Calculating the Bonuses of World Champions

With the 2011 World Series Championship fresh in our minds, let’s take a minute to answer a question I seem to hear every year about this time. What kind of bonuses do MLB players get for playoff appearances and how are they determined?

Each year MLB develops a bonus pool. This bonus pool is made up of 60% of the ticket sales from: (1) the first 3 games of each Division Series, (2) the first 4 games of each League Championship Series, and (3) the first 4 games of the World Series. Why only those games? Because MLB wants to encourage teams to play their best baseball, not to throw a game or two in hopes of earning a bigger check.

The bonus pool is divided as follows: 36% to the World Series Champion, 24% to the runner-up, 12% to teams losing in the League Championship’s, 3% to teams losing in the Division Series’, and 1% to the four second place teams in each division that did not make the playoffs (36+24+12+12+3+3+3+3+1+1+1+1=100, in case you’re counting).

Next, teams hold player-only meetings where players get to vote on how the bonus is divided. Players for the team at any point during season, healthy or injured, as well as coaches, trainers and other staff members are eligible for a share.

So how much will a share of the St. Louis Cardinals 2011 World Series Champion share be worth? Based on prior year data, I expect it to be in the range of $350,000 – $375,000. Not a bad payday.