Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 6/7/21

2:00
Ben Clemens: Hey everyone. I’m gonna try to speed-run this chat today because I have an appointment to run to at 12:15 PST, so let’s get right to it

2:00
Curtis: Any words of/on Wisdom?

2:00
Ben Clemens: Love Patty Smarts (Patrick Wisdom, if you’re not up on things)

2:01
Ben Clemens: Really glad he’s hitting well and getting a chance to stick, he’s earned it

2:01
Ben Clemens: Do I think he has the underlying skills to make it keep happening? I do not

2:01
Ben Clemens: But I do think he’s a totally fine backup and someone you wouldn’t be crushed to see in the lineup in case of injury

2:02
Ben Clemens: Honestly, that’s what he was in both Texas and St. Louis and they just got roster crunched, as best as I can tell

2:02
copecru: How best to handle Kelenic? Games/ days off at big league level? Back to AAA ala Trammel? Ride with it?

2:02
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I guess so? Really tough bind

2:02
Ben Clemens: I kind of think you give him some off days at the big league level and keep letting him hit

2:02
Ben Clemens: He’s not gonna babip .109 forever

2:03
Ben Clemens: And he’s gotten into a few balls, just not the consistent power I’d expect

2:03
Chris: Hey Ben, really enjoyed you on chin music and hope you become a semi regular co-host.

2:03
Ben Clemens: Thanks! I think it might be a function of Chin Music just being a great show no matter who hosts, but I will absolutely take the compliment

2:03
joe: So that strike 3 call last night, huh? Do we still see the Yankees come october? They can’t ~not~ hit forever, I think?

2:03
Blake Grady: If the Yankees find themselves in a similar position come the trade deadline (winning record but out of the Wild Card), do you think they’d be buyers, sellers, or just hold firm?

2:04
Ben Clemens: I think they’d be buyers if they had any obvious holes with pieces they could plug in — so Story, for example, if the Rockies actually deal him

2:04
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure they’d do some bullpen window dressing type stuff

2:04
Ben Clemens: But I do think we’ll see them in October, they’re just realllly good and there aren’t a lot of teams outside the ALE who are going to push them for that Wild Card slot

2:05
Sirras: So this deGrom guy might be pretty good…

2:05
Ben Clemens: It’s just silly

2:05
Ben Clemens: My wife was yelling at me to put deGrom on for this last start b/c I hadn’t realized the game had started

2:05
Ben Clemens: we’re gonna watch every game. This is historic

2:05
Mandy Romero: How concerned should the A’s be about Chapman and his wRC+ of 88?

2:05
Ben Clemens: Moderately concerned, if that’s a fair answer

2:07
Ben Clemens: I’ve always been slightly afraid of Chapman’s bat holding up

2:07
Ben Clemens: Not afraid that he wouldn’t be a good player

2:07
Ben Clemens: But just, if he’s a 100-105 wRC+ hitter, that wouldn’t really surprise me

2:08
Ben Clemens: Some of it could absolutely be residual from his injury last year, but what worries me is basically that if his contact quality is only above average instead of great

2:09
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure that will work out

2:09
Ben Clemens: That said, I think he’s better than what he’s showed so far this year

2:09
Ben Clemens: But basically, I think he’s more of an All Star than an MVP candidate if that makes sense

2:09
bk: Is Gabriel Moreno now a top 5 C prospect?

2:10
Ben Clemens: I can’t tell you how badly I want to say yes

2:10
Ben Clemens: When I looked at mid-tier hitters, he was basically the top of my list, and would have been the headliner of the piece if not for him being in Eric’s top 100 (I didn’t use any 50 FV or higher prospects)

2:10
Ben Clemens: SO whatever, I’m going to say yes!

2:11
Ben Clemens: I’m not terribly worried about the strikeout uptick, and I thought he was too low on everyone’s lists before he started hitting .367/.429/.608

2:11
Ben Clemens: So yes, in, definitely in

2:12
Babip Roberts: Runners almost never tag up from first, going halfway instead. On deep balls that are very high probability catches, are runners leaving a significant number of advances on the table?

