Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 6/10/24

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

2:01
Ben Clemens: Let’s just dive right in

2:02
Scratch: What major change to baseball will have taken place 50 years from now that we aren’t even talking about as a possibility right now (e.g. robo umps, etc)?

2:02
Ben Clemens: Number of fielders, maybe? Assuming there’s still baseball, of course

2:02
Guest: Who would you rather bet on panning out?  A prospect who needs to lower his K rate by 5-10% or a prospect who needs to lower his GB rate by 5-10%?

2:03
Ben Clemens: It depends on other factors. If we’re talking a prospect far from the majors, like A ball, I’d definitely prefer the guy who hits too many grounders. Study after study shows that hitters who are striking out a ton in the low minors just cannot play at the major league level in general

2:03
Ben Clemens: The closer you get to the majors, the more I’m interested in the one with the higher strikeout rate. But honestly, it’s one of those questions where ‘all else being equal’ depends on what level all else is equal at

2:03
Mike: If London came to MLB and said “We have an ownership group ready to pay billions for an expansion team AND the city is willing to spring for for a new stadium,” would the league go for it?

2:03
Ben Clemens: surprisingly, I don’t think so

2:04
Ben Clemens: I just think the travel would be too onerous

2:05
Ben Clemens: They clearly understand how tough it is the way they schedule off days and such around travel and make sure to only play short series. But I just can’t imagine a 6-hour minimum flight for every series could be worked into the schedule without more teams in Europe forming another division of some type

2:05
Ben Clemens: So for me, it’s way more about advertising the game to sell TV broadcasts than about actually putting a team there permanently

2:05
Teaberry: Seems safe to assume the Phillies are a playoff team this year.  What outfield are they rolling out for their first playoff game vs a right handed pitcher?

2:06
Ben Clemens: I guess I’m assuming everyone’s healthy. So Marsh, Rojas, Dahl

2:07
Ben Clemens: I cannot imagine Castellanos in the field given how he’s playing

2:07
Ben Clemens: I know that they’re talking about playing Sosa in the outfield too at times, so maybe you can have him over Dahl or Rojas?

2:08
Braves: What do you think is causing the Braves’ YOY home run decline? Their barrel rate/hard hit is still excellent but they’re only 14th in HR to FB. Does some of this level out or is there something systemic?

2:08
Ben Clemens: I think some of it is gonna level out, though some of it is that they were unsustainably hot last year

2:08
Ben Clemens: also it doesn’t help that Acuna is out for the year

2:08
Brian: Have you seen data about how heavy-sellers perform after the deadline compared to before? I think we overstate the impact a few subtractions will make over two months of play. Anecdotally I can think of several teams who sold but played better afterwards – because regression and variance have a bigger impact than individual players.

2:09
Ben Clemens: So, this isn’t quite the same thing:

2:09
Ben Clemens: But I looked into how teams who are out of the playoff race perform, and they perform worse than you’d expect based on a Depth Charts rendering of their skill level

2:10
Brian: How would you think a Gunnar extension would compare to Witt’s or Riley’s?

2:10
Ben Clemens: I think it’d be pretty similar, but i havent’ done a deep dive to get more precise than that

2:10
Guest: Bichette, Guerrero, Verlander, Bregman, Bassitt, Jimenez, Robert, etc.–could this be the most star power we see traded at the deadline in recent memory?

2:11
Ben Clemens: Well, if all of these guys go (and sorry Chris Bassitt, but even if you don’t), yes

2:11
Ben Clemens: particularly Robert, Bichette, Bregman

2:11
Ben Clemens: We’re not too far removed from Juan Soto getting traded, and he’s a bigger star than anyone listed her

2:11
Ben Clemens: but if all these guys went, sure

2:11
Ben Clemens: I do think that the Jays are gonna have a lot to say about how the trade deadline goes

2:12
Ben Clemens: and the White Sox maybe too? The rumor is that they’re asking for a package bigger than what WAS got for Soto if they trade Robert, which in my opinion makes him unlikely to get dealt at all

2:12
Ben Clemens: but I can see why. 3.5 years of him sounds excellent

2:13
Ben Clemens: On the other hand…. he’s never hit 600 PA in a season, never hit 130 wRC+ in a full season, and since his debut he has 12 WAR to Soto’s 23

2:13
Ben Clemens: So it’s definitely a longshot that a team would offer that much

2:13
Derek: How has David Fry not yet earned an everyday role?

