October 6, 2015

A Postseason Run for an MLB Team Creates a Financial Discussion over Playoff Shares

With the Major League Baseball postseason upon us, an interesting financial discussion will take place in each playoff team’s clubhouse. Postseasons shares, bonus money for teams making the playoffs, date back to the very first World Series in 1903 when the amount awarded to each player on the winning team was $1,182. Today, the amount has risen considerably—last year’s 2014 World Series champs received a record $388,606 per player.

Each year the players’ pool of money is formed from 50 percent of the gate receipts from the Wild Card games, 60 percent from the first three games of the Division series, and 60 percent from the first four games of the League Championship Series and World Series. The pool only includes guaranteed games so players have no financial incentive to prolong a series. The money is then divided among the ten Postseason clubs with 36 percent going to the World Series winner, 24 percent to the World Series runner-up, 12 percent to each League Championship Series runner-up, 3.25 percent each to the four Division Series runner-ups, and 1.5 percent each to the two Wild Card Game runner-ups.

The 2014 playoff pool totaled $62,026,462. Of that, the champion San Francisco Giants received $22,329,526 from which they distributed 47 full shares, 9.65 partial shares, and 17 cash awards. Shares can be determined in any number of ways. The determination takes place at a players-only meeting held near the end of the season. Of course, the more shares a team distributes, the less each is worth, so there are always questions regarding how much to give a guy acquired mid-season in a trade, a September rookie call-up, or an injured player out for most of the year. Most teams prorate a percentage of the season a player was with the team, but others have their own customs. The St. Louis Cardinals, for instance, have given every player who appeared on a postseason roster a full share regardless of when they joined the team. This could mean the Cardinals will have a lot of shares to hand out this year due to the number of injuries they’ve had and the rookies that have been called up. Their shares could be more diluted than in years past because of this.

Dividing Postseason Shares

Players aren’t the only ones who can receive shares, however. Anyone in the organization is able to be voted upon. For instance, in 2007, the Colorado Rockies voted to give a share to Amanda Coolbaugh, the wife of Mike Coolbaugh who had been killed earlier that July when a line drive struck him in the head while he was coaching for the Rockies’ Double-A affiliate in Tulsa. The same year the Rockies granted a half-share to a clubhouse worker who was able to buy a house and car and go back to school. With so many supporting people in an organization today—trainers, therapists, video coordinators—shares are being handed out to more and more individuals. This means not only are the players watching the postseason races intently, everyone in the organization is too. If the batboy or bullpen catcher is voted on to receive a share for a team like the Astros or Angels in the Wild Card race, the difference between the team making the playoffs and going all the way to the World Series or missing out completely by a game could be the difference between changing a person’s life or not. Last year, just for making the World Series, each Kansas City Royals share received $230,700. It should be an interesting October for all!

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