2:12
Ben Clemens: First, wonderful username

2:12
Ben Clemens: Second, this is the kind of question I’d like to ask a major leaguer

2:12
Ben Clemens: Like, I can tell you that a given ball had a very high catch probability after the fact

2:12
Ben Clemens: Or even heck, during the fact

2:13
Ben Clemens: But I have a much better angle to see it than the players do

2:13
Ben Clemens: Off the top of my head, they definitely do. But I just don’t feel comfortable saying either way for sure

2:13
Bill: So, Cedric Mullins leads the league in hits.  Is he for real?

2:13
Bob: Is Cedric Mullins a legit 3 WAR player going forward?

2:13
Ben Clemens: Hey Bob. Hey Bill.

2:14
Ben Clemens: This is something I want to look into further, it’s on my list

2:15
Ben Clemens: To be fair, the list also has things like ‘Julio Urias weird bunts’ so I’m getting through it in a very haphazard fashion

2:15
Ben Clemens: On a quick inpsection, I’m into it

2:16
Ben Clemens: Hittin the ball hard has always been his problem more so than strikeouts, and I’m always leery of players like that

2:16
Ben Clemens: But he’s hitting the ball a lot harder this year, so uh, great

2:16
Ben Clemens: I also like your hedge to 3 WAR player rather than the stupidly high pace he’s on

2:16
Ben Clemens: This is why teams like the Orioles do this. Sometimes players just work hard and get better

2:17
Ben Clemens: I’m not 100% bought in, but I’m pretty bought in, which is great for someone who had 418 PA of bad major league experience before this year

2:17
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: You put the punchline in the title for the Goldilocks bunt article. 🙁

2:17
Ben Clemens: Yeah, but then I was hoping you’d forget it before the end and then BAM remember it

2:17
Ben Clemens: Also, I have to compete with ‘Invasion of the Otterbots’

2:18
Moonlight Graham: Speaking of watching deGrom on your recent fangraphs audio you and Dan gave him 1 in 20 shot at 1.12. If he maintains an ERA under 1 when would consider it 50/50 odds?

2:18
Ben Clemens: Oof, this is not the kind of thing I’m any good at making odds on

2:18
Ben Clemens: depends on how low below 1 of course, but if he’s there in August I thikn it gets interesting

2:19
Ben Clemens: I’m curious to hear people’s thoughts on this, though, because I’m not confident in my thinking at all

2:19
Brazilian boy: Hey I from Brazil, tell me good books about baseball, if not is the Book.

2:20
Ben Clemens: I loved Dollar Sign on the Muscle as a scouting book. Jeff Passan’s The Arm was really fun to read and incredibly well-researched. If you want a fun book, The Only Rule Is It Has To Work is an absolute classic

2:20
Ben Clemens: Also, I read ‘The Mental Game of Baseball’ for Josh Bell’s book club last month and while it was repetitive (we get it, think positive thoughts), it was really interesting to see that type of thinking applied to baseball

2:20
DJ: Several Brewers players have indicated Willy Adames “energy” as one of the reasons for the team’s recent performance spike. Do you believe adding an energetic personality to the clubhouse can actually make a team play better?

2:21
Ben Clemens: Can? Sure

2:21
Ben Clemens: Ex ante predictably? Nah

2:21
Guest: It’s June so we can trust Ke’Bryan Hayes’ 210 wRC+… what do you think is his true offensive level?

2:22
Ben Clemens: It’s still early, of course, but the evidence is starting to stack up

2:22
Ben Clemens: I don’t think he’s going to continue his power numbers

2:23
Ben Clemens: It’s really hard to hit for this kind of power sustainably without elevating the ball more, though maybe he’ll end up hitting for more BABIP to make up for it? He has very few line drives this year

2:23
Ben Clemens: In a comically small sample, so don’t read much into that

2:23
Ben Clemens: He’s just a flat-angle hitter overall

2:24
Ben Clemens: That said, the bat-to-ball skills are real, and his eye has been better than advertised

2:24
Ben Clemens: I’m upgrading him to ‘likely perennial all star’ in my head, though he was very close to that level before this year

2:24
DJ: Are there any publicly available sources of data that quantify infielder arm strength?

