Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 9/21/20

2:00
Ben Clemens: Hey everyone, and welcome to a Monday FanGraphs chat.

2:00
Ben Clemens: Today will probably mostly be about the NL playoff race, because that’s what is most exciting in the game at the moment.

2:00
Ben Clemens: If you’d prefer to read about Ryan Helsley recording a save against hte woeful Pirates, I wrote about that today:

2:01
Ben Clemens: And of course, everyone loves to argue about whether expanded playoffs should stay, so we can do some of that too.

2:01
jimbo: You’re thoughts on who gets in, in the NL?

2:01
Derek: Who ya got for the NL wildcard spots?

2:01
Ben Clemens: I had been skeptical of the Cardinals’ chances, because they just have to play so many games in such a short time.

2:02
Ben Clemens: They have depth, because they’re the Cardinals and that’s their main skill, but it’s just a lot of games in a short window and a lot of backups getting meaningful minutes. Those players must all be gassed.

2:02
Ben Clemens: I think that being a game ahead of the riffraff helps a ton, though

2:04
Ben Clemens: So I guess I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt now

2:04
Ben Clemens: That leaves the Marlins, Phillies, Brewers, Reds, and Giants for three spots

2:04
Ben Clemens: I’d say Marlins/Phillies/Reds for me, but I truly have no idea

2:04
Ben Clemens: They’re all .500!

2:04
Guest: I have been keeping an eye on FanGraphs playoff odds and noticed something weird. How is it that the Cardinals’ playoff chances are over 20% better than the Brewers, yet the Brewers chances of winning the World Series are about double that of the Cardinals? The Reds also are more likely to win it all than the Cardinals despite being almost 30% less likely to make the playoffs. How does that make sense??

2:05
Ben Clemens: So, the way our playoff odds work is that they come up with a team’s win percentage against neutral teams, then apply that to their schedule

2:05
Ben Clemens: The Cardinals, for example, have an ROS win percentage of .498 against neutral teams, they’re roughly a .500 team to us. The Brewers check in at .545 against neutral teams, the Reds at .540.

2:07
Ben Clemens: Then we look at their schedule…. and the Cards have three against the Royals and five against the Brewers, while the Brewers have the Reds and the Cards and the Reds get the Brewers and Twins

2:07
Ben Clemens: The Cards have a game in hand and the easiest schedule, so we like them to make the playoffs

2:07
Ben Clemens: But we think they’re the worst team of the three by a fair margin

2:07
Ben Clemens: I’m not convinced that we handle this perfectly, but that’s the thinking

2:07
Armadillofury: Hidden behind the 4.68 ERA and the Pirates being awful, has Musgrove taken a step forward this season?

2:08
Ben Clemens: Ohhhh man I keep getting pulled back in on Musgrove

2:08
Ben Clemens: I dunno, yeah, fine, I’m in

2:09
Ben Clemens: I think he’s better than people give him credit for but he doesn’t make it easy!

2:09
Guest: Changing the playoff rules pushes for more parity. Is it just me or is that misreading what appeals to fans? MLS pushes for it by suppressing spending across the league when the most popular league in the US is the Premier League which has a few teams that truly compete for the top spot. Those teams are incentivized to improve every year, leading to a transfer season that is often as enticing as the games themselves. I know this is a long question, but extra playoff teams make the league less appealing overall, right?

2:09
Derek: Expanded playoffs (beyond 2020) are bad. I’ve been open to being convinced otherwise but have yet to hear a remotely compelling argument.

2:09
Ben Clemens: It’s just not about ‘appealing more to fans’ I don’t think

2:09
Ben Clemens: There’s extra money in more playoff teams

2:09
Ben Clemens: Appealing more to fans is one way to indirectly make money

2:10
Ben Clemens: Because you get more attendance, and your ratings on TV are better which means that ad rates on those broadcasts are higher which means that future rights sales are bigger

2:10
Ben Clemens: But you could also, you know, just make more games and sell those

2:10
Ben Clemens: It’s a supply-side/demand-side thing

2:10
Ben Clemens: Owners are focusing on increasing the supply of baseball rather than the demand for baseball

2:10
Ben Clemens: I’m not a fan of them, and I’ve written about how I’m not

2:11
Ben Clemens: But it’s not about appealing to fans, no matter what hte owners say. It’s about long-term profit maximization for the people who own teams.

