Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 8/14/23

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

2:01
Ben Clemens: Let’s just get started, I don’t have any clever intro today

2:01
Joe: What do you make of Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s season? Underperforming his xwOBA by a ton. What’s your read on it?

2:04
Ben Clemens: I think he’s a bit unlucky to only have this kind of output, but I don’t think you can just look at the xwOBA and call it a day. He’s just not pulling enough stuff in the air, and that’s a really big problem when you’re a bat-only guy

2:04
Ben Clemens: I think he’s better than he’s showed this year, but I also think he’s just a fairly solid DH type, not the hitter he was in 2021

2:04
Ben Clemens: It’s kind of frustrating; he’s so talented

2:05
Ben Clemens: But if he ended up with last year’s output, I don’t even know if I’d be happy with it as a Jays fan

2:05
Ben Clemens: that 2021 season just set the bar so high

2:05
Fonz (Milwaukee): Is it time to start a “Free Jonathan Aranda” movement?  Is the movement stalled by the fact that it’s the Rays?

2:05
Ben Clemens: Start? I’m a card-carrying member

2:05
Ben Clemens: I do think he might end up needing a change of scenery, he’s just blocked a ton of ways by the talent the rays keep spitting out

2:05
Aadik: Andy Baggarly shared this nugget in his last piece – since June 22, the Giants “haven’t been particularly good against any pitch type in two months. From the time their 10-game winning streak ended on June 22 through Saturday, they ranked dead last in the major leagues in batting average (.209), on-base percentage (.286) and slugging percentage (.332) while hitting the fewest home runs (35).”  

That’s … horrific at so many levels. One criticism of the Zaidi regime for me is that it sometimes seems like a quest for efficiency (maximizing the marginal return of WAR per $) than actually winning, especially for a large market team in the wealthiest area in America. It feels weird to say as a fellow nerd here, but shouldn’t the Giants swing big on offense this off season, if its. the back-end is horrific.

2:06
Ben Clemens: Normally I’d agree, except there’s really only one interesting hitter this offseason. Shohei Ohtani, maybe you’ve heard of him

2:07
Ben Clemens: Now, I expect the Giants to go absolutely hog wild in offering Ohtani a contract. He’d be an incredible on-field fit (for any team in baseball), and a huge marketing hit here as well

2:07
Ben Clemens: But yeah, I don’t think it’s an accident that they were trying to sign Correa and Judge last offseason

2:07
Ben Clemens: They just haven’t gotten enough big bats, they’ve done too much mini-optimizing

2:07
Jon: Hi Ben, is there a breakdown of where Jordan Walker is bleeding defensive runs?  Like, is it on jumps to his left on fly balls, it is giving up extra bases on base hits, etc?

2:08
Ben Clemens: Statcast splits it out that way, but the results are not encouraging

2:08
Ben Clemens: He’s 2 runs below average going in, 3 runs below average going to his right, 4 runs below average going to his left, and one run below average going back

2:09
Ben Clemens: They also have an outfield jump metric, and he’s in the sixth percentile

2:09
Ben Clemens: So yeah, to simplify: he gets bad jumps, which hurts him in every direction

2:09
jas: The Cardinals are 7th in position player fWAR (which as far as I can tell includes defense) and 12th in pitcher fWAR. Is it just sequencing/luck, or is WAR missing something? That pitching number doesn’t pass the smell test to me.

2:10
Ben Clemens: Sure, one more cardinals question, why not? I’m even writing about Lars Nootbaar for tomorrow, really feeling the Cards energy at the moment

2:10
Ben Clemens: First, yeah, fWAR includes defense

2:11
Ben Clemens: but the pitching number feels really suspect to me, and I can basically say why: I think that the contact quality the Cards pitchers are allowing is legitimately awful, which FIP doesn’t account for

2:11
Ben Clemens: like, Adam Wainwright is “underperforming” his FIP by almost three runs

2:12
Ben Clemens: but the reason he’s doing that is because he’s allowed a .394 BABIP, and he’s allowed a .394 BABIP because he’s lobbing the ball in there and letting hitters take their biggest rips

2:13
Ben Clemens: I think that Mikolas, to some extent, suffers from a similar issue; it’s not nearly as bad, but so much of his game is based around letting hitters take a cut at his fastball in the strike zone that it’s not particularly weird to me to see him with a high babip

2:13
Ben Clemens: when the Cards defense isn’t elite, it’s tough sledding out there for contact-oriented pitchers. I don’t think the defense number can fully account for that

2:13
David: Is Bellinger all the way back to his MVP form or is there some good fortune baked in?

2:15
Ben Clemens: Good fortune baked in for sure. I think a better way to look at it might be that he’s back as an All Star type bat, but he’s not crushing the ball often enough to merit this type of offensive line. I think he’s more good than great on offense, though obviously an excellent defender, and probably one of the most sought-after hitters this offseason

2:15
Guest: The last 2 innings of yesterday’s Orioles-Mariners was better than it could possibly be. Mullins catch ranks with the best I have seen, then it was topped by Canzone’s 2-out game tying blast only to have Mullins himself hit one out in the 10th. This came after Mullins had just missed the foul pole on a previous pitch. Baseball at its best!

