According to final figures released Friday by the Major League Baseball Players Association, the rise was the steepest since 2007. The boost was helped by an increase in the minimum salary from $414,000 to $480,000.
The New York Yankees had the highest average for the 14th consecutive season at $6.88 million, rising after consecutive declines from a peak of $7.66 million when they won the World Series in 2009.
The Los Angeles Dodgers boosted their average from 13th to second at $5.55 million, followed by the Los Angeles Angels ($5.48 million) and AL champion Detroit ($4.95 million). Texas went up from 15th to fifth at $4.89 million.
At $684,940, Houston had the lowest average since the 2006 Florida Marlins at $594,722.
The Boston Red Sox and Cubs had their lowest averages since at least 2000. Boston dropped from third to 12th at $3.3 million and the Cubs seventh to 23rd at $2.1 million.
World Series champion San Francisco remained eighth, averaging $4.07 million. AL West champion Oakland was 28th at $1.79 million.
Kansas City rose from last in 2011 to 26th at $2.04 million, and Pittsburgh went up from 27th to 19th at $2.47 million.
The Marlins increased from 19th to 10th after adding free agents Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell but have traded them in the team's latest payroll slashes and will drop next year.
Among regulars at positions, first basemen took over from designated hitters as the highest average at $8.6 million, followed by DHs at $8.1 million. Third base was next at $7.1 million, followed by starting pitchers at $6.1 million, second basemen $4.9 million, outfielders $4.6 million, shortstops $4.2 million, catchers $3.4 million and relief pitchers $1.8 million.
Figures are based on Aug. 31 rosters and disabled lists, with 944 players averaging $3,213,479. Major League Baseball has not yet computed its final averages, which usually differ slightly because of methods of calculation.