Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat – 9/3/2020


Craig Edwards: Going to let the queue fill up a bit before we get things rolling.


Nathalie: Good afternoon, Craig.


Craig Edwards: Okay. Now, let’s get things rolling.


Guest: Lugo and stripling in trial by combat: who’s falling out the moon door? Who do you like as potentially in rotation 2021


Craig Edwards: I don’t think it will come to that, though I’ve always liked Stripling more than Lugo. It’s hard to know when a player excels in a limited role, if it is the best role for them or if they could do better with more responsibility. Sending Stripling to the rotation full time probably makes his overall numbers (in a normal year) worse, but probably provides more value to a team that isn’t as deep as the Dodgers, like Toronto.


JJ: Is there a more surprising player than Eric Hosmer right now? Dude is rocking a 164 wRC+ and has a double digit launch angle. Is this luck, player dev, or a bit of both?


Craig Edwards: and in an even year, no less. I’m sure there is some luck to this, but it isn’t as if the talent wasn’t always there to do something like this. Maybe it was two years in a row of not being a very good baseball player that caused some changes. It’s hard to think that it is an accident, though.


Alice: Jo Adell should not be allowed to bat or field.


Craig Edwards: Counterpoint: Jo Adell should be allowed to bat and field as much as possible so as to help his development and reach his potential.


Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Why is there always such an emphasis on intent in throwing at guys’ heads? Does it really matter if Aroldis Chapman threw a 101 MPH projectile at Brosseau’s head on purpose? If you almost maim someone, you should be tossed.


Craig Edwards: Both are bad. One is worse.


Chamaco: Have you read ESPN’s article on MiLB contraction and realignment? Not a good look for MLB…


Craig Edwards: I think the main issue with this plan is their is a deserving fundamental distrust in what MLB is trying to do. Framing it about efficiency instead of control misses the point, but even if it is about efficiency, there are huge aspects of developing the game long term that get thrown by the wayside. Given MLB’s general disregard for the long-term at the expense of short-term profits, MLB is asking for trust in a massive overhaul that didn’t have major issues beyond who the money was going to and not going to, and those issues are fairly easily solvable.


Craig Edwards: I wrote about the minors back in more normal times. Part I:


Craig Edwards: MLB is now using the pandemic to get whatever they want.


bill nye: if you remove a strip of breading all the way around a piece of fried chicken, is it a sandwich?


Craig Edwards: no


brett: Next 3 years: Karinchak or D. Williams?


Craig Edwards: I have no idea. Try and think back which pitchers you would have been talking about in 2017. I think Williams based on current performance.


Doug: The Dodgers might put up a .750 winning percentage. And yet their reward might be a 3 game series facing Gray-Bauer-Castillo and a 5 game series against the Padres just to get to the NLCS. Come on now 2020.


Craig Edwards: And if they make it through that, they will be deserving champions.


James: What do you make of Triston McKenzie’s start?


Craig Edwards: He’s doing great. The FIP at 3.13 is a better indicator of what he’s done than the sub-2 ERA. It will be interesting to see if the league can do a bit more with his fastball once they’ve seen it more, but overall a very promising start.


*stros: Is Cristian Javier lucky or good?


Craig Edwards: There’s a good amount of luck there so far, but the pitcher he is now isn’t necessarily the pitcher he’ll be as he continues to pitch. Batters are currently taking a lot of his pitches in the strike zone and that might not be the case moving forward.


Jimmy: Please rank these guys for 2021: Andrew Vaughn, J Kelenic, Lux, Royce Lewis


Craig Edwards: Lux, gap, then maybe Kelenic, Vaughn, Lewis, but it is hard to know who is going to actually be up so far away from the season.


Not Jake Cronenworth: Will Ohtani turn the corner at the plate soon? First he can’t pitch, and now a sub .700 OPS, this is a downer


Craig Edwards: It’s a bummer, though I think the hitting line is mostly small sample bad luck.


