Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 5/20/24

2:02
Ben Clemens: Hey everyone, welcome to the chat

2:04
Ben Clemens: I’m a little behind today as I finish up some old work and get started on an article for tomorrow, becuase I have the day off but want to get some content out

2:04
Ben Clemens: So today’s chat is going to be more of the one hour variety than the two hour, let’s go completely nuts version

2:04
Ben Clemens: Let’s just get right into it

2:04
Don: Any hope in a revival for Brennen Davis, or is this just a very hot streak that most players have at some point every year?

2:05
Ben Clemens: I t hink the most likely outcome is just that it’s a very hot streak but I hope I’m wrong

2:05
Machado: Last year, you mentioned some statcast stats of Manny Machado’s that concerned you. Are those same issues underlying his current stuggles?

2:07
Ben Clemens: Yes and no, which I am aware is a copout answer

2:07
Ben Clemens: I feel like he’s getting unlucky this year, and that his underlying quality is closer to last year

2:08
Ben Clemens: I think he’s going to bounce back some from this year’s lackluster numbers, for sure

2:11
Ben Clemens: but overall yeah, I’m still a little concerned. It just doesn’t feel like he can keep producing elite batting numbers without a little bit more damage on contact

2:11
Ben Clemens: he’s just not ever going to be a high babip or high walk rate guy, it’s not his thing

2:11
deBride: Since 2017 the Rockies have a 5.05 ERA vs a 4.65 FIP, the worst gap in MLB by 0.15 runs. Over that same time the Dodgers have a 3.32 ERA vs a 3.71 FIP, the best gap in MLB by 0.18 runs. Both teams are on islands of their own. I know more than stadium and defense go into beating (or not beating) one’s FIP, but have the Dodgers essentially created a reverse Coors via some combination of game planning/positioning/defense/etc over their last 1,082 games and counting ??

2:11
Ben Clemens: That’s definitely one way you could think about it

2:12
Ben Clemens: Coors is definitely a place that will mess with FIP, BABIP is just so high there given the size of the outfield

2:13
Ben Clemens: the Dodgers take away hits on balls in play like Coors’s giant outfield adds hits on balls in play

2:13
Ben Clemens: pretty wild

2:13
bringbackpologrounds: Dodgers shifting Betts to SS and the Yankees shifting Judge to CF reminds me of the Tigers shifting Cabrera to 3B in 2012. Do you think that experiment worked for the Tigers? How do you see it working for the Dodgers and Yankees down the road?

2:13
Ben Clemens: I do not think that one worked out for the Tigers, though I completely understand why they tried it

2:14
Ben Clemens: I think that these two are a bit different in that both Betts and Judge were plus defenders in right field, so it’s a matter of trying to move your good defender up to a tougher spot and see how they stick

2:14
Ben Clemens: obviously RF->SS is wild

2:14
Ben Clemens: but the idea is just categorically different than taking a guy everyone thought was 1b only and throwing him at third

2:14
Ben Clemens: I think that for the Dodgers, they’ll slide Betts back to either second or right when their team construction ends up a bit more normal in a year or so

2:15
Ben Clemens: and I think that the Yankees are going to end up parking Judge in a corner as he ages, it’s just easier on his body

2:15
Skenes: Looks like the hype might be deserved, no?

2:15
Ben Clemens: Yeah I was too much of a skeptic here

2:15
Ben Clemens: I mean, I guess we’ll need to see more

2:15
Ben Clemens: but I have been very impressed by his first two starts, I was telling people to wait and see and uh, it looks like we waited and saw

2:16
99: At this point, what are the chances that Jordan Walker plays good baseball for the Cards this year?  Another team?

