Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 6/12/23

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

2:01
Ben Clemens: There’s a fire alarm going off in my building, so if my answers seem like those of someone dealing with a shrill sound in his ear, my apologies

2:01
Ben Clemens: Let’s get started

2:01
yankees: Olney reported that Judge is almost definitely out until post-ASB. All of the veterans are toast, and if the rookies ever amount to anything, it looks unlikely it’ll be this year. Talk me off the ledge

2:02
Ben Clemens: Here’s my counter-pitch: the team is 38-29

2:03
Ben Clemens: Rizzo and Torres have been just fine. Nine games over .500 is a fairly large tailwind

2:03
Ben Clemens: Are they gonna win the ALE? Probably not

2:04
Ben Clemens: Are they in a good position to win a wild card? For sure, which makes Judge’s injury feel less scary

2:04
PHX: Padres and Diamondbacks have the same BaseRuns record. What’s the general analytical consensus on under/ over-performance against these types of things in a single season? Just luck/noise? Roster construction/managerial choices play a role? “That’s baseball” ?

2:04
Ben Clemens: A little bit of all three

2:04
Ben Clemens: Definitely comes out in the wash in the very long run, but like John Maynard Keynes said, in the long run we’re all dead

2:05
Jon: One thing to consider when choosing an expansion team: Nashville has this huge problem where people turn on their blinkers and leave it on for the next 2 miles after they’ve already changed lanes.

2:05
Ben Clemens: As a native Tennesseean (ish, my parents moved there when I was 2), I completely agree with this criticism

2:05
Ben Clemens: it’s maddening

2:05
Greg: Why so much dislike of position players pitching?

2:05
Ben Clemens: Because it’s miserable

2:05
Ben Clemens: I am surely not alone on this

2:06
Ben Clemens: When it stops being a treat and starts being ‘oh, we’re down 7 runs, guess it’s time to turn this into a completely different game’ every dang time, it gets really frustrating

2:07
Ben Clemens: I’m still into weird exceptions like Pujols pitching, but Hanser Alberto has made 12 appearnces in the past two years

2:07
Jon: How does xERA factor in walks and strikeouts?

2:07
Ben Clemens: It counts them as their linear weights (xERA is just a mapping of xwOBA onto ERA)

2:07
Ben Clemens: so it treats them the same way as the wOBA formula does

2:07
Joe Don: For this Rangers fan, the just-concluded series vs.Tampa was deflating. Do you think Texas can make the post-season with this roster? If not, what would you change?

2:08
Ben Clemens: I do… and I’d say that a three-game series that wasn’t a sweep should never be that deflating

2:08
Hot take?: Josh Naylor is an  _________ first basemen

2:08
Ben Clemens: I really don’t understand the prompt here

2:08
Ben Clemens: like yes, this is true, josh naylor is a first baseman

2:09
Ben Clemens: I don’t think he’s particularly notable in any direction

2:09
20longyears: Regarding Ke’Bryan Hayes, and how air EV has increased while ground EV has decreased – could an effort to change approach and launch angle be behind that data? His average LA is up roughly 7 degrees from last year. (As always, thank you for the 5 Things column, btw.)

2:09
Ben Clemens: For sure, it definitely looks intentional

2:09
Chip: Concerned about Vinnie P’s injury?

2:09
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think so, just because I don’t know exactly what it means

2:10
Ben Clemens: shoulder instability sounds very ominous

2:10
Jenny: Using your crystal ball, what do you expect the next couple of years to looks like for Scherzer and Verlander? Continued elite performance, gradual slide from elite to good, steep decline to mediocrity or retirement as soon as their skills start to slip?

2:10
Ben Clemens: gradual slide

2:10
Ben Clemens: I don’t have a strong view on this either way

2:10
Didace: Watched the Nats play the Braves this weekend. I think that Acuna kid is starting to figure out the hitting thing.

2:11
Ben Clemens: He’s pretty good huh?

2:11
Chip: Hey Ben – I know you have given Fangraphs Audio updates before but I wanted to reiterate for the many of us who are now lost with no map on Friday mornings that it would be really great to get it back.

2:11
Ben Clemens: We’d love to have it back and surely will at some point. I want to finish my backstories!

