Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 9/26/22

2:00
Ben Clemens: Hey everyone, welcome to a Monday afternoon baseball chat

2:01
Ben Clemens: It feels to me like we’re hitting a slight lull in the season, with Pujols having hit 700, most playoff races settled, and only a few awards chases joining Judge’s home run tear as above-the-fold topics. If you want to get in some minor question about stuff that everyone will ignore come playoff time, now’s your chance!

2:01
Guest: On a 1-10, 1 being least confident and 10 being most confident, how confident are you of the White Sox making the playoffs in 2023?

2:03
Ben Clemens: Start it off with the ALC. I’ll give them a solid 5. I don’t have a ton of faith in them going out and getting a ton of impact players this offseason, but they won the division by 13 games last year, so you have to give them credit for their peak form. They may not get back to it, and I’m curious what happens with Abreu, but they certainly COULD get back to it

2:04
clem bevins: is pitcher WAR being suppressed by the fact that so many people are absolutely dominant this year? there are 10 pitchers who could ostensibly win a cy young but none of them are at or over 6 WAR! Furthermore, pitchers have been so dominant that league offense is way down. Is the field muddled by how good everyone has been?

2:05
Ben Clemens: I had to think about this one a little bit, but in the end I settled on ‘not really’

2:05
Ben Clemens: Sure, average runs per game has gone down this year, but it’s not at some never-before-seen number

2:05
Ben Clemens: Replacement level isn’t THAT different this year than in previous years

2:07
Ben Clemens: That means, to me, that the biggest difference in this year vs. previous years is workload

2:07
Ben Clemens: Other than Sandy, that seems pretty clear from the data as well. Guys have one-ish start left and no one other than him is above 200 innings

2:08
Ben Clemens: second place is Miles Mikolas, and uh, he’s not winning the Cy Young

2:09
Ben Clemens: Without more innings, it’s hard to put up crazy numbers unless you have a truly outlier run prevention season. Alcantara is close in RA9 WAR (7.6, runaway favorite) but the combination of not many innings, no FIP outlier seasons, and FIP WAR is responsible, not how many good pitchers there are

2:09
Randy: Does NYY have something in Oswaldo Cabrera? Seems like he will be starting in LF for the ALDS (If Stanton is locked in at DH)

2:09
Tim: I never put a ton of stock into prospects until they’re, you know, not prospects anymore, but I’m getting cautiously optimistic about Oswaldo now that he’s showing some pop and speed (in a SUPER small sample, I know). Do you think he’s a starter next opening day for the Yanks? And where do you peg his ceiling?

2:09
Ben Clemens: I’m not a ceiling guy. His ceiling is that he turns into an exact clone of Willie Mays, just like everyone’s ceiling

2:10
Ben Clemens: That aside, I’m definitely encouraged by his performance

2:10
Ben Clemens: 23-year-old average corner bat with plus defense sounds pretty nice to me

2:10
Paul: Who do you have more faith in this week-plus: Pablo facing NYM and MIL, or Gio twice against the Twins?

2:10
Ben Clemens: Pablo but I don’t feel great about either one

2:10
Dave: Last night I made a batch of edible cookie dough to satisfy a sweet tooth and it was absolutely delightful. Edible means no egg and the flour is heat treated (you basically just microwave the flour for like a minute). I am firmly in the camp that cookie dough > baked cookies.

2:11
Ben Clemens: A solid camp to be in. I just eat inedible (read: regular) cookie dough

2:11
Ken: This is a question inspired by fantasy but that I’m generally curious about, as well – when guys come back from relatively minor injuries, I always tend to think they need an extra few days to get up to speedshould you bake in any extra recovery time? For instance, Cron gets plunked on the hand last week and misses like 3-4 days before returning yesterday.

2:11
Ben Clemens: I think teams should do this

2:11
Ben Clemens: But to some extent, they are, and it’s just hard to adjust back to game action

2:11
Ben Clemens: As a fantasy owner I’m a fan of playing my stars as soon as they’re back, but waiting a bit on bit players

2:11
Lucas/DBITLefty: Hello Ben! If I were to ask you for a gut feeling (or even something more reasoned) about how the Guardians will do in the postseason, what would you say? I want to think they’re hitting a stride and have some sneaky-great qualities for October, though it also kind of seems like they simply took advantage of the under-performing teams in their weak division (and we’re used to seeing AL Central teams get bounced very quickly in the postseason).