2:16
Ben Clemens: I think it’s about 0% on both sadly

2:16
Ben Clemens: I mean, they’re not trading him

2:16
Ben Clemens: If anything they’re gonna be selling

2:16
Ben Clemens: Meanwhile, I don’t think you can bring him up given that Oli doesn’t want to play him

2:16
Ben Clemens: he was getting buried in favor of EVERYBODY when he was up, and was not hitting well

2:17
Ben Clemens: I don’t see how you can do that again without knowing that something will be different

2:17
Ben Clemens: particularly on the PT front. It just is not good business to call up your top offensive prospect and then pinch hit for him all the time

2:17
Ben Clemens: and use him as a weak side platoon DH

2:17
Logan Davis: The club of bat speed leaders — Stanton, Judge, Soto et. al — is a bunch of guys with massive power, and then Julio, who is rocking a .059 ISO. What the heck? Is it even possible to have a slugging percentage this low when you swing this hard? Or is this just definitely gonna sort itself out?

2:17
Ben Clemens: I think it’s just gonna sort itself out

2:19
Ben Clemens: I don’t see anything in his numbers that tells me nope, he’s broken

2:19
Ben Clemens: and he’s shown the ability to adjust before

2:19
Ben Clemens: so I think that’s just still the smart bet

2:19
Sooooo: Shota is having a better May than April!

2:19
Ben Clemens: Truly amazing

2:19
Archer: Wenceel Perez: flash in the pan or a sustainable surprise?

2:19
Ben Clemens: wise, considered answer: it’s too soon to tell and I haven’t done enough of a deep dive into his numbers to have a strong view either way

2:20
Ben Clemens: hot take: I picked him up in fantasy and am running him out there daily until proven wrong

2:20
birds birds birds: Is there research showing whether a six man rotation helps/hurts the starters involved?

2:20
Ben Clemens: There’s not, at least not great well-balanced reserach

2:20
Ben Clemens: however, I did write this:

2:21
Ben Clemens: The overall point, however, is that extra days of rest seem to have a small but beneficial effect on pitchers’ results. For each extra day of rest, their xFIP improves, relative to their seasonal average, by roughly 0.06.

2:21
Ben Clemens: there we go

2:21
Sodo mojo: Is it time for the mariners to move on from Ty France and is someone like Connor Joe a reaonable target

2:21
Ben Clemens: I…. I don’t think so?

2:22
Ben Clemens: move on from Ty France, yeah, I suppose I can see that if they had good alternatives. I still think he’s a plus bat but with essentially zero defensive value, he’s not THAT useful

2:23
Ben Clemens: but like, Connor Joe hasn’t looked that great this year? Not hitting the ball particularly hard, no obvious new skills, it seems like he’s just cashing in a ton of doubles on weak contact

2:23
Ben Clemens: I’d take France to outperform Joe straight up the rest of the way this year, and that’s before figuring in the cost to swap them

2:24
deck: My assumption is that pitchers like Bob Gibson or Don Drysdale could throw 300 innings because they had the sense not to go at 100% all the time.  You don’t need to pitch Dal Maxville like you would pitch to Willie Mays.  Expand by at least ten teams and remove the DH.  They would thereby bring back to defensive specialists who can’t hit, along with pitchers batting, and the starter could return to baseball.  There’s my unsolicited opinion.

2:24
Ben Clemens: I do think that expansion would probably help a lot of problems baseball is facing

2:24
Ben Clemens: the weird paradox that there are too many good pitchers, which makes it feel like there are’nt enough good pitchers, can be solved by just having more teams to fill

2:25
Ben Clemens: Like, everyone these days complains about how you can never have enough pitching

2:25
Ben Clemens: and yet, run scoring just goes down and down and down

2:25
Ben Clemens: sure seems like we have enough good pitching!

2:25
bosoxforlife: Do you think there is a level where the continuing drop in offense causes the game to act.? A league average of .240 and 20+ strikeouts per game is beginning to wear me down..

2:25
Ben Clemens: Yes. I think we’ve passed that point, and that the league is going to continue to try to act

2:25
Ben Clemens: They’re trying. They banned shifts. They added the pitch clock. They’ve messed with in-game pitching changes. They regulated sticky stuff more harshly

2:26
Ben Clemens: They need to come up with better solutions, but I think it’s fair to say that they’re trying

2:26
The Ghost of Wade Boggs: Would you consider pitcher’s inducing IFFBs a skill or is that something you would expect to stabilize toward league averages over the course of a year? Thinking about it in terms of Hunter Greene who has a 23.9% IFFB rate.

