February 09, 2011
Any right-thinking baseball enthusiast realizes that a pitcher's individual won-loss record has little correlation to actual performance.
Still, the result of right-hander Ross Ohlendorf's(notes) salary arbitration case with the Pittsburgh Pirates is amusing — considering that Ohlendorf went 1-11 in 2010, yet still won his hearing on Wednesday morning.
Despite that red herring of a W-L record, the three-judge panel sided with Ohlendorf, who will make $2.025 million in 2011. Pittsburgh had countered with a $1.4 million offer.
Pirates lose. Again. Every season since 1993. And Ohlendorf doubles his victory total. Pretty strange for the first arbitration case of the (near) spring.
But not only is his case more complicated than a 1-11 record, it's not even as simple as Ohlendorf's 4.07 ERA or his 1.385 WHIP over 21 starts in 2010.
To be fair, arbitration panels take a player's entire career into account, as well as the relative salaries of other players with similar service time.
In 2009, Ohlendorf had a 3.92 ERA and finished 11-10 — a wildly different record without having pitched much differently. If the Pirates could point to one overwhelmingly negative about Ohlendorf, it might be that he's compiled only 354 innings so far. Seems kind of light.
But it's never about "one thing" in these arbitration hearings.
So, the next time your favorite local No. 4 starter says he "pitched better than the game's outcome," he's not just blaming his own lineup for not hitting. He's probably right. And he probably could find some lawyers who agree with him.
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