Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 2/24/2020

2:00

Ben Clemens: Hey everyone, welcome to the chat. Ruby, my puppy, is a little sick today, so if I disappear for a second here or there I’m taking care of her. But she should be mostly okay — just ate some stuff she shouldn’t have and has an upset stomach.

2:00

Ben Clemens: Let’s start things up.

2:00

Domingo: Do you ever worry that Fangraphs is getting more and more focused on goofy articles and titles over quality content?

2:01

Ben Clemens: Not at all. I mean, we used to run NotGraphs! I think it’s great that FG produces enough content that there’s space for the ridiculous amount of prospect writing and also, let’s say, Justin Klugh on rebellion making baseball cool, to pick an example from the front page.

2:02

Ben Clemens: If one were infringing upon the other, I could see people being annoyed by that, but FG is a place for great baseball writing and I don’t want to only read xwOBA-based breakdowns all day forever.

2:02

Ben Clemens: Not that I don’t like reading those too! Heck, I write a lot of them.

2:02

brad: Ben, could Houck and Burnes crack the season in the Red Sox and brewers rotations?

2:03

Ben Clemens: Burnes definitely could, because figuring out that Milwaukee rotation is difficult. As to Houck, I haven’t read a lot of Red Sox beat reporting so far but sure, they have two starters, and one looks like Paul Sporer right now.

2:03

Buscon Bob: Did someone put a curse on Chris Sale? He looks like he’s an extra from Breaking Bad…

2:04

Ben Clemens: Yeah uh, yikes. I am hopeful that the pictures were just at a weird angle but he looked gaunt.

2:04

John S.: How does the 3-batter rule for relief pitchers affect the value of Left-handed batters?

2:05

Ben Clemens: It’s a small boost. It’s not enormous, because teams still have lefties that can get both sides of batters out and will use them more specifically against lefties.

2:05

Ben Clemens: I was doing some research on this and then decided I’d just let the season start and see, because it’s really hard to predict how teams will cope until I see at least a bit of data.

2:06

Sirras: As we enter Spring Training, what baseball-related thing are you most excited to see (other than baseball games being played)?

2:06

Ben Clemens: I don’t know if this counts, but I haven’t had soft serve out of a helmet in years.

2:06

Ben Clemens: Probably almost a decade.

2:06

Ben Clemens: And I’m 100% getting some when I go to Spring Training.

2:07

Puppy Details: Poor little Ruby!  What kind of puppy is she?

2:07

Ben Clemens: She is a retriever/pit mix of some type. We are suckers and got a DNA test (she’s a shelter dog), and it said 50/50 American Bully (rich people pit bull) and Golden.

2:07

Ben Clemens: But I mean, that’s a weird combo.

2:07

Ben Clemens: So I’m willing to believe it was wrong.

2:08

Pumpsie Green: Is Joc Pederson a bona fide, full-time CF? Or is he better in a corner platoon?

2:09

Ben Clemens: I think he could absolutely handle a full-time role. Now, I’m not sure if it’s center, because I don’t think he’s THAT great of a fielder.

2:10

Ben Clemens: And his platoon splits are terrifying — he’s been literally 44% better against righties than lefties in his career, over a not terribly insignificant sample.

2:10

Ben Clemens: But being the big side of a platoon and being a full-timer aren’t hugely different. You could target his rest days for when lefties are going. And he can absolutely mash.

2:10

Ben Clemens: His biggest problem seems to be that the Dodgers just have too many options.

2:11

HeyNowYoureanAllStar: Oh man, we just had to put down our 16-yo pup this year. Her name was Ruby 🙁   She had a good life.

2:11

Ben Clemens: 🙁 I’m really sorry to hear that

2:11

Ben Clemens: But dogs DO have a great life

2:11

Ben Clemens: My wife got me one of those daily calendars this year for Christmas, the kind I haven’t used in ten years.

2:11

Ben Clemens: But it’s a Thoughts of Dog one, and it’s just great. Makes me think about how fun it’d be to just lie around and eat and bark and play all day.

2:12

Gerig: Are there any areas in the FG projected standings where you disagree?

2:12

Ben Clemens: Not particularly, no. I think that the standings are maybe a bit too high on the Brewers, who I’m not enamored with, and too low on the Diamondbacks.