2:12
Ben Clemens: Hey Lucas. This is a good question, one I’ve been pondering. I think it’s a mixture of the two. The ALC is really weak! It’s the worst division in baseball this year except for maybe the NLC. I do think that the Guardians will feel like a bad matchup for whoever draws them b/c when they’re winning, they feel inevitable

2:13
Ben Clemens: Huge range of bullpen arms, and Bieber can always spike a CGSO or whatever

2:14
Ben Clemens: But I think that the offense just isn’t up to snuff, getting hot or not, to make them favorites in any of these series. They’ve played against pretty awful pitching staffs all year, and are still only scoring 4.3 runs per game

2:14
Ben Clemens: They’re gonna be in a lot of games where they score 3 runs and need to win

2:14
Ben Clemens: So, it’ll come down to whether your offense can score 3 runs against them.

2:15
Appa Yip Yip: 700 is a lot of home runs

2:15
Ben Clemens: Just a tremendous accomplishment

2:15
random Colorado guy: Any reasons for concern with the Cardinals’ poor showing on the West Coast, or just small sample size against good teams?

2:15
Ben Clemens: yeah, it’s not enough games to read anything into it

2:15
Ben Clemens: other than jeez the Dodgers are good and it’s not like the Cardinals are a 100-win juggernaut

2:16
DC: Will Luis Urias ever hit for average? It seems his MLB profile is the opposite of his MiLB profile.

2:16
Ben Clemens: I don’t think he will, he’s changed his swing and approach to look for more power

2:16
baseballenjoyer: As of right now, James Click is not under contract for next year. His tenure is a bit of an “incomplete” right now due to the draft penalties and COVID season, but it seems like a no-brainer to bring him back, right?

2:16
Ben Clemens: I don’t know much about the inside perception of him but from the outside, yeah

2:17
Ben Clemens: They keep making ALCS’s, that seems good

2:17
Gross Nationals Product: CJ Abrams stats are still brutal despite his recent hot streak. Does he need more minor league seasoning, or does Washington let him develop at the MLB level next season?

2:17
Ben Clemens: I think Washington is going to play him in the majors. I would play him in the minors

2:17
asnbrv: Am I understanding correctly that your site’s RA9-WAR does no adjustments for defense like rWAR does?

2:17
Ben Clemens: That’s correct. Only park and league

2:17
An overly optimistic Angels fan: Do you see the Angels as trending upward or downward over the next few years? On one hand, there’s the young and solid pitching rotation and Rendon (hopefully) back. On the other hand, there’s a troubling lack of depth, aging Trout, and potential loss of Shohei

2:17
Ben Clemens: Downward, haha

2:17
Ben Clemens: Or well, maybe sideways?

2:18
Ben Clemens: If they keep Ohtani I’ll change my answer, but losing their best player is not good

2:18
Ben Clemens: Next year is their best shot to make the playoffs in the immediate future b/c it’s the last year where they’re guaranteed to have Ohtani

2:18
NotGraphs Revivalist: Have you heard the rumors that MLB might have to move the Mets-Braves series to a neutral site because of Hurricane Ian coming through ATL? How much do you think that impacts a series that big?

2:19
Ben Clemens: I have not, but yeah that’d be wild

2:19
Ben Clemens: I’m not completely sure of what I think the impact is; if you think it matches real-life home field advantage numbers, it’s costing the braves 6% of a win or so, right?

2:19
Ben Clemens: That’s pretty small

2:19
Ben Clemens: But it FEELS like a big deal

2:19
Wanderful: Does wRC+ properly reward doubles? They seem valuable by the eye test but I see a lot of doubles hitters with low wRC+

2:20
Ben Clemens: Depends what you mean by ‘properly reward’. If you mean does it account for how much a double changes a team’s run production, then yes

2:20
Ben Clemens: if you mean ‘treat doubles as really valuable, and even more valuable than linear weights would say, because they’re beautiful’ then no

2:20
Ben Clemens: I think there’s a bit of a confounding variable issue here

2:21
Ben Clemens: Guys with no power are often doubles hitters b/c those are the balls they really tattoo

2:21
Ben Clemens: So higher doubles can come out of your home run pie, and obviously a double isn’t as good as a homer. I think that effect explains a lot of it

2:21
Ben Clemens: Aaron Judge is a doubles hitter; he’s just a home run hitter too

2:22
Ben Clemens: Freddie Freeman leads baseball in doubles, Nolan Arenado is sixth, I think they’re treated well

2:22
Ben Clemens: It’s more the Ketel Marte types (42 2b, 11 HR) that stand out

2:22
Randy: What’s with Randy Arozarena’s X stats? He hits the ball hard, makes enough contact, definitely passes the eye test, but X stats say he’s a subpar hitter.

