Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 5/16/22

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

2:02
Ben Clemens: I’ve been on the run all day so far, so if I seem a little frazzled, sorry about that. I’ll try to keep it out of the baseball answers — though perhaps not out of the random questions that always come up.

2:02
Joey Fart: Are you worried about Berrios?

2:05
Ben Clemens: A little bit, yeah. It’s too early to know for sure, but I’m really worried about the fact that his breaking ball and changeup are both missing a ton fewer bats

2:06
Ben Clemens: His fastball has never really been his carrying pitch, but it’s been worse too. It’s just really hard to succeed in modern baseball if you’re not making batters miss

2:07
Ben Clemens: Now, you can. Pitchers do. But I don’t really think of that as Berrios’s game. When his strikeout numbers are this low, he’s going to walk more batters b/c he doesn’t have pinpoint command and the at-bats just keep going.

2:07
Ben Clemens: I don’t really know what to think about that. Batters just aren’t missing his pitches. They’re not shaped particularly differently or anything. I’m gonna do some more digging (I picked him to win AL Cy Young, whoops!) but it just looks bad so far

2:07
Rexy: Do you think Trent Grisham is a lost cause?

2:08
Ben Clemens: A lost cause? Definitely not.

2:08
Ben Clemens: He’s batted like 130 times this year!

2:09
Ben Clemens: I’m not really excited by his line so far, obviously. He’s hitting for no power whatsoever, and that’s really rough. I don’t think he’s gonna keep hitting for a .200 babip, I think he’ll provide positive defensive value, and I thiiiiiink some of his power, which has never really been his calling card, will come back

2:09
Ben Clemens: But yeah, bad run…. definitely not considering anyone a lost cause this quickly

2:09
John: In scanning recent box scores. I have noticed what seems like an inordinate number of starting pitchers being pulled after 4.2 innings with a lead – one out from getting credit for the pitching win. Is there something to this to suppress pitcher wins for the sake of arbitration negotiations? I don’t have the wherewithal to study this myself, but perhaps you know something here.

2:10
Ben Clemens: I hadn’t noticed this at all, but it sounds like something I will investigate for later this week. Watch this space!

2:11
Liz: inspired by the delightful pitching debut of Pujols last night… if MLB eventually goes to a 12 or 11-pitcher roster limit, do you think there would be a noticeable increase in position-player pitching outings? Would there be value or focus on developing “two-way” utility players (eg. an outfielder with the capacity to throw a competent inning every week or two, or something) to sneak around that bullpen limit?

2:13
Ben Clemens: When MLB was going to go to a 13-pitcher limit for 2020, before covid and all, they had specific limits on when position players would be allowed to pitch

2:13
Ben Clemens: I think that those will likely come back at some point

2:14
Ben Clemens: I do think that position player pitching outings would continue… but I think they’ll still be used in blowout situations, like last night’s Cardinals game (both teams used position players to pitch, actually).

2:14
Timmy Oneil: With the surge in pitching so far this season, has Gallen been overshadowed?  His start is off the charts, and if last year never happened we would be talking about him as a top 10 pitcher.

2:15
Ben Clemens: Yeah, Gallen has gotten short shrift because there are just so many great pitching performances going on. He’s also not going to keep up this pace; 0.26 HR/9 is absurd even with a deader ball, balls in play are finding gloves at a crazy rate, and so on and so forth

2:16
Ben Clemens: But uh, Gallen is great! He had a rough and injury-shortened 2021, no doubt, but he’s an excellent pitcher. There’s a reason we had him juiced on our trade value list last year and a reason that ZiPS and Steamer always love him. All he’s done when healthy is be great

2:17
Ben Clemens: Even last year, his ‘down’ year, he was a bit better than league average basically

2:18
Morbo: Ben, I turned off the Cardinals game in the 8th inning to play MLB The Show and missed Pujols’ first career pitching outing. I’m a failure and my life is a lie. All I can hope now is that my toddler saves humankind from some kind of catastrophe and saves my nonexistent legacy

2:18
Ben Clemens: I hope that your daughter, Alice Annihilator (assuming that’s your last name), does great things

2:18
Ben Clemens: I, too, missed it — I was out walking my dog

2:18
Ben Clemens: But I rewatched the whole thing, and it was really fun

2:18
Loge: True or False: 2022 will end up as Christian Yelich’s 3rd best offensive season as a big leaguer.

