Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 4/1/15 by Dave Cameron April 1, 2015 11:52 Dave Cameron: It’s the final Wednesday before we have actual baseball, so let’s do our last offseason chat of the year. 12:02 Dave Cameron: Alright, let’s fire this thing up. 12:02 Comment From domCarlos Martinez has a ___ % chance of becoming a very good MLB starter 12:02 Dave Cameron: 25 12:02 Comment From Pale HoseIf you are the Cubs 25th guy would you have beef with the union supporting Bryant? 12:03 Dave Cameron: I wouldn’t look at it that way. Their statement was a PR move as both sides seek to gain public ground supporting their positions in the upcoming CBA negotiations. 12:03 Dave Cameron: Had nothing to do with Bryant, really. It was posturing. 12:03 Comment From ConorWhen do teams typically put their injured players on the DL officially? (ex. Marcus Stroman still not on DL) 12:04 Dave Cameron: Teams can’t place a player on the 60 day DL if they don’t have a full 40 man roster, so you don’t make that move until you’re ready to purchase the contract of the non-roster guy you’re adding to replace him. So, generally, that happens right at the end of camp, when you’re sure that non-roster guy didn’t get hurt. 12:05 Comment From Harry Porter and the VoldemaltsWhen does Rodon come up? And when should I start worshiping at his alter? 12:05 Dave Cameron: I’d guess he’ll be up in May. And I think the hype is getting a little too high at the moment, so you will likely be disappointed if you expect him to be an ace right away. 12:05 Comment From Bojack HorsemanBoth Zips and Steamer seem to think that Pablo Sandoval’s ISO will go up to heights we haven’t seen from him since 2011. Do you buy it? What is making them so bullish on him? 12:05 Dave Cameron: San Francisco suppresses power, Boston doesn’t. 12:06 Comment From mtswIf an organization based its pitching philosophy on pitching to contact and great fielding, would we have to assume fWAR would systematically underrate/underestimate its pitching performance? 12:06 Dave Cameron: Nope, because if the value is coming from great fielding, then you don’t want to give the credit to the pitcher; you want to give it to the fielder, which the system is designed to do. 12:07 Comment From GKWhat do you make of Mike Zunino’s spring? Product of his new “changed approach” or “it’s just spring.” 12:07 Dave Cameron: Guys who feast on fastballs often have huge springs because no one is throwing high-quality breaking balls in Arizona or Florida. 12:08 Comment From 20longyearsLoved your Betts/Cutch article, mostly because I’m from Pitt and love watching Cutch. If we assume that his career is not shortened by injury, how many more years of his current performance level would make him a near-lock for the HoF? He’s already got an MVP and the narrative of leading the Pirates back to relevance. 12:09 Dave Cameron: He’s at +34 WAR at the moment, but voters probably give him more credit than that because the view of his defense is better than the metrics suggest. So let’s say he’s seen as roughly +40 WAR at the moment. +60 to +70 is the gray area, so he needs another four or five peak years, or a couple of peak years and a very nice slow decline, before we can say with some confidence that he’s in. 12:09 Dave Cameron: But he’s 28, so, that’s not asking too much. He’s probably north of 50% HOF odds at this point. 12:10 Comment From TraneIs the defense stopping the Tribe from winning the Central? 12:11 Dave Cameron: The Tigers defense has been atrocious for years and they keep winning the Central. It’s about overall production, not just avoiding weak links. 12:11 Comment From ZachWhen and where are you likely to attend your first MLB game of 2015? 12:11 Dave Cameron: DC. Going to the Nationals-Phillies series in mid-April. 12:12 Comment From mtswPersonal Finance Question: I order a lot of stuff from Amazon Prime. Amazon now offers a credit card with 5% back for Amazon Prime purchases (no annual fee but with a sky-high APR). I plan on paying the full balance every month. Is this a good deal or am I a sucker somehow without realizing it? 12:13 Dave Cameron: If you are sure you’ll pay off the balance every month, go for it. Credit card APRs are irrelevant if you never carry a balance, so a no-fee/5% rebate is a pretty nice discount. 