Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 2/22/21

2:00
Ben Clemens: Hey everyone, Happy Monday. With prospect week behind us and Spring Training underway, it really feels like baseball is right around the corner, so let’s talk baseball and recipes and board games and pizza and whatever piques your interest.

2:00
Ben Clemens: Also terrible Mariners executives, presumably.

2:01
Ben Clemens: Let’s go

2:01
sam: what role do you think Alex Reyes will fill this year? what is his ceiling?

2:01
Ben Clemens: I think he’ll be a swingman; some starts, some multi-inning relief work

2:01
Ben Clemens: His ceiling is probably Jacob deGrom? Like, no one is doubting his stuff. It’s a matter of health. I don’t think it’s very likely he reaches that ceiling, but have you seen the dude pitch? It’s absurd.

2:02
Matt Damon: MATT. DAMON.

2:02
Ben Clemens: Why hello Matt

2:02
Boink: Realistic expectations for Lourdes Gurriel Jr. this year? Breaks into top 50 overall or falls off?

2:02
Ben Clemens: Presumably this is for fantasy, so I’ll answer it that way

2:04
Ben Clemens: Top 50 overall hitter isn’t out of the question, it looks like he’s right around the 60 range for hitters in 5×5 per our auction calculator

2:05
Ben Clemens: So I’ll say that breaking into the top 50 is more likely than truly falling off. That’s with a projected 107 wRC+ (.270/.313/.484), a step down from last year’s line, so if he repeats 2019, I’m calling that a surprise

2:05
Ben Clemens: He just looks like a good hitter in a sustainable way, you know? He’s not fluking into things. He doesn’t strike out or walk much, and he makes solid contact. Seems like a good profile to me

2:05
clemlibby: Which team is Ruby’s favorite?

2:06
Ben Clemens: Definitely the A’s. She had a cardboard cutout down the first base line, and they made the playoffs, which means she got to go to three playoff games this year

2:06
Ben Clemens: That’s a good way to get a dog to like a team

2:06
Ben Clemens: Also we’ll probably get her some A’s chew toys this year

2:06
Kevin Mather: Can we get “English language skills” added to your 20-80 rankings? Thanks!

2:06
Chris: The delay in response from the mariners is a good sign right? They won’t do the wrong thing like usual will they? Please give mariners fans hope

2:07
Ben Clemens: I think it’s a bad sign, personally

2:07
Ben Clemens: They didn’t say they’ve suspended their employee pending an investigation

2:07
Ben Clemens: They didn’t ask him to hold off on a statement until they got their ducks in a row

2:07
Ben Clemens: For people who missed it, here’s a full transcript: https://www.lookoutlanding.com/2021/2/21/22294212/mariners-president-k…

2:08
Ben Clemens: Of him straight up explaining how the team purposefully forces players to remain in the minors to artificially depress their salaries

2:08
Ben Clemens: Regardless of whether their talent would help the tema

2:08
Ben Clemens: He at one point says he would have played outfield ahead of Jarred Kelenic last year, because the team doesn’t care about winning right now but wants to delay Kelenic’s major league debut to save money

2:08
Ben Clemens: That’s bad!

2:09
Ben Clemens: Doesn’t even include his racist screed about how foreign players are too lazy to learn English

2:09
Bart: How do you think young players like J Kelenic will react to K Mather’s negative remarks?   Motivate them?

2:09
Ben Clemens: That’s an interesting question

2:09
Ben Clemens: I think the first thing they’ll do is file a grievance against the Mariners if they aren’t on the Opening Day roster

2:09
Ben Clemens: The president of the team just said that the team is expressly breaking the CBA

2:09
Ben Clemens: So uh

2:10
Ben Clemens: Probably that

2:10
Myfanwy N.: If every professional baseball player on Earth woke up tomorrow to find themselves exclusively left-handed, what would baseball look like? Assuming this doesn’t affect amateurs, how long would it take to return to a normal L/R population?

2:10
Ben Clemens: Groundball hitters who don’t strike out would be worth their weight in gold, because fielding would be an absolute disaster

2:11
Ben Clemens: I think that would probably be the most noticeable effect, a left-handed shortstop would just break your brain to look at

2:11
Ben Clemens: I think that it would take quite a while to return to a normal population, but that you might see amateur defenders break into the majors REALLY quickly for a while

2:11
Ben Clemens: Like, a senior in college with good shortstop defense and an okay bat might just be playable in the majors right away if he’s competing with lefties

2:12
jamesdakrn: As a Korean American who came over at age 9, it’s honestly infuriating how Mather seems to think  Kuma should learn English at age 30 when it’s incredibly difficult for someone to pick it up that quickly when you learn a 2nd language as an adult.