2:20
Ben Clemens: True. I don’t think top 2 is in reach but he needs to beat out 2016 (.298/.376/.483) to get to third

2:20
Ben Clemens: That’s really tough. That batting average was excellent. But I think after accounting for the lower offensive environment this year he can do it

2:20
Skubal: Do you buy Skubal as one of the game’s top starters?

2:22
Ben Clemens: Top starters? I do not. I don’t even think I buy him as the best starter on the Tigers going forward.

2:22
Ben Clemens: I don’t understand how he’s striking out so many batters. His stuff isn’t wildly better than last year. He’s not missing a ton more bats or anything. I’m encouraged by the walk rate decline… but again, he’s not missing more bats, not filling the zone more

2:23
Ben Clemens: I reserve the right to take back my opinion after a few more months but this feels more like a mirage to me than most hot pitching starts

2:24
Moog Powell: Would it be fair to say that if you can’t have an very high spin rate on your fastball, the next best thing would be a very low spin rate?

2:24
Ben Clemens: I think it’s more accurate to say that if you can’t have a high spin rate on your fastball, you should find another way to make it move

2:25
Ben Clemens: the whole ‘fastball that moves less than you think it should’ thing doesn’t actually work that well in practice, in my experience. But if you don’t have a high spin rate, or if a ton of your spin is gyroscopic, maybe consider throwing a sinker

2:25
Ben Clemens: Where spin is just less important, and you’re getting more out of SSW and the dipping action

2:25
Tacoby Bellsbury: Are the Reds 2003-Detroit-Tigers-level bad?

2:25
Ben Clemens: Nah. They’re bad, no doubt, but I think they’re not even the worst team in their own division

2:26
Joey Passgas: Are you worried about Franmil Reyes? Because as a Guardians fan, I sure am.

2:26
Ben Clemens: Yes

2:26
Ben Clemens: That’s a lot of strikeouts

2:27
Ben Clemens: Worried for sure

2:27
Timmy Oneil: JRod is hitting 385 over the past 7 days, 333 over the past 15, 288 over the past 30.  Did we just watch a prospect adjust their approach in real time?  Think the inverse of Kelenic, Adell, etc.

2:28
Ben Clemens: It sure feels that way. Again, sample size caveats and all, and let’s let him do it for a little longer before we break out the Mission Accomplished banner. But it’s really fun to watch him, and it definitely gives me confidence that he’s gonna be great

2:28
NashvilleSounds: Very dumb question, but does position player pitching impact WAR? I assume it does, but also kind of silly for Pujols to eat a little value for doing in-game BP. (Also rather funny he just keeps putting up the same stat line, and it keeps looking better and better vs the league average.)

2:28
Ben Clemens: If you look at Pujols’s player page, you’ll see that there are now ‘Batting’ and ‘Pitching’ tabs

2:28
Ben Clemens: He’s been worth 0.2 WAR batting (over 56 PA, a pretty nice clip) and -0.1 WAR pitching

2:28
Ben Clemens: If I were you, I’d just ignore the pitching WAR

2:29
Ben Clemens: And unless you use our combined WAR leaderboards, that’s exactly what you’ll see

2:29
Ben Clemens: If you look at the Cardinals’ hitter page (https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0…), he shows up with 0.2 WAR

2:29
Ben Clemens: I think that’s the right way to think about it

2:29
McHops: What once looked like the worst trade in team history (giving up Grisham for Urias/Lauer) looks like a pretty good deal for the Brewers. With that said, will either Urias or Lauer ever be more than merely above average over the course of a full season?

2:30
Ben Clemens: I think that Urias has a chance to be an All Star level guy for a few years

2:30
Ben Clemens: I kept not writing about Lauer b/c I couldn’t find what he was doing that was so different he was suddenly unhittable

2:30
Ben Clemens: and then hey, he got hit

2:30
Ben Clemens: This is definitely a situation where he’s gonna have to prove me wrong

2:30
Ben Clemens: before I re-evaluate Lauer to ace-level or even ace-lite-level in my head

2:30
Ben Clemens: Not that Eric Lauer cares how I evaluate him!

2:31
Stephen: It’s too early to give up on Dylan Carlson, right? (from a fantasy perspective) Lots of blue on his statcast page, but at least he’s shown great plate discipline?

