I explained yesterday, using the case of Charlie Blackmon, how arbitration hearings and settlements come to fruition. Today it is time to put that information to use and attempt to predict DJ LeMahieu's case.
First, it is important to note the offerings. The Rockies have filed at $2.8 million, while LeMahieu filed for $3.3 million. This leaves us with a midpoint of $3.05 million.
Now, lets take a look at the base statistics of LeMahieu's platform season. This will at least start the conversation to find comparable players.
.301/.358/.388, 21 doubles, 5 triples, 6 home runs, 23 stolen bases, .746 OPS
What is also important to note with LeMahieu, who has accrued 3.128 years of service time, is he was an All-Star in his platform season. This can be used by LeMahieu's agent to bolster his case. I am also going to list out his career stats, just to help with comparisons more.
.284/.329/.370, 71 doubles, 17 triples, 15 HR, 52 SB, .699 OPS
Let's also mention a few defensive statistics:
5.4 dWAR, 37 Defensive Runs Saved
Next, lets find some comparable players. Remember, LeMahieu plays second base, meaning I can use comps from second, shortstop, and center field.
Brandon Crawford, following 2014 (3.094 years of service): $3.175 million
.246/.324/.389, 20 doubles, 10 triples, 10 HR, 5 SB, .713 OPS
.242/.310/.359, 75 doubles, 18 triples, 26 HR, 8 SB, .669 OPS
5.1 dWAR, 25 DRS
Martin Prado, following 2010 (3.105): $3.1 million
.307/.350/.459, 40 doubles, 3 triples, 15 HR, 5 SB, .809 OPS
.307/.356/.454, 100 doubles, 8 triples, 29 HR, 9 SB, .810 OPS
1.1 dWAR, -8 DRS (at 2B)
Desmond Jennings, after 2014 (3.101): $3.1 million
.244/.319/.378, 30 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR, 15 SB, .697 OPS
.248/.327/.401, 90 doubles, 20 triples, 47 HR, 88 SB, .728 OPS
1.2 dWAR, 10 DRS
Rockies' comparables for LeMahieu
Daniel Murphy, following 2012 (3.109): $2.925 million
.291/.332/.403, 40 doubles, 3 triples, 6 HR, 10 SB, .735 OPS
.292/.339/.427, 115 doubles, 12 triples, 26 HR, 19 SB, .766 OPS
0.3 dWAR, -13 DRS (at 2B)
Gordon Beckham, following 2012 (3.123): $2.925 million
.234/.296/.371, 24 doubles, 16 HR, 5 SB, .668 OPS
.245/.312/.382, 100 doubles, 3 triples, 49 HR, 21 SB, .694 OPS
0.1 dWAR, -11 DRS
Yunel Escobar, following 2010 (3.121): $2.9 million
.256/.337/.318, 19 doubles, 4 HR, 6 SB, .655 OPS
.289/.364/.397, 94 doubles, 4 triples, 33 HR, 18 SB, .762 OPS
4.5 dWAR, 25 DRS (at SS)
I would like to quickly note, Escobar was primarily a SS to that point in his career, and Prado was primarily a 2B.
Yesterday we talked about themes. Should LeMahieu and the Rockies go to hearing, I would anticipate LeMahieu would highlight his defense, ability to get on base, and proficiency for stealing bags. The Rockies would highlight his obvious lack of power statistics.
When analyzing the case for LeMahieu it becomes clear he is the best defender of any of these comparable players. Not one of them has a higher dWAR or DRS. The only one who is close is Crawford. Let's stick with him for a minute.
In his platform season LeMahieu had a better average, OBP, and OPS. He had more doubles and stolen bases. He was extremely close in triples, homers, and SLG. For his career LeMahieu has better batting average, OBP, SLG, and OPS, with nearly identical or greater doubles and triples and with way more stolen bases. It is clear, from this argument, that LeMahieu is identical or better in every facet of the game.
Prado is a bit of a superior player at the plate, in particular, in power categories. Once again LeMahieu was much better defensively and on the base paths. In regards to Jennings, LeMahieu had a much better platform season, and a better career defensively, although Jennings has more power and is a better baserunner.
Power is key for the Rockies. The club would have to demonstrate some analysis that points to power hitters being paid more (which we know to be true). Every one of the players LeMahieu is compared to has more extra-base hits in their careers, and only Beckham has a lower OPS.
Escobar is closer defensively and finished 2009 20th in MVP voting, making his accolades similar to that of LeMahieu (Gold Glove, All-Star). It is clear LeMahieu runs better but I am sure the Rockies would argue much of his baserunning success occurred only this past season. They may mention he has a lower career batting average than Escobar and Murphy, as well as a lower OBP.
Ultimately, we have another close case, just like with Blackmon. Again, however, LeMahieu has one comparable player who I believe the Rockies would have a hard time pushing him away from in Crawford. Crawford's contract placed him at about $125,000 above the midpoint. The Rockies I believe would continue to point to Escobar and his accolades and that he was $1.05 million below the midpoint.
While this case could go to arbitration, I don't believe it will and think the two sides will settle. If they go to arbitration, I think LeMahieu wins. My guess is the parties settle just below Crawford's salary (because SS is slightly more valuable), and LeMahieu will get $3.125 million.