Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat–8/15/2019


Matt: Any hope of salvation for Cubs? Independent of whether or not they make playoffs, what kind of offseason changes are required?


Craig Edwards: Let’s get things started. First off, the Cubs are still in first place. They basically have C, 1B, 3B, SS, and RF set for next season. LF if they still believe in Schwarber. Their rotation is locked in minus Hamels so they can really work on center field, second base, and the bullpen. I would think they’ll add some relievers and maybe get a 2B in free agency as there will likely be decent options out there, but CF remains a mystery. I wonder if the team will remain virtually the same next season and just hope for some better breaks and a better pen. I expect some of it will have to do with how they finish, and they still have the best odds in the central.


Chonk: IS mike trout UNDERRATED?


Craig Edwards: yes.


Dodgers Fan: Although he’s been noticeably better since the ASB with larger separation between his FB and SL velocity, wouldn’t it still behoove Kershaw to refine (develop?) his CH this offseason? I want him to get back to 2013-16 level Kershaw and start racking up CY Awards again.


Craig Edwards: I don’t think that’s going to happen, at least getting back to being the best pitcher in baseball. It’s possible a change just might not be a good offering for him no matter what he does so that he just needs to keep working on fastball, slider, curve, mixing up those pitches and locations to keep hitters off balance. Right now, we’re seeing a five-win Kershaw and that’s really good. I’d just be hopeful for that going forward.


Sam: If he hits his ceiling, what does the career of Dylan Carlson look like?


Craig Edwards: Lance Berkman but in center field. A switch-hitting Jim Edmonds with worse defense. If you wanna dream, you can dream. That’s what ceilings are for. Nick Markakis would be a very good outcome for Carlson.


Bosa: What changes would you make to help incentivize winning and try to limit tanking


Craig Edwards: Have I got the post just for you.…


Craig Edwards: I also tend to think expansion would solve a lot of the current competitive and financial problems we are seeing.


Nahtan: How worried should I be that Hiura’s going to pull an Ian Happ and get progressively worse with his zone control in future seasons. Running that 25-30% K% in AAA and the show scares me …


Craig Edwards: Hiura’s a better prospect than Happ was and Hiura’s strikeouts didn’t really look remotely bad until Triple-A. I don’t think he can continue this power barrage going forward, but he can probably strikeout 25% of the time and hit 25 homers and still be a good player going forward.


Dr. Bob: What are the factors that cause the projections for the Cubs winning the division to be so much higher than the Cards with whom they are tied?


Craig Edwards: The Cubs 3-4-5 is Kyle Hendricks, Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. The Cardinals 4-5 is Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, and Michael Wacha. The projections also have Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez ahead of any Cardinals position player. On paper the Cubs are one game better the rest of the way. That plus the slightly easier schedule makes for the rest of the difference.


John: What’s with Shildts infatuation with batting Edman 2nd and playing him in the OF constantly?  It’s frustrating when they have actual OFers in Thomas and Arorazena.


Craig Edwards: I think (hope) the outfield stuff is in the past now. As for hitting second, I don’t get it. Edman should be starting once a week or twice a week in the infield and pinch-running a lot. What we’ve seen over the last month is him get over-exposed.


John: Is wrc+ comparable between levels of baseball (MLB vs AA ball)? Also, what is the Standard Deviation of wrc+?


Craig Edwards: Not sure on the second part, but as to the first, wRC+ adjusts to the level. So a player’s Triple-A wRC+ compares him to the rest of Triple-A players. MLB wRC+ adjusts for park and league while minors adjusts for [league] (author edit) only. if a player has a 125 wRC+ that means they are 25% better than league-average numbers. You can find some background here.


Kretin: Jim Bowden speculated yesterday about the Angels signing both Gerrit Cole and Zack Wheeler. How realistic do you see that scenario?


Craig Edwards: The Angels only have about $120 million in payroll committed to next season without much in the way of big arb cases so they should have the payroll room to make a big splash or two if they want. They certainly need pitching but there are going to be a ton of suitors for Cole. Any big free agents would make sense for the Angels this winter.


Weirdo Dude: Have you watched any of Dustin May’s starts?  If so, what’s your take?  Think he’s got solid #2 starter potential?


Craig Edwards: Yes. Also saw him at the Future’s game. I think number starter seems fair. I don’t think you can make too much of a start against the Marlins, but given that he’s only walked two batters so far, he’s certainly challenging players and they haven’t figured him out yet. I don’t think his fastball is going to miss as many bats at the major league level, but it is certainly good enough.


Mike Fichera: Were the Mets success a virtue of their schedule or just unlucky to have faced braves LHP with Cano/McNeil down.


Craig Edwards: They were playing bad teams and they went on a great run. We’ve seen recent Mets teams do this before. Now, it’s the hard part. They are fighting with a bunch of good teams and they have to play better teams than they’ve been playing. They needed some luck to play as well as they did, and they need some more now. They have really good starting pitching and that can help, but they were always likely to be a .500 team when playing against better competition. They just need to be better than that to make the playoffs.


Mark: Is there a player who is objectively not good but fascinates you?


Craig Edwards: Maikel Franco probably fit this bill for a while. Jose Martinez is on the IL, but I’ll say him. He’s gigantic, goofy, can’t really play defense and despite his size doesn’t seem to hit for power.