2:11
SF: Pst. Your socialism is showing.

2:11
Ben Clemens: Ha I hope this is about my article on the expanded playoffs

2:12
Ben Clemens: B/c, uh, I’m arguing that we should reward excellence

2:12
Ben Clemens: And encourage teams to try to stand out from the crowd

2:12
Ben Clemens: It’s wild what passes for socialism these days

2:12
2-D: Did you catch Garrett Crochet’s debut?

2:12
The Ghost of Bobby Thigpen: How ballsy would it be to add Crochet to the postseason roster?  I know the experience is non-existent…but, damn the stuff will play…

2:12
Ben Clemens: I did not catch it, but I watched most of it later

2:13
Ben Clemens: I think it would be defensible, but the White Sox have a really high octane bullpen as it is

2:14
Ben Clemens: Looks like he’d push one of the lefties out? Gio or Detwiler

2:14
Ben Clemens: Yeah I’d do it

2:14
Also Ben: Seems like the Cubs should be pretty concerned about their prospects next year and on, no? Although they do manage to keep doing well regardless of the offensive struggles

2:14
Ben Clemens: I mean, I’d be worried, but if there are expanded playoffs next year, it’s no biggie

2:14
Ben Clemens: The NL Central will be very competitive next year, but yeah, the Cubs have given signs that they’re a little bit worried about the pipeline

2:15
Ben Clemens: It’s no surprise that they’re disappointed in the way things have developed

2:15
Ben Clemens: THough obviously they would redo the last six years in a heartbeat

2:15
Boo Expanded Playoffs: Since there are no built-in off days before the WS this year, do you like how teams will be rewarded with extra rest days for winning a series quickly? Do you think that will serve as a meaningful incentive for teams to be more aggressive in pitcher deployment in order to avoid long series?

2:15
Ben Clemens: Eh… it’s a nice talking point, but I don’t really think so.

2:15
Ben Clemens: There’s not enough flexibility in pitcher deployment

2:16
Ben Clemens: I guess you could go to your bullpen more aggressively? But optimal strategy is already pretty close to that

2:16
Ben Clemens: You already should be using your best four starters, in order, in the first four games

2:17
Ben Clemens: Like, the massively more important reason to be aggressive with pitcher deployment is that losing a game in the playoffs is really bad

2:17
Ben Clemens: Losing a game in a 5-game series is like losing 32.4 games in a 162-game series

2:17
Ben Clemens: (to use a realllllly stupid analogy)

2:18
Charlie: How are the in-game WRC+ calculated? I noticed that someone who had 1 hit, 1 walk, and 2 outs in 4 PAs had a higher WRC+ than someone who had 1 hit, 2 walks, and 2 outs in 5 PAs. Seems like the latter is a better offensive performance (and unless there are some really important adjustments behind the scenes, should also give a higher WRC+).

2:18
Ben Clemens: Depends on the hits, right?

2:18
Ben Clemens: As best as I understand it, they’re calculated in a pretty straightforward way: wOBA, park factors, and league average

2:18
Charlie: (both had hits for 1 base)

2:19
Ben Clemens: That shouldn’t happen unless there was a glitch in the code or there was an HBP or something

2:19
Ben Clemens: an HBP is more valuable in wRC+ and wOBA terms than a walk so maybe that’s what it was?

2:19
Ben Clemens: But I guess that’s PA’s

2:19
Ben Clemens: Anyway, that shouldn’t be the case, so that’s weird

2:19
Ben Clemens: If you have the exact details I can dig into it

2:19
Aaron: The Red Sox are on pace to have the least valuable pitching staff of all time. In fact, no team has EVER finished an entire season with negative pitching WAR. The Rangers are on pace to have the least valuable lineup of all time by a wide margin. These are happening in the same season. Might be worthy of a piece. You’re welcome.

2:20
Ben Clemens: Oh Red Sox

2:20
Ben Clemens: Turns out not trying is a great way to be terrible

2:20
Bearry: Now I’m a Rays fan, and while I realize they’re a good team, there’s no way they’re the cream of the AL… right? Seems like the short-season favored them even with all their pitching injuries.

2:20
Ben Clemens: I’m not so sure

2:20
Ben Clemens: The short season favored them via how compressed it is, which lets their depth shine

2:20
Ben Clemens: But they’re also really good. They won a ton of games last year and got better this year

2:20
Larry Jones: If you had to vote today, who gets your MVP vote(s)

2:20
Ryan: Picks for NL MVP/Cy Young?

