In January 2024, I was a competitor in the International Baseball Arbitration Competition. This competition was held at Tulane University.  In the banquet that followed the competition, which was held at the New Orleans Arts Warehouse District Hotel in an art gallery, I had the opportunity to meet Major Leage Baseball (MLB) Player Agents, MLB Team/Club Representatives and members of the MLB Players Association (MLBPA).  I was compelled to ask these professionals working at MLB one question: “Is there a place for Statcast-generated sabermetrics[1] in salary arbitration hearings?”  The tool is currently banned from  salary arbitration hearings.

What is Statcast?

Statcast is a state-of-the-art tracking technology, owned by Major League Baseball, that allows for the collection and analysis of a massive amount of baseball data.[2]  The hardware is  installed in all 30 baseball parks and tracks and quantifies the players actions and the baseball.[3]  This information has allowed front offices to quantify the raw skills of players in ways that were not available before.[4]  This incredible data raises the question of why it’s banned from the arbitration hearing.

The Response

With the lengthy battle between Major League Baseball (MLB) and MLB Players Association (MLBPA) in mind, I expected the question to trigger an exhilarating debate between the members.  What I received, however, was complete agreement on the topic. Statcast generated statistics should be left out of salary arbitrations.

Salary arbitration is offered to resolve salary dispute resolutions between the Player and the Team or Club.[5]  The criteria used is “the quality of the Player’s contribution to his Club during the past season…the length and consistency of his career contribution…and comparative player salaries.”[6]  While the criteria is aligned with the agenda of both the Players and Clubs, there are unique conditions unlike any other American labor arbitration, implemented to deter the desire for the hearing.[7]  The most notable is the significance of the midpoint.  Each party submits an amount they believe represents the player’s market value, and the midpoint between those dollar proposals from each party is the number valued most.[8]  If the Player can convince the arbitrator that he is worth anything more than the midpoint, then he wins his hearing and is awarded the dollar value he filed for, and the same goes for the Club.[9]  There is no compromise or explanation to the decision, which makes private settlement more appealing than arbitration.[10]

After the competition, I corresponded with a well-known MLB player agent regarding the issue and their answer focused more on advocacy skills.  While Statcast generated statistics, can make an argument more nuanced, it’s unlikely an arbitrator is familiar with all the statistics.  As an advocate, you need to know your audience.

While most arbitrators have heard multiple salary arbitration cases, those same arbitrators go back to being traditional labor arbitrators when the baseball hearings end.[11]  They are not analytics experts like the staff in MLB team front offices.[12]  Those analytic experts are responsible for capturing “an unparalleled number of figures and information, covering everything from the pitcher to the batter to any defensive players – and everything in between.”[13]  To expect a labor arbitrator to take the vast amount of data provided by the Player and the Club, and then balance the weight of each Statcast metric is unfair to the arbitrator.  The arbitrator would be forced to balance information they are not completely familiar with, which is unfair to the Player and Club.

Additionally, advocates in MLB arbitration are required to make their initial presentation in one hour and one-half hour for rebuttal and summation.[14]  Based on my conversations in Tulane, these advocates do not want to waste time on Statcast generated statistics if they are not convinced the arbitrator knows what they are saying.  Additionally, although expert testimony is admissible, it’s unlikely an advocate would ever want to use an expert witness to explain statistics to an arbitrator.


Implementing a system that is unbiased seems appealing from the outside, as disputes between employees and management can feel like David versus Goliath. However, all the professionals in major league baseball I spoke to (MLB Player agents, MLB Club representatives, and members of the MLBPA) agree, Statcast generated statistics will not be helpful in a salary dispute resolution.  In fact, using Statcast data can further complicate the process and make it more difficult for the MLB Player to be fairly compensated.




[1] See MLB Statcast, (defining statcast as a state-of-the-art tracking technology, owned by MLB, that allows for the collection and analysis of a massive amount of baseball data); See also John Brocklebank, The Truth about Sabermetrics, Samford University, (Nov. 13, 2018) (defining sabermetrics from Bill James as, “the search for objective knowledge about baseball”).

[2] See MLB supra note 2.

[3] See id.

[4] See id.

[5] See Roger I. Abrams, Inside Baseball’s Salary Arbitration Process, 6 U. CHI. L. SCH. ROUNDTABLE 55, 57 (1999).

[6] Basic Agreement 2022-26, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYERS’ ASSOC. (March 10, 2022),

[7] See Abrams, supra note 3 at 55.

[8] See Andrew J. Wronski, The Unique Game of Baseball Arbitration, Foley & Lardner LLP, Feb. 14, 2022.

[9] See id.

[10] See Abrams, supra note 3 at 55.

[11] See Andrew J. Wronski, The Unique Game of Baseball Arbitration, Foley & Lardner LLP, Feb. 14, 2022.

[12] See id.

[13] See Casella supra note 138.

[14] See id.