Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 5/2/22

1:58
Ben Clemens: Let’s get started a little early today

1:58
Ben Clemens: Welcome, everyone

1:58
Ben Clemens: Let’s talk some baseball! And I mean, whatever else too

1:58
Chamaco: Do you ever think about the unique (and pretty awesome) nature of your job? Seems pretty cool to write about baseball all day.  Also probably a little surreal, no? Convo in the Clemens household – “how was your day? Well, someone named Appa Yip Yip had a question in the chat that…”

1:58
Ben Clemens: Oh, all the time

2:00
Ben Clemens: I used to have a ‘real’ job

2:00
Ben Clemens: This one feels very different. It still feels like a job, trying to find things to write about can be hard, etc… but yeah it’s great

2:00
Morlock Jimenez: If a previously decent team decided to adopt a 10-man pitching staff, how good would the bench have to be in order to be competitive in today’s game?

2:00
Ben Clemens: I think it would matter a ton who their pitchers are, way more so than how good the bench was

2:02
Ben Clemens: If you took the Mariners’ staff (I think they’re a previously decent team), I don’t like their odds, because they’ve got some five-and-dive types

2:02
Ben Clemens: Honestly, maybe that’s every team

2:02
Ben Clemens: But it really matters how deep your starters go, basically

2:03
Ben Clemens: Sorry for my slow responses, I’m distracted because the Royals broadcast is explaining how important it is to throw slowly, and how pitchers who throw in the mid-80s are better than today’s crappy hard throwers

2:03
Joe: Is Whit Merrifield bad now?

2:04
Ben Clemens: Nah, I think he’s mostly what he always was. Not much power, not many strikeouts or walks, empty average but decent enough at average to make it work

2:04
Ben Clemens: He’s just having a rough run of it, and his game is so heavy on balls in play that that can happen

2:05
Romorr: Does XBA consider which side the batter is hitting from? See some high XBAs for a routine grounder to 3rd, but realize if it’s a left handed hitter, and there is a shift, that plays into the higher xba.

2:05
Ben Clemens: It doesn’t. It also doesn’t consider where it’s hit

2:05
Ben Clemens: er, rather

2:05
Ben Clemens: it looks at exit velocity, launch angle, and the batter’s sprint speed for grounders. It doesn’t consider whether it was hit to third or up the middle, whether it beat the shift, whether there is a shift, anything like that

2:06
Ben Clemens: That’s how you end up with pitches clobbered to center with super-high xwOBA that are just outs, etc.

2:06
Guest: Which ends up lower: Joey Votto’s season batting average (currently .122) or the Reds season win percentage (currently .136)?

2:07
Ben Clemens: haha, Votto’s batting average

2:07
Ben Clemens: even if he hits .350

2:07
Ben Clemens: c’mon now

2:07
Bob in Brooklyn: Cano was DFA’ed by the Mets earlier today.  What team, if any, will pick him up for the rest of this season since he’ll only cost the pro-rated minimum with the Mets picking up the rest of the tab?  Is he even worth that to a ML team at this point in his career?

2:08
Ben Clemens: Dan is gonna be writing about Cano tomorrow, but briefly, I don’t really think he’s rosterable right now. He just looks done to me; he can’t hit fastballs at the moment, and that’s a big problem.

2:08
Troy: 19 teams average under 5 ip/gs and the Ms interestingly aren’t one of them – Flexen, Ray, and Gilbert have all gone deep in all their starts, and you would expect Gonales to as well. Only true five and dive is brash

2:09
Ben Clemens: Well boy, do I feel sheepish

2:09
Ben Clemens: to quote Robin Williams in Aladdin

2:09
Tarik: “and his game is so heavy on balls in play that that can happen”. Can’t you say the same about strikeout hitters?

2:10
Ben Clemens: It’s more guys who get a lot of value from walks that are more stable. This would be something interesting to write about, so maybe I will — which kinds of profiles have the highest variance

2:10
Pumpsie Green: Does Helsley eventually replace Gallegos as the St.Louis closer? He has been on another level.

2:11
Ben Clemens: I think not, but I also think it doesn’t matter much, so long as they actually start using Helsley in bigger spots. For unclear reasons, Andre Pallante has entered in bigger spots than Helsley this year (so have Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera, but eh)

2:12
Ben Clemens: Strangely the Cards just haven’t had a lot of big spots for relievers (other than Gallegos). Every reliever on their team other than Gallegos has an inLI below 1, which means they’re coming in in low-leverage spots.

