Purely out of interest i decided to compile a team of the best players who earned the league minimum ($400,000) in 2009. Obviously using the players who earned just $400,000 and not a penny more would be a) boring and b) pretty much impossible unless you can consider an army of second-rate relievers a team. Also, i wondered if it was possible for a GM to create such a team using savvy (read: Lucky) Draft picks and clever FA pick-ups, well we'll see...
|C||Pablo Sandoval||Amateur Free Agent||Giants||$ 401,750.00||4.8|
|1B||Joey Votto||2002 44th||Reds||$ 437,500.00||4.5|
|2B||Ben Zobrist*||2004 184th||Rays||$ 415,900.00||7.1|
|3B||Evan Longoria*||2006 3rd||Rays||$ 500,000.00||6.6|
|SS||Elvis Andrus#||Amateur Free Agent||Rangers||$ 400,000.00||2.4|
|OF||Justin Upton*||2005 1st||Dbacks||$ 412,000.00||5.2|
|OF||Adam Jones*||2003 37th||Orioles||$ 435,000.00||2.5|
|OF||Matt Kemp||2003 181st||Dodgers||$ 467,000.00||5.8|
|Bench||Adam Lind||2004 83rd||Blue Jays||$ 411,800.00||3.3|
|Bench||Jacoby Ellsbury||2005 23rd||Red Sox||$ 449,500.00||2.1|
|Bench||Mark Reynolds||2004 476th||Dbacks||$ 422,500.00||2.2|
|Bench||Hunter Pence*||2004 64th||Astros||$ 439,000.00||1.7|
|Hon. Bench||Skip Schumaker||2001 164th||Cardinals||$ 430,000.00||1.5|
|SP||Jair Jurrjens||Amateur Free Agent||Atlanta||$ 450,000.00||5.3|
|SP||Yovani Gallardo||2004 46th||Brewers||$ 414,000.00||2.4|
|SP||Clayton Kershaw||2006 7th||Dodgers||$ 404,000.00||4.2|
|SP||Brett Anderson||2006 55th||Athletics||$ 400,000.00||3.8|
|SP||Matt Garza||2005 25th||Rays||$ 433,300.00||3.4|
|RP||Andrew Bailey#*||2006 188th||Athletics||$ 400,000.00||3.9|
|RP||Brad Ziegler||2003 595th||Athletics||$ 405,000.00||1.3|
|Total Payroll||$ 8,528,250.00|
|Total WAR||74||WAR Values from Baseball Reference and FanGraphs|
Obviously the WAR values for the bench guys would be much lower had they played the season on the bench rather than on the field, so take the total WAR value with a bucket of salt.
And this is the list of players i decided were eligible, this is not a complete list of all players who earned around the league minimum last year, just the ones i thought were best and worth considering. Think of it as a list of honourable mentions.
A few notes: 1B seems to be the shallowest position, neither player is particularly great either, Votto only played 130ish games but still put up very good numbers, whereas Loney played nearly every game but his numbers weren't brilliant.
I picked Reynolds over Longoria for two reasons, although Longo made the All Star team and Reynolds didn't i think the DBacks man had the better year and because i personally like Reynolds as a player and think he's very undervalued. People can't seem to see past his trend of breaking his own strikeout records for some reason. Annoyingly, the more stats i look at the more Longoria is the better player... *EDIT*:Sometimes you have to admit you're wrong. I don't think i can justify keeping Reynolds in there over Longoria, almost every conventional and sabrmetrical says Longo is the better player.
Surprisingly only 4 of these guys were taken in the 1st round of the draft (Ellsbury, Upton, Longoria and Garza). And with the exception of the Ellsbury-Upton-Garza clash in the 1st Round of the 2005 Draft (even though the Boston's 23rd pick (Ellsbury) that year was compensatory) all of these guys could have ended up on the same team. Its extremely unlikely, but it could've happened.
Skip Schumaker is given an honoury bench spot for being my favourite player ever. More on that later.
So there you go, For around $8.5mil (Which is incidently, roughly what the Cards will pay Kyle Lohse next year... ouch) you could have 6 All Stars and a Rookie of the Year, i know that sounds like a Marlins fan's wet dream, but its true. I will gladly read any and all suggestions/disagreements/hate mail.
On why i didn't include the NL Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan; when the Marlin-er first won the award i was a huge fan and supported the decision, however with time my feeling has cooled somewhat for a couple of reasons. First, the number of games 128 is good but not great and second his defence, we all know he is a second baseman and was pushed into the OF, however the incumbent Marlins 2B-man is Dan "The Butcher" Uggla, if Coghlan can't beat the "Chris Duncan of the Infield" to the position then he's probably not too good.
And finally, if this is recieved well i spin the long yarn about how a British guy became a baseball fan, let alone a Cardinals fan. If that wasn't tantilising enough it will be titled 'How i was almost a Phillies Fan'.
Thanks to Fourstick for the reliever ideas.
And as requested, here are the WAR values for these guys in 2010. Unfortunatley i can't find decent values for the pitchers.Most of these guys will still be earning around the minimum next year, those going to Arb can obviously expect raises, Longo is guaranteed $950,000.
|Hon. Bench||Skip Schumaker||1.6|
|WAR values from CHONE Projections|