2:31
Ben Clemens: Yeah, too early to give up, and the Statcast page repeats a bunch of things so if you’re blue you’re gonna be very blue

2:31
Ben Clemens: That said, I’m definitely a little worried

2:31
Ben Clemens: Hit the ball harder, Dylan!

2:31
Morbo: Moog, I’d say it also depends on where you throw the ball in the zone. You probably shouldn’t throw your average spin sinker up in the zone, looking at you Steven Matz

2:31
Ben Clemens: Oof, the harsh Matz burn is merited

2:32
Ben Clemens: I’m a Matz fan but I’m worried about his performance so far this year. With the Cardinals’ defense, he should just throw everythin down in the zone and live with it, imo

2:32
Wandando Acutis Jr: Other than those who have done it, who is the player with the best chance of putting up a 9 WAR season?

2:32
Ben Clemens: Hm…. I’m gonna say Tatis. My thinking here is that with him, we know he can play at that pace

2:32
Ben Clemens: And so if he spikes a healthy season when he’s playing at this level, it’s in range

2:33
Ben Clemens: Acuna is in a similar place

2:33
Ben Clemens: Buxton as well

2:33
Ben Clemens: Guys like that are my best bets

2:33
Ben Clemens: With Soto and Vlad Jr., my two picks for best current hitter, they will need to show a new level somewhere in their game

2:33
Ben Clemens: 9 WAR is a ton

2:33
Dude: Most WAR rest of career: Harper or Betts?

2:34
Ben Clemens: Gimme Betts, but I think both will age pretty well. I just think Betts will add a lot more value doing non-hitting stuff

2:34
Zach: Is Muncy going to turn things around? Seems like he might still be hurt?

2:34
Ben Clemens: I think he’s still hurt

2:35
Texas Blues: How did Semien falls so far, so fast?  I wasn’t expecting the 45 HR he hit last year but 20-25 would seem to be reasonable.  Is he complete sunk cost at this point?

2:35
Ben Clemens: Again with the complete sunk cost after 100-something PA’s

2:35
Ben Clemens: He’s not!

2:36
Ben Clemens: I think he’s been a lot worse than Grisham, though, and I’m definitely more worried by his power outage. I think the fact that our projections think he’s a 120 wRC+ hitter the rest of the way should tell you how worried models that are based on past hitter performance feel about his start

2:36
Ben Clemens: Which is to say, a little worried, but still think he’s good

2:36
Ben Clemens: It’s worth noting, though, that Semien is the kind of hitter who might be most hurt by the less-lively ball

2:37
Ben Clemens: He lifts and pulls EVERYTHING, and gets a ton of value by maxing out on pulled fly balls. As those decline in value, you have to worry about his profile. I don’t think he’s gonna stay this bad but this is the kind of thing that can happen when you’re a max-out-middling-power guy

2:37
Ben Clemens: I think he’s more average hitter than stud going forward

2:37
Zach: Think Lane Thomas or Tsutsugo return to their form from the 2nd half of last year?

2:37
Ben Clemens: No to both

2:38
Ben Clemens: Lane Thomas was an okay minor league hitter who put up a nice 200 PA with the Nats last year, but he also batted 58 times for the Cards and was really bad

2:38
Ben Clemens: His aggregate line last year? 103 wRC+

2:39
Ben Clemens: And I’d have taken the under on it before this year. I don’t think he’s gonna keep striking out 30% of the time, but he doesn’t have plus power, and before walking 14% of the time out of nowhere last year, was mostly average ish in terms of walks and strikeouts

2:39
Ben Clemens: I think he’s a perfectly nice fourth outfielder, nothing more

2:39
Ben Clemens: As for Tsutsugo, same kinda deal… had a nice hot streak, power outage this year

2:40
Ben Clemens: I don’t think he’s as bad as his 2022 but expecting him to keep up the 134 wRC+ he put up in Pitt (as opposed to a 36 in two different stops) seems like wishful thinking

2:40
The Real Ben Clemens: How long into a pitcher’s career would you say it takes for something like GB% to stabilize? Like at what point have they demonstrated that it’s a repeatable skill for them and less of a flukey BABIP type thing

2:40
Ben Clemens: GB%? Fast!

