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Presenting the Official FanGraphs Trade Deadline Roundup!

Well that was busy! Over the past week, the FanGraphs staff has written 35 pieces dedicated to analyzing the 2020 trade deadline, from Jay Jaffe’s Replacement-Level Killers series, which previewed teams’ positions of need, to detailed breakdowns of deadline transactions, to Craig Edwards’ piece today on deadline winners and losers, and Eric Longenhagen’s ranking of the prospects who moved. It’s a lot to sort through, so to assist you in finding anything you may have missed during yesterday’s flurry, I’ve rounded up all of our deadline pieces in one place. You’ll find the broader preview and recap pieces listed first, followed by a team-by-team listing of those transactions pieces that involved your favorite squad, either as buyers or sellers. In instances when we dissected a transaction across multiple pieces — hello, Padres! — you’ll see them grouped together.

As always, all of the pieces linked below are free to read, but they took time, resources, and weekend work hours to produce. If you enjoyed our coverage of the trade deadline and are in a position to do so, we hope you’ll sign up for a FanGraphs ad-free Membership. It’s the best way to both support our work and experience the site. Now, on to the roundup! Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs 2020 Staff Predictions

You were supposed to read this yesterday. Yesterday, when the playoffs consisted of just 10 teams and Mookie Betts hadn’t yet registered his first hit in Dodger blue. But as with a great deal else about this season, the 2020 playoffs will be something different than we initially expected. Mere hours before the first pitch of last night’s Yankees-Nationals tilt was scheduled to be thrown, ESPN’s Marly Rivera reported that MLB and the MLBPA had approved a deal to expand the postseason. This new structure will only be in effect for the 2020 season, barring further negotiations between the league and the players. The field will now feature 16 teams; every division winner and runner up will make the playoffs, along with the two teams in each league that have the best records beyond those six. They’ll meet in a three-game Wild Card Series that will be seeded thusly:

All of the games in the Wild Card Series will be played in the home ballpark of the more highly seeded team. In the event of regular season ties, mathematical tiebreakers will be used — MLB isn’t exactly keen to play games deeper into the Fall.

David Appelman and Sean Dolinar have already updated our playoff odds to account for the new format (they are wizards). You can poke around here, but the unsurprising takeaway is this: a lot of teams are a lot more likely to play October baseball than they were when yesterday began. Read the rest of this entry »

2020 Positional Power Rankings: Summary

Over the past week and a half, we’ve published our annual season preview, ranking the league’s players by position based on a blend of our projections (a 50/50 split between ZiPS and Steamer) and our manually maintained playing time estimates courtesy of Jason Martinez of RosterResource fame. The result is a document that rivals In Search of Lost Time for length, though we’ve striven to make it a touch more readable. If you happen to have missed any of those installments, you can use the handy navigation widget above to catch up. And remember, if you’re a fan of say, the Dodgers, and don’t want to see any other teams’ rankings but theirs, you can use the “View by Team” feature in any of those pieces, and look at that, all Dodgers. No stinkin’ Astros for you.

Today, I’m going to summarize the results. We’ll look at some tables and pick out a few interesting tidbits, but first, it’s important to remember that this exercise captures a snapshot of how we project teams to perform now. Teams aren’t static, however. Since we’ve published our rankings, for instance, Gavin Lux has been optioned. Colin Poche likely needs Tommy John. Jordan Montgomery didn’t make the Yankees’ Opening Day roster. Hell, Franchy Cordero was traded to the Royals about 12 hours before the right field rankings were set to go live. Guys suffer injuries, lose playing time due to underperformance, and get traded. That’s why we maintain a Team WAR Totals page, which lists projected positional WAR by team and updates regularly throughout the season as we learn more about who is likely to take the field every day and what shape they’ll be in when they do. Now, don’t be alarmed — the WAR numbers you see there may vary slightly from what you see on the positional power rankings, mostly because those figures are aware of the injuries and transactions that have altered our playing time estimates since the power rankings went live. The z-scores I include later uses the WAR from the Team WAR Totals page. It’s a good page. Read the rest of this entry »