2:12
joe: So uh, maybe a few people overreacted about the Yankees offseason?

2:12
JaysFanInLondon: Are the Yankees better than we expected, or is this just a hot streak against weak opponents?

2:15
Ben Clemens: I definitely think that people overstated how bad their offseason was. I didn’t like it a ton, because I thought they upgraded but by less than they could have, but they were already good last year. There was maybe some Yankees fan exceptionalism going on; if you think your team should just constantly be signing the top 35 free agents and developing the top 20 prospects, Josh Donaldson and Anthony Rizzo don’t move the needle

2:15
Ben Clemens: They’re good! We expected them to be good!

2:15
Ben Clemens: They’re also hot, they’re not a true-talent .727 team

2:16
JaysFanInLondon: Does lineup protection really make a difference.  I hear alot of broadcasters talking about how Vladdy is getting nothing to hit because Hernandez is injured, but is it not more about the fact that he has not been laying off those pitches this year as well as he did last season?

2:17
Ben Clemens: I like this question quite a bit, but I’m afraid my answer might be unsatisfying. There’s no evidence it exists, but htat doesn’t mean it doesn’t, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it can’t get in some players’ heads

2:17
Cardsfan: Brewers a 100 win team this year?

2:18
Ben Clemens: Nah. The offense just isn’t there. The pitching is great, it might be better than expected even, but even when they were torching the Cubs over the weekend (my wife was at one of the games so I watched quite a bit of them) I felt the Sunday shutout coming

2:18
Ben Clemens: It’s just too hard to win 100 games 3-2

2:19
Guest: At what point do you send down Kelenic?

2:19
Ben Clemens: I’m kinda divided on this one. If I were going to start benching him more often, I’d send him down right this minute

2:20
Ben Clemens: But the M’s are still playing him mostly every day. I’d lean towards sending him down for a month or something, just letting him demolish some baseballs and get his head right, because there’s just a hole in his bat right now and I think it almost *has* to be mental

2:21
Ben Clemens: He has a zone contact rate below 70%. That’s… like it just doesn’t make sense. That’s sub-bad-Gallo

2:21
Chip Locke: Any thoughts on Jose Miranda? Seems like he may be able to run away with an everyday job considering Sano’s performance and injury

2:22
Ben Clemens: My thoughts on Jose Miranda: he’s awesome and he’s going to hit a ton. I definitely think he could take the job. I think he’s realllllllly good. It’s probably going to be path-dependent, but if he starts out on a hot streak, I don’t see him losing the job

2:22
Ben Clemens: Update: I had to switch from the Royals broadcast to the Cardinals’ one

2:23
Golan Norman: Do you think Hicks sticks in the rotation the whole season (barring injury)? I worry that his arsenal is a little shallow

2:24
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure, but I’m pleasantly surprised by the early returns on the experiment. You can’t control him getting hit in the arm with a line drive, and his control remains scattershot, but I think he’s looked pretty good, the breaking ball looks nice dialed down a few ticks, and if he can throw his changeup more (it was a plus pitch when he was a prospect but he’s understandably been mainly a two-pitch guy in the majors) I think the arsenal is fine

2:25
Ben Clemens: The real test, for me, is whether he’ll ever be able to throw 80 pitches in a game at his velo levels. It doesn’t look like he’s straining at all but he just hasn’t done it in a long time, you know?

2:25
PBS Jr.: Were there signs that Eric Lauer was about to become this? I traded him in a keeper league in June last year and I really don’t think I missed anything, but would be a much better manager if you showed me where I went wrong.

2:26
Ben Clemens: I still don’t understand how he’s doing it. I was going to write about him last week, and the more I looked, the more confused I got, to the point where I just scrapped the article and wrote about, I dunno, walks or someone who’s great at hitting line drives or something?

2:26
H.G.: Remember last year when the Cubs talk radio guy said the White Sox would need to offer more than Dylan Cease to pry Joc Pederson on an expiring contract at the deadline? No question. Thanks for the chat!