Guest: What factors go into how much leeway to give young hitting prospects that struggle out of the gate? Re: willie calhoun vs buxton vs brinson vs robles, all have real differing levels of optimism going forward


Craig Edwards: Some of it is contention level. Brinson got a ton of playing time when the Marlins were bad. There’s also defense to consider when talking about Calhoun v Buxton and Robles. The latter two could still provide good value as players even if the bat wasn’t there, but Calhoun can’t do that, so he gets less leeway.


Snit: What will it take for me to stop running Ender out there?


Craig Edwards: A healthy team, for one. He didn’t start at all over the weekend and only got starts this week with Acuna Jr. out.


Brendan: In 2015, the Pirates had a top 5 farm system with a good potential core of young talent including Glasnow, Josh Bell, Polanco, etc. Five years later, almost none of the prospects they’ve kept have panned out and the ones they’ve traded are looking like stars. What do you think went wrong there?


Craig Edwards: I’m not sure Bell was in quite same category as the others, though Meadows and Taillon were certainly part of that etc. Injuries to pitchers and batters certainly hurts, but Polanco wasn’t that big of a prospect, he just got off to a great start. I would expect that if you looked at similar prospects at similar levels not on the Pirates, you’d probably find roughly similar production. Taillon has been considerably better than Glasgow. Polanco has done about what’s expected while Meadows had all those injuries. Even going back to Gerrit Cole, he was very good with the Pirates for a while. It’s not just about the prospects panning out or not, it’s building a full team, and the Pirates haven’t done that.


Grant: Is McKenzie’s success partially on that occurrence of rookie pitchers dominating early because there isn’t a detailed enough scouting report for hitters. Think Strasburg rookie year. Not saying he isn’t good, but underlying data depicts success but not why.


Craig Edwards: McKenzie is a pretty rare case given he didn’t pitch at all last season, and then there was just the alternate site to play at. We don’t always notice all of the adjustments pitchers and batters are making against each other, but once hitters do adjust to someone they haven’t seen before, the pitcher often adjusts back to keep up their previous level of success.


bomber bats: so the yanks don’t look too good right now……….


Craig Edwards: It’s really difficult to put a season like this in perspective. If this were a regular July and the Yankees had won 57% of their games but had some injuries and a small losing streak, would we even hear much about it. They’ve won four of their last 6 before losing seven in a row before winning six in a row. The Yankees are just a wild ride this year.


Franimal: I’m the mvp this year and it’s not even close.


Craig Edwards: Sorry. You have to play better defense with a 156 wRC+ in a shortened season. Even among bat-only players, Nelson Cruz, Luke Voit, and Jose Abreu are having better seasons.…


Chamaco: With some of the Marlins prospects acquired via trade making their debuts (Sixto, Harrison, Chisholm), how does their recent fire sale look now?


Craig Edwards: It’s still crazy to think they could have Stanton, Yelich, Ozuna, and Realmuto all on the same team the past three seasons. Overall, it still doesn’t look good because of the amount of talent they gave up. Stanton they obviously took a hit on the return with his no-trade, but you would think you might have 16 prospects that turn into 5-8 regulars, and that still isn’t close to happening yet.


Guest: Who is Brad Miller and why is he so enfuego?


Craig Edwards: I don’t know for sure. Maybe he’s lulling teams into a false sense of security by only swinging at 50% of pitches in the strike zone and then he just occasionally smacks one deep.


Bullpen or Stable?: Have we seen Adames turn the corner into one of the best shortstops in MLB?


Craig Edwards: Probably not. He’s got a .458 BABIP and the statcast numbers say he’s a lot closer to an average hitter. That’s good, but it is more Paul DeJong good than Bogaerts, Story, Semien, Lindor.


DJ: Are there other Jake Cronenworth’s in the prospect universe that we don’t know about yet? If so, how do we find them?


Craig Edwards: Yes, there are. It’s one of the reasons Carson Cistulli now works for a team. Finding diamonds in the rough is great for organizations and they make for compelling baseball stories as fans as well. As far as finding them, it is a mix of finding stats that might lead to future success if other talents are unlocked and determining how likely a player is to unlock them.


