Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 9/17/2020 by Craig Edwards September 17, 2020 2:02 Craig Edwards: Thanks for joining the chat. 2:02 Craig Edwards: First, my piece on the Mets’ ownership just went up. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/mets-sale-to-steve-cohen-is-biggest-in-mlb… 2:03 Craig Edwards: I also wrote about Alec Mills‘ story and his unlikely no-hitter. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-unlikeliest-no-hitter/ 2:03 Bronson Arroyo’s Leg Kick: if Sonny Gray is healthy and the Reds sneak in the playoffs would Bauer/Castillo/Gray be enough to challenge LAD in round one? Hard to think of many better 1-2-3s 2:05 Craig Edwards: Absolutely. If you gave the Reds a 45% chance to win each games, there’s a 20% chance the Reds don’t even get to a third game and the Dodgers are out of it. It’s part of the reason why expanding playoffs in this manner is a bad idea for the future. 2:05 Scotty: Where have Zack Wheelers strikeouts gone? 2:07 Craig Edwards: I think I’ve talked about this before, but he’s started throwing a sinker more so the strikeouts have turned into groundouts. It’s an interesting startegy, particularly given the move in home ballparks. It does require a decent infield or you otherwise get the potential for a bunch of cheap hits ruining an inning. 2:07 TKDC: Maybe this barely matters, but are we at a point where “qualified” for starting pitchers needs to be moved to a lower innings threshold? Even putting this year aside, qualified pitchers have gone from 89 in 1999 to 77 in 2009 to 61 in 2019. 2:08 Craig Edwards: Maybe, but the question is do we just change it for now or for all-time. I also wonder if increasing the number of teams would lead to more qualified pitchers as the potential relievers would decline in quality. 2:09 kevinthecomic: Mike Kickham back in the Major Leagues 6 years (!) after his last appearance. This some kind of record? He’s not doing particularly well, but might be a good interview for Laurila. 2:10 Craig Edwards: I doubt it is a record. Still interesting though. I just looked up Ankiel, but it turns out he pitched a couple games in 2004 in between 2001 and 2007. 2:10 Robbie314: Fun fact: Ke’Bryan Hayes is now (tied for) 2nd in season WAR for the Pirates after just 13 games. 2:11 Craig Edwards: I might dispute that fact as fun if I were a Pirates fan, but it is always fun to see good prospects get off to good starts in the majors. 2:11 Justin: What is the main difference between UZR and DRS and which do you prefer for infielders/outfielders? 2:13 Craig Edwards: they used to be a lot more similar, though UZR has seemed to move closer to the mean with some changes over the last few years while DRS has moved even further away with different changes. Here at FanGraphs, UZR is included in our WAR while Baseball Reference uses DRS. I tend to prefer UZR of the two because of the lack of gigantic swings that can skew a player’s WAR total in an individual season. 2:14 kevinthecomic: What are we going to do if Jose Iglesias hits .400 this year? 2:15 Craig Edwards: Riot? He’s got 11 games to get 54 PA, which is hard. He also has to hit well over .400 in those games to get up from his .381 average. So, it isn’t likely to happen, but I think it would be neat if he did. 2:16 Lorenzo: What’s your % chance that the owners approve the Mets sale? 2:16 Craig Edwards: It’s pretty high. They’ve approved worse and the sale price is really big, particularly in a pandemic with the Mets’ financial issues. 2:17 Larry Jones: Is it too late for Machado to jump to the top of the MVP race with Betts/Tatis/Freeman? Do you think his prior antics hurt his chances? He’s not far behind in WAR 2:18 Craig Edwards: It’s definitely not too late, but it will be pretty hard to overtake Tatis Jr. on his own team and I think that could bump him down on some ballots more than it would if there weren’t two MVP candidates on the same team. It’s possible past stuff could hold his vote total down some, but I don’t think that would be his main issue. 2:19 lmb2020: Avisail Garcia in CF is weird, right? 2:20 Craig Edwards: It’s a little weird, but with Cain opting out, there weren’t too many other options. Miller Park isn’t huge, which probably helps. 2:20 Harry Lime: What are vesting options? Advantage player or ownership? 2:21 Craig Edwards: It’s an option that becomes guaranteed if certain parameters are met, say playing in a certain number of games, getting so many PA, not ending the year on the injured list. They are generally an advantage for ownership because they only have to pay the player if they are doing well enough to garner playing time. 2:23 kevinthecomic: Are Dakota Hudson’s control gains for real? If so, is he a legit #1 / #2 starter? 