2:26
Ben Clemens: Yes and no

2:26
Ben Clemens: Is his quite high? yeah

2:26
Ben Clemens: but there’s real skill in this on the pitcher side

2:27
Ben Clemens: the way I think of it is this: pitchers exsert a lot of control on whether a batter hits the ball

2:27
Ben Clemens: hitters exert a lot of control on how hard they hit the ball

2:27
Ben Clemens: both sides exert influence on launch angle

2:27
Ben Clemens: here’s a study I did on pop up rate:

2:28
Ben Clemens: IFFB% is less easy to control

2:28
Ben Clemens: b/c that’s already IFFB per fly ball, and pitchers exsert more control on fly balls, not what type of fly balls

2:28
Ben Clemens: but if you’re looking at a pitcher who got a lot of pop ups overall one year, they probably will in year two as well

2:29
Matos vs Ramos: Hi Ben, do you like Matos more or Ramos ROS to say with the team and assuming your league values OPS, which would you lean towards?

2:29
Ben Clemens: I like Matos more for playing time reasons. With JHL out for the season, there’s an easier path to playing time in center. I guess Yaz can slide over sometimes, but there’s just going to be more competition for corner outfield PA’s

2:29
Farhandrew Zaidman: There’s nothing you can tell me that will convince me Bobby Miller and Max Muncy weren’t both phantom ILs. One for innings purposes, the other for roster crunch purposes. Teams are definitely still doing it, right?

2:29
Ben Clemens: Oh 100%

2:30
Ben Clemens: why would they not?

2:30
Ben Clemens: I’ll be a little charitable and say that it’s more like injuries that are real but play-through-able are leading to IL stints more frequently

2:31
Princess Leia: Does Andres Gimenez have some upside in his profile? Or is this just his best case scenario right here? He’s been solid in my 10 team points league, but I keep trying to upgrade and failing.

2:31
Ben Clemens: I think he has a little more in his bat

2:31
Ben Clemens: not a lot, but if he just gets back to last year’s power numbers there’s something there

2:32
Ben Clemens: That’s kinda the promise with him; his floor is really high b/c he has great contact skills, so if he catches a BABIP or power heater he can have a great year

2:32
SandyIsTheGreatest: Should the Dodgers trade Clayton Kershaw is he comes back and is healthy? They have enough pitching and Robert’s is doing his best work as manager.

2:32
Ben Clemens: Haha, this is a funny question but no

2:32
Ben Clemens: Like, in the real world they obviously aren’t

2:33
Ben Clemens: but in a perfect world where you can ignore that he’s Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, well, then you can ignore that Dave Roberts has a mental block around managing Kershaw

2:33
Ben Clemens: They have enough pitching for now, but they easily might not in a month

2:33
C-Low: It feels to me like Henderson should bat second and Rutschman first. Not a huge obp and immense power but keeps hitting solo home runs. Am I on to something or would you keep as is?

2:34
Ben Clemens: I think the difference between the two options is small enough that I’d do whatever makes the players happiest

2:34
Mary Kate Olsen: MARY. KATE. OLSEN.

2:34
dave: I’m assuming MLB teams have had access to the recently made public swing metrics for years. Do you think these metrics are part of the reason veterans aren’t getting as many offers as it seems these metrics can more quickly identify players who are aging out of their prime?

2:34
Ben Clemens: Yes to both

2:34
Not AJ Preller: Hypothetical scenario: You’re Ben Cherington, and Mike Elias calls you offering Jackson Holliday for one of Paul Skenes or Jared Jones. Do you do it? Big things happening in Pittsburgh, but they don’t really seem on the cusp of greatness just yet and the pitching prospect demographic obviously scarier than position player! Also, equally fun to think of one of those two guys pitching deep into a playoff run as soon as this year

2:34
Ben Clemens: If I’m Cherington, I’d grit my teeth and do it

2:35
Ben Clemens: It’s just because of the demographic risk, like you said

2:35
Ben Clemens: right now Jones and Skenes are clearly more impactful than Holliday

2:35
Ben Clemens: but I like the long-term risk/reward skew on position players better

2:35
Ben Clemens: that’s why our prospect rankings skew towards hitters too, to be clear

2:36
Adam: Do you think the Blue Jays are already bound to be sellers this year? Who would they even move?