2:11
Farhandrew Zaidman: Really sucks to see all the downsizing over at The Athletic. I hope all those talented writers find greener pastures (hey, Fangraphs is pretty green-themed these days…)

2:12
Ben Clemens: Yeah, it’s really sad. I don’t know what to say aside from that. As a writer, I obviously dislike seeing writers lose jobs. As a baseball fan, I dislike it even more

2:12
Guest: If a player’s Hard% is consistently high, does it matter as much what their batted ball distribution is (GB%,LD%,FB%)?

2:12
Ben Clemens: Hugely so

2:13
Ben Clemens: hard-hit grounders have produced a .385 batting average, .423 slugging percentage, .355 wOBA this year

2:13
Ben Clemens: hard-hit fly balls and pop ups have gone for a .444 batting average, 1.591 slugging percentage, .808 wOBA

2:14
Ben Clemens: smashing the ball is better than not smashing the ball. but no matter how hard you hit it, grounders just are’nt getting the job done

2:14
J. Fisher: let’s say I theoretically hypothetically construct the pitching staff with position players, maybe 5 brandon crawford clones, would that be a better pitching staff than the current Athletics one?

2:14
Ben Clemens: It’s really fun to dunk on the A’s, but I don’t think so

2:16
Ben Clemens: I dunno, I was gonna write more about that, but I think that is enough analysis

2:16
Insert Witty Name Here: I have an old man yelling at cloud argument, and would love your take on it.  While I appreciate (truly) how advanced metrics have advanced our knowledge of the game, I feel like it’s come at a cost of the romantic enjoyment of the game.  Reading Fangraphs has absolutely increased my intelligence (and wallet for fantasy purposes), however, the lack of romantic narratives in the Roger Angell wordplay has decreased my enjoyment of the game.  It’s not a problem that ruins my day or anything, but it’s something I’ve ruminated on for the better part of the last few years.  What do you think?

2:18
Ben Clemens: I’m in a tricky spot here. I generally agree with you on this — I think that the little fun parts of baseball are underrated and make for great writing

2:18
Ben Clemens: I also think that focusing purely on the GM’s view of the game obscures a lot of what makes me like baseball as a fan

2:19
Ben Clemens: That said, I think that FanGraphs isn’t really where it was, say, 5-10 years ago

2:19
Ben Clemens: I think that there’s a lot more consideration given to baseball from a perspective other than ‘can we put ourselves in the shoes of a GM’ than there used to be

2:21
Ben Clemens: that’s not to say I’m going to stop writing articles about projections and whether a contract makes sense and all of that type of stuff

2:21
Ben Clemens: But I definitely think that we at the site have gotten better at handling the balance of providing that perspective without being WAR robots

2:21
Stroman: Feels like in combination with peripherals suggesting regression and the opt out making him a rental, the cubs really shouldn’t expect to get much at the deadline for Stroman right?

2:22
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think that this is pretty much right

2:23
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure what the end deal with opt out vs extension will be

2:24
Ben Clemens: But it clearly makes teams a little less interested in acquiring him for the stretch run +

2:24
bosoxforlife: The A’s have won 5 straight???? Can the Royals be even worse?

2:25
Ben Clemens: No, the A’s are still worse. But you have to feel prettttty frustrated if you’re the Brewers. Swept at home by a team that’s going to set records for futility? Ouch

2:25
RTJ: T/F: The last-place AL East team will have a better record than the first-place AL Central team at the end of the year.

2:26
Ben Clemens: False, but it’s going to be close

2:26
RTJ: As a non-White Sox fan but a fan of great stories, the Hendricks elbow injury is a punch to the gut

2:26
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I completely agree

2:27
Owen Miller: How sustainable is my performance? What is my line like at the end of the season?

2:28
Ben Clemens: I’d say not very, to be honest. A ton of Miller’s offensive value is coming from a .363 BABIP and there’s nothing to suggest that he’ll be able to sustain that

2:29
Ben Clemens: below-average iso, doesn’t walk much, isn’t an extreme low strikeout guy; I feel like a reasonable expectation is a 90-100 wRC+

2:29
JK: If we assume batting ball statistics dont change, to what extent is an increase in K rate OK if it comes with a correlating increase in walk rate? And vica versa, to what extent is a decrease in walk rate ok if it comes with a correlating decrease in K rate? I.E. – its ok to strike out an additional 7.5% if it comes with an additional 4% increase in walk rate, and its ok to walk 7.5% less if you strike out 4% less.