2:12

Ben Clemens: But this is small stuff.

2:12

brad: Ben, can you put to rest this nonsense about a fight for 1B job on Yankees, it is clearly Voit, before the injury he was a top 5 1B with good defense, no shot Andujar or Ford take the job from him unless he gets hurt again….

2:13

Ben Clemens: So, I’m gonna leave defense aside, because I honestly have no clue there.

2:13

Ben Clemens: I’m a Voit skeptic. I could absolutely be wrong, and projection systems are really divided as well: ZiPS has him at a 123 wRC+ while Steamer has him at 108, which is a pretty large gap

2:14

Ben Clemens: I’m very high on Ford.

2:14

Ben Clemens: And amusingly ZiPS and Steamer both have him right around the average of Voit’s two projections.

2:15

Ben Clemens: I think Voit will start the season as their first baseman. But I don’t think he’s anything close to a lock to keep the job.

2:15

Ben Clemens: Quick round of board game questions:

2:15

Sirras: Have you played Into The Breach? Great turn based strategy for multiple systems

2:15

Ben Clemens: I haven’t, but I opened it up in a tab to read about after this. Big fan of turn-based things ever since FF Tactics

2:16

Sirras: I’ve heard Wingspan is both fun and hilariously specific with bird info. Have you tried that one?

2:16

Ben Clemens: Haven’t played it but it’s on my board game group’s list. It is very well regarded and birds are cool!

2:16

Sirras: Any new board games to recommend? Tried Terraforming Mars and Villainous in the last week – TM was very fun (long but worth it). Villainous less so but it’s aimed at kiddos

2:16

Ben Clemens: My wife and I are playing through Aeon’s End Legacy right now and really enjoying it. We like asymmetrical co-op games, though, so it hit exactly the right spot.

2:17

Ben Clemens: Okay, back to baseball.

2:17

Steve: The Dozier signing reminds me of the Kinsler signing except Dozier is younger, better and cheaper.  Do you like the low-risk flyer?

2:17

Ben Clemens: Yeah, I love it. I liked Rian Watt’s take on it:

2:18

Ben Clemens: Which is basically ‘yeah, why not! seems like value’

2:18

Casualballer: The title from your article rosy about leverage was referencing the TV show? Massive fan.

2:18

Ben Clemens: Yeah. Really wish there were more seasons of it. I’ve rewatched it at least once, it’s a very enjoyable watch.

2:19

Ben Clemens: There’s a very long question in the queue about stripping the Astros of a championship

2:19

Ben Clemens: That rather than paste into here, I’ll just roughly paraphrase.

2:19

Ben Clemens: Why do baseball writers seem to be against stripping the title while more fans are for it?

2:19

Ben Clemens: I have a hard time thinking about baseball writers as a monolith, so I can only answer for myself.

2:20

Ben Clemens: I’m pretty indifferent to stripping the title

2:20

Ben Clemens: It stings the Astros a bit, theoretically: they can’t hang a banner, and so on.

2:20

Ben Clemens: It matters essentially not at all to the teams they beat.

2:20

Ben Clemens: As Justin Turner eloquently said, he wants the big hits and the parade, not a piece of paper somewhere saying they won.

2:21

Ben Clemens: And it matters to history inasmuch as we value the achievement differently.

2:21

Ben Clemens: I’d argue that the scope of this scandal is such that no one is going to be reading the title as clean, regardless of whether it’s stripped.

2:21

Ben Clemens: There hasn’t been a bigger team-specific scandal in baseball in my lifetime.

2:22

Ben Clemens: So if the title were stripped, it’d inconvenience the Astros when it comes to marketing, I guess.

2:22

Ben Clemens: Still, I don’t think they’re planning any team reunions for this team.

2:23

Ben Clemens: I’m essentially indifferent. I find the whole concept of vacating wins in the NCAA silly, and this is similar.

2:24

Ben Clemens: But if people want to do it, fine. It won’t change my opinion of the Astros either way — I think they cheated to win, and very clearly crossed the line in doing so, and that you can’t look at those teams and know they “should” have won the title. Doesn’t mean they would definitely have lost, but you can’t know what the outcome would have been.