2:21
Ben Clemens: We at FanGraphs are going to do some end-of-season awards, but I’m hopeful that they’ll be weirder than this

2:21
Ben Clemens: So, let me do the straightforward ones now

2:22
Ben Clemens: NL Cy: Darvish by a hair

2:22
Ben Clemens: AL Cy: Bieber by a lot of hair

2:23
Ben Clemens: NL MVP: Tatis for me, though could easily be Freeman by week’s end

2:23
Ben Clemens: AL MVP: uhhhhhh

2:24
Ben Clemens: Jose Abreu? HOnestly I have no idea here

2:24
Beeks: Why is a HBP more valuable than a walk when it comes to wRC+ and wOBA?

2:24
Ben Clemens: This is one of my favorite ‘hey that’s weird’ details

2:24
Ben Clemens: The way that wRC+ and wOBA work out run values is by averaging all the situations where a thing happens

2:25
Ben Clemens: Walks disproportionately happen in situations where it’s not THAT bad for the pitcher

2:25
Ben Clemens: As in, pitchers issue more walks, proportionately, with bases open

2:25
Ben Clemens: And less, proportionately, in spots where a walk is awful

2:25
Ben Clemens: Like bases loaded, or two on no one out

2:25
Ben Clemens: Whereas HBP are randomly distributed

2:26
Ben Clemens: So the average HBP adds more runs than the average walk

2:26
Ben Clemens: Even though they’re both one base

2:26
Ben Clemens: Because of where they tend to happen

2:26
FunFella13: Why Tatis over Machado?

2:26
Ben Clemens: Because their value is super close and I have had more of a blast watching Tatis

2:27
Ben Clemens: You can’t really parse WAR and pick your MVP this season (at least iwth a straight face) because the error bars are way larger than the gaps between players

2:27
Ben Clemens: So it’s kind of a taste thing

2:27
Ben Clemens: I wouldn’t fault anyone for picking Machado

2:27
Derek: Bieber should be AL MVP imo. No position player has really had enough of a standout season to beat him out, even with the societal “pitchers shouldn’t win MVPs” penalty.

2:27
Ben Clemens: I’d be happy with that as well

2:27
Sam: Other than a team like the Mets where new ownership could drive front office changes, do you think this will be a relatively quiet offseason in terms of front office/coaching changes due to the atypical nature of this season? Or would you still expect roughly the same amount of change?

2:27
Ben Clemens: I think it will be very quiet

2:27
Ben Clemens: Tigers/Gardenhire obviously, but it would be really weird to care TOO much about on-field results this season from a process standpoint

2:28
mmddyyyy: Is there anywhere we can see a division’s WS odds?

2:28
Ben Clemens: I think you’d just have to add everything up, which is a pain

2:28
Derek: How often do players go MLB -> independent league -> MLB? The mention of Ross Detwiler, who made a pit stop in York, PA to play for the Revolution, made me think of this. Not sure I would even be aware Detwiler was in the Atlantic League if I didn’t happen to see him in a random game while he was there. Rich Hill is probably the most famous example of this but I don’t think I know of any more off the top of my head… Is this a relatively common path that usually just goes under the radar or is it as rare as it seems to me?

2:28
Ben Clemens: As far as I know it’s super rare

2:28
Ben Clemens: Rich Hill is my favorite as well

2:28
Ben Clemens: This is a lower-tier version of that but John Brebbia was a Yankees farmhand, then a Laredo Lemur, and now a good major league reliever

2:29
FunFella13: Is there a strong argument for Robert over Lewis besides  60 games worth of defensive metrics and #narrative?

2:30
Ben Clemens: I’d say there are two, though I’d vote Lewis. One, it’s not like Robert is having a flukishly good defensive season. Dan wrote about how ZiPS wanted to call Robert one of the best defenders in baseball before the season:

2:30
Ben Clemens: He was actually expected to be this great

2:30
Ben Clemens: If you don’t regress his coordinate-based minor league fielding data

2:30
Ben Clemens: The other is a foundational disagreement about whether ROY should reward the best player that year or the best prospect who had a good season, and I think no one would straight-facedly take Lewis over Robert for the rest of their career

2:31
Ben Clemens: That said, I’d vote Lewis if I had a vote because I think his season was more impressive

2:31
Derek: Have you kept playing OOTP (specifically Perfect Team) throughout the season? I thought that once real baseball started I’d lose some interest but it’s so fun (and discovering random players from bygone eras never gets old) that I’ve stuck with it!