2:15
Ben Clemens: Yeah, it was absolutely incredible, and let’s just say that it’s a thing I liked in baseball this weekend

2:16
Tom: A couple of tough 10 inning losses to Baltimore shouldn’t slow down the Mariners Train…. do you think they will charge to the playoffs?

2:16
Ben Clemens: I think they’re juuuuuuust gonna miss

2:17
Ben Clemens: Every game really counts at this point, it’s gonna be close down the stretch between them and some AL East team

2:17
Oaktown Blues: So I know you’re not the prospect guy, but since you wrote up the Cole Irvin trade (twice!) I figured you could weigh in: What is preventing Darell Hernaiz from appearing on top 100 lists? He’s a 22YO shortstop hitting well in AAA with strong exit velocities and a 12% K rate

2:19
Ben Clemens: Yeah, it wouldn’t shock me if he ended up slipping into the top 100 next year, I probably wouldn’t say strong exit velocities but certainly not embarrassing

2:19
Ben Clemens: And yeah, the strikeout rate is impressive

2:19
Ben Clemens: Not really my area, but he seems good to me

2:20
Guest: The Red Sox look like they can compete for a wild card spot. No team is close to matching what the Sox have been able to add for the drive. Sale was terrific, Story went 3 1/2 for 4 yesterday,, one hit was a pop fly lost in the sun,  Whitlock is back where he belongs, as a long man in the pen, and Houck is returning to the rotation.

2:20
Ben Clemens: Sure, no team has added what they’ve added, but they started out worse, you know?

2:20
Ben Clemens: I sitll don’t think they’re a better team than the Blue Jays, for example

2:20
Ben Clemens: and they need to make up 3 games on them

2:21
Blake: This Wander thing looks really not good…

2:21
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I’m gonna just leave it at that

2:21
Dave: Have you ever thought about designing your own boardgame?

2:21
Ben Clemens: Eh…. like, a little, but I like playing them more than designing them

2:21
Ben Clemens: My wife got me a design kit for my birthday last year and honestly, I just don’t quite get around to starting it ever

2:22
Eh?: The Blue Jays have the 2nd best team ERA in the majors and have one of the best team defences. If the hitting hadn’t completely collapsed this season, they would be so dangerous. Instead, they are incredibly frustrating to watch.

2:22
Ben Clemens: Yeah, of all the parts of the team that could have gone wrong, I did not expect this one. Kirk is heating up, but Varsho looks disastrous and Vlad is not picking up the slack

2:22
Nate: How much longer does Bobby Witt have to keep performing the way he has been to cement a top-25 player in the league status? Defense vastly improved from last year, K% down, getting to his power in games more frequently, his production doesn’t appear to be shaped in a wildly unsustainable way. Probably could still stand to walk more but I think the breakout seems real

2:23
Ben Clemens: Yep, I’m gonna regret not believing in him by next year it looks like. I dunno, I will say that if he keeps it up the rest of the year I’m gonna more fully re-evaluate

2:24
Ben Clemens: I think a lot of it comes down to the defensive improvement

2:24
Ben Clemens: And like, it seems real? But I’m not great at evaluating defense, particularly when it went from so bad to so good

2:24
Guest: You, as a Cardinal fan, must be suffering through what has happened to Adam Wainwright. What should the Cardinals do? It is unmerciful to actually send him out there again.

2:24
Ben Clemens: I think that he should get to do what he wants to do

2:25
Ben Clemens: It’d be one thing if the games were really important to a playoff chase, but all that’s really at stake now is the longest streak of one team finishing ahead of another in the division in MLB history (cards over pirates)

2:25
Ben Clemens: So if he wants to keep going out there and getting tattooed, well, he’s Adam Wainwright and he’s earned it

2:25
Ben Clemens: something tells me he’s too competitive to keep letting this happen, though

2:25
Ben Clemens: one way or another

2:26
Farhandrew Zaidman: Jackson Holliday looks every bit the super prospect he was billed to be….but is it actually possible his brother Ethan is better??

2:26
Ben Clemens: Not really my area of expertise, but I’m gonna say probably not

2:26
Anon21: Braves are struggling to find anyone who can competently fill slots 3-5 in their rotation. Do you think Morton starts games for them in the playoffs out of sheer inertia, or is he nearing the end of his leash?

2:26
Ben Clemens: I think he probably will unless a few of the other guys have lights out Septembers

2:28
Ben Clemens: But yeah, that’s the only weak point of this team

2:28
Blake: Chas McCormick has a 145 wRC+, but an 81 DRC+. I don’t think I’ve seen a gap that big before. Is this all BABIP luck? Does this portend a big fall in production?

