The market value of Madison Bumgarner


Madison Bumgarner’s statistics are overwhelming to the point of off-putting. It’s like hearing about $65 billion Madoff pilfered or the trillions spent on the endless wars in the Middle East. At some point, numbers so overshoot expectation or reality they become not just untenable but unrelatable.

By Andrew Pridgen

Bumgarner finished the 2014 World Series allowing just one run over 21 innings, good for a 0.43 ERA—the lowest in a single World Series since Los Angeles’ Sandy Koufax posted a 0.38 over 24 innings against the Twins in ‘65.

The rub of it was Bumgarner’s 2014 performance actually RAISED his overall—still-lowest—World Series ERA of all time to 0.25. He also took the hill enough to set the all-time record for innings in a single postseason (deadball era included) with 52.2 and His 1.03 overall post-season ERA is third-best of ever.

His other defining statistic, salary, is also alarming. Alarmingly low.

Bumgarner’s current five-year, $35 million contract was signed in April 2012. This year, he’ll receive $6.85 million, about $300k less than what Ryne Sandberg took home from the Cubbies…in 1992, or less than one fifth the $32,571,428 Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw will wheel home in 2015.

Bumgarner gets $9.75 million to buy some new horses and tow hitches in 2016 and $11.5 million in 2017—the final year of his contract. 2018 is guaranteed if he throws more than 200 innings the year prior and 2019 is a club option.

This week, righty Max Scherzer inked a seven-year, $210 million deal with his new club, the Nationals. The Nats put their new arm on layaway and won’t finish writing Scherzer’s final check until 2021 or when Blade Runner comes true (whichever happens first).

Last season, Scherzer was 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA with Thomas Magnum’s Tigers but in his single World Series appearance (2012), he gave up three earned runs over 61⁄3 innings en route to a no-decision.

If the math were proportionate, Bumgarner, who is 25 to Scherzer’s 30, would currently have an actual market value of $39 million/year for the next eight years for a total of $312 million to be paid out through 2031.

There will always be the Scherzers of the world, beneficiaries of timing, aggressiveness, talent and luck; and the Bumgarners, undervalued genii who work in spite or maybe because of familiar-but-inferior contemporaries’ unheralded windfalls.

But the divide between talent and money isn’t limited to sport. In fact, sport is where the dichotomy is least pronounced.

Here then, a quick list of the current Scherzers of the world:

Tim Cook, CEO Apple: Last year, Tim Cook earned an estimated $39 million (his predecessor Steve Jobs made $1 in 2010 because stock options). Cook, who was given a one-time crack at $377 million worth of Apple shares, will vest over the next decade. He did that while making awkward PowerPoints (or whatever non-Microsoft version of PowerPoint he uses) and introducing an Inspector Gadget watch. His name also sounds a lot like the guy who brews Sam Adams which lends a little unintentional street cred.

David Simon, CEO Simon Property Group: Simon says: Who the fuck is this guy? Making a cool $140 million in 2014, Simon is the largest real estate investment trust in the US which means they own both Baltic Avenue and Marvin Gardens. Still, Simon’s got enough money to buy Lil’ Wayne and enough left over for some new teeth for Lil’ Wayne.

David M. Zaslav, CEO Discovery Communications: This dude made $54 million last year off the fucking puppy bowl, only Les Moonves of CBS makes more. Oh, discovery also owns OWN, Oprah’s repository for the dead sea scrolls of Tyler Perry’s leftover network show pitches.

JJ Abrams, Felicity creator: JJ Abrams is worth more than $100 million from writing the same show or movie over and over and over. He is most overpaid and predictable talent in Hollywood, Aaron Sorkin division. Abrams is one of the writers of Armageddon which instantly should at least make him a millionaire, but it goes downhill from there as he uses the same tropes Action Girl (think Alias and Fringe), Lens Flare which makes everyone look like Maddie Hayes  (think the new Star Treks and basically all of the new Star Wars trilogy if the teaser trailer on shrooms says anything). Though he did write Regarding Henry when he was only 25 in 1991 ushering the beginning of the end of Harrison Ford’s career.

Anna Wintour, tree-killer for fashion: Vogue’s editor and Conde Nast’s lead designer made an estimated $4 million in 2014, the same year the publishing company lost $500 million on fashion titles. Without her, they’d be less than a half-billion in the red. That’s a start.

Michael S. Jeffries, (fmr CEO) Abercrombie & Fitch: Homeboy finally retired in late 2014 after saying he wants to devote all his time to keeping Mickey Rourke’s plastic surgeon in business after pocketing $50 million (plus undisclosed sum for going away) for his final year of tanking the once-venerable exploit-a-teen clothing brand. He also once said, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong” which is fucking incredible. He’s retires as easily the most inflated-looking 70-year-old trolling Grindr.