2:24

DonJulio: Trevor Bauer said 70% of pitchers are doctoring the ball. Thoughts?

2:24

Ben Clemens: Mine at 70.

2:24

Ben Clemens: And I don’t think batters really care?

2:24

Ben Clemens: There are issues with being obvious. But if you’re going out there with some extra sunscreen on your arm to keep your fingers grippy so that you don’t lose control and whip one into their back, fair play.

2:25

Ben Clemens: Look at pitchers’ hats and tell me they’re not covered in foreign substances.

2:25

Ben Clemens: There are limits to it, but I’m pretty much okay with it.

2:25

Matt: What is Boston’s plan, I heard all offseason about getting under the luxury tax and getting rid of Betts, but that was were the conversation ended. What are they planning?

2:26

Ben Clemens: They’re going a little underpants gnomes here, except without the missing step 2. Step One: Spend Less. Step Two: Profit(s increase)

2:26

Ben Clemens: That John Henry letter was like ‘there are costs to losing a superstar in free agency, like you don’t get to find cost-controlled players that make our team cheaper’

2:26

Ben Clemens: Sounds about right!

2:27

Guest: Choice between Jasson Dominguez and CJ Abrams in dynasty league….which way would you lean???

2:28

Ben Clemens: So, Im not against fantasy questions, but this one might be a little too far afield for me. Dominguez has for real no statistics anywhere.

2:28

Ben Clemens: And I feel a little lost from an analysis standpoint without that.

2:29

Ben Clemens: So yeah, I don’t know, flip a coin? I don’t know how to value Dominguez at all, and Abrams is also hilariously far away. I guess I’d lean Abrams but I can’t give you a good reaosn why.

2:29

DonJulio: Why doesn’t MLB announce PED-like suspensions for cheating? Don’t we need some deterrent for this type of thing?

2:29

Ben Clemens: Not allowed by the CBA.

2:30

Ben Clemens: It will almost certainly be a point of contention in the next CBA negotiations. But I’m not actually clear on what the players want.

2:30

Ben Clemens: Or should want

2:30

Ben Clemens: It’s a be careful what you wish for kinda thing.

2:31

Ben Clemens: Like, giving more power to ownership to prevent players from being paid….. maybe think a little on that one before ceding it.

2:31

Cito’s Mustache: I just noticed that StatCorner.com no longer exists 🙁 Do you have a good source for minor league park factors?

2:31

Ben Clemens: I don’t. I hack my own up from time to time, and if I’m not feeling adventurous I’ll just look up old ones online, but yeah, it’d be a nice service.

2:31

Ben Clemens: Not one I’m volunteering to provide yet!

2:31

Ben Clemens: But a nice service.

2:32

Greg: “Mine at 70″… I don’t think I’m familiar with your bio, am I correct in guessing that there’s some trading on your resume?

2:32

Ben Clemens: Haha yeah, I guess it says a lot that I didn’t even think that was a weird/jargon-y thing to say. Spent ~6 years in interest rate trading and another 4 or so as a PM.

2:32

Robbie: Will Ketel Marte get any 2nd place MVP votes this year? Or is he just gonna sweep the 1st place votes?

2:34

Ben Clemens: I’m curious to see what becomes of Marte this year. I have a hard time seeing him post a .264 ISO again, because it just came so out of nowhere, but he merits a deeper dive. If he’s 2019 Ketel Marte again he should absolutely be a legit MVP contender. You’re not going to have a Bellinger/Yelich situation every year

2:34

Daniel Coggins: What do the Red Sox need to have happen to contend for at least the AL Wild Card? A Darwinzon Hernandez breakout? A surge in Chavis’ sophomore season?

2:35

Ben Clemens: They just need some pitching. Someone was asking about McHugh, and he’d make sense there. Hernandez being good would help, good Sale would help, Martin Perez feeling locked in with his cutter would help.

2:36

Ben Clemens: But I don’t think they really need *that* much to break right. Playing the Jays and Orioles is nice, and the AL still having a lot of teams that aren’t really trying helps too. Our playoff odds have them nearly 50% to make the playoffs without Price and Betts, which is saying something.

2:38

Robin Yount: By the end of the year, Keston Hiura is a top ___ 2B?

