Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 2/8/17 by Dave Cameron February 8, 2017 12:00 Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday, everyone. 12:01 Dave Cameron: Spring Training sort of starts next week, so I guess this is the last official chat of the off-season. 12:01 Monsignor Martinez: Hello Dave. Is there a way we can look at past Fans projections? I want to do a post-analysis. 12:02 Dave Cameron: I don’t believe we have those archived anywhere. They are probably in the database though, so if you use the contact form to send in your request, David Appelman might be able to provide them. 12:02 Erik: Your article on new ideas yesterday had a bit of an “end of history” feel to it. Don’t we always feel, in the moment, like we’ve reached the end of innovation, only to realize afterwards, when we have some perspective, that things have been changing the whole time and will continue to change? Why should today be different than any other point in baseball history? 12:04 Dave Cameron: That wasn’t my intention. I definitely think there are still a lot of things to learn about the game, and it’s going to continue to evolve as the players and the skills change. But I think we’re reaching a point of diminishing returns for organizations based on how much value they get from these new ideas. I think of them kind of like scoops for reporters; the lasting impact of being first is minimal. 12:04 Dave Cameron: That isn’t to say that there isn’t any value, only that the value has been diminished, and teams looking for a sustained advantage probably can get a better ROI by focusing on implementation rather than chasing the next breakthrough. 12:05 Dave: Do the Rangers just enjoy stunting the development of their top young talent? It seems like what Mike Napoli did last year is kinda what Joey Gallo could do this year? And lets not even get into them not using Profar to either player or in a trade to improve their MLB team now. 12:06 Dave Cameron: How is Gallo’s development stunted by spending more time in the minors, given how poorly his 2016 went? If he shows real improvement, there’s plenty of room for him to play. If he doesn’t, good thing they weren’t counting on him. 12:06 Eric: What sort of line do you think Carter can put up in Yankee stadium? 12:06 Dave Cameron: Well, Yankee Stadium doesn’t help RH hitters all that much, so probably a similar one to what he’d do anywhere else. Will be interesting to see how much he plays, considering Holliday is slated for most of the DH at-bats and is also RH. 12:07 Erik: How many teams are there right now for whom you would say that the amount of lucky breaks they’d have to receive to make the postseason is just too large for you to even really consider it? I feel like the dividing line is right around the Phillies–are they on the good or bad side of that line? 12:08 Dave Cameron: Padres, Reds, White Sox, Phillies, Braves… I’d probably throw the Twins in there if they played in a better division. I think the Brewers are probably the line; there is enough young talent there to squint and see an 85 win run if everything goes their way, but it’s super unlikely. 12:09 Tim: Are there any teams that you personally think are severely underrated by the projections and preseason consensus? Any teams overrated? 12:11 Dave Cameron: I think we’re selling the Blue Jays a little short at 83-79. I’d probably have them in the mid-80s. Like a lot of people, I don’t buy the Angels 84-78 projection. 12:11 Hannah Hochevar: Do you think there’s a correlation between being a good framer and having a good batting eye? (And does would that help explain why framing isn’t as teachable as I want it to be?) 12:11 Dave Cameron: If anything, I would bet there’s an inverse relationship. The good framers almost universally can’t hit. 12:12 baby bull : Any chance Phillies sign Wieters to backup Rupp and Joseph, also allowing Phillies to trade Rupp when Alfaro is ready ideally around trade deadline? Squinting to hard? 12:12 Dave Cameron: Wieters isn’t going to take a backup job. 12:12 Jerry DiPoto: Wouldn’t it make some sense for me to sign Pedro Alvarez if he is cheap like Cris Carter? That way I can start Dan Vogelbach at AAA and it provides more depth. If Vogey tears it up at AAA I can simply release Alvarez, or trade him for bullpen arm to a team that has an injury 12:12 Dave Cameron: Yep. 12:13 John: Most people are saying the Rangers are not going to be that good. Do they have a realistic chance of winning the division in your opinion? 12:14 Dave Cameron: Sure. The gap between teams in the AL West is small enough that everyone besides OAK probably has a 10% chance of winning the division. 