Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat–5/9/2019

2:01

The Other Dave: Have the Reds been insanely unlucky this year, or are they just a below average team? You look at their run differential next to their record, and it just doesn’t make any sense.

2:03

Craig Edwards: They’ve been unlucky, for sure, though they might just be a slightly below-average team regardless. They’ve prevented homers at a rate that probably isn’t sustainable while the offense has been a bit of a mixed bag for individual performances. They are playing in a tough division in a tough league. They can start getting more wins, but it might not be enough this year.

2:04

Zorak: My idea to improve baseball: Homeruns are now ground rule doubles. I think it will drastically count down on strike outs since hitters will stop swinging for the fences.

2:05

Craig Edwards: I don’t see hitters not swinging for the fences as a response to this rule though pitchers might throw a lot more strikes knowing that the most damage that could result is a double. It’s an interesting idea, but the desired outcome, fewer strikeouts, an probably be accomplished in a less drastic fashion.

2:05

TomBruno23: What can the Cardinals do to improve their starting pitching? 3rd worst FIP in MLB, although xFIP is a little better.

2:08

Craig Edwards: Get better pitchers? They don’t play in Milwaukee for a while and that’s going to help, but their two best pitchers have a total of two good seasons under their belt, their third is 37-years old coming off multiple disappointing seasons while Wacha has been very inconsistent for some time and Dakota Hudson didn’t miss bats in the minors and that has carried over. If Alex Reyes can’t come back as a starter and Carlos Martinez is heading to the bullpen, they probably have to go outside the organization for a top-3-type pitcher if they want to end their playoff drought.

2:11

bosoxforlife: The most important game changing play yesterday, Jackie Bradley’s catch of an almost certain HR by Trey Mancini, gets no mention as anything more than a routine fly to CF when WPA is considered when in reality it was like 99%. How are we supposed to believe defensive metrics when that happens?

2:13

Craig Edwards: If the homer was a certainty, then the WPA would have been about .48 on the Bradley play as it took the odds from 100 to 52% for the Orioles. As for believing defensive metrics, Bradley Jr. has consistently been rated one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. If you believe in Bradley, Jr. as a defender, metrics support your argument, not go against it. https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=cf&stats=fld&lg=all&qual=y&…

2:13

Mystery Chatter: Pick a contender: Padres or Twins?

2:14

Craig Edwards: Why not both? The Twins are benefitting from a good start and a less than great one from Cleveland so they should be in the mix the rest of the season. As for the Padres, they only really need to get another month in contention before they can start making trades to bolster the major league roster.

2:14

Fangraph’s Lurker: All this talk about Vlad Jr. and Vlad Sr., but Mother’s day is Sunday. SHOUT OUT TO VLADY’S MOM!!!!

2:15

Craig Edwards: Speaking of, I wrote about Vlad the younger today. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/lets-freak-out-about-vladimir-guerrero-jr/

2:15

Joe: Have you (as a Fangraphs collective) considered doing a Surplus Value experiment/study for all active players like you did for prospect evaluations?  If you had a $ value for every active player + all prospects, you could compare for trade values or generate hypothetical trades.

2:16

Craig Edwards: Yes, though it is somewhat more complex and difficult because you need all actual salary numbers and so it is more time consuming. This piece by Ryan Pollack might be of interest. https://tht.fangraphs.com/surplus-value-mlb-contracts-salary-cleveland…

2:17

Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Tampa Bay Rays record in one-run games by season, Cash era:
2015: 26-30
2016: 13-27
2017: 21-24
2018: 28-31
2019: 1-6
See also their historical underperformance of their pythag record. I feel like every team hates how their bullpen gets used, but is there something here? Watching Adam Kolarek face RHHs last night when Stanek and Roe were available was painful.

2:21

Craig Edwards: that’s pretty close to .500 in every year but 2016, when the Rays simply weren’t a good baseball team. several of those one-run losses have happened, I think, with Alvarado and Castillo on the mound, which seems more fluky than the result of poor planning. Maybe the Rays have chosen to focus most of their resources away from the bullpen because they have a bigger impact elsewhere when the one-run record might just be noise.

2:21

hunger: what’s for lunch/dinner?

2:22

Craig Edwards: i had leftover pulled pork and a cauliflower/sweet potato salad that was also leftover.

2:22

Matt: Is Verdugo working himself to a full-time regular?

