Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 9/15/20

11:56
Ben Clemens: Starting the chat a little early to decrease the likelihood of running over and interfering with Jay’s chat later.

11:56
Ben Clemens: Hello everyone!

11:57
Ben Clemens: There’s a lot of baseball to talk about, and I’ve written about the AL Central approximately 1,000 times since last chat. Let’s dive right in

11:57
Ben Clemens: Oh and if you have any interesting board game suggestions, preferably games that can be played with both 2 and 4 players, let me know. We’re in the market.

11:58
James: What is it about the Padres and unwritten HR rules that send opposing teams flying off the handle?

11:58
Ben Clemens: I think it’s mainly that they’re young and good?

11:58
Ben Clemens: Because it’s clearly nonsense

11:58
SeanBurroughsFanClub#1: Any thoughts on the drama from Grisham’s homerun last night?

11:58
Ben Clemens: Complaining about what Grisham did should be a violation of an unwritten rule

11:58
Ben Clemens: Not doing what Grisham did

11:58
Ben Clemens: What a stupid controversy, and Dave Roberts should feel silly

11:59
Derek: Have you revised your take on Nelson Cruz at all?

11:59
Ben Clemens: I have not!

11:59
Ben Clemens: In fairness, he’s played only four games since then

11:59
Ben Clemens: And is rocking a 40% strikeout rate in those games, not that it matters

12:00
Ben Clemens: I was a bit surprised by the reaction to that article, but I won’t lie, I felt pretty vindicated that he was the biggest HR outperformer when I looked at expected homers the next day

12:00
Ben Clemens: I think people read it as me saying Cruz is awful, but I think that if you hid the outcome stats and just looked at process, you’d be worried he was declining

12:00
Ben Clemens: I’m worried he’s declining

12:00
Michael: Would it be possible for Cease to further adjust the rotational axis of his fastball and get a cutter/slider-type of pitch instead?

12:00
Ben Clemens: Interesting question

12:00
Ben Clemens: I’m skeptical based on watching him throw a slider, lol

12:01
Ben Clemens: Watching an entire Cease start from first pitch to last was quite the experience

12:01
Ben Clemens: He doesn’t have Maples-level command issues, but it’s surprising how often he just loses fastballs

12:02
Sir Nerdlington: Surely the Sox aren’t blind to Cease’s spin issues. What odds do you give him/them of increasing his spin efficiency next season?

12:02
Ben Clemens: I give them quite good odds

12:02
Ben Clemens: They did it already this year actually

12:02
Ben Clemens: This was even more of a problem in 2019

12:02
Ben Clemens: But as commenter MRDXol (totally normal 2020 citation) said in comments yesterday

12:02
Ben Clemens: You have to wonder if switching him from 4s/curve to 4s/slider is messing with him

12:03
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure asking him for MORE gradations of slider is the answer

12:03
Ben Clemens: If I were the White Sox, I’d ask him to just only throw fastballs this offseason

12:03
Ben Clemens: To see if he can recapture some ride

12:03
Ben Clemens: Because he seems to have this weird combo of hittability and lack of control with the pitch right now

12:04
Chris: When an AQI is 283 is it up to major league baseball or the home team s cancel the game? I feel like the mariners are getting a lot of heat on this one when it doesn’t seem like it was their decision

12:04
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure, but I reallllly don’t get what they are doing

12:04
Ben Clemens: You shouldn’t be playing in air like that!

12:04
Ben Clemens: They should have called baseball and said look, we can’t play

12:04
Ben Clemens: I’ve had a lot of exxperience with AQI’s over 200 in the last week or so

12:04
Ben Clemens: It’s not fun!

12:05
gcat: is it possible that seth lugoat is already the second best pitcher on the mets?

12:05
Ben Clemens: Does this not count Thor?

12:05
Ben Clemens: Because if so, it’s probable

12:05
Ben Clemens: Not possible

12:05
Ben Clemens: If it’s counting him, I think it’s possible but unlikely

12:05
Scott: Who is your favourite for nl cy young award

12:06
Ben Clemens: Mmmmm, dG probably

12:06
Ben Clemens: With Darvish a close second

12:06
Ben Clemens: Honestly, though, Corbin Burnes has to be in the discussion, which is just a hell of a sentence

12:06
Guest: The A’s have no shot at a WS without Chapman, right!?!?

12:06
Ben Clemens: I don’t think it works this way

12:06
Ben Clemens: I think they still have a shot, it just got smaller

12:07
Ben Clemens: In Dan’s article about it, which you cna read here:

12:07
Ben Clemens: He ran ZiPS on it, and their odds moved from 11% to 9%

12:07
Ben Clemens: That’s a lot of percent for one guy

12:07
Ben Clemens: But not 0 now

12:08
2-D: Is this basically what we can expect from Kikuchi at this point? 4/5 starter material?

12:08
Ben Clemens: I think he still has upside for more, but yeah

12:08
Sir Nerdlington: If these rules are so important why didn’t anyone write them down?!

12:08
Ben Clemens: What a great question

12:08
Ben Clemens: I have no clue

12:09
Ben Clemens: Seems like given their importance to all variety of managers and players who just got shelled, someone should have codified it

12:09
Braves4Life: In the offseason which team would say no to a Yelich for DeGrom trade?

12:09
Ben Clemens: I think the Brewers would say no, because deGrom doesn’t really fit the way they’ve built their team

12:09
Ben Clemens: But I don’t thinkt he value is crazily off

12:10
Ben Clemens: And I have an easier time buyin that Yelich is worse than we think than thinking the same about deGrom

12:10
Chip Chipperson: With the playoffs now just around the corner, do you have any thoughts on which two teams will prevail in the League playoffs to play in the 2020 World Series?

