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The Most Overpaid MLB Players

Graphiq Logo By Nick Selbe of Graphiq | Slide 1 of 27: <p>Thanks to an incredibly player-friendly collective bargaining agreement, there is no limit to how much money Major League Baseball players can make once they hit free agency. Moreover, contracts' base salaries are fully guaranteed, a feature far less common in the NFL or NBA.</p><p>This is undoubtedly a good thing for the players, who deserve full compensation for being the best in the world at what they do. But it often leads to disastrous results for teams who doll out big offers for guys whose best days are likely behind them. There are plenty of cautionary tales over the years — Ryan Howard, Pablo Sandoval and Matt Kemp are recent big-money disasters that haven't paid off the way they were expected.</p><p>But who were the worst offenders from last season? <a href="http://www.pointafter.com/">PointAfter</a>, a sports data site powered by <a href="https://www.graphiq.com/">Graphiq</a>, found the most overpaid MLB players from 2016. The basic formula for identifying players: compare a player's salary to his 2016 Wins Above Replacement total, an all-encompassing metric that measures a player's relative value to a minimum-salaried replacement player. The higher the cost per WAR, the more overpaid the player is. </p><p>Theoretically, a replacement-level player would be worth zero WAR. These are guys who are always readily available for clubs at a moment's notice, yet there are lots a players who produce replacement-caliber results for top-tier price tags. In order to focus solely on big-money busts, only players who made at least $8 million were taken into consideration. To exclude players who missed nearly the entire season, hitters had to have at least 100 plate appearances to qualify, and pitchers needed at least 30 innings pitched. Players who have retired — like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira — were also kept off the list.</p><p>That left a group of 26 players who made at least $8 million, had the requisite playing time and posted WAR totals of zero or worse. This means that teams would have been better off giving playing time to minor leaguers on league-minimum salaries in 2016 than this crop of seven- and eight-figured players, a sobering realization for general managers who are most likely kicking themselves for spending so lavishly.</p><p>Players are ranked according to their 2016 salaries, sourced from sports contract site Spotrac, with last season's WAR totals included. The league average payroll last year was just over $145 million, <a href="http://www.spotrac.com/mlb/payroll/2016/">according</a> to Spotrac, with seven teams eclipsing the $180 million mark. Much of that money was spent unwisely, with the following well-paid group of 26 providing the lowest return on investment.</p><p>Note: In the event of a tie, the player with the worse WAR total was ranked higher. All WAR totals are from <a href="http://www.baseball-reference.com/about/war_explained.shtml">Baseball-Reference</a>.</p>

The Most Overpaid MLB Players

Thanks to an incredibly player-friendly collective bargaining agreement, there is no limit to how much money Major League Baseball players can make once they hit free agency. Moreover, contracts' base salaries are fully guaranteed, a feature far less common in the NFL or NBA.

This is undoubtedly a good thing for the players, who deserve full compensation for being the best in the world at what they do. But it often leads to disastrous results for teams who doll out big offers for guys whose best days are likely behind them. There are plenty of cautionary tales over the years — Ryan Howard, Pablo Sandoval and Matt Kemp are recent big-money disasters that haven't paid off the way they were expected.

But who were the worst offenders from last season? PointAfter, a sports data site powered by Graphiq, found the most overpaid MLB players from 2016. The basic formula for identifying players: compare a player's salary to his 2016 Wins Above Replacement total, an all-encompassing metric that measures a player's relative value to a minimum-salaried replacement player. The higher the cost per WAR, the more overpaid the player is.

Theoretically, a replacement-level player would be worth zero WAR. These are guys who are always readily available for clubs at a moment's notice, yet there are lots a players who produce replacement-caliber results for top-tier price tags. In order to focus solely on big-money busts, only players who made at least $8 million were taken into consideration. To exclude players who missed nearly the entire season, hitters had to have at least 100 plate appearances to qualify, and pitchers needed at least 30 innings pitched. Players who have retired — like Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira — were also kept off the list.

That left a group of 26 players who made at least $8 million, had the requisite playing time and posted WAR totals of zero or worse. This means that teams would have been better off giving playing time to minor leaguers on league-minimum salaries in 2016 than this crop of seven- and eight-figured players, a sobering realization for general managers who are most likely kicking themselves for spending so lavishly.

Players are ranked according to their 2016 salaries, sourced from sports contract site Spotrac, with last season's WAR totals included. The league average payroll last year was just over $145 million, according to Spotrac, with seven teams eclipsing the $180 million mark. Much of that money was spent unwisely, with the following well-paid group of 26 providing the lowest return on investment.

Note: In the event of a tie, the player with the worse WAR total was ranked higher. All WAR totals are from Baseball-Reference.

© Daniel Shirey / Getty Images

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