2:22
Randy: Not to mention his base running. Are his instincts really that bad or do the Ray’s keep making him be aggressive because they know something we don’t?

2:24
Ben Clemens: His xwOBA seems to have a lot to do with his low line drive rate; he gets the top end results when he crushes the ball but he hits a ton of pop ups (25 this year per our counting) and not many line drives, so the batted balls that are, say, between his 40th and 70th percentile of EV

2:24
Ben Clemens: turn into outs a lot more than your average player

2:25
Ben Clemens: I don’t think that’ll keep up, and he does seem to consistently beat his xwOBA, so I’m not too worried about them, b/c the top line stuff feels more repeatable to me and he does just fine there

2:25
Ben Clemens: As for the baserunning, he’s had a bad year, i think he’s a good baserunner anyway though

2:25
Ben Clemens: I don’t buy the whole ‘the Rays know something we don’t about aggressive baserunning’ argument, fwiw

2:25
Ben Clemens: It’s not like a team-wide thing, and they often have really good baserunning metrics

2:25
Ben Clemens: They just have two guys who are running into a lot of outs this year

2:25
Dan: Are catchers slow because catching kills your knees or because fast baseball players practice/learn other positions growing up? Which is more true?

2:25
Ben Clemens: The first by far

2:26
Ben Clemens: I think I’ll see if I can use Statcast data to look into this sometime soon

2:26
Jean: What can lead to a player outperforming their xWOBA? Looking at Bogaerts, Segura, to name a couple

2:26
Ben Clemens: where you spray your grounders. what park you play in. whether you’re good at pulling a lot of your air contact. xwOBA looks at two things: exit velocity and launch angle

2:27
Ben Clemens: If your balls of a given EV/LA pair are more valuable than the average ball with those characteristics (opposite-field grounders b/c they beat defenses, pulled balls in the air) you’ll outperform

2:27
Sonny: Say the Cardinals and Blue Jays both win the pennant, what’s the deadline for the corner infielders on one of those teams to get eligible to play north of the border?

2:27
Ben Clemens: Sounds like the Canadian government’s entrance policy is changing as of October 1, so I guess we’ll never quite figure it out

2:28
Jon: That’s an odd take on ceilings. Of course, he’s referring to a realistic ceiling

2:28
Ben Clemens: I just think ceilings are a bad thing

2:28
Ben Clemens: Players like Jose Ramirez in the minors can become Jose Ramirez

2:29
Ben Clemens: or any guy we look at as a no-power middle infielder can become Mookie Betts

2:29
Ben Clemens: if people rephrased ceiling as, say, 90th percentile outcome, fine

2:29
Ben Clemens: Ceiling just doesn’t make sense to me. Everyone’s ceiling is being one of the best players in baseball for many years

2:29
Mark Kotsay: Do you think the A’s FO deserves blame for failing to acquire Strider, Harris, or Grissom in the Olson trade?

2:30
Ben Clemens: I mean…. a little, I guess? I’m not sure the Braves made those players available, and I’m not sure they would have become this good in Oakland, but it certainly looks like a miss in retrospect

2:30
Ben Clemens: I do like Langeliers quite a bit, I think that one will work out well, but certainly they seem to have believed a little more in the pedigree with Pache than was merited

2:30
Dan: Any chance the Red Sox win enough so that the entire AL east has a 500 record? How about a positive run differential?

2:30
Ben Clemens: so to get to a .500 record they’d need to go 9-1, I don’t really see that happening

2:31
Ben Clemens: run differential seems more doable, though still a remote chance. They’re -42. They’d need to win a few games where they get into position players pitching and really light those guys up

2:32
Ben Clemens: I don’t think it’s likely at all, to be clear

2:32
i read fangraphs: Is the “Rays know something about xyz that no one else does” idea kind of on borrowed time now that other teams have a) poached a whole bunch of their brain trust and b) caught up a bit in brains?

2:32
Ben Clemens: Eh, yes and no

2:32
Ben Clemens: I think the Rays can continue to deliver better results than everyone else for a given amount of resources, and that some of the Rays secret sauce is part of that

2:33
Ben Clemens: but some of that stuff is like ‘put your best players in good positions to succeed and get them to use their best tools to do so’

2:33
Luke: Ben, do X stats tell the whole story? Are there others factors that play into how well a ball is hit, like backspin, etc?