2:24
Ben Clemens: Sadly not

2:24
JJ: Hey look! Tommy Pham turned it around! The rest of the Padres offense hopefully will follow soon…

2:25
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I’m not particularly surprised that Pham has an above-average line

2:25
Ben Clemens: The way he got there is weird, of course

2:25
Ben Clemens: But I dunno, he makes the best swing decisions in the game more or less

2:26
Ben Clemens: Jay wrote about him recently:

2:26
Ben Clemens: And yeah, he broke a bone in his hand last year, so I wouldn’t read too much into that. And he’s been a good hitter every other year

2:26
Ben Clemens: The Padres are just so dang deep

2:26
Appa Yip Yip: If you put spider grip on a baseball and tried to throw it, would you be able to throw hard enough that it would leave your hand, or would it stay stuck to your palm? I would simply live the rest of my life with a baseball hand.

2:26
Ben Clemens: I think I could probably get it out of my hand

2:27
Ben Clemens: I do wonder to what extent the crazy amount of rotational energy I was exerting on the ball would slow its velo

2:28
Derek: Travis Sawchik wrote about pitching with Spider Tack! very fun article (Baseball’s dirty little secret is out. We decided to experiment | theScore.com)

2:29
Ben Clemens: Travis is really fun to read, and his stuff on the Score has been an awesome run

2:29
MB: The Mariners have an interesting decision looming on Kikuchi’s unique team option. Any thoughts on whether they will and/or should pick it up?

2:29
Ben Clemens: Okay, this is a realllly weird one, so let me jog my memory on it quickly

2:30
Ben Clemens: Okay: if they pick it up, it’s 4/66

2:30
Ben Clemens: If they don’t, he can either become a free agent or take 13 million for next year

2:30
Ben Clemens: That is indeed wild

2:32
Ben Clemens: Hm, I don’t think they should pick it up

2:32
Ben Clemens: I do think he’d take 1/13 after this year, because it’s going to be a tough offseason for free agent signings

2:32
Ben Clemens: So it’s really a question of whether you want to pay him 53 million for 3 years (’23-’25)

2:32
Ben Clemens: I probably wouldn’t?

2:33
Ben Clemens: For all the ‘oh this could work out’ stories around his SwSt% and velo uptick and increasaed reliance on a cutter

2:33
Ben Clemens: Like, he’s only been fine?

2:33
Ben Clemens: I think you could get a Kikuchi replacement for 3/53

2:33
Jay T: Upon Springer’s return to the lineup, should the Jays move Semien out of the leadoff spot to insert Springer?  Or should Springer be batting in a run producing spot?

2:34
Ben Clemens: I’m sure you won’t like this answer, but I don’t think it matters all that much

2:34
Ben Clemens: Really comes down to where the players are happier

2:35
Ben Clemens: I think I’d probably rather have Springer first given his OBP skills

2:35
Ben Clemens: Which is a sentence that would BAFFLE someone in 2015

2:35
Ben Clemens: or 2014, or whatever, when he was still developing patience

2:35
Ben Clemens: But it’s going to be a matter of a few runs, so whatever makes the players more comfortable imo

2:36
Matt Damon: MATT. DAMON.

2:36
Ben Clemens: Good to hear from you as always, Matt

2:36
Greg: Has there been any research done on whether hitters perform better when facing a relief pitcher for the second time (different game) in a series? What about in a season series?

2:36
Ben Clemens: Not quite the same but kinda

2:36
Felix Pie: So Jonathan India and Nick Madrigal are both sitting at 118 wRC+. They went back to back on the 2018 FYPD. Both guys not known for hitting the ball hard. Looking at their Statcast data, they draw some similarities. If you’re given the role of having to trade for one of the two? Which one are you vying for, and why?

2:37
Ben Clemens: Wow, A+ linking

2:38
Ben Clemens: I think I’d rather have Madrigal, but I think he’ll be a worse hitter than India

2:38
Ben Clemens: His lack of power is a totally different deal than India’s

2:38
Ben Clemens: I just really like the defense and baserunning. David Fletcher is a nice player

2:38
Barrel: Which Brewers ace do find most pleasing to watch pitch?