2:38

Ben Clemens: Hm. I’m going to assume this is for fantasy purposes, because that’s where tiers are more useful. But I suppose I can answer both.

2:39

Ben Clemens: I’d say he’s top 15 right now; potentially top 10

2:40

Ben Clemens: There are a lot of multi-position types who muck up the scales; I’d take Muncy over him, for example

2:40

Ben Clemens: And Moncada, who we have in our projections in the 2B list even though he’ll be third mianly.

2:41

Ben Clemens: Gleyber similar

2:41

Ben Clemens: I don’t think Hiura will quite maintain the pop that he showed in 2019

2:41

Ben Clemens: 38 HR across two levels

2:42

Ben Clemens: And if that comes off a little, I think that hurts for someone who is fringey defensively (in the real world ratings)

2:42

Ben Clemens: So I’ll say top 15 end of season real-world, top 10 fantasy

2:42

Mac: Has anyone taken the time to figure out the conversion factor of Statcast OAA to runs so that it can be compared to UZR and DRS?

2:42

Ben Clemens: It’s not all that far from 1:1

2:42

Ben Clemens: I don’t remember offhand but I did some math on it for my piece on Fernando Tatis

2:43

Ben Clemens: And it was in the .9 area I think?

2:43

Ben Clemens: The error bars on defensive statistics are such that you won’t go terribly wrong assuming 1:1.

2:43

BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: Top 5 baseball players to make a biopic about.  Go.

2:43

Ben Clemens: Ooh

2:43

Ben Clemens: Your namesake is 100% one. I’d love to see a Barry Bonds story if we could get any kind of transparency on BALCO

2:44

Ben Clemens: I’d love to watch a biopic about Puig. His story is so dramatic

2:44

Ben Clemens: And he’s also a ton of fun

2:45

Ben Clemens: I think a rich hill biopic would be great

2:45

Ben Clemens: Because seeing the struggle before the success would be very cool

2:46

Ben Clemens: I’d absolutely love a Juan Marichal biopic (which potentially already exists) because I’m of the wrong age to remember him from childhood and my dad was a huge fan

2:46

Ben Clemens: And Ozzie Smith because he’s my favorite player eve.

2:46

Ben Clemens: ever*

2:46

Honeynut Berrios: A Josh Hamilton biopic would be such a downer

2:46

Greg: Damn, accidentally hit return. I was going to say that the Marty Bergen story, as crazy as it is, has always interested me

2:47

Ben Clemens: Many options. I personally wouldn’t be into the Hamilton one, but I don’t love sad movies generally.

2:47

Hank: Who could/would use Dominic Smith the most?

2:47

Ben Clemens: Rockies!

2:47

Ben Clemens: They badly need a first baseman and I think they’d actually play him.

2:48

Ben Clemens: Padres and Angels need a first baseman but wouldn’t play him

2:48

Modern Sport Fan: Does Jim Crane, famously innocent, have to return any of that deep playoff revenue the Astros made or is the scandal just using US sanctimony to go after player salaries?

2:48

Ben Clemens: So to be clear, no player salaries have been impacted.

2:48

Ben Clemens: And I think it’s good that it stays that way

2:49

Ben Clemens: In theory the fine and draft pick penalties should compensate for the playoff revenue. Using Craig Edwards’s fine calculations of pick value, it’s like $40 something milion for the whole package.

2:49

Ben Clemens: But I would have fined him more

2:49

Ben Clemens: I know it’s against the bylaws to fine more than $5 million.

2:49

Ben Clemens: So levy 5 $5 million fines

2:50

Ben Clemens: $5 million for failure to supervise, $5 million for unapproved use of electronics, $5 million for not sending the anti-sign-stealing memo to players

2:50

Ben Clemens: You get the idea

2:50

Ben Clemens: I have literally no clue if that’s allowable in the bylaws

2:50

Ben Clemens: But I think Manfred should have tried to test it

2:50

Modern Sport Fan: Yet! These guys are going to feel it in FA, just like Yu Darvish and others did on the losing side

2:51

Ben Clemens: And eh, I’m not hugely sympathetic to this idea. If your argument is that they’ll be unfairly docked, then it’s an issue if the money doesn’t go anywhere else. But honestly, it’s not crazy to downgrade your assessment of an Astro hitter a bit. I’m not exactly sure that’s an unwarranted punishment…

2:51

Leland: Do you see any of the Giants outfielders sticking around into their next good team? The list includes Yaz, Dickerson, Jaylin Davis, Steven Duggar.