2:23

Craig Edwards: He’s certainly going to get that opportunity over the next month or so. There still might be a time crunch when Pollock gets back, but he might be less likely to be a 40-50% playing time guy than he was before.

2:23

Slurve: Has there ever been a single dynamic play that turned out to be the turning point for a players season/career?  other than injury of course…. like if Dennis Eckersley’s career had plummeted after Kirk Gibson’s WS HR

2:24

Craig Edwards: you mean like Brad Lidge?

2:25

Guest: What if Vladito is Delmon Young 2.0? He was also on the list young published, but was skipped right over.

2:27

Craig Edwards: It seem pretty unlikely. Young hit the ball really well in the minors but his power wasn’t off the charts and he never walked that much. They are comps as number one prospects, but there are some pretty big differences between the two that point toward more success for Guerrero.

2:28

DJ Tanner: Has MLB come out and said they are using different balls this year or is this just something data is suggesting?

2:28

Craig Edwards: It is the data. Triple-A is now using the same balls in the majors and the power numbers are huge compared to before, as well.

2:29

aok: Should the White Sox performance so far be encouraging as far is 2020 and beyond is concerned?

2:32

Craig Edwards: I think so. The reason they aren’t further along right now is that the pitching they were hoping for didn’t develop like it needed to. If GIolito can be a solid pitcher, that’s going to help a lot. If Rodon needs TJ, that’s going to be a bit of a bummer because he looked pretty good this year, as well. They are maybe behind schedule on where the rebuild hoped to be, but they are probably a free agent pitcher and hitter from contending in their division next season if they can get more pitching help from injured players like Kopech and other minor leaguers like Cease.

2:33

Chris: Why were you guys so low on Verdugo ranking? And is he in contention for ROY?

2:36

Craig Edwards: You can read the report here. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/top-35-prospects-los-angeles-dodgers/ He’s a corner outfielder who might not be able to hit for a ton of power. That makes him closer to an average player than a star. As for rookie of the year Alonso is ahead of him now and we’ll see about Tatis’ injury slowing him down. Christian Walker is a big surprise with Victor Robles potentially getting up there. Right now, and it is only May 9th, Chris Paddack is the guy.

2:37

Billy Beane: Hi Craig, just wanted to (good naturedly) give you a hard time about putting Rendon above Chapman in your unofficial and off the cuff 3B rankings by noting that a lot of the fWAR value Rendon is providing is from UZR liking him WAY more than DRS. If you believe DRS, Rendon is a pretty mediocre fielder. Whereas with Chapman, the spectrum of his defensive metrics range from being a top 3 defender (at any position) in baseball to a top 4 defender (at any position. The truth between the defensive metrics is usually somewhere in the middle, but the middle for those two players is very different.

2:41

Craig Edwards: DRS has some pretty high ranges on Rendon, but still has him as above average for his career, only about 3-4 runs less per season. That isn’t mediocre unless you are narrowing in on individual seasons, which you should avoid doing with defensive metrics. Even if you want to split the difference for both Rendon and Chapman, Rendon’s longer, better track record makes him a defensible pick over Chapman. Sorry, not letting this one go, though don’t let this make you think I don’t like Chapman. Rendon might be the most underrated player in the National League.

2:41

Matt: I feel like Martin Perez has been in the league forever, but I noticed he’s just 28. New team, throwing a Cutter now…are we watching a breakout, or just a hot flash?

2:42

Craig Edwards: I’d really like to see him stay healthy. He looked like rising star way back when but injuries derailed him for a long time. It’s nice to see him pitching really well and missing bats again. Hopefully he can keep it up.

2:42

YankFan: Why don’t they put in a rule that once the person touches the base safely they have 1 – 2 seconds to re touch the base before they are called out, I think that would cut down a lot on having to do a replay after most stolen bases to see if the person came a fraction of an inch off the base

2:44

Craig Edwards: I think a vertical base rule was proposed some time back by Dave Cameron where if the runner is still directly above the base, then he’s safe. That might work solely for replay. It’s important to get the call right and maybe this teaches players to stay on the base better, but I don’t think it would impact the game too much to not call a runner out if he’s above the bag on replays only.

2:46

John: What would Brandon Belt cost the Yankees in terms of prospects?