2:34
Ben Clemens: They don’t, and they don’t purport to. I don’t love the name expected, but they are what they are: they’re a descriptive account of how hard, and at what launch angle, each ball was hit

2:34
Anon21: Let me spin you a scenario. Braves win Friday and Saturday to go up 1 game in the division. Sunday becomes essentially a 2-game net swing, because it determines both the tiebreaker and the lead. Can you think of a regular-season game with higher championship leverage, apart from last-day-of-the-season scenarios?

2:34
Ben Clemens: Presumably there are some second-last-day-of-the-season scenarios too

2:34
Ben Clemens: but yeah, it’d be huge

2:34
Ben Clemens: the tiebreakers adding weight to regular season games is a funny thing I hadn’t really considered

2:34
Finnegan’s Seam-shifted Wake: How good of a shortstop is Carlos Correa in reality? Somewhat related, if WAR sees two middle infielders as equal value, but you could have an elite 2B and fine SS or a good 2B and good SS, is there a difference in which alignment you’d prefer?

2:35
Ben Clemens: I think that Correa is an above average defensive shortstop, somewhere in between his metrics from last year and this year

2:36
Ben Clemens: As to the second, I think I’d take good/good, but it really depends on degree

2:36
Ben Clemens: Generally speaking I lean towards balance in defense, though I don’t have an awesome reason to think that

2:36
asnbrv: Do you think anyone in this FA class has a shot at staying at SS for more than 3 years? The Braves have all of their infield locked up and who ever they sign for SS has no margin of error on defense over the years, so I think none of the FA SSs makes sense for them unless they get Swanson on a QO.

2:37
Ben Clemens: I think Swanson, Correa, and Turner could all be there for hte next 4 years

2:37
Ben Clemens: Correa is only 28 still

2:37
Ben Clemens: That’s not an impossible hill to climb

2:37
Matt VW: Do you have a lean for AL Manager of the Year? The Guardians and particularly their youth snuck up on me this year…feels like winning even an admittedly weak division might be a point in favor of Francona?

2:37
Ben Clemens: Yeah I think I’d give it either to Dusty Baker or Francona

2:37
Derek: I agree with your take on ceilings – Rich Hill and Mookie are my go-to examples, JRam is another great one. I’d say those three all blew past even 90th percentile expectations. Especially in today’s “MVP Machine” environment a defined “ceiling” just doesn’t really exist for anyone

2:38
Ben Clemens: You’re preaching to the choir

2:38
Another Ben: Speaking of, what’s with Jose Ramirez? He’s been around a league average hitter for over 3 months.

2:38
Ben Clemens: I knew he’d been scuffling of late but it’s gone on longer than I realized. Doing some VERY cursory digging now

2:39
Ben Clemens: His contact rate is looking ugly (for him)

2:41
Ben Clemens: He hasn’t sustainably swung and missed this much in years. I think his power on contact is more good than great, which means that he’s just a high volume hitter. Think Francisco Lindor or Mookie Betts

2:42
Ben Clemens: This is kind of who he is; he had a 135 wRC+ from 206-2021 (basically his breakout years) and a 136 wRC+ this year

2:42
Ben Clemens: I’m willing to believe he’s a little better than that, but his seasonal line is not far off from what you’d expect from him going into the year. He just got there in fits and starts

2:42
Mark Kotsay: Is it possible to biomechanically improve sprint speed, Driveline-style? Has any team tried something like this?

2:42
Ben Clemens: Without having read anything about this in particular, it definitely is, and there’s a whole industry around making sprinters run faster

2:43
Ben Clemens: I’m not sure whether it makes more sense than trying to improve baseball-specific skills, but there is definitely a training method that can make you a faster sprinter

2:43
M’s: Should Servais get some love for Manager of the year given the potential breaking of a 21 year playoff drought?

2:43
Ben Clemens: He should, and I bet he will

2:44
Ben Clemens: The reason I didn’t include him is b/c I’d vote DiPoto for Executive of the Year and it seems weird to double up

2:44
TMB: Hi Ben! Torkelson or Pratto in 2023?

2:44
Ben Clemens: Tork for me in fantasy, I’m a sucker for pedigree

2:44
CookiePuss: Who is the NL MVP right now? I feel like even after Goldschmidt has cooled off, he is still miles ahead of every other NL hitter offensively…do Arenado and Machado provide enough defensive value to offset it and overtake him for the award?

