August Fagerstrom FanGraphs Chat — 11/1/16

11:56
august fagerstrom: November baseball chat!

11:56
august fagerstrom: cool thing

11:57
august fagerstrom: chat soundtrack is Anthony Rizzo’s walkup music, which isn’t the kind of thing I’d typically listen to but has been stuck in my head since Game 3 and is awesome when played loud in Wrigley

11:57
august fagerstrom: same with this, which they sometimes play between innings

12:06
august fagerstrom: ok, let’s do it

12:06
Daniel: Lester available out of the bullpen. True or False: He can only enter the game at the start of an inning or when nobody is on base.

12:06
august fagerstrom: That would be ideal, and it’s hard to imagine them willingly bringing Lester into a ROB situation when there are other options, but if their backs are against the wall and it’s their only/best choice, I don’t think it would stop them

12:07
august fagerstrom: I think it’s clear by now that Lester actually isn’t that easy to run against

12:07
august fagerstrom: like, if it’s Mike Napoli or Lonnie Chisenhall on first base, I don’t think it would affect the decision making at all

12:07
august fagerstrom: Davis or Ramirez or even Lindor, and you start to hesitate

12:07
Rox Fan: Why is Kris Bryant the NL MVP over Nolan Arenado?

12:08
august fagerstrom: because he was a considerably better hitter and baserunner, and the fielding gap probably isn’t as big as it seems like it is

12:08
Dock Ellis: If you could have he facial hair of any ball player, which would you pick?

12:08
august fagerstrom: I’m jealous that I cannot grow a big, thick beard, so I would want anyone that can do that

12:08
august fagerstrom: Arrieta or whoever

12:08
Kiermaier’s Piercing Blue Eyes: Cleveland’s defensive strategy is pretty obvious for the rest of the series: get lead, defend as aggressively as possible using Miller, Allen, and Shaw until there are no more outs left. What is best plan to get that lead?

12:08
august fagerstrom: I mean, it’s boring, but just hit

12:08
august fagerstrom: There’s no secret

12:09
august fagerstrom: I guess on a slightly more granular level it’s “Make Arrieta throw you a strike, and then capitalize,” because his command has been shaky for a while now. But again, that’s just good hitting

12:09
Erik: If this goes 7, does it enter the “best world series of all time” conversation? It has the storylines with the two huge droughts and a few close games, but also a few duds.

12:09
august fagerstrom: Nah. Games haven’t been exciting enough, I don’t think

12:09
august fagerstrom: One of the better stories, but the series itself hasn’t been fantastic

12:10
Erik: What is more likely: the cubs come back to win the world series, or the cubs win one of the following five world series?

12:10
august fagerstrom: The former, I think? Don’t get me wrong, I love the Cubs, and it seems like they’ll win one of the next five regardless of what happens this year, but I think you have to take the team that’s two wins away right now over the field

12:10
Nelson: Is this “personal catcher” thing an old school tradition? I cant imagine many pitchers these days being allowed to force a team to carry 3 catchers on a WS roster. Whats Lester going to do next year?

12:11
august fagerstrom: well, it just stands out right now because Lester’s personal catcher isn’t good enough to be the team’s true backup

12:11
august fagerstrom: a lot of guys have personal catchers, it’s just that those catchers are also the team’s backup/starter

12:11
Erik: Who are the frontrunners for world series mvp right now? Kluber?

12:12
august fagerstrom: Yeah, if the Indians win tonight, I have to imagine it’s Kluber

12:12
Nelson: Napoli price himself out of returning to the Indians next year?

12:12
august fagerstrom: I think so. Indians fans don’t want to hear it, but I just don’t think the Indians will want to pay what they’d have to pay to carry two 1B/DH

12:12
august fagerstrom: Napoli’s value in the clubhouse is real, and the Indians certainly value that, but a return seems unlikely

12:13
Zonk: Did you enjoy your time in Chicago? What did you think of the overall atomosphere?

12:13
august fagerstrom: I loved my time in Chicago. Always do. The atmosphere of the city was fantastic. The atmosphere of the stadium was a bit disappointing, just because the Indians so quickly quieted it for much of the time

12:13
august fagerstrom: When it got loud, it got loud though.