Not to mention that hit’s not like he’s supposed to be taking classes at Bellevue Community College or some shit,  he’s literally being paid millions to do his job well – pitch.

It took me at least 2 years to be fluent, and that’s at age 9 when picking up a 2nd language is much easier via immersion vs. coming over as adults

2:12
Ben Clemens: It’s incredibly insulting

2:12
Ben Clemens: How well do you think Mather speaks Japanese?

2:12
Ben Clemens: Julio Rodriguez learned English as a teenager and has already conducted interviews exclusively in English

2:13
Ben Clemens: Get the hell out of here with insulting someone for their language skills

2:13
Sharps: What stat(s) should I teach my baseball fan family (who wants to learn) to understand to better critically think about baseball?

2:13
Ben Clemens: Oh, what a great question

2:14
Ben Clemens: There’s actually a good old 538 podcast on this: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/batting-average-is-so-19th-centur…

2:14
Ben Clemens: The idea is to walk from batting average all the way to OPS and wRC+ to explain why we like those more

2:14
Ben Clemens: I think that wRC+ is a great one, because it’s a one-number thing, but you can see that it works well because good hitters have good wRC+’s and vice versa

2:15
Ben Clemens: For pitching, this is a little reductive, but I think you could teach people a lot just by looking at swinging strike rate

2:15
Ben Clemens: Pitchers who make batters miss do well, and that’s a good way of driving that point home

2:15
Ben Clemens: Baseball is a game about one person throwing a ball past another, the people who are best at that are great

2:16
Moose_Bolton: Is rooting for a team inherently supporting the negative aspects of that team? I have thus far been able to separate the negative things a member of an organization has done from the “laundry” the players are wearing. How bad of a thing do you think would have to happen to completely negate that benefit of the doubt? I hope it never happens.

2:16
Ben Clemens: This question is something I always struggle with

2:17
Ben Clemens: I think I’ve settled on being honest with myself that teams are generally not bastions of morality

2:17
Ben Clemens: Mather said these things, but there’s no way that plenty of other executives aren’t thinking it

2:17
Ben Clemens: They’re just not dumb enough to go on the record

2:17
Ben Clemens: I like baseball, and I like watching baseball, and I’m happy to just do that and accept the fact that major league teams mostly suck

2:18
Ben Clemens: In exchange, just call out the bad things that your team does and don’t be satisfied with poor explanations of their behavior

2:19
Ben Clemens: Ethical consumption under capitalism is impossible, etc. etc.

2:19
Appa Yip Yip: Also re: Mather the dude straight up called Asia the Far East like he’s some spice merchant from the 1700s like it’s not the Far East dude Tokyo is closer to Seattle than London is I bet he doesn’t think of London as being some far off mystery land. The casual racism here is infuriating.

2:19
Ben Clemens: Yeah, agreed

2:19
Dodger Fan: TO Sharps’ question: What about defensive metrics?

2:20
Ben Clemens: I think I’d ignore defensive metrics, basically

2:20
Ben Clemens: Unless people are really big baseball fans, trying to explain the noise and signal in defensive metrics is just going to be more trouble than it’s worth. You can generally reference them — oh, Andrelton Simmons is a great defender, and both the eye test and statistics agree

2:21
Ben Clemens: But if you’re trying to make people who don’t like baseball stats YET get into them, trying to explain the plus-minus zone rating way that we consider defensive value is just overkill

2:21
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Do you have a favorite Mapo Tofu recipe? This is a new dish to me, but I saw the Food Lab’s version and it looks amazers.
https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/07/real-deal-mapo-dofu-tofu-c…

2:21
Ben Clemens: This is our favorite recipe, lol

2:21
Ben Clemens: My wife LOVES mapo tofu

2:22
Ben Clemens: I’d also say that a tofu press has added to our enjoyment

2:22
Ben Clemens: But this is pretty great, didn’t even have to dig up the recipe because you sent it to me

2:22
Julius: Will Ke’Bryan Hayes see the next Pirates contender?

2:22
Ben Clemens: What a sad question to have to consider

2:24
Ben Clemens: I think he’ll be on the next Pirates contender. Ben Cherington is not normally the type to trade away young controllable stars like that

2:24
Childish Bambino: Smart Baseball by Keith Law is a great introduction to advanced baseball stats.

2:24
Bookie Metts: As a Red Sox fan, I was not happy when the team rehired Cora so easily as if he wasn’t one of the main drivers behind one of the biggest baseball scandals in recent years. My question is how do you think the Sox players viewed the move to bring Cora back? I would hope leadership wouldn’t have brought him back if the player’s objected at all.