2:14
Ben Clemens: I’d argue that he almost has, just that his everyday role is ‘wherever someone else has a rest’

2:15
Ben Clemens: if you look at his last few weeks, he’s playign some mix of left and catcher, with the very occasional DH, but the only people getting meaningfully more PT are Ramirez and Josh Naylor

2:15
Ben Clemens: he’s getting the same PT as dudes I’d call regulars like Freeman, Kwan, Gimenez, Brennan

2:16
Ben Clemens: it’s just split all over the place

2:16
Insert Witty Name Here: A few chats ago someone asked what other sports you enjoy watching, and you said, IIRC, tennis because of the drama between two individuals for four hours. I watched a lot of Roland Garros these last two weeks and agree. My question is, if you could watch a pitcher/hitter match up as if it were a tennis match, meaning one pitcher and one hitter for 100 pitches (specifics can be discussed later), who would you like to see? My vote: DeGrom v Bonds which seems chalky.

2:16
Ben Clemens: Oh man, what a match yesterday

2:16
Ben Clemens: I missed the women’s final, but it turns out that was fine b/c Swiatek is just too good

2:16
Ben Clemens: but the men’s final was great

2:17
Ben Clemens: deGrom is half of mine for sure

2:17
Ben Clemens: Bonds is pretty exciting as a foil

2:17
Ben Clemens: I never got to see Willie Mays play so he’s probably my pick though

2:17
Ben Clemens: or maybe you do one per era

2:17
Ben Clemens: imagine Koufax/Mays on one channel, Maddux/Bonds on another, deGrom/Soto on a third

2:17
Nick Gonzales: Am I on a hot streak or have I figured some things out?

2:17
Ben Clemens: por que no los dos?

2:18
Ben Clemens: I’m forever gonna be a Gonzales truther b/c the first college baseball model I ever made thought he was the best hitter in a generation (yes, my park factors might have been off)

2:20
Ben Clemens: I think that he’s on an unsustainable contact hot streak, but that his approach of elevating to maximize his contact is gonna work great

2:20
Ben Clemens: and that there’s room for him to improve his chase rate a little, which makes me think a tailwind in walks and favorable counts could offset a babip slide

2:20
Nate: Fantastic improvements to the player pages – pass along the praise to the rest of the staff!

2:20
Ben Clemens: I’ve let them know

2:21
Ben Clemens: and yeah it’s great!

2:21
Princess Leia: help us Obi-Wan Clemonobi, you’re our only hope!

Well, except for Aaron Judge… I traded Berrios and M. Harris for him when he was still in that slump.

2:21
Ben Clemens: juice!

2:21
Jeremy: Seems like teams that are winning often stick with replacement-level veterans for a long time. I’m thinking of Nick Castellanos on the Phillies for instance, or Martin Maldonado with the Astros. Should winning teams be quicker to cut bait on replacement-level veterans? Or would the marginal gain in not-especially-valuable wins not be worth the potential clubhouse disruption?

2:21
Ben Clemens: This is a really hard question

2:22
Ben Clemens: I think that in general teams would probably be better off if they moved on faster than they actually do, but less quickly than fans think they should

2:22
Ben Clemens: The reason for that is that a false positive here hurts more

2:22
Ben Clemens: like, moving someone when they weren’t actually cooked

2:22
MagicOriole: Is Mike Elias the best GM in MLB? If not, who is?

2:22
Ben Clemens: I have to give it to Alex Anthopoulos

2:23
Ben Clemens: I mean, full respect to Elias

2:23
Ben Clemens: I’ve written a TON about O’s decision making in the past two years becuase they’ve had a lot of interesting decisions

2:23
Ben Clemens: and while Elias and co probably started out as being a little too conservative, long-term-focused, and unwilling to ever trade prospects to improve, they’ve come around admirably

2:23
Ben Clemens: obviously, their dev/acquisition team is incredible as well

2:24
Ben Clemens: so I have him charging up the rankings. But it’s just hard to knock what the Braves keep doing

2:24
Guest: Why wouldn’t there be baseball in 50 years?

2:24
Ben Clemens: I mean, I don’t have a specific answer, but 50 years is a long time

2:24
Tigers fan: Tatis Jr. has been looking better lately…do you think he ever gets back to 2021 form?

2:24
Ben Clemens: I think it is definitely doable

2:24
Ben Clemens: the guy is just a spectacular athlete

2:25
Ben Clemens: i don’t think he’s capable of those power numbers, because I don’t think anyone is capable of those power numbers on a projected basis

2:25
Ben Clemens: but in terms of being a dynamic hitter with a 150-area wRC+ and excellent defense/baserunning to go along with it, yes

2:25
Smiling Politely: Is it realistic to presume that Alonso might be passable in a corner OF and therefore have a lot more TV to contenders?