2:48

Craig Edwards: He would obviously fit better in Yankee stadium than San Francisco but he has 2/32 remaining on his deal after this season and he’s been only a bit above average the last few years. I think San Francisco would probably have to pay some of the salary down to get one of NY’s top-10 prospects, though I think the Yankees are probably better served looking for pitching help.

2:48

Billy Beane: For the record, I think that Rendon is the most underrated player in possibly all of baseball, and an elite player. I just also think that Chapman is better, and I want to be clear that my argument is in good fun, because it doesn’t matter. They’re both great! 3B is ridiculously stacked.

2:48

Craig Edwards: it’s on the record.

2:49

I heart beisbol: Mike Trout is in a slump right now

2:49

Craig Edwards: I don’t believe you.

2:50

Matt: Are you worried about Machado?

2:51

Craig Edwards: Maybe a week or two ago, but not now. His strikeouts have gone down a bit lately and he’s got four homers in the last week. His overall numbers don’t look great, but he’s performing well.

2:52

Cashman: Speaking of pitching help, do I sign late-season Keuchel?

2:52

Craig Edwards: Depends on the cost compared to the cost of trade options. The health of Severino is probably also a factor.

2:53

Mega G Fan: Do you think Danny Duffy will be the fallback for teams who can’t land Minor (assuming Duffy is healthy, of course)?

2:55

Craig Edwards: He’s certainly a trade candidate, though Bumgarner, Stroman, and Sanchez might all be out there, too. The question on starting pitching is how early are teams going to move given how tight the standings are right now and an extra month or six weeks from a good starter might mean the difference of making the playoffs at the end of the year.

2:56

DreamWeaver: Luke Weaver has one of the lowest SIERA and xFIP in the game right now, do you see him as a potential breakout, and if so why is nobody talking about him? AZ has good run support.

2:58

Craig Edwards: Weaver has had stretches like this before, but hasn’t been able to sustain them, resulting partially from likely fatigue as well as not having a good third pitch. If the cutter is real and he can hold up, he’ll be a solid number three starter, maybe two, but the bullpen is always a lurking concern given his past.

3:00

Del Martin: It’s only been 600 or so innings but Wil Myers’ second stint in the outfield has gone much better than his first one between Tampa Bay and San Diego. Given the Padres’ COF depth, how realistic do you think it is that Myers could be a decent center fielder?

3:01

Craig Edwards: I’m still not sure it is that realistic, but his sprint speed is higher this season than it has in the past so it is possible he is healthier.

3:02

Gila Monster : Byron Buxton is 24th in exit velocity and 21st in batted ball distance. He is only hitting 25.3% of his batted balls on the ground. Granted his plate discipline is still awful, but could we be seeing some sort of breakout? His launch angle might be too high if anything now.

3:03

Craig Edwards: It’s possible and I’m hoping for it, but he’s also popping up way too many balls and chasing too many pitches out of the zone. Defense, baserunning and an average bat can make him a very good player, but he’s going to have to do a better job commanding the strike zone to be a star.

3:04

Yankees’ Injured List: The Brewers and Dodgers are getting sluggers like Mike Moustakas and Max Muncy into the lineup by playing them at second base. Are there metrics that show the prototypical second base body type is no longer necessary?

3:05

Craig Edwards: Some of that is just due to shifting. It’s easier to cover up a second baseman who lacks range by shifting a bunch. Some of it is just that third and second aren’t that much different in skill level, but people just sent tall guys to third and short guys to second.

3:06

Al Gone Quinn: My favorite player is playing well right now and is obviously in a breakout season. Why aren’t you and your colleagues not talking about him more?

3:06

Craig Edwards: Spite.

3:07

Mystery Chatter: Hey man. Have a happy Thursday.

3:07

Craig Edwards: Same to you. And with that, we will stop things for today. Thanks again for all the questions.

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John Autin
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John Autin

To Slurve’s question about a single play that changed a player’s career (and life, in this case) — The stock answer is Donnie Moore, who never got over yielding a 2-run HR in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS, when the Angels were an out from clinching. He’d had 3 good years in a row. Suicide in 1989.

Also, Tom Niedenfuer’s career went downhill fast after Ozzie Smith’s walkoff HR in the ‘85 NLCS. He lost the next game, too, as the Cards clinched, and what had been a very good career thru age 25 never got back on track.

There probably are lots more that just aren’t well known.