2:25
Ben Clemens: I’m a lot less aggrieved by the Cora one, because he got suspended for a year, and I’m pretty much positive that if the team’s best players didn’t want him to come back, he wouldn’t come back

2:25
Ben Clemens: Managers are far more fungible than stars

2:26
Guest: Not baseball, but the past decade has been… Interesting rooting for Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.

2:26
Dodger Fan: I drive past the mall where Julio Urías assaulted his girlfriend on a weekly basis, and it makes it hard for me to stomach the celebratory feeling I have when I rewatch him strikeout Adames to end the World Series. Do you have any advice on how to reconcile this?

2:27
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I guess I’d just say the same thing I did above. Good luck living a life where none of the things that you derive utility from involve doing bad things

2:27
Ben Clemens: somewhere down the chain

2:27
Ben Clemens: Life is tough, and it’s no fun to root for a team but then have to take a step back and say man these idols of mine are crappy people

2:28
Ben Clemens: But I think that being a sports fan involves understanding that and being willing to deal with that cognitive dissonance

2:28
Derek: Most of the Red Sox’ best players under Cora are gone now anyway, so they hardly even needed to worry about that!

2:28
Ben Clemens: Haha c’mon now, they still have the stars

2:28
Ben Clemens: I’m sure if Bogaerts and Devers weren’t into it, we’d have heard

2:28
Bookie Metts: There has been a lot of talk of a probable work stoppage or player’s strike in 2022 due to the increasing tension between players and owners. My question is what exactly would that look like. Only half of 2022 being played? None of it? I know you don’t know what will happen, but if you could speak on this hypothetically that would be great.

2:28
Ben Clemens: I don’t think we know, to be honest

2:29
Ben Clemens: There could be a work stoppage that doesn’t result in any missed time, one that delays the start of the season, or one that negates the whole season. There could be no work stoppage at all

2:29
Ben Clemens: I think the most likely outcome is either no missed games or a tiny amount of missed games, but that there’s no new CBA in place by the time the current one expires

2:30
Ben Clemens: And let me tell you, as someone whose career involves writing about baseball, that’s not a comforting thought

2:30
Chris: So who has made baseball look the worst 1) the mets 2) the mariners 3) the Rockies

2:30
Ben Clemens: I think the Mariners, narrowly over the Rockies

2:30
Ben Clemens: Because of how casual the highest-ranking member of the front office was about all of this

2:31
Ben Clemens: It’s clear, regardless of whatever nonsense excuses he makes, that he and the team think that this way of thinking is totally fine

2:31
Ben Clemens: Otherwise you don’t yell it on video at a rotary club meeting

2:31
Ben Clemens: The Rockies just traded their star after a public spat with him, that’s poor general management

2:31
Cullen: The Cardinals have been working with Nolan Gorman at 2nd recently. Do you think this is where he’ll find his future home? I’ve heard concerns about his range.

2:32
Ben Clemens: I’m skeptical, but they should absolutely try

2:32
Ben Clemens: It worked for Matt Carpenter

2:33
Ben Clemens: He’s not making the majors this year anyway, and I think you can just tell him ‘hey work on the defense when you can but we want you to focus on hitting’

2:33
Ben Clemens: If it works, yahtzee

2:33
Ben Clemens: If not, he can play left or first in a few years

2:33
Ugh: So the Reds are looking quite unlikely to contend for the Division this year. Does Luis Castillo have more value to the Reds as a pitcher or a trade chip?

2:34
Ben Clemens: Pitcher. They’re not really that out of it, despite their best efforts

2:35
Ben Clemens: And the way the team is set up, it’s not like they’re going to be absolute beasts in three years. Their farm system is kinda midlding and they have a lot of good players righ tnow

2:35
Ben Clemens: If they’re going absolute full teardown, maybe, but that’s kinda gross and a weird move to make when you have Castellanos, Gray, Castillo, Moustakas, etc.

2:35
Guest: Is WAS really going to trot out an outfield with Soto and Schwarber flanking Victor Robles (whose Def was barely ahead of Nimmo’s in CF last year, and who still hasn’t hit much)?

2:35
Ben Clemens: It feels like they might, and I don’t think it’s THAT bad

2:36
Ben Clemens: Robles is a great center fielder, literally one season of defensive metrics notwithstanding; he’s graded out well in each of the previous three years

2:36
Ben Clemens: Also outs above average thought he was good even last year

2:37
Ben Clemens: Soto isn’t the worst defender either

2:37
Ben Clemens: Now, Schwarber, he’s bad

2:37
RJ: I played against a left handed shortstop in little league. He was the coach’s son but the two things were totally unrelated.

2:37
Schmegs: If they’re both health which is more valuable, Bauer pitching every 4 days or Ohtani playing both ways?

2:38
Ben Clemens: I *think* it’s Ohtani?

