary: $482,900
2012 Stats: 2.50 ERA, 29 SV, 1.109 WHIP, 9.9 K/9, 6.7 H/9
Wilhelmsen took over closing duties full time for the Mariners in early June and finished with a very successful season. He's currently penciled in as the closer for next season as well and gives the Mariners a solid back-end bullpen option.
Overpaid: Chone Figgins
2012 Salary: $9 million
2012 Stats: .181 BA, two home runs, 11 RBI, four SB, .533 OPS
When all is said and one, the contract Figgins signed with the Mariners will be considered one of the worst in MLB history.
Figgins became a forgotten man last season. The Mariners didn't hesitate to release him at the end of the season, paying him another $8 million for next season as well.
Underpaid: Allen Craig
2012 Salary: $495,000
2012 Stats: .307 BA, 22 home runs, 92 RBI, .876 OPS
Once he finally started the season in May, Craig quickly showed that he is ready to take the reins as one of the offensive leaders for the Cardinals.
His versatility was a huge plus for manager Mike Matheny as well, especially with Lance Berkman felled by knee injuries for much of the season.
Overpaid: Lance Berkman
2012 Salary: $12 million
2012 Stats: .259 BA, two home runs, seven RBI, .826 OPS
Berkman played in exactly 32 games for the Cardinals last season. Not quite what the Cards had in mind when they inked him to a $12 million contract.
Underpaid: David Price
2012 Salary: $4.35 million
2012 Stats: 20-5, 2.56 ERA, 205 K, 1.100 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 7.4 H/9
Price's Cy Young Award season could eventually price him out of Tampa Bay. But for the 2012, the season was priceless for Tampa Bay.
Overpaid: Carlos Pena
2012 Salary: $7.25 million
2012 Stats: .197 BA, 19 home runs, 61 RBI, .684 OPS
Pena faltered mightily in his second stint with the Rays in 2012. His 182 strikeouts were a career high and his .684 OPS was the lowest of his career.
Underpaid: Matt Harrison
2012 Salary: $2.95 million
2012 Stats: 18-11, 3.29 ERA, 133 K, 1.261 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 8.9 H/9
Harrison stepped up in a major way for the Rangers in 2012, leading the staff with 18 wins and his 3.29 ERA.
Overpaid: Scott Feldman
2012 Salary: $6.5 million
2012 Stats: 6-11, 5.09 ERA, 96 K, 1.383 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, 10.1 H/9
Feldman's 5.48 ERA as a starter likely put him out of any plans for a future in Texas as a starter. In fact, Feldman was not offered arbitration by Texas and was signed by the Chicago Cubs in November.
Underpaid: Edwin Encarnacion
2012 Salary: $3.5 million
2012 Stats: .280 BA, 42 home runs, 110 RBI, .941 OPS
Encarnacion delivered in a big way for the Blue Jays, especially in the absence of slugger Jose Bautista.
The Blue Jays rewarded Encarnacion with a three-year, $27 million extension.
Overpaid: Ricky Romero
2012 Salary: $5 million
2012 Stats: 9-14, 5.77 ERA, 124 K, 1.674 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, 9.8 H/9
Romero was the ace of the staff for the Blue Jays heading into the 2012 season. Now, he will likely be the No. 4 or 5 starter behind Josh Johnson, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and possibly Brandon Morrow.
Romero led the majors in walks and saw his K/9 rate dip dramatically.
Underpaid: Gio Gonzalez
2012 Salary: $3.25 million
2012 Stats: 21-8, 2.89 ERA, 207 K, 1.129 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 6.7 H/9
Gonzalez's first season in the nation's capital was a smashing success. He led the majors with 21 wins and finished third in voting for the NL Cy Young Award.
Together with Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann, the Nats have a trio of young hurlers who can match up with any in the majors.
Overpaid: Jayson Werth
2012 Salary: $13 million
2012 Stats: .300 BA, five home runs, 31 RBI, eight SB, .827 OPS
It's tough to call Werth overpaid for the 2012 season—he missed three months of the season with a fractured wrist.
However, his projected totals over an entire season (10 home runs, 62 RBI) is far below his career average per season.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle.