Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat–6/20/2019


Craig Edwards: Let’s get things rolling.


Roger: Did the Padres serious harm their rebuild by prematurely spending big on MLB pieces?  They’re finally getting contributions from their farm system (Paddack, Tatis, etc.) but their ability to add complementary pieces through free agency to create a real contender is now hampered by the Hosmer, Myers, and Machado contracts.


Craig Edwards: The Myers contract predates the current attempt and it was really just trying to extend their good player. Hosmer was probably a mistake, but Machado should still be a very valuable player for years. Even as Machado and Myers’s contracts go up by like $35 million next year, their commitments are still under $100 million. They should still have room. Also, they have a crazy-good farm system, they’ve drawn more than 100k more fans this year so far and they are above .500 and two games out of the wild card. I don’t see a lot of harm going on. They are doing well.


The Kid: How does Verlander have a 92.9% LOB% (highest among qualified starters) but -0.7 LOB-wins (bottom 10)? What am I missing here?


Craig Edwards: I think it is that his BABIP is so insanely low at .172 that the LOB% comes from that so that they LOB-wins has to be negative given how much benefit he’s received from balls in play.


Terry: Would you view the White Sox or Padres as closer to legitimate playoff contenders?  Both are seeing their prospects turn into quality MLB players, but which one is better positioned to build on that progress through free agency, trades, etc.?


Craig Edwards: The Padres have the better farm system, but the White Sox have more financial flexibility. I think that Manny Machado signing with the Sox would have swung things the other way, but right now, the Padres are closer. The flexibility the Sox have could swing things the other way, but they actually have to use it.


Trent: I saw recently a suggestion that the Rays should try to trade for Francisco Lindor, so, who says no:  Wander Franco for Francisco Lindor, in a one-for-one deal with no money changing hands?


Craig Edwards: Both teams probably. That’s 2.5 years of Lindor, who is already one of the best players in the game versus nearly 7 seasons of Franco that wouldn’t start for another two years. Given the present value and very high floor for Lindor, he’s still the more valuable player by a decent amount.


My Mama Says: Can we talk about the fact that Justin Verlander has allowed 20 homers already? With 133 strikeouts? That has to be a record.


Craig Edwards: I’m not sure about a record or what that would look like but in 1986 Bert Blyleven allowed 50 homers and struck out 215 players. That same year, Jack Morris allowed 40 homers and struck out 223 players.


Tim: The Reds are 12-21 in day games and 22-17 in night games.  That’s probably just small-sample-size randomness, but at some point, does such a disparity suggest a problem in the approach of players or coaches?  If, for example, a team is just routinely not well-prepared on get-away day, would they be likely to have a worse day-game record?


Craig Edwards: You are correct that it is probably just random but it could also measure depth as good players often get days off in day games after night games.


Alex: definitely agree that for a single season FIP is a better measure of performance than ERA do to a combination of randomness and the talent of a pitchers defense. But when you start to look at a career, for a pitcher who’s ERA is consistently worse than their FIP don’t you have to start questioning if some of that can be attributed to issues like the fact that they pitch poorly from the stretch with runners on base or b/c they consistently give up hard contact (and vice versa for pitchers with a career ERA significantly lower than FIP).


Craig Edwards: Maybe, but when do you start doing that? 1,000 innings? 2,000 innings. Over the last 50 years, 327 pitchers have 2,000 innings and only six have FIPs more than 0.40 lower than their ERA. That’s not very many. At the other end of the spectrum, you have knuckleballers, which is an easy distinction to make as well as guys who had incredible defenses like Jim Palmer and John Tudor. Nearly all of the differences can be traced to BABIP and LOB%, and maybe there are some guys who struggle out of the stretch, which is worth looking at, for sure, but most of it is just going to be defense, park, and luck.


Ryan: Last year, the Nationals made a half-hearted effort to sell at the deadline, but didn’t shed enough salary to avoid the CBT and got nothing for Harper by holding him instead of trading him.  Do you think they learned anything from that, or are we still going to see Rendon, Doolittle, etc. in Washington after August 1?


Craig Edwards: Technically, they were able to not lose a draft pick for signing Corbin, so they didn’t get nothing for Harper, but Rendon is definitely in the same boat. Rendon should get a better package than a draft pick, but if they want to bring Rendon back, they might want to have the draft pick attached to him to have the ever so slightly chance that some teams might be scared away, see the White Sox pursuit of Machado but not Harper.


Jaime: I’m sorry, but you can’t tell me that Lance Lynn has been better this year than Chris Sale. Sale has a better ERA, FIP, xFIP, K/9, BB/9, FIP-, you name it, except when it comes to HR rates. Rangers defense has not been especially terrible. Plus, just watching these two human beings pitch tells you that one is clearly on a higher tier. Does fWAR overvalue HR rates?


Craig Edwards: It’s possible the Rangers defense has been especially terrible for Lynn and the Statcast data supports that. If Sale had to pitch in Texas instead of Boston and had the Rangers defense instead of the Red Sox defense, would he have to pitch differently. What if he had  poor pitch framing instead of good pitch framing. Lance Lynn has given up very few homers in a park that allows a ton of them. Shouldn’t he get some credit for that. We are quibbling over a very minor difference between the two pitchers. Over half a season, 3.2 and 2.8 isn’t a huge deal.


JC: So what do we call this new Tampa/Montreal team?


Spencer: If Tampa/Montreal doesn’t name their name the ExRays we’ve failed as a society


Roland: What do you think of Strasburg as a trade candidate?  A team could view him as a rental with the idea that he’ll likely opt out of his deal after 2019, and the Nats might trade him with an eye towards resigning him if he *does* opt out.


Craig Edwards: I think there is a ton of risk in trading for him as a rental thinking he will opt out as there is a ton of risk there. If you could get him paying only rental prices, then I suppose there’s a deal to be made, but I’m not sure why Washington would do that.


Craig Edwards: Quick break to change a four-months old poopy diaper.


twinmh: Wait, I hope that was a diaper on a 4 month old child, not a 4 month old diaper on your child.


Craig Edwards: correct.


mm43: What are your expectations for Gallen?


Craig Edwards: He’s having a crazy-good year in Triple-A. He was moved up The BOARD at midseason to a 50 so there’s some potential there. His numbers are miles ahead of everybody else in Triple-A right now.…


Craig Edwards: I’m interested to see how he does against major league hitting.


Bill G: Hi Craig;  I don’t understand the logic of the opener.  I get that the first inning has more runs scored than other innings, but if you allow a run in the 1st you have 8/9 innings to recover from it.  If you allow a run in the 6th you have 3/4 innings to recover.  Why have a short term reliever work the 1st against the other teams top 3, instead of later in the game when it is more meaningful?  Thanks!


Craig Edwards: It isn’t always more meaningful later on. That’s the logic behind using your best reliever in the eighth on some nights. In the first it is a tie game. It also allows a mediocre starter to avoid a team’s best three or best three of four hitters and potentially make the second pitcher more successful. I’m not sure I’m convinced on the gain, but there’s a logical argument for it.


Jaffe rhymes with Taffy: Craig, if Encarnacion gets to 500 dingers do you think that makes him a member of the HOF?


Craig Edwards: He probably has to play another three more years after this one to get there which is tough, but also likely wouldn’t be delivering that much more in terms of WAR. His lifetime batting average around .260 might negate the support he could get from more traditional voters while his sub-40 WAR isn’t going to help him with the more modern voters. I doubt the HOF calls even if he gets to 500.


Conner from AZ: Has Father Time come for Lorenzo Cain?


Craig Edwards: Probably not, but he has probably come for 6-win Cain as well as 5- and 4-win Cain. I think three to four wins is probably what we are looking at pro-rated the rest of this year, with expectations for next year declining accordingly. Some of his hitting line is probably just BABIP bad luck, but he’s slower this year so unless it is an injury, and even if it is, there’s some age-related decline there.


Ian: When teams start selling, is it better to strike early or wait it out? Who will go first?


Craig Edwards: Depends on how close your current race is. If you are in a tight race, striking now might be in your best interest though it doesn’t usually happen because teams wait to assess what they need. For teams with the division nearly wrapped up, waiting until the end makes the most sense in order to pay less and only get what you need.