2:29
Ben Clemens: I wrote something about this a few years ago: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/plate-discipline-in-one-number/

2:29
Ben Clemens: it kind of depends who you are

2:29
Ben Clemens: the more powerful you are on contact, the less you should be willing to accept these tradeoffs, and so on

2:30
Kevin D: Does Lucas Giolito get traded before the deadline? He’s not coming back to the White Sox, right?

2:30
Mike M: Is anybody willing to trade the Dodgers a starting pitcher?  And what would the Dodgers be willing to give up to get a starting pitcher?

2:30
Ben Clemens: Let’s make a deal

2:31
Ben Clemens: I think that Giolito is definitely going to be on the move. The Sox are out of it, and he looks, if not excellent, at least like a reasonable mid-rotation pitcher

2:32
Ben Clemens: I’d also imagine that teams who are slightly more analytically savvy than the White Sox might think they can get more out of his changeup

2:32
Travis: Gunnar Henderson quietly has hit his most optimistic projection after a slow start. No questions here – just that we’re still early, and a 2 week hot streak can bring up a season line.

2:33
Ben Clemens: and what a hot streak

2:34
Nate: I’m not miserable when Shohei Ohtani is pitching.  Or is he a pitcher that the Angels also allow to bat?  I’m also not miserable when he’s hitting.

2:34
Ben Clemens: Haha obviously Ohtanie does not count in this

2:34
Matt: It feels like the Phillies always have a west coast trip ready to take the wind out of their sails every time they have a winning streak

2:35
Ben Clemens: Spoken like a fan of, well, most baseball teams, but I totally know the feeling

2:35
Sir Poops: Who would you rather have ROS in a vacuum? Vlad/Dansby or Turner/Gilbert/Naylor

2:36
Ben Clemens: I do not think that any of them would do well in a vacuum

2:36
Ben Clemens: hard to breathe in there

2:37
Ben Clemens: but uh, assuming it’s Trea Turner to make this feel even, I think I’d prefer vlad and dansby still

2:37
Luke: Is there anything you can do on your part to make the Giants stop having bullpen games? Wouldn’t you agree that it’s a terrible strategy?

2:37
Ben Clemens: I went to yday’s game and was disappointed by the sheer anonymity of the relievers

2:38
Ben Clemens: I went with my mom and my wife, and I love dropping in little anecdotes about various people. It’s kinda tough when the anecdotes are all “this guy is a reliever that I’ve heard of at least a few times”

2:38
Ben Clemens: although the woman sitting next to us mentioned that her dad was the pitching coach for Taylor and Tyler Rogers in high school

2:38
Ben Clemens: so that was a good one!

2:39
broten: Considering how horrific Cleveland catchers have been (see: Zunino’s day on Saturday, or Cam Gallagher’s eye watering wrc+), is there anything besides super 2 cutoff that is realistically holding them back from calling up Bo Naylor? The AGM went on about some drivel re:defense and leadership, but he would most certainly be an upgrade right now or he wouldn’t even be a prospect.

2:39
Ben Clemens: yeah…. I tend to agree

2:40
Ben Clemens: but also, Cleveland has a way of operating that is designed first and foremost to keep costs low while putting up a reasonable record in the ALC

2:41
Ben Clemens: ignoring immediate team need and making decisions designed around money saving is a huge part of that plan

2:41
Nate: What is the origin of the rule where the catcher has to throw to first on a dropped third strike?  Did you see that it cost a high school team a state championship?

2:41
Ben Clemens: I did see that, it was pretty brutal

2:42
Ben Clemens: Let me see if I can dig it up

2:43
Ben Clemens: good article about one of these games, for example

2:43
Trea Turner: Am I still a top 3 pick ROS?

