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Baseball players start earning their enormous paychecks this week

Kevin Chupka
Executive Producer/Writer

As pitching mounds and home plates become active again this week in Major League Baseball stadiums across the country many of the heaviest hitters and fastest pitchers are playing under new, very lucrative, contracts.

Miguel Carbrera of the Detroit Tigers has just inked an extension that will earn him $292 million over the next ten years. Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim signed his own extension last week for six-years and $144.5 million and during the off-season Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher Clayton Kershaw became the first major league player to sign a contract that averages $30 million a year. That makes him the highest paid player in terms of average annual income over the course of his contract, even if not the highest paid player this season (technically, Kershaw's salary is only $4 million in 2014 but with an $18 million signing bonus and raises to up to $33 million a year through 2020, his earnings average out to a little over $30 million a year).

With the average American pulling in $24 an hour Breakout decided to break down just what these major leaguers are making per hour.

Using Kershaw as an example let's estimate he'll work eight hours days more or less every day from mid-February to mid-October: about 243 days. That means he'll spread that cash over about 1,950 hours which still amounts to well over $15,000 per hour. The average American pulls in about $24 an hour.

Two other lucrative contracts for 2014 belong to Cliff Lee and Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies. They'll each pull in $25 million or about $12,800 an hour.

But players weren't always so well paid. Even some of the all-time greats. Babe Ruth's highest salary ever came in 1931 when he made $80,000. In today's money that figure would be about $1.4 million, or about $700 an hour.

28 years later Ted Williams pulled in the highest salary of his career, $125,000 dollars. In today's money he'd pocket a little under a million dollars ($971,000), or about $500 an hour.

But what about teams as a whole? Today the New York Yankees, for example, are valued at about $2.3 billion. They were sold almost 70 years ago (and several times since) for $2.8 million. That's an increase of more than 82,000 percent.

By contrast the Dow Jones Industrial average has grown by about 10,000 percent in the same period.

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