12:14 Lance: How much do you trust the park adjustment used in wRC+? It makes a huge difference in player valuation, but I have less of a handle on it than other (like positional) adjustments. Is it based on yearly data or historical? For example, the Safeco Field adjustment still seems pretty large, but if feels like home runs have been way up since fence move. Thanks! 12:15 Dave Cameron: The park factors we use on the site are five year regressed numbers, so they’re necessarily going to be slower to react to single-year differences. Eventually, I think Statcast will help us build better park factors that can help us identify the fluctuations in how parks play from year to year, but right now, you’re better off with more data than less. 12:15 Hannah Hochevar: Why doesn’t a team with a weak farm system and $ give Blanton the $ on a 1-year deal, then flip him at the deadline for a prospect? Seems like he’ll be a commodity at that point, even if it’s not a stud coming back. 12:16 Dave Cameron: Wouldn’t be that surprised if this is what happens. Maybe Philly still has some money laying around? 12:16 Mike Rizzo : I’ve apparently been asleep since the winter meetings because I’ve missed out on closers, set up men, bench help, etc. So what do the Nationals do now? How do I fill these holes? And am I an idiot for not going “all in” while I have Harper, Murphy, and Rendon, plus Mad Max still in his prime? 12:16 Dave Cameron: Your username should actually be “Ted Lerner” 12:17 Erik: Speaking of “new ideas”, it would seem like one of the next problems to be solved would be which pitches actually carry the highest injury risk. I’ve seen just about every single pitch (except maybe changeups?) listed as high risk. Don’t we have so much data out there that this could be solved by now? Do you think a team has already solved it? 12:18 Dave Cameron: I think player health is absolutely one of the areas where a team could get a big boost in the short-term before everyone copies them. I don’t know how much health is going to come down to pitch selection, though. I would guess that we’ll eventually figure out that it’s more about genetics than anything else. 12:20 Pete Wheeler: What is the biggest way the Fangraphs projections can improve in the future? 12:22 Dave Cameron: I think there’s some weakness in the way we convert each team’s individual events into team runs scored/allowed totals, especially for teams with exceptionally good or bad baserunners or high/low contact rates. These aren’t going to be massive adjustments, but there is evidence that a team can steal an extra few wins out of runner advancement. 12:22 Rickey O’Sunnyvale: If you had the choice, Springer or Pederson going forward? 12:22 Dave Cameron: Springer 12:22 Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Where do the Rays go for a RH bat now? Claiming Park seems to make more and more sense given their emphasis on assets in the present and future. 12:23 Dave Cameron: Agreed, but I don’t think he should get to TB on waivers. OAK and CHW should both claim. 12:23 Phil: When do you expect the ZiPS projections to be incorporated into the Depth Charts projections? 12:23 Dave Cameron: It’s usually around the end of February. 12:24 Ryan: How do you see the Indians saves breakdown between Allen and Miller? 60/40 Allen? 12:24 Dave Cameron: 80/20 Allen. More value in having Miller available early. 12:25 Snowflake: Let’s say a player could play about an average CF or be an elite defensive 1B. How good would this player have to be at 1B for you to play him there? Thinking about Cody Bellinger, but Wil Myers and Ian Desmond seem to be other recent examples of something like this. 12:25 Dave Cameron: The guy would have to legitimately be a +15 1B or something, and even then, it would depend on how many other good OFs you had. 12:26 Not Leaving Las Vegas: Conforto In Vegas or trade Bruce for a bag of balls. 12:26 Dave Cameron: If they could have traded Bruce, they would have. 12:26 Dave Cameron: But this is the kind of thing that will fix itself. Either Bruce is bad and gets benched, or he’s good and then it’s not a huge problem. 12:27 The Toe: How insane is Ravech’s idea of a 7 inning game? Borderline commitable right? 12:28 Dave Cameron: I don’t think the concept is insane, but if you don’t like pitching changes, you’d hate 7 inning baseball. At that point, there would be no point in continuing the starting pitching tradition, and everyone would just go all bullpen, all the time. 12:28 The Hamburglar: Do you think the Dodgers are better set up for a sustained dynasty than the Cubs? 12:30 Dave Cameron: It’s close. I’d take the Cubs because their best players are mostly young position players and Kershaw has an opt-out. 12:30 Mariner Moose: Have we seen the end of Dae-Ho Lee in the MLB? 12:31 Dave Cameron: Yeah, probably. 