2:25 Craig Edwards: He’s definitely getting ahead of batters more this year, which leads to the uptick in strikeouts along with fewer walks. He’s still walking too many batters and giving up homers. His FIP says he’s an average pitcher and his ground ball rate plus a good defense allows him to outpitch that. His slider is still a good swing and miss pitch, but unless he gets his walks down, #2 is still too far away. Solid 3-4, though, which is better than last year. 2:27 Blue Morpho: Not a record for Kickham, Daniel Bard is back after 7 seasons, but I’m not sure if that’s the record. 2:27 Craig Edwards: there’s another big gap. 2:28 Sonny: If you’ll indulge an econ question from a dum-dum, what exactly did Steve Cohen buy for $2.4B? He gets Wilpon debt, no TV, “maybe some” of the land development, and…? He owns the Mets now I guess but I’m surprised bc it looks like a decade+ to get out of Wilpon’s mess with much of the revenue streams cut off 2:32 Craig Edwards: He gets massive paper losses which can reduce his tax liability elsewhere. Any debt the team has gets paid off from revenue generated by the team so his equity increases by hundreds of millions of dollars without doing a thing. He was willing to buy at $2.6 B before the pandemic so the price could be artificially low. The tv contract runs out within a decade and he has the means to do his own thing if he wanted depending on how the tv landscape shapes up, essentially creating a billion dollar (maybe multi-billion dollar) company with little of his own investment and MLB team prices have gone up about 8% annually after inflation for the last 40-50 years. 2:33 Kurupt FM: Craig stroke my hair and tell me Vladdy Jr is going to show signs of progress this season. Please. 2:35 Craig Edwards: He’s doing pretty well since the bad first week of the season with a 121 wRC+ since then. He had a great August. He’s got a good walk rate and very good strikeout rate. There are some signs of improvement. It just might take him a little while longer to get the ball in the air consistently to get to his freakish power. 2:36 Justin: Just a follow up question from my question earlier, how do you think statcast’s OAA compares to UZR/DRS? 2:38 Craig Edwards: I like OAA but outs aren’t runs so the comparison is a hard one to make. Depending on where the ball is, some are more important than others. There’s also the issue of positioning and where/who should get credit for it. 2:38 Guest: How does Rob Manfred still have a job? I challenge you to name one situation he handled correctly or competently. 2:38 Craig Edwards: He’s done very well in the CBA and the owners are all a little bit, or in some cases, a lot richer because of him. 2:39 Joshua: If the Giants decide to “sell high” on Yaz this offseason, what type of package could they possibly bring back? Could he land a top 100 prospect? Top 50? Etc….Thanks. 2:40 Craig Edwards: I don’t think there’s going to be a ton of trade value there because of his age. Whit Merrifield had a five-win season a few years ago, but his age made it so there wasn’t a hig demand for him. He’s probably more valuable to the Giants as a good player the next few years than getting a prospect who has a better than 50/50 shot of not contributing at all. 2:41 Phat Stax: With the recent reports that the owners want to keep the expanded playoff format beyond this season, what other rule changes do you see sticking? The NL DH seems to be a given, but do you think the extra inning rules and 7 inning double headers are here to stay? I don’t see who these rule changes appeal to, except maybe the players union. 2:43 Craig Edwards: The expanded playoffs still needs to be negotiated with the players and it is a pretty big ask financially. I don’t think it is a done deal or anything. The DH isn’t even close as a giveback. I think it is possible the extra inning rule stays, but I doubt the doubleheader rule stays just because teams in the future prefer the day/night doubleheaders to get the gate for both games. It’s not something that works as well with fans. 2:44 Joshua: What type of return could you see the Nats having if they decided to deal a package centering aroudn Kieboom and Crowe? I could see the Nats doing another similar Giolito/Dunning/Lopez for Eaton type deal…….meaning some highly rated prospects for an in his prime player with a team friendly contract. Thoughts? And any players do you see that would fit the bill for this type of trade? Thanks. 2:45 Craig Edwards: I think they are more likely to go the free agent route, amybe give Kieboom another shot rather than dealing low on him. 2:45 A cat: Will expansion be the next step after a 16 team playoff scenario is incorporated in the next CBA? 2:46 Craig Edwards: Before the pandemic, a 14-team playoff idea was the one being pushed. I’m not sure if they go back to that or try for 16 teams, but expansion absolutely needs to happen. 2:46 Scott: Universal DH: more jobs for bat-first vets or more never ending roster shuffling? 