12:14
august fagerstrom: And walking around Wrigley hours before gates open was surreal. Had to pinch myself a couple of times. I’ve been going to Wrigley with my Dad every summer since I was a little kid. Being there in that way was an unbelievable experience

12:14
Joe Schmo: So if the Indians have the lead after 3 innings does Francona go directly to the pen? Miller for 3 and then shaw/allen for the other 3? And is Danny Salazar/Zach McAllister warming the entire game in case Tomlin gets into a jam?

12:14
august fagerstrom: Depends on the game state, how big the lead is, how Tomlin’s looked

12:14
august fagerstrom: I don’t think there’s any possible scenario he goes more than 5 with the lead, but I don’t think it’s an insta-pull after 3 if he looks good

12:15
Zonk: I understand Dave’s article on Cubs and the breaking ball…but isn’t the whole reason it’s worked for the Indians the quality of said breaking ball? Joe Blanton used his slider alot against the Cubs, and didn’t work so well for him….

12:15
august fagerstrom: It’s both. The game planning has been excellent by the Indians staff and battery, but it’s still up to that battery to execute the game plan

12:15
august fagerstrom: All parties have done their jobs

12:15
Dubslow: Where can we find playoff stats here on FG?

12:15
august fagerstrom: on baseball reference

12:15
v2micca: You completely scooped TheRinger with your article on Javier Baez. I’

12:16
august fagerstrom: Ben messaged me like a half hour before his piece went up with a sad face

12:16
august fagerstrom: That happens often, and it goes both ways

12:16
Erik: Is the idea that teams will noticeably start to copy the world series winner in little ways (like collecting dominant relievers after the Royals’ victory) a real thing, or just a world series storyline?

12:17
august fagerstrom: I think it’s inevitable that it happens to some degree

12:17
august fagerstrom: That being said, teams aren’t suddenly going to start giving half their relief innings to two guys

12:18
Q-Ball: How do you teach a batter like Baez plate discipline? I realize you won’t turn him into Ben Zobrist, but just a little might go a long way.

12:19
august fagerstrom: There’s probably little things you could do in his swing/load that make it less likely he overcommits too early, but then you run the risk of screwing with part of what makes his swing good, when it’s good. More than anything it’s just repetitions, whether in the cage or with a machine or in the game, tracking pitches and developing recognition

12:19
august fagerstrom: It’s fully possible it never gets there

12:19
Q-Ball: Lester is quick to home plate…is that underrated?

12:19
august fagerstrom: By people who pay attention to that? No, that’s the single most important part of controlling the running game. By the public? Yes, definitely.

12:20
Books: If Chapman only threw fastballs right down the middle how good would he still be?

12:21
august fagerstrom: depends what you mean by only

12:21
august fagerstrom: if it was literally only fastballs perfectly middle-middle and the batter knew it was coming, I don’t think he’d be very good, but he might (?) still be a serviceable option

12:22
august fagerstrom: if by only you mean his only goal was to throw fastballs middle-middle and never threw a slider or never attempted to paint the black or elevate or go out of the zone, he would still be fantastic, and I wrote about him sort of doing this with New York earlier this year http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/aroldis-chapmans-got-a-new-style/

12:22
Nelson: I know you say you are not a fan of any team anymore, but theres not some tiny part of you pulling for the indians on an emotional level (not just because you know itll make other people happy)

12:23
august fagerstrom: Honestly, no. It was weird, being in the auxiliary press box at Wrigley, we were outside “in the stands” and going in I really thought being in the middle of the crazy atmosphere would get my fan-blood pumping a little bit and would trigger some emotional investment from within. It never came

12:23
Dubslow: IOW, help us cubs fans rationalize that next year is still the year

12:24
august fagerstrom: just read the names on the roster

12:24
Slew: Should Francona try to preserve one of Miller/Allen for tomorrow, or go all out and burn ’em tonight?

12:24
august fagerstrom: Preserving the usage of his best players is not a thing Terry Francona has done a single time this postseason

12:24
august fagerstrom: no chance that stops when a win clinches the World Series

12:24
Slew: Unless Lindor has a big hit tonight in the win, then he’s MVP.