2:44
Ben Clemens: I think Goldschmidt is the most likely winner, for the offensive reason you’ve mentioned

2:44
Dan: A (mostly) fantasy question – do you think Wander becomes one of those players who accumulates more value as a real baseball player than a fantasy contributor? Are we going to be valuing Oneil Cruz about him as a fantasy SS soon?

2:45
Ben Clemens: Yeah, I do think he’ll be that kind of guy. The hit-tool-first guys with on base skills and plus defense and baserunning are the exact types who often play down in fantasy

2:45
Ben Clemens: He’s a really good version of that archetype

2:46
Thomas: Re: AL Manager of the Year, I suspect it will be Brandon Hyde. MotY feels like the “best overperforming team” award. I guess Cleveland fits that too though

2:46
Ben Clemens: I kinda think it goes to a playoff team this year

2:46
Ben Clemens: Could be wrong, and Hyde would also be deserving. Plenty of good managerial jobs to compliment this year

2:46
Holden: Is Bryan Reynolds a true CF? He was good last year, not so good this year.

2:47
Ben Clemens: I do not think he is. He seems to me like a guy who can fake it out there, but who is best cast as an above-average corner defender

2:47
Ben Clemens: That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t plya him in center if it was that or nothing

2:47
Ben Clemens: He’s definitely worth playing there for the bat. I just think his natural role would be as a plus corner guy

2:47
Bob: Not to get meta, but I marvel at how you guys handle these chats. Half these questions would take me 5-10 minutes just to figure out what I actually think the answer is!

2:48
Ben Clemens: Answer first, ask questions later

2:48
Ben Clemens: My first few (read: 30) were rough, haha

2:48
Justin: As a Mets fan, my concern level for Buck Showalter playoff managing is high. Do you think this is justified?

2:48
Ben Clemens: Nah, I think he’ll be mostly fine. His usage of Diaz this year makes me optimistic

2:48
Maddoning: Should the White Sox let fan favorite Abreu walk in FA?  They really need to improve the defense, and moving Vaughn out of the OF would help a ton……

2:49
Ben Clemens: I think they’ll keep Abreu. He’s not just a fan favorite; he’s also a clubhouse favorite

2:49
Ben Clemens: And he’s really good!

2:49
Ben Clemens: They could just move Vaughn to DH, or trade Vaughn even

2:49
Cristian Javier: What about my delivery gets guys to swing through, like, 93mph 4-seamers down the middle?

2:49
Ben Clemens: Some of it is your delivery, no dout

2:50
Ben Clemens: A ton of it is just how much ride is on the pitch, though

2:51
Ben Clemens: Sorry to lapse into third person, Cristian, but as teams just keep hammering into us recently, four-seamers with ride play up. Javier’s drops 12.3 inches counting gravity on its path home, which is just silly at his velocity

2:52
Ben Clemens: Here’s one way to think of it: he throws 3 mph slower than Ohtani does, but his fastball falls 1.5 less inches than Ohtani’s despite the extra time for gravity to work

2:53
Ben Clemens: He just gets ALL KINDS of backspin on the pitch, it levitates over bats

2:53
Scout: Why conform to the 20-80 scale? It’s so goofy that it doesn’t have a 25 or 75.

2:53
Ben Clemens: I dunno. I’m not a big 20-80 fan. I reference ours b/c it’s the scale that everyone uses, but I would definitely not make such a strange scale if I were starting out

2:54
RTJ: Speaking of the calm before the playoff storm with respect to lulls in chats: What questions do you have for us?

2:54
Ben Clemens: I have one really good one: does anyone know a good recipe I can make with sweet chili sauce? I’ve been dying to make my own sweet chili and I’m goin to this week, I just don’t know what to do with it

2:54
Ted: I’m a sample of one and I sucked at baseball, but I played catcher specifically because I was fat/slow. I’m sure the same is true for Buster Posey.

2:54
Ben Clemens: joy

2:55
Marshall: Do you think Pujols is unanimously elected to the HOF? I feel like this season has really changed the narrative and perception of his career (i.e., erased the memories from the prior ten years).

2:55
Ben Clemens: I don’t think it’ll be unanimous, but I do think that he’ll be a first-ballot guy with a ton of votes

2:55
Captain Moonlight: Yo Ben! How much do right-on-right changeups rule and why isn’t every right-on-right pitch a changeup?

2:55
Ben Clemens: This is great, b/c my article got held for tomorrow; I was writing about Trevor Rogers throwing more letft/left changeups just this morning

2:56
Ben Clemens: I got a great gif of Ohtani swinging through a Rogers changeup and then blinking his eyes like he just saw a ghost

2:56
Ben Clemens: delightful

2:56
Safety Stegosaurus: Do you think we’ll see more teams try and emulate the Guardians’ model (high contact, low strikeout) in the coming years?

