2012 OPS projections: top 10 shortstops

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Moving right along to shortstop. I have four shortstops projected to top .800, which is the same number that did so last year.

.943 – Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies) – 545 AB – .916 in 2011
.891 – Hanley Ramirez (Marlins) – 538 AB – .712 in 2011
.823 – Jose Reyes (Marlins) – 546 AB – .877 in 2011
.808 – Starlin Castro (Cubs) – 631 AB – .773 in 2011
.783 – Asdrubal Cabrera (Indians) – 594 AB – .792 in 2011
.776 – Stephen Drew (Diamondbacks) – 539 AB – .713 in 2011
.775 – Jed Lowrie (Astros) – 468 AB – .685 in 2011
.772 – Yunel Escobar (Blue Jays) – 550 AB – .782 in 2011
.766 – Jhonny Peralta (Tigers) – 539 AB – .824 in 2011
.766 – Alexei Ramirez (White Sox) – 598 AB – .727 in 2011

– Along with Tulo, Reyes and Peralta, J.J. Hardy was the fourth shortstop to manage an .800 OPS last season. He’s 11th here at .765 for 2012.

– I have Elvis Andrus fourth among shortstops with a .364 OBP (and ranked third at the position in fantasy leagues), but his lack of power keeps him out of the top 10 in OPS.

– Derek Jeter comes in at .282/.353/.373.  He bounced back to hit .297 last season, but his isolated slugging percentage went from .131 in 2009 to .100 in 2010 to .091 last year.

– At the bottom of the list is the Giants’ Brandon Crawford. He gets a .603 OPS in 432 at-bats. Of course, there are some backups and prospects even lower. Boston’s Jose Iglesias is one: he gets a .225/.258/.270 line in 111 at-bats.

MLBPA thinks all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration

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There’s something interesting deep in Ken Rosenthal’s latest notes column. It’s about arbitration, with Rosenthal reporting that the players union believes that all 30 teams will take a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration this winter.

If you’re unfamiliar with this, it breaks down thusly:

  • In mid-January, teams and players who are eligible for arbitration will exchange proposed salary figures. The player says what he thinks he’s worth based on comparable players of his quality and service time and the team will propose a lower counter-figure;
  • Generally, the parties then use these proposals as negotiable figures and eventually reach a compromise deal, usually near the midpoint between the two figures, avoiding arbitration;
  • If a deal cannot be reached, they go to an arbitration hearing and arbitrators pick one of the numbers. They CANNOT give a compromise award. It’s either the higher player’s number or the lower team number.

In the past, a handful of teams — most typically the Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox — employed a “file- and-trial” approach, meaning that they treated the figure exchange date as a hard deadline after which they refused to negotiate and stood content to go to a hearing. As more teams have adopted this approach, there have been more arbitration hearings. As Rosenthal notes, last year there were more hearings than in any offseason for the past 25 years. Now, the union thinks, every team will do this. If they do, obviously, there will be even more hearings.

There is certainly an advantage to file-and-trial for a team. It makes the player and the agent work harder and earlier in order to be prepared to negotiate with the club before the file deadline. It also makes them work a lot harder to come up with a defensible filing number given that, rather than merely being an opening salvo in an extended negotiation, it’s something that they will certainly have to defend in open court. It’s also simple hardball. Teams have greater resources than the players and the agents and it’s less painful for them to pay for lawyers and hearing prep and to conduct the actual hearing. There’s risk to the team, of course — they might lose and pay more than a settlement would’ve cost — but teams are obviously concluding that the risk is worth it.

The only question I have is, if the union is right and all 30 teams will now proceed this way, how was that decided? Everyone suddenly, after several decades of arbitration, simply decided to take the same approach? Or was there, I dunno, a meeting in which the strategy was coordinated? Inquiring minds want to know!