2:38
Ben Clemens: Burnes

2:39
Ben Clemens: Honestly, it’s not close for me, though people are free to differ

2:39
Ben Clemens: The cutter/slider combo is sooooo fun to watch

2:39
Dalton Wilcox: Yeah htf did he link successfully?

2:40
Ben Clemens: I have no idea but it looks really nice huh?

2:40
Ben Clemens: I saw it in the chat queue and could hardly believe it

2:40
Didace: The Phillies scored 7 runs in one inning on 3 hits, none of which were hit anywhere near hard. That’s got to be some kind of record.

2:40
Ben Clemens: If we had data on tihs it would be fun to check

2:40
Ben Clemens: Sadly, my computer is still recovering from the calculations I was doing on the uniqueness of every start in history, so I won’t be the one writing that article

2:41
Guest: Kelenic had about 310 PA at A+/AA/AAA combined. Stupid remarks from the SEA front office made it easy to market him as the next poster child for service time manipulation, and his hot start at AAA made the noise louder- but it was a 6 game sample, after a year where he played no competitive games! Feels like the hype machine may have done him a disservice.

2:41
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I buy this point

2:42
Ben Clemens: I think it was defensible to leave Kelenic down to start the season if they just wanted him to have more reps

2:42
Ben Clemens: That said, it’s also not hard to believe that he’s just hte Mariners’ best hitter

2:43
Ben Clemens: So I think it would have come down to a philosophical questoin

2:43
Ben Clemens: Should you always play your best outfielders at the highest spot in your org?

2:43
Ben Clemens: But the Mather thing changed the story

2:44
Guest: Given their minor league success and major league struggles, would you bet on Adell or Kelenic to have a better career at this point?

2:44
Ben Clemens: Kelenic

2:44
Ben Clemens: I just like him more as a prospect

2:44
Guest: Castellanos and Winker should be starting OFers for the NL All-Stars, correct?  Also, as a Reds fan watching the team squander two of the best offensive OF seasons in franchise history, I have new sympathy for Angels fans.

2:44
Ben Clemens: Castellanos probably, Winker definitely

2:45
Ben Clemens: I know Castellanos has more WAR

2:45
Ben Clemens: But I kind of don’t care? Winker is just an absolute monster being dragged down by ba defense, and I want my All Stars to mash

2:45
Ben Clemens: That said Castellanos would be third on my ballot at the moment so

2:46
Appa Yip Yip: The Jays front office took a ton of flak for saying Vlad wasn’t big league ready, but they were obviously right because he had no idea how to properly take care of his body and diet. The flip side of that is that he never would have learned without failing at the big league level, but ya the hype machine is not how you should evaluate prospects. Also Acuña and Soto ruined it for everyone.

2:46
Ben Clemens: Right, learning to succeed by failing is a really good reason to bring someone up to the majors

2:47
Ben Clemens: If there was no such thing as service time, if players became free agents at 26 no matter what, I think it’s unquestionable that the Jays would have put Vlad in the majors to turbo-charge his learning

2:47
Ben Clemens: And it’d be the right thing to do even if he didn’t hit well

2:47
Greg: Is it too early to declare Ke’Bryan Hayes as the greatest of all time?

2:47
Ben Clemens: I mean, you can declare whatever you’d like

2:47
Ben Clemens: Best Pirate since Cutch? That seems like a more reaonable take

2:48
Ham: Re: Babip’s question, if I’m not mistaken NL MVP Jesse Winker tagged up from first twice this weekend against STL

2:48
Ben Clemens: I don’t believe you

2:48
Ben Clemens: I watched that series and I’m pretty sure he only hits homers

2:48
Josh: How excited are you about Francisco Alvarez? AA doesn’t feel out of the question this season

2:48
Ben Clemens: Gonna be honest, I just don’t know enough about him

2:49
Ben Clemens: We had him #1 in the system, so like, I know he’s good

2:49
Ben Clemens: I think they should try him out in AA given how he’s hitting, but catcher development is in fits and starts, and I really don’t konw how he’s developing as a receiver, game caller, all that stuff that teams really do insist on

2:50
Chip: Which Gurriel steals more bases rest of season? Yuli and Lourdes are tied at 1.