2:57
Ben Clemens: Eh… depends what you mean. Do I think teams should (and will) pay attention to Kwan-esque prospects in their own systems more? Definitely

2:57
Ben Clemens: Production-over-tools guys, I’d say

2:58
Ben Clemens: Those players are great and are in general underrated by scouting departments, in my opinion. When I do my mid-tier prospect hitter lists in spring training, I’m often finding guys with mini-Kwan profiles

2:58
Ben Clemens: Do I think teams will try to build their team around a bunch of guys who don’t hit homers, sending out power hitters for worse hitters but who make more contact? No

2:58
Ben Clemens: I mean, the Guardians aren’t scoring many runs! That’s one downside of their offense

2:58
Scout: What does meta mean?

2:59
Ben Clemens: Boy, I won’t define this well. But: if your job is writing about baseball, a meta article might be ‘writing about writing about baseball’

2:59
Ben Clemens: a meta topic rather

2:59
Guest: I guess you could look how catchers’ speed declines compared to other positions.,.

2:59
Ben Clemens: Shhhh that’s what I was gonna do!

3:00
Sanford: What do you make of Soto’s defensive metrics? Do you think this will impact his long-term value in any way (in terms of his production/WAR as well as his contract negotiations)?

3:00
Sanford: (For the record, I say give Soto the bag despite the defense—he’s Juan Soto—but if he makes it to FA, I reckon some teams [though perhaps not Preller] might make that a sticking point)

3:00
Ben Clemens: I think if it doesn’t rebound next year it starts to become a question

3:00
Derek: Meta is self-referential!

3:00
Safety Stegosaurus: Mattingly out after this year, do you think he manages a team next season?

3:01
Ben Clemens: I don’t. Maybe the year after that, but I don’t look at his run with the Dodgers and Marlins and think yes, this is the man I need in the job asap

3:01
Izzy: Speaking of Oswaldo, how many league average players can a contender have on a team? And how many players need to be superstars? I know there’s no absolute number. Unless you’re the Dodgers, it’s impossible to pay to have a superstar at every position… but at the same time, you can only have so many “glue” guys like Oswaldo or a guy like Kolton Wong.

3:01
Ben Clemens: The number is pretty high. I think you could have a team of five average players and a few superstars and be great

3:01
Ben Clemens: Really depends on which stars you get, though. For this team shape to work they can’t be perennial all star types. They need to be perennial MVP contender types

3:02
i read fangraphs: Why did they install a hill in the first place in Minute Maid? It was delightful, but what motivated somebody to put one there in the first place?

3:02
Ben Clemens: I have truly no idea, but I loved it. And don’t even get me started on an in-play flagpole. Like, what the heck guys?

3:02
Dan: Have you looked at Jonathan India’s season? His numbers vs fastballs look really concerning

3:02
Ben Clemens: Yeah downright terrifying

3:02
Ben Clemens: If you’re a Reds fan, your hope is that he’s just playing a little hurt

3:03
Ben Clemens: He’s missing top end power, essentially, which makes everything look worse

3:03
Ben Clemens: And given that fastballs are the pitches where a lot of hitters get to their top end power, it looks worst th ere

3:04
Ben Clemens: I could totally see this being a case of him rushing back before he was ready b/c he wanted to back up 2021 and because the Reds just felt so hopeless without him

3:04
Ben Clemens: But that’s just a guess

3:04
OKC Dave: Are you bullish on the likes of Josiah Gray and Hunter Greene moving forward? 5+ ERA for both, but they have elite stuff and high K rates…

3:04
Ben Clemens: More so on Gray than Greene, which I think is a minority opinion

3:05
Ben Clemens: But bullish on both overall

3:06
Ben Clemens: I like both of Gray’s secondaries quite a lot. His fastball has some positive traits too, a little bit of Cristian Javier to it. He commands it inconsistently and I think could use work on the shape of it, but I like the four-seam/slider/curve combination quite a bit

3:06
Ben Clemens: Greene is a similar deal in that I think his secondaries will be key

3:06
Dan: Is that five average players and a few superstar leaving you with 18 below average players?

3:06
Ben Clemens: Oh I meant position players. Like five of your nine starters, two superstars, and then two slightly below average starters maybe?

3:07
Sam Ab: What do you think is the most important trait to have in baseball as a hitter?