2:29
Ben Clemens: I think that there are a few components. It doesn’t really seem like he’s gonna keep running such a huge HR/FB% without true top-end power

2:29
Ben Clemens: that’s just a wild number for someone with below average raw

2:29
Ben Clemens: Like, maybe you can do that if you’re Mookie Betts, but that’s not McCormick’s game. So I think there’s both BABIP and ISO regression baked in. But it’s still a huge gap, I’m surprised by that

2:30
Bellinger: I’m told I’m more sustainable than my xWOBA looks because I pull a lot of balls. Why does that matter?

2:30
Ben Clemens: so, xwOBA completely ignores the spray; it just groups by exit velo and angle

2:30
Ben Clemens: but that’s kinda weird for a few reasons: the most obvious is that the walls are closer down the corners

2:31
Ben Clemens: also, though, batted balls outperform their xwOBA when pulled and underperform it going opposite. I think it has to do with the spin imparted, on average, when you’re out in front to pull the ball

2:31
Ben Clemens: there are a lot of those crushed slices that seem to flee the right fielder

2:31
hudie: Thoughts on Soto?

2:31
Ben Clemens: I think he’s great

2:32
Ben Clemens: Not sure if that’s exactly what you’re looking for

2:32
Ben Clemens: little rough patch of late, though, Davy Andrews is writing about his recent plate discipline later this week

2:32
Izzy: How long does Riley Greene stay in CF?

2:33
Ben Clemens: For me, I’d keep him as a CF until someone pushes him out. Like, he looks reasonable out there

2:35
Ben Clemens: But I think it’s a one or two year kinda deal, I think his instincts are not gonna carry him if he slows down just a bit, and Parker Meadows is theoretically gonna be ready soon

2:35
VitalGonzoGore: Are the Cubs winning the Central?

2:35
Ben Clemens: I believe in the Brewers. Having Burnes pitching like an ace again is a huge deal

2:35
Matt Damon: MATT. DAMON.

2:35
hudie: Is Arenado on a HOF trajectory?

2:35
Ben Clemens: Yeah 100%

2:36
Ben Clemens: I actually don’t think this is controversial

2:37
Ben Clemens: His JAWS is right there already, and so are his counting statistics. Those counting statistics also ignore all the gold gloves

2:37
Ben Clemens: It’d be one thing if he fell apart after leaving Colorado, but he’s been hitting really well in St. Louis, so that argument is gone

2:37
Didace: Candelario is by far the best trade deadline pickup, yes?

2:38
Ben Clemens: What about Cole Ragans?

2:38
Ben Clemens: 🙂

2:39
Ben Clemens: Scherzer’s been alright too. But yeah, Candelario has been the best hitter traded by a mile, and none of the pitchers have really popped

2:39
Nate: Does the contact quality of the pitching staff impact the defensive WAR of the fielders?  For example, if Wainwright is getting shellacked all the time, does that negatively impact Arenado?

2:39
Ben Clemens: That’s a really complex question, and I have never found a satisfactory mathematical answer, but my feel is that yes, but not in a predictable way

2:40
Ben Clemens: it shouldn’t, in theory, but I think that the amount of pressure put on by having everything blistered is a real effect

2:40
C-Low: Do analysts overvalue run differential? I look at the Orioles who win a lot of close games, but games where the starter gets knocked around they turn to cannon fodder out of the bullpen that make final scores look like blowouts. Seattle lost season series 4-2 but outscored Orioles 31-17 because of two blowouts.

2:40
Ben Clemens: Eh…. like, maybe they do? But it’s still more predictive than wins and losses

2:40
Ben Clemens: Those blowouts tend to come out in the wash, too

2:42
Ben Clemens: Teams like the O’s with a great top of the bullpen and some questionable arms at the bottom are perhaps most susceptible to being “underrated” this way

2:42
Ben Clemens: but hey, lots of teams have bad pitchers, and they all use them when they’re getting beat

2:43
Ben Clemens: The O’s hung a 10 spot on the Mets this month, and the four runs they put up on Reed Garrett count in the scorebook

2:43
Deathclaw: Are you avoiding talking about Franco because we don’t have enough info yet?

2:43
Ben Clemens: Correct

2:43
Brooty: The Cubs play the white sox, royals, tigers, and pirates over the next 2 weeks. Brewers play dodgers, rangers, twins, padres. Then they play each other. Huge stretch for the Cubs to make up ground.

2:43
Ben Clemens: Yeah, it’s gonna be very important to finish that stretch having made up meaningful ground

2:43
Ben Clemens: if they’re still 3.5 out in two weeks, yikes

2:43
Nate: How do you feel about my Reds chances of getting in the playoffs this year?

