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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Dellin Betances, demand a trade, become a closer, get Saves, get big bucks.

fangraphs.com has nailed this.

Randy Levine Makes a Fool of Himself and the Yankees
by Nicolas Stellini - February 18, 2017
Here are some undeniable facts.
Dellin Betances was the third-best reliever in baseball by WAR last year.

He has the third-best strikeout rate, all-time, among pitchers who have thrown at least 250 innings.

He has 22 career saves, with 12 of them coming last year.

Salary arbitration has historically been unkind to relievers who don’t have the Proven Closer title ...

Over the last three years, no reliever has thrown more innings than Betances. Only Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller have higher strikeout rates. Only Chapman, Miller, Wade Davis, and Zach Britton have lower ERAs. By any metric besides “saves”, Betances rates as an elite bullpen arm, and the game is increasingly acknowledging the value of non-closer relievers.

The Yankees are even one of the teams accepting this new reality, as they spent last off-season building a super bullpen...

This morning, however, the arbiters in charge of Betances’ case sided with the Yankees, ...

But instead of simply taking the high road and attempting to repair any damage done to the relationship with one of the team’s most valuable players, Team President Randy Levine instead decided to throw lighter fluid on a fire that could have easily been extinguished instead...


This was after Levine said that Betances “doesn’t have the stats” to make him worth $5 million. By which, of course, he means that Betances didn’t have enough saves ...

The arbitration process is designed (by both parties) to reward old-school statistics, and neither side has shown much interest in modernizing the process, so arbitration overpays closers and sluggers and underpays defenders and setup men...

But what value was there in Levine going after Betances and his representatives after the system had already declared his side the victor? How could the franchise possibly gain anything from his bloviating celebration of the fact that there’s a systemic bias in place that works specifically against guys who, like Betances, don’t argue with their manager when asked to pitch at any point in a ballgame? What good could possibly come from Levine insulting Betances for being willing to pitch innings that pay at a reduced rate, and why would the Yankees expect him to continue to do so without complaint now that he knows that they’ll use it as a hammer against him in the future? ...

Beyond just the Yankees and Betances, this decision — and Levine’s public celebration of the systemic under-valuation of middle relievers — is also just bad for baseball. The game is better if the best players are willing to be used in ways that help their team win without worry that being a team player will cost them money in the long run. Now, unless you have a guaranteed multi-year deal, what’s the incentive to be a non-closing relief ace?

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How Dellin Betances Lost $10 Million
by Craig Edwards - February 24, 2017


... Dellin Betances might have lost far more than $2 million in losing his arbitration hearing. This makes Randy Levine’s gloating all the more unreasonable, but it does help explain why the Yankees were willing to risk an arbitration hearing in the first place. The potential savings for the team aren’t insignificant, even for a team as rich as the Yankees. They completely bungled the PR aspect of the situation, but financially they made out.
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How to Fix Arbitration for Relievers
by Dave Cameron - February 24, 2017

Last week, Dellin Betances lost his arbitration case after his agents attempted to argue that he should be paid like an elite reliever, which, of course, he is. But because arbitration is based on historical comparisons and mostly rely on traditional metrics, Betances wasn’t able to overcome his lack of saves, which is effectively the deciding metric for how much a reliever will get in arbitration...

... both sides are allowed to use any piece of data that appears in The Bill James Handbook ...

Helpfully, leverage is one of the metrics in the BJH ...

... Betances had an leverage index of 1.77 when he entered the game last year, which was the 19th highest in baseball. He had a higher entrance leverage index than Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen, for comparison. And that wasn’t a one year fluke; his 1.64 pLI from 2014-2016 ranked 28th highest in baseball.

And because Betances wasn’t just working one-inning stints, he’s actually been even more valuable than just the average of the leverage when he’s come into the game. Over the last three years, Betances ranks 9th in MLB in high-leverage innings pitched, and his .240 wOBA allowed in high-leverage situations ranks 12th-best of the 79 relievers who have thrown at least 30 high-leverage innings since 2014...

This wouldn’t even cost Major League teams more money, as they’d simply be redistributing money given to ninth-inning specialists to their entire bullpen, so we’re not even arguing that MLB teams should increase pre-FA reliever salaries in total...

It’s an easy switch, using a number already published in the book that both sides have agreed to use in arbitration. In 2017, there’s no real reason to still be using saves ...

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