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Does (Payroll) Size Matter? Tigers, Angels Series May Bring An Answer

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HOUSTON - MAY 04:  Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers looks on from the dugout against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on May 4, 2013 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

HOUSTON – MAY 04: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers looks on from the dugout against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on May 4, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

AshleyDunkak Ashley Dunkak
Ashley Dunkak spent the last three years covering Kansas S...
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By Ashley Dunkak
@AshleyDunkak

CBS DETROIT – Spending money does not guarantee success in sports. Ten games below .500 with MLB’s seventh-highest payroll, the Los Angeles Angels can testify to that better than most.

Between the average yearly salaries of Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols, Los Angeles is spending about $50 million for a pair of hitters with averages of .207 and .262.

For Detroit, spending big – $148, 414, 500 to be exact – has produced mixed, though mostly positive, results.

With Anibal Sanchez pitching lights-out before recently going on the disabled list and Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder proving to be one of the most potent three-four tandems in baseball, it would be hard to argue that the money spent has not paid off.

The big-money Tiger causing concern, however, is 2011 Cy Young winner and MVP Justin Verlander. Detroit can only hope Verlander trends more toward the performance of its other stars instead of following a trajectory similar to that of Los Angeles’ most recognized names.

Hamilton signed with the Angels for $123 million over five years and is hitting .207 with 10 home runs and 25 RBI. His on-base percentage is a staggeringly low .262.

Pujols, who left the St. Louis Cardinals for an astounding $240 million over 10 years, has been a slightly better investment but is still batting just .258 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI.

Verlander, who commanded $180 million over seven years, is not lasting as long in games – in six of his first 16 starts this season he has lasted five innings or fewer – and has numbers that are merely average rather than matching his usual standard of excellence.

With an ERA of 3.90 and a WHIP of 1.381, Verlander looks out of sync. Both his ERA and WHIP are the second-highest numbers Verlander has recorded outside of 2008.

Long-term, Pujols, Hamilton and Verlander may end up being worth every penny, but right now their play is not living up to the money their reputations commanded.

Both teams have payrolls in the top 10 of the major leagues, but for the Angels (33-43), it would appear the money – particularly to three recognized superstars – has not been worth it.

With a payroll more than $20 million higher than that of the Angels, the Tigers (42-32) are hoping that their spending continues to produce better results.

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