2020 Positional Power Rankings: Introduction

Well, here we are. Welcome to the 2020 positional power rankings. As is tradition, over the next week and a half, we’ll be ranking every team by position as we inch closer Opening Day. This is always something of a funny exercise. You read FanGraphs regularly after all (thank you kindly), and are well-versed in the goings on of the offseason. You probably know that Gerrit Cole now plays in pinstripes and that Anthony Rendon calls Anaheim home and that Yasmani Grandal is a White Sox. But like so much else in 2020, COVID-19 has rendered an already odd thing stranger, harder. Sadder. In the season’s original timeline, we would have just enjoyed the Futures Game at Dodgers Stadium; I would be preparing to travel home from FanGraphs festivities in Los Angeles. Half a season’s worth of play would be in the books; in that brighter alternate reality, the All-Star game is tomorrow. Instead, the pandemic caused the season to stall out before it could get started. We witnessed a tense, nasty negotiation between the owners and the Players Association to resume play. The amateur draft was only five rounds. Most obviously and devastatingly, more than 135,000 Americans are dead.

How best to proceed with the practical vagaries and ethical quandaries of a season played against such a backdrop, I’m still unsure. I know that you still care about baseball, want to understand the who and how and what of this season. I know that I still care about the game, though I’m uncertain whether it is totally right to do so. We don’t know how much of the season we’ll get to see, just as we don’t know what the long-term consequences of COVID-19 will be for the players who contract it. It all amounts to an uneasy feeling, though it probably won’t be all bad. Strange and fraught as it is, I expect that Opening Day will feel at least a little good, that I will delight in finally seeing Cole take the mound for the Yankees, that I will thrill at remembering that Mike Moustakas plays for the Reds now, or that Mookie Betts – Mookie Freakin’ Betts! – now dons Dodger blue. And so here we are, launching the positional power rankings, hoping for good health and well-played games and for this 60-game sprint to mean something, for it to tell us something we didn’t know; to provide a welcome respite without distracting too much from the far more important task of keeping each other safe. We’ll try to find the right balance between grappling with the low lows of the pandemic and the heady highs of finally having our evenings and afternoons marked by the game’s familiar rhythms. We greatly appreciate you coming along for the ride as we do.

This post serves as an explainer for our approach to these rankings. If you’re new to the positional power rankings, I hope it helps to clarify how they are compiled and what you might expect from them. If you’re a FanGraphs stalwart, I hope it is a useful reminder of what we’re up to. If you have a bit of time, here is the introduction to last year’s series. You can use the handy nav widget at the top to get a sense of where things stood before Opening Day 2019.

Unlike a lot of site’s season previews, we don’t arrange ours by team or division. That is a perfectly good way to organize a season preview, but we see a few advantages to the way we do it. First, ranking teams by position allow us to cover a roster top to bottom, with stars, everyday staples, and role players alike receiving some amount of examination, while also placing those players (and the teams they play for) in their proper league-wide context. By doing it this way, you can easily see how teams stack up against each other, get a sense of the overall strength of a position across the game, and spot places where a well-deployed platoon may end up having a bigger impact than an everyday regular who is merely good. We think all of that context helps to create a richer understanding of the state of things and a clearer picture of the season ahead, even a weirdo season like this one.

And while we hope you find this way of viewing things useful, don’t worry. If you’re a fan of, say, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and want to view the rankings through the lens of that team, all you have to do is select the Diamondbacks from the “View by Team” dropdown that appears above the rankings in any given post and presto! Snakes on snakes on snakes. Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 1554: Baseball Reacts to the Killing of George Floyd

Meg Rowley is joined by the New York Daily News’ Bradford William Davis and Baseball Prospectus’ Shakeia Taylor to discuss Major League Baseball’s response to the police killing of George Floyd and the recent Black Lives Matter protests, why the league’s statements have been so wanting, whether teams have a role to play — both in their communities and in their clubhouses — in conversations about systemic racism, players’ increased willingness to support BLM publicly, some concrete steps MLB should be taking to make baseball more accessible to Black players and fans, and how the media should engage with players around activism and questions of social justice, police brutality, and racism. Plus, Shakeia and Bradford share their thoughts on the strange, short season of baseball we’re about to see.

