Injuries stopped Wally Joyner from having a great season. They didn't stop him from having a great salary.
The California Angels first baseman set a record when arbitrator Gil Vernon awarded him a $2.1 million salary for 1991.It was the first $2 million arbitration award ever, breaking the previous record of $1,975,000, set in 1987 by Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees.
Andre Dawson, Lonnie Smith and Benito Santiago all had gone to hearings requesting $2 million salaries, but they lost.
"Obviously, I'm very happy about the outcome of the arbitration case," Joyner said of the award, announced late Saturday night. "It's finally over. There's two seasons in baseball, in-season and out-of-season. My out-of-season is finally over. Now I can start having fun."
While Joyner won, Philadelphia shortstop Dickie Thon and Cleveland second baseman Jerry Browne lost. That left the arbitration scoreboard tied 3-3 with 49 cases remaining. Hearings are scheduled through Feb. 21.
Browne's case also was decided by Vernon, who picked the Indians' offer of $800,000 over his request for $1.1 million. Arbitrator Reg Alleyne chose the Phillies' offer of $1.25 million over Thon's request for $1.7 million.
Joyner had won $1.75 million in arbitration last year, and the Angels were attempting to cut him by $100,000. A stress fracture in his right kneecap limited Joyner to 83 games in 1990, when he hit .268 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs.
"Wally didn't deserve a cut and that's what the case was about," said Michael Watkins, who presented Joyner's case with agent Barry Axelrod. "When a player produces as he has, he doesn't deserve a cut."
Joyner's relationship with the Angels has been bitter since the Angels unilaterally renewed his salary for 1988 at $340,000. He is eligible for free agency after this season.
"It's up to Wally in the long run," Watkins said. "But he's been with the Angels five years and longer than that in the minors. He'll have to weigh all the factors."
Philadelphia's victory over Thon gave the team a 4-0 record in arbitration. The Phillies previously beat Jerry Koosman (1985), Alan Knicely (1986) and Kevin Gross (1987).
Philadelphia argued that Thon's performance dropped last year, when he made $1.1 million. Thon hit 15 home runs in 1989 and only eight in 1990, and his RBIs dropped from 60 to 48. He also made 25 errors, nine more than the previous season.
Browne batted .267 last year with six homers and 50 RBIs. Even though he lost, Brown doubled his salary from $310,000.
Two players settled their cases over the weekend. Second baseman Bill Ripken and Baltimore agreed to $700,000, a $485,000 raise, while third baseman Ken Caminiti and Houston settled at $665,000, a $425,000 raise.