2:26
Ben Clemens: I know this is a ‘radio analysts and their crazy ideas’ dig, but I thikn it’s pretty remarkable how much Cease has changed his fortune, and changed the shape of his fastball to do so

2:27
Ben Clemens: In 2020, he was kinda bad. He just couldn’t miss any bats. And then he turned it into a prototypical rising fastball incredibly quickly

2:27
Sir Nerdlington: Announcers are so much a part of my fandom. How do I engage with my team when I don’t love the team’s play by play guy?

2:29
Ben Clemens: It’s a really tough question, and I sympathize with you. I can’t exactly tell you what I’d do, because I hop around between everyone’s games and so listen to all the crews quite a bit, but I’d say two things are helpful: baseball is still really fun, and even the play-by-play guys who just think modern players all suck still have great player anecdotes

2:30
Ben Clemens: The job is incredibly hard, and every announcing team in baseball delivers neat little team tidbits you’d never get without listening to them. So even if you’re not a big fan of their style, I think you can appreciate the game nonetheless

2:30
Tacoby Bellsbury: On mute, Sir Nerdlington. On mute.

2:31
Ben Clemens: There’s this too

2:31
brad penny for your thoughts: Ryan Helsley has negative FIP

2:31
Ben Clemens: I am writing about Helsley for tomorrow (or maybe Wednesday, we’ll see, under-promise and over-deliver etc.). He’s, uh, reallllly good

2:31
Farhandrew Zaidman: Taking into account the fact that it’s early May, does Justin Turner’s hard hit ball profile cratering worry you at all? He’s been a 40 glove in the field the past couple of years, I just wonder if the age is finally catching up with him.

2:33
Ben Clemens: I’m worried. I’m not sure I have a good analytical reason to be as worried as I am, but when everything goes downhill all at once, that feels to me like a talent level change. It’s not like he’s getting unlucky on balls in play, or just affected by the new ball — he’s hitting it less hard, striking out more, walking less, popping it up more when he manages to get the ball in the air, getting the ball in the air less… he’s also swinging way more, and kinda looks like he’s pressing

2:34
Ben Clemens: I just feel like when so many things go wrong at once, maybe some of them can be flukes, but probably not all of them

2:34
Jordan: What are your thoughts on the Blue Jays? They’ve kept their heads above water in spite of a very hard schedule

2:35
Ben Clemens: I’d feel good about the team if I were them. I’d probably continue to be worried about outfield depth — they’re playing Raimel Tapia quite a bit, which is not what you’d like to see from a playoff team — but their starting pitching has had a bumpy start, they’ve had injuries and a tough schedule, and they’re still winning

2:35
Cobie: I’m disapointed in Bichette so far, any reason for optimism other than he probably figures it out because he’s good?

2:36
Ben Clemens: On that topic: he’ll probably figure it out because he’s good, but until my recent swing decision looks, I didn’t realize that he has a pretty iffy approach at the plate

2:37
Ben Clemens: He’s making less contact this year and I think that’s driving a lot of his issues

2:37
Ben Clemens: Because he swings so much that he puts pressure on himself to make contact

2:37
Matthew from LA: Did the Rockies have a sneaky solid offseason?

2:38
Ben Clemens: I think that people misunderstand how solid offseasons work. Like, everyone was bashing the Kris Bryant signing, and haha, amazing, those dumb Rockies, learn math, etc

2:38
Ben Clemens: And you can say they let a lot of talent leave and mishandled Jon Gray’s contract status, that’s all true

2:39
Ben Clemens: But uh, they got some good players, I like Chad Kuhl in general, and I think it’s just so easy to dunk on the Rockies that people tend to underrate them

2:39
Golan Norman: Do the Cardinals have a fastball problem? Granted, its not so much that they’ve deviated from the trend, but rather they never really got on it, but they still don’t really have high 4 seamer guys (except a couple in the bullpen). I read an article  about the Royals at the Athletic that pointed to their ‘averageness’ of fastball movement. The Cards were included in their charts too

2:40
Ben Clemens: I don’t think so. I think that they build their roster to emphasize its strengths. The better your defense, the more it makes sense to allow balls in play. The stadium is enormous, too, and after talking about maybe bringing the walls in they decided not to. Avoiding contact is less important when it’s hard to hit home runs and your team turns batted balls into outs as well as the Cards do

2:41
Appa Yip Yip: What happens first, Gausman walks a batter or gives up a homerun?