Dodgers Fan: Thanks for your thoughts regarding Kershaw. Is it the back injuries that lead you to say be hopeful for 5 WAR per year going forward? I’d have a hard time accepting that since a guy like Scherzer was still plugging along at 35 until recently (I know their career IP are about the same).


Craig Edwards: From 28-31, Scherzer made 132 starts and pitched 891.2 innings. Kershaw has a few weeks to go, but he’s made 95 starts and pitched 622.1 innings. Scherzer was throwing 95 mph at 27 and 31 while Kershaw has lost about 3 mph in the same time. It’s generally not fair to compare most pitchers to Kershaw (Kershaw prime is much better than Scherzer prime), but it isn’t fair to compare one of the only pitchers to sustain this high level when Kershaw has clearly been less than healthy and powerful than in previous years.


Sam: Thoghts on Randy Arozerena? I am higher on Lane but it seems like the fan base is enthralled in Randy A.


Craig Edwards: I’m not sure either one is an above-average regular long term. I like Bader and O’Neill better than both of them, but Arozarena should be a fun player and we’ve already seen his profile as a guy who makes hard contact. I think either Lane or Arozarena in center field is better than playing Fowler out of position or putting Edman or Munoz in the outfield.


Hello: Is the current iteration of the Cleveland Indians that much worse than the playoff version of the 2016 Cleveland Indians (who relied on 3 starters). It seems like with Jose Ramirez‘ second-half surge, the addition of good OF’s for Bauer, and the run of emerging young pitchers and potentially returning older ones, that this team would arguably be better. Is it just the case that the 2019 playoff landscape is much more talented, because even with all that they seem like they pale vs the Astros or Yankees?


Craig Edwards: I think they are comparable. The main difference is that in 2016, the team was so reliant on Andrew Miller and Corey Kluber. Kluber started 6 of the team’s 15 playoff games while Miller appeared in 10 games and pitched 19.1 innings. The team could definitely succeed in the playoffs with the pitching and hitting they have now, but the 2016 club was pretty unique in their reliance on those two pitchers.


Hello: Are prospects helped/hurt when it comes to talent evaluation in the current state of the PCL?


Craig Edwards: On the one hand, they use the MLB ball. On the other hand, it has always been somewhat difficult to evaluate players on the stat lines because there are some pretty crazy parks. I don’t think it helps the statistical evaluations and it might be worse as they will be less prepared for the better offspeed pitches they will see at the next level. I think for the players at that level, scouting take greater importance.


J: Doesn’t it feel like the Diamondbacks have been really stangely ignored as a wild card team? Other than one Dodgers series, they have a very soft schedule going forward. Obviously they’re still in a bit of a hole going forward, but their schedule could let them very quickly get back in the mix.


Craig Edwards: They did trade Greinke and they need to jump four teams to qualify so they are on the periphery a bit. They only have one series against a really bad team in the Marlins. The other teams in the West plus the Reds might not be good, but they aren’t pushovers. They’ve got a shot, but are probably getting as much attention as 9% playoff odds deserves right now.


Nahtan: Caleb Smith looked like he was breaking out to start the season. The K/9 is still amazing, but BABIP correction seems to have raised his ERA tremendously in the 2nd half. Will he ever be more than a 3-4 starter with 4.00 something ERA?


Craig Edwards: I wonder if there is an innings issue with him. He seemed to be breaking out last year then missed a bunch of time. He missed a month this season as well. I wouldn’t put too much in his last couple starts against the Rays and Braves, though. I’d wait out the rest of the season before saying what he’ll be going forward.


Andrew: Braves bullpen seems to have gotten worse with the new additions. Any chance that adding 3 new guys into a group of 7-8 just changes dynamics and unsettled guys. Or do you think this is just regression to the mean for some guys (Shane Greene etc)


Craig Edwards: I think it is random.


Andrew: If Acuna hits 40-40, does he get more or less than 3 NL MVP 1st place votes?


Craig Edwards: I think less as long Bellinger and Yelich finish the season somewhere along their current pace. He’ll get at least one though.


FRIEND: how can we reconcile the recent and massive aristedes aquino stance/swing change, and the existing – relatively poor – outlook from the projection systems?


Craig Edwards: I wouldn’t try. Just see what happens. He’s going to strike out a lot.


frankiebones: Assuming Ohtani is good to go as a SP next season, how many games a week do you see the team playing him at DH? Can he get 400 PA’s while starting every 5th game?


Craig Edwards: It would be kind of fun to make Ohtani the Sunday starter with a bunch of off days on Monday, you could maximize Tuesday-Friday starts at DH and get him 400 PA that way.


Based: Will Smith is batting 3rd for the Dodgers. According to my calculation(s) he’s the 84th player to have started a game batting 3rd for the Dodgers this season.


Craig Edwards: Seems high, but it does makes sense for a lot different batters to hit there since the 3rd spot is fourth most important spot in the order. The fourth-best hitter on any given day is likely to change a lot.


Craig Edwards: Couple quick plugs, then I have to get going. First Jose Altuve seems healthy again.…


Craig Edwards: And I will also be on FanGraphs Audio at some point soon. It has already been recorded and like five different things I’ve said are already going against me so be on the lookout for that.


Craig Edwards: Thanks for all the questions.

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Ben Hall
Ben Hall

“MLB wRC+ adjusts for park and league while minors adjusts for park only.” Kiley has said that minor league wRC+ was NOT adjusted for park, just league. Could someone clarify?