12:10
Ben Clemens: I guess the Dodgers and White Sox?

12:10
Ben Clemens: Dodgers are boring but good

12:10
Ben Clemens: White Sox are fun!

12:10
Guest: What does a fully realized, peak Eloy Jimenez season look like?

12:11
Ben Clemens: This is going to be a weird comparison for many reasons, but something like peak Mo Vaughn

12:11
Ben Clemens: Only with three inside-the-park-HR allowed, and about 5 buttons on his jersey unbuttoned

12:12
Ben Clemens: I don’t know if you saw his “defense” on a Buxton ball that was eventually ruled a ground rule double last night, but he almost allowed another inside the parker

12:12
Ben Clemens: After his earlier foray into net-jumping

12:12
Studstats: Adding to the Cease discussion, throwing more sliders can definitely cause the loss of ride. Collegiate pitchers see this all the time; whenever they add a slider, the most common cue is “throw it like a football,”  and that cue sticks with them when they follow a slider with a fastball.

12:12
Ben Clemens: Yeah, this seems like it might have happened

12:12
Maddoning: Is it time for the Angels to say goodbye to Albert Pujols?  It’s beyond time, isn’t it?

12:13
Ben Clemens: God, I hate that I’m saying this, but

12:13
Ben Clemens: I don’t think so?

12:13
Ben Clemens: Keep pushing him further down the lineup, sure

12:13
Ben Clemens: And if he totally breaks, sure

12:13
Ben Clemens: But he’s been a lot less embarrassing than I would have expected and he STILL somehow keeps being good in the clutch

12:14
Ben Clemens: I get that it’s not predictive

12:14
Ben Clemens: But I think that could be detrimental to chemistry for sure

12:14
Ben Clemens: One of the greatest players of all time, keeps helping your team win, and you just stop playing him?

12:14
Ben Clemens: Seems more like an offseason move

12:14
Joshua: With Starlin Castro coming back for the Nats next year, it seems Carter Kieboom could be an odd man out with Luis Garcia at 2nd. If the Nats decide to deal Kieboom, what type of package do you think they could get in return. Would Kieboom and Wil Crowe be enough to land Marco Gonzalez? Thanks.

12:14
Ben Clemens: Wow, I think that is way too much for Marco

12:15
Ben Clemens: But I might just have the wrong opinion of him

12:16
Ben Clemens: Yeah I wonder if this is just me having the wrong view of Marco, rather than of Kieboom

12:16
Derek: “Pujols should keep starting” is almost a hotter take than “Nelson Cruz is a bum”

12:17
Ben Clemens: Against lefties, which is the way they’re increasingly leaning, would you rather play Walsh?

12:17
Ben Clemens: It’d be one thing if they still had LaStella

12:17
Ben Clemens: Haha also I like how I now think Cruz is a bum 🙂

12:18
Ben Clemens: I will say that Cruz led to the Twins’ only run last night

12:18
Ben Clemens: Because the White Sox inexplicably intentionally walked him to surrender the platoon advantage

12:18
Ben Clemens: And Jorge Polanco followed with an RBI single

12:18
Braves4Life: What does Christian Yelich need to do to be a productive hitter again?

12:18
Chip Chipperson: Any thoughts on why Christian Yelich has played so cruddy this season?  Do you expect him to bounce back next year with MVP-type numbers?

12:19
Ben Clemens: Lots of Yelich questions in here, and I’ll try to give a brief answer, though to be honest I’m semi considering making this a whole article so I’m not going to give away all the goods

12:20
Ben Clemens: I’m not *that* worried about Yelich yet, but I do find it really interesting how quickly in-season projection systems have come down on him

12:21
Ben Clemens: If I had to diagnose something quickly, I’d say he’s just gotten too passive?

12:21
Ben Clemens: But he’s also running career-worst contact numbers, I don’t know what to think about that

12:21
Ben Clemens: I do not expect him to bounce back to MVP-type numbers, but I think it’s foolish to expect anyone other than Mike Trout to put up MVP numbers

12:21
Ben Clemens: Okay maybe Mookie too

12:21
Ben Clemens: I expect him to be good though!

12:21
Ben Clemens: And if things break right, MVP numbers

12:22
Giodude: More surprising disappointing season: Bellinger or Yelich? Given Bellinger’s bad second half of 2019, has to be Yelich, right?

12:22
Ben Clemens: Agreed

12:22
Reds fan: Is Trevor Bauer just as much in the NL Cy Young running?

12:22
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I should have listed him as well

12:22
Ben Clemens: Just an oversight

12:22
Ben Clemens: I think he and Burnes are clearly 3-4 after Darvish and deGrom right now

12:23
Guest: Mo Vaughn would have allowed more than three inside the park homers if he played left field.

12:23
Ben Clemens: Touche

12:23
v2micca: For a board game suggestion, Western Legends from Kolossal Games.   2 to 6 players, though the sweet spot is 4 players in my oppinion.  Its kind of sandbox table-top game where you and the other players take control of a Historical Western Legend and trying to gain the most Legendary status.  You can play as a Marshall or an Outlaw (though some legends obviously lend themselves more one way than the other)
Cincinatti appeared to go all in this off season and it just hasn’t really worked.  Is it time for them to at least partially blow it up and start over?

12:23
Phillip Mamoufwifarts: Have you played the Bloodborne card/board game? The video game is my favorite and I was surprised how well the card game captured the feeling of playing it.

12:23
Ben Clemens: I have not played either of these but they both sound cool

12:24
Ben Clemens: I do love a good western

12:24
Ben Clemens: Never played Bloodborne but I’ll look that one up too

12:25
Appa Yip Yip: Imagine how we’d talk about Mookie if we didn’t have Trout. Mookie Betts was an afterthought in your answer about Yelich!

