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  1. “They well may have, as only the people in the room on Tuesday will know what was said and what wasn’t”

    Is there a gag order on the arbitration hearing?

    Comment by hunterfan — February 10, 2011 @ 10:25 am

  2. It’s still kind of baffling to me, that at the very highest level of “NEEDING TO KNOW HOW EFFING GOOD A BASEBALL PLAYER IS”, these folks still don’t look at advanced stats… let alone know they exist (assumedly, from the RBI anectodote.)

    I understand that service time is the driving factor in all arbitration cases, but once you have comparables, as you showed, you then look to performance at that level of service time to make the call.

    Millions and millions of dollars every year… baffling.

    Comment by Telo — February 10, 2011 @ 10:39 am

  3. Are players allowed to represent themselves? From what I’ve read, he’s more than capable of presenting his own case to an arbitrator.

    Comment by Andrew — February 10, 2011 @ 10:47 am

  4. One thing I’ve noticed is that FanGraphs places Ohlendorf’s value at about $5 million in 2009 and $3.5 million in 2010 (if he were a free agent). A first-year “arb” player is supposed to make 40% of his free agent value, which would be $2.0 million if you use 2009 (Ohlendorf’s position) or $1.4 million if you use 2010 (Pirates’ position).

    One could argue that Ohlendorf’s injury-plagued 2010 was “atypical,” and therefore that a $5.0 million value for 2009 was a better measure of his potential going forward. The team would argue the reverse, for $1.4 million. The arbitrator’s decision supports the player.

    Comment by Tom Au — February 10, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  5. I’m guessing he wasn’t alone, and probably shouldn’t have been, but did more talking than the vast majority of guys.

    Comment by Telo — February 10, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  6. The fangraphs value is what he would be projected to get as a free agent. I’m not sure what the adjustment is for arb eligible guys like Ohlendorf, but it’s significant.

    Comment by Bill — February 10, 2011 @ 11:20 am

  7. Yea, like Bill said, that “value” is just a players WAR multiplied by whatever a “win is worth” for that given year, which at present is in the 4.5-5mil range. For arb it’s an entirely different ballgame, and your “would be FA” market value has basically nothing to do with how much you receive in arb. It’s much more to do with comparable players in service time, and then performance.

    Comment by Telo — February 10, 2011 @ 11:32 am

  8. I gave you the adjustment. It is a multiplication by (roughly) 40% of the free agent value. And both figures (Ohlendorf’s and the Pirates’) worked out to about 40% of the 2009 and 2010 values respectively.

    Comment by Tom Au — February 10, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  9. You’re both right.

    Pre-free agency arb salaries are strictly based on what players with similar service time and performance make.

    Historically, that’s averaged out to 40%/60%/80% of free agent values for the 3 arb years.

    There are definitely exceptions, but for the most part, either way of looking at it gets you a similar value.

    Comment by Ed — February 10, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

  10. Beyond precedent setting numbers and comps… we are talking Pirates here. Ohlendorf is arguably their 2nd best pitcher and someone they are counting on to take a regular turn this season. And the Pirates are nearly touching bottom in terms of salary obligations. So why are they fighting over a couple of hundred grand with Ross? With an attitude like that, I expect them to trade him out of spite. And things are supposedly turning around in Ptown.

    Comment by ofMontreal — February 10, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  11. Once and for all, let’s get the fact straight that the primary considerations in an arbitration proceeding are NOT statistics. The primary factors- the parameters within which an arbitration award will be made, are the level of experience, his own salary history, and the salaries of players with a like amount of experience. Once in a blue moon, you get a Ryan Howard, who can make a case that he deserves to be paid more than any other player of similar experience, and they you have a new upper limit, but the vast majority of players will fall within a pre determined range based on players with the same basic description in terms of experience, the position they play, and the number of games that they play, before they even begin to look at performance.

    When the arbitrators do begin to look at performance, they’ll look to special recognition awards first, because those are specifically referred to in the language of the CBA. When it comes to Ohlendorf’s “poor performance” the case is immediately made that they kept playing him. He filled the role that they put him in. Losing teams lose games. If he’s no good, then why play him and not pay him?