3:07
Ben Clemens: This is my opinion, not some incontrovertible truth, but I think it’s approach

3:08
Ben Clemens: realistically it’s probably power. But once you control for the fact that we’re only selecting hitters with at least very good power, b/c otherwise they wouldn’t be in the minors, gimme the guy who can execute a plan at the plate

3:08
i read fangraphs: High wOBA is probably the best thing I’d want in a hitter

3:08
Ben Clemens: haha well sure that too

3:08
Jack: Have Winker’s struggles been mainly due to hidden injury and hitting environmental? Do you think he bounces back next year or was he just overrated as a hitter?

3:09
Ben Clemens: shout out to baseball prospectus and Michael Ajeto for a really good article about WInker that came out last week

3:09
JK: What do you think about Buster Posey joining the Giants ownership group?

3:09
Ben Clemens: I’m into it. I think it’s really cool when former iconic players stay connected to the team

3:11
Ben Clemens: Posey is a Bay Area legend, really cool that he’s gonna be around

3:11
Ben Clemens: I guarantee you he’ll get a cheer every time he goes to a game

3:12
Marshall: How much do you weight regular season vs postseason performance in evaluating a team’s success? I’m hearing a lot of people saying with a WS title this year the Dodgers are failures.

3:12
Ben Clemens: I care more about regular season success b/c it’s more meaningful than a short tournament, particularly with how many teams make the playoffs

3:12
Ben Clemens: this isn’t 1949 with two teams making the playoffs

3:13
Ben Clemens: this is a historic stretch by the Dodgers

3:14
clem bevins: bryson stott (mini slump acknowledged) has looked amazing second half. think hes legit 3 win player moving forward?

3:14
clem bevins: similarly, bohm has really rebounded. is the phillies core in place?

3:14
Ben Clemens: I’m a believer in Stott. I like Bohm’s bat, but I still don’t think he’s a third baseman long term

3:15
Ben Clemens: And that’s kinda awkward given team construction. Stott, on the other hand, can play shortstop just fine and looks legit. I think he’s more of a core piece than Bohm for now

3:15
RTJ: who’s more likely to be in the playoffs next year: Baltimore or Boston?

3:15
Ben Clemens: Wow, great question

3:16
Ben Clemens: Oof…. I guess I’ll say Baltimore and immediately feel regret about it

3:16
Ben Clemens: I feel like enough players are leaving the Sox that they might try to do a mini-rebuild year

3:17
Ben Clemens: and I think that the playoff fever stirred up in Baltimore will hopefully motivate the team to jam on the accelerator this offseason. Not in an irresponsible way, but this team isn’t going to win the world series without adding some veterans. Why not start now?

3:17
HappyFunBall: T/F: Every round in the postseason is too short of a series to be truly determinative, and we all spend way too much time analyzing matchups for what amounts to a virtual coin-flip

3:17
Ben Clemens: Oh true

3:17
Ben Clemens: We do it because it’s fun

3:17
Ben Clemens: Not because the seventh hour of analysis is going to unlock the truth

3:17
Alf: I haven’t read or heard a lot about how historically good this Dodgers team is. Have we just gotten used to them being really good, so it’s no longer interesting?

3:17
Ben Clemens: Basically yes

3:17
Ben Clemens: Here is a good Mike Petriello article about it from a month ago

3:18
Ben Clemens: (They’ve been even better since then)

3:18
Jeremy: Mix hoisin sauce and sweet chili sauce 50:50. Use as a dip for dumplings.

3:18
Ben Clemens: sounds great

3:18
Dan: My boss (new job so I haven’t met him yet) is going to Toronto to try and catch Judges home run. I should tell him to pay me more so I can afford to do that too for what ever the next cool record chase is.

3:18
Ben Clemens: You should! Attending historic games in person is amazing

3:18
Brian: I expect almost all hitter to improve with no shift next year, but Steven kwan seems like a candidate to improve less because he hits it where it’s pitched and teams don’t really shift against him. Is it possible for his production to go up next year but his ultimate value go down due to the elimination of the shift?

3:19
Ben Clemens: Theoretically yes. In practice, I don’t buy it. Banning the shift isn’t going to change the game THAT much

3:19
Ben Clemens: Kwan is good, and he’ll continue to be good, but it’s not b/c of some resilience or lack thereof against hte shift

3:19
Ben Clemens: It’s because he’s good

3:19
John: What do you know or believe now that you did not know or believe several years ago?