2:41
Ben Clemens: I’m gonna take the easy out and say a walk. More walks than home runs in the majors, etc. etc. Not gonna say I’ve put more thought into it than that

2:41
Bearman: What is happening with Trevor Story?

2:41
RTJ: What are you looking forward to seeing play out, story-wise (I do not mean Trevor), during the month of May?

2:41
Ben Clemens: heyyyyyy, transitions!

2:43
Ben Clemens: I guess I was supposed to answer the first one before pivoting to the second one. I have no idea what’s going on with Story. I really don’t understand how he’s not hitting for more power. He’s still hitting the ball hard and everything. Really don’t get it. It seems like his timing is just off and he’s behind on a lot of pitches, but that’s not a satisfying answer

2:43
Ben Clemens: As to what I’m most looking forward to in May, here’s another transition: I’m watching every Kershaw start this year until further notice

2:43
Gunther Centralperk: Is Kershaw strictly on one-year deals with the Dodgers going forward? (I could see him signing for multiple years with the Rangers if he leaves.) He looks fantastic so far.

2:43
Kershaw: If I can net 5 more IP than BBs+Hs next start, my career WHIP will drop below 1.  Pretty incredible, right?

2:43
Ben Clemens: OMG

2:44
Ben Clemens: go watch the Royals Cardinals game for Michael A Taylor’s catch

2:44
Ben Clemens: wowwwwwww

2:44
Ben Clemens: But yeah, it’s SOOOOOOO fun to watch Kershaw turn back the clock. Can’t recommend it highly enough

2:44
XBA: In some ways, the Rockies org should be applauded for putting together a consistently ok team with happy fans that pack out the stadium

2:45
Ben Clemens: Dan and I discussed this on last week’s FanGraphs Audio. The Rockies are a very frustrating team because their front office operates in ways that just seem knowingly suboptimal

2:45
Ben Clemens: But ownership’s goals and their desire to put a good product on the field can’t be doubted

2:46
Ben Clemens: It’s good intentions poor execution most of the time, and I think they get too hard of a time for that. Do you know how easy it is to tank? Teams tank at the drop of a hat

2:46
Ben Clemens: The Rockies didn’t

2:46
Bill: Is Julio getting squeezed by the umps? His manager sure seems to think so. And boy, is he easy to root for…

2:46
Ben Clemens: Justin Choi wrote about this

2:47
Steve O: Mike King should probably start, right? Like he’s throwing 40-50 pitches routinely and has been like the 4th most valuable pitcher in baseball or something as a reliever. He’s got 4 pitches. Two insanely good ones. The problem is there’s no one to bump from the rotation.

2:48
Ben Clemens: Okay, this is going to turn into a digression about the way fWAR works, but I’ll first quickly say that I don’t think it’s weird to leave him in the bullpen, but if one of their starters is down for an extended period of time, bring him (or Clarke Schmidt) into the rotation ASAP

2:48
Ben Clemens: So, WAR for relievers is weird because we account for leverage. He’s thrown 14 innings of really good baseball, but two things are turning that into a wild WAR number

2:49
Ben Clemens: First, he’s come in in big spots so far, 1.49 inLI, which is the average leverage index when pitchers enter the game, with 1 being average

2:49
Ben Clemens: So he’s getting a big boost to ‘raw’ WAR, which makes sense over the course of a season, good way to evaluate relievers, but can lead to some big numbers early in the year

2:51
Ben Clemens: Second, he’s getting a big Yankee stadium boost but it’s not clear how much sense that makes given his super-high groundball rate — probably unsustainably high. And he has 3 popups already, which we add to strikeouts. It’s a perfect storm of a way to get fWAR to give you a lot of credit for not too many innings

2:51
Ben Clemens: Anyway — he should probably be in line to start. But I wouldn’t pay too much attention to reliever WAR this early in the season. His ERA and underlying stats are plenty good enough as it is

2:51
vr: The fangraphs change in defense to account for initial position seems to assume that players are not responsible at all for their own positioning. One guy hurt the most by the change is Chase Utley, who was known for positioning himself uniquely well. Is there a better way to give players at least some credit for positioning?

