Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 4/8/24

2:01
Ben Clemens: Hey everybody, welcome to the chat

2:01
Ben Clemens: Let’s get started right away

2:01
RAGBRAI: How rare will no hitters become with the shortened starts that starters are doing? Would you say as rare as a solar eclipse?

2:02
Ben Clemens: Definitely not as rare as total solar eclipses

2:03
Ben Clemens: particularly if you’re talking about ones that can be seen by a reasonable number of people

2:03
Shota Imanaga: I’ve looked good through a couple of starts, looking dominant against the Rockies and solid against the Dodgers with promising CSW numbers and 0 walks to date. However, my GB/FB ratio is extreme, and maybe the cold weather at Wrigley has helped me. Do we think I can miss enough bats/limit free passes enough going forward to negate some of my flyball tendencies?

2:03
Ben Clemens: I mean, this has always been the question, right?

2:03
Ben Clemens: Imanaga has always given up a lot of homers

2:04
Ben Clemens: I do think that Wrigley helped him, probably by a huge amount, and I don’t see how you could think otherwise given his gb/fb splits

2:07
Ben Clemens: I think that you can think of Imanaga’s start, hold the ratio stats that don’t involve balls in play, and then ramp up the hr/fb a little

2:07
Ben Clemens: He’d still look really good!

2:07
MIKE TROUT: MIKE TROUT MVP 2024? 179 small-sample wRC+, and he’s stealing bases again!

2:07
Steve: Is MVP Mike Trout back?  Also, 4 HRs, 4 RBIs, 5 Rs kind of sums up his time with the Angelsjoy

2:07
Ben Clemens: I’m not gonna do the whole Dan “it’s April” thing, but trust me, I’m thinking “It’s April” about a ton of the questions I’m being asked now, at least internally

2:07
Ben Clemens: I’m not ready to believe that Trout is all the way back, but well, I do think he’s still quite good

2:08
Ben Clemens: I’m more with the projections than the season-to-date numbers, maybe a 140-145 wRC+ the rest of the wya?

2:08
joe: Likelyhood of Jackson Holliday coming up this month?

2:08
Ben Clemens: I think it’s quite high, 75%?

2:09
Appa Yip Yip: Why blue jays no hit baseballs good?

2:09
Ben Clemens: search me

2:10
Ben Clemens: I’ve never been a Varsho believer, but Bichette and Kirk and Kiermaier underperforming so much is no fun. It’s still very early, obviously, but it’s pretty amazing how few outlier performances the other way the Jays have managed

2:10
Ben Clemens: Davis Schneider and that’s it

2:10
Ben Clemens: maybe he should be playing more, huh?

2:10
Scott K: You can have Elly De La Cruz or Oneil Cruz on your team for the next 10 years. Who ya got?

2:11
Ben Clemens: I’d take Elly by a fair margin

2:11
Steeley Dansby: Do you think the Dodgers regret trading Busch instead of Lux? Was Lux’s value too low to trade anyways?

2:11
Zach: Sadly, our boy Lux looks cooked 🙁
How much longer do the Dodgers give him? Also, how worried should they be about Outman’s slow start, especially with how E. Hernandez and Taylor have started?

2:11
Ben Clemens: Let’s take a breath!

2:12
Ben Clemens: I’m a lot more worried about Lux than Outman, just b/c he hasn’t played in quite a while so I worry about skill deterioration

2:12
MIKE TROUT: Manny Machado has lots over 2 wins from his ZIPS season-total projection since the beginning of the season. ZIPS went from +2 to fielding runs to -14. That seems concerning??

2:12
MIKE TROUT: RE my machado question, I misread the columns, it’s actually changed his positional adjustment down by -14 runs

2:12
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I was gonna say, it’s really just that he is playing DH so far

2:13
Ben Clemens: who knows what we’ll do when he starts fielding again but that’s what is going on so far

2:13
Kwanbelievable: I have a hard time believing Cleveland is 27th in projected SP WAR for the rest of the year after Bieber’s injury. Is the model expecting significant injuries/regression for one or more of McKenzie, Williams, Allen, and Bibee? That seems like a top 10 quartet, even if you’re trotting out Cookie and hoping he gets through 4 every 5th day

2:13
Ben Clemens: Well, they were 21st before Bieber got injured

2:14
Ben Clemens: so let’s just say that we did not consider those guys a top 10 quartet

2:14
Ben Clemens: given that even with Bieber we thought the whole unit was below average

2:14
Ben Clemens: our projections are just not that impressed by any of them. McKenzie has the best ERA projection at 3.98

2:14
5 Run Homer: Has MLB considered just turning the injury sliders down in settings?