2:31
Ben Clemens: I’ve kept playing Perfect Team for basically this reason

2:31
Ben Clemens: Also becaues the chase for Face of the Franchise (collect all of a team’s old players, and you get the best player in team history)

2:31
Ben Clemens: has been so fun

2:31
Ben Clemens: I’m spending less time on it for sure though.

2:31
Stats leaders: Any (traditional) stats leaders you are surprised about even in a short season? Voit and home runs?

2:32
Ben Clemens: Bieber’s 8 trillion strikeouts (I’m approximating)

2:32
Ben Clemens: But yeah Voit

2:32
Ben Clemens: That’s deifnitely the craziest one

2:32
Larry Jones: What are your thoughts on Jurikson Profar and the Padres LF/DH situation. Should they bench Pham against RHP in the playoffs?

2:32
Guest: If everyone is healthy, who should start for the Padres in LF, 1B and DH between Morland, Hosmer, Pham and Profar?

2:33
Ben Clemens: I’d probably split RHP about 50/50 between Pham and Profar to keep Pham fresh

2:33
Ben Clemens: in left, to be clear

2:33
Ben Clemens: Going Moreland/Hosmer in DH/1B

2:34
Ben Clemens: I’d still expect Pham to outperform Profar against RHP, but not by enough to outweigh the benefits of a little rest

2:34
Ben Clemens: And then I’d go Pham for sure against lefties

2:34
Ben Clemens: And one of Profar/Moreland at DH

2:35
mmddyyyy: Which stats would you recommend to a relative looking to go beyond ba/obp/slg?

2:35
Ben Clemens: Strikeout and walk rates are an easy one

2:35
Ben Clemens: And swinging strike rate

2:35
Ben Clemens: Because they are really grokkable

2:35
Ben Clemens: You tell someone what they are, and they go ohhhhhh I can watch for that

2:35
Ben Clemens: And they’re also really important and really stable

2:36
Ben Clemens: As a bonus, you can pretty easily show the weird ‘strikeouts are good for pitchers but not necessarily bad for hitters’ thing

2:36
Ben Clemens: Where you look at the strikeout rates of the best pitchers

2:36
Ben Clemens: And they’re all high

2:36
Ben Clemens: And then you look at the strikeout rates of the top hitters and they’re all over the place

2:36
Ben Clemens: Neat little baseball thing there

2:36
Ben Clemens: And then swinging strike rate is just a raw obvious way a pitcher can be great

2:37
Ben Clemens: And anyone who watches baseball understands how good it is when a batter swings and misses at your pitch

2:37
Kw: Should the Cubs bring up potential ace Brailyn Marquez as a potential bullpen weapon for the playoffs? Or are their odds to win the WS so low that they should opt to keep him down and increase the length of their team control over him?

2:37
Ben Clemens: Bring him up!

2:37
Ben Clemens: The team control aspect of this is MINISCULE

2:38
Ben Clemens: it’s a slightly discounted rate on a pitching prospect six years in the future if it pans out and he’s not hurt that year

2:38
Ben Clemens: And they might suck then

2:38
Ben Clemens: Jam it now, figure the rest out later

2:38
Ben Clemens: Particularly with pitchers

2:38
TKDC: Is it starting to get weird how allergic to fun the American League seems to be in Septembers?

2:38
Ben Clemens: On one hand: it’s super lame!

2:38
Ben Clemens: On the other hand: there are so many teams in the AL actively not trying that it’s not that surprising

2:39
Ben Clemens: The Angels were our best hope this year

2:40
Ben Clemens: And I dunno what happened to them

2:40
Marko from Tropoja: Is it fair to say Seager has a higher floor but Bellinger has a higher ceiling? Do you think LAD extends the former?

2:40
Ben Clemens: Hm

2:40
Ben Clemens: I’m not good at floors and ceilings

2:40
Ben Clemens: To me they’re both high-floor

2:40
Ben Clemens: Because they both play premium defensive positions

2:41
Ben Clemens: I’d argue that Bellinger’s production would be lumpier b/c it’s more whiffs and more homers

2:41
Ben Clemens: But Seager has more homers this year and almost as many strikeouts soooooo

2:41
Ben Clemens: But yes, I think they’ll extend Seager

2:41
Ben Clemens: I’d try to if I were them, at least

2:41
Beeks: Josh Hader’s sub-par performance in 2020: a hiccup in a weird, shortened season or cause for concern going forward?