2:48 Craig Edwards: There are so few bat-only guys worth giving decent money to, that going from 15 to 30 teams with the DH doesn’t really add all that much for the players. Owners probably want it anyway so they don’t have to worry about pitchers getting hurt. And while some fans don’t like the DH, fans generally favor more offense. It’s something that makes sense for the game that isn’t a big chip in CBA negotiations. 2:49 bighen: Does Amed Rosario still have decent trade value? Could the Mets package or flat out 1:1 trade him for a legit two way CF? Is that a worse plan than trying to convert him to CF? Nimmo is a decent player but he can’t really cut it in CF and Gimenez at SS, and a true CF would make the Mets so much better up the middle on D. And that’s w/o improving the C position. 2:51 Craig Edwards: I don’t think for what you are hoping for. He still might be a solid starting shortstop, but a team isn’t going to trade a sure starting center fielder for a maybe starting shortstop. Would the Marlins trade Marte for Rosario? I doubt it. 2:51 Larry Jones: It feels like the Cubs and Braves are being overlooked in the NL. Given that they are slated to match up in the NLDS, which team would you give the edge, and who do you think would be more likely to beat LA/SD 2:52 Craig Edwards: I don’t know about being overlooked, but the Braves’ chances are dependent on getting their rotation in order while the Cubs just need to hit consistently. It’s a pretty even matchup if they both make it out of the first round, but I’d probably favor the Braves slightly. 2:53 Joshua: Hunter Dozier for Wil Crowe, Mason Denaburg, and James Bourque…….who says no? 2:54 Craig Edwards: maybe neither side? Depends on what the Royals think of those prospects. 2:54 Bradley: Hi, Craig. Hope you are well today. I was wondering if you could tell me about Padres prospect Yeison Santana? I somewhat recently learned of him and he is currently ranked eight by Fangraphs on Padres top prospects list. However, I know nothing about him. 2:54 Craig Edwards: Beyond what is in here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/top-53-prospects-san-diego-padres/ 2:55 Craig Edwards: I can’t help you, though Eric Longenhagen should be chatting tomorrow and might be able to add more info. 2:55 kevinthecomic: “expansion absolutely needs to happen” — why is that? too many talented players, not enough teams? grow the game/expand appeal? cash grab for the owners via franchise fees? net US migration south validating the need for more teams in that part of the country? something else? 2:56 Craig Edwards: I think you covered it. Talent has gone way up but the number of starting jobs has remained the same. It’s made the game a little worse with more strikeouts, less contact, more relievers. Exanding to new markets creates new fans. And yes, the owners might feel the need for some extra money right now. 2:57 Phat Stax: What’s the future outlook for Dane Dunning look like? FG has a 45 FV on him, but have you seen anything from him 2:59 Craig Edwards: He’s essentially repeated his Double-A numbers, which is a good sign. The .200osh BABIP isn’t going to keep up. I’d like to see more use of his change to see where he’s going to be long term. Right now, it’s basically fourseam, twoseam, slider, and that probably isn’t enough over the course of a season. 3:00 TKDC: If the Cardinals end up 28-30 and miss the playoffs to a team they would have the tie breaker over that finishes 29-31, with the Cardinals not getting 2 games against Detroit where they’d only need to win one, how would that make you feel? 3:00 Craig Edwards: Wouldn’t they just play those games and figure that out. Was there an announcement I missed? 3:01 Mountie Votto: You buying Shogo Akiyama’s adjustments? Guy is getting on base at a Vottonian clip the last few weeks 3:03 Craig Edwards: He’s got to start hitting for some power at some point. Something has to give. He’s not going to keep walking 20% of the time and put up a .400 BABIP. He’s probably better than his 83 wRC+ for the season, but I’d guess he’s closer to average than well above that. 3:04 Sonny: What metrics would you look at to separate real (good or bad) performance from ’20 weirdness? Yaz, JDM, Yelich, Ozuna, etc 3:06 Craig Edwards: That’s really difficult in such a small sample. Age is going to be a factor with JDM. With Yelich, he’s still getting buried for his first couple weeks. I would look for stretches where they looked like their old selves. As for Ozuna, he’s done this before and had stretches where he was really good with St. Louis. WIth Yaz, I think both Ben Clemens and Dan Szymborski have written on why he might be real. 3:06 TKDC: They actually did announce today that they would make up those games in Detroit if they mattered. 3:07 Craig Edwards: Very good. 3:07 Craig Edwards: I’ve got to run. Thanks for all the questions.