2:43
Ben Clemens: Bad, sadly

2:44
Ben Clemens: I have really been enjoying the Reds, but with Alexis Diaz being more reasonable than in the first half, the pitching staff is not looking good

2:45
Ben Clemens: they really needed to get some pitching reinforcements rather than just saying that Greene and Lodolo would be back at some indeterminate point in the future

2:45
Ben Clemens: LIke, the five teams who are allowing the most runs per game this year are: A’s, Rockies, Royals, Nats, Reds

2:45
Ben Clemens: that’s four teams who are purposefully awful, and a playoff contender

2:45
Noodles Hahn: Ben, my fork is out and ready. Is it officially time to stick it in the Padres? I saw 21% playoff odds, but that just seems way too high. If playoff odds factored in “Got that dawg in them”, the Padres would have to be out.

2:46
Ben Clemens: Yeah, their DITAR (dawg in them above replacement) is shockingly low

2:46
Ben Clemens: I think you should save that fork for your noodles, personally

2:46
Ben Clemens: But I’m ready to give up

2:46
neuronic: I wonder when teams will start to deprioritize developing catcher framing in anticipation of ABS. has that already begun, or will it mostly just come after MLB gives a set date for that sort of change

2:46
Ben Clemens: I’m not convinced it will be as big of a shift as people talk about if they go to the challenge system

2:47
Ben Clemens: like, it’ll matter less, but you still need to receive pitches reasonably

2:47
mike: Speaking of CC, and Buxton, those two deals could really hamstring the Twins if those guys don’t play better in the coming years….and I liked both deals.

2:47
Ben Clemens: I actually don’t think that either is a complete disaster, for different reasons

2:49
Ben Clemens: The Correa deal is just not that long, and while they are’nt getting superstar production out of him, a)they did last year and b)they’re still getting a solid player in a spot where they’ve had trouble finding consistency

2:49
Ben Clemens: The Buxton deal, yeah, it’s looking bad

2:49
Ben Clemens: but at least the structure was heavily incentive-laden

2:49
Ben Clemens: I think if he is just broken, that one will hurt more than the Correa one, to be honest

2:50
Ben Clemens: Like, the real disaster is when you have someone who’s a)really bad and b)blocks a spot

2:50
Ben Clemens: Correa isn’t really doing that, on a min deal everyone would be happy to play him

2:50
Ben Clemens: not the case with this version of Buxton

2:50
Guest: With the success teams like the Astros and Orioles have been having after years of “tanking” do you think “tanking” will become a legitimate strategy for teams especially smaller market ones. And will fanbases be willing to endure years of “tanking” to have a competitive window

2:50
Ben Clemens: Ooh, a question that feels like it’s from the past

2:50
Ben Clemens: I think that for a while, everyone thought this was the way of the future

2:51
Ben Clemens: But a lot of these tank and rebuild jobs haven’t worked out that well, and then you look at the Brewers and teams of that ilk, and they’ve done really well without having to completely bottom out

2:51
Chris: What does the future look like for D. Canzone? His minor league numbers look OK, but how does he project — starter…fourth OF…fringe MLB player?

2:51
Ben Clemens: 4th OF for me

2:51
Appa Yip Yip: What do you make of Davis Schneider? Bench guy, or legit shot to be an every day player?

2:52
Ben Clemens: Legit shot? sure

2:52
Ben Clemens: it’d be an underdog story, but yeah I could see it

2:52
Ben Clemens: like he’s obviously nowhere near this good, but his minor league numbers aren’t smoke and mirrors

2:53
Ben Clemens: he really does get on base a lot, that might play if he doesn’t get the bat knocked out of his hands

2:53
Ben Clemens: (this is a real worry! He does not have average major league pop, actual results notwithstanding)

2:53
bosoxforlife: I see on MLB that Acuna, Albies, Riley and Olson have each played in every game this season. That is what luck really is, and also helps tell why they are so darn good.

2:53
Ben Clemens: It’s partially luck, sure, but the Braves also seem to pride themselves on that kind of work ethic and both select players for it and foster an environment that promotes it

2:53
Ben Clemens: Like, before this batch, Swanson was doing the same thing

2:53
Ben Clemens: Freeman too

2:54
v2micca: I am still really bearish on a 2023 return for Kyle Wright.  I know he has begun rehab work, but I just don’t see him coming back this season.  Are you more optimistic, or about the same?

2:54
Ben Clemens: Yeah I’m with you

2:54
Seamus: If Casas for Vlad Jr. was on the table, who says no?

2:54
Ben Clemens: Oh, the Jays I think

2:54
Ben Clemens: c’mon, you have to bet on the upside

2:54
Kwanbelievable: I think K/9 (or really any per 9 inning stat) is flawed and should be replaced by K/PA*100. My reasoning is that normalizing a stat on a per inning basis allows for more noise from batted ball luck and using PAs eliminates that. Talk me off the ledge, why is per 9 the industry standard?

2:54
Ben Clemens: Uh, yeah, I’m totally with you

2:54
Ben Clemens: it’s not really industry standard; I think it’s a fantasy baseball relic

2:55
Ben Clemens: my custom FG pages have BB% and K% instead

2:55
bosoxforlife: There was some, actually quite a bit of, doubt that Michael Harris would continue to hit at the level of his rookie season. Have you been convinced that he is not a flash in the batters box?