2:41
Ben Clemens: Can it be both?

2:42
Ben Clemens: It’s definitely very hiccup-y

2:42
Ben Clemens: for a while he hadn’t allowed any hits!

2:43
Ben Clemens: But if I were the Brewers, I’d always have been concerned about Hader’s walks. Last year was his only year with a good walk rate

2:43
Ben Clemens: That’s not a death sentence or anything

2:43
Ben Clemens: But if there’s any concern with Hader it’s just his control

2:43
Ben Clemens: His zone rate this year is way down and that’s scary

2:43
Ben Clemens: But also, something you sign up for when you have Hader on your team

2:44
Derek: Astudillo is forever going to have a double digit strikeout rate on his stats page if the Twins don’t call him back up this week 🙁

2:44
Ben Clemens: Eh

2:44
Ben Clemens: That’s true, but he’d also have his first 0.0% walk rate

2:44
Ben Clemens: And I’d argue that that’s a truer representation of the Astudillo life than the strikeouts

2:44
Ben Clemens: Astudillo is a contact standout, but where he’s REALLY a standout is swing rate

2:44
Ben Clemens: And 0 walks makes that clear

2:45
Ben Clemens: I just wish he had a single HBP

2:45
Ben Clemens: To really highlight the absurdity

2:45
Ben Clemens: (it’s only 16 PA so it’s absurd either way but whatever)

2:45
LeMahieu: They’re gonna keep me, right? They have to.

2:45
Ben Clemens: I think so actually

2:45
Ben Clemens: It sounds weird but he seems like a key part of the team now

2:46
Ben Clemens: And it’s not like they have no money

2:46
Appa Yip Yip: Alejandro Kirk is here to fulfil the promise of Williams Astudillo

2:46
Ben Clemens: I mean, yeah, but nahhhhhh

2:46
Ben Clemens: He’s David Fletcher, not Astudillo

2:46
Ben Clemens: That’s probably a better promise, btw

2:47
Ben Clemens: Fletcher is a much better plyaer than Astudillo I think

2:47
Ben Clemens: But Kirk is patient and good at contact

2:47
Ben Clemens: Astudillo is about never taking

2:48
Ben Clemens: Kirk has taken 10 of the 11 first pitches he’s seen

2:49
Chris: Your thoughts on NL Rookie of the Year?

2:49
Ben Clemens: My thoughts are that I need to come up with some better Sixto puns

2:49
Ben Clemens: Because he’s ROY for me and I want a snappy headline

2:49
Curtis: What was the most unusual individual game stat or stat line you can remember from this year?

2:49
Ben Clemens: I’m writing about this one for tomorrow, but maybe Rafael Marchan hitting a homer

2:49
Ben Clemens: After not ever hitting one before

2:50
Appa Yip Yip: Are we sleeping on Lourdes Gurriel Jr a little bit because he gets forgotten behind Bo, Vlad, Biggio, and the ascendant Teoscar? He’s a top 30 outfielder by WAR this year with a 120 wrc+ in the big leagues.

2:50
Ben Clemens: Now this is a take I can get behind. I’d take Lourdes over Teoscar right now, and I think he’s closer to the next tier up than people think

2:51
Ben Clemens: His skillset is a classic underrated profile

2:51
Ben Clemens: Good at everything

2:51
Ben Clemens: without a carrying tool

2:51
Ben Clemens: But hey, he just performs

2:52
Derek: Idk how to make it baseball-y but 25 or Sixto 4 is right there

2:52
Ben Clemens: Or a list of seven pitchers doing interesting things, Sixto One, Half Dozen of the Others

2:52
Ben Clemens: There are options

2:52
Ben Clemens: I just haven’t settled on one to love yet

2:52
Larry Jones: Can you expand on Sixto over Croenenworth?

2:52
Ben Clemens: I wouldn’t fault anyone for picking Cronenworth, and I love seeing him do so well, he’s a Lourdes type as well

2:53
Ben Clemens: Though I wish he would pitch in a big league game!