12:24
august fagerstrom: Right. Lindor is the runner-up to Kluber

12:24
august fagerstrom: Big game from Lindor tonight could do it, but Kluber is the frontrunner right now

12:25
Q-Ball: Ross isn’t good enough to be a backup? He was 7th in WAR this year among all NL catchers, despite playing part time. He was quantifiably better than several starters.

12:26
august fagerstrom: He also had more WAR this year than in the previous three seasons combined. Single-year results =/= true-talent level. Ross is not a league-average hitter

12:26
Web: Does Tomlin scare the Cubs hitters tonight or are they salivating for what he did to them a couple games ago?

12:27
august fagerstrom: At this stage in the game, I honestly don’t think any hitter is “scared” of another pitcher, nor would they ever feel so confident they would be salivating. I think the Cubs understand that Josh Tomlin is a good enough pitcher to get them out, to end their season, yet at the same time are fully confident in their abilities to beat him

12:27
CamdenWarehouse: Do teams advance scout umpires?

12:27
august fagerstrom: Yes

12:27
Q-Ball: I waved to you in Wrigley on Saturday. Why didn’t you wave back?

12:27
august fagerstrom: didn’t see you!

12:28
august fagerstrom: If I see a person waving to me, and I know it’s to me and not the person behind me, I will reciprocate the wave!

12:28
Rocky Rizzo: Whats up with my defensive stats? Looks like I have great numbers as far as DRS and UZR are concerned, but the overall Def value on here is negative.

12:29
august fagerstrom: You play first base, where the bar is set extremely low because almost anyone can play the position, so it’s very difficult for you to ascertain positive defensive value

12:29
august fagerstrom: You are an excellent defender, relative to your first base peers. You are a very poor defender, relative to the rest of all the baseball players

12:30
Nelson: Who is the Indians emergency catcher? Santana before Napoli? Someone else?

12:30
august fagerstrom: I’m pretty sure it would be Santana

12:30
Minty: I agree with everything you said about Baez. So what exactly are you expecting from him the next year or two as he attempts to find some consistency.

12:30
august fagerstrom: Honestly, I have a hard time seeing him ever becoming much more than a slightly above league average hitter, maybe 110 wRC+ or so

12:31
august fagerstrom: Which again, with his other tools, is a super valuable and still exciting player!

12:31
august fagerstrom: I just can’t see him being a true superstar

12:31
Bruce: But my Baez’s reputation as an ridiculous tagger has even exceeded the hype!

12:31
august fagerstrom: I actually don’t think it has

12:31
august fagerstrom: Maybe people think it’s worth more than it is, but he’s so much better at it than anyone I’ve seen, I think he actually is deserving of the hype there. His hands are ridiculous

12:32
Michael: Is it possible Dombrowski goes after Miggy & Verlander Benintendi & Redsox prospects? Clears salary for Avila to build his own team & makes them younger. Redsox become world series contenders. Win/Win??

12:32
august fagerstrom: Trading Andrew Benintendi for Miggy/Verlander is not a Red Sox win.

12:32
weezy: While watching game 5, I showed a friend your Baez tagging article from a couple months ago. After going through it, the Fox broadcast talked for a long time about this, basically spreading your work to millions of watchers. Do you feel your article had an impact on that? And how did it feel watching that?

12:33
august fagerstrom: Nope, I was not the first person to take note of Baez’s tagging abilities

12:33
august fagerstrom: If Fox talking about it gets more eyes on my work, though, cool!

12:34
Dock Ellis: One thing I don’t understand about Baez. If I know the pitcher in an 0-2 count is throwing a slider outside the zone, Maddon knows the pitcher is throwing out of the zone, that 108 year old Cubs fan knows he’s throwing it out of the zone, why can’t he just not swing period? Baseball is 90% mental. I know it’s easier said than done, but am I crazy to think he’s just not that smart?