2:14
Ben Clemens: They really should right?

2:15
Guest: Happy Eclipse Day!   50th Anniversary of Hank becoming my king.  No real question, just a tip of the hat to a great day for baseball…

2:15
Ben Clemens: Completely agree

2:15
Ben Clemens: My mom and stepdad drove to see the eclipse, which seems cool. I’m gonna stay home and watch some Hank Aaron coverage, which also seems cool, and is far less work

2:16
corbin carroll enjoyer: at what point does a rough start to the season for corbin carroll become a sophomore slump? Or, rather, when do we exit small sample size theatre and move into hot take auditorium?

2:16
Ben Clemens: Like 200 PA in or so

2:16
Ben Clemens: he’s played in nine games! that’s so few

2:16
Keeping a Brave face: I have S Strider on my team, how worried should I be?

2:16
Ben Clemens: sadly, I think you should be very worried

2:16
Ben Clemens: I’ll be shocked if he avoids TJ given the way this has gone so far

2:17
Matt Damon: MATT. DAMON.

2:17
J: I, like many, was never in on the Marlins to begin with, and usually thinking a season is over in early April is a massive overreaction, but man the Marlins’ season already seems kinds of over right?

2:17
Ben Clemens: I thought the Marlins season was over before it started, if we’re being honest

2:18
Ben Clemens: like, that’s not a good team they assembled

2:19
Ben Clemens: the injuries are obviously awful luck

2:19
Tyler: It’s been two weeks, but Jackson Merrill looks like he might be a Dude…

2:19
Ben Clemens: yeah I am willing to take a little more signal on rookies than on vets, b/c we’re just learning more about the rookies relative to our previous body of knowledge about them

2:19
Ben Clemens: i.e. do they look completely overwhelmed or not?

2:20
Ben Clemens: Merrill looks like he belongs. I’m not saying he’s gonna keep hitting like this, but the odds of him being unable to compete at the major league level are a lot lower today than they were on March 19

2:20
Feeling Blue: Is Miguel Vargas worth a stash?

2:20
Ben Clemens: You might be asking the wrong person, because for me, unequivocally yes

2:21
Ben Clemens: I love Vargas, he’s always been one of my guys, I think he might end up taking over for Lux sooner rather than later if Lux is actually anywhere near this bad

2:21
dinger: Friend of a friend has contacts in the rockies organization and is looking to marry a player. Assume she has the requisite merit to pull this off. Who should I advise her to pursue? I was leaning ezequiel tovar before his worrying series of errors in the opening series against arizona. Can we confidently say he wouldn’t similarly stumble in their marriage? Nolan Jones is tall but his xBA is rather low for what I’m looking for here

2:21
Ben Clemens: now THIS is a question, haha

2:22
Ben Clemens: I think you want someone who does errors of commission rather than omission. Nolan Jones would make some mistakes, but he’d always be trying hard in the relationship, if it’s anything like his defense

2:22
Grandal Richuk: This is going to shock you: the team that signed Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson leads the NL in home runs allowed.

2:22
TomBruno23: 2nd worst SP FIP in MLB…Operation Bulk Innings off to a fast start in STL…

2:23
Ben Clemens: well let’s let Sonny Gray debut, it doesn’t help to have your best starter on the shelf, but yeah, turns out filling your rotation with innings eaters doesn’t do a lot for quality

2:23
Ben Clemens: their quantity is pretty good though! Gibson wore six innings like a champ yday

2:23
Jose Altuve: HOFer?

2:23
Ben Clemens: By a mile, as far as I’m concerned

2:23
Insert Witty Name Here: Is there a new market inefficiency of starters who can throw 200 IP and a 4 ERA rather than having to pay one guy for 50 IP and a 3 ERA?