12:31 The Toe: I’m confused about Gleybar Torres. He was a consensus 40ish type prospect in 2015. He has a pretty average regular season, got traded to the Yankees towards the end, struggled, then had a hot AFL. Now he’s a consensus top 3 prospect. I don’t get it. Can you help me understand? 12:32 Dave Cameron: A 19 year old SS who runs a 120 wRC+ in high-A had an “average” season? 12:32 Dave Cameron: I think there’s a decent argument that he’s being a little overhyped, but that’s true of every NY prospect. He’s good. 12:33 Joe Pennacchio: Not a question, I’d just want it to be known before things get too out of hand, that some of us Cubs fans understand why the Dodgers are projected to be just as good or better than the Cubs. We’re not all irrational fanatics. 12:33 Dave Cameron: The Cubs are really good. The Dodgers are really good. 12:34 5 Run Homer: If you were to choose a surprise division winner, who would it be and why? 12:34 Dave Cameron: Probably someone in the ALC. Cleveland has a lot of health risks and could tank if injuries go against them, so then you have an expected also-ran winning the division just because someone has to. 12:35 Josh: Sorry I can’t see Oak getting to 85 wins at any point. Wouldn’t you put them on that list? 12:37 Dave Cameron: It’s a big if, but that rotation could be quite good if things break right. If Gray bounces back, if Manaea improves at all from what he was as a rookie, if the projections are right about Cotton, if Triggs’ breakout was real… 12:37 Dave Cameron: I don’t like the lineup or the defense, but there are definitely scenarios where the pitching carries them. 12:38 Logan: At what point would you expect Coppy to trade a sizable package of prospects for a big addition? Couldn’t they be buyers at the deadline even if they are not in the playoff picture, assuming a long term player is available. 12:39 Dave Cameron: They can try, but the reality is that it will always make more sense for a team that can use a guy in the upcoming postseason to pay more than a team looking for a long-term acquisition. To pay the deadline premium when you aren’t a contender is a waste of assets. 12:39 Earl of Baltimore: The Bend Snowmonsters are named as the 31st MLB franchise tomorrow and you are subsequently named the general manager. You have the choice of Francisco Lindor (less certainty in the elite offensive level but no doubt he sticks at SS) or Corey Seager (more certainty in the elite offensive level, 75%? chance he sticks at SS). Which player do you select? 12:39 Dave Cameron: Seager, without a lot of thought. 12:40 Kevin: Could good 1st halfs from Colon and/or J.Garcia make them valuable enough that ATL could flip them for more prospect depth? 12:40 Dave Cameron: That’s the hope. 12:40 v2micca: It seems like advances in biometrics are going to be a landmine. On one hand, teams could use it to help identify problematic mechanics and help player adjust to increase their longevity, on the other hand, players are rightfully wary of teams accumulating and using that data against them in contract negotiations. How do you see this playing out? 12:42 Dave Cameron: It’s a problem, for sure. If you’re an agent, what’s the upside to letting teams gather this kind of information on your player? If you’re healthy, you can already just use playing time/lack of DL stints to show that effectively enough. It seems that biometric data would be used much more to pay players less than pay players more. 12:42 David: Good framers can’t hit? What about Buster Posey and Yasmani Grandal? 12:43 Dave Cameron: I said almost all. Lucroy can too, but more often, the guys who excel at framing at the Molinas of the world, or Austin Hedges, or Ryan Hanigan. 12:44 Dirk Diggler: If you were to guess at the 2-3 prospects with the best chance of being superstars, who would they be? (just asking chance, I won’t hold you to this) 12:45 Dave Cameron: Going solely by likelihood of stardom, and ignoring the chances of a guy turning into just a good player, I’d probably go with Moncada and Reyes. 12:45 Dave Cameron: Kopech is in that mix too. 12:47 Sam: A shorter version; If you were Cashman, do you sign Chris Carter for 3.5 mil all things considered? 12:47 Dave Cameron: Yup. 12:47 Dave Cameron: Bird’s health is a question mark, Holliday is 37, and depth is a good thing. 12:47 john: Whose the best player in NY in five years? Syndergaard? Sanchez? Torres? Rosario? 