12:25
Ben Clemens: Yeah he’s realllly good

12:25
Ben Clemens: If we didn’t have Trout we’d talk about him more as an all-time great

12:25
Billy: What team in the NL wants to face Bauer, Castillo, Gray in a best of 3?

12:25
Ben Clemens: Well no one, but teams might be more willing to face the Reds’ offense

12:25
Tim: Devin Williams have a shot at NL Roty? I believe he still has his rookie qualifications but unsure

12:26
Ben Clemens: This is a great time to mention that FanGraphs leaderboards have a ‘rookie’ checkbox

12:26
Ben Clemens: And that Williams is second in pitching WAR among rookies with 1.0, behind Justus Sheffield

12:26
Ben Clemens: The NL race is interesting, it’s Cronenworth, maybe Alec Bohm, and Williams it looks like?

12:27
Ben Clemens: Also Sixto if he keeps pitching this well

12:27
Ben Clemens: I would have a hard time giving it to Williams over Sixto if they keep pitching the way they have been, but he definitely has a shot

12:27
Ben Clemens: 52.6% stirkeout rate goodness gracious

12:27
Matt: Regarding the Dodgers’ issue with Grisham’s HR, maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see where Dave Roberts mentioned any “unwritten” rule, he just didn’t like his pitcher getting shown up. I mean, if I was the Dodgers, I’d just come back the next night and make sure every HR I hit I would watch from home plate for an extra long time…Sound fair?

12:28
Ben Clemens: I mean, cry me a river

12:28
Ben Clemens: How was that getting shown up?

12:28
Ben Clemens: I think it’s totally fair to watch the homers they hit for an extra long time

12:28
Ben Clemens: Max Muncy loves doing it, even!

12:28
Ben Clemens: Shouldn’t be hard to convince him

12:28
TKDC: Freddie Freeman: can’t stop or won’t stop hitting?

12:28
Ben Clemens: I will say won’t stop

12:28
Ben Clemens: But can’t stop has to be in play at this point

12:29
Ben Clemens: the Braves offense has been top heavy but in a really delightful way

12:30
Chaddy: Can you win ROTY while still maintaining rookie eligibility for the next year? Seems like this abbreviated season presents the unprecedented opportunity for someone (Sixto?) to win two RsOTY consecutively.

12:30
Ben Clemens: You can, and Effectively Wild covered this pretty well

12:30
Ben Clemens: I think it could be possible, though sadly I think if he wins it will also involve losing rookie eligibility

12:31
Ben Clemens: He’s thrown 32 innings, hmmmmm

12:31
Ben Clemens: I guess it’s close actually

12:31
Ben Clemens: He has three starts left, and he’s averaged just over 6 per start

12:31
Ben Clemens: 50 is the cutoff I believe

12:31
Tacoby Bellsbury: What is the least interesting thing you’ve learned this season?

12:32
Ben Clemens: Oh I’ve got you here for sure

12:32
Ben Clemens: The pitcher who sees the most pitches right down the heart of the plate is Tim Locastro

12:32
Ben Clemens: I was hoping that search would find some interesting players

12:32
Ben Clemens: …. it did not

12:32
Ben Clemens: It’s all guys who can’t hit for power

12:33
Jeff: Chip Chipperson is in the chat!!!?!?! I knew his mother, Dolores

12:33
Giodude: What’s your favorite non-OOTP computer strategy game? I’m looking for something like Civ or Cities Skylines where you can play 30 minutes at a time.

12:33
Ben Clemens: I haven’t palyed all that much of it, but I I’ve enjoyed Darkest Dungeon

12:34
Ben Clemens: Also Battletech if you liked that game as a kid

12:34
Ben Clemens: The most recent version is a turn-based tactical combat game that I really liked

12:34
Ben Clemens: With a bit of a campaign arc

12:34
Jon: Will FG do their own internal award votes for CY, MVP, ROY?

12:34
Ben Clemens: We have something in the pipeline, but probably not exactly that

12:34
Ben Clemens: We’ll have awards of some type though, I believe

12:35
Jon: Better future: Belinger or Yelich?

12:35
Ben Clemens: probably bellinger just for age reasons

12:35
Ben Clemens: But if you’re saying who will be better next year I’ll take Yelich

12:35
Ben Clemens: I think his floor is higher

12:35
Scotty: Josh Bell… man…. what the heck happened?

12:35
Bo: Is Josh Bell finally back?

12:36
Ben Clemens: I haven’t looked into him too much

12:36
Ben Clemens: But he is THUMPING the last few weeks

12:37
Ben Clemens: This is simplistic but when his strikeouts started to come down it seems like things have worked out

12:37
Chaddy: Do you like “social deduction” games like Secret Hitler or One Night Ultimate Werewolf? Any favorites?

12:37
Ben Clemens: I like them okay, my favorite is a game whose name I don’t know

12:37
Ben Clemens: I call it the ghost game

12:37
Ben Clemens: I will try to quickly lay out the rules but I haven’t played in a bit

12:38
Ben Clemens: the way it works is that you have a group of six (ideally) players, though it scales up well

12:38
Ben Clemens: Two get the ‘A’ word

12:38
Ben Clemens: Two get ‘B’ words, two different words that are one degree of separation away from the ‘A’ word

12:38
Ben Clemens: Two get a number, which is the number of syllables in the ‘A’ word, and they’re ghosts

12:39
Ben Clemens: So for example the A word might be monkey, b words ‘see’ and ‘business’, and the number 2

12:39
Ben Clemens: The way the game works is everyone goes around in a circle and says a word

12:39
Ben Clemens: and then you vote someone off

12:39
Ben Clemens: the ghosts win if they either vote all the others off or can guess the A word

12:39
Ben Clemens: It’s fun!

