Linking MLB player salaries to performance is an idea worth reconsidering – Press Enterprise

Besides paying taxes and various acts of war, playing baseball is perhaps the most historically significant activity in human history. If something happened in a professional baseball competition since 1900, there’s a better-than-average chance of it scoring forever. Keeping these records continued unabated. The bigger question is what to do with them.

Soon, a player’s statistics could form the basis for determining his future salary, if the major league owners can persuade the players’ union to accept a proposal made recently in collective bargaining. He is said to be calling for a version of Wins Above Replacement, weighted for novelty, to replace the salary arbitrage process for players who have had more than three years but less than six years of service time.

On the face of it, the idea is bold: Eliminate the time-honored and sometimes-controversial judging process by hitting a number on the computer. Digging a little deeper, it looks like a recycled version of an idea the owners came up with during business talks in 1990. It also speaks directly to a bullet point found in 36 page insurance guide Recently distributed to players and agents by the federation.

The guide reads: “For decades, our reserve system has been divided into three main groups: pre-arbiters who earn close to the salary threshold, players who qualify for salary arbitrage, and free agents.” “Recent industry trends show that more and more field value is being created by young players whose salaries are being artificially suppressed by the reserve system. The system needs to be modernized so that players can be compensated for the value they create, as they create it.”

I did not add uppercase; They are there in the text. This underscores the importance the federation places on modernizing a system that allows some of the game’s best players to stay near the minimum payout in the Major League. Owners seem open to the idea of ​​letting statistics – not just service time – form the basis for determining a player’s salary. But players are said to consider any system that replaces salary arbitration as “non-rookie”.

What’s interesting here is the area of ​​compromise to make the non-free market for young senior league players more equitable.

Take, for example, Wander Franco, who this week reportedly agreed to a 12-year contract guaranteeing him about $185 million. There was a high probability of a consensus in baseball with a batting average of 0.313 and 0.955 on base as well as a percentage slowdown when the Triple-A’s Tampa Bay Rays promoted him on June 22. He’s played well enough in 70 games for the Rays to finish third in the MLS start vote. Since Franco, 20, is only eligible for a pro-rata portion of the minimum salary in the Major League, he likely earned between $200,000 and $300,000 (excluding post-season shares) this year. Some players will get 100 times that amount in 2021.

Can any ‘pay for performance’ system help the world’s Wonder Francos get through both sides?

The greatest hope emerges when we consider how far statistical evaluations have come in the past 31 years. Based on contemporary writing, here’s what we know about how the 1990 pay-for-performance proposal worked. It is possible that some of these terms were added or removed during the bargaining process, but they are all on the table at once:

All players not yet eligible for free agency (i.e. those with less than six years of service) will have their pay determined by a two-year statistical table combining seniority and hitting stats (for hitters) or promotion stats (for bowlers) each team pays 1/26 of Player gross salary, multi-year contracts were not allowed. Effectively, only free agent authorized signatories will be paid in full by their recruiting team.

The revenue collected from radio and TV broadcasts will be used to pay players’ salaries before they reach the free agency. Perhaps as a result, players’ contracts were not guaranteed.

The value of a player depends on his position. The pay-for-performance formula divided them into four categories for statistical purposes: Starting shooters; pitchers relief pitchers, third base, first pitchers and designated hitters; And hunters, second rule, and short grocers. Ostensibly, these sections are designed to take into account the defensive skill required to play various positions on the field, and the requirements to start promoting versus resting.

The pay-to-pay formula was apparently never reported, and may not have been fully fleshed out even in secret. According to one of the reportsHowever, the formula was “highly weighted towards the matches played”.

The union has never seriously considered the owners’ pay-per-performance proposal, as it was just a stumbling block on its way to a 32-day shutdown that halted training in the spring. If defensive evaluations were not even a component of the best statistical evaluations of the time – Old versions of WAR They were still a few years away from public debate – it’s no surprise that players were quick to dismiss them.

Commentary at the time focused less on the statistical inadequacies of the formula, and more on the mere existence of a statistical formula for evaluating players and their salaries. “The device violates almost every selfless instinct of the athlete, as evidenced by the reaction of the general managers and directors, and the next who will endorse such a plan will be the first,” One columnist wrote. “Why haven’t the owners tried a strategy by which any player out with loaded bases could walk home from the field? It was no more absurd than pay-per-performance, and that must have bothered a fan looking from the outside into a ’90s dead end.”

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