2:50
Ben Clemens: I’ll take Yuli based on putting no thought into this at all

2:50
Ben Clemens: I mean, that’s not a great answer

2:50
Ben Clemens: But also it’s a meaningless race so I don’t feel too bad about it

2:50
Guest: On August 1, where will Ketel Marte and Trevor Story be playing?

2:51
Ben Clemens: I still like Story to the Yankees

2:51
Ben Clemens: It just makes too much sense

2:52
Ben Clemens: Marte? I guess I’ll go with the Giants? Feels like his flexibility would go well there and they could also just play him every day at second

2:53
Ben Clemens: It’s also the kind of trade you could make wiht an eye to the future, so seems like a move they could make

2:53
Ham: I wouldn’t believe me either, but it looks like it happened in the 4th yesterday and in the 9th thursday

2:53
Ben Clemens: Shocking. I didn’t realize Winker had ever stopped at first

2:54
Cole: So Shane Baz has only walked 2 of 105 hitters to start his season. His command has pretty much been the only knock on him since he’s been in the minors and he seems to be overcoming it in a big way. If he keeps this up could he be in the “best pitching prospect in baseball” conversation by the end of the season?

2:54
Ben Clemens: Yeha, if he keeps the strikeouts with this level of command, absolutely

2:54
Jim: Hi Ben, any idea what the Twins do? Buyers? Sellers? the construction of that team with upcoming free agents the next 2 years makes them an interesting case. Would love to hear your thoughts and what you think they should do

2:54
Ben Clemens: In the interests of time I’m going to defer to Dan on this. He wrote a nice piece about it last Friday

2:55
Ben Clemens: I’d be a seller if I were them but I’m a coward

2:55
Cito’s Mustache: Danny Jansen has great abilities as a catcher: elite blocker, calls a good game, good enough framer. But that 49 wRC+ is no bueno. What’s the offensive bar he needs to clear to catch every day?

2:55
Ben Clemens: I dunno, like 80?

2:55
Ben Clemens: 75?

2:56
ROBOCOP: My Cubby friends are all very conflicted. Will the North Siders be buyers or sellers at this year’s deadline?

2:56
Ben Clemens: I think they’ll mostly stand pat

2:56
Ben Clemens: Maybe pick up a fifth starter, who would probably be their second starter (boom burn)

2:56
Ben Clemens: They’re in a weird flux situation, though, so if they’re five games up in the NLC, maybe they buy more strongly

2:56
Guest: Who will be the first pitcher suspended under MLB’s new invigorated enforcement of the rules against use of foreign substances?

2:56
Ben Clemens: I think the favorite in the clubhouse has to be Gallegos

2:57
Ben Clemens: Although I feel like we would have heard something by now if there was some REALLY sticky stuff on his hat

2:57
Ben Clemens: I’ll put Michael Pineda in second place because that would just be hilarious

2:57
Appa Yip Yip: Jays should trade for Asdrubal Cabrera, slide Cavan Biggio into the Joe Panik role, and wish Joe Panik the best in his future endeavours. Thoughts?

2:57
Ben Clemens: Very Canadian of you to include wishing Panik well in the list

2:58
Ben Clemens: That feels like too limited of a role for Biggio to me

2:58
Ben Clemens: But if you want to curtail Cabrera’s playing time as well, then I suppose I could see it

2:59
Ben Clemens: Panik is definitely not what the Jays should be doing, though

2:59
Ben Clemens: So I’m with you in general concept

2:59
Matt:

  1. When is the Super 2 deadline?
  2. Does Wander Franco get called up when it passes?
  3. Which Ray(s) get traded to make room for him and Brujan?
2:59
Ben Clemens: It varies

3:00
Ben Clemens: I think Franco will get called up when they’re comfortable it passes, though?

3:00
Ben Clemens: It’s been in the neighborhood of 115 days of service time in recent years, I believe

3:00
Ben Clemens: So calling him up in July seems like it would be safe unless I’m interpreting the league year wrong

3:00
Jacques Pederson: Do you ever encourage a colleague to write about a topic because you don’t want to?