2:23
Ben Clemens: i mean…. teams would sign that guy if they could

2:24
Ben Clemens: four pitchers in the entire majors managed 200 innings and an ERA below 4 last year

2:24
Ben Clemens: if you relax it to 190 innings, it’s 11 guys

2:25
Ben Clemens: Logan Webb, Zac Gallen, Gerrit Cole, Chris Bassitt, Framber Valdez, Luis Castillo, Pablo Lopez, Corbin Burnes, Zack Wheeler, Logan GIlbert, George Kirby

2:25
Ben Clemens: like you could argue Bassitt is undervalued, but those guys are rightly considered incredibly good pitchers as a group

2:25
fanoftheman: What’s the biggest thing/question in baseball you’ve changed your mind about since you started writing?

2:26
Ben Clemens: two things: I think I underrated the importance of reliever rest and bought in a little too much to the whole launch angle/xstats revolution that all came around at the same time

2:26
Ben Clemens: so I was a little too quick to accept that whatever the most recent trends were were necessarily good, in other words

2:26
Anthony Volpe: Thoughts on the pitcher injury catawampus?

2:27
Ben Clemens: A few people have asked about this, I’ll give my quick thoughts but I would highly suggest that people read Jay Jaffe’s take on the issue:

2:27
Ben Clemens: I don’t buy the pitch clock being a huge reason for more injuries. I agree, for the most part, with Justin Verlander: max effort and increasing velo is a big reason for it

2:28
Ben Clemens: it turns out that throwing your breaking ball really fast is a great way to both get paid millions of dollars and shred your ucl into tiny little pieces

2:28
Steeley Dansby: How long would Miguel Rojas last in a midwestern Winter?

2:28
Ben Clemens: i mean, maybe longer than me. I am such a wimp about cold weather when I’m not getting to ski. I sympathize with Rojas living in warm weather places and hating the cold

2:29
Bill: one week in, whats the surprise in baseball so far – my choice Boston, everyone and their uncle wanted them to sign someone and look at the pitching and young kids in the outfield go

2:29
Ben Clemens: Gotta be Pittsburgh for me

2:29
Ben Clemens: the bad vibes in Boston before the season were for real, but the bad vibes have been in Pittsburgh for most of the millennium

2:29
John: When will Fangraphs start updating for WAR gained/lost to call Angel Hernandez makes?

2:30
Ben Clemens: man, what a disaster he is for umpire PR

2:30
Ben Clemens: I really think that if he just weren’t calling games, people would recognize how good umpires have gotten in the last decade

2:30
Ben Clemens: but then there’s just this obviously awful guy who keeps getting the spotlight

2:30
Appa Yip Yip: Who would you take right now for the rest of the season, Mike Trout or Mookie Betts?

2:30
Ben Clemens: Mookie by a good margin

2:30
Scott K: Interesting on Elly over Oneil so readily – is age a big factor there? Relatedly, if you could only have one on your team for the 2024 playoffs, would your pick change?

2:31
Ben Clemens: yeah age is a major reason why. I think I’d still take Elly if it were only for 2024, but I think that’s quite close

2:31
GraphsFan: Really loved the article and analysis of the Holliday-Orioles situation. So interesting when a FO Is bucking the trend of whatever the public deems the ‘rational’ decision. If you’re a betting man, is Holliday up in a few days after ‘working on his defense’, or sometime late May / early June on account of Super 2? Even later, to preserve his rookie status and try for PPI in 2025?

2:31
Steve O: O’s fans were really upset when I said the O’s are holding down Jackson Holiday for service time. Just like they held down Adley at the end of 2021 (who got hurt in spring of 2022, so they ended up having a reason to hold him down in 2022. But then he placed 2nd in RoY anyways and he regained the year of service time.) It’s all so silly. I mean they’re running out some combination of Ramon Urias/Tony Kemp/Jorge Mateo/Jordan Westburg at 2B/3B every game lol

2:32
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure what the O’s will do but I do stand by  my analysis: if they’re holding him down, it’s a bad move on the numbers

2:33
Ben Clemens: i truly don’t get what they’re doing. I think that they must really think he’s not ready, but…. I mean, I don’t agree

2:33
bosoxforlife: I don’t want to say “I told you so”, actually of course I do. I assume you are surprised by start of the Red Sox but just how surprised?