2:52

Ben Clemens: Love Duggar (and not just b/c I saw him hit a bomb off of I think Justus Sheffield in fall league)

2:52

Ben Clemens: I think he’s pretty unlikely to work out but that they might as well try.

2:53

Ben Clemens: Skeptical on Yaz and Dickerson due to age

2:53

Ben Clemens: And Davis due to not relaly liking the profile

2:53

devin has cheeto lips: BC, can you name 3 set up men that will end the year as closers for their teams?

2:53

Ben Clemens: Hm

2:54

Ben Clemens: Whoever the Jays’ number two is — our charts say Anthony Bass?

2:54

Ben Clemens: And what the heck why not

2:55

Ben Clemens: John Brebbia, b/c he’s a player crush of mine and the Cards have a very unsettled situation

2:55

Ben Clemens: Yikes, I need one more

2:55

Ben Clemens: This is tough

2:56

Ben Clemens: Okay, Will Smith

2:56

Ben Clemens: I would like to see Melancon and Smith keep going to new teams and having Smith steal Melancon’s job

2:56

Ben Clemens: Traveling show!

2:56

Ben Clemens: Smith could take out a giant straw and say “I drink your milkshake” to Melancon dramatically every year.

2:57

99: Is Bummer the closer by the end of the season?

2:57

Ben Clemens: Considered this one, but I think they’re probably fine with Colome there. I love Bummer’s stuff, though, but he might be better suited staying in his current role.

2:57

Them: Pessimistic Mets fans might throw Lugo into that mix…

2:58

Ben Clemens: I watched Mets-Cards yesterday

2:58

Ben Clemens: Well, part of it.

2:58

Ben Clemens: Because I wanted to see Dylan Carlson

2:58

Ben Clemens: And Gary Cohen described Andrew Miller as playing a ‘Seth Lugo-type role’ when he was at his best.

2:58

Ben Clemens: And I laughed!

2:58

Ben Clemens: And laughed!

2:58

Ben Clemens: But the point is Lugo can go a few innings, which is sweet.

2:58

Gerig: Just wanted to confirm that Into the Breach is a great game and will eat up your time

2:59

Ben Clemens: I’ve been playing a lot of Slay the Spire recently, so my team is being really efficiently drained as it is.

2:59

Dan: I like speculative articles and what if. The obscure stats I think hold the store together but are that last articles I read.

2:59

Ben Clemens: Good for me then! I think I’m probably the person who goes extreme theoretical what-if the most here.

3:00

Ben Clemens: I’ve always loved Russell Carleton’s work, and I think that some of my favorite parts of baseball are thinking through hypotheticals.

3:00

Ben Clemens: So I’m glad people like it.

3:00

Fatt Matt: Do you and your wife only play board games, or do you play card games too?  My wife and I were trying to come up with something to kill time instead of TV this winter and got a ping pong table.  Great purchase

3:00

Ben Clemens: Ooh quick game digression again.

3:00

Ben Clemens: Let’s see

3:00

Ben Clemens: We mainly play board games when it comes to games we play together

3:00

Ben Clemens: I like the occasional video game

3:01

Ben Clemens: And recently after a hiatus I’ve gotten back into the occasional night of plyaing Magic (cards). There’s a group here in SF that meets once a week to draft which is really fun, and it’s a good way to make friends.

3:01

Ben Clemens: We also have been taking tennis lessons, and have gotten to the point where we can actually play against each other and rally a bit without looking silly.

3:01

Ben Clemens: Oh and we do crosswords!

3:01

Ben Clemens: Like every NY times one plus we’re slowly working through the archives.

3:01

Ben Clemens: I like puzzles and games is what I’m saying.

3:02

Derek: What other MLB players moonlight in other careers under an assumed name besides Mason Saunders-I-mean-Madison Bumgarner?

