Recently, I have been discussing some of the higher-profile upcoming arbitration cases as part of MLBTR’s Arbitration Breakdown series. I rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. Full arbitration projections for 2018 are also available.
Charlie Blackmon put up some gaudy numbers in 2017, hitting .331 to go along with 37 home runs and 104 RBIs. As a result, my model projected him for a very high raise. However, the model also utilizes something called the Kimbrel Rule– which states that no player gets projected for an increase more than $1MM higher than the record raise for his service class. This limits Blackmon to a $6.1MM raise, which lands him at a $13.4MM projection for the 2018 season. Truth be told, though, the model actually spit out a $16.8MM salary estimate!
There are two different run environment factors to consider for Blackmon that could be inflating the way his number would be viewed by an arbitration panel. Blackmon plays his home games at Coors Field, a notorious home run park. FanGraphs gives Rockies’ players a 116 park factor, suggesting Blackmon’s 37 home runs might be the equivalent of 32 home runs in a more neutral setting.
Further inflating Blackmon’s home run total is something that will affect a great number of cases this year—the dramatically increased level of home runs throughout the league. This past season set a league record with 6,105 total home runs—this was 26 percent higher than the average from the last five years. So when I look at players with similar totals over the last five years, it is unclear whether an arbitration panel (or teams and agents that are negotiating in the shadow of what an arbitration panel would say) would treat home runs from Blackmon as similar to other players with the same number of home runs, or as someone with maybe 26 percent fewer home runs.
My model does not adjust for league or park home run environment in this way; in general the data has shown that run environment is not a big consideration in arbitration. Hitters in high-scoring years benefit from being compared to hitters in lower-scoring years. Pitchers in low-scoring years benefit from being compared to pitchers in high-scoring years.
If you knock down Blackmon’s home run total by league and park effects, he lands somewhere around the equivalent of 25 home runs in a neutral park in a prior season. But of course, that may not be what the panel considers. Most likely, they will just compare him (favorably) to the current record-holder in this service class, which is Chase Headley from 2013. Headley hit .286 with 31 homers, 115 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in the platform season for his final trip through the arbitration process.
Blackmon outperformed Headley in both homers and average, and he also stole 14 bags, further helping his case. It seems likely to Blackmon will be seen as favorable to Headley — especially considering the fact that Headley’s case is already five years old — so I think earning a raise north of $6MM seems likely.
If we’re looking for other recent players with a lot of home runs who reached arbitration, Todd Frazier’s name emerges. He hit 40 home runs in his platform season, but at .225, his average was more than a hundred points below Blackmon’s. Frazier got a $3.75MM raise, which Blackmon should easily crush.
Eric Hosmer is another potential comparable, but he’s also clearly a player with an inferior case to that of Blackmon. In 2016, Hosmer’s platform before his final trip through arbitration, he hit .266 with 25 homers and 104 RBIs. Blackmon has him handled in every category, so Hosmer’s $4MM raise is another example of a potential floor for Blackmon’s raise.
I think it’s clear that Blackmon is going to set a new record. The “Kimbrel Rule” has worked very well since its inception, and I think it will apply well here. Look for Blackmon to land somewhere between $13-14MM, with some chance of going slightly above that if and when he settles on a one-year deal for the 2018 season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
guy could find a barber, maybe.
He’s like Sampson – cutting his hair would return him to mere mortal status
Or people could realize that he is a grown man capable of deciding his own appearance regardless of the feelings of other people. Maybe.
have a cup of coffee. it’s a beautiful day. no need for snipes.
Man never gives up an at bat
I like him but he’s a MAJOR coors guy unlike arenado. He’s a walking cheat code in that ballpark. Out of his 15 triples 13 were in coors and he had numerous ground ball triples which is unheard of lol
So? Nobody else did. Plenty of other people played in Coors in 2017 and none of them had Blackmon’s numbers. His numbers might be slightly skewed, but lots of other people on the Rockies (and other hitter friendly parks) had equal opportunity to put up gaudy numbers and they DIDN’T.
You don’t think a bunch of other players stats get padded by a lot of these smaller ballparks that are being built? Like Yankees , Astros, Cincy, Baltimore , etc.
Coors field doesn’t make a ballplayer talented. It might skew the stats, but Blackman is a great hitter no matter what team he’s on. With that said the Rockies should be trying to extend him rather than sign bullpen pieces like they have
Have you seen his splits ? I couldn’t believe my eyes !! If any team besides the Rockies signs him if he hits the market they will be disappointed. Not saying he isn’t talented but he is really mediocre on the road. He had an ops difference of over 200 in his home/road splits
Did you see Matt Holliday’s splits when he was a Rockie? They were even bigger. People such as yourself always he would not last outside of Coors. That was 8 pretty good big league seasons ago.
I’ve said this numerous times to people on this site, so forgive me if you have read it before. Home/road splits are inherently unfair to Rockies players. First, their division road games include three of the most pitcher friendly parks (SF,LA,SD) in the game and that makes up nearly half of their road splits so any team with a hitter friendly park with that road schedule (Arizona, Goldschmidt’s OPS was 230 points higher at home in 2017) is going to have weird splits. Second, most players on every team hit better at home just because they are used to it and have learned the nooks and crannies. With a hitter friendly park, this can cause the split to jump a bit more. Third, road splits are just a weird stat anyway. It doesn’t take an 81 game sample like a home split. It combines 15 or 16 small samples (sometimes as little as 3 games) into one wreck of a stat. You shouldn’t play better in a park you see 3 times a year over one you see 81 times. Lastly, even if you do believe in H/R splits as a reliable way to judge a player AND you believe Coors gets some crazy advantage over every other stadium, you have to agree that EVERY other player in the league gets to include their gaudy Coors Field stats in their road averages. Rockies players do not, therefore they have no chance of comparing to every other player in the league.
Wow you really wanted to explain stuff
Holliday’s splits were not bigger. Holliday had great numbers at Coors and extremely good numbers outside of Coors. Blackmon has great numbers at Coors and replacement level offense outside of it.
It’s not like his power decreases only outside of Coors, everything takes a substantial hit. While AT&T is tough on hitters and lefties in general, Petco and Dodger Stadium are not anymore. Petco, since they moved their fences in is a neutral site in terms of homeruns and Dodgers stadium is actually very friendly to left handed hitters and above average in homeuns across the board.
This isn’t 15 to 16 small samples for Blackmon, he’s been playing in these parks since 2011, he knows them all and in today game of analytics, every particular quirk of a park is known and dispersed to players
A 200 point OPS difference between home and away is not very unusual. Check any extreme hitter or pitcher’s park (especially the former) and look at that teams’ best hitters.
Okay, most hitter friendly parks after Colorado are:
Arizona: Goldschmidt-.054 difference
Brewers: Thames – .030 difference
Toronto: Donaldson – .023 difference
Texas: Gallo – .024 difference
Boston: Mookie – .063 Difference
Baltimore: Schoop – .063 Difference
Cincinatti: Votto – .001 Difference
Minnesota: Sano – ..54 difference
Yankees: Judge – .251 Difference
That’s the top 10 hitters parks and only 1 has a differential above .063 and that’s judges crazy season
San Fran: Posey – .067 difference
San Diego: Myers – .026 difference
Angels: Trout – .003 difference
Seattle: Cruz – .054 difference
Pittsburgh: McCutchen – .052 difference
Tampa: Morrison – .108 difference
a .200 difference in a hitters splits is not minute by any means :
I don’t think there’s any real chance of Charlie not heading to free agency after this coming season at this point.
Good for him. Kris Bryant will top that by a good 5 or 6 mil.