2:40
Ben Clemens: Like, a year

2:40
Ben Clemens: Now, pitchers can change their pitch mix, and GB% can change along iwth that

2:41
Some Guy: For Andres Gimenez, do you think his contact or power is more likely to stick around?

2:41
Ben Clemens: Contact. I’m not super confident in that, but I dunno, my mental heuristic for him has always been hit over power

2:41
bosoxforlife: Last year Gallo finished below the Mendoza Line. It looks like there may be several qualifiers who do that this year. At this moment there are no less than 23 qualifiers below .200 and 30 more below .220. This cannot be good for the game.

2:42
Ben Clemens: It’s definitely not good for the game. If baseball was a game where 2 runs scored per game, it would suck. We’re not there yet, but batting averages this low are no fun. Hits are fun, they’re consistently the most fun plays in the game. I hope that baseball is thinking of better ways to increase hits than ‘ban the shift’, though every drop helps

2:42
Todd Bonzalez: I missed the pets named after athletes conversation last week,  but I feel like I have a good one to share. I grew up with a PBGV named Archie Griffon. (He lived to 17!)

2:42
Ben Clemens: What a delight

2:42
barney gumble: Clay Holmes is a top (____) reliever in baseball

2:42
Ben Clemens: Let’s get wild

2:42
Ben Clemens: Top 10

2:43
Morbo: Looking at 2021 vs 2022 Lauer has started locating his 4 seamer higher up in the top third of the zone more frequently and also more arm side rather than middle middle. He’s also throwing his slider low and glove side instead of in the upper 1/3rd of the zone and glove side. This also corresponds with at 10% increase in his slider rate. So basically he redesigned his slider this year and then figured out how to locate it effectively this year while improving his 4 seamer location and movement. So basically the Brewers did Brewers pitching things with him

2:45
Ben Clemens: Eh….. I’m mostly unconvinced. Like, those things are pretty marginal changes. I kind of agree that he’s locating better, but it’s a pretty marginal difference. I’ll buy those changes, but to me that makes him still a pretty average starter

2:46
Steve O: Aaron Judge is on pace for 10.5 WAR lol. He’d need to produce at an 8.6 WAR pace for the remainder of the season to reach 9 WAR. Not insane, especially with his power not really affected by the dead ball so his wRC+ will be higher in this environment. Add in him playing a solid CF every now and then, and it’s doable! Like maybe a 5% chance or something.

2:46
Ben Clemens: What a monster

2:46
Ben Clemens: Really fun to have Judge mashing again

2:46
The Real Ben Clemens: Do you see any team making an impact trade in May soon, a la the 2021 Brewers trading for Adames? If so, who?

2:47
Ben Clemens: I don’t see one offhand. But if someone does it, I think it would be the Twins and a pitcher. Joe Ryan is fun, Josh Winder is fun, Gray is back, etc…. but I think they are just on borrowed time a little bit in the rotation

2:48
Ben Clemens: and getting someone now who could fill a ton of innings at an above-average rate seems like a very good plan for them

2:48
bosoxforlife: NO! It is definitely NOT fun to see Judge mashing again, but he is one great player.

2:49
Ben Clemens: 🙂 leaving team allegiance aside, lol

2:49
Guest: is nimmo likely to start the all star game this year?

2:50
Ben Clemens: Ooh, good one! I am going to say no, but it’ll be close. I just have a hard time seeing Soto or Betts miss starting given the seasons they’re having. That only leaves one slot. I do think Nimmo deserves to be there on merit, but that’s just a narrow hole to sneak through

2:50
P Pujols: Presumably every other position player on the Cards could have pitched better than old Albert Pujols but it was fun anyway!

2:51
Ben Clemens: Couldn’t agree more. I think that’s what was so fun about it. They really didn’t need the best there, they needed an inning. And I’m sure Pujols badly wanted to do it

2:51
Ben Clemens: WHy not let him?

2:51
The Great Giambino: How is it possible for Ernie Clement to have 0.1 WAR despite collectively being worth -1.5 runs combining baserunning, offense, and defense? Am I interpreting those incorrectly?