2:55
Ben Clemens: I am, at the very least, convinced that he’s a plus major league hitter

2:56
Ben Clemens: I don’t think he’s gonna be duplicating 2022 any time soon, that was just a ton of things going right all at once, but he has plus power and while his approach is so-so, he makes enough contact despite it to hit a ton of smashed contact

2:56
Johnny5Alive: I have wondered whether this years dismal mets offensive output can be put on switching hitting coaches? The approach is awful, and everyone regressed way more than I think even folks like you would have expected.  They HAD to give this coach the job because they were worred about losing him, but honestly, maybe they should? Even baty goes back to AAA and is magically fixed in 2 games like a completely different hitter. I would typically argue coaches don’t really make big impacts, but this is… bad.  Thoughts?

2:57
Ben Clemens: My thoughts are that it probably isn’t a huge deal, but that there’s really no way of knowing

2:57
Insert Witty Name Here: Board game question: what’s your chess skill?

2:57
Ben Clemens: I was awesome when I was a kid; our elementary school had a team, we went to nationals a lot b/c they were often held in the Southeast, I got 2nd in my age group in Tennessee in third grade. But in 5th grade, a Russian kid transferred to our school and started wiping the floor with me, so I quit and started playing sports instead

2:58
Ben Clemens: So, yeah, basically haven’t played since lol

2:58
Zach: Last week I saw you took the over on the Dodger’s win total at 95… At this point, do you think they’ll reach 100 wins yet again?

2:58
Ben Clemens: Oooooh…. let’s just say, no, but really close

2:58
Ben Clemens: but man, I had to think about it

2:58
Ben Clemens: they have really jelled

2:58
v2micca: Did Mike Trout give us unreasonable expectations?  Before Trout, it was kind of accepted that your superstars might group together a couple of elite seasons, but would generally have them broken up by just good or above average seasons.  Trout comes along and reals off 8 elite seasons in a row to start his career.  Who can live up to that?

2:58
Ben Clemens: 100%

2:58
Ben Clemens: not every star is an inner circle hall of famer

2:59
Deathclaw: What are your top 3 favorite Matt Damon movies? Mine are Gerry, Behind the Candelabra and Interstellar

2:59
Ben Clemens: Oppenheimer has to be on this list for me, probably first. I absolutely loved it

3:00
Ben Clemens: I dunno, there are just so many. I loved Ocean’s 11, Good Will Hunting, the first few Bournes, Promised Land (?) I think it’s called. I heard that Stillwater was incredible, though I haven’t seen it. His part in Interstellar was excellent, agreed

3:00
Ben Clemens: We’re leaving out Saving Private Ryan!

3:00
Sanford: Hi Ben, what’s it been like to live in a different city from your favorite team, particularly in a city that has a team of its own? As a Mets fan who used to live in Boston, I was pretty easily able to embrace the Sox (mostly due to the charm of Fenway), but there’s something about fandom vis-à-vis living in close proximity to your team—being able to catch a random weeknight game, chatting up someone on the train who’s wearing the Local Team hat, just knowing that a majority of the passersby are following the same rollercoaster season that you are—that feels essential to my experience as a fan, and is a noticeable void whenever I’ve lived outside of NYC. Do you relate at all to this as a Cards fan living in SF?

3:00
Ben Clemens: For sure. It helps that I’ve never lived in St. Louis, though

3:01
Ben Clemens: I just pick up a local team wherever I go. I lived in NYC for a decade and just became a secondary Mets fan, same here with the Giants

3:01
v2micca: I can’t be the only fan that loathes the idea of MLB implementing ABS as a challenge system.  I can’t be the only one that sees teams challenging every called third strike on principle alone.

3:01
Ben Clemens: You only get three misses

3:01
Ben Clemens: So, better be sure!

3:01
Wainwright: What would you think if the Cardinals used me in a piggyback starters/opener game to get two more wins for 200 career?

3:01
Ben Clemens: Yeah, into it

3:01
Seamus: Bogaerts has had a weird season. At the plate, his middling first half wRC+ of 106 was entirely built on a good April (itself strongly dependent on a great first week). He was awful at the plate in May, below-average in June, and seems now back to a bit above-average for the last month or so. In the field, it seems like last year’s unexpectedly good defensive performance wasn’t a total fluke, and he’s gone from being one of the worst defensive everyday shortstops in baseball to one of the best. What do you make of his first of eleven thousand years in a Padres uniform?