Michael Bivins: Hello Craig, thank you for the chat. I’ve come upon a big butt and a smile, and my question is, should I trust them?


Craig Edwards: Ricky Bell and Ronnie De Voe might need to jog your memory, but the answer is absolutely not.


Jose! Jose! Jose! Rrrrraaamirez!: He’s starting to show signs of life… right?


Craig Edwards: Let’s hope so. He’s always had an odd plate discipline profile, but this kind of drop is pretty crazy. Has to rebound at some point.


Large Adult Son: Scott Kingery is great, please discuss..


Craig Edwards: I’ve long been a fan. Needs the strikeout and walk rates to move in a better direction, but it certainly looks like he’s moved on from his tough 2018 season.


Davy: Please tell Ben that the Sinker Paradox article was fantastic.


Craig Edwards: I will pass that along. Here’s the piece.


Sweetie Pie: Also TB was supposed to be so good, but the Yanks seem to swarm them. Any concern that Tampa may not be all that the pundits have been touting them to be?


Craig Edwards: The Yankees are just a very good baseball team. I wouldn’t put too much stock in head to head record over a couple series’. The Rays are a 90+ win team and there aren’t that many of them. I’m not sure how much more the pundits are touting them, but they should make the playoffs.


mikemad: Explain, if you can, why Cashman felt the need to aquire Edwin E.  My theory is it was because Tampa was close to acquiring him.  Otherwise I just don’t get it.


Craig Edwards: He improved the team where he could at the time. Remember that a lot of Encarnacion types that would have been available in August won’t be available anymore with just one trade deadline. If the Yankees wanted to add a bat for mostly nothing, and they likely would have added someone at some point, this is one of the better bats to get moved. He helps the team’s depth a bunch, and that matters with all the injuries.


v2micca: Would the Pirates be willing to move Starling Marte at the deadline.  If so, what do you see as their asking price?


Craig Edwards: I doubt they could get what they want at the deadline. Position players with multiple years on their deals remaining are more likely to get moved in the offseason. Teams are less likely to pay a midseason premium unless it is a good starter or reliever.


v2micca: A 9 WAR season is an outlier for anyone not named Mike Trout.  But, it Harper really just a 4 WAR player?


Craig Edwards: Maybe, though just a 4-win player is still one of the top 40 players in the game. Five wins is top-20. If he’s just a 4-win player we can expect a five or six-win season in there and that nears top-five in the league status. We know he’s capable of more since he’s done it which makes the monster season more possible for him than hoping on others.


Insert Clever Name Here: Initial feelings on the Rays attempting to become a two-city team with Montreal?


Craig Edwards: it isn’t going to work and probably won’t happen. MLB has had a slightly tougher time getting people to give them money to build stadiums and this is just another strategy to try and make it happen. MLB needs to expand, but haven’t been able to because of the holdups in Tampa Bay and Oakland.


Big Joe Mufferaw: Why is Lance Lynn 2nd WAR among pitchers?


Dan H: Giants fans, including myself, have already landed on Clint Frazier as a potential trade target. Would MadBum for Frazier plus have the makings of a realistic deal, or is that over-valuing Bumgarner?


Craig Edwards: I think that is pretty realistic though it is possible the Yankees are overrating Frazier’s value.


Mr. Fister: ExRays does have a better ring to it than RayPos


Craig Edwards: Montreal does appear like they are trying to RayPossess a baseball, team, though.


Mr. Fister: Clint Frazier is a defensive liability and his power would be negated in SF, not to mention no possibility of DHing.  Would be a mistake for SF to acquire him in my humble opinion.


Craig Edwards: I think that is pretty valid. There seem likely to be better fits out there for the Giants when they move Bumgarner.


LenFuego: If by “baseball needs to expand”, you mean “baseball needs to contract”, then you are correct


Craig Edwards: Baseball players are too good right now. Need to thin things out a bit and try to grow the game in new markets. Expansion is exciting and fun.


Craig Edwards: That’s going to do it for me today. Have to check on a sleeping baby. Thanks for your questions and your patience.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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