2:52
Ben Clemens: Well, Utley played the fast majority of his career before our defensive change, and all of that value is left exactly the same

2:53
Ben Clemens: But I think this is kind of an unfixable problem. The two are so linked, and it’s very hard to know whether the team or the player is responsible for positioning and how much credit to give to each

2:53
Ben Clemens: You have to pick one way and go with it. I don’t know which way is right, to be honest, but I’m mostly comfortable with ours?

2:53
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Any experiences with Terraforming Mars or Ares Expedition? I tried Gaia Project recently and it was a great heavy Euro game but I can’t see it hitting the table that much with its weight and size. So AE is on my radar as a tighter version of Terraforming Mars, which itself is similar to GP.

2:54
Ben Clemens: I have somehow never played Terraforming Mars. That said, I have one friend whose opinions on board games I most respect, and it’s his favorite game

2:54
Ben Clemens: It’s just one of those things where when we hang out we usually want to try new games, and his group he plays TM with is old friends, that kinda thing. I assume it’s awesome, basically, but can’t say from personal experience

2:55
Didace: “Chase Utley, who was known for positioning himself uniquely well”   Was he actually good at this? Or is this just what the announcers said?

2:55
Ben Clemens: To be clear, I have no idea

2:55
JaysFanInLondon: Re: OPS+, it seems like it is becoming more mainstream than other more accurate value approximating statistics in media (like wRC+).  Any idea why that is happening?

2:57
Ben Clemens: I think a lot of it comes down to the fact that OPS is easier to understand. It’s on-base plus slugging

2:57
Ben Clemens: It’s also fairly close to wRC+; it’s worse, but it’s getting a lot of the way there. I think it makes sense given its huge improvement over batting average, and the fact that it’s made up of stats people know gives it a big leg up

2:58
Steve O: Wait, there’s a Yankee Stadium adjustment? I though Yankee Stadium was basically a neutral environment overall? Also his GB rate is basically at his career mark. 48.3%

2:59
Ben Clemens: Well if you’re not giving up homers, particularly lefties, it’s a good defensive stadium. And perhaps I should say that his fly ball rate is unsustainably low rather than gb unsustainably high; he’s giving up a bunch of low line drives that are somewhere between grounders and line drives at the moment, but I don’t think he’s gonna continue to put up a 17% flyball rate

2:59
Thomas: Because you asked for board game talk last week, here are some games that I’ve been really into in the last couple years: Inis, Brass: Birmingham, Modern Art, Concordia. Played any of them? Brass and Modern Art especially seem like they’d be up your alley

3:00
Ben Clemens: Inis is so good! Modern Art is my favorite auction game of all time not particularly close. My friend has an old copy of it that has fake pictures (I’ve heard the new versions have actual pictures) and a house rule that you have to make up the names of each piece and describe them like an art snob

3:00
Ben Clemens: Really puts it over the top

3:00
Ben Clemens: Shout out to Ra as another great auction game, but Modern Art is just incredible. Simple rules and yet a blast to play. Everyone should try it

3:00
RJD: why does projected standings and playoff odds have different projected wins? would think these two systems would be in sync. (projected: Yankees 94.6, Jays 94.1; odds: Jays:95, Yankees 94.7)

3:01
Ben Clemens: We probably need a better explainer for this. On projected standings, we don’t consider schedule at all

3:01
Ben Clemens: It’s literally just how many runs we project them to score, how many runs we expect them to allow, plug that into Pythagorean expectation

3:02
Ben Clemens: On playoff odds, we work out each team’s neutral-opponent win percentage, then plug those all into the actual schedule and simulate the season 20,000 times

3:03
Ben Clemens: In your example, if you look at ‘strength of sched’ on playoff odds, you can see that the Blue Jays have an easier schedule the rest of the way (.493 vs. 500). Seven points of win percentage over 140-ish games is about a win, et voila

3:04
Thomas: The art in the current edition of Modern Art is really gorgeous. They actually got pieces from a bunch of working artists. And agreed, it’s the best auction game! Ra is great too, very different though, and less of a pure auction game.