Audio intro: Otis Redding, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Audio outro: The Police, “Truth Hits Everybody

Link to Shakeia’s piece on Tim Anderson.
Link to Bradford’s piece on the need for pro sports leagues to say more in their statements on police brutality.
Link to Shakeia’s piece on how diversity in baseball begins in Little League.
Link to Bradford’s piece on how MLB is (and isn’t) involving public health officials in its resumption of play plans.
Link to the Five and Dive showpage, the podcast Bradford co-hosts at Baseball Prospectus with Craig Goldstein of BP and Emma Baccellieri of Sports Illustrated.
Link to Demetrius Bell’s piece “What Jackie Knew,” the first in a series of articles at Baseball Prospectus by Black authors that will explore op-eds and articles written by Jackie Robinson throughout and after his career.

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FanGraphs Audio: Craig Edwards Recalls He Is a Lawyer

Episode 887

I welcome FanGraphs writer Craig Edwards to the program. Craig and I discuss the growing tension between team owners and players, MLB’s claim that a season of fanless games will result in $4 billion in losses, the move to shorten the amateur draft, and the discourse surrounding it all. Plus, Craig briefly puts his lawyer hat back on to assess the so-called smoking gun email, and we recall the 2011 World Series.

Relevant Craig pieces:

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Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @megrowler on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximate 43 min play time.)

Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 5/20/2020

Meg Rowley: Hi all, and welcome to the chat.

Meg Rowley: Hope that everyone is doing as well as can be expected.

Meg Rowley: Let us chat!

Cat Latos:

How do you think one might counter the general sentiment that baseballers are greedy and make too much? It's annoying to hear my coworkers side with ownership.
Meg Rowley: I actually think there is a really good conversation to be had as a society about how we value and compensate different kinds of work, and whether that aligns with the value it brings to society. But if we have that convo, there’s no way that say, how we value Manny Machado’s work takes a hit but Ron Fowler’s fortunate remains intact. And since that isn’t what we’re really doing when we have these conversations, the way I’ve been talking about it with family is that these guys are assuming risk for themselves and their families, aren’t asking for hazard pay, and would simply like their bosses to do what they agreed to. There are a lot more zeroes at the end of the check, but the dynamic isn’t that different from the companies that are scaling back “hero pay.”

Josh: Do you have any advice on getting into the baseball analysis industry?

Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs Audio: Jay Jaffe Figuratively Embraces the Lotte Giants

Episode 886

On this edition of FanGraphs Audio, I welcome FanGraphs senior writer Jay Jaffe to the program. Jay and I discuss his impressions of the first week of KBO action, the teams he finds the most compelling, and the differences between the KBO and MLB that he has appreciated most. We also discuss his recent piece on the impact that the cancellation of Induction Weekend has had on the Hall of Fame, as well as the people and small businesses of Cooperstown.

Jay’s KBO Coverage: A Thumbnail Guide to the KBO’s 2020 Season; Nothing Lost in Translation: Meet Dan Kurtz, the KBO’s Top Ambassador Part 1, Part 2; Half a World Away, the Korea Baseball Organization Looks to Play.

Shakeia Taylor: Is Baseball Ready to Love Dick Allen?

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Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @megrowler on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximate 41 min play time.)

Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 5/5/20

Meg Rowley: Hi everyone, and welcome to the chat.

Meg Rowley: I hope everyone is doing well, at least in COVID-19 adjusted terms.

Meg Rowley: A couple of things to highlight – first, Dan’s KBO ZiPS projections are live!…

Meg Rowley: Tony recapped the ESPN opener:

Meg Rowley: Jay has Part 2 of his interview with Dan Kurtz:…

Meg Rowley: In non-KBO news, Eric is doing a video series cutting together his Diamondmind play and instructs video. The “pilot” dropped yesterday:

Read the rest of this entry »

FanGraphs Audio: Ben Clemens Gets to Know the KBO

Episode 885

On this edition of FanGraphs Audio, I welcome FanGraphs writer Ben Clemens to the program. Ben and I discuss the upcoming KBO season, his series on whacky World Series tactics, and the form we’d like baseball to take when it returns in the US. Plus, Ben reveals a shocking predilection for drinking plain, hot water, and a not-so-shocking affinity for board games.

Ben’s primers on the KBO: Part One and Part Two

Ben’s Wild World Series Tactics series: 1990-1993, 1995-1997, 1998-2000, 2001-2003

To become a FanGraphs member, click here.

To donate to FanGraphs, click here.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @megrowler on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximate 52 min play time.)