2:36
Ben Clemens: Already bound? No. But I think that they’re a slow month away from being very interesting sellers

2:37
Ben Clemens: they have some pitching with two ish years of control that I think people would be interested in: Gausman, Bassitt, Kikuchi

2:37
Ben Clemens: Danny Jansen would fetch a nice haul

2:38
Ben Clemens: I think they’re unlikely to move Bichette, obviously people would be interested but at a low-ball rate given his rough start to the season

2:38
Chooch: Are you buying the improvements at the plate bohm and stott have shown this season? Not saying they will continue to hit at this same level, but have you seen enough to expect they are improved hitters moving forward?

2:39
Ben Clemens: I haven’t done THAT much work on them but from what I have done, I’m higher on Bohm and unchanged on Stott

2:40
Ben Clemens: Stott just seems to be on a hot streak as best as I can tell, whereas Bohm has made some nice changes

2:40
Harry: Do you think Kikuchi’s numbers are sustainable? He seems reinvented.

2:40
Ben Clemens: at these levels, no. at improved levels, yes

2:41
Smiling Politely: Does Ohtani face a steeper climb for MVP votes as a DH (independent of WAR)?

2:41
Ben Clemens: I would say yes if it weren’t Ohtani

2:41
Ben Clemens: but he’s so well known that I think it overwhelms the DH penalty

2:41
Boof Bonser: For your own personal enjoyment, as a Bay Area baseball observer, which of Ramos/Matos/Luciano would you like to pan out most?

2:41
Ben Clemens: Oof, this is tough b/c I really like watching Lee play but Matos would be my pick out of that trio if I didn’t consider position

2:42
Ben Clemens: I guess I’ll say Luciano b/c I’m tired of the Giants shuffling through meh shortstops

2:42
SH, Jr.: Does the game actually suffer meaningfully if injuries and optimization morph the traditional SP role into a longer-long reliever? Naturally player comp will have to evolve but what’s the aesthetic harm to baseball, really, of every game being a bullpen game?

2:42
Ben Clemens: I mean, aesthetic arguments are necessarily subjective

2:42
Ben Clemens: but when I ask my non-baseball-fan friends, or semi-attached-fan friends, what they dislike about baseball

2:43
Ben Clemens: it’s that when they turn on the game, there’s a good chance that the pitcher is someone random they don’t care about

2:43
Ben Clemens: it’s not the ONLY thing but it’s just up there

2:43
BrewCrew: Since his days with the Braves, what has changed about William Contreras? His Atlanta numbers seemed to suggest a catcher with good power, OK hit tool, and OK defensive chops – the kind of guy you give up to get Sean Murphy. While we know what the Brewers do with catchers defensively, his hit tool has looked absolutely elite over the past year plus — and somehow this was either just flat out missed by evaluators or has developed in a major way over that time

2:43
Ben Clemens: I think developed, but just so we’re clear, his wRC+ as a Brewer is lower than it was in 2022 on the Braves

2:44
Ben Clemens: yeah the defensive value, that seems very much to be a Brewers thing

2:44
Ben Clemens: but like, he was a GREAT hitter in 2022, and worse than that in ’23. He’s on a heater to start 2024. I still wouldn’t project him for better than a 130 wrC+ going forward I don’t think (ZiPS and Steamer are around 135 for wh at it’s worth)

2:44
Ralphie: RE: Shota, how much do you think was misevaluation by the league and how much is his profile different given HRs are down

2:45
Ben Clemens: Well, I thought that he was the bargain signing of the offseason before the year started

2:45
Ben Clemens: so I definitely think that there was some league misevaluation/sliding doors situation going on here

2:45
Ben Clemens: like, plenty of teams who got different pitchers would have been in on Imanaga if they knew what he’d sign for, but they went in different directions

2:46
Ben Clemens: but yes, his profile had one obvious weakness, homers

2:46
Ben Clemens: turn the homer knob down, and well, he just looks great

2:46
André René Roussimoff: How much of the massive strikeout spike of recent years is launch angle and hunting for HRs and how much of it is pitchers just being awesome? I know it’s not easy to quantify, but which is more responsible?