2:52
Ben Clemens: Those numbers are relative to average. WAR is relative to replacement level, which is a good bit below average

2:52
Ben Clemens: In a 600-PA season, an average player will be, give or take, 18 runs better than replacement level

2:53
Gallo: After all the complaining about gallo he’s back to a 114 WRC+. I think he’s just streaky and get to that WRC+ in a not very convincing way

2:53
Ben Clemens: It is a REALLY unconvincing way of getting to it. I totally agree with that. It doesn’t feel like he’s an above average hitter even when he’s hitting above average

2:54
Morbo: I think my favorite part of Pujols pitching was Evan Longoria asking for the ball after he got the first hit ever off of Pujols. (I watched the replay)

2:54
Ben Clemens: Great right??

2:54
Ben Clemens: I really like that everyone was having fun with it. The Giants didn’t feel disrespected, they were just excited to get to hit against Albert Pujols

2:54
The Great Giambino: Ah, relative to average makes sense, thanks! Still wild that somebody with a 65 wRC+ can be better than replacement level, but defense is the great equalizer

2:55
Ben Clemens: Yeah exactly. I”m not sure if he’ll keep being above replacement level. You have to be pretty good with the glove to make up for hitting that poorly. But for now, he’s treading water

2:55
Insert Witty Name Here: With the dead ball, is Trea Turner now a 10-15 HR guy?

2:56
Ben Clemens: I would assume so. He popped 19 homers in 2019, 19 in 2018, both in fairly full seasons with a livelier ball

2:56
Ben Clemens: He’s not really hitting the ball harder now than he did then, and not really elevating more consistently or anything

2:57
Ben Clemens: I don’t think he’ll continue with this year’s 3.2% HR/FB, but 10-15 sounds like a reasonable landing place to me. Maybe 15-20 at the high end

2:57
Pitchingstan: Brett Phillips has a 46 wRC+ and is worth .3 war. Baseball is fun.

2:57
Some Guy: Who is the player you most want to see break out?

2:58
Ben Clemens: Brendan Rodgers

2:58
Ben Clemens: I don’t think it’s going to happen! It pretty much looks like it’s not going to happen

2:58
Ben Clemens: But man do I want it to. Loud tools, seems like he could hit for really high average, great fit for Coors…. and yeah it just keeps not happening

2:59
Skubal: Who is the best starter on the Tigers going forward? Mize and Manning just look so bad

2:59
Ben Clemens: Oh, E Rod for me

2:59
Stache: I love Nestor Cortes, that is all

2:59
Ben Clemens: As should we all

2:59
Ben Clemens: Nestor is just really great fun to watch in addition to being wildly effective so far this year

3:00
Curtis: Is being relegated to DH giving a significant boost to Harper’s hitting? Seems like he’s been on a heater… If accurate, what does this mean for his future, health and all?

3:01
Ben Clemens: I don’t think that being relegated to DH has improved his hitting, per se, but I do think that not playing the field while banged up is really helping him. Harper has a long reputation (aside from his walk year in DC) as playing too hard and endangering his health as a result. I think that the option to plug him into DH when he’s banged up is realllly helpful. He’s just a guy who will get nagging injuries based on style of play, in my opinion

3:01
Ben Clemens: Now, does it hurt that Philly already has 3 DH’s who aren’t Harper? Yeah, it’s not great! But I think the option to plug him in at DH when necessary to preserve his body while getting access to his bat is a big tailwind to his career numbers

3:01
Armadillofury: More of an observation than a question – Moncada looks jacked this year and looks like he’s trying to hit it 450 ft on every swing

3:02
Ben Clemens: love it. He’s HUGE right now. Must have spent his entire time on the IL lifting 8 hours a day or something. Moncada has always been physically imposing but WOW

3:02
Tork: Why not send Torkelson down? This is brutal to watch

3:03
Ben Clemens: He’s hitting the ball really hard, they’re not exactly in a playoff race, and I dunno, are you just dying to see Harold Castro at second and Schoop at first? What’s gained by sending him down instead of letting him hit big league pitching?

3:04
Ben Clemens: Imagine being sad your team’s best prospect is up, not really how I’d feel about it if my team were trying to turn things around after a while in the wilderness

3:04
Mike: Which big name player are you most worried about?

3:04
Ben Clemens: Walker Buehler

3:05
Ben Clemens: I’m pretty worried about his fastball, it comes up in pretty much every chat at this point. His numbers haven’t suffered overly much, but it feels to me like a situation where he’s gotten a ton better at the art of pitching, which is helping to compensate for a big dip in stuff

3:05
Ben Clemens: So if the ball starts to carry more, or he just gets a little wild, he could be in for a dip. Now, if the stuff comes back, then it’s all gravy. But I’m definitely in worry mode

3:05
namiki: Is a hitter like Daniel Vogelbach, who doesn’t swing even with Heart, undesirable as an approach?