12:39
Ben Clemens: Also I’ve heard among us is great

12:39
Mike Hawk: Does Cy-Hyung Kim become the first Korean to win the CY?  Should he be in the discussion?

12:40
Ben Clemens: Sadly I do not think he should be in the discussion

12:40
Ben Clemens: Heck of a hot streak, and he’s been better than expected, but those strikeout rates, and the wild strand rate, and it’s only 28 innings…

12:40
Ben Clemens: He might get a vote or two but not too many

12:40
SteelThunder: Sorta like Mafia?

12:40
Ben Clemens: Yeah Mafia with extra steps

12:41
JC: When will the “we were wrong about the Betts trade” articles come out? Seems like the Red Sox did exactly the right thing.

12:41
Ben Clemens: Haha yeah they’re not coming out

12:41
Ben Clemens: Because are you having fun watching the Red Sox this year?

12:41
Ben Clemens: Of course not!

12:41
Ben Clemens: The Red Sox could have tried to be good and instead they decided to be rich

12:41
Ben Clemens: I don’t think I’m going to start thinkingn that’s cool and advisable anytime soon

12:42
2-D: Carlos Santana had a 7 game walkless streak, SEVEN. He’s dipped below the 20% mark now.

12:42
Ben Clemens: Oh noooooooo

12:42
Ben Clemens: But he doesn’t have any lineup protection!

12:42
Ben Clemens: I thought he was going to run a 100% walk rate without a Proven Slugger behind him

12:42
Chamaco: What gets an * in this short season?

12:42
Ben Clemens: Hm…..

12:43
Ben Clemens: I mean I want to say nothing

12:44
Ben Clemens: How about if someone sets a record for runs scored per game and they were frequently the guy on 2nd base in extras?

12:44
Ben Clemens: I dunno basically nothing

12:44
Big Fan: Hi Ben, Austin Riley has really turned it around after struggling to start the season.  Have you seen anything in the data to say he’s really turned a corner?

12:45
Ben Clemens: Hm

12:45
Ben Clemens: Basically, yes

12:46
Ben Clemens: His ISO and BABIP are still trash

12:46
Ben Clemens: but seeing him make adjustments to swing and miss less is a big deal to me

12:46
Ben Clemens: I was never as down on him as most, and ot be fair he’s been bad overall this year

12:46
Ben Clemens: But yeah I think it’s encouraging to see that he doesn’t have an ‘i can never make contact’ issue

12:46
JC: So the Red Sox should’ve kept Betts for “fun”?

12:46
JC: That take is appalling. “They decided to be rich.” If you were in their shoes, even with their money, how many millions would you spend to make your team “fun”?

12:46
JC: And to suggest that the Red Sox of all teams is greedy or penny pinching is ridiculous.

12:47
Ben Clemens: If I were in their shoes, I don’t know how I’d act, becaues I’m nothing like John Henry

12:47
Ben Clemens: Keep rooting for luxury tax savings, I’m sure you’re having fun. I prefer to root for generational players, which True Red Sox Believers clearly don’t

12:47
Ben Clemens: Different strokes for different folks

12:47
Chip Chipperson: Are you bummed that the Arizona Fall League was cancelled?  I am (I go to about five AFL games each year)

12:47
Ben Clemens: Incredibly bummed

12:47
Ben Clemens: I was going to go this year

12:48
Ben Clemens: And I’ve been before, it’s a blast

12:48
Ben Clemens: Highly recommend it if you can find a way to get out there

12:48
Ben Clemens: If you’re picking between that and spring training, easily fall league

12:48
resumeman: re: xHR – I really wish there was also directional data available – the angle between the LF foul line to the RF line. Having only speed and vertical angle just seems to miss too much. A guy who’s a dead pull hitter is going to have very different outcomes on a given range of velo/angles from someone who sprays the ball all over…

12:48
Ben Clemens: You can kind of hack directional data out of Statcast based on the x,y coordinates

12:48
Ben Clemens: The problem is that it’s not at all predictive

12:49
Ben Clemens: Or rather, what you’d want to do

12:49
Ben Clemens: Is decouple the directional data from each ball

12:49
Ben Clemens: That might be interesting, and it’s something I’ll look into

12:49
Ben Clemens: But If you start giving people credit for the fact that hte medium-hit ball was a dead pull while the hard hit one was to center (0HR) vs the alternative (1HR) you lose predictive power faster than you pick up descriptive power

12:50
SteelThunder: Do you think the Nats still have a chance? I’m a fan and don’t like Davey as a manager, more as a motivator. Kieboom seems to have no swing.

12:50
Ben Clemens: I’m not too worried about Kieboom yet, though I will say that one extra-base hit in 94 PA is starting to get concerning

12:50
Ben Clemens: Jeez

12:50
Ben Clemens: I agree with you on Davey

12:50
Ben Clemens: I don’t think they have a chance this year sadly though

12:52
Zach: Didn’t know a 133 wRC+ was considered bad @guy who said Bellinger had a bad second half last year

12:52
Ben Clemens: Haha yeah I mean, ‘bad’ by his standards

12:52
Ben Clemens: But I agree, he was not outright bad

12:52
Big Joey: Who gets more Holds and Saves the rest of the way? Soto (DET) or Wisler (MIN)?

12:52
Ben Clemens: Hmmmmmm

12:53
Ben Clemens: I’m goin to say Wisler but I don’t really konw a great way to project this so I’m just spitballing

12:53
Isolated Thinker: Would you say the level of excitement throughout the industry and with the fans is much lower than normal?  Are people even watching games at close to normal levels?  I just cannot envision there being elevated national interest in the postseason.