12:14 Comment From Bret6 rookies breaking camp with the Jays, including two 20-year olds in the bullpen who have never pitched above A-ball. Nuts? 12:15 Dave Cameron: Not really. It’s an upside play, betting on stuff translating well to the bullpen, which it often does. If either Castro or Osuna look overwhelmed, easy enough to send them back to the minors with little harm done. 12:15 Dave Cameron: I don’t like Pompey as much as many others do, though, and think they should probably be looking for a CF upgrade. 12:15 Comment From JohnThoughts on the Mets’ reported deal with Juan Lagares? 4 years, $23 million with a $9.5 million option for 2020. 12:16 Dave Cameron: Nice little deal for NYM, mostly because they got the option on the FA year. He wasn’t going to get paid a ton in arb because defense doesn’t get rewarded like offense does, so he didn’t have a lot of leverage. 12:16 Comment From FredBirdDoes Erasmo Ramirez become a usable starter in Tampa? 12:16 Dave Cameron: Seems like the kind of guy they specialize in fixing. 12:16 Comment From adamwhen is the earliest we will see seager stick to the bigs? 12:17 Dave Cameron: Next May. 12:17 Comment From mtswConventional wisdom is that the Orioles would be crazy to send Kevin Gausman to AAA or the bullpen to start the year. But if Gausman still doesn’t have a good third pitch (he doesn’t from what I’ve seen), isn’t he sort of unsuited to start until he develops one? 12:17 Dave Cameron: Yep. I’d have no problem using him as a multi-inning reliever. 12:18 Comment From Sir NerdlingtonIf the MLBPA fought for higher minimum salaries it seems like the risk curve would bend enough to make those early team-friendly extensions/deals far less team-friendly. The MLBPA has rarely shown a desire to fight for the 20th – 25th spot on the roster, but seems like a good way to achieve their goals while allowing owners to also take a populist ‘helping the little guy’ PR move. Thoughts? 12:18 Dave Cameron: The problem with inflating salaries by pushing up the minimum is that you punish the small market teams far more than the big market teams, and threaten the parity the game has been working for so long to achieve. Would have to tie it with even more revenue sharing or something. 12:20 Comment From HarryWhat is the plan for Rusney Castillo, and what do you project him as? 12:20 Dave Cameron: My guess is he gets a month or so in AAA while they figure out what Victorino has left in the tank. If he hits well down there, he’ll come up by May 1st and either share RF or take it over completely. 12:20 Dave Cameron: Or an injury will solve all this for them. 12:21 Comment From TJMost likely scenario with Alex Guerrero? 12:21 Dave Cameron: Gets 300 mediocre PAs as a utility infielder and pinch hitter. 12:21 Comment From 80 speed gradeIs Brett Gardner a reasonable comp for Oakland outfielder Billy Burns given their similar minor league slash lines, MLB debut ages, prospect grades, sizes and college baseball backgrounds? 12:22 Dave Cameron: Burns isn’t going to hit for as much power as Gardner has. He’s more in the Billy Hamilton mold. 12:22 Comment From SeanOver/under on WAR produced by left side of A’s infield? 12:22 Dave Cameron: Starters and reserves included? 7. 12:22 Dave Cameron: Starters only? 5.5 12:23 Comment From SamFor my Economics of Sports class I have a final project where I must empirically investigate a question a sports related question. Any specific topics you believe I should look into? 12:23 Dave Cameron: An easy one would be something like public financing for sports stadiums. Lots of literature and data out there on that. 12:23 Comment From GuestAre there any players that have had a fantastic spring that actually means something? Like almost always spring stats don’t mean anything, but is that not the case for anyone specific in your opinion? 12:23 Dave Cameron: When a pitcher’s stuff changes dramatically, I’d say that matters. Zach McAllister is example #1. 12:24 Comment From Zonk2 years ago, from a fan’s perspective pitch framing was barely on the radar. Now, like BABIP and WAR and other tools, it seems vital for evaluating performance. What is the NEXT statistical trend we have barely heard of that will change player evaluation? 12:25 Dave Cameron: Something to do with health. We’re basically at zero knowledge when it comes to predicting injuries. When someone figures out how to move the needle even a little bit, that will be huge. 12:25 Comment From gregAny fun Opening Day plans, or just working? 