3:00
Ben Clemens: For sure

3:01
Ben Clemens: Though it’s not super common; I think my idea generation is worse than my execution of ideas so I’m not often sitting on way too many articles

3:03
Guest: Do you think the 4 AL East teams will stay competitive with each other all year or will someone fall out of the race?

3:03
Ben Clemens: I think they’ll all stay competitive

3:04
Guest: Do the AL East and NL West take all the wild card spots?

3:04
Ben Clemens: Yes

3:04
Ben Clemens: I think that’s just yes

3:04
Ben Clemens: Alright, I’m gonna do a 5-ish minute lightning round and then I have to run

3:04
King Coffee: Any guess on how Zach Thompson will fare in his debut today?

3:05
Ben Clemens: wait there are two?

3:05
Ben Clemens: very confusing

3:05
Ben Clemens: Uh: pretty well!

3:05
Dalton Wilcox: What kind of trade Value does Ian Happ have? Under control through 2024

3:05
Ben Clemens: Not much. Control is less valuable if it’s control of a medium player

3:05
Cole: Lets say the Nats hold on to Scherzer. Out of all the other SPs who are at least ‘reasonably’ available, who would be your favorite target for a team in need at the deadline?

3:07
Ben Clemens: Danny Duffy maybe? Depends on if he comes back healthy

3:07
Guest: Dumb question maybe but why wouldn’t the Yanks try to have Chapman start? He throws fastball, breaking ball, and offspeed, so is it just a stamina thing?

3:07
Ben Clemens: Stamina thing

3:07
Appa Yip Yip: Is DJ LeMahieu the biggest casualty of the dejuiced ball?

3:07
Ben Clemens: Right up there, for sure

3:07
Appa Yip Yip: What pitcher gets hurt the most by losing access to sticky stuff?

3:07
Ben Clemens: No idea, but it probably isn’t Bauer. He was a completely reasonable pitcher before

3:07
John b: TLR:  doing a good job, meh, or bad job?

3:08
Ben Clemens: Bad job tactically, which just doesn’t matter that much

3:08
Ben Clemens: Can’t say how he’s doing internally but it sure seems like the players hate him and like, that’s bad!

3:08
Guest: Re: Chapman: didn’t the Reds try him as a starter with lackluster results?

3:08
Ben Clemens: He was a starter in the minors and then he was just so ridic as a closer that they went with it

3:08
Rod: Who you got? Prime Kershaw or prime DeGrom?

3:08
Ben Clemens: Depends on what you m ean by prime

3:08
Ben Clemens: I’ll take deGrom if we can pick a single year, but Kershaw’s long run of it is wiiiiiild

3:08
namiki: I read the article about the slider, but regarding the up and down movement of the slider, isn’t the speed of the ball affecting it?
It seems to produce a better effect to RISE a slow slider and DROP a fast slider.

3:09
Ben Clemens: That seems reasonable, and I need to do some multi-dimensional analysis stuff on it to have a better answer for you

3:09
Cito’s Mustache: Have you noticed any sudden spin rate drops from anyone since news of sticky stuff suspensions broke? Things that make you go hmm.

3:09
Ben Clemens: Bauer and Cole have had the biggest drops that I’ve noticed

3:09
Brad: Fixing the baseball issue:  How about let the pitchers use the sticky stuff, let the batters juice back up and let’s see what happens…..

3:09
Ben Clemens: I mean…. the pitchers could use steroids too

3:09
namiki:

3:09
Ben Clemens: Neat!

3:10
Ben Clemens: On that awesome-chart note, I’ve gotta run. Thanks for hanging out with me today everyone, and have a great day





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

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rosen380
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RE: deGrom

One thing to consider is the offenses he’s faced thus far. Using current YTD wRC+, the average is 90.3 (and using the appropriate home/road numbers it is about the same, 90.0)

So, off-the-bat, I think we have to assume some decline going forward as he’s likely to face better teams in aggregate going forward.

As far as the odds, IMO too many variables to have a really informed opinion (perhaps without a pretty good simulator on hand).