12:53
Ben Clemens: Not sure exactly what you mean by industry here, but from a fan standpoint I think that’s definitely the case

12:53
Ben Clemens: Anecdotally the stacking of so many sports has meant my friends are less focused on baseball than they would be normally

12:54
Ben Clemens: I haven’t seen any broadcast numbers but I’d expect them to be down. I think postseason interest will be closer to normal just b/c the NBA and NHL will be over by then

12:54
Isolated Thinker: By industry I meant writers, media, etc

12:54
Ben Clemens: Ah yeah – I think we’re at a normal leve, though some of that of course is that it’s our job to

12:55
Chris: Is it time to admit that SD is just better than LA at this point?

12:55
Ben Clemens: I don’t think that’s really how it works. I still like the Dodgers over the Padres to make the WS

12:55
SteelThunder: What do you think about the Davey question in general, bad management for someone the guys love and motivates them?

12:56
Ben Clemens: I think that the motivation aspect of management is realllllly important

12:56
Ben Clemens: Significantly undervalued

12:56
Ben Clemens: I think where the problem comes is when they consistently can’t figure out the on-field stuff

12:56
Ben Clemens: Most managers, I think, tend to improve over time at that

12:56
Ben Clemens: Dusty looks downright modern, and Davey was doing good stuff with the bullpen in the playoffs last year

12:57
SteelThunder: Davey makes such bad bullpen decisions though… costing the Nats so many games, if you notice they;ve losts o many games by a few in late innings

12:57
Ben Clemens: Yeah he continues to frustrate at times

12:57
Ben Clemens: I do think that some of that is that they’ve just been snakebitten in the pen

12:57
Ben Clemens: But basically if I were a front office I’d take the guy who motivates the team and try to make the rest work

12:57
Guest: Hi, my name is FirstName BunchofNumbers and I love to contribute to the popularity of my favourite sport by arguing against cool things, like “pimping” home runs and exciting young Black and Latino talent. I also cannot understand why baseball’s popularity might be declining among younger viewers.

12:58
Steve O: Would you have traded two of Schmidt, Deivi, Frazier for Lynn or Clevinger?

12:58
Ben Clemens: I don’t think so? The actual cost wasn’t that high, for exmaple

12:58
Western Dave: Lost Cities card game is for 2 people but can be played with 4 if you have 2 sets.  It’s a great game.    Was Ketel Marte hurt all season?  Will his power come back at all (no necessarily to 2019 levels)?

12:58
Ben Clemens: Lost Cities is great!

12:58
Ben Clemens: One of my all-time favorite two player games

12:58
Ben Clemens: As an added bonus you can make it work with a deck of cards if you really need to

12:59
Chris: On the Red Sox issue, we don’t follow teams to see how they perform as money-making corporations.  We want to see great players on the field!

12:59
Ben Clemens: That’s certainly my view of it, but I am aware that some people don’t think that way.

12:59
Ben Clemens: Just don’t expect me to do some ridiculous both-sides-ism and present that as my view

12:59
Ben Clemens: Or some view that I find to be equally valid

12:59
Ben Clemens: Because I don’t

1:00
Steve O: Andy Martino, an SNY reporter said that was the asking price for Clevinger and Lynn

1:00
Ben Clemens: Oh interesting

1:00
Ben Clemens: I think I would probably not pay that, haha

1:00
Ben Clemens: But I’m high on Deivi

1:00
SteelThunder: They do have good young studs coming up though

1:00
SteelThunder: He just doesn;t use them right

1:00
Appa Yip Yip: Also important to remember that a lot of puzzling on field decisions come down ahead of time from front offices playing percentages and when it doesn’t work out looks silly and bizarre, or strange reliever usage because load management is becoming a thing and guys who ten years ago would have been available aren’t because of health related concerns that we will never know about. Not that I’ve watched the Nationals so maybe Davey is actually just bad. But managing is different than it used to be with a lot more inputs than a grizzled ex catcher’s gut.

1:01
Ben Clemens: I kind of want to watch some Nats games

1:01
Ben Clemens: I do think Davey hasn’t always been the best bullpen manager

1:01
Ben Clemens: And it wouldn’t shock me if he continued to be

1:01
Ben Clemens: But I just watched the White Sox randomly insert Gio Gonzalez last night and watch him walk the world

1:01
Ben Clemens: probably for load management reasons

1:02
Ben Clemens: And it’s put me in a forgiving mood towards all managers

1:02
SteelThunder: Just wondering how do you guys hire people?

1:02
Ben Clemens: We have done a few open calls for writers in the past, one of which actually led to me being hired, along with several other contributors

1:02
Ben Clemens: Now is kind of a weird time for sportswriting!

1:02
Ben Clemens: What with COVID and all

1:03
Ben Clemens: But in the past, yeah, we’ve kind of looked around for writers at other places, more or less?

1:03
Markus: The DBacks traded Liover Peguero and Brennan Malone for Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia, a PTBNL, and 138 plate appearances from Starling Marte. Not good!

1:03
Ben Clemens: Yeah my gooodnessssss

1:03
Ben Clemens: That worked out poorly

1:04
Ben Clemens: I think that from their perspective, they decided they weren’t going to pick up his option and then smashed the eject button

1:04
Ben Clemens: But oof

1:04
Joshua: As another trade thought, would Carter Kieboom and Wil Crowe to the Giants for Mike Yaz and a bad contract Brandon Belt make sense for both teams? Nats get a RF for now and the future, and a 1st baseman for the 2021 season. Giants sell high on Yaz, get a top prospect, and get rid of the Belt $17 million next year.

