Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 1/7/2021

12:02
Avatar Dan Szymborski: And welcome to 2021!

12:02
Avatar Dan Szymborski: IT STARTS NOW, EVERYTHING ELSE WAS 2020.2

12:02
Tony Schiavone: Welcome to one of the greatest chats in the history of our sport!

12:02
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I am in the top 100% of all chats.

12:02
See! You! Later!: What do you think is the biggest area for potential improvement to ZiPS? What are you focusing on improving with the system?

12:03
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Injuries, though that’s harder to actually *work* with

12:03
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Mostly adding more percentile stuff (hitters will be upt his year)

12:03
Avatar Dan Szymborski: improving model for playing time as in projecting when a player will lose time

12:03
Avatar Dan Szymborski: doing more Gameday mining, which has paid off well in defensive data for minor leagerus

12:03
Stevil: How many GMs tried to sneak players through waivers yesterday amid the chaos in DC?

12:04
Avatar Dan Szymborski: <checks to see if the Rockies traded Nolan Arenado for Clint Frazier>

12:04
BenZ: Do you think we get a 162-game schedule this year?

12:04
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I’m cautiously optimistic

12:04
Zach: Who’s you’re number one player that you expect will absolutely outperform their ZiPS projection

12:04
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Gotta wait for the preseason piece!

12:05
Join Dark Order: Did you see the responses to the passing of Jon Huber? I thought that AEW and even WWE (the company itself and the individual wrestlers’ personal in-ring references) did a nice job. I hope the Dark Order, for kayfabe reasons and for real life reasons, gets some time off to regroup before returning to action.

12:05
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Yeah, it seems they did a good job

12:06
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Was nice to see the belt itself retired

12:07
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I’m torn on storyline changes because I can see an argument both ways

12:08
Avatar Dan Szymborski: For example, as a counterargument though I didn’t *know* Lee, I’d imagine he wouldn’t want his death to hurt company momentum. I wouldn’t want  FanGraphs to temporarily retire in-season projections for 2021 if something happened to me!

12:08
Avatar Dan Szymborski: dunno what the right answer is

12:08
Drew: why do you keep on using my Netflix account after I asked you to stop?

12:08
Avatar Dan Szymborski: So that all your recommendations are Young Sheldon.

12:08
Scotty: ZIPs has Kyle Hendricks and Kwang Hyun Kim with same expected WAR in 2021… that just doesn’t pass the smell test for me. Kim is older, has far less MLB experience, had multiple injuries in 2020, pitched less innings in 2020, etc. yet they are projected to be worth the same? I don’t get it.

12:09
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Less MLB experience affects the error bars not the projection itself.

12:09
Avatar Dan Szymborski: And there are some bad indicators with Hendricks as well

12:12
Avatar Dan Szymborski: A *dip* in K rate as league increases for example, isn’t a great sign. And ZiPS sees upside in Kim’s K rate — his hit from KBO was a bigger drop than you’d expect

12:12
Avatar Dan Szymborski: In any case, I don’t change projections, period.

12:12
Matt: The Blake Treinen signing isn’t the biggest deal in the world, and he’s a good pitcher, but it definitely feels a little bit weird, right?  Given the RP market, Brad Hand clearing waivers, Archie Bradley’s non-tender, etc., I’m confused why the Dodgers made this move.

12:12
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Well, their competition has been more aggressive since Hand was on waivers

12:12
BirthdayBoy: Clearly MLB’s “hot” stove has been affected by climate change…

12:12
Rick: How many (and which) Rays prospects do you expect to see in the majors in 2021?

12:12
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Too early to say without knowing twhat the season looks like

12:12
Derek: Dan, can you use ZIPS to predict two-strike performance? Juan Soto’s approach with two strikes is dramatically different from his approach with zero or one strikes. I’m thinking about how to answer the question “should he use the two-strike approach in more counts, jettison it altogether, or keep doing what he’s doing?” I realize the answer is probably not to mess with what is already so good. But I think it’s an interesting question, and you can’t just look at Soto’s two-strike performance. As a starting point, I think you need to compare his actual two-strike performance with what you would expect him to do with two-strikes based on a host of inputs (ergo, ZIPS). What do you think?