12:47 Dave Cameron: Harper. 12:48 TP: Was the Mets’ picking up Bruce’s option a fundamental misreading of the market or just a willingness to tolerate a muddled CF/RF situation? 12:48 Dave Cameron: It was a hedge against losing Cespedes that they thought would only cost them a couple million if they had to move him. Then the market for bat-first guys crashed. 12:48 Dave Cameron: I don’t think anyone thought these types of players were going to get paid what they ended up getting, so I don’t blame the Mets for not anticipating it either. 12:49 Sean: Would you consider the Dback’s hirings of Bradenhop and Haren to fit into your post yesterday, a la communication between the field and the analytics? 12:50 Dave Cameron: Definitely. I think we’re going to see a bunch of former players move into this kind of role. Cole Figueroa probably could have kept hanging around as a utility depth guy, but he’s got more upside to the Rays in the front office. 12:51 Jay: RE: Surprise AL Central winner – Obviously injuries (maybe besides Salazar) are unpredictable but the Indians won the division without getting anything from Brantley, any catcher, long stretches of Carrasco and Salazar. Kinda hard not to think even even with some injuries they’re still that much better than the rest of the division, no? 12:54 Dave Cameron: Well, sure, they’re clearly the best team in the division. But let’s not pretend a lot of things didn’t go their way in 2016 too. Jose Ramirez just put up a +5 WAR season. Tyler Naquin ran a 135 wRC+. They got almost 300 IP from Salazar/Carrasco, so they didn’t really miss that much time last year. Dan Otero was a relief ace out of nowhere. 12:54 Dave Cameron: If you lose get something closer to 100 IP from Salazar/Carrasco, Ramirez stops playing like a superstar, Brantley doesn’t come back healthy, Naquin regresses… 12:55 Adge: Angel Pagan, 1/3, Toronto Blue Jays. Why hasn’t this happened yet? 12:56 Dave Cameron: He should get more than that. 12:56 Morbid: Tool grades from Long-in-namen going to be update on player pages? 12:56 Dave Cameron: Yep. 12:57 Curtis: Of the perennial non-contenders, which 25 man roster has the fewest holes? 12:57 Dave Cameron: The Brewers have a billion not-terrible-but-not-great players. 12:57 Dave Cameron: So they don’t really have holes. They just lack the stars necessary to make a good team. 12:58 Ted Lerner: Seriously, what do the Nats do now? 12:58 Dave Cameron: What do they actually do? Probably make a spring trade for a closer. 12:58 Dave Cameron: What should they do? Address their terrible bench. 12:59 Jon Daniels: I’ve talked about a similar implementation inefficiency as you propose. That’s why I took Bannister from the Pirates. Would superior buy-in account (to some extent) for exceeding projections/Pythagorean last couple of years? 12:59 Dave Cameron: If you have an explanation for how Jeff Bannister/buy-in wins you the most one run games in MLB history, I’d be all ears. 12:59 Papers Please: With the PECOTA projections coming out yesterday, do you feel any team was under/over valued? 1:00 Dave Cameron: Like everyone else, I’ll take the over on the Royals at 70 wins. 1:00 v2micca: What kind of shape are the Nationals in once Harper leaves for New York/LA? 1:01 Dave Cameron: Depends on how he leaves. If they actually let him just walk, then not great. But if they get to next winter and know he’s not going to stick around, trading him might give them a chance to re-stock a bit. 1:01 Curious fan : Is romo an upgrade over Blanton? 1:01 Dave Cameron: I’m not sure about upgrade, but they are probably not too different. 1:02 python-r: Better to have Eaton in CF Harper in RF or Harper in CF Eaton in RF? 1:02 Dave Cameron: Probably Eaton. 1:03 Dave Cameron: Not sure it matters a lot either way. 1:03 Matt: Seems like most folks are skeptical of the Angels projection too. Maybe an opportunity for a thoughtful piece on how the “eye test” still differs from projections? 1:03 Dave Cameron: Jeff has already done that to some degree. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-angels-path-to-contention/ 1:04 Prich: How much is Jerry Dipoto going to regret giving up anything for Gallardo (let alone an asset of some value in Smith) when he could have signed Hammel for almost the same amount but spread over two years? 1:04 Dave Cameron: Rumor is Hammel turned down 1/$10M from SEA. 1:04 Dave Cameron: If a player doesn’t want your money, not sure how long you wait and hope he doesn’t have a choice. 1:05 Dave Cameron: Okay, off to do some writing. Szym will be here in an hour. Thanks for hanging out, everyone.