1:04
Ben Clemens: I think you suggested a variation of this one earlier this year, and I was into it then

1:05
Ben Clemens: Basically because I think Yaz is good

1:05
Ben Clemens: I think that I was more into it as an in-season deal though

1:05
Ben Clemens: To get an extra year of Yastrzemski’s prime

1:05
Ben Clemens: Without that I think it makes less sense

1:05
Ben Clemens: His value is extremely front-loaded

1:06
Trent “Goat” Grisham: Everyone talking about my bat flips. When are people going to start talking about my gold glove defense in CF??

1:06
Ben Clemens: What a turnaround year for Grisham

1:06
Ben Clemens: After he was in my opinion unfairly maligned by Milwaukee fans

1:06
Ben Clemens: For a game that Josh Hader blew

1:07
Cito: Most Jays fans seem to have a similar opinion of Montoyo as Nats fans do about Davey – Big chemistry/clubhouse guys, but falter at game strategy. It’s got to be challenging to evaluate your manager as a GM, no? One element can be quantified, the other cannot.

1:07
Ben Clemens: Must be incredibly hard!

1:07
Ben Clemens: I’d love to be a fly on the wall in those discussions

1:07
David: Justus Sheffield is on pace for about a 5 FWAR season in a normal season, where do you think he settles year to year.

1:07
Ben Clemens: I think he’s like a 1.5-2 WAR pitcher, or maybe a bit higher

1:08
Ben Clemens: Willing to move higher on that

1:08
John Henry: Are you insinuating Red Sox Nation doesn’t love my new yacht?

1:08
Ben Clemens: Unclear if he has a new yacht, but apropos of this, I think yacht names should always be obnoxious

1:09
Ben Clemens: A yacht is already obnoxious

1:09
Ben Clemens: Why not go whole hog?

1:09
SteelThunder: Do you think that Touki Toussiant should be made into a reliever, he’s been sheeled so far, seems to lose control in later innings

1:09
Ben Clemens: Eric made an excellent point about this on our FanGraphs Live broadcast last night

1:10
Ben Clemens: He’s worried that the Braves are stunting pitcher development by using so many options

1:10
Ben Clemens: And gaming service time by bouncing guys up and down

1:10
Ben Clemens: I could totally see it

1:10
Ben Clemens: But yes at the same time, I think he might be at his best as a short-burst gyuy

1:11
James: When did the Dodgers suddenly become a ‘boring’ team?  Do you mean boring as in, they’re not new to winning and so that’s not as exciting a team newer to winning?  Dustin May, Walker Buehler, the best pitcher of his generation, Mookie frickin Betts!  How is that boring?

1:11
Ben Clemens: Oh yes I specifically meant boring as a pick

1:11
Ben Clemens: Because they’re the favorites

1:11
Ben Clemens: The Dodgers are a blast to watch

1:11
Ben Clemens: And Joe Davis is great

1:12
Guest: Kieboom got a 60 in the prospect rankings before this year. Now Nats fans seem ready to sell low on him after less than a year. Worked out well with Giolito- for the White Sox.

1:12
Ben Clemens: Gio was a realllly weird case

1:12
Ben Clemens: Where his entire delivery had to be completely overhauled

1:13
Appa Yip Yip: Montoyo’s bullpen usage is fine, mostly because the Jays bullpen has been really good so it’s easy but the dude calls for a LOT of sacrifice bunts.

1:13
Ben Clemens: Ah, a man after my own heart

1:13
Ben Clemens: I like a bunt more than the numbers would dictate

1:13
Ben Clemens: One moment please, I need a coffee refill

1:15
Jon: When is the next Fangraphs live stream?

1:15
Ben Clemens: TBD

1:15
Ben Clemens: But probably next week

1:15
Ben Clemens: We are going to do some self-scouting on this one to see what we can improve

1:15
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Replace “fun” with “good” for the Red Sox. Going into last offseason, there’s no reason that a team with such stars should have looked at TB and concluded that it was impossible to compete with Morton/Snell/Glasnow and the neverending carousel of 2 WAR players. Baseball is a game about marginal wins, not marginal tax rates.

1:16
Ben Clemens: I do think that if the Sox knew Sale would get hurt

1:16
Ben Clemens: Maybe they’d try to go low for a year anyway?

1:16
Ben Clemens: But yeah

1:16
Ben Clemens: Heck I picked them to make the postseason before this year!

1:16
Ben Clemens: (in the expanded playoffs)

1:16
T: Is Freeman the MVP favorite right now? Should he be?

1:17
Ben Clemens: I mean, no, it’s Tatis

1:17
Ben Clemens: But yeah, Freeman is absolutely in the running, and I think that’s totally reasonable

1:17
SteelThunder: Do you think the Nats are doomed for years to come with all the veteran contracts>

1:17
Ben Clemens: I’m worried more about the amount of deferring they’ve done, and I’m willing to be wrong on this

1:17
Ben Clemens: But their year-to-year cash outlays have been reasonably stable

1:17
Ben Clemens: And if that means they’re actually doing a cashflow-neutral kind of deal

1:17
Ben Clemens: Then when these deferrals kick in, oof

1:18
Chip Chipperson: Eric Longenhagen is moving soon.  Will you help him and his fat cat move boxes and the cat box to his new Arizona digs?

1:18
Ben Clemens: I will not, but I will help in spirit

1:18
Ben Clemens: By not telling him how I really feel about cats

1:18
Ben Clemens: (great pets, but not for me)

1:18
Guest: The Braves may be gaming the service-time system using options for their pitchers, but the Mets cost Pete Alonso one month of ML minimum salary by not promoting him in September 2018. Ask Jay, he’ll tell you all about how egregious that was…

1:18
Ben Clemens: 🙂

1:18
Bubba: Thoughts on Mets sale?