3:20
Ben Clemens: Okay, so an easy one here on the micro level is seam-shifted wake

3:20
Ben Clemens: That’s changed how I think about pitching substantially. It seems like the commonplace teaching of wake-shifted pitches is changing pitching overall, too

3:21
Ben Clemens: On a broader scale, I think I am less willing to believe in player changes now

3:21
Ben Clemens: That sounds kind of like the opposite, but doing this job for a while has made me realize how often a player turns over a new leaf… and then turns that leaf back over a week later

3:21
Ben Clemens: Baseball is so dang hard. The other guy lives in a big house, too

3:22
Ben Clemens: Everyone in the game is trying really hard to get better all the time. Sometimes you think you figure something out, but you were just waking up on the right side of the bed that week or whatever. Baseball players are human, and if you reduce them to their constituent numbers, I think that on/off performance nature can be lost

3:22
M’s Fan: How ironic is it that the Mariners may break a 21 year playoff drought and not get a home playoff game?

3:23
Ben Clemens: Well, just win a few then and get a home game. But yeah, sad

3:23
Appa Yip Yip: You could probably mix the sweet chili sauce with peanut butter to make a kickin peanut sauce, add some ginger and soy sauce

3:23
Ben Clemens: This seems like a great excuse to give you guys my favorite peanut sauce recipe

3:23
Ben Clemens: 2 parts peanut butter, 1 part soy sauce, 1 part black vinegar, 1 part chili oil

3:24
Ben Clemens: Toast some minced garlic and ginger, add those, plus honey to taste

3:24
Ben Clemens: You can just stir that up with a spoon for a bit, it’ll look weird and broken for much longer than you’d expect but then turn smooth

3:24
Farhandrew Zaidman: Dodgers are destined to have at least one pseudo-bullpen game each series this post-season, yeah?

3:25
Ben Clemens: It’s sure feeling that way, huh?

3:25
Ben Clemens: I don’t really know what’s going on with Gonsolin’s recovery, but they’re just light on arms

3:25
Ben Clemens: As expected, tbh

3:25
Papa Smurf: Black vinegar = balsamic?

3:26
Ben Clemens: This stuff

3:26
Ben Clemens: Highly recommend it, one of my go-to meals when I’m feeling rushed is just to chop up a veggie, marinate it in a black vinegar/soy sauce/chili oil mix, and then roast it to eat with some rice

3:26
RTJ: Will y’all (Fangraphs) be bringing back live chats during the playoff games?

3:27
Ben Clemens: surely

3:27
Finnegan’s Seam-shifted Wake: Will teams pay for Willson Contreras over 4-5 years?

3:27
Ben Clemens: I believe so

3:27
Safety Stegosaurus: Has the next player to hit 700 jacks played in a MLB game yet?

3:27
Ben Clemens: I think the safe bet is no

3:27
Ben Clemens: 700 is just SO many

3:28
Ben Clemens: On that note, you can get this kind of crack analysis — 700 is a lot of homers — all week at FanGraphs

3:29
Ben Clemens: I have something coming out tomorrow on Trevor Rogers, probably something on the Guardians’ run to the playoffs for later this week, and now CATCHER SPEED

3:29
Ben Clemens: And by next week we’ll be in full playoff mode, I’m very excited for it

3:29
Ben Clemens: Have a great week, everyone, and thank you for the sweet chili suggestions





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

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fjtorres
2 months ago

The question of whether other teams might seek to emulate Cleveland’s slash and run, high defense lineup fails to consider that Cleveland didn’t set out to build such a team. If you go back to the start of the season, the team rolled out Naylor in rf, Reyes at 1B, and Miller at 2B. During the season they also gave a good look at Nolan Jones in RF. None fit the model of the team they have fielded the last few months.

Francona himself has said they had no specific model in mind for the team, that they just wanted the players to do tbeir best, whether it be singles or homers. The team just evolved that way.

And it’s not done evolving.
Francona doesn’t have a set lineup top to bottom but their highest offense (and best defense) lineup for the last week has featured Kwan, Straw, and Brennan in the OF, Ramirez, Rosario, Gimenez, and Naylor in the INF, and Gonzalez at DH.

Finally, while the team average run production is barely above four runs, that is a full season average and it includes lots of ABs to players no longer with the team or unlikely to see much action in contested playoff innings. Even the last month’s production is no indicator of what to expect given Francona’s lindup rotations and tryouts.

There simply isn’t enough meaningful data to accurately predict what they can or can’t do in the playoffs. They could easily go two and done in the first round or end up playing Atlanta. We’ll just have to wait until they play to see what happens.