FanGraphs Baseball


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  1. Maury,

    I was under the impression (actually from a conversation with two MLB arbitrators I had last week) that the arbitrators don’t have leeway to select a midpoint, but rather have to choose either the team’s number or the player’s number. You seem to suggest a lot of the arbitration awards settle at the midpoint. Is my understanding of the system incorrect?

    Comment by JH — November 17, 2010 @ 10:52 am

  2. Might want to review and edit/spell check this post.

    Comment by J-Doug — November 17, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  3. Those were cases that settled BEFORE getting to arbitration. He states in the beginning that arbitrators must select either the player or the team’s number, no in between.

    Comment by John — November 17, 2010 @ 11:15 am

  4. They can’t choose in the middle – they have to pick a side. However, the midpoint salaries come from when clubs settle with cases before they see an arbiter for some salary midway between what the player wants and what the club thinks they are worth.

    Comment by AK707 — November 17, 2010 @ 11:15 am

  5. JH, I believe that if the arbitrator decides they must simply choose one of the two figures. But prior to that the team and the arbitration-eligible player may reach an agreement on their own, which is what those figures are.

    Comment by Uncle Bingers — November 17, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  6. If you read the article more carefully, you’ll see that the examples he provides are not arbitration cases, but cases of players arbitration eligible being signed to 1 year deals in order to avoid arbitration.

    Comment by nateg26 — November 17, 2010 @ 11:19 am

  7. Not a bad overall summary. Just a minor correction though – Major League Service is commonly abbreviated MLS, not MLST.

    Comment by That Guy — November 17, 2010 @ 11:27 am

  8. Got it. Missed that. Thanks.

    Comment by JH — November 17, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  9. He states in the article that if it goes to arbitration either the teams value or players value must be picked. The other examples were of players that settled outside of arbitration.

    Comment by Steve — November 17, 2010 @ 11:39 am

  10. The NLRB does not arbitrate these hearings (or, indeed, any hearing; the NLRB enforces labor law by finding (or not finding) “unfair labor practices” in situations where arbitration is NOT the chosen method of resolution, such as during strikes when the two sides are not talking to each other– one key case actually came out of the 1987 NFL players’ strike).

    As I understand it, the arbitrators in these cases are American Arbitration Association arbitrators mutually approved by the union and the owners. Their powers are very limited, as they are allowed only to choose one side’s figure or the other. Normally, labor arbitrators have much broader powers. This situation is sufficiently unusual that the “pick one side or the other, no discretion” style of arbitration is actually referred to as “baseball-style arbitration” in the literature.

    However, the point (that these guys are neither baseball professionals, statisticians, nor analysts, but rather generalist lawyers) is important.

    Comment by Paul Thomas — November 17, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

  11. This is absolutely correct (on the AAA, not NLRB selecting the arbitrators). Was asleep on the switch with that one and the article has been updated.


    Comment by Maury Brown — November 17, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  12. Major league service time

    Comment by Tigerdog — November 18, 2010 @ 2:57 am

  13. Question: Has there been a case where a player’s salary is REDUCED from the previous year in arbitration? Even the case of a potential free agent that is offered and accepts?

    I’m wondering how to guesstimate players such as Ordonez, Pavano, Manny, and some of the other Type A free agents that have a salary history of expensive contracts, but performance recently has diminished due to injuries, or just decline. It’s my impression that a club would never offer arby to an Ordonez or a Manny because two of the main criteria are salary history and years of experience, and those are two factors that no GM would care about if they were to be signed as a free agent. Just wondering.

    Comment by Tigerdog — November 18, 2010 @ 3:31 am

  14. why do the arbiters have no baseball background?
    i always wondered about this because it seems pretty dumb, but maybe im missing something

    Comment by cs3 — November 18, 2010 @ 4:29 am

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