3:06
Ben Clemens: I think so. It’s rare that you get a hitter who is too passive – swings in general lose value – but Vogelbach I think goes too far

3:07
Morbo: So Nolan Gorman is promoted the week for June 13th since that should be guaranteed to be right after the super 2 cutoff date, right?

3:07
Ben Clemens: I don’t know! I’m really confused by the way they’re handling things. Most of the time I’d just say yes. Eh, I still think yes. But if that were set in stone, wouldn’t Tommy Edman be getting more reps at short already?

3:08
Ben Clemens: Hard for me to figure out exactly what’s going on there

3:08
Steve O: Gleyber Torres’s expected stats are hard to process. He’s got a top 5% average exit velocity?? So he went from severely overperforming his expected stats to now severely underperforming. I know it’s still early, but as you know these numbers stabilize very quickly. Also a reminder that we shouldn’t write off super talented players after a down season.

3:08
Ben Clemens: Definitely a reason not to write off players after a down season — but also, a reminder: average exit velocity kinda sucks as a stat

3:09
Ben Clemens: Hard-hit rate is a good one, and Gleyber does well there. Barrel rate is a good one, and he does alright there. Average exit velocity is overrated. Hitting a ball 70mph isn’t worse than hitting one 80 mph

3:09
Ben Clemens: they’re both terrible

3:10
Ben Clemens: Gleyber’s good. He’s very good at getting the barrel on the ball. He doesn’t have prodigious top end power, and I don’t think he’s a true-talent 20+ HR hitter with this ball unless he can keep up his new all-air-all-the-time approach, but yeah, the guy can hit

3:11
Ben Clemens: Plus bat-to-ball skills and he’s swinging a lot more this year to take advantage of that

3:11
Ben: Do you know which active MLB hitter with over 1,000 plate appearances is 2nd to Mike Trout in wRC+? Hint: it is not Juan Soto. On a related note, I know he is a poor fielder and baserunner and can’t pitch like certain other DH, but it seems like Yordan Alvarez is quite under-rated.

3:11
Ben Clemens: I write the ‘Yordan Alvarez is better than you think’ article every year

3:11
Ben Clemens: I’m planning another one for this year

3:12
Ben Clemens: Yordan is great and no one seems to notice

3:12
Ben Clemens: Mini rant time: Kevin Goldstein and I put him aggressively high on our trade value list last year. 11th, I believe

3:12
Ben Clemens: We got a lot of ‘don’t you understand how WAR works?’ comments and ‘you should consult ZiPS you dummies’ and that kinda stuff

3:12
Ben Clemens: Well, ZiPS loves Yordan too. When you hit like that, you’re really valuable, defense be damned

3:13
Ben Clemens: I might misinterpret WAR, or have bad conclusoins, or bad takes — I wish Bryan Reynolds had been on our list

3:13
Ben Clemens: But uh, yeah, we’re aware that DH’s are less valuable defensively

3:13
Ben Clemens: and Yordan is still one of the best players in baseball despite that

3:13
Golan Norman: I think Nolan Gorman actually would do well with some more seasoning in AAA. He is striking out a lot and I’d rather see him be full-time in AAA than platooned in the majors

3:13
Ben Clemens: This is where I am as a Cardinals fan, for what it’s worth

3:13
Ben Clemens: I’m not gonna be mad if he’s called up

3:14
Ben Clemens: but I don’t know how much they’d commit to playing him every day in a playoff chase, he really has been striking out a lot

3:14
Pitchingstan: Is this make or break year for Luis Patino?

3:14
Ben Clemens: No

3:14
Ben Clemens: He’s 22!

3:15
James: For the record, Yordan has been 50/50 DH/LF this year and isn’t a total disaster out there

3:15
Ben Clemens: And it wouldn’t matter even if he weren’t

3:15
Ben Clemens: I do think the Astros would prefer to keep him at DH when possible

3:15
Ben Clemens: His knees aren’t great, you know? But yeah, he’s not a complete disaster by any means

3:16
bosoxforlife: Do you prefer the DH to be a dedicated individual such as J.D. Martinez or Yordan Alvarez or a spot to rest a regular?