3:02

Ben Clemens: Jason Wojchiekowski (look I don’t know if I spelled his name right, it’s a chat)

3:02

Ben Clemens: points out that there’s a top-ranked rodeo dude named Cole Melancon

3:02

Ben Clemens: And the only question there is whether it’s Gerrit Cole or Mark Melancon

3:03

Ben Clemens: I really hope that it turns out Ichiro was crushing the Florida bocce ball leagues the whole time he was with the Marlins.

3:03

Ben Clemens: Seems like the kind of guy where you’d just hear ‘oh he’s the best darts player of all time’ or whatever and think yeah okay sure.

3:03

Yo-Yo: Arenado to STL for Gorman, Hudson, and Liberatore. COL pays down a few million per year. Is that stupid or close to feasibility?

3:04

Ben Clemens: I think this would be a huge overpay by the Cardinals. Knock off Gorman and then that seems reasonable? Two top 100 guys and a league average starter? That’s a ton even assuming the opt out is dealt with.

3:04

Other careers: Cashman bartended for a gimmick.  Betts obviously bowls.

3:04

Darragh: Mookie Betts could apparently be a professional bowler if he weren’t wasting his time and talent on baseball.

3:05

Ben Clemens: Yeah the assumed name part kept me from answering Mookie, becaues it’s no secret that he bowls.

3:05

Ben Clemens: But to be clear, he could probably do a lot of things under an assumed name and be great.

3:05

Walt: Power Grid. Great board game or greatest board game?

3:06

Ben Clemens: I am a big fan of auctions. Also a big fan of game theory in general. And while I think Power Grid is super fun, I do think it can get bogged down sometimes. It is *heavy*. I like it but it’s kind of a rare treat, not a game you sohuld play frequently, I don’t think.

3:06

Yo-Yo: Do you think the Cards win fewer than 80 games? ZiPS and PECOTA have them around 80, but that’s with a healthy Mikolas, which is a huge question mark now. On the other hand, perhaps the projection systems are low on a few guys. What do you think?

3:06

Ben Clemens: I think the system is a bit lower on them than I would be but not by a ton. NL Central is just going to be really congested

3:07

Ben Clemens: They have enough better-than-replacement pitching depth that the Mikolas injury won’t crush them. But it does mean the inevitable next injury will hurt more.

3:07

Modern Sport Fan: Yu Darvish should hit 2500+ innings between the NPB and MLB with a sub-3 ERA and RA9. Does anyone notice or care?

3:07

Ben Clemens: They should! Darvish is awesome

3:08

Ben Clemens: I think he’s been less appreciated than he deserves over his career because his run prevention hasn’t quite stacked up to his strikeout and walk numbers

3:09

Ben Clemens: But he’s so fun to watch, he’s a great personality, and he’s a top tier major league pitcher

3:09

Ben Clemens: I have tried to catch most Darvish starts since I started writing full-time.

3:09

devin has cheeto lips: Liverpool v. West Ham on now…who you got?

3:09

Ben Clemens: Hammers!

3:09

Ben Clemens: I lived in Canary Wharf for a summer of training after college and started following them

3:10

Ben Clemens: Because you could go to a game without it being Chelsea levels of stupidly expensive

3:10

Ben Clemens: I am very much a casual soccer fan, and it still throws me that they and Aston Villa have the same colors

3:10

Ben Clemens: But I have a jersey, so count me in

3:10

Greg: When my wife and I were trading it used to drive us both nuts when her young nieces would beat us at “Pit” 😉

3:10

Ben Clemens: My family used to play Pit almost every year at Christmas because my stepdad loves it.

3:10

Ben Clemens: Ton of fun.

3:11

Ben Clemens: Pit and Acquire are two games that have really stood the test of time.

3:11

Sandy Alcantara: How will I be this year? Will my season be more like my first or second half of last year?

3:12

Ben Clemens: Were his halves all that different?

3:12

Ben Clemens: I guess he struck out more batters in the second half

3:13

Ben Clemens: Gave up more dingers, on a few more fly balls.

3:13

Ben Clemens: I dunno. I liked Michael Augustine’s writeup of him, which is neither here nor there

3:13

Ben Clemens: But can’t miss a chance to shamelessly promote FG

3:13

Drunk Vince Coleman: Did you see KK Kim’s slow curve in action the other day? His stuff is really fun. Hope he wields it effectively!