2:47
Ben Clemens: I think it’s more pitching, particularly since I think a lot of hitters’ behavior has been influenced by the fact that pitchers are so hard to hit now that you better be making it count when you do make contact

2:47
Rob Manfred: Hi Ben, who would you rather have ROS in an OPS league..Andy Pages or Davis Schneider?

2:47
Ben Clemens: Schneider

2:47
Yankeesfan: What do the Yankees do when Cole comes back?go 6 deep on the rotation? Boot nasty Nestor to the pen?

2:47
Ben Clemens: I think they’ll go to a six man rotation for a while

2:48
Ben Clemens: And then bump whoever is doing the worst at the end of that to the rotation?

2:48
Ben Clemens: I guess that’s Nestor right now but my moeny would be on Schmidt, I just can’t quite buy him as a consistent starter still

2:48
Weekend Hack: what makes ty france a plus bat

2:49
Ben Clemens: his 4 consecutive years of better-than-average offense and career 115 wRC+

2:49
Ben Clemens: now, could he have gotten way worse over the winter and just be bad now? absolutely

2:49
Ben Clemens: but uh, that

2:49
Idiotic Failson: Would you give Gleyber the QO, and do you think he should take it?

2:50
Ben Clemens: I would, and I do not think he should

2:50
Guest?!: Will we come to view pitcher injuries in MLB the same way the NFL had to deal with concussions?

2:50
Ben Clemens: Um, no way

2:50
Ben Clemens: one is a LOT worse for you long term

2:50
Matt Damon: MATT. DAMON.

2:50
Okra: Corbin Carroll has hit a ton of IFFB this season (15 vs 19 all last year) which probably explains his drop in EV.  Apart that and some bad luck I don’t see much to explain his struggles.  Do you think he turns it around?

2:50
Ben Clemens: Okay, rare Ben hot take alert

2:50
Ben Clemens: I think that 2023 will either be Carroll’s best or second best season

2:51
Ben Clemens: I think he’s a LOT better than what he’s done so far in 2024, of course

2:51
Ben Clemens: but I’m terrified of his shoulder exploding

2:51
Ben Clemens: and I kind of think he is too

2:51
Matt Damon: BEEN.  SICK.

2:51
Matt Damon: BETTER. NOW.

2:51
Ben Clemens: Sorry to hear that, friend. I’m glad you’re back

2:52
KC Pain: Do you think teams are deluding themselves into fixing weaknesses in offense or know and just say “it will get better”?  Mariners, Tigers, on offense, Rangers for pitching as an example (mentioning teams who could compete)

2:52
Ben Clemens: I think it’s closer to ‘know and think it will get better” in general

2:52
Ben Clemens: or alternatively, know and don’t really have a lot of options to fix things

2:52
Ben Clemens: so they need to wait, see what changes, and then do some deadline deals

2:53
bosoxforlife: You agree that the game is trying to bring back more offense but the 800 lb. gorilla is the distance between the mound and home plate. As pitchers continue to get bigger and throw faster the 60’6″ distance, which was last changed in 1893, has become obsolete. Is it so sacrosanct that it cannot be changed?