12:34
august fagerstrom: It can be very difficult, particularly for elite athletes who rely more than anything on their instincts, to let the mind overcome those instincts

12:35
august fagerstrom: He’s telling himself “if it’s a slider away, don’t swing,” but the whole problem is, the moment the pitch leaves the pitchers hand, he’s (apparently) more likely than almost any other batter to, for a split-second, misidentify that pitch as a fastball middle-middle, and the instinct kicks in

12:35
august fagerstrom: if the instinct kicks in for even a millisecond, it’s too late

12:37
august fagerstrom: the difference is, for whatever reason, Ben Zobrist’s mind never misidentifies that pitch as a fastball middle-middle for a millisecond, so the instinct never kicks in. Ben Zobrist sees it as a slider away the whole time, so he lays off. Baez just doesn’t see what other hitters see, so he has more time for his instincts to kill him

12:38
C: Something I’ve been curious about for a bit – let’s say you have a hypothetical pitcher. Below average fastball velocity and mediocre K/9, but succeeds by running elite walk rates and a crazily suppressed BABIP due to inducing very high fly ball and pop up rates, but keeping HRs manageable at the same time. What sort of pitch mix/pitching approach would you expect to produce those results?

12:38
august fagerstrom: Marco Estrada’s, I think

12:38
Kevin: Why has Maddon basically stopped using Strop-Rondon in high leverage innings after they were so valuable all season?

12:38
august fagerstrom: They must be physically compromised to an extent that makes them less reliable than guys like Grimm and Montgomery

12:38
august fagerstrom: It’s the only explanation

12:39
august fagerstrom: I’m honestly not a huge fan of Maddon as a tactician, but there’s no way he’s just totally ignoring guys like Strop and Rondon if they’re at 100%

12:39
Q-Ball: If Cubs win, who is the front-runner for MVP? Or has that story not been written yet?

12:39
Kevin: Say the Cubs win today and tomorrow. Who would the Cub frontrunner be for MVP? Whoever helps them the most in the next two games? Chapman?

12:40
august fagerstrom: I think Q-Ball had it right. If the Cubs win the next two games, someone in particular likely stepped up and had two good games that made it clear

12:40
august fagerstrom: Off the top of my head, Zobrist has been great, and Lester has been big, but there’s no clear frontrunner until the Cubs win 2 more

12:40
Kyle: Would you rather wear an Aroldis Chapman fastball on the ribs, or take a KO punch from prime Tyson?

12:40
august fagerstrom: Jesus Christ.

12:40
august fagerstrom: Fuck, man. Chapman, I guess, to avoid a concussion.

12:41
weezy: why doesn’t Baez always cover second? I always wonder why Russell is there sometimes on steal attempts/any situation where Baez could get there.

12:41
august fagerstrom: I was under the impression that he pretty much does

12:42
mryashin: I guess the nightmare scenario for the Indians tonight would be turning it over to Shaw/Miller/Allen for 4-5 innings and losing the game. How much do you think Francona can realistically squeeze out of his bullpen over two consecutive nights?

12:42
august fagerstrom: I’m pretty sure Allen and Miller could both throw 40 pitches tonight and both they and Francona would be willing to ask 40 more from each in a potential Game 7

12:42
august fagerstrom: The gloves are off at this point

12:42
august fagerstrom: That’s almost certainly not going to happen, and they’d never game plan for that, but if it comes down to it, I think they’d do it

12:43
I am the walrus: Would it make sense to bring in say 10 Cubs minor league pitchers to throw curves to the hitters in BP instead of coaches or pitching machines.

12:43
august fagerstrom: not if those minor leagues don’t throw major league curveballs, which they probably don’t, and which a pitching machine could

12:43
TengoPreguntas: Are you saying baez is a 110 wRC+ as things stand now? Or is that factoring in some improvement in approach as he progresses?

12:43
august fagerstrom: no, I was setting that as the line for what I could see his potential ceiling being

12:43
august fagerstrom: he’s a 90ish wRC+ guy now

12:44
Dock Ellis: My rebuttal to your Baez answer is that the point isn’t instinctual. It’s intellectual. There’s literally 0% chance he’s throwing a fastball middle middle. He’s better off closing his eyes when the pitcher is in his windup so he won’t let his instincts make him swing.