Loyd Blankfein, CEO Goldman Sachs: Blankfein made about $17 million pre-bonus in 2014. In 2011, the investment firm’s net income fell almost 70 percent as they laid off about 1,000. He got a 15 percent raise. Because Wall Street was never prosecuted and Blankfein/Goldman never faced more than a wrist slap on fraud and racketeering charges filed in 2010 by Prudential selling $375 million of residential mortgage-backed securities to Prudential Financial. That they knew were bad. Oh-fucking-well, on to the next ripe plum, pensions.

Skrillex, DJ: Pulled in close to $18 million in 2014 playing more than 180 shows in 20 countries while never actually scratching a record.

And a few of the world’s MadBums—underpaid and underappreciated masters of their craft:

Megan Marshall, author: The 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Biography (Margaret Fuller: A New American Life) is currently ranked about 600,000 on Amazon’s book list (anyone north of 500k takes home $20 to $300/month estimated in book sales). Sure, there was the Pulitzer money, appearances (the May 8 coffee cake confab at the Unitarian-Universalist Historical Society in Boston was a big earner) and maybe a NPR shout-out or two but Marshall probably brought just enough in to keep the kiddos in slightly used sweaters and the 1999 Outback gassed up last year.

Miranda July, occupation unknown: Miranda July is good at everything even though she doesn’t really do any one thing. Everyone except her calls her some kind of performance artist who happens to make movies that you have to talk about to make it seem like you like movies that you should like and does things like get Lena Dunham to admit she’s about to spend the same on a couch as most families would a SUV, recently wrote a book called The First Bad Man which everyone loves (see reasons above: books category) and yet nobody knows how she’s not working the counter at Little Caesars to pay for it all. I’m sure the Caméra d’Or from Cannes and the Special Jury prize at Sundance could fetch a couple hundo on eBay. And if she for some reason decided to launch a line of free-range yarn for coffee shop crocheters, she could probably begin to cash it in.

Nick Rhodes, keyboard savant, Duran Duran: Rhodes is said to be worth upwards of $60 Million, which isn’t bad unless you consider that breaks down to less than $2 million/year to lay claim to have been Princess Di’s favorite artist of all time and write the most riveting keyboard-only pop song of all time: Tiger Tiger. Rhodes also comes from money, which may better explain his worth. He founded the artpop band which basically ushered in a generation of video watchers and recreational cocaine users when he was just 16 and there’s no way to compensate someone for that heady contribution.

Scott Glenn, actor/sickly child/reporter/Marine/barback: Glenn is the bad boy who stole Debra Winger from Travolta in Urban Cowboy, got shot to the moon in the film adaptation of Wolfe’s The Right Stuff and most recently played police chief gone (maybe) crazy Kevin Garvey Sr. in Tom Perrotta’s HBO series adaptation of The Leftovers. Pittsburgh native Glenn, bed-ridden as a child, overcame a limp, joined the Marines, was a reporter for the Kenosha Evening news, graduated from the Actors Studio married a ceramicist, moved to Ketchum, Idaho and had two daughters with stripper names Dakota and Rio and on top of that has been in 70 other movies including Backdraft, The Hunt for Red October, The Silence of the Lambs yet is still estimated to be worth less than $3 million, his approximate investment in Surfer, Dude.

Sid and Marty Krofft: The puppeteers (still alive at 85 and 77 respectively) are the most innovate brothers to ever walk the Earth this side of Orville and Wilbur, Artie and Tom and Charlie and Emilio. In the day, they lived next door to Mama Cass Elliott before the ham sandwich rumors started and designed the puppets for Hanna-Barbera’s Banana Splits. They went on to cultivate a generation of stoners starting in 1969 with HR Pufnstuff. Sigmund and the Sea Monsters, Land of the Lost (Holly, Will, Sleestacks!) and the Bugaloos. The brothers S&M made Freddy the talking Flute a household, um, item and by all internet accounts don’t have much money left from the empire (spent all on puppets and maybe a dime bag or two along with a failed theme park). Like the saying goes, better to have puppeteered and lost than to have been an attorney.

Work that first challenges then eventually defines is not rewarded financially during the creator’s lifetime and yet, in the case of Bumgarner there is only one 25-year-old on the planet with three World Series rings, a new Chevy presented by Matt Foley on national TV and the natural athletic ability to drink seven Bud longnecks at a time.

There are some things, after all, money cannot buy.


  1. […] They will tell you their league never evolved because it’s like an alligator or great white shark or something—nature got it right in ancient times and is sticking to the plan. They will tell you it’s fun to see semi-pro sluggers connect at a rate and with the same pop that would get nearly anyone else sent to the minors (that’s the best argument), or worse, that the act of toting a bat actually improves their performance on the rubber. […]