Sport’s biggest ‘bench-earners’ revealed, as MLB star Justin Verlander pockets $248m from the sidelines

Sport’s biggest ‘bench-earners’ revealed, as MLB star Justin Verlander pockets $248m from the sidelines
(Courtesy of Callum Gable)

Research from a leading personal injury law firm has revealed a list of the 50 male athletes who have earned the most while not playing, through injury or other absences. Players across the; NBA, NFL, MLB, and NHL were included, as well as global soccer players. The research focused on the top ten highest earning players from each sport, to reveal who had made the most money watching from the sidelines.

Justin Verlander has been named sport’s biggest ‘bench-earner’, after research into five of America’s favourite team sports* revealed a list of the 50 players who have made the most in match earnings, while injured or absent from their teams.

Baseball dominated the top ten, with MLB players making up the entirety of the top five highest earners. Verlander topped the list, making more than $248m, followed by Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, who earnt $225m and $222m respectively without ever pitching a ball. International soccer star Neymar was the highest ranking athlete from another sport, earning more than $80m while sidelined.

The purpose of the research, commissioned by GJEL Accident Attorneys, is to shine a light on the amount elite athletes earn, regardless of inclusion in match day teams, and to remind American workers, who are not protected by large financial contracts, that they may be entitled to compensation for missed or last earnings.

The top ten ‘bench-earners’ and their sport, as well as the amount they’ve earnt from the sidelines, are:

Justin Verlander (MLB) – $248,349,306

Zack Greinke (MLB) – $225,598,279

Clayton Kershaw (MLB) – $222,079,132

David Price (MLB) – $206,264,276

Max Scherzer (MLB) – $161,432,850

Neymar (soccer) – $80,122,732

Blake Griffin (NBA) – $67,196,616

Miguel Cabrera (MLB) – $62,541,318

Gareth Bale (soccer) – $62,023,235

Chris Paul (NBA) – $61,147,394

The full ranking of the top 50 can be found here:

To generate the list, data analysts from the brand looked at the highest earning players within each sport; American football, basketball, baseball, hockey and soccer. The total earnings were then divided across the total number of games each player could have played in throughout their career, revealing their overall earnings per game. The analysts then calculated the amount earnt for every game missed, to reveal the total amount earnt while benched, injured, or otherwise absent.

Across the top five athletes, comprised solely of MLB players, the bench-earnings total more than $1.06bn, equalling nearly two thirds of the amount earnt by the other 45 athletes included on the list, which totalled $1.66bn. Baseball’s contribution to the list totals $1.36bn, nearly a billion dollars higher than the second highest ‘bench-earning sport’, basketball, which boasted a total of $495m.

Looking at Justin Verlander’s career more closely, the pitcher has played just 474 games out of a possible 2,754, while earning more than $299m in the process. In total, he has earnt $108,782 for each game he could have participated in, however after missing 2,283 games throughout his career, the pitcher has earned $238m without stepping onto the field.

Four time finals MVP and winner Lebron James was only the seventh highest basketball player in terms of match earnings made from the bench, equalling $47,739,072, despite boasting the highest career earnings of any current NBA player. Tom Brady was the second highest from the NFL behind Aaron Rodgers, earning $45,363,304.

Global soccer star and seven time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi finished third behind Neymar and Gareth Bale within the soccer category, despite having the record for the highest paying contract in sports history. The Argentinian has earnt $42,607,696 while sidelined.

With more than $600 million recovered for its clients in settlements, and bespoke one-to-one customer relationships at the core of its business, GJEL Accident Attorneys is one of California’s preeminent and leading personal injury law firms.

Andy Gillin, Managing Partner of GJEL, said:

“At GJEL our goal has always been to offer people the advice and guidance they need to deal with their personal injury situation, even if they don’t know they need it! Something we hear a lot from our clients is that they ‘didn’t even know’ they might be owed compensation, especially when it comes to lost earnings.

“This is why we decided to release our research, to help shine a light on how much some of the world’s most elite athletes are making while off injured, sick, or benched. Obviously they are protected by massive contracts which usually pay out regardless of injury or absence, but for the average American this isn’t the case. That’s why we urge people to get in touch if they’ve missed out on earnings through injury or forced absence – we’re always here to help, whatever your needs”