You are saying your position is fact! Based on what? Nothing that even hints of anything beyond your opinion. The fact that you’ve convinced yourself that it’s the truth is what’s truly troubling to me.
We often debate how frequently teams defer a player’s debut in order to manipulate service time. I decided to drill down on 2013 to see if I could see how many players were gamed or not, and what kind of difference it made, if any. Why 2013? Because it’s the most recent year in which anyone who debuted that year who has played straight through has reached free agent eligibility and the signing period was completed. (The 2014 class has graduated but many FA’s from that class remain unsigned.)
A few basics: 230 major leaguers debuted in 2013, a fairly typical number in recent years. Of those, 160 weren’t on a major league roster in 2020. 34 debuted in 2013 but never played in a game after that year; 29 were done in 2014; 23 in 2015; 23 in 2016; 19 in 2017; 11 in 2018; and 21 in 2019. The number for 2019 is probably a bit aberrant, relating to the pandemic, contract issues, etc. – I wouldn’t assume all of those 21 players are done. But in any event, you get the idea. For the majority of players, an extra year of service time before free agency is irrelevant; they’re gone from the game before 6 calendar years have elapsed.
Then there’s the question of who is worth gaming, even if they survive 6+ years in the majors. From the 2013 class, through 2020 nine player have been worth 20+ rWAR, 8 have been worth 15-19.9 rWAR, 15 have been worth 10-14.9 rWAR and 18 have been worth 5-9.9 rWAR. That’s a total of 50 players worth 5+ rWAR – draw your own line as to where having an extra year of service might be worthwhile. I looked at all 50 of these players to see if their service time had been gamed. Needless to say, there could be players under 5 rWAR who were considered studs as prospects and had their service time gamed, but who never panned out as major players due to injury, poor performance or whatever. But my time isn’t infinite, so I didn’t look for those.
Of the 50, I count 22 cases worthy of investigation to determine if service time was manipulated. They all were called up between April 11, 2013 and June 30, 2013. The ones called up before April 11 would have accrued a full year of service time if they played all of 2013. The ones called up after June 30 were well beyond any possible deadline for who would have qualified as a Super Two, which is another reason for service time manipulation. The exact Super-2 deadline is never known as the year is being played. It so happens that by the end of 2015, it was determined that any player with 2.130 years of service would be a Super Two. And that means that players who debuted before May 24, 2013, and stayed major leaguers full time thereafter, qualified for arbitration as Super Twos after the 2015 season. But the cutoff could have been as early as May 8, or as late as June 8, based on experience in other years. So, I used June 30 as a very safe date to assume no service time manipulation was involved in the player’s call-up date.
The 22 players break down this way: Eight players were called up between April 11 and May 7; gaining an extra year of service may have been a motivation for these eight, but Super Two considerations clearly were ignored. Eight players were called up between May 8 and June 3; teams may have been rolling the dice on Super Two status with these players, since they were in the window where the cutoff date usually falls. Six players were called up between June 11 and June 30; teams undoubtedly were confident by then that the Super Two cutoff had passed, and may have been waiting just long enough.
I am going to drill down on these 22 players, but not in this post, which has gotten long enough. Details will be forthcoming. For what it’s worth, of the other 28 players, nine debuted before April 11 (and would have earned a full year of service time if they spent the rest of the year in the majors), four debuted in July, six debuted in August, and nine debuted in September.