12:44
august fagerstrom: 0% chance he’s *trying* to throw a fastball middle-middle

12:44
august fagerstrom: trying and doing are two entirely different things, particularly with something as difficult as pitching

12:44
august fagerstrom: pitchers make mistakes. more importantly, hitters make their living off pitchers making mistakes

12:44
Mike: Say you can build a team with one elite skill and two average ones (hitting, defense, pitching). Which elite skill do you think would get you the most wins?

12:44
august fagerstrom: hitting

12:45
CamdenWarehouse: Sooner or later Miller has to have a dud, right?

12:45
august fagerstrom: he did give up a homer to Fowler

12:45
botchatheny : i dont know nothin’ but i think you are the first person i’ve read who said they weren’t a fan of maddon as a tactician.

12:45
august fagerstrom: really? i feel like i’ve heard that a dozen times in the last week alone

12:45
Mike: I agree that they’d be willing to pitch 40 pitches tonight and then get the ball again tomorrow, but how much effectiveness does a pitcher lose on day two of a back to back with hard usage like that?

12:46
august fagerstrom: certainly some, but Miller at 80% is probably still the Indians’ best pitcher

12:46
Dock Ellis: If I were Baez, in a 0-2 count, I think I’d rather take the gamble that it won’t be a fastball middle middle. I haven’t been able to look at the graphs you posted, but were there any pitches that were hittable in an 0-2 count?

12:47
august fagerstrom: not sure, honestly. i think the point that’s being made, though, isn’t specific to 0-2, it’s just his bad swings in general. like, of course he isn’t trying to swing at pitches half a foot in front of the plate or four feet high, ever. but his quick reactions can be both a blessing and a curese

12:47
Mike D: Do the Cubs have the lineup advantage with the DH? Basically Schwarber is replacing the pitcher for the Cubs whereas the Indians are replacing the pitcher with a defensive sub over Santana in LF.

12:48
august fagerstrom: Yeah, for sure

12:48
august fagerstrom: Don’t think that outweighs home field advantage for Cleveland thouh

12:48
Matt Damon: MATT. DAMON.

12:48
Precious Roy: Did the curveball-averse Cubs unwittingly run into the precisely wrong club for them to face in a 7-game series? I can’t think of another club whose rotation and bullpen would pose them a greater threat. Bonus question: How would the Cubs fare against their own pitching?

12:49
august fagerstrom: It seems like the Indians ran into a trio of teams whose weaknesses aligned nicely with their ability to throw effective breaking balls, but again, it comes back to the Indians pitcher executing those breaking balls

12:49
Erik: Where do short-rest Lackey and Lester rank among Maddon’s bullpen options?

12:50
august fagerstrom: Behind Chapman (obviously), Edwards, Montgomery. Ahead of Wood, and maybe Grimm. Rondon and Strop are total wild cards.

12:50
Daniel: Are defensive metrics based on chances? I ask because it seems like Bryant, and in the past, Zobrist, got a lot of credit for being good at multiple positions – But might there weaknesses show if they played those positions more often?

12:51
august fagerstrom: I’m not sure I follow, re: getting extra credit for multiple positions. That isn’t the case

12:51
Slew: What’s Napoli worth? (According to WAR, nosomuch)

12:53
august fagerstrom: I’d say slightly more than his given WAR this year, for two reasons. One, I’d be willing to bet that, just based on his previous years’ numbers at 1B, that he’s not actually as poor of a defender as 2016 UZR makes him out to be. And two, he’s a leader in the clubhouse, and I am of the belief that that has tangible, though unquantifiable value. That being said, neither of those things change the calculus too much for me. Our WAR had him as a 1.0-win player, I’d maybe have him closer to 2.0

12:53
august fagerstrom: He’s the classic guy who the casual fan overvalues because big dingers and how much teammates talk him up

12:54
Erik: If the Indians win, we should expect copycat teams trying to find and utilize their own Andrew Miller. If the Cubs win, we should expect teams to what? Build and all-around excellent baseball team without any real weaknesses?