2:53
Ben Clemens: I just think that Sixto’s level beats Cronenworth’s accumulation of stats. Sixto has had 6 starts, Cronenworth 175 PA

2:54
Ben Clemens: If Sixto had made 8 starts, I think we’d think he was ahead

2:55
Ben Clemens: And for this weird super-short season I care more about level than duration

2:55
Ben Clemens: if that makes sense

2:55
Ben Clemens: Just personal preference on the vote

2:55
Flappy Cheeks: Will Realmuto and Harper play enough games this week to warrant being in my championship week lineup?  Sure would be nice to know before lineups lock.

2:55
Ben Clemens: I’d be scared about Realmuto

2:55
Ben Clemens: I’m less clear on Harper

2:55
Ben Clemens: But uh, yeah, that’s rough!

2:55
No longer 2016: Are the days of elite Kris Bryant over? It’s been a while since he’s had anything approaching an MVP season.

2:55
Ben Clemens: More to come on this (from someone else, not me) later in the week

2:55
Ben Clemens: But I’m worried

2:56
Marko from Tropoja: Is 3/75 with incentives a realistic extension for Kershaw this offseason? Thinking that could be light given what Strasburg got.

2:56
Ben Clemens: Too light imo

2:56
Ben Clemens: I think he’ll get closer to 4/110 or something

2:56
Ben Clemens: He’s really good and not as old as we think

2:56
Curtis: Are there any fantasy leagues that you’re aware of where you draft the Team’s position i.e Dodgers SS, Twins 1B and you get the stats from whoever plays that position during the week, etc.? or is it too hard to compile for those that play multiple positions (or is it just lame?)

2:57
Ben Clemens: I did this in fantasy football one year and honestly it was just silly

2:57
Ben Clemens: The injury aspect of fantasy is super lame

2:57
Ben Clemens: But the variance actually makes it more fun

2:58
I’m Len, not Ben: Would you take a chance on Skubal’s 2 start this week?

2:59
Ben Clemens: Eh….. no?

2:59
Ben Clemens: Really hurts that one is @MIN

2:59
Ben Clemens: Otherwise I’d be more interested

3:00
Derek: It’s crazy to me how this feels like such an unexpected, bounce back kind of year for Kershaw when, like, the dude’s ERA was basically exactly 3 last season which counted as “bad” for him. He’s so good!

3:00
Ben Clemens: Yeah it’s wild

3:00
Ben Clemens: He was just so good at peak that him merely being a top 20 pitcher feels like a disaster

3:00
Ben Clemens: I think the postseason struggles also make it feel like a disaster

3:01
Guest: Is there anything more emblematic of the White Sox OF defense than Jimenez standing perfectly still while Roberts runs over to left field to catch a fly ball?

3:01
Ben Clemens: There is!

3:01
Ben Clemens: It’s Eloy falling into a net to allow an inside-the-parker to Christian Yelich

3:01
Ben Clemens:

3:02
A Potato: When would you expect MLB to make decisions on how stuff like draft order and service time will be handled (if they haven’t already)?

3:02
Ben Clemens: Service time is done, it’s being prorated

3:02
Ben Clemens: So if you were in the bigs for 50/70 days, you’d just multiply 50/70 times the normal 189(I think) day year

3:02
Ben Clemens: To figure out how many days of service time you get for this year

3:03
Ben Clemens: Draft order, I think they’ll just use the standings

3:03
Ben Clemens: If this season didn’ go 60 games I was less sure

3:03
Ben Clemens: But that seems like a fine compromise to me

3:03
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: The Rays having 12 different players record a save is the wildest short season counting stat.

3:03
Ben Clemens: That’s a really good one

3:03
Ben Clemens: I forgot about that but like, jeeeeez

3:03
Tanaka: What do I get on the market or as an extension?

3:03
Ben Clemens: Maybe 3/60?

3:04
Ben Clemens: It’s a weird profile

3:04
Ben Clemens: Tanaka is 31, and he’s been consistently okay

3:04
Ben Clemens: There are teams who could use that

3:04
John Levin: I for one look forward to decades of conversation about every HOF candidate having been stripped of 2-5 WAR by the pandemic season. Same for any and all milestones. Really don’t think I’ve quite wrapped my head around how much this will change the history and how we evaluate careers.

