MLB: The 25 most valuable pitchers of 2019

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets in action against the Chicago Cubs during a game at Citi Field on August 29, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 29: Jacob deGrom #48 of the New York Mets in action against the Chicago Cubs during a game at Citi Field on August 29, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

1. Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros, $16.476 million value; $13.5 million salary

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Even hard-core Astros fans can’t blame Cole for cashing in on the celebrity he acquired during his two seasons with the Astros. Now he’s off to the Bronx for nine years at nearly three times the money.

Entering his age 29 season, Cole arrives as the consensus best pitcher in baseball. He won 20 games, delivered a league-best 2.50 ERA, and did so over 212.1 innings while striking out an MLB high 326 whiffs. His 185 ERA+ was MLB’s best, as was his 2.64 FIP.

How do those numbers value out? Cole’s 212.1 innings only ranks fourth, behind Verlander, Bieber, and Bauer, and equating to $5.432 million.

But his 326 Ks, valued at $4.223 million, puts Bauer well in his rear-view mirror and also edges in front of Verlander. He opens up the gap on Verlander and speeds by Bieber thanks to that 185 ERA+, which is valued at $6.821 million.

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The $16.476 on-field value produced by Cole is even more remarkable when viewed in the context of his $13.5 million 2019 salary. The extended study of which this is a part has included an examination of the records of 69 players whose 2019 salaries were $13 million or more. Of those 69, only one – Cole – produced more in on-field value than he was paid.