2:34
Ben Clemens: I’m not THAT surprised. I liked their rotation heading into the year, even with Giolito down, though I do worry about its depth

2:34
Ben Clemens: a Story injury is no fun

2:35
Ben Clemens: but you know, our predictions thought the Red Sox were pretty good, probably above .500 if they weren’t in the ALE, and hey, they look pretty good so far

2:35
Jiggy Man: Is Keaton Winn good?  Or is he meh, with potential to be good?

2:35
Ben Clemens: Yeah, Meh with potential as far as I’m concerned

2:35
Ben Clemens: I’m not ready to write him off by any means, but I don’t watch him and go ‘oh yep he doesn’t need to change anything, he’s great’

2:37
Nate: Re: paying one guy for 50 IP and a 3 ERA – I mean, this is just the new market inefficiency, yeah? That’s basically what the Dodgers are doing, signing a crapton of guys who will throw 50 innings and stapling together a rotation

2:38
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure which is the true market inefficiency. Those guys are considered good too

2:38
Jiggy Man: DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT PROPER GLASSES!

2:38
Ben Clemens: Yeah, please don’t

2:38
Guest: Any plans to include CSW% on this site

2:38
Ben Clemens: We’ve had it for years!

2:38
Ben Clemens: Here’s our plate discipline leaderboard for pitchers in 2024:

2:38
Ben Clemens: it’s over on the right

2:38
Guest: why is peter alonso trash rn

2:38
Ben Clemens: ugh fine, because it’s april

2:39
George Hendrick: If a trend develops in which teams try to be proactive preventing injuries with their pitchers, could we see a lot of pitchers just go fastball/changeup with different fastball speeds?  In other words don’t max effort every fastball throw some 92 instead of 96.

2:39
Ben Clemens: I think Robert Stock said it best in a great Twitter (now known as “X, formerly known as Twitter”) thread

2:39
Ben Clemens: here was his takeaway:

2:40
Ben Clemens: Do you want to guarantee yourself a healthy UCL? Throw slower than your capabilities. But would you also like to be pitching in the big leagues? Good luck doing so with anything less than your maximum.

2:40
KC Pain: Campusano a good sell high or legit?  I have Raleigh

2:40
Ben Clemens: sell high for me, but I’ve been lower on him than consensus for a while so take that with a grain of salt

2:40
Guest: If there are no injuries to the current starters (Webb Snell Harrison Hicks Winn), what do you think the Giants do when Ray and Cobb come back?

2:41
Martin: With Hicks succeeding as a starter, do you think Ray can pitch out of the pen when he returns from TJ?

2:41
Ben Clemens: I think that Winn is on the chopping block for now. I’m not a very big Harrison believer either, I think he’s probably going to end up as a (very good) reliever

2:41
So…..: What’s for lunch?

2:42
Ben Clemens: We just got back from a ski trip last night, so tehre’s very little food in the apartment. We got one of those ready-to-heat meal kits, Thistle, for a trial, so we’ll see how those go

2:42
Dmx: I don’t know if this is a stupid question- but is there a way to view what league average is with a given stat?

2:43
Ben Clemens: nah, very reasonable question. On our player pages, some tabs have an ‘average’ button you can click to see league averages for that year

2:43
Ben Clemens: so on the ‘advanced’ tab on a hitter, you could hit ‘averages’ and see that the league average batting line this year is .240/.317/.385, with 9.1% walk rate and 22.7% strikeout rate

2:43
Ben Clemens: you could do the same for plate discipline, for example

2:44
Ben Clemens: that said, not all of our stats have those, so what to do?

2:44
Ben Clemens: on any of our leaderboards, we have the option to get “League Stats” up at the top right

2:44
Ben Clemens: so anything you can query on our leaderboards, you can see how the league as a whole does at it

2:44
Yamamoto: Initial impressions? A couple bad innings aside he looks as-advertised

2:44
Ben Clemens: Yep, looks good to me

2:46
Jordan Rules: NYY bullpen #1 ERA last yr. Consistently good last couple. Projections very meh. Bug or feature? Projections don’t factor in a good FO + coaching staff? GB% underrated by fWAR? Or   will they struggle this year?