3:04
Ben Clemens: Perhaps I should take a look at the current version then. But yeah, it’s great, everyone play it. I’ve heard Brass is great too, it’s on my list to try

3:04
Led Tasso: “simulate the season 20,000 times”

3:04
Led Tasso: Like Dr. Strange

3:04
Ben Clemens: I only found one reality where the Orioles made the playoffs

3:05
Million Bux: Just want to say a healthy Buxton is great for baseball.  No matter how many stats or highlights I see it never gets old

3:05
Ben Clemens: Buxton is not my favorite player to watch (that’s Javy Baez). But he’s in the top 5, and I think that’s basically inarguable

3:06
Ben Clemens: I just want him to stay on the field; he’s a ton of fun on offense and defense when he’s out there

3:06
Guest: Did the Braves make a mistake not signing a decent outfielder like Canha this off-season. Consistency has been a huge issue so far

3:07
Ben Clemens: I think a lot of teams should have signed Canha. Not too worried about Atlanta yet, though. Consistency has been an issue for a lot of teams, and having Acuna back is going to make all the rotations work a lot better

3:07
Morbo: What are the chances that Ben Joyce gets drafted and appears in the majors this year. Seems pretty hard to argue that a guy that throws 105 and has a crazy slider isn’t MLB ready

3:08
Ben Clemens: I’ve been discussing this with friends; I kind of think it’s gonna hapepn

3:08
Ben Clemens: (we were actually discussing which round he might go in)

3:08
Ben Clemens: If you’re a team in a playoff race who needs good relievers anyway…. I mean, that guy’s stuff plays

3:08
Ben Clemens: It’s just clear it plays

3:09
Jack: If you were given limitless batting practice opportunities, do you think you could hit a home run in any major league stadium?

3:09
Ben Clemens: No, but I suck at baseball

3:09
Ben Clemens: Maybe if I got to train for a while first

3:09
Ben Clemens: Those stadiums are big, though. You need to be strong to hit a ball out

3:09
Andrew Luck Dragon: No question, just pointing out the Dbacks are somehow running a .215 team BABIP…

3:09
Ben Clemens: great username, and also yeah that doesn’t seem great!

3:10
Johnny5Alive: Speaking about guys out of the pen being really good right now, what about what drew smith is doing for the mets? Almost Helsley like… I am still worried about their pen though…

3:10
Ben Clemens: I’m gonna shamelessly echo what Mike Petriello said — Smith has done something interesting to the shape of his slider, making it more downward-breaking

3:11
Ben Clemens: He looks the part, all of the sudden. Mets bullpen is pretty good imo. I didn’t love letting Adam Ottavino face Kyle Schwarber when he’s ROOGY-ish and there aren’t many lefties on the Phillies, but I think they’re quite a good pen overall

3:12
Ben Clemens: Honestly, I didn’t see a ton of criticism of that, and what the heck? Joe Girardi talked a good amount about how he needed to separate out his only two lefties because he just didn’t have many boppers who were lefty

3:13
Ben Clemens: and then a guy with huge splits b/c of the shape of his pitches ends up facing one of them? I guess with Herrera in it’s not quite so obvious, but it just feels like the Mets could’ve used someone less splitty and saved Ottavino for lower in the lineup

3:13
Guest: Do you think you could hit a home run out of Yankee Stadium to right field? It’s a meatball down the middle

3:13
Ben Clemens: I’m even a lefty! But eh, right now no

3:13
x2R: Early surprise: Twins or Angels (pitching)?

3:14
Ben Clemens: Angels! Maybe they’re similarly unexpected this year, but the Angels’ pitching futility has built up for so long that it shocks me when they’re decent

3:14
Ben Clemens: I understand that the Twins leaned really hard into the low-velo types in the 2010’s, but the Angels just felt cursed by an ancient deity or something

3:14
Jackson Ingram: Favorite city connect jersey so far?

3:15
Ben Clemens: After spending a while mocking them, I think it might be Houston? They’re a little cutesy, but I think the whole package works pretty well together. The font on the Nats jerseys ruins them, but they’re still my second-favorite b/c the cherry blossoms really pop. Finally, I like the Red Sox ones okay in extreme moderation, the marathon shoutout is neat and if it weren’t for the history of the team, I think I’d look at that jersey and say ‘yeah cool’

3:16
Clay Holmes: How can one tell when a reliever level up like this might occur, and why can’t the Pirates see it?

