In case you missed it, the ottoneu arbitration deadline has passed, and off season trading is now available. While teams scramble to begin making moves to build a contender in 2018, let’s take a look at the players who attracted the most arbitration allocations.
Note-Allocations represent the total dollars assigned across all FanGraphs points leagues, Count is the number of leagues that player received allocations in, the Average is the average amount of allocations received, and Prior and New show the pre-arb and post-arb average salary.
Before I highlight some of the 2017 results, let’s review the arbitration results from 2016 and 2015. In ’16 the players that were hit the hardest in arbitration were Corey Seager and Mookie Betts, who each received an average of $9 in allocations, and the top five was rounded out with Kris Bryant, Noah Syndergaard, and Nolan Arenado. In ’15 the top five most allocated players were Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Josh Donaldson, and Nolan Arenado.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Aaron Judge received the most arbitration dollars, but it surprised me how much more he received than second place Cody Bellinger. Much of that is due to Judge’s very low pre-arb salary of under $7, but it’s still remarkable that the Yankees slugger was far and away the top target. A $23 post-arb salary still represents significant surplus, so those owners grumbling about how hard Judge was hit in arbitration should console themselves with the fact that he’s still a bargain.
The aforementioned Bellinger might not have punished baseballs at quite the level that Judge did, but he still put up a .315 ISO and .380 as a 22 year old, so in any other year he would have been the clear top target. It will be interesting to see how ottoneu owners value Bellinger this offseason, given his postseason struggles and somewhat pessimistic Steamer projection (.352 wOBA).
Speaking of pessimistic projections, Jose Ramirez spit in the face of the algorithms and broke out even further in 2017, and lands as the third most allocated player. Ramirez retained 2B eligibility for ’18, so he’s still valuable, but he’s just become a lot more expensive than he used to be.
Charlie Blackmon has flown under the radar the past couple seasons in arbitration, but ottoneu owners are finally taking notice after an outstanding season that saw Blackmon finish as the second best OF in ottoneu FGPts. Last year was almost certainly a career year, but Blackmon is a fantastic hitter that hits leadoff in Coors, and he’s still relatively cheap.
Luis Severino is the first pitcher on this list, the only pitcher in the top 15, and one of only four pitchers in the top 20. Ottoneu allocations tend to be made to hitters first, a strategy I agree with, but when a pitcher is as cheap ($6 pre-arb) and good (worth $37 in ’17) as Severino, he’s bound to attract attention.
One surprising result to me was Jose Altuve, a player that just put up an incredible season but one that my values showed was worth just $46, and his post arbitration salary is now $45. Inflation in existing leagues means even a par asset had value, especially if he’s a stud, but the ottoneu market seems to feel like Altuve is bound to repeat as a $45 2B. I’m not as optimistic, partially because of Anthony Rizzo’s new 2B eligibility, and partially due to expected regression.
On the other side of the coin, I am very surprised that Rhys Hoskins didn’t attract nearly as much arbitration as Cody Bellinger did, though that is obviously a favorable result for Hoskins owners. Bellinger had more hype, but it’s hard to argue that he’s definitely more valuable than Hoskins given their ’17 performance (.380 wOBA in 548 PA for Bellinger, .417 wOBA in 212 PA for Hoskins) and ’18 Steamer projections (.352 wOBA for Bellinger, .368 wOBA for Hoskins).
What other arbitration allocations did you see in your leagues that surprised you? Let me know in the comments!
Justin is a life long Cubs fan who has been playing fantasy baseball for 20+ years, and an ottoneu addict since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @justinvibber.