2:46
Ben Clemens: I think that it’s more of a bug than anything, but a pretty tough error to strip out

2:46
Ben Clemens: I think they will do better than their projection because the Yankees are good at figuring out who is excelling and getting them into the bullpen

2:47
Nervous in ATL: I understand that we are well equipped with pitching depth to weather the Strider injury, probably moreso than most other teams.  I get that.  But now our rotation is headlined by Fried and Sale, who we all know are no locks to stay healthy, then Morton on the wrong side of 40.  Time to trade for an OAK starter now instead of waiting until the deadline?

2:47
Ben Clemens: That makes a lot of sense to me

2:47
Ben Clemens: Oakland has so many fifth starters available

2:49
joe: Blanco staying in the rotation when Verlander comes back?

2:50
Ben Clemens: I mean, at this point he has to right?

2:50
RoyalsFan2195: What do you make of Yandy Diaz’s slow start?

2:50
Ben Clemens: I’m not too worried yet

2:51
Ben Clemens: he’s hitting too many grounders, basically, and I feel like he does that from time to time

2:52
KC Pain: What is your opinion on Bibee?  I acquired in offseason and for some reason league (18teamer dynasty 6×6) seems to think he is …not good.  My vibe was #3 w #2 upside young guy

2:52
Ben Clemens: I’d say a #3 median projection sounds about right

2:52
Insert Witty Name Here: Re: my 200 innings 4 ERA question, I was throwing numbers out my ass. My question really should have been, is a high IP, average ERA (or whatever stat you choose) better than a low IP, above average ERA a market inefficiency for a starting pitcher?

2:52
Ben Clemens: ah yeah. wellllllllll, ask the Cardinals, I guess I’d say. If you can actually eat a bunch of innings at a league average rate, that’s clearly valuable. The problem is that there aren’t that many pitchers who can do that

2:53
DBRuns: Where did you ski? (curious Colorado resident asks)

2:53
Ben Clemens: Mount Bachelor

2:53
Ben Clemens: We planned it early this year with the backup plan of just hanging out in Bend if the conditions were terrible

2:53
Ben Clemens: It did not disappoint

2:53
5 Run Homer: What’s your favourite ski hill/resort? Have you been to any in the Canadian rockies?

2:54
Ben Clemens: favorite is probably Whistler, though I skied Banff when I was a lot worse so I’m maybe not a good judge of those. I also really loved Telluride (been only once) and Alta/Snowbird are of course classics

2:54
Ray Shoesmith: Any worries about Yordan’s longevity? Hes still relatively young, but man his body scares me.

2:54
Ben Clemens: I mean, not really

2:54
Ben Clemens: there have been a lot of people saying that about him in various ways since he debuted

2:54
Ben Clemens: and he’s been one of the best hitters int he game

2:55
Ben Clemens: I remember reading ‘oh yordan is completely toast’ takes from respected baseball writers since the minute he debuted in the majors

2:55
Ben Clemens: like, it’s definitely a worry. and also, every baseball player can break down

2:55
Guest: do you think other umps that are working the game with Angel Hernandez know he’s missing calls and kind of grit their teeth like “oh boy here we go again?” Or is the fraternity of the umpire so strong that they don’t notice / don’t care

2:55
Ben Clemens: oh I’m sure they hate it, but I’m not sure if they a)wish he were gone or b)wish he were better

2:56
bosoxforlife: The A’s should put Blackburn on the block right now and ask for a king’s ransom. He is better than a #5.

2:56
Ben Clemens: I’m sure he is on the block

2:56
Colton: If Atlanta robs Oakland again for another starter, looking at you Blackburn, I will riot. At least give us someone better than Dodd, that’s all I ask!

2:56
KC Pain: Could …. stop laughing…..could my Royals finish second or …even first?  Tigers O looks bad.  CWS are bad.  Indians and Twins are vulnerable …Royald bats seem decent which means good in this division and rotation seems good enough.  Okay, you can laugh now.

2:56
Ben Clemens: Oh totally, the Twins are the best team in the division but the Royals pitching looks GREAT

2:56
Tigers fan: Is it time to give up on Vladdy Jr. ever being the player he was in 2021?