12:13
Avatar Dan Szymborski: ZiPS isn’t really set up for this exactly

12:13
BirthdayBoy: Is this the year that ZiPS decides to initiate the AI takeover?

12:13
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I’m not smart enough

12:14
druidiful: Dan! just wanted to say “Hi” since I haven’t been in one of your chats in a while.

12:14
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Hi!

12:14
Big35Hurt: Will the White Sox sign a lefthanded hitter to help out in the DH mix & if so, who is your best guess?

12:14
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Because of Eaton, I don’t expect a significant signing.

12:15
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I expect it to be used to rest Jimenez/Abreu and maybe Vaughn later and th at’s hard to bring in a big bat there

12:15
Stevil: Personally, I believe that if Seattle truly believes Evan White is their future at 1B, they should start him in Tacoma this year and give him all the time he needs to fix his swing, approach, and find his confidence and promote him only when he really looks ready. But how likely is that to happen given the Gold Glove and their belief that he makes good decisions at the plate and was simply unlucky much of the time?

12:16
Avatar Dan Szymborski: ZiPS for one has absolutely hated White’s stats, so you wouldn’t get an objection from the computer

12:17
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I personally would, but I expect the Mariners to keep him in the majors unless he really can’t work out his issues

12:18
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Not sure that the gold glove creates that much pressure

12:18
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Nobody was burning to play Yolmer Sanchez in 2020

12:18
Curtis: Who are your favorite players to watch live, regardless of “stats”?  Current? All time?

12:18
Avatar Dan Szymborski: All time RICKEY

12:19
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Hader’s fun to watch

12:19
Avatar Dan Szymborski: It’s fun to watch Gallo try to break the air

12:19
Avatar Dan Szymborski: an d MOOKIE

12:20
Inaccessible Rail: If a player goes undrafted in the amateur draft, then plays and excels in an independent league, is this player essentially a free agent who can sign with any team?

12:20
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Once they’re no longer and amateur and they go undrafted, they’re free agents as far as I know

12:20
mike: kyle lewis, jarred kelenic, taylor trammell, julio rodgieuz, mitch haniger. who is the starting outfield to start 2022 for the M’s?

12:20
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I don’t imagine Kelenic *starts* 2021 on the team or Rodriguez gets more than a cup of coffee at most.

12:21
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I wouldn’t be surprised to see trammell/lewis/haniger

12:21
Avatar Dan Szymborski: though that depends on haniger’s health

12:21
Barrett: Will ZiPS include wRC+ in the pre-season projections? I’m going to keep asking this every year, sorry 🙂

12:21
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Doesn’ FG usually calculate it when it’s live? I forget right now

12:21
Curtis: How long did it take you to develop ZiPS from the first time you thought about it until it’s launch?  Which part(s) were most time consuming?

12:21
Avatar Dan Szymborski: How to start! I’t sa big undertraking

12:21
Marshall: In your projections next year, it would be awesome if you provided a distribution rather than just the mean estimate. For example, 10%, 25%, 75%, and 90% projections would be awesome so we can get a better idea of upside and downside.

12:22
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Actually doing that for hitters this year

12:22
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I still don’t have the calibration for pitchers as tight as I want

12:22
Rick: The Nationals’ farm system looks pretty empty, and their pitching core is aging. Do you think they can trade/buy their way out of this coming problem, or do you think they’re going to face a rough couple of years soon?

12:22
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I think there will be a down period

12:22
Gunther Centralperk: When will this year’s projections be available? Particularly interested in Kershaw. His 2021 outlook has gotta be better than a year ago. Thank you.

12:22
Avatar Dan Szymborski: For individual players, they’re mostly available in the team by team rundowns!

12:22
Guest: Why don’t teams trying to make upside plays (say players coming off injuries or down years) sign them to deals with a team option at the end? I come from following the NBA, so I don’t know the MLB CBA too well, but I wish the Giants would sign some of these guys to 1+1s.