2:39
Ben Clemens: Pitching every four days is actually less of a benefit than you think because it garbles up your rotation behind it

2:39
Ben Clemens: It’s still valuable, but it affects everyone else’s innings

2:40
Guest: How much weight should we put on Dylan Carlson’s second stint

2:41
Ben Clemens: If you  mean how he does in 2021, a normal amount? He just turned 22, so treat things with a grain of salt, but if he’s abysmal in meaningful playing time I’d start to get slightly worried

2:41
Lawyer up Logan: It is so hard to watch someone like Mather apologize without thinking that he’s lying about everything.  It’s not the culture or practice of the organization?  Dude!  You’re the team president.  Of course it is!  This man just set the entire organization back for years, and Mather should lose his job for it.

2:41
Ben Clemens: I mean…. do we think that if he lost his job the team would somehow stop doing these things?

2:41
Ben Clemens: The racism maybe

2:41
Ben Clemens: Which would be a great step

2:42
Ben Clemens: But I think it’s more important for the organization to be punished

2:42
Ben Clemens: There’s legitimately no doubt that he represents the culture of the organization

2:42
Ben Clemens: And that culture isn’t just against the spirit of the game, it’s against the letter of the CBA

2:43
Guest: I meant the 2nd callup(Carlson’s). I agree with taking things with a grain of salt, especially with a prospect, but the metrics he had in September are hard to ignore

2:43
Ben Clemens: Eh, they’re easy for me to ignore! He had a swinging strike rate of 11.4%, which is lower than he had in AA in 2019.

2:43
Ben Clemens: It was 119 PA, and he had a .260 BABIP

2:44
Ben Clemens: Sometimes hit the crap out of the ball, sometimes whiffed; I haven’t asked Dan speicifically, but I can’t imagine his projections were affected much at all by that

2:44
Ben Clemens: Nothing is SUPER meaningful in that small of a sample, basically

2:45
Derek: Any two-player co-op board game recommendations?

2:45
Ben Clemens: I don’t know if I’ve recommended Aeon’s End, but my wife and I have really enjoyed that one

2:45
Ben Clemens: If you want it to be more of a story, Detective is one we’ve liked

2:45
Ben Clemens: It’s a one-time deal, you play through 5 cases, so that’s worth mentioning

2:46
Ben Clemens: But we have a lot of fun trying to decide which leads to follow and such, and that game is just designed really well

2:46
Mike: Do you think Carter Kieboom will figure it out this year and be an everyday player? His scouting report is so exciting but when he’s played hes looked awful

2:46
Ben Clemens: I think the odds are good that he’ll be fine, but I’m more worried about him than about Carlson

2:47
Ben Clemens: He just didn’t hit the ball hard AT ALL, which scares me ever so slightly

2:47
Ben Clemens: That said, 2020 results are worth discounting for other reasons than small sample size (the weirdness of the season, basically)

2:48
Ben Clemens: I’m still bullish overall, but I’d be more worried about a complete lack of contact quality than a run of bad results

2:48
LB: Are you in on Shogo Akiyama as a solid everyday-caliber player? Seemed to make some mid-year adjustments that put him in line to succeed this year (though the playing time situation is a mess sans DH)

2:48
Ben Clemens: I am, depending on whether they decide to make him the regular center fielder against righties

2:49
Ben Clemens: He was borderline okay as an everyday regular even in 2020

2:49
Ben Clemens: Emphasis on borderline

2:50
Ben Clemens: I do worry that if the defense doesn’t play in center, he won’t be able to find at bats

2:50
Ben Clemens: I don’t think he’s starting over Winker/Castellanos against righties

2:51
Ben Clemens: So if the team wants Senzel in center against righties, or if they find a new center fielder somewhere, the playing time picture is going to be a BIG problem

2:51
Appa Yip Yip: Awful baseball stuff palate cleanser: we now have audio from Mars so if you want to listen to the wind on a whole other planet you can just do that now which is pretty freaking cool.

2:51
Ben Clemens: Everything about perseverance is awesome

2:52
Ben Clemens: I’m a space nerd, so I’m biased, but it’s so cool

2:52
PECOTA-Skeptic: Regarding the NL Central, the Brewers are 9x more likely to win the division than the Reds over on BP. Here it isn’t as stark (2x), what do the projections, espcially PECOTA, see in Milwaukee that the common thought doesn’t?

2:53
Ben Clemens: I think we’re just far more down on Reds batters than the common consensus is

2:53
Ben Clemens: Maybe not as down as PECOTA,b ut stlil

2:53
Ben Clemens: We think that 1B, SS, and RF will combine for 0.6 WAR for Cincy

2:53
Ben Clemens: versus 2.6 for Milwaukee, and that’s not exactly their strength

2:54
Ben Clemens: We literally think that everyone who plays shortstop for the Reds in 2021 projects below replacement level

2:54
Orioles Tragic: Do either Felix Hernandez or Matt Harvey have a chance to be anything other than awful this season?