3:16
Ben Clemens: I think it pays to be flexible. If you have a player like JD, Castellanos, Yordan, Ohtani, etc…. some guy where you think you can maximize their contribution to the team by just plugging them in there a ton… do it

3:16
Ben Clemens: But there aren’t 30 of those hitters

3:16
Ben Clemens: And also, again, 3 of them are in Philly

3:17
Ben Clemens: I think that if you asked every team ‘would you prefer to platoon your DH or plug in Yordan Alvarez?’ they’d take Yordan

3:17
Ben Clemens: They’re not dummies!

3:17
Ben Clemens: But they don’t have him, so they do what they can

3:17
Stanton: Speaking of people who seem to actually be okay in the field.

3:18
Ben Clemens: Another good example…. although I don’t think anyone really doubted that Stanton was good in the field. He’s fast enough, decent instincts, etc. Was good in Miami. It’s just a health thing for him, I think

3:19
bosoxforlife: I cringed when I saw Luis Torrens at DH the other day.

3:19
Ben Clemens: The Mariners are one of the teams I”m talking about were they’d obviously prefer to have a regular everyday DH, but they do not hvae that guy

3:19
Ben Clemens: It’s not even just Kelenic underperforming…. he’s been replaced by Steven Souza Jr.

3:20
Ben Clemens: They have more lineup spots than good hitters, so… gotta put someone there

3:20
Steve O: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton (22 combined) have more HRs than the Tigers (16), Red Sox (20), and the Royals (21).

3:20
Ben Clemens: Well that’s just a fun statistic

3:20
JK: Taking out the BP homerun off Pujols last night, what do you make of Joey Bart’s year? Concerned about the massively high K rate or optimistic about the BB rate, defense and above average wRC+?

3:20
Ben Clemens: I’m definitely encouraged

3:21
Ben Clemens: The strikeout rate is not good. It’s not good at all. I’m worried about his contact rate, no doubt

3:22
Ben Clemens: But the bar at catcher is low, he has some pop, and he can take a walk. I think he’ll strike out less, probably not keep up his power clip, and average out to a 100 wRC+ type with the bat

3:22
Ben Clemens: That’s a nice player at catcher

3:22
B. Ryce Hammer: For some reason, I just love Harper home runs. They’re aesthetically pleasing

3:23
Ben Clemens: It’s the swing. His swing has a really delightful combination of smoothness and raw power

3:24
Ben Clemens: You know the whole ‘lefty swings are prettier than righty swings’ thing? Sometimes I doubt that… and then I see Harper swing and it’s so fun

3:24
Sir Benjamin Clementine of Fangraphia: What do you think happens with Bogaerts this season?

3:24
Ben Clemens: I think he opts out but stays in Boston because the team gets cold feet on using Story as his replacement

3:24
JV: Trevor Story had a better week.  Are you encouraged?

3:25
Ben Clemens: Speak of the devil! I’m encouraged for sure. I’m more on the Steamer (.237/.313/.415) end than ZiPS (.256/.330/.466) though

3:26
Ben Clemens: You had to know he’d break out of such a hellacious slump at some point

3:26
Ben Clemens: I’m still not sold on him as a 4 WAR shortstop type, though, and I think they probably want that

3:26
Some Guy: But you’re really worried about Franmil Reyes despite posting a 170 wRC+ in his last ten games?

3:26
Ben Clemens: Sure

3:27
Ben Clemens: Reyes is hot as hell and still striking out 41% of the time with no walks

3:27
Ben Clemens: That’s just so many strikeouts

3:27
Ben Clemens: In that wildly hot 10-game stretch…. he’s striking out 31% of the time

3:28
Ben Clemens: I think it’s just a hard needle to thread unless he starts to make more contact

3:28
Ramos: How can Julian Merryweather get sent down with one of the top XFIPs in baseball?

3:28
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure I get it. Forget xFIP, it’s not even like he’s giving up a ton of homers

3:29
Ben Clemens: He’s missing bats.  He’s not walking anybody. I hvaen’t looked into it closely, but I really don’t get it

3:29
Alby: Shouldn’t what you said about pure DHs — there aren’t enough to go around — apply to closers as well?

3:29
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think so.