1:18
Ben Clemens: Speaking of the Mets

1:18
Ben Clemens: And trying to avoid putting my foot in my mouth

1:19
Ben Clemens: I think that, thoughts on whether there is ethical consumption in capitalism aside, you should be excited for the team’s competitive prospects now that they’re in the hands of the richest owner in baseball rather than the Wilpons

1:20
Ben Clemens: I also think that (bias alert! I used to work for a hedge fund that was absolutely not SAC or Point72 and did nothing similar)

1:20
Ben Clemens: This is different than a PE ownership group

1:20
Ben Clemens: In that lots of hedge funds are basically stock pickers

1:20
Ben Clemens: or bond pickers

1:20
Ben Clemens: Or whatever

1:20
Ben Clemens: Rather than ‘take the company rip it apart and sell it for parts’ types

1:21
Ben Clemens: Cohen is, uh, not the cleanest hedge fund owner of all time

1:21
Ben Clemens: As you can plainly see from the fact that SAC no longer exists

1:22
Ben Clemens: But I have more faith that he’ll try to win than I do in the Wilpons

1:22
Ben Clemens: Will he try to game edges? Very likely!

1:22
Appa Yip Yip: What’s interesting about all the bunting is that the Jays have been bulking up their analytics department and it makes me wonder if their number crunchers see more value in bad hitters moving guys over than in softly grounding into a double play, or is Montoyo simply going rogue and demanding Joe Panik fall upon that sword.

1:23
Ben Clemens: Bunts that are sometimes singles and sometimes sacrifices are generally undervalued, I think

1:24
2-D: Do you think there’s any difference in trade leverage between big and small payroll teams when other teams are trying to acquire their pending free agents?

1:25
Ben Clemens: Sacrificing solely to sacrifice isn’t often worth it

1:25
Ben Clemens: Whoops forgot to hit entre on that before

1:25
Ben Clemens: I think it matters what position the pending free agent plays

1:25
Ben Clemens: If it’s a starting pitcher, not really

1:25
Ben Clemens: Because that’s a market-based price

1:25
Ben Clemens: Five teams will be interested in acquiring a stud starter

1:25
Ben Clemens: Probably the same for a high-leverage reliever

1:25
Ben Clemens: If it’s a position player, you limit your market if htey’re, say, a first baseman

1:26
Ben Clemens: And at that point leverage starts to come into play

1:26
Ben Clemens: I look at it as the difference between an auction and a negotiated transaction

1:27
Ben Clemens: In an auction, seller leverage is far less important because buyers are competing

1:27
Ben Clemens: In a negotiated sale, not so much

1:27
Thirds: The Yankees could conceivably (if they play well) go about 14-6 in their final 20 games, the same as their first 20, after going 7-13 in the middle there. If you’re the higher seed, are you expecting the middle of season team or the other team? I mean this is really, of all years, “get hot/healthy at the right time” year.

1:28
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I guess I would say I’d expect the team we’ve seen most recently

1:28
Ben Clemens: Not in terms of performance, exactly

1:28
Ben Clemens: Win/loss records over 20 games are kinda swingy

1:28
Ben Clemens: But in terms of health

1:28
Cueto’s Shimmy: I normally skip around MLB.tv to watch the best pitchers. However, the most enjoyment I’ve had this year has come from watching Johnny Cueto quick-pitch and shimmy his way to outs. Who are some other “interesting” pitchers around the league? Darvish and Greinke come to mind, though they are more on the elite end of the spectrum than Cueto.

1:29
Ben Clemens: My favorite pitchers to watch are Darvish and Greinke

1:29
Ben Clemens: Aside from that, I had a surprising amount of fun watching Dylan Cease

1:29
Ben Clemens: Because he’s just such a wild type of pitcher

1:29
Ben Clemens: Sometimes he just overpowers guys

1:29
Ben Clemens: Or drops in a beautiful curveball

1:29
Ben Clemens: Sometimes he’s hucking 99 3 feet above the zone

1:30
Ben Clemens: deGrom is great to watch, though more for his greatness

1:30
Ben Clemens: Yusmeiro Petit when he’s in

1:30
Ben Clemens: Chase Anderson, because he’s all over the mound

1:30
SteelThunder: What about SIxto Sanchez i’ve been watching him more and mkore

1:30
Ben Clemens: Sixto is great as well

1:30
Ben Clemens: I’ve only seen one start

1:30
Ben Clemens: It was a blast

1:30
Chip Chipperson: My Uncle Paul sez that Ty Cobb was a better baserunner than the late great Lou Brock.  I say phooey to that cause I think Lou was better.  What is your opinion?

1:31
Ben Clemens: As a son of a Cardinals fan born in 1949

1:31
Ben Clemens: I’m pretty sure I have no choice but to say Brock

1:31
Ben Clemens: My dad might disown me otherwise

1:31
gcat: thanks for answering my earlier question on lugoat, ben. follow-up: what’s the likelihood that lugoat found another gear and/or figured out how to harness his stuff this late into his career, sort of like how degrom did? i’ve been really impressed with his stuff this year.

1:31
Ben Clemens: Took me quite a while to realize who Lugo(at) was

1:32
Ben Clemens: I think the odds are low that it happened exactly that way, but he’s been low-key excellent for three years now

1:33
Ben Clemens: If he can handle a starter workload, that’s goin to be huge

1:33
Mike: Has Clev always done the weird rocking back and forth before throwing from the wind up?

1:33
Ben Clemens: He has

1:33
Ben Clemens: It’s weird!

1:33
Swinging Friar: Slam Diego/Pad Squad/Most exciting Team in Baseball is 1.5 games back of the Dodgers… Just think people should know. People often describe the Dodgers as a juggernaut, but is the talent gap closer than people think?

1:33
Ben Clemens: Mmmm, I think that the gap is appropriately valued?