2:54
Ben Clemens: For sure! I’d actually be more excited about Harvey, though not very excited about either

2:55
Ben Clemens: Interesting plan by the Orioles, if they aren’t trying to compete (and they aren’t) I don’t hate it

2:56
Uncle Charlie: Would you keep Glasnow (5×5)?  AL only at $15.  I read mixed reports.

2:56
Ben Clemens: I’m pretty in on Glasnow. Depends on the context of your league and team, but unless there are extenuating circumstances, I’m a yes

2:56
NL Fan: Rumor has it NL GM’s are still preparing for the season as if there was a DH. Any idea if there will be one? Which NL team (not named the Dodgers) would that help the most?

2:57
Ben Clemens: I’ll give you a few: the Padres, the Mets, and the Giants

2:57
Ben Clemens: The Padres because it just gives htem another way to use their depth

2:58
Ben Clemens: The Giants because I’d like to see more chances for Austin Slater to hit, and it would increase Tommy La Stella’s PT as well

2:59
Ben Clemens: The Mets b/c sliding Dom Smith to 1B, Alonso to DH, and Nimmo to LF does a lot for their defense

2:59
Brad NJ: are you still buying C-Mart?

2:59
Ben Clemens: Yeah definitely. He’s high-variance, but I’d basically just throw out 2020 for anyone who had COVID

3:00
Bama: Of these 2, who would you keep on your roster…Randal Grichuk or Travis Shaw?

3:00
Ben Clemens: Boy, it’s kind of a tossup

3:01
Ben Clemens: I think that I’d probably keep Grichuk were I the Jays, because their infield just feels really crowded, whereas Grichuk can be a three-position backup

3:01
Jeff: How can we get $/WAR to something more reasonable like $15 an hour?

3:02
Appa Yip Yip: The Jays have 5 catchers on the 40 man. Presumably one of them is traded. How would you work things out? Jansen/Kirk with McGuire on the outside?

3:02
Appa Yip Yip: Also Jay Jaffe’s work indicates players who make the big leagues at Kirk’s age has a relatively crazy high chance of making the HoF not saying just saying.

3:02
Ben Clemens: Haha, I’m down on the ‘merely reaching the majors’ stats

3:02
Ben Clemens: More up on the ‘reaching the majors and hitting’ stats, though

3:02
Ben Clemens: I think that’s what I’d do — Kirk needs some PT for sure

3:03
Dodger Fan: Have you played Forbidden Island?

3:04
Ben Clemens: I have, and I like that as well

3:04
Ben Clemens: My one issue with that game is just a generic issue with co-ops, which is that if you have one bossy player it’s less fun

3:04
Ben Clemens: But if you don’t have that, I really like it. Nice lightweight game that still feels like an achievement to beat

3:05
Brad NJ: I love me some Deivi Garcia but some are telling me he is the Yankees 6th SP after Cole, Kluber, Taillon, Montgomery, and German….. I would have him before Kluber as their 2nd best SP.   Why not love for Deivi, yeah he is short so what, so was pedro….

3:06
Ben Clemens: I don’t think people don’t like Deivi, they just expect the Yankees to be really conservative with him. Also, hey, service time manipulation is in the news, and if the Yankees manage to keep him down half the year, they’ll get an extra year of service time

3:07
Ben Clemens: Not sure they’re interested in doing that, and I think that long-term he’s probably their second-best starter (depending on what you think about Sevy), but just b/c he’s sixth on the depth chart doesn’t mean he’s worse than the guys in front of him

3:08
Derek: If you talk to David Laurila anytime soon, congratulate him on this weekend’s Merseyside Derby!

3:08
OriolesTragic: Thoughts on Austin Hays? I’m a big believer but a lot of what I’ve seen has Mullins in front of him on the depth chart for the opening day CF job in Baltimore.

3:08
Ben Clemens: I like Hays

3:08
Ben Clemens: He kept popping up in my hunt for underrated prospects

3:08
Ben Clemens: He doesn’t have prospect eligiblity, so I didn’t include him, but I think he’s a league average type

3:09
Guest: Soto has played the equivalent of 2 full seasons in LF and has put up a total of (-21.7) Def– from what I can see, he has the most negative Def in LF from 2018-2020, and he’s projected by ZiPS/Steamer to be at (-10) again this year. Is his defense really not that bad, and why?