3:16
Ben Clemens: Something about throwing stones when you live in a clay house, maybe? I’m not really sure, but I can tell you that when the Yankees acquired Holmes, I was far from the only person saying “this guy is going to be a useful pitcher for them this year”

3:17
Ben Clemens: His stuff looks the part, and he’s stepped it up too since going to New York. Pitching development and working with guys to figure out how best to harness their talent seems like something the Yankees do incredibly well

3:17
Paul M: What is wrong with Tyler O’Neill right now?  Striking out less, chasing less, whiffing less, and hitting way worse

3:18
Ben Clemens: Beats me. From watching him, he seems to be in his head about sliders at the moment, really taking bad swings against them, even when he connects

3:18
Ben Clemens: I’m not worried yet, but his approach does not look like the Tyler O’Neill approach that we know works

3:19
Steve O: Speaking of pitching development: what is the highest end of season fwar you could put on Nestor Cortes and think “that’s not crazy”?

3:19
Ben Clemens: Hmmmm….. 4?

3:19
Ben Clemens: fWAR seems like it might undercount Cortes in general b/c I’d buy him as a contact suppressor thanks to all the funk in his delivery

3:20
Lunch Angle: What are we to make of Paul Blackburn?

3:20
Ben Clemens: I truly do not know. He might just be good? I missed him in an Ottoneu auction and though eh, I thought I might have overbid, kinda glad I missed — and he’s been lights out since hten

3:21
Ben Clemens: I wish I could say something more insightful than that. i just don’t know! Seems like he decided to stop walking anyone or allowing any balls in the air. His average launch angle allowed is negative this year!

3:22
Ben Clemens: The guys who did that last year are basically good: Aaron Bummer, Clay Holmes, Framber Valdez, Richard Bleier, Mark Melancon (okay ehhhh), Logan Webb

3:22
Ben Clemens: If you can make opponents hit that many grounders, it’s very hard to score against you, particularly if you don’t walk anyone

3:23
Ben Clemens: Not sure he’s going to keep doing it, and I dunno about this cutter he throws, but I’m gonna need to see some hitters start elevating the ball before I’m off the train

3:24
The Real Ben Clemens: Not really a question, just expressing a general frustration that everyone in the Royals organization seems to have a ludicrously long leash despite poor decision making and results. Matheny doing Matheny things, GMDM still in a position of power despite not having a winning season since 2015, etc. Might just be a result of the team’s slow start but it’s easy to get annoyed with seemingly the same process giving the same results and nothing changing.

3:25
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I can’t say I disagree with you. I think that there are some silver linings to Moore — the team has actually been pretty good at amateur scouting, and that matters — but this isn’t so much a good process bad execution issue as what is the plan here

3:25
#notapril: I hate to jinx a guy mid game… but Cease is making the Angels desist!

3:25
Ben Clemens: +1 for the pun

3:25
Guest: Baseball’s compensation system is screwed. How would you fix it? Can it be done without a negotiated revenue split.

3:26
Ben Clemens: I don’t think it can be done without a negotiated revenue split, basically. I’ve thought about this one quite a lot, tried to write up new systems more than once in the offseason. I couldn’t think of one that didn’t have a revenue split at its core. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, obviously, just that I’m not clever enough to have thought of one

3:27
The Reginald: Not your area of expertise, but Reginal Preciado from the Cubs is hitting .122/.157/.143 in A with a 56.9% K rate.  I can’t recall ever seeing a K rate that high, even in a small sample like his 51 PA.  Have you heard anything about this kid and his wet noodle he brought to A ball?

3:27
Ben Clemens: I will merely say this: I saw Preciado (on TV) in spring training. He is the youngest-looking player I’ve ever seen, and he’s SOOOOO skinny. He was born in 2003 (!!!)

3:28
Ben Clemens: A ball was a wildly aggressive assignment for him, I think he might just not be ready for it yet

3:29
Ben Clemens: Eh, I guess maybe wildly aggressive is a stretch, but he’s like 2 years young for the league, and he’s still growing phsyically it seems like

3:29
Ben Clemens: I’m not surprised that he’s just being overmatched; I guess the alternative would be to let him go to the complex? I don’t hate an aggressive assignment though

3:29
Ben Clemens: And actually, it looks like that might have happened? He hasn’t played since April 24

3:30
Jackson R.: Are you sold on Belli’s resurgence? From what I’ve seen, he’s been feasting off of mistakes low in the zone, but still struggles to hit high heat.