12:23
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Well, teams *do* do this

12:23
Avatar Dan Szymborski: see Garrett Richards

12:23
Avatar Dan Szymborski: oh wait

12:23
Avatar Dan Szymborski: that wasn’t an option

12:23
Avatar Dan Szymborski: but it IS done

12:23
Jeff: I saw the Cubs got a positive article on MLB.com yesterday. Does this mean they have dropped enough payroll to lift the embargo finally?

12:23
Avatar Dan Szymborski: OIuch!

12:24
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Anyway, there’s nothing in the CBA that prevents these contracts

12:24
Inaccessible Rail: Did the lack of minor league play in 2020 serve to show how important the minors are or did it do the opposite, provide evidence that player development doesn’t need minors? Or was the year just too weird for any of that?

12:24
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I don’t think we can draw any conclusions because we don’t know the consequences.

12:25
Justin: The Pirates are apparently going to scout Kluber.   Would awful teams be better off just being awful to get the draft advantages, or should they try to find/spend on reclamation projects like Kluber to deal later?

12:25
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I think you can do both

12:25
Avatar Dan Szymborski: The Pirates and Rangers will not need much assistance to be awful

12:25
Avatar Dan Szymborski: under any circumstances

12:26
Jeff: After yesterday’s display of national level mental illness, do you see Americans spending all day assessing the Value of athletes as part of a huge problem? It’s all in the same bucket to me!

12:26
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I’m not sure what this question is asking

12:26
Rick: When you see a prospect who is a position player but began the minors as a pitcher (or vice versa), are you more excited about them because they’re likely pretty athletic, or less excited about them because it means they’re less specialized?

12:26
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I like players who are “different” in some way

12:26
TLivingston: Whither Vladito? Is there a leap to come?

12:26
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I think he’ll be more or less fine

12:26
SonnyCheeba: Do you know where I can find stats on how many bases runners advance on hits like singles and doubles?

12:26
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I think you have to break it down from the raw data yourself

12:26
Bob: Doesn’t a weird year like 2020 create a prediction problem for ZIPS?

12:27
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Yup

12:27
Jeff: If White busts after daring to sign a contract, how will that impact future 1B? Keep in mind they’ve already got Singleton’s too…Casas is going to be an insane bargain, isn’t he?

12:28
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I don’t think much changes. The incentive to get a player on a team-friendly deal isn’t going to change

12:28
Moose_Bolton: Have you played any new video games lately? I just beat the Demon’s Souls remake and it was very good.

12:29
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Cyberpunk, but haven’t played much that’s NEW lately

12:29
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Kinda been playing through the Trails games because Cold Steel IV will get a PC English release at some point this year and I have a Japanese copy of Hajimari no Kiseki to play through

12:29
Tacoby Bellsbury: What is your favorite single player-year projected by ZIPS, and why?

12:30
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Trout rookie year!

12:30
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Because everything though it was off high

12:30
Avatar Dan Szymborski: and his long-term projection too high

12:30
Avatar Dan Szymborski: and Trout absolutely destroyed his projection in the OTHER direction

12:31
Avatar Dan Szymborski: bah, that doesn’t direclty post

12:32
Avatar Dan Szymborski:

12:32
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Haha 65. He’s already at 76!

12:32
Avatar Dan Szymborski: ZiPS always saw Trout as better than harper

12:33
Avatar Dan Szymborski:

12:34
Avatar Dan Szymborski: These were with the model as of late 2011, not reprojected today

12:34
BirthdayBoy: I miss the days of the Yankees buying everybody… they really need more pitching

12:34
Avatar Dan Szymborski: They do!

12:35
Sebastian: Do you expect Drew Rasmussen to work as a starter this year?