2:43
Ben Clemens: not for me, but I’m not frequently recompiling draft boards or anything

2:44
Michael Scott: Snitker gets a lot of heat from Braves fans due to leaving the SP in TTO, just to pull them after 1 out and, frequently, several runs allowed (like on Sunday).  Are FOs reluctant to get involved in such repeated tactical errors, or is there a long game many fans are missing?

2:46
Ben Clemens: I think that front offices are reluctant to get involved BECAUSE the benefits are small relative to the long game benefits

2:46
Ben Clemens: which are basically pitcher confidence, bullpen role certainty, rest, things like that

2:46
Joe Bell: whats up Ben? Signed in to get my daily fangraphs fix and saw you were live. Hope you’re doing well. “Wires down and we are in reversal”

2:47
Ben Clemens: a little triparty repo banter to start your week off right. Hey Joe!

2:47
Farhandrew Zaidman: I’ve been trying to manifest Adames and Burnes to the Dodgers for AAA bats and AA arms for some time now. Too much sense not to do.

2:47
Ben Clemens: I don’t think that the Brewers are interested in making that trade, particularly the Adames part of it

2:48
Ben Clemens: like, they’re probably gonna end up trading Burnes

2:48
Ben Clemens: Adames is gonna be there for a bit and is not the kind of player that feels easily replaceable to me

2:49
Steve O: The Red Sox would compete for first in how many divisions? I’ll say 3. The AL West is close, but playing the A’s, Mariners, and Angels 36 times is good work if you can get it.

2:49
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think two is right, but I could see three if you’re feeling optimistic

2:49
Guest: Is a hitter who is succeeding with a low Z-Swing% (Yoshida, Arozarena) likely to get even better once they start swinging at more pitches in the zone?

2:50
Ben Clemens: it’s one of those hip bone connected to the knee bone type deals where it’s hard to think of the cascading consequences

2:50
Cards Nightmare: Considering Helsley’s forearm strain announced just now, at what point do they seriously consider moving some of their expiring guys? Will they wait until the bitter end? Do the shake things up now?

2:50
Ben Clemens: I think they might be shopping those guys alread

2:50
Ben Clemens: already*

2:51
Ben Clemens: I don’t think Helsley’s injury is going to move the needle that much, but it’s June and they’re 8 games out, a wild card isn’t likely to save them either

2:51
M Olson: Why does he bat 2nd? I know new age lineup configuration has guys hitting in spots they’ve never done before, but he is striking out more than anyone. That’s not a typical 2 hitter. I guess it’s an if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it situation?

2:51
Ben Clemens: oh 100%

2:52
Ben Clemens: “have your best hitter bat second” is the strategy that gets an analytics seal of approval, but Acuna makes enough sense as a leadoff hitter that “bat your second-best hitter second” is more like what the Braves should be doing

2:53
Ben Clemens: it seems to me like htey have 4 or 5 guys who could maybe count as that, so it’s hard for me to be too upset as long as one of those guys hits second

2:53
Ben Clemens: maybe you could move olson down to 4th and bat riley or murphy 2nd or something? feels like a very marginal upgrade, if it even is one, though

2:53
bosoxforlife: People seem to be surprised that the D’Backs are playing so well. Isn’t that what is supposed to happen when you add a ture superstar to the middle of your order and Is Carroll going to become the next Fred Lynn?

2:53
Ben Clemens: Shout out to Meg, who picked them as a big surprise in the NL west before the year

2:54
Ben Clemens: Carroll is awesome, and Gallen is having a dream season

2:54
Ben Clemens: I will say that I’m surprised by how well they’re doing anyway, though

2:54
Ben Clemens: Even with Gallen, this is not a good pitching staff, and I don’t really believe a lot of the hitting performances (non-Carroll division, Carroll is great)

2:55
Guy Who Asks The Multiple Choice Question: What is the best type of hog?

a) Hedgehog
b) Groundhog
c) Puck hog

2:55
Ben Clemens: ball hog, I guess, so C?

2:55
Didace: Tactical errors by the manager are only apparent looking back. How many times does the pitcher get through the inning with no runs and save an inning for the bullpen?  You can’t manage backwards.