2:25
Ben Clemens: No

2:25
Ben Clemens: I hate to say it, but no

2:26
Ben Clemens: I do not buy that he could handle a corner outfield spot

2:26
Ben Clemens: a)it’d have to be left, b)I still think it’d be Hoskins-esque

2:26
Guest: What do you think has been the best free agent contract of more than 100 million?  Scherzer with the Nats and Holliday with the Cardinals come to mind, but I’m sure I’m forgetting some good candidates.

2:27
Ben Clemens: those two are up there. Gerrit Cole is surely in the running. A Rod and Harper are good ones

2:27
Ben Clemens: I’m looking through a list right now

2:28
Ben Clemens: eh, there are a bunch! but Scherzer probably gets my vote for the overall best

2:28
TPham: Tell Jay Jaffe I heard what he said about me last week. I’ll be in his chat tomorrow.

2:29
Ben Clemens: joy

2:29
Shota Imanaga: SHOTA.  IMANAGA.

2:29
Phil: If players under 5’7″ got an extra strike, would Altuve be the best player in baseball?

2:29
Ben Clemens: Yes

2:29
M’s Fan: Are hitters who crush off speed and breaking balls gonna become more valuable as the league moves to fewer fastballs?

2:29
Ben Clemens: A little. But I think pitchers will also move to throw those guys more fastballs, basically just specialize more

2:29
Ben Clemens: so their main edge will be that pitchers work on their fastballs less

2:29
bosoxforlife: Who is going to win the Garrett Crochet sweepstakes and how much of an overpay is it going to take?

2:30
Ben Clemens: I think the O’s will end up winning it, actually, and that it’ll take two good Triple-A hitters

2:30
Colton: I didn’t make a model for it, but I also thought Nick Gonzales was going to be the best hitter in a generation out of college as well haha

2:30
Ben Clemens: I mean his stats were so outrageous that even when you adjust for the fact that he was hitting on the moon, they were still otherworldly

2:30
bosoxforlife: Willie’s line vs. Koufax. .278/.426/.536 with 5 HR’s in 97 AB’s.

2:30
Ben Clemens: Yeah, don’t tell me you wouldn’t want to watch this

2:30
Guest: Crochet has already surpassed his career high for innings in a year, including all his time at college.  Would that meaningfully reduce his trade value for a contender looking to acquire him this year?

2:30
Ben Clemens: 100% yes

2:32
Jon Lester: I think my $155 mil contract turned out pretty well….

2:32
Jeremy: Re: best free agent contracts for >$100 million, Wheeler. Harper also looking good so far.

2:32
Guest: Best contract: Zack Wheeler with the Phillies?

2:32
SpicieBoy: Lmao chat title says this is the Ben Clemens Fangrpahs Chat

2:32
Ben Clemens: boy, I actually don’t know if I can fix that

2:32
Guest: So, Ben… are you still worried about Jose Ramirez?

2:33
Ben Clemens: No

2:33
Ben Clemens: instead, i’m back to my article about how he’s a marvel

2:34
Guest: Skubal and Suarez are leaders for the Cy Young awards right now; who has the best chance to dethrone one of them?

2:35
Ben Clemens: Wheeler, Imanaga, Sale, Burnes, Glasnow, Gil perhaps?

2:35
Ben Clemens: someone could get hot in the second half and run away with it, even someone I didn’t name

2:35
Nic: So Aaron Judge…. how is this possible? After 2022 I think we all, fairly, thought he would never do anything like that (200 > WRC+)  again. And yet, here he is. Is he really this level of hitter? Is he the best since Bonds?

2:35
Ben Clemens: So, I’m doing a project for tomorrow where I graph different hitters’ squared up rates by launch angle

2:35
Ben Clemens: as in, do you square up your grounders more than your fly balls, are you consistent across the board, etc.

2:35
Ben Clemens: Judge’s graph is just ludicrous

2:36
Ben Clemens: it’s just all squared up fast swings in the air

2:36
Ben Clemens: what a monswer

2:36
Ben Clemens: monster

2:36
KM: Do you think Jordan Walker ever reaches his 80 game power grade? He’s only 22 but it just seems like he can never lift the ball.

2:37
Ben Clemens: nah, I don’t. I do really think he has 80 raw though

2:37
Guest: I’ve been thinking about your article on trading newly good relievers for prospects and how it’s unrealistic for fans to expect much from them. I mean I’m sure there are always counterexamples for articles like that but I feel like the Effross trade in 2022 shows that high-quality prospects are available even for relievers without much experience

Effross had <60 career MLB innings when traded and the Cubs got the Hayden Wesneski, the Yankees #7 prospect who was playing well in the high minors (and the Yankees had a lot of good prospects at the time)

Is this just an exception or is Wesneski below the caliber of prospects you were considering?

