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Thursday, February 21, 2008
Howard Wins in Arbitration

Ryan Howard won his request for $10,000,000 from the Phillies. This represents the first hearing loss ever for the Phillies. The arbitration panel was Stephen Goldberg, Robert Bailey and Jack Clarke. According to my research, Goldberg’s panel record is 24-17 in favor of teams, and Bailey’s panels are 2-2. Clarke, who also sat on the Chien-Ming Wang panel this year, has a panel record of 9-8 in favor of players. This decision ties the record for the highest award. Previously, Alfonso Soriano was given a $10,000,000 award. However, he lost his case against the Washington Nationals in 2006 when he asked for $12,000,000.



These are great posts, and I really appreciate you taking the time to do them. In a previous post, you mentioned that "it is often stated that arbitrators want to maintain a record that is close to .500" (meaning that a particular team maintains that record). I don't understand that. If that's true, I see that as an inherent flaw with baseball's arbitration system. Each case should be viewed in isolation on its individual merits. Prior decisions for or against a particular team are completely irrelevant and should have no bearing on the outcome of any given case. It would be more efficient to just have computers make these decisions if based on a team's prior record in arbitration.

Blogger Rick Karcher -- 2/22/2008 7:20 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Ed Edmonds -- 2/22/2008 8:37 AM  

Did Prince Fielder just do a backflip?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 2/22/2008 8:40 AM  

I might have caused some confusion in what I wrote, Rick. The idea that started me on this was the stated view that each individual arbitrator needed to stay close to 50-50 because, if they did not, they would not be asked to come back the following year. The MLBPA or management can decide that a particular arbitrator can no longer continue if either of them or both feel that arbitrator is biased towards one side or the other or is not prepared or does not pay attention to the criteria. The quotation that I posted from Thomas Roberts was directed at that observation. I agree with him and with you. Each case should be taken on the merits and based upon the presentation of information by each side and the criteria established in the collective bargaining agreement.

There is another problem with looking solely at an arbitrator's individual record at hearings without a complete analysis of the cases presented to them. It just might be the case that an arbitrator is presented with five cases. Let's say that an independent panel of five reviewed those cases. Let's say that that the arbitator and the review panel agree that the players should have won four of the five cases or that management really had the better argument in four of the five. I would argue that it is wrong to say that the arbitrator has shown bias because their individual record is 4-1. That might be the correct record in those five cases based on the merits of the data and the arguments. Just as in litigation, each party deserves the best decision that the judge or the jury can make without any concern for parties that are not involved in the case or the activities of the same or similar parties at another point in time.

I think it was a good idea to go to panels of three instead of just one arbitrator. I really believe that it improves the chances of arriving at the better decision.

Thanks for the opportunity to provide a clearer answer.

Blogger Ed Edmonds -- 2/22/2008 8:41 AM  

I wanted to correct a typo in my original response and to add a sentence.

Blogger Ed Edmonds -- 2/22/2008 8:42 AM  

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