2:56
Ben Clemens: I do agree that tactical errors are over-diagnosed. I disagree that they are only apparent looking back

2:56
Sad Fan: Are the Mariners toast? Basically everyone on the offensive side except Kelenic has to varying levels regressed, disappointed, or fell flat on their face.

2:57
Ben Clemens: No, but only because the Astros haven’t torn the cover off the ball. Catching one team that’s way out in front (Rangers) is easier than catching two

2:57
Ben Clemens: that said, they need to get moving NOW if they’re gonna do it

2:57
John b: How do you feel about ” openers ” and how do you think MLB thinks about openers?

2:58
Ben Clemens: I think that if Rob Manfred could answer you honestly, he’d say he hates openers

2:58
Ben Clemens: whether or not they’re good strategy, they’re awful theater

2:58
Farhandrew Zaidman: Follow up on Adames – he’s an UFA after 2024, and seems primed to get one of those mega SS deals (maybe Javy Baez as the baseline). Is there anything in the Brewers’ history that indicates they are even mildly interested in that?

2:59
Ben Clemens: Perhaps not, but I think they’ll do their best to extend him, and I think that the same can no longer be said about Burnes after his arbitration debacle

2:59
Re: low z-swing hitters: True or False, Nootbaar is really just a fancy Voegelbach?  They’re both near the bottom of the league in z-swing (min 140 PAs to get vogey in there), hitting a ton of grounders.  Pitchers are responding to Nootbaar by giving him a huge increase on zone%, while he’s just swinging less.  Can we just admit that Nootbaar is passive instead of patient, just like vogelbach?

3:02
Ben Clemens: I’m obviously biased as a big Nootbaar fan, but I don’t really see it. Vogelbach hasn’t posted a zone swing rate as high as nootbaar’s new lower rate in the past 5 years. He’s also a much lower contact guy than Nootbaar. Plus, if you’re gonna walk because of your approach, I’d rather have Nootbaar on the basepaths than Vogey

3:02
Ben Clemens: and then there’s the matter of defensive value

3:02
Ben Clemens: that said, I agree that he could use a bit more aggression in his game

3:03
Ben Clemens: this year has been hard to judge because he keeps getting injured, and honestly the batted ball data looks pretty good still

3:03
Ben Clemens: but I’d like to see him hunt pitches to drive more frequently

3:03
broten: As great as Brito has looked in the minors, are the Guards going to regret letting Nolan Jones go? He has hit 2/3 of the homers hit by the entire Cleveland OF this season in like 3 weeks.

3:03
Ben Clemens: I think so, if only for positional reasons

3:04
John b: If you are the GM of one of the many teams that could win a wild card (but not a Division) would you go for it or reload?  It seems winning the division is the only reason I would buy

3:04
Ben Clemens: I’d go for it but I’m a go for it kind of guy

3:04
coors lightyear: do the red sox have good starting pitching

3:04
Ben Clemens: I don’t think so

3:04
Ben Clemens: I don’t think they’re awful, exactly

3:05
Ben Clemens: But they don’t have anyone I think is excellent (Bello maybe?) and they’re also not particularly deep

3:05
Hildebeast: Is Vlad Guerrero Jr really this unlucky? Looking at his stats over the course of his career it’s getting trickier to believe he’s going to be the next Miguel Cabrera.

3:06
Ben Clemens: I think the argument that Vlad is getting unlucky this year in particular is easy to make

3:06
Ben Clemens: basically he got back to his batted ball form of 2021, hitting the ball in the air more frequently and still making hard contact, but that hard contact has found a ton of gloves so far

3:06
Ben Clemens: it’s not like he’s a career xwOBA underperformer or something; he made a lot of the changes I’m sure the Jays were hoping he’d make, and hasn’t been paid off for them

3:07
Ben Clemens: I’m a skeptic of any particular player being the next Miggy, just because he’s a first ballot hall of famer

3:07
Ben Clemens: but I would be encouraged by Vlad’s start if I were a Jays fan

3:07
Ben Clemens: the worrisome thing with him in 2022 was whether he would be able to go back to getting the ball in the air to make his prodigious contact and power play up

3:07
Jason N: Looking for a game recommendation I can do on family night.  4-6 players which could include a 12 and 14 year old, and a couple of senior citizens.  What you got?