Also probably worth noting that this trade has gone terribly for the Yankees so may dissuade similar behavior from other teams

2:38
Ben Clemens: Wesneski was definitely below the caliber of prospects I’m talking about, by our rankings, at the time

2:38
Ben Clemens: I’m looking over the trade roundup I wrote for that transaction

2:38
Ben Clemens: We had Wesneski at a 40+, and 17th-best prospect in the NY system

2:39
Ben Clemens: so like, maybe I’m using the wrong prospect grades? But I think that teams certainly discounted Yankee arms who suddenly gained velo after being drafted

2:39
Champdo: It doesn’t make sense for the Tigers to trade Skubal right?

2:39
Ben Clemens: I do not think so

2:39
Ben Clemens: When are you planning on being good if you keep trading your good players?

2:39
I want my baby back baby back baby back: if the jays end up actually trading Vlad, which teams are the top landing spots? mariners? Trying to figure out who in contention needs a 1B/DH…is his getting a run at 3B an attempt to increase the market for teams needing a 3B upgrade?

2:40
Ben Clemens: I definitely think that they’re playing him at 3rd to widen his potential landing spots. But I don’t think a big deal is gonna get done, because he’s Vlad Freaking Guerrero but 1b bats are just not that valuable at the deadline

2:40
Ben Clemens: so there’s this weird situation where a trade that values Vlad ‘fairly’ would be very unpopular in Toronto, both in the clubhouse and for fans

2:41
bosoxforlife: If Chris Sale continues to perform at the level he has then he should finally get the Cy Young as a type of lifetime achievement award.

2:41
Ben Clemens: I agree with this. I erroneously assign a Cy Young to Sale in my head all the time

2:41
Ben Clemens: it’s crazy that he never won it

2:41
New Yanks velo: Why do/did teams discount new velo from Yanks prospects? Can’t they hold on to it?

2:42
Ben Clemens: Just that a lot of those guys haven’t looked nearly as sharp after leaving the friendly confines of the Yanks minor league system. they did a great job trading built-up pitchers for a ton of people in the lats few years. I think they got Frankie Montas exclusively for pitchers, more or less

2:42
Ben Clemens: yeah Ken Waldichuk, Luis Medina, JP Sears

2:42
Ben Clemens: they did the same for Soto

2:43
Ben Clemens: and I think in a lot of these cases, they’re trading like one-ish more arm than you’d expect, and that’s because teams are like ‘can AL these guys be that good?’

2:43
Guest: Ben, how outdated is the pre game win probability model as shown in the Live Scoreboard?  Has there been any emphasis on modifying it to enhance predictions?

2:44
Ben Clemens: Really depends what you mean by outdated. It’s definitely simple. It just builds projected run scoring and runs allowed based on the posted game lineups on both sides (and a very simple accounting for the bullpen)

2:44
Big Reem: Wheeler has to be right behind Scherzer on the best free agent contracts, right? Didn’t see his name mentioned

2:44
Ben Clemens: A few other people pointed him out, and yeah

2:44
Ben Clemens: he definitely counts

2:44
Guest: If Scherzer is the best free agent contract above 100 million, is Strasburg the worst?  The Nationals pitchers giveth and the Nationals pitchers taketh away.

2:45
Ben Clemens: Oh, surely not, b/c the Nats almost assuredly got a lot of insurance payments back

2:45
Seiya ain’t So: Will Seiya Suzuki ever get over the hump?  Every time he looks like he’s about to break out, he falls back to earth.  The defense has been inconsistent.  What’s your take on his future?

2:45
Ben Clemens: man…. I still think he will

2:45
Ben Clemens: despite having been wrong about this specific thing many times

2:45
Ben Clemens: I totally believe in Seiya

2:46
Ben Clemens: and he looked like he figured it all out at the end of last year, and then nope

2:46
Ben Clemens: i mean, he’s still hitting, i’ll give him that

2:46
Ben Clemens: but I thought he’d improve on defense by more than he has, and injuries have definitely been a consistent problem

2:46
Ben Clemens: I think he is what he is at this point, basically

2:46
Farhandrew Zaidman: leaguewide OPS average is below 700….time to panic or not yet?

2:46
Ben Clemens: Yeah I’m panicking

2:46
Ben Clemens: baseball is less fun to watch when no one scores runs

2:47
SpicieBoy: I thought the Nats were unable to get insurance coverage on the Strasburg contract due to his injury history

2:47
nats fan: There was no insurance on the stras contract! He was uninsurable bc of his injury history

2:47
Ben Clemens: well that makes it worse!