12:55
august fagerstrom: Maybe increased emphasis on things like sport psychology? I know the Cubs have done a lot of work in that field, and all the little things they do outside the lines (little nuances in and around the stadium/clubhouse to make everything more efficient)

12:55
august fagerstrom: Maybe increased likelihood to buy into the full-scale rebuild

12:55
august fagerstrom: Perhaps greater emphasis on subtle shifts in defensive positioning and/or defensive versatility rather than full overshifts

12:56
Mike: If its tied, best case scenario for the Indians is probably to have Miller relieve Tomlin and pitch to the top of the order, and then after Schwarber bring in Shaw with that breaking ball to pitch to Contreras, Baez, RF, and Russell, right?

12:56
august fagerstrom: Perhaps, but not if that means taking Miller out of the game before you have to

12:57
august fagerstrom: If Miller throws two perfect innings with, like, 23 pitches, you send him out for a third

12:57
weezy: How much work are non-WS teams doing right now, and what is the nature of the work?

12:57
august fagerstrom: Tons, and prepping for the winter meetings

12:59
Dock Ellis: Who’s chatting tonight for the game?

12:59
august fagerstrom: Dave and Eno, I believe

12:59
Matt: Typo alert (in your article)! There is no ‘v’ in Baez (unless you’re using some crazy crazy spelling)

12:59
august fagerstrom: whoops, meant to say V in Javier. Thanks, will change after this chat

1:00
Q-Ball: What does that say about the Cubs bullpen that the 3 top guys you identified, Chapman, Monty, and Edwards, none of them were with the Cubs until July?

1:00
august fagerstrom: that their top two guys suddenly and unexpectedly became physically compromised, and that the Cubs did a good job of getting out ahead of that by building bullpen depth which is important because you never know when it’s going to be necessary

1:01
schwoch: Curious to know what Maddon does strategically that bothers you most. I’m a 56-year-old lifelong Cubs fan so I’ve seen some really bad managers; often when I disagree with Maddon strategically I find out later there was some factor I didn’t know (like Lester basically taking himself out the other night).

1:02
august fagerstrom: I don’t watch the Cubs every day, so it’s entirely possible I’m overreacting, but in the past, I get the sense that he’s sometimes a bit passive when I’d prefer him to be more aggressive. That being said, a lot of that likely has to do with keeping players happy, and he has a reputation as being maybe the best player’s-manager in the game, so maybe this balances out!

1:03
august fagerstrom: At this stage in the game, though, I think the sliders might have to shift more towards tacticianal aggression and less towards the keeping-players-content argument, which seems better suited for the 162-game grind than the seven-game win-or-go-home series

1:03
august fagerstrom: I also don’t know jack shit about managing, so I’m probably way off base.

1:03
Rick Ross: Tomlin 3, Miller 2, Shaw 2, Allen 2? Or does the Tribe consider Otero/Salazar or anyone else? Or try and get Tomlin thru 4+?

1:03
august fagerstrom: I think ideally they would love Tomlin 5, Miller 2, Allen 2

1:04
august fagerstrom: But Tomlin would have to be damn-near perfect to get through 5

1:05
august fagerstrom: alright guys, I gotta get ready to head over the stadium, but first, I have a bit of news

1:06
august fagerstrom: This was my last chat at FanGraphs. More to come on that shortly, but I just want to thank those of you who did this with me every week. They were a lot of fun, they spawned plenty of topic ideas for me, and I genuinely enjoyed doing them each week

1:07
august fagerstrom: Thanks to Bork and E and MATT DAMON for the little tropes that made me smile each week, and all of the rest of you for being such awesome, engaging readers who made this job so great

1:08
august fagerstrom: Signing out now. Enjoy baseball!

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August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at august.fagerstrom@fangraphs.com.

newest oldest most voted
JDX
Member
JDX

August with the cliff-hanger! Your last chat at FG?! Are you stopping chats? Or did you accept a position elsewhere? Tune in next week! 🙂

If you did get a new position, let me be the first to wish you good luck.

jimbo22s
Member
jimbo22s

This sentence is past tense, which makes it sound like he is moving on – ” awesome, engaging readers who *made* this job so great”