3:08
Ben Clemens: I’m a huge fan of Oh Hell

3:08
Ben Clemens: great game for a wide mix of age ranges

3:08
John b: Corbin Carroll as ROY and MVP.  Odds?

3:08
Ben Clemens: Presumably this is the same as the odds of Carroll winning MVP

3:09
Ben Clemens: Through a quick perusal of some betting sites, that’s something like 20:1

3:09
Steve E.: So will the Pirates take Dylan Crews?

3:10
Ben Clemens: Presumably, though that isn’t my area of expertise

3:10
Farhandrew Zaidman: Would either the Dodgers or the Red Sox agree to a complete swap of their respective former players? For posterity, it would be Mookie & JD for Duggie, Kiké, JT, Kenley and Chris Martin.

3:10
Ben Clemens: I mean…. the Dodgers would say no

3:11
Ben Clemens: Mookie Betts is very good

3:11
Jose: What odds would you put on there being a 40-40 player this year

3:11
Ben Clemens: longer than I’d expected coming into the year

3:12
Ben Clemens: we’re talking Carroll, Acuna, mayyyybe Julio and Arozarena?

3:12
Ben Clemens: BWJ I suppose, but I don’t think he’s hitting 40 bombs

3:12
Ben Clemens: I guess I’d say 8%?

3:13
Ben Clemens: Just ballparking it

3:13
Dan the Man McGRAWWWW: A lot of people like to harp on the Yankees for not signing Profar in free agency but he wasn’t the solution.  Who do they trade for at the deadline?

3:13
Dan the Man McGRAWWWW: Could Soto be traded?

3:13
Ben Clemens: Combo of two questions

3:13
Ben Clemens: I think there’s a 0% chance of Soto getting traded

3:13
Ben Clemens: you can’t give up the haul they did for him and then turn around and flip him

3:14
Ben Clemens: As for who the Yankees will try to trade for in the outfield

3:14
Ben Clemens: Cody Bellinger makes sense to me if the Cubs are selling

3:14
Ben Clemens: Teoscar Hernandez, maybe?

3:15
Ben Clemens: There aren’t a lot of teams a)with good outfielders and b)selling

3:15
Ben Clemens: hey, if they want to deal with the Cardinals again, how about Tyler O’Neill

3:15
Ben Clemens: it’s a pretty thin market out there, though

3:16
Adam: The Twins trades for Mahle and Lopez look awful .. Add in the Arraez deal, is the front office on the hotseat?

3:16
Ben Clemens: Do… they?

3:16
Ben Clemens: Actually yeah the Mahle trade looks pretty rough

3:17
Ben Clemens: Arraez/Lopez hasn’t been that big of a gap in WAR, despite the fawning coverage of Arraez… Arraez is both good and tremendously fun, and I think that we in the media over-lean towards the tremendously fun part at times

3:18
Ben Clemens: Jose Salas has not looked great, though, which does take the wind out of my sails a bit

3:18
Ben Clemens: but byron chourio is tearing the doors off the complex league in a robust 13-PA sample

3:19
Ben Clemens: I dunno, I feel like the Mahle trade is the kind that comes back to haunt you for a long time

3:19
Ben Clemens: and the Arraez trade just isn’t

3:19
Crawford: Why’d they let him pitch when they were winning? Seems so risky!

3:19
Ben Clemens: Because they were up 10 and it’s fun

3:19
Ben Clemens: Kapler even said he’d have been ready to bring in a real pitcher if the game started to teeter

3:20
K Newman: Is he the odd man out once the team is healthy? Chances they could try to flip Senzel if he comes back and continues to be productive?

3:20
Ben Clemens: man, Kevin Newman is having a sneakily okay year for a guy who I just truly don’t buy into

3:20
Ben Clemens: 87 wRC+! 10 points higher than his career average

3:21
Ben Clemens: Okay, the fire alarm issue is getting worse here, so I’m gonna call it a day and go buy some ear plugs or something

3:21
Ben Clemens: Have a great day everyone, 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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TKDCmember
11 months ago

I feel like Acuña has at least 8% chance by himself as the stolen bases are practically a given at this point and he projects for low-to-mid 30s in homers.