2:48
Guest: Im aware of the methodology. I run my own model using the same framework but I think the PA Forecasting could be potentially very flawed. The process of accounting for the right number of PA’s awarded to each team based upon the quality of their opposition (i.e. an above average hitting team is going to accrue more PA’s in a single game against a below average pitching team than their season average), these things cause more Base Runs to be achieved . Any idea you guys are accounting for the PA interaction effects?

2:48
Ben Clemens: Let’s just say that is low on our list, the site has had a ton of cool improvements in recent years but I think revamping our game odds from like, pretty good (we’ve tested them and they do alright) to add a little is not highest priority

2:48
Ben Clemens: that’s not really my area, I’m just a sometimes helper

2:48
Ben Clemens: but I’d guess there are many things we’d fix before that

2:49
SpicieBoy: Unironically I want MLB to rejuice the baseballs. I don’t get why we were mad about that in 2019. 2017-2019 was a really fun time for baseball

2:49
Ben Clemens: agreed

2:49
Plate discipline metrics: Is there a summary somewhere on the site of the difference between the three sets of plate discipline metrics (statcast?pitch info/SIS)?

2:49
Plate discipline metrics: can there be a summary of the different sources of plate disciple metrics

2:49
Ben Clemens: There isn’t but I can give you one here

2:49
Ben Clemens: they measure the strike zone slightly differently

2:49
Ben Clemens: that’s the whole different

2:50
Ben Clemens: difference

2:50
London Calling: % chance Luis Robert goes at the deadline? And which teams are most likely to get him?

2:50
Ben Clemens: I just have it very low

2:50
Plate discipline metrics: thanks for answering my butchered question.  Is one more accurate?  SIS zone seems waaaay different

2:50
Ben Clemens: I dunno, honestly! I just like using the same one every time for consistency. So I tend to just use Statcast these daysb/c sometimes I’m pulling data directly from Savant

2:50
Farhandrew Zaidman: i’ve seen a conspiracy theory that the league messed with 2024 balls (shocker) to try to limit how much breaking pitches move, with the unintended consequence being they don’t fly as far

2:51
Ben Clemens: I could totally see that

2:52
I want my baby back baby back baby back: Regarding the low league wide OPS, what are your preferred approaches/suggestions on how to increase it?

2:53
Ben Clemens: I want more lively baseballs. I’d like to see experimentation with lower roster limits for pitchers, and restrictions on transactions involving pitchers who threw in the previous game

2:53
New Yanks velo: The conventional Nats world wisdom: The Nats got very little, if anything, back in Stras insurance. (Source: Svrluga reporting or educated guess, or a combo)

2:53
SpicieBoy: Are Savant stats (xwOBA, xERA, etc) useful? Baseballsavant has said that they’re intended to be descriptive, not predictive. I’ve tested them and found they’re actually sometimes less predictive than real world results. Building a statistical model to predict what “should have” happened seems like an inherently flawed process (a perfect model would tell you would actually happened, a really bad model would have no basis in reality). That seems like a lot of inherent statistical error, and if those numbers aren’t predictive then I don’t see how they’re actually useful. I also take extreme issue with some rate stats (like barrel%) being presented as per BBE instead of per PA. This seems to punish hitters like Bellinger who cut their K% for occasionally weak contact but still hit roughly the same number of barrels per PA

2:54
Ben Clemens: Dan did something on this

2:54
bosoxforlife: It is the season for peach roulette and my local grocery had them on sale last week. I risked $4 on 6 beauties and hit the jackpot. All were perfect!

2:54
Ben Clemens: I lost at tomato roulette SO HARD yesterday

2:54
Ben Clemens: bought some at the local fancy schmancy grocery store for a salad and they were abysmal

2:54
Judge: “baseball is less fun to watch when no one scores runs”: And it became personal for me (note: this is what Jordan actually said)

2:54
Ben Clemens: joy

2:55
Ben Clemens: alright, I’m doing some caretaking of the sick (wife and dog, what a double whammy), so I’m gonna call it a day. Thanks so much for chatting with me and I’ll talk to you again next week





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

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johndarc
9 days ago

Ben is not the first person to mention/notice that a lot of Yankees prospects tend to disappoint or collapse once away from the org. Has anybody ever written about this sort of thing/how it’s possible for them to do this?

“Pump and dump” isn’t necessarily the right term, but Eno Sarris said it’s clearly a skill of the org to make these guys look just enticing enough that other teams are willing to trade for them.

Semi-related: Effross has been hurt but they were trading like 6 years of Wesneski control for 5 years of Effross control, and Effross had shown he could get major leaguers out. Made sense at the time.