3:10
Ben Clemens: Basically I just don’t think he’s that bad? OAA thinks he was a total of 2 runs below average from 18-20, for example

3:10
Ben Clemens: I also don’t put a ton of stock into defensive projections without a bigger sample size

3:11
Ben Clemens: It’s certainly possible Soto is bad, but nothing I’ve seen from him makes me think heh’s disastrous

3:12
Ben Clemens: You cited his DEF, but he also has WAY more PT than everyone else, and UZR says he’s 3.8 runs below average per 150 games

3:12
Ben Clemens: that’s the driving thing behind DEF

3:12
Ben Clemens: That’s about the same as Ronald Acuna’s UZR/150 in left

3:12
Ben Clemens: way better than yelich’s

3:13
Ben Clemens: Defensive metrics just kinda suck

3:13
Ben Clemens: :/

3:13
Nick: Maybe the Nationals aren’t particularly worried about defense since their staff strikes so many people out.

3:13
Ben Clemens: That helps too

3:13
Guest: If you’re Shane Bieber, what’s a reasonable contract extension, and is there a chance in hell that your current team gives it to you?

3:13
Ben Clemens: Without thinking at all about part 1, part 2 is an lol nope!

3:13
Sharps: Spirit Island manages to avoid the Quarterbacking issue you mentioned re: coops.

3:13
Ben Clemens: Spirit Island is amazing

3:13
Ben Clemens: I’ve only played once, but I had a blast

3:14
Ben Clemens: It also scales difficulty really well

3:14
Ben Clemens: There are characters with varying complexity

3:14
Ben Clemens: Another gem

3:14
so boo on honesty: Everyone is unexpressly breaking that part of the CBA. So, so freaking what?!?

3:14
Ben Clemens: It’s specifically barred by the CBA, so teams that break it already deserve sanction

3:15
Ben Clemens: I have been very consistent about that, it’s an awful practice that is bad for the sport because it prevents the best players from plyaing

3:15
Ben Clemens: There’s just evidence here

3:15
Chris: The mlbpa put out a statement. Who’d have thought kevin mather would help the labor movement in baseball….

3:15
Guest: How high should I be on Flaherty? ZIPS loves him and he had a single start taint his 2020. There are concerns with the fastball but he’s done well limiting hard contact

3:16
Ben Clemens: I’m high on him as well, not quite to the extent that ZiPS is

3:17
Ben Clemens: He wasn’t even that bad in 2020. 4.11 FIP over 9 starts is a tiny blip

3:17
Guest: Follow up question: should I just ignore “Def” on FG, then? Is it a component of fWAR? Can I trust fWAR? What is real? What is true? What should I use to refute defense-based arguments when I want to fall into that particular rabbit hole instead of doing real work instead?

3:17
Ben Clemens: I’m not saying you should ignore it, but ignoring playing time in additive measures is obviously not gonna work if you’re trying to say who will be the best or worst going forward

3:18
Ben Clemens: Def is a component of WAR, and it’s positional adjustment plus UZR

3:19
Ben Clemens: I’m always skeptical of defensive metrics, and I think that’s a fine way to be. If you had said ‘hey, Soto was a -4 defender in left field over his career, why do we think he should be a positive?’

3:19
Ben Clemens: I’d say, eh, I dunno, that sounds reasonable

3:20
Ben Clemens: If you say ‘he was the worst left fielder in baseball’

3:20
Ben Clemens: Well, I don’t agree

3:20
Ben Clemens: And also the numbers don’t agree

3:20
Nolan: What’s the single biggest hole remaining on a playoff contender?

3:20
Ben Clemens: Shortstop for the Reds

3:20
Childish Bambino: Is service time manipulation banned by the CBA? I didn’t know that. Can you point me to the text of where the CBA says that?Thanks

3:20
Ben Clemens: I don’t have the CBA in front of me, but you can look at the Kris Bryant case

3:21
Ben Clemens: Decisions on promotion can’t take service time into account

3:21
Ben Clemens: That’s why teams assiduously go through the motions of coming up with BS reasons not to promote people

3:21
Ben Clemens: work on their defense, see how they adapt to adversity with x level pitching, etc.

3:21
Kolbe: Not sure if you’ve answered this before, but do you play games on Board Game Arena?

3:22
Ben Clemens: Intermittently?

3:22
Ben Clemens: I did more at the start of the pandemic

3:22
Ben Clemens: I think it’s an awesome platform, though

3:22
so boo on honesty: Fine, Seattle was stupid enough to get caught, so they get sanctioned where everyone else gets away with it. Fine. But how does that make them immoral rather than stupid? Oh yeah wait, they’re CAPITAL! -ists!

3:22
Ben Clemens: Well haha that I agree with

3:22
Ben Clemens: I think ‘Seattle is manipulating playing time, what jerks’ is the wrong takeaway

3:22
Ben Clemens: They all are!

