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Job Skills and Salaries in Baseball and Basketball

- July 11, 2008

david ortiz.jpg

Red Sox DH David Ortiz. (Note avoirdupois)

What’s the hardest position to play in baseball — the one that requires the greatest combination of skills, smarts, leadership, etc.? There’s obviously no right answer, and we could go around and around about it. At the end of the day, though, my answer would have to be “Catcher.”

And what’s the easiest position to play? Well, duh, the answer to that one would have to be “designated hitter,” wouldn’t it? I mean, lots of those guys look like members of a slow-pitch softball team (that is, 250 pounds seems to be their minimum weight), and the only exercise they get consists of bestirring themselves from the bench every three innings or so to lumber up to the plate and take their cuts.

Okay, now what’s the hardest position to play in basketball? I suspect that it wouldn’t take us as long to come to agreement on this one as it would for baseball. The answer just has to be “point guard.”

What’s my point here? Well, the current issue of Sports Illustrated contains position-by-position salary averages for various sports, and guess what?

The lowest-paid position in baseball: Catcher.

The highest-paid position in baseball: Designated hitter.

The lowest-paid position in basketball: Point guard.

I know, I know: Designated hitters are, for the most part, old guys and therefore better-paid, and home-run hitters, and therefore better-paid. But still, unless they’re getting paid by the pound, all this — not just the DHs, but the catchers and point guards, too — seems a little bit out of whack to me.