2:57
Ben Clemens: No

2:57
Ben Clemens: it was time to do that like two years ago

2:57
Ben Clemens: i think he’s better than he’s hitting right now…. but I think that he’s always going to underperform his x stats because of the nature of his swing, and it’s just really hard to be a star if you play a so-so first base and don’t hit like 2021 Vlad

2:58
I speak for all!: I don’t miss Josh Donaldson.

2:58
I speak for all!: I would miss Matt Damon, however, if he were to retire

2:58
Danny “2 Shoes” McGraw: Does 10 Year/500 mil, opt out after year 5 and 6 get it done between Yankees and Soto? who’s saying no?

2:58
Ben Clemens: I think Soto would definitely say yes to that, I t hink the Yankees probably wouldn’t offer it

2:59
Ben Clemens: lose the opt out and I think it might get done

2:59
NYY: At what point does Caleb Durbin become a thing? All he does is rake and the Yanks seem high on him

2:59
Ben Clemens: I think Berti complicates the situation a little bit, but yeah, it should be sooner rather than later

2:59
Tigers fan: Why does JRod always seem to get off to a really slow start, but then ends up with 5 WAR at the end of the season?

2:59
Ben Clemens: I don’t know, but it really does seem like it happens consistently

2:59
André René Roussimoff: The SF Giants look like a Frankenstein team to me that tried to graft a few big name free agents onto a moderately talented roster that lacks core players. I don’t have a good feeling about them this year or going forward. Do you?

2:59
Ben Clemens: I feel okay about them this year, actually

3:00
Ben Clemens: I agree with you about the strange construction, but I think it happens to include a bunch of players who are currently good

3:00
Ben Clemens: it does feel like there’s less of a core there than you’d like, and that they haven’t really developed a pipeline that gives me much confidence about the future

3:00
borchard504: I lived through the Eclipse! Got dark as night almost. Can CES keep his spot in the lineup?

3:00
Ben Clemens: yeah, he can

3:00
Tomás Fingers: Who finishes last in the NL Central?

3:01
Ben Clemens: Reds, I think, but I have low confidence

3:01
hey: How many HRs should I expect from Jung-hoo Lee? 2.08 GB/FB in the KBO and seems to be the same in the majors so far, I think he has proven to be stronger than expected

3:01
Ben Clemens: 10-15 seems right to me

3:01
Ben Clemens: it’s the grounders

3:01
Volpe: Does this feel sustainable? It seems that way

3:02
Ben Clemens: I was told that Volpe was actually awful and that I needed to stop scouting the statline

3:02
Ben Clemens: like, last week I think

3:02
Ben Clemens: I think he’s really good!

3:02
Farhandrew Zaidman: What do you think the Dodgers best case playoff 4-man rotation is? Glasnow, Miller, Yamamoto, and who else?

3:03
Ben Clemens: Buehler, right?

3:03
Ben Clemens: but I like how many options they have for sure

3:03
Ben Clemens: I was about to say Paxton or Kershaw until I realized Buehler wasn’t in that list

3:03
Farhandrew Zaidman: How’s Jung-hoo Lee grading out defensively in CF so far? Is he getting on base enough to stay at leadoff?

3:04
Ben Clemens: so far he hasn’t graded out well, but in only 23 attempts, so it’s far too early to feel strongly about it either way

3:04
Ben Clemens: he’s not as fast as I expected for someone nicknamed grandson of the wind, though

3:05
Ben Clemens: 4.25 home to first for a lefty, I was expecting meaningfully quicker

3:06
KC Pain: Should Oakland sell all major league talent and then just have their AAA team play also as their MLB team?  Think of the money they will save!

3:06
Ben Clemens: Pretty smart

3:06
Ben Clemens: don’t tell John Fisher

3:06
Ben Clemens: alright everyone, I’m gonna head out and let you enjoy the eclipse on your own. Have a great baseball week, and I’ll see you back here in seven days





Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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Oh, Beepy.
2 months ago

Is that not what the A’s already did?

LenFuego
2 months ago
Reply to  Oh, Beepy.

Exactly what I was thinking.