12:35
Avatar Dan Szymborski: It depends on where they have him

12:35
Matt (Oceanside): Hi Dan! With the Dodgers resigning Treinen, it looks like the Dodgers are actually not opposed to exceeding the luxury tax threshold of 210 million. They obviously need a RH bat for the infield and even resigning Turner to a team friendly deal puts them over. Do you think they probably don’t care as much as some people think because of all the money coming off the books next year?

12:35
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I think the Padres being so aggressive ought to (and likely will) change the team’s risk/benefit analysis

12:36
Barrett: Following up: I don’t think FG shows wRC+ for ZiPS… only for Steamer for some reason. I’ve just been looking for a second source, but can’t find it! Thanks Dan!

12:36
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I honestly just don’t remember! lol

12:36
OddBall Herrera: Fun game to add some levity to the news cycle: mishear every reference to “Pence” as “Pants”

12:36
TLivingston: Passan just said that Lindor to the Mets is possibly in the works. NL East faves if that happens?

12:37
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Not sure about favorites, but it makes them mightly interesting

12:37
Scoops McClatchy: Robert Stephenson didn’t get a zips projection because he got traded during your list-making endeavor. Will there be an update with guys you may have missed? Also, Ryan Weathers didn’t get a projection.

12:37
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Everyone will be in the database in the near future!

12:38
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Just a heads-up, I have some emergency writing to do, so we’re only going to 12:45 today.

12:39
Barrett: Do you manually account for injuries somehow? If a player has a few really good seasons and then one bad one due to injuries, are you somehow putting less weight on that bad season than you normally would?

12:39
Avatar Dan Szymborski: ZiPS does have injury data which it uses

12:39
Avatar Dan Szymborski: There are *no* manual changes in ZiPS projections as a matter of design philosophy.

12:39
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Even if I *knew* it would make the projections better I would not.

12:40
Avatar Dan Szymborski: The only manual part is if I tell ZiPS to change position or team or starter/reliever role.

12:40
Avatar Dan Szymborski: In that case, ZiPS is merely translating it to new context for algorithms.

12:40
Avatar Dan Szymborski: It goes back to Hendricks vs. Kim earlier.

12:40
Avatar Dan Szymborski: I personally would prefer Hendricks over Kim.

12:40
Avatar Dan Szymborski: But my personal feelings have *zero* input. It’s what the model captures.

12:40
Guest: Sounds like the trade may be Lindor and Carrasco together…

12:40
Guest: the healing balm this nation needs is a soundcloud of Dan singing laverne and shirley

12:41
Avatar Dan Szymborski: For enxt week!

12:41
Avatar Dan Szymborski: But you may need to remind me as I’m stupid.

12:41
Little Jonny: Do you believe the Kyle Lewis Zips projections for 2021? I know the system doesn’t factor in something like the drawn out recovery from his gruesome injury – he just seems like the type of player that’ll improve.

12:41
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Lewis is a tough one. I talked about it in the M’s projecitons.

12:42
Avatar Dan Szymborski: (Though I didn’t talk about the knee)

12:42
Avatar Dan Szymborski: But the fact remains that the body of work prior to the majors just wasn’t there, so a projection system isn’t really going to leap on that

12:43
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Like 2019. That wasn’t a minor league line that suggests good MLB performance imminently

12:43
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Now, ZiPS projection for Lewis *did* go up quite a lot

12:45
Avatar Dan Szymborski: OK guys, have to cut this short as I have a trade to write about.

12:46
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Thanks for coming everyone!

12:46
Older than you: It would still be great to see a ZIPs time warp of either Bonds or Clemens from when they started to age normally the first time and before it appears they start to aggressively use PEDs.

12:47
Avatar Dan Szymborski: Won’t see this from me as I’ve been unable to find any evidence of unusual projection overachievements for players busted for PEDs as a group, at any point in their careers before or any underprojection afterwards. I’ve been trying to find this for a decade now.





Dan Szymborski is a senior writer for FanGraphs and the developer of the ZiPS projection system. He was a writer for ESPN.com from 2010-2018, a regular guest on a number of radio shows and podcasts, and a voting BBWAA member. He also maintains a terrible Twitter account at @DSzymborski.

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