3:02
Ben Clemens: My overall impression is that the Padres would have expected a different shape (less D more O, like you said) but that they’re getting roughly what they expected. I think that my perception is probably a bit biased by the fact that he’s been incredibly un-clutch, and in games where I’ve been watching

3:03
Ben Clemens: Jeez, he’s 1.2 wins below average by WPA this year

3:03
Ben Clemens: It feels like he’s constnatly up with two men on because the other team fell behind Soto 2-0 and didn’t challenge him

3:03
Jax: On the point of run differential, I’ve always thought there could be some benefit of winsorizing the individual scores so as to dampen the impact of games like Saturday’s 21-3. Maybe something like every margin of victory/defeat greater than 6 is replaced with 6.

3:04
Ben Clemens: Totally. Sounds like a lot of work if you don’t have the right database, but also sounds interesting, maybe it’s a good offseason project for me

3:04
Andrew: If it’s easier to steal bases this year, does that make singles more valuable than they were in previous years before the rules were changed? Do statistics like WAR sufficiently account for those year-to-year rule changes?

3:04
Ben Clemens: So, the general answer to this is yes, because of the way wOBA and wRC+ work

3:04
Ben Clemens: They use actual in-season data to determine how many runs score after a given base/out state

3:05
Ben Clemens: so, if more runs are scoring after a man on first and no one out, then the value of going from none on none out to 1 on/0 out goes up

3:05
Ben Clemens: Now, WHICH hitter gets on matters more now, and I’m not sure we account for that very well

3:06
Johnny5Alive: playing every day requires health, and in that regard, the braves have been lucky with their stars – work ethic or not.

3:06
Ben Clemens: Luck, skill, and intent, all three

3:06
Hi: Thoughts on Abrams and Ruiz? Both have done well lately, but the defense scares me.

3:06
Ben Clemens: One of my best friends is a huge Nats fan and is all over me to write about Abrams

3:06
Ben Clemens: He’s already on my list of ideas, and yeah, he’s looking legit to me

3:06
Ben Clemens: Ruiz, nah, I’m out

3:07
Ben Clemens: His defense just feels too bad to me to not be a huge bat catcher and still be valuable

3:07
Matt: “Scherzer’s been alright too. But yeah, Candelario has been the best hitter traded by a mile, and none of the pitchers have really popped”

what about the dude that threw a freakin’ no hitter for his new team?

3:07
Ben Clemens: He’d be up there too for sure

3:07
Ben Clemens: And definitely led to the most fun I’ve had writing about any of these guys

3:08
Ben Clemens: The thing is, he’s only made two starts

3:08
Ben Clemens: I just need more

3:08
Ben Clemens: I guess that kinda applies to Scherzer too

3:08
Ben Clemens: the fact is, Candelario has just been awesome

3:08
Ghost of Wade Boggs: If I may expand on v2micca’s question, did Mike Trout give us unreasonable expectations on prospects, as well? Before Trout, it was kinda accepted that prospects, no matter highly touted, had a certain degree of failure that was expected from them, and they would slowly develop or drop off entirely. Trout comes along as the #1 (or #2, depending on you listen to) prospect in baseball and reals off 8 elite seasons in a row to start his career. Who can live up to that?

3:08
Ben Clemens: Also yes

3:08
Ben Clemens: He and Harper both, honestly

3:08
bosoxforlife: It’s time for a peach question. About a month ago there was a discussion about risking your money on a peach, great or awful, or settling for something more mundane, but safe. The grocery store put peaches on sale and I gambled my hard earned money and bought 6. All were perfect!!!. But they are too expensive to buy again

3:09
Ben Clemens: So I made a salad last night with peaches in it, and it was spectacular

3:09
Ben Clemens: I’m gonna have to try this more often; basically arugula, avocado, tomatoes, peaches, balsamic

3:09
Ben Clemens: Peaches are high risk high reward. They haven’t been absurdly expensive here but on the flip side, I can’t buy blackberries anymore

3:09
Ben Clemens: That crushes me; they’re my favorite fruit

3:10
Thomas: Re: Matt Damon movies, highly recommend The Informant! . Weird Damon is really fun

3:10
Ben Clemens: Also a good one

3:10
Ethan: Someone has done the game by game pythag work in the past. Iirc the results weren’t that different. It’s on tangos blog somewhere. PythagMatt was the name I think

3:10
Ben Clemens: Hey, might save me an article

3:10
Eh?: Re: Peaches… If you are lucky enough to be able to get peaches from the Niagara region while they are fresh, please do so. I just had one myself and it made my day better.

3:10
Ben Clemens: Look at these inside fruit tips my chat churns out

3:10
Appa Yip Yip: People don’t like attributing things to  luck because it’s fundamentally out of our control, and I don’t want to disparage the work Baltimore’s scouting department has done, but there’s also a ton of luck involved in hitting on that many draft picks. Tanking simply isn’t a surefire strategy to contention in baseball.

3:10
Ben Clemens: For sure, I think that’s why a lot of the approach is based around defense in depth

3:11
Ben Clemens: draft a ton of dudes so that variance can work your way instead of against you

3:11
Ben Clemens: I think that variance is a generally misunderstood and under-applied concept in strategic ventures

3:11
Ben Clemens: I don’t want to go all Nassim Taleb on you, but if your plan doesn’t account for the inevitable fact that future outcomes are not known and skill/talent levels aren’t static, it’s probably a bad plan

3:12
Stevesy: This year’s Yankees are trash, but is there any expectation that the next few years won’t be as well? So many bad contracts still to see out.