3:22
Ben Clemens: The comibnation of how brazen he was about it and the extensive racism really puts it over the top

3:23
Ben Clemens: But I’m a Cardinals fan, and I didn’t come away from this thinking ‘well the Cardinals don’t do that’

3:23
Ben Clemens: I just thought ‘well they don’t talk about that’

3:23
Appa Yip Yip: If the Jays do trade McGuire what’s a realistic return? PTBNL lotto tickets? Int’l bonus pool money? Catcher is thin and he’s a good defender but the bat, she is light.

3:23
Ben Clemens: I’ve been pondering this one in the background for a bit

3:24
Ben Clemens: I think they could do slightly better than that, an interesting reliever or depth starter, something of that nature

3:24
Ben Clemens: The rewards if you pick McGuire up and he’s good are huge

3:25
Ben Clemens: He’s not particularly likely to hit, but if he hits even a little, like you said, catchers are rare

3:25
Ben Clemens: And he’s only been in the majors for 1 year of service time

3:25
Ben Clemens: Legitimately in his case, not through some weird manipulation

3:25
Gan Luseph: Are you related to Roidger Clemens?

3:26
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure!

3:26
Ben Clemens: My dad claims we’re distantly related to Mark Twain, and I have heard Roger claim that as well

3:26
Ben Clemens: That said, you probably can’t show me someone with the last name of Clemens who doesn’t claim that, so eh

3:26
Ben Clemens: But anyway, not a close relative by any means

3:27
Andoru: Blue Jays lineup is looking fuego but do they have enough pitching to contend for a playoff spot? I’d take like 7 AL rotations over theirs

3:28
Ben Clemens: Bah, it’s gonna be a close one

3:28
Ben Clemens: They do really have a solid bench of arms who are interesting in multiple innings

3:29
Ben Clemens: I think that they’ll make some in-season acquisitions after they see who doesn’t pan out, but that htey’ll make the playoffs

3:29
Gregg: Is JBJr a better fit for Toronto (they wanted to sign Brantley even after Springer, recall) or Houston (they currently have Myles Straw penciled in as a starter, after all)?

3:29
Ben Clemens: Houston, Straw is just not gonna cut it

3:29
Kenji Garcia: Would you choose Corbin Burnes or Casey Mize long term?  Statistically speaking, could they be similar players over their careers?

3:29
Ben Clemens: I would take Burnes and I honestly don’t think it’s close

3:29
Ben Clemens: Mize could be good, no doubt

3:29
Ben Clemens: I think Burnes is quite good right now

3:30
Ben Clemens: He was always a tools guy, and he finally adjusted his pitch mix to maximize his tools

3:30
Ben Clemens: I’ll take the over on his projections this year by a mile

3:30
Ben Clemens: Pre-pitch-mix-change, I think I’d be about even on them

3:30
Ben Clemens: Maybe Mize a little higher

3:31
Ben Clemens: But seeing what Burnes can do when he ditches his four-seamer is amazing

3:31
Tommy Edman leadoff Wizard: Am I ready to leadoff or am I more of a 6-7 hitter?

3:31
Ben Clemens: I have been talking about this with some Cardinals writers off and on of late

3:31
Ben Clemens: I mean, I don’t think Edman is a good leadoff hitter

3:32
Ben Clemens: Of the team’s projected starters, he has the sixth-highest OBP

3:32
Ben Clemens: But it’s not the end of the world if he hits first or sixth, the gap between him and, say, Carlson isn’t high

3:33
Ben Clemens: In terms of what I expect for 2021 OBP, to be clear

3:33
Ben Clemens: Gimme Carlson by a mile longterm

3:33
The Final Boss: A lot of rumblings on 150-170 innings for starters to not overtax them. How does this translate to reliever usage? Will most throw 30-40, or will they be fine returning to 60+? (Understanding all individuals will be different.)

3:34
Ben Clemens: My sense is that relievers will have an easier time adjusting, because there are just fewer raw innings to add

3:34
Sanford: Thanks for chatting, Ben. What was your favorite new bit of information you learned from the prospect week coverage?

3:34
Ben Clemens: Wonderful question

3:34
Ben Clemens: I think I learned the most from Kevin’s article about the types of prospects who lose the most from a missed year of time

3:35
Ben Clemens: I also liked seeing Eric and Kevin’s thought process on Picks to Click

3:35
Ben Clemens: So those are my top 2

3:35
Ben Clemens: I was unreasonably happy about some minimal overlap between my mid-tier arbitrary list and Dan’s ZiPS top 100

3:35
Guest: Good god, the table of UZR/150 for LF from 2018-2020 shows both Schwarber and Ozuna to be positive defenders the past 3 years. I have to stop. I can’t make sense of anything.