3:04
Ben Clemens: As Jay Jaffe pointed out to me, more players than you think throughout history have missed time

3:05
Ben Clemens: There was a strike in 94, a strike in 81, various wars

3:05
Ben Clemens: I think it will matter less than you think

3:05
Ben Clemens: And we’ll forget about it in 20 years

3:05
I’m Len, not Ben: If Verlander doesn’t come back, is he a surefire HOFer?

3:06
Ben Clemens: Actual person who thinks about the Hall of Fame in a smart way Jay Jaffe wrote about this (kind of) today:

3:06
Flappy Cheeks: So if no on Realmuto, who do you stream out of Knapp, Barnhart, Gomes, Romine, etc….?

3:06
Ben Clemens: This is not my area of expertise, but I’ll say Romine, I like him

3:07
John Levin: Is TJS a medically necessary procedure, or only if you plan on being an MLB pitcher again? Like if Verlander were just going to retire now, would he still get it?

3:07
Ben Clemens: Unlikely

3:07
Ben Clemens: He might, but it’s not like you can’t use your arm without a UCL

3:08
Ben Clemens: He certainly wouldn’t rehab it as exhaustively if he weren’t coming back

3:08
Oh no Gallo: Do you have thoughts on Joey Gallo’s season and outlook? I loved your article on him in January and thought you might have great insights into what has happened

3:10
Ben Clemens: I haven’t done a deep dive on him but I wouldn’t be overly worried

3:11
Ben Clemens: It’s a short season and guys with his profile are prone to some slumps that look like this

3:12
Ben Clemens: Here’s his 15-game rolling ISO for his career:

3:12
Ben Clemens: Nothing looks tremendously out of place to me

3:12
2-D: Did the Nationals winning the World Series the season directly after losing Harper get talked about too little, too much, or just enough?

3:12
Ben Clemens: I’d say too much, but only specifically because too many people drew causal links

3:13
Ben Clemens: People are SO quick to assume cause and effect in baseball

3:13
Ben Clemens: If people were saying ‘here are two interesting things that happened to the Nats’ then sure

3:13
Ben Clemens: But there were more ‘Harper isn’t a winner’ takes than I think make sense

3:13
Ben Clemens: Becaues to be clear I think the right number of those takes is near 0

3:14
Ben Clemens: The team-building ones are fine

3:14
Ben Clemens: The Nats had to let Harper go b/c of the emergence of Soto, and it paid off, that kind of thing

3:14
Derek: Also injuries happen all the time. Some HOF candidates (Sale, Verlander) would have missed this season regardless of its length, for others it’ll basically be like they just had an extra extended injury this year.

3:14
Ben Clemens: This too, but even position players miss time. I just don’t think it will be THAT big of a deal in the broad sweep of baseball history

3:15
Ben Clemens: If you’re a JAWS person, heck, there used to be less WAR because there used to be fewer games per season

3:15
Larry Jones: I know offseason moves matter a lot for this, but who do you believe will be 2021’s Padres/White Sox?

3:15
Ben Clemens: I love some wildly early speculation, so I’ll say the Padres will be 2021’s Padres

3:15
Ben Clemens: Oh, I can’t do that?

3:16
Ben Clemens: In that case, I’ll take the Tigers, because maybe all their pitchers can take a leap forward at once

3:16
Ben Clemens: But I feel super awful about that pick

3:16
I’m Len, not Ben: If Arenado is not playing this week, does Hampson play everyday and win someone their league like he finished last year?

3:16
Ben Clemens: Hampson’s eternal lot in life is to only be used to his full potential in meaningless games, it seems

3:17
mmddyyyy: How has it been writing for Fangraphs this season?

3:17
Ben Clemens: Taking an old question, but it’s been great!

3:17
Ben Clemens: It was kind of crappy during the no-sports summer

3:17
Ben Clemens: But that was my first offseason as a full-time baseball writer, and so I had really been leaning into goofy research and 2019 stories, so I just kept it going

3:18
Ben Clemens: But with the season going on it’s as fun as ever, even if the circumstances are odd

3:18
Ben Clemens: There’s just so much to talk about

3:18
Ben Clemens: All the time

3:19
Ben Clemens: I’m gonna wrap this chat up here, after self-servingly picking a question that lets me talk about myself, because I need to start working on some playoff stuff

3:19
Ben Clemens: Thanks for chatting with me today, everyone, and I’ll talk to you next week, on the eve of these wild 3-game series that promise to be so much fun.

3:19
Ben Clemens: Unfair to good teams, but fun!





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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