3:30
Ben Clemens: I am extremely not

3:30
Ben Clemens: He doesn’t look right to me. I agree with you — he looks much more like a mistake hitter who’s kinda selling out for low pitches than what he did when he was great

3:31
Wireless Joe Jackson: Remember that time like three years ago when Jose Ramirez was terrible for 4 months for really no apparent reason, and then went back to being a superstar?

3:31
Ben Clemens: It was bizarre. I’m thankful that I was just getting my feet wet as a writer here when that happened, or I would have had some cold takes to be exposed for sure

3:31
Ben Clemens: on the other hand, Ramirez is the platonic ideal of my favorite hitter type gone right — the extremely-high-contact guy

3:32
Guest: Who has your favorite batting stance of all time? Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis were iconic for me growing up.

3:32
Ben Clemens: Gary Sheffield for me. I was never a fan of a team he was on, but that bat waggle was just the coolest thing imaginable as a kid

3:33
Ben Clemens: I copied it and never stopped; I definitely looked silly in college softball waggling my bat and then dumping a soft liner into right, but it’s just so fun!

3:33
Wireless Joe Jackson: I always think of that when I see that “what’s wrong with X player” questions.

3:34
Ben Clemens: I reserve the right to take back ALLLLL my ‘what’s wrong with’ answers except for Cano

3:34
Ben Clemens: I’m pretty sure he’s just cooked

3:34
Guest: What the heck is up with Boston’s bats? Worst offense in MLB is not what I was expecting through April.

3:34
Ben Clemens: Noooooo idea

3:35
Ben Clemens: I don’t even know where to start

3:35
Guest: Sheffield must’ve had the wrists of Zeus to waggle his bat like that

3:36
Ben Clemens: Yeah, to be clear, mine is not actually like Sheffield’s. It’s just the concept. But I just loved the casual menace in it. He made the bat look like a toothpick, and he just seemed like he was hanging out doing nothing at all there, then suddenly he’d spray 135mph line drives (velos approximated) all over the field

3:36
Guest: Is this the end for Jared Kelenic?

3:36
Ben Clemens: I do not think so, haha

3:36
Ben Clemens: I do think he might end up in Triple-A pretty soon though

3:38
Ben Clemens: Good news: per the Cardinals broadcast, Brendan Donovan’s abillity to a)hit groundouts on brekaing balls and b)foul off fastballs means he’s definitely going to be a great hitter

3:38
Ben Clemens: Er, I think they said good hitter, but still

3:38
Ice Horse: Does Michael Chavis have the best nickname in MLB?

3:39
Ben Clemens: I hadn’t heard that one, but it’s pretty good. Seung-hwan Oh is back in KBO, which takes him out of the equation. Let me think for a bit on this one…. Ice Horse is definitely a good nickname.

3:39
Ben Clemens: Oh, I love Mal Tiempo for Jose Abreu

3:39
Ben Clemens: Audience? Any suggestions?

3:40
#notapril: El Mago

3:40
Ben Clemens: Oh yeah that’s a great one that I’m embarrassed I missed

3:40
Ben Clemens: Tots for Harrison Bader is good, albeit not quite as intimidating

3:41
#notapril: Nasty Nestor is pretty hilarious, especially given the ‘stache

3:41
Ben Clemens: Ehhhhh, time will tell on that one. I do enjoy the alliteration though

3:42
Booth: Nestor ‘stache or todays Cease ‘stache??? I’m going with Nestor’s…

3:42
Ben Clemens: I have to give credit to Bryan Reynolds here

3:42
Ben Clemens: I underrated his stache in the past, it’s excellent though. I think I gave it a present 5 and that’s just insulting. It’s like a present 6 or 7

3:44
Ben Clemens: Alright, we’re in the nicknames and mustaches part of the chat, so let’s call it a day. I’m going to go get some lunch and start watching Helsley throw 103

3:44
Ben Clemens: Have a wonderful week, everyone.

3:45
Ben Clemens: And to those who celebrate, happy first day of OOTP Perfect Team tomorrow





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

4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
radivel
9 months ago

@Ben Clemens – The Epic Game Store has Terraforming Mars on for free for a week starting this Thursday if you want to try the digital version.

radivel
9 months ago
Reply to  radivel

And by that I mean it’s free to buy forever, not free to just use for a week.