3:13

Ben Clemens: Yeah uh… I’m not convinced that pitch is any good.

3:14

Ben Clemens: I tuned into his inning a few days ago

3:14

Ben Clemens: Innings? I can’t remember offhand

3:14

Ben Clemens: Fastball looked livelier than I expected, slider was nasty, and the curveball looked just like a lollipop

3:15

Greg: Puzzles… do you KenKen then? When I was living in NYC I always wanted to attend the “championships” and figure out just how good (or bad) I was 😉

3:15

Ben Clemens: I did for a bit but I have stopped. It’s fun, more fun to me than sudoku, but I dunno, I just found other stuff to occupy my time.

3:15

BrandonLoweGotPop: How often do you find yourself looking at Mike Trouts stat page? I feel like I do every time I come here. Do you still just look at it in amazement, or are you desensitized from looking at numbers constantly?

3:15

Ben Clemens: I do a lot, but for a slightly different reason. I love doing absurd hypothetical articles (what if the astros never swung at breaking balls outside the zone, etc)

3:16

Ben Clemens: And Trout is a great vessel for absurd hypotheticals

3:16

Ben Clemens: And also a good signpost

3:16

Ben Clemens: So I use him as a benchmark when I’m creating players whole cloth, and then I also enjoy messing around with HIS stats

3:16

Ben Clemens: A moment, please. Ruby wants to go outside for a bit.

3:18

Soroka or Lamet?: Who would you rather have?

3:18

Ben Clemens: We’re back!

3:18

Ben Clemens: And Soroka

3:19

Ben Clemens: I like Lamet quite a bit but I think Soroka’s command and stuff combine to make a very high-floor pitcher

3:19

Ben Clemens: And I don’t really trust Lamet’s breaking ball as much as I should given how good it’s been.

3:20

Ben Clemens: Something just seems a little weird about it to me.

3:21

devin has cheeto lips: What do you make of Mountcastle?  Can he force his way into a position with his bat and the liklihood of that happening?

3:21

Ben Clemens: Ugh, so working out what these value-minded front offices with terrible teams will do with PT is tough

3:21

Ben Clemens: Will they try to squeeze more future eligibility and therefore value out of keeping him in the minors even if he rakes?

3:21

Ben Clemens: I haven’t read anything specific about their handling of him yet.

3:22

Ben Clemens: The old Astros playbook, though, was to use the majors for more castoff types and keep the primo pieces int he minors when possible.

3:22

Ben Clemens: At 23, I kind of think they’ll go this route? But I have very low confidence in my call here.

3:23

Ben Clemens: I’m basing it on the way the Astros behaved with Mejdal, but we don’t know if it was his call and we don’t know if his views have changed.

3:23

Kurupt FM: Did Joey Gallo unlock something last year or will he fall back into his previous norms this upcoming season?

3:23

Ben Clemens: I’m all in on Gallo. I think the plate discipline changes were a really big deal

3:24

Ben Clemens: That’s a cheesy title, but I really think he found a way to make his particular style work better

3:25

Ben Clemens: Within the confines of the game — you can’t just totally stop picking the wrong pitch to swing at, but I think his new approach maximizes his skills really well.

3:25

Dave: I understand why the commissioner couldn’t punish the Astros players directly but could he have imposed something like a 2 year ban on post-season appearances on the team? That would have been a clear signal to prevent teams from trying something similar.  Could he then block trades of some of the offenders (best interest of baseball)?

3:26

Ben Clemens: I actually don’t know

3:26

Ben Clemens: I’d find that reallllly weird

3:26

Ben Clemens: Postseason ban? It would create really bizarre incentives

3:26

Ben Clemens: But maybe?

3:27

Joseph: What’s your feel for Brandon Marsh in LA?

3:28

Ben Clemens: I don’t think he’s really a this-year concern, but having him 36th in our top 100 should tell you what we think.

3:28

Ben Clemens: Do find it funny that he’s projected as a center fielder, b/c i mean

3:28

Kurupt FM: Is there a player that from afar you’re a fan of, statistics wise or just theoretically, but don’t actually enjoy watching play baseball?