3:35
Ben Clemens: Yeah the noise in these things is wild

3:36
Ben Clemens: Schwarber’s comes down to the fact that he had about 8 trillion outfield assists in 18

3:36
Ben Clemens: More specifically, it thought his arm was worth 8 runs above average that year, good god

3:37
Ben Clemens: Ozuna is really baffling to me. He consistently grades out decently in the outfield but if you watch him it’s just not that

3:37
Ben Clemens: I think a little bit of that is that he looks slower than he is

3:38
Ben Clemens: He’s been above average in terms of top speed every year in the majors, but he certainly doens’t look it

3:38
Ben Clemens: And he has very quick reactions, above average every year per Statcast

3:38
Ben Clemens: So that makes up for his general plodding and awkwardness

3:38
Ben Clemens: That said, the arm is really bad, and I don’t know if he’s fixed that

3:38
Appa Yip Yip: Ozuna also fell off the wall that one time and that just colours everything he does out there.

3:38
Derek: Ozuna did give us the greatest outfield highlight of all time though, when he thought he was Spiderman but in fact did not need to be Spiderman

3:39
Ben Clemens: Savant briefly had their ‘page not found’ show a gif of that catch

3:39
brad penny for your thoughts:

3:39
Ben Clemens: thank you

3:39
Joey Belle: Is Karinchak locked into closing for Cleveland until he loses it or will there be a real competition for the spot with Emmanuel Clase?

3:40
Ben Clemens: I don’t think there will be a real competition for closer, because Francona has been happy to have one nominal closer, then use another good reliever like Andrew Miller

3:40
Ben Clemens: So for fantasy, my money is on Karinchak getting the saves

3:40
Appa Yip Yip: Minor League defensive stats are even wilder. Vlad Jr was +8 fielding runs above average at third one year.

3:40
Ben Clemens: Dan has done some interesting work on trying to make minor league fielding data better using stringer data but it was inconclusive to say the least

3:41
Carlos Marcano: Who is the most overrated fantasy option and why is Adalberto Mondesí?

3:41
Ben Clemens: See I think it’s Javy Baez, but Mondesi is a great one

3:41
Ben Clemens: People just love steals, man

3:42
Carlos Marcano: Haven’t thought about Javy… And now will not be able to stop thinking about him being overrated too

3:42
Ben Clemens: I kept him on my Ottoneu team

3:42
Ben Clemens: Having regrets about it now lol

3:42
Andoru: Who would you pick as a surprise contender in each league?

3:42
Ben Clemens: I’m gonna say the Reds and the Red Sox

3:42
Ben Clemens: Are those surprises?

3:42
Ben Clemens: If not, I’ll try to go deeper. Next cut is the Giants and the Royals

3:43
Jake: Will free agents be less willing to sign with the M’s moving forward?

3:43
Ben Clemens: Eh, international free agents maybe

3:43
Ben Clemens: Their money spends as well as anyone else’s

3:43
Ben Clemens: Better, USD-for-CAD, than the Jays’ even

3:44
Ben Clemens: And again, every team is doing this stuff

3:44
Ben Clemens: The Mariners just got caught

3:44
Sharps: Board Game Arena is in hot water due to its sale to Asmodee…venture capitalism has been doing damage to the board game scene lately

3:44
Ben Clemens: Oya boya

3:44
Ben Clemens: You hate to see it

3:44
sam: any Carlson player comps for the coming years?

3:44
Ben Clemens: Hm. I hadn’t thought about it too much, honestly

3:45
Ben Clemens: The switch hitting is really throwing me

3:45
Ben Clemens: I have such a hard time comping switch hitters in general

3:46
Craig Grebeck: The White have a lot of options for starters this spring.  Who do you see locking up the most starts for the team throughout the year?

3:46
Ben Clemens: Giolito I guess?

3:47
Ben Clemens: But if we aren’t counting him, probably Lynn

3:47
Ben Clemens: He’s just a workhorse

3:47
Ben Clemens: Fifth starter is gonna be interesting, I’m not all that in on Cease, but it’s not like they have anyone else that interesting behind him

3:47
Ben Clemens: Gosh I guess Cease projects as their fourth starter, but for me that’s Kopech

3:48
Ben Clemens: Alright, on that note, I’m gonna call it a day here. Sorry I didn’t get to everyone’s questions, and honestly I think today’s were the most thought-provoking of the offseason overall

3:48
Ben Clemens: So good work everyone!

3:48
Ben Clemens: I’ll be back next week to talk about more recipes presumably (the less baseball content, the more food content)

3:48
Ben Clemens: Have a great day everyone, and be safe.





Ben is a contributor to FanGraphs. A lifelong Cardinals fan, he got his start writing for Viva El Birdos. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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bosoxforlife
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bosoxforlife

It was a pleasure seeing Ben chop defensive metrics into the worthless gibberish that they are.