1:34
Ben Clemens: The Dodgers are better

1:34
Ben Clemens: Still a lot of pitching question marks on the Padres

1:34
Ben Clemens: The Padres’ brightest stars are tons of fun, though

1:34
Ben Clemens: And they are maybe the second-best team in the NL

1:34
Cueto’s Shimmy: Can batter’s pick up where a catcher is setting up? Or might benches be able to relay it in time? Seems like some catchers really move around back there.

1:34
Ben Clemens: I’ll get in another plug for FanGraphs Live here

1:34
Ben Clemens: Eric discussed this quite a bit last night

1:35
Ben Clemens: He thinks that catchers are increasingly aware of batters peeking or getting a queue from base coaches

1:35
Ben Clemens: and that they’re deking more than ever

1:35
Ben Clemens: Watch a game for a catcher to pound the ground with his glove before an elevated fastball

1:35
Ben Clemens: I’ve seen it more often this year than ever before

1:35
Pad squad: Can match up with the Dodgers if all healthy, but don’t have the depth.

1:35
Ben Clemens: Yeah this is a good way of putting it I think

1:36
Cueto’s Shimmy: Where do you find Fangraphs Live?

1:37
Ben Clemens: We haven’t done a good job of advertising it just yet, that’s a great point

1:37
Ben Clemens: But it’s available at twitch.tv/fangraphslive

1:37
Ben Clemens: And also

1:37
Ben Clemens: When we’re live

1:37
Ben Clemens: It will just be on the main page

1:37
Ben Clemens: Available at www.fangraphs.com 🙂

1:37
Domingo: I play in semi pro, and I can kinda see where the catcher moves, but it’s distracting to try to pick it up while also focusing on the pitcher

1:37
Ben Clemens: It seems that it varies hitter-to-hitter

1:37
Deathclaw: Dom Smith evolving into a star hitter?

1:37
Ben Clemens: Star, eh

1:38
Ben Clemens: Comfortably above average? Yes

1:38
Trent “Goat” Grisham: Agreed there are some current questions about the Padres pitching but with Gore/Patino/Morejon coming soon the rotation looks great the next few years alongside Clev! Clev/Lamet/Gore/Paddack/Patino with Davies and Lucchesi as 6/7 is pretty good.

1:38
Ben Clemens: Oh yeah if Patino and Gore work out in the bigs the gap closes

1:38
Jake: Padres – White Sox World Series. What recent WS was that as much fun as that would be? Check out Concordia for 2-4 players if you haven’t.

1:38
Ben Clemens: Ooh I’ll add that

1:39
Ben Clemens: I thought that Astros/Dodgers was a really good WS

1:40
SteelThunder: What anout Astros-Nats?

1:40
Ben Clemens: also good

1:40
Trent “Goat” Grisham: Oh also, Raiders of the North Sea played and replayed surprisingly well.

1:40
Ben Clemens: Ooh that sounds fun

1:40
Jon: Padres-White Sox the best WS since the Cubs won?

1:40
Ben Clemens: Another good one!

1:40
Ben Clemens: There have been some great matchups recently

1:40
Grusdar Baterol: Ben how do you usually brainstorm ideas for articles? The Yandy Diaz one was super interesting and I’m like how did you find that

1:41
Ben Clemens: I watch a lot of baseball and spend probably an hour or two a day browsing statistics

1:41
Ben Clemens: Weird stats, not like who’s the leader in WAR

1:41
Safety Stegosaurus: What would be your guess for which stadium experience feels like, as one of your colleagues describes, “watching baseball inside of a Costco, but like, a really nice Costco”?

1:41
Ben Clemens: Oh wow

1:42
Ben Clemens: This sounds like Meg

1:42
Ben Clemens: so I’m going to say T-Mobile

1:42
Ben Clemens: But I’m into it

1:42
Ben Clemens: Oh, Grusdar Baterol, I should add that I bounce a lot of ideas off of people

1:42
Ben Clemens: “is this interesting? no?

1:42
Ben Clemens: mostly the answer is ‘no’

1:42
Best matchups: Is the coolest matchup always the one that makes the best series though? I don’t think we thought last year’s would end up that way. We assumed Astros blowout, then we thought the Nats might romp, then we thought, well, Houston wins, and then and then. So I just hope it’s compelling play, I guess? Watch Padres White Sox end up, like, really dull.

1:42
Ben Clemens: Yeah how the series goes is more important than the matchup

1:43
Ben Clemens: But before we know how it goes, all we have is the matchup

1:43
Jeff: Padres have by far the largest year-over-year jump in xwoba going back to 2015 at +.074.  Next closest is the jump the Twins made from 2018-2019 at +.039.  They also have huge home-road splits.  Anything to this?  Or am I just letting my Dodger fandom cloud my judgement?

1:43
Ben Clemens: Haha probably letting your fandom cloud your judgment

1:43
Ben Clemens: Come back with more data next year, I’d say

1:43
Safety Stegosaurus: One for two not bad! It was Meg, but she was describing Chase Field.

1:43
Ben Clemens: Dang, it was always gonna be one of two

1:44
Ben Clemens: Missed it

1:44
Ben Clemens: I got a Costco membership last year

1:44
Ben Clemens: and WOW

1:44
Ben Clemens: Costco is great

1:44
Ben Clemens: On that pro-corporate note, I’m going to call it a day

1:44
Ben Clemens: I have to go find some silly statistics to write about for tomorrow 🙂

1:45
Ben Clemens: Have a great day everyone, and thanks for hanging out and chatting.

We hoped you liked reading Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 9/15/20 by Ben Clemens!

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Ben is a contributor to FanGraphs. A lifelong Cardinals fan, he got his start writing for Viva El Birdos. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.

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Well, Buxton apparently remembered the near-inside-the-parker and decided to make it up tonight instead.