3:13
Ben Clemens: I thiiiiiink it’ll be fine? Rodon will likely be better, Rizzo won’t play this much with this poor of outcomes, Donaldson will be gone, etc

3:13
Ben Clemens: Volpe is heating up, their pitching will improve…. I mean, I don’t think they’re WS favorites in ’24 or anything but I think they’ll be meaningfully better, and they’re above .500 this year already!

3:13
Beck: Hey Ben, thanks for doing the chat.
With Fernando Valenzuela getting his number retired, which non-HoF player do you want to see their jersey number retired (if the team does have HoF requirement, they are willing to wave it for this player)?

3:14
Ben Clemens: Ooh, I am going to say that this will be unscientific and not comprehensive, because I’m just not THAT good at baseball historoy

3:14
Ben Clemens: history*

3:14
Ben Clemens: but for me, Jimmy Rollins in Philly

3:14
Ben Clemens: Really him plus Utley, but I’m picking one

3:15
Ben Clemens: I think that era of Phillies teams was so beloved in the city that he should be celebrated for that

3:15
Random Fact Generator: Freedie Freeman played 136 innings at third base in 2017 and had +3 DRS. He has not played third base in any other season.

3:15
Ben Clemens: delightful

3:15
Ben Clemens: the reverse Nick Castellanos

3:15
Kosch: Does FG have an office, or does everyone work from home full time?

3:15
Ben Clemens: work from home full time

3:15
Ben: Thoughts on the Giants and their offensive struggles? Can they still sneak into the playoffs on the backs of their deep pitching staff?

3:16
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I think they can. The pitching goes a long way in that stadium

3:16
bosoxforlife: Dwight Evans

3:16
Ben Clemens: Also a good call

3:16
Guest: Re: Matt Damon movies, don’t forget The Martian.

3:16
Ben Clemens: omg I did forget it!

3:16
Ben Clemens: Another banger

3:17
FA’s: it seems odd that no contenders would be interested in Jean Segura or Trey Mancini for the league minimum, does this surprise you?

3:17
Ben Clemens: You know, it did at first but I kinda get it

3:17
Ben Clemens: You’d need to be a team that a)is definitely going to make the playoffs, so you can afford to be a little patient working them in

3:17
Ben Clemens: and b)needs a player of that level

3:17
Ben Clemens: that’s, like… nobody?

3:18
Ben Clemens: maybe the Dodgers could take a chance on Segura because their depth feels  perpetually stretched, but that seems to have been solved at the deadline. Or the Mariners could have a Segura reunion over Josh Rojas, but they just went out and traded for him, you know?

3:19
Danny: over under on angels wins next season assuming ohtani leaves but trout and rendon each play 140?

3:19
Ben Clemens: 81

3:19
Jake: Speaking of peaches, who is your peach (high risk, high reward) player in this years free agent class?

3:19
Ben Clemens: I’ll give you two hitters and two pitchers

3:19
Ben Clemens: Rhys Hoskins and Harrison Bader for hitters

3:20
Ben Clemens: Hoskins, who knows! Bader, he could be a star, but the health is a real issue and his offense is all over the place

3:20
Ben Clemens: Starters, that’s easy for me. Julio Urias, is he great of so-so? Jordan Montgomery, if he’s the guy he’s showed for the last two years, he’s really good, but I worry he’s secretly just a five-and-dive type

3:21
bosoxforlife: James Paxton has to be one of the riskiest pitchers available.

3:22
Ben Clemens: Ah yeah, maybe I should have set my sights lower in the hierarchy of free agents

3:23
Ben Clemens: He’s a great call

3:23
v2micca: Okay, maybe managers won’t challenge every called strike three, but they will do that thing where they delay the game while their guys in the booth review the footage and radio down to them if they should challenge or not.  Especially if the strikeout was the third out of the inning.

3:23
Ben Clemens: So, it’s immediate only, and not from the dubout

3:23
Ben Clemens: dugout*

3:23
Ben Clemens: has to be pitcher/catcher/hitter

3:23
Ben Clemens: Here’s one from earlier this year

3:24
Ben Clemens: it’s a little faster now on the relay back and forth, but that’s the idea

3:24
Ice Cream Helmet: What am I missing about the Defense component of WAR? When I look at WAR Team Leader page and rank by DEF it tells me that… only 4 teams are getting positive value from their defenses? That can’t be correct, so I must be getting something fundamentally wrong.

3:25
Ben Clemens: It’s a result of not zeroing stuff and applying positional adjustments. I think it’s silly, for sure

3:25
Ben Clemens: but if you just add up all the positional adjustments, you’ll get that every team is 17.5 runs below average per 162 games

3:26
Travis: Olson win MVP if he hits 60?