    This article gives an excellent break down, first sorted by experience and position, of the comparables that will be used by an arbitration panel. If you immediately rush to the statistics before establishing the parameters, you’re going to be lost.

    Comment by Tigerdog — February 10, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  12. It’s simple: Because being a Super Two, his win in abitration will increase his salary over the next three seasons which makes it a more difficult decision whether or not to keep him around.

    Comment by Ryan S — February 10, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

  13. What a great and informative article and discussion. I am just starting to learn about all the salary arbitration stuff, and see that it is very complicated. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

    Comment by SportsInfo247 — February 10, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

  14. Ohlendorf was a Super Two rather than a standard 3 year arb player. Is there an accepted % scale for Super Two players with 4 arb years?

    Comment by Jeff — February 10, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

  15. Speaking of the RBI thing, I’ve never heard that. Source? What’s the story?

    Comment by delv — February 10, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  16. A guy at Bucs Dugout looked at this a few months ago. Super-2s tend to get around 30% of FA value, and then go (roughly) 40-60-80. One thing his research showed is that the 40-60-80 scale is only very approximate – probably ±5% at each stage (not just for the range of players, but even for the average; IOW, it could be more like 44-57-85 on average, but people love round numbers, so).

    Comment by JRoth — February 10, 2011 @ 6:36 pm

  17. Exactly right: a $600k difference in his Super-2 season could easily add up to $3.5-4M over the 6 years of control, which isn’t a lot, but isn’t chump change, either.

    Comment by JRoth — February 10, 2011 @ 6:39 pm

  18. “Once and for all, let’s get the fact straight that the primary considerations in an arbitration proceeding are NOT statistics. The primary factors- the parameters within which an arbitration award will be made, are the level of experience, his own salary history, and the salaries of players with a like amount of experience.”

    I know little about salary arb in MLB, but if what you say is true, then there would be little correlation between players’ arb salaries and their WAR as well as their future FA salaries (which is all about talent/value). There would be some – because, if by “experience” you mean playing time, more experience equals better talent/performance – but not much. Also, if what you say is true, then the idea of using 30/40/60/80 (percent of a player’s FA value) would be useless.

    Given the research that went into the 30/40/60/80 construct, I highly doubt that what you said (the above quote) is true. But, I could be wrong. If someone wants to do a little work, simply run a regression of arb salaries versus WAR or subsequent FA salaries, holding “experience” constant. Or do a “poor man’s regression” by breaking down players with similar experience and salary histories into two groups – high WAR and low WAR – and see what their arb awards are as a group. I also don’t really know what you mean by “his own salary history.” By definition, all pre-arb players are typically paid the league minimum. If a player has a contract that pays them more than that, they are typically locked up through the arb years anyway. Occasionally a (high draft pick) player will have a high salary given to him upon signing, or occasionally a player will be given a small raise for “good-will” purposes prior to their arb years.

    Comment by MGL — February 10, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

  19. Many heads are going to spin here, but to do a real world comp analysis, remove all the advanced stats. Maybe get crazy and throw in OPS.

    Seriously, the process is what the process is. It’s a great discussion to throw in WAR, etc. but at the end of the day, it’s simply an exercise in a “what if” discussion.

    Finally, none of this removes the great work Paul did on the article (we are working together via my data sets, and vetting material). One can hope we get to sabermetric nirvana in salary arb hearings, but it’s more than a ways off.

    Comment by Maury Brown — February 11, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

  20. The primary factors- the parameters within which an arbitration award will be made, are the level of experience,

    Comment by rohit — February 26, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  21. good job! Impressed by your artcle. Anyway,each players will get more better and better by their experience in the field, out in the field. And how they prove themselves out there, with their performance, the money rolls on and on and on. well sources say on vabaseballdotcom all possible info why this happens.

    Comment by adieLo — March 28, 2011 @ 10:08 am

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