3:30
Ben Clemens: If you have a true shutdown guy, you should probably make him a closer or something approximating a closer

3:30
Ben Clemens: Somethin where all of their innings are high leverage

3:31
Ben Clemens: If you need to play matchups because you don’t have that guy…. well, I don’t like the idea of plugging in someone only okay as your unquestioned best option

3:31
Vladito: Anything serious to worry about with Bichette or do you expect him to be fine? He’s chasing everything

3:31
Ben Clemens: I think he’ll probably keep chasing everything but do a little bit better on those chases

3:31
Ben Clemens: And on the stuff that’s in the zone

3:31
Ben Clemens: That’s kinda what you get with Bichette. He doesn’t make great swing decisions, but he’s just a great athlete and great hitter anyway

3:31
Guest: If Castellanos and Schwarber and Phillies are playing well at the All Star Break and the Red Sox are still struggling, is there a universe in which Bogaerts is sent to the Phillies and Phillies send back Schwarber to help with the DH saturation situation?

3:32
Ben Clemens: I mean…. no. IF the Phillies are playing well, they’re not gonna trade Schwarber

3:32
Golan Norman: How do you feel about Oli Marmol’s bullpen management?

3:32
Ben Clemens: I love it. I wrote a quick thing about it a few weeks ago… I think he does a good job of considering the matchups he wants to end up with, inclusive of both his team and the other team’s bench

3:32
B. Ryce Hammer: Ten teamer, ditch MacGore for Megill who just got cut?

3:33
Ben Clemens: Pretty worried about the injury with Megill. I’d stand pat

3:33
Dead ball: one of my favorite reactions this year is when players hit balls to the warning track and then are amazed they don’t go over the fence

3:33
Ben Clemens: I really liked the Gavin Lux no-doubter flyout in last year’s playoffs

3:33
Ben Clemens: It’s fun that we’re getting it on a nightly basis now

3:33
Chapman: Is the Cuban missile finally cooked

3:33
Ben Clemens: Ummm…. I mean maybe

3:34
Ben Clemens: I continue to like the splitter becoming a bigger part of his arsenal, and he does have a 1-handle ERA so far. Without his fastball regaining some oomph, though, I just don’t think the slider misses enough bats to make everything work

3:34
Mazing Mets: Do you think Carrasco is a washed up bum?

3:35
Ben Clemens: Nope!

3:35
Guest: Not a question, but Story’s had a few shoulda-been-homers this year too. MLB hitters are experienced enough to know the feeling of a surefire homer and MLB took it away from them. I wonder how much it’s affecting their mentals and approaches at the plate

3:35
Ben Clemens: I mean, shoulda-been based on the balls they used from 2019 to 2021

3:35
Ben Clemens: The bigger issue is how good pitchers are getting, not that home runs are now at a reasonable level, at least in my opinion. The rabbit ball did a good job making total runs per game look okay, but it’s not like we’re in a new deadball era or anything

3:36
Ben Clemens: Quick bonus round before I head out for the day and eat some lunch (leftover spaghetti ai limon, quite delicious)

3:36
Hawk Harrelson: who do you think has a more productive (offensive) season for CWS…Moancada or Vaughn?

3:36
Ben Clemens: Moncada

3:36
Tork: How about moving back the mound?

3:36
Ben Clemens: Into it

3:36
Lets go mets: What your ideal liveliness of ball?

3:36
Ben Clemens: 2016

3:36
Dan: Do you think Brujan is a regular or is he destined for a utility role? Would it be different longer-term with a trade out of TB?

3:37
Ben Clemens: Too soon to tell. I cut him in Ottoneu b/c I don’t think the Rays are going to give him enough run

3:38
Ben Clemens: He’s still hitting in the minors, I still like the combination of approach and bat control. But just…. where are they gonna play him? They don’t seem likely to bump Walls or Franco for him (obvs not Franco, of course)

3:38
Guest: What batting average would prime Ichiro have in this year’s MLB?

3:38
Ben Clemens: .310

3:38
Guest: Giancarlo needs 43 more homers this year to reach 400 career. He’d have 53 on the year. Think it’s possible?

3:38
Ben Clemens: Yes

3:38
Ben Clemens: Aaaaaand that’s a wrap. Have a great week everyone.





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

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Prophet of the Sandlot
1 month ago

When will Texas call up Tavares or Bubba Thompson?