Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 1/7/2021 by Dan Szymborski January 7, 2021 12:02 Dan Szymborski: And welcome to 2021! 12:02 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 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 Dan Szymborski: Injuries, though that’s harder to actually *work* with 12:03 Dan Szymborski: Mostly adding more percentile stuff (hitters will be upt his year) 12:03 Dan Szymborski: improving model for playing time as in projecting when a player will lose time 12:03 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 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 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 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 Dan Szymborski: Yeah, it seems they did a good job 12:06 Dan Szymborski: Was nice to see the belt itself retired 12:07 Dan Szymborski: I’m torn on storyline changes because I can see an argument both ways 12:08 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 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 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 Dan Szymborski: Less MLB experience affects the error bars not the projection itself. 12:09 Dan Szymborski: And there are some bad indicators with Hendricks as well 12:12 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 Dan Szymborski: Because of Eaton, I don’t expect a significant signing. 12:15 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 Dan Szymborski: ZiPS for one has absolutely hated White’s stats, so you wouldn’t get an objection from the computer 12:17 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 Dan Szymborski: Not sure that the gold glove creates that much pressure 12:18 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 Dan Szymborski: All time RICKEY 12:19 Dan Szymborski: Hader’s fun to watch 12:19 Dan Szymborski: It’s fun to watch Gallo try to break the air 12:19 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 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 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 Dan Szymborski: I wouldn’t be surprised to see trammell/lewis/haniger 12:21 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 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 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 Dan Szymborski: Actually doing that for hitters this year 12:22 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 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 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 Dan Szymborski: Well, teams *do* do this 12:23 Dan Szymborski: see Garrett Richards 12:23 Dan Szymborski: oh wait 12:23 Dan Szymborski: that wasn’t an option 12:23 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 Dan Szymborski: OIuch! 12:24 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 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 Dan Szymborski: I think you can do both 12:25 Dan Szymborski: The Pirates and Rangers will not need much assistance to be awful 12:25 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 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 Dan Szymborski: I like players who are “different” in some way 12:26 TLivingston: Whither Vladito? Is there a leap to come? 12:26 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 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 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 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 Dan Szymborski: Cyberpunk, but haven’t played much that’s NEW lately 12:29 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 Dan Szymborski: Trout rookie year! 12:30 Dan Szymborski: Because everything though it was off high 12:30 Dan Szymborski: and his long-term projection too high 12:30 Dan Szymborski: and Trout absolutely destroyed his projection in the OTHER direction 12:31 Dan Szymborski: https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/451099152974217216/7962828414… 12:31 Dan Szymborski: bah, that doesn’t direclty post 12:32 Dan Szymborski: 12:32 Dan Szymborski: Haha 65. He’s already at 76! 12:32 Dan Szymborski: ZiPS always saw Trout as better than harper 12:33 Dan Szymborski: 12:34 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 Dan Szymborski: They do! 12:35 Sebastian: Do you expect Drew Rasmussen to work as a starter this year? 12:35 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 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 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 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 Dan Szymborski: Everyone will be in the database in the near future! 12:38 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 Dan Szymborski: ZiPS does have injury data which it uses 12:39 Dan Szymborski: There are *no* manual changes in ZiPS projections as a matter of design philosophy. 12:39 Dan Szymborski: Even if I *knew* it would make the projections better I would not. 12:40 Dan Szymborski: The only manual part is if I tell ZiPS to change position or team or starter/reliever role. 12:40 Dan Szymborski: In that case, ZiPS is merely translating it to new context for algorithms. 12:40 Dan Szymborski: It goes back to Hendricks vs. Kim earlier. 12:40 Dan Szymborski: I personally would prefer Hendricks over Kim. 12:40 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 Dan Szymborski: For enxt week! 12:41 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 Dan Szymborski: Lewis is a tough one. I talked about it in the M’s projecitons. 12:42 Dan Szymborski: (Though I didn’t talk about the knee) 12:42 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 Dan Szymborski: Like 2019. That wasn’t a minor league line that suggests good MLB performance imminently 12:43 Dan Szymborski: Now, ZiPS projection for Lewis *did* go up quite a lot 12:45 Dan Szymborski: OK guys, have to cut this short as I have a trade to write about. 12:46 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 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.