12:25 Dave Cameron: Opening Day Chat Extravaganza! 12:25 Dave Cameron: We’ll have our crew rotating through an all day marathon chat session. 12:25 Comment From BMarkhamHow often will a team that averages 5 runs scored and 3 runs allowed beat a team that averages 4 runs scored and 5 runs against? And how do you calculate this? Basically, how do you translate BaseRuns for each team to come up with each team’s winning percentage in a single game hypothetical? 12:26 Dave Cameron: Pythagenpat 12:26 Dave Cameron: It’s a pretty simple equation. 12:26 Comment From David BowieWhat do you think of the White Sox as an org? Rick Hahn had added a lot of talent top the organization ever since he became GM and he had the Sox pointed in a more forward thinking direction than under Kenny Williams (Everyone should look up Nick Capra). What do think of Hahn and the team And its organizational talent base? 12:26 Dave Cameron: Big Rick Hahn fan, like what they’re doing, not sure they’re ready to win yet. 12:26 Comment From SeanDo you think it’s a good idea for the Dbacks to bring Bradley out of the ‘pen in multiple-inning stints in the MLB? Or would you rather him keep starting in AA/AAA? 12:27 Dave Cameron: I think from a development standpoint, it’s difficult to move a young kid who turns into a very good RP back into the rotation. So if you’re going to stick them down there, you should have little confidence that they’re ever going to be an SP to begin with. 12:28 Dave Cameron: It’s different if you go the Johan Santana path and keep them stretched out as a long reliever, but if you turn Bradley into a one inning guy, he probably stays that for the rest of his career. 12:28 Comment From Mike, of Mike and the Mechanics FameAre defensive stats like UZR tied to games played? (Or to something else, like innings played or opportunities?) 12:28 Dave Cameron: Opportunities. 12:29 Comment From JoelDave, a few months back you told someone to go to Vanguard and put a grand down in one of those targeted retirement funds. I figure that dude wouldn’t listen to you, but I did — and now I’m over $17 richer!!!! But seriously, thanks this was a good idea and I just needed a little push to get started doing some investing besides my 401K… 12:30 Dave Cameron: The thing I’ve found is that if you consistently just throw little bits of money at your retirement accounts, you’ll adjust your budget accordingly and figure out how to make your life work without that money. If you just leave it in a checking/savings account, though, odds go way up that you’ll “need” something expensive and just inflate your lifestyle instead. 12:30 Dave Cameron: So even if the account doesn’t provide huge returns, at least you didn’t spend it. 12:30 Comment From JBDCan you please explain briefly how reliever WAR is influenced by leverage? 12:31 Dave Cameron: Relievers get half credit for the leverage of situations they are brought into when translating runs into wins. So, if a pitcher was brought into games that had an average leverage index of 2.0, his runs saved would be translated to wins at a 1.5x multiple. 12:33 Dave Cameron: This is based on the chaining philosophy of reliever value. Unlike at other positions, if the closer gets hurt, the replacement level arm who comes up from the minors doesn’t go into his leveraged role; he takes the bottom rung on the ladder and everyone moves up a spot. So relievers don’t “own” their full leverage, but they clearly can move themselves up the ladder through strong performances. 12:33 Dave Cameron: So they get partial credit for their leverage. 12:33 Comment From GuestWouldn’t paying minor leaguers a living wage prevent these issues? Not in Bryant’s case, but making $500k is a lot better than getting $15 to eat on minor league road trips. 12:33 Dave Cameron: Veterans aren’t going to want to take their money and give it to minor leaguers. 12:34 Dave Cameron: And teams aren’t going to just raise their own costs. 12:34 Comment From STiVoWhich opening night starter do you think will have the better year (Lester or Wainwright)? 12:34 Dave Cameron: Lester. Wainwright scares the crap out of me. 12:34 Comment From Natitude AdjusterAs a Nats fan, how nervous should I be about this Rendon knee injury? 12:34 Dave Cameron: I’d say pretty nervous. Long history of leg problems. 12:34 Comment From GuestIs there any way Casey McGehee is worth as many wins as Pablo Sandoval this season? 12:34 Dave