3:26
Ben Clemens: I think he will, yes

3:26
Krusty: I love that FG has fWAR (FIP-based) and RA9-WAR because together, they provide insight into that always murky term: “valuable”
Is there any chance that FG could add RE24-based WAR for position players (or WPA? cWPA? You’re the experts!) for a similar purpose?

3:26
Ben Clemens: Oh, that’s interesteing

3:26
Ben Clemens: We’ve been adding new stuff here and there, I’m still hoping EV95 is gonna be coming soon, but yeah, that’s a fun one

3:26
Appa Yip Yip: I feel like the challenge system will take care of the really egregious stuff while keeping the zone a little bit squishy, which idk is just part of baseball. I’m looking forward to it.

3:26
Ben Clemens: That’s my general view on it

3:26
Ben Clemens: I like the zone being probabilistic

3:27
Ben Clemens: I would prefer fewer challenges than more, but I think having the ability to correct a bad call in a big spot is useful

3:27
Justin: % chance that Acuña doesn’t win MVP? It’s gotta be either Olson or Freeman if not huh?

3:27
Ben Clemens: Don’t leave Mookie out of that list

3:27
Ben Clemens: but I think Acuna is still like 80%

3:27
JK: Forgive me if my logic or math is wrong, but shouldn’t average with RISP be positively leaning? I.E. with a runner on second and no outs, if a team’s average is .333, then most likely they will get a hit in the first two plate appearances, so their average with RISP will be 1.000 or .500. That might be too simplistic, but it’s the easiest way I can think about it.

3:28
Ben Clemens: Okay, we can do this for this exact example: runner on second, one out, and let’s assume that any hit scores him but a sac fly won’t

3:28
Ben Clemens: So, 1/3 of the time, you get a hit right away. 1 AB, 1 H

3:29
Ben Clemens: another 2/9 of the time (2/3*1/3) you make an out and then a hit, 2 AB 1 H

3:29
Ben Clemens: Another 4/9 of the time (2/3*2/3) you make two outs, 2AB 0H

3:30
Ben Clemens: so let’s say it happens 9 times, just for ease of math

3:30
Ben Clemens: this particular situation

3:30
Ben Clemens: you end up with 3-3, 2-4, and 0-8

3:30
Ben Clemens: which adds up to 5-15, .333

3:31
Ben Clemens: math is neat

3:31
Evan: Worried at all about Corbin Carroll? He’s had a tough second half of the season so far.

3:31
Ben Clemens: I’m fairly worried that he is hurt

3:31
Ben Clemens: and that’s just always going to be my primary worry with him

3:31
Ben Clemens: Dude blew out his shoulder because he swings harder than his ligaments and joints can handle, that sounds scary

3:32
Chooch: How do I explain to fellow phillies fans that Nicky C is in fact not a good defender, despite his “apparent” and turnaround this year?

3:32
Ben Clemens: I mean, probably you won’t be able to

3:33
Ben Clemens: Because anyone who thinks that is probably not gonna want to do the work of diving into range-based metrics and thikning about the plays he should have made but didn’t

3:33
Ben Clemens: He’s better than he was last year! And he’s still bad because he’s slow and gets bad jumps

3:34
Ben Clemens: but outfield defense is tricky that way, because sliding catches look cool and the camera doesn’t show jumps

3:34
bosoxforlife: One of my pet peeves is 3rd base coaches not taking a 50-50 shot at sending the runner with a .210 hitter on deck. Perfect execution by the defense is a lot less than 50-50.

3:34
Ben Clemens: 100% agreed

3:34
Ben Clemens: Alright, it was a nice long chat session today, but I’m gonna go eat some lunch now. Thanks as always for hanging out with me today. Let’s do it again next week.





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

13 Comments
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gblasius
9 months ago

I am heartened by the teardown Steve Cohen has authorised. Arguably, the value of wins for the rest of the season is negative. The Wilpons would have held on to that 1-100 chance that a miracle would have happened, and would have continued to neglect the farm system whilst milking nostalgia for all its worth.

Has FG ever tried to sabermetrically rate front offices? It’s the biggest constant in a teams’ performance.

Smiling Politelymember
9 months ago
Reply to  gblasius

It’d be a fun crowdsource exercise, like they did with FAs and announcers (and how I wish they’d run the most valuable contracts exercise and power rankings instead of the idiosyncrasy that currently reigns)

Last edited 9 months ago by Smiling Politely
bosoxforlifemember
9 months ago
Reply to  gblasius

It begins with the Braves with the Dodgers right behind.The Cardinals look like they lost the famed Cardinals Way when they hired Marmol. Right now the Astros are doing it right but that happens when a team can pick up a Yordan Alvarez for an average relief pitcher. I think I also remember them stealing a Hall of Famer for a one month rental of a reliever back around 1990. Then there are the Rockies?