3:28

Ben Clemens: Anthony Rizzo, easy

3:28

Ben Clemens: Ugh, when I’m watching him I just get so annoyed

3:28

Ben Clemens: His stance is angle shooting

3:29

Ben Clemens: He’s relying on the kindness of umpires and strangers to protect him

3:29

Ben Clemens: But then I love the fact that we have a guy who derives so much value from HBP

3:29

Derek: I was just looking at MVP betting odds… Trout is +150 followed by Judge/Bregman/Lindor at +1200. That’s… Insane. But also probably close to accurate!

3:29

Ben Clemens: I was half-considering writing an AL MVP contenders article

3:29

Ben Clemens: We’ve got a lot of space to fill in the offseason!

3:30

Ben Clemens: And then I ran into the same problem.

3:30

Ben Clemens: Trout is really good!

3:30

Ben Clemens: And the second tier is just so clearly second tier.

3:30

Ben Clemens: Alright everyone, I need to head out in around five minutes, calling it a short one today.

3:30

Ben Clemens: So I’ll try to answer a few quetsions quickly lightning round style before I head out.

3:30

Tony Disco: I (aka Anthony DeSclafani) have apparently spent the offseason tweaking my delivery.  How do you feel about me?

3:31

Ben Clemens: Fine, I suppose? Let’s see if the new velo from last year holds up

3:31

Ben Clemens: That was a big improvement, and he had great run prevention and even K numbers last year

3:32

Ben Clemens: Long overdue for a top prospect type

3:32

Ben Clemens: And I mean, he already looked different last year, so presumably he’s just tweaking the already new one?

3:32

Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Moe Berg biopic!

3:32

BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: You didn’t mention Satchel Paige or Rube Waddell, so you’re wrong.   (nah, good answers)

3:32

Ben Clemens: More good options!

3:32

Ben Clemens: I’d love a Satchel Paige one.

3:32

Dave: Voting for Sanders?

3:32

Ben Clemens: I think Reggie Sanders falls pretty clearly short of Hall of Fame consideration.

3:33

Johnny5Alive: you gotta play skittles the game – no real strategy but i promise its a lot of fun

3:33

Ben Clemens: Adding it to the list.

3:33

DH: What kind of impact do you see Spencer Howard having this year?

3:33

Ben Clemens: Eric’s Phillies writeup has me very interested.

3:33

Ben Clemens: I already knew he was a dude but that writeup, man, I’m excited

3:33

Ben Clemens: I’m now rooting for him to make the big league team this year

3:34

Mike Ford: How many at bats do I get this year? 350?

3:34

Ben Clemens: Sadly I’ll take the under, though you deserve the over.

3:34

Nolan: Im an Astros fan and I think this is how to fix the issue.  Trade Altuve, Bregman, Yuli, Reddick and Springer.  The Astros are able to move on as an organization, MLB is able to move on.  Also, as a fan, its tough to root for those guys anymore.

3:34

Ben Clemens: I mean…. it’s fraught. How do other teams value them now? And also, Jim Crane doesn’t seem to care at all

3:34

Ben Clemens: About this whole thing

3:34

Ben Clemens: So why would he?

3:35

Ben Clemens: The whole ‘if they cheated, it’s not even clear if that cheating would have changed the outcomes if they even cheated’

3:35

Ben Clemens: like bro

3:35

Ben Clemens: That’s why I wish they’d fined him more.

3:35

Ben Clemens: That’s how you talk to people in a way that makes them listen.

3:35

Ben Clemens: Find what’s important to them.

3:35

Ben Clemens: It’s certainly not PR with Crane.

3:35

When a competition becomes a job: You did bring up an interesting point I didn’t think of.  Thank you for that.  I wonder what the 10-year reunion of the championship squad would be like.  What the 25-year celebration would be like…

3:35

Ben Clemens: hat tip to Sam Miller, who mentioned this on Effectively Wild.

3:36

Ben Clemens: With that, I’ve gotta go. Ruby is begging pretty insistently for some boiled chicken and white rice, so to the stovetop!

3:36

Ben Clemens: Thanks for hanging out with me today everyone.

We hoped you liked reading Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 2/24/2020 by Ben Clemens!

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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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George
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George

There is a Moe Berg film, btw, “The Catcher Was a Spy,” even if it got mediocre reviews (a 49 on Metacritic). Stars Paul Rudd (!) and came out in 2018.