2:53
Ben Clemens: I don’t think so. I do think that it took the wind out of that plan’s sails a bit when they tried it in the Atlantic League and strikeout rate didn’t change

2:53
Ben Clemens: breaking balls became even harder to hit

2:53
Ben Clemens: I feel like at some point that will give, like everything else gives

2:53
Ben Clemens: maybe they’ll lower the mound again too

2:54
Ben Clemens: but I think that it’s reasonable to be a little bit more hesitant to change the mound distance when it’s not even clear how well it will work

2:54
Ben Clemens: more than any other decision they’ve considered to change the offensive environment, that one has unpredictable effects

2:54
Farhandrew Zaidman: Has any player lost more ground in the “Trade Value” Series over the last few years than Vladito? Went from consensus top 10 to uhhh…an “overrated” R/R 1B (I say with love and respect to his 2021 season)

2:54
Ben Clemens: Byron Buxton, maybe?

2:54
Ben Clemens: when he first signed his current contract and was still mashing and playing center at the same time, I had him pretty high

2:55
Ben Clemens: then of course, Wander Franco, ugh

2:55
Princess Leia: Story time… a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… young Princess Leia saw Luis Gil carving in spring training and decided to nab him for the back of the rotation.  She told her best bud that Gil was legit, and that he deserved to be on their team too…

then Princess Leia watched Gil walk 7, and cut him for some flavor of the week. Now Princess Leia is sad every time Gil deals K’s for days…

2:55
Ben Clemens: Brutal. I cut Sevy for similar reasons 🙁

2:56
Chat Laggard: What type of return could Stl get on Helsey and Kittredge? Pipe dream hopes of packaging them and maybe a mid pitching prospect for Mayo.

2:56
Ben Clemens: Quite a lot for Helsley, not a ton for Kittredge

2:57
Ben Clemens: Like, teams would add a Kittredge type to their bullpen for sure, but he’s a rental and not a closer

2:57
Ben Clemens: not even really an amazing setup man, if you have him as your second-best reliever you’re probably sad

2:57
Ben Clemens: whereas Helsley has been elite for three straight years and is around next year too

2:57
Guest: Is it just me or does the Yankees early season success seem a bit unsustainable ? Especially the pitching is way outperforming FIP

2:57
Irrational Exuberance: Re the Yankees rotation question: how good even is that rotation? Surface numbers are good, but everyone except Nestor is outpitching their FIP by a lot (4 of the top 22 ERA-FIP overperformers in baseball)

2:57
Ben Clemens: I mean, they’re not this good, no

2:58
Ben Clemens: but they do seem good!

2:58
Ben Clemens: I’m a little less clear on Stroman, the walks are wild

2:59
Ben Clemens: but Rodon, I’d evaluate closer to his ERA than his FIP

2:59
Ben Clemens: largely b/c he was just so bad starting out

2:59
Ben Clemens: and it appears that he’s starting to dial his strikeout stuff back in

3:00
Yankees SP: kinda awkward that Schmidt, Gil, and Cortes all look better peripherally than Rodon and Stroman this year, as they’re not gonna bench the money guys

3:00
Ben Clemens: I mean, I disagree on Rodon but agree on Stroman. and the stats aren’t the end all be all either

3:01
Ben Clemens: I do think that Stroman provides useful raw innings, though

3:01
Ben Clemens: like, the Yankees probably should be going to a six man rotation for at least a while when Cole comes back and Stroman is truthfully very good at availability

3:02
Ryan: Is Jordan Hicks’ success sustainable? His velo was down yesterday but I heard that was because he was sick. Even when the sinker was in the low 90s, he was pretty effective

3:02
Ben Clemens: Yeah he was sick apparently

3:02
Ben Clemens: Jordan Hicks sitting 90-91 is pretty strange, that’s for sure

3:03
Ben Clemens: I think that his success is sustainable, I can’t believe that I’ms aying that but I’ve bought in. I think he’s more mid rotation starter than ace, but that’s a phenomenal outcome

3:03
Ben Clemens: alright, I’ve gotta run and get to looking at Edwin Diaz’s struggles (sad!). Have a wonderful week everyone. The chat will be off next week for memorial day, but I’ll speak to you all in a few





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

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NL Rulesmember
24 days ago

Muncy IL move is real I bet. If phantom, why not Kike or C Taylor?