Marko from Tropoja: On a scale from Hampton/Price (1) to Kershaw (extension)/Scherzer (10), how do you see the Cole and Strasburg deals working out?


Craig Edwards: I think that’s not a good characterization of the Price deal given he had one very good season, one decent season, two decent half seasons and played an important role on a World Series winning team, but I think Strasburg is probably 3-4 while Cole is more like 6-7.


Armadillofury: Does pitcher WAR include their hitting and fielding?


Craig Edwards: It does not, however, you can click on the batting link for any pitcher and find it out. For example:


Craig Edwards: We also have a combined leaderboard that does account for pitcher batting, though it isn’t super-useful this season.


Craig Edwards: it does allow you to pick a runs-based version of WAR or a 50/50 blend of FIP and runs-based for pitchers if you want.


V2micca: More proof of the Myth of protection. Marcel Ozuna is Currently the hottest clean up hitter that Freddie Freeman has ever had batting behind him. Freeman is currently setting a career high walk rate.


Craig Edwards: Yes, “protection” only works in the sense that after a walk, which is a hitter skill as well as for pitchers, runs get scored because the protector hitter is also good.


clh2011: Kirilloff, Kelenic, Vaughn, Rutchman & J. Rodriguez – odds on each being on major league rosters in April 2021 ?


Craig Edwards: I think it is probably pretty low for all of those guys if you are talking about opening day. By the end of the month, I think Rutschman, Vaughn would be most likely, with Kelenic and Kiriloff further down with Rodriguez further than that.


Guest: Was there some preseason memo to all the booths to not talk about the astros cheating and how their current hitting slump might be legit


Craig Edwards: I think most of the players are still hitting pretty well, with the exception of Altuve. Not having Alvarez hurts as well. They are basically hitting at 2018 levels, just not at 2017 or 2019 levels.


Scotty: how are you feeling about Kwang Hyun Kim 김광현? Legit or just lucky?


Craig Edwards: The 0.83 ERA is partially luck. He’s going to have to strike out more batters to keep pitching at a decent level because the homer rate, strand rate, and BABIP aren’t going to stay like this.


Gunther Centralperk: Do you buy into Kershaw’s velocity resurgence? If so, do you think he can win a CYA again?


Craig Edwards: It’s definitely real, though it is still a couple ticks down from his prime. I wouldn’t bet on him winning another Cy Young, but he has had trouble staying healthy and the increased velocity is a good sign that he’s healthier than he’s been in a while.


AstrosTrashCans: Hi Craig, wondering what your thoughts are on two Red Sox developments: How legit is Verdugo, do you think the Red Sox made out well in the trade? He’s been having an All-Star caliber season so far, leading the team in WAR and several offensive categories. Additionally, there’s been chatter in Boston media (which is notoriously reactive and short-sighted) that Marcell Ozuna’s performance at Fenway this past series highlights that he’s a good player for Boston (based on some brief glances at his spray chart, that seems to be true). Should the Sox target him this offseason knowing that they will likely need to plug some holes in the outfield?


Craig Edwards: I think the Red Sox did well in terms of value in the trade getting Downs and Verdugo and having the Dodgers take on half of Price’s contract. I question why they would ever need to get that kind of value from one of the best player’s in baseball given their financial situation. Ozuna would be a solid target for a lot of teams. I liked him as a bounceback guy heading into last offseason so I’m not totally surprised at how he’s hitting. It might take him a really long time to learn to play left in Boston, though.


Craig Edwards: That’s all I’ve got time for today. Thanks for all the questions.

Craig Edwards can be found on twitter @craigjedwards.

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Leaving this here because I have nowhere else to leave it… for this unique season, does FIP consider league-average BABIP or division-average BABIP? Are there variances in BABIP between divisions within a league? There are a handful of pitchers with FIP’s that are not only high but higher than I would expect in watching guys pitch (Cristian Javier is a good example; I get that the HR rate would elevate FIP above ERA but am surprised by a 5+ FIP) and am trying to think through the BABIP component of the formula here in 2020.


FIP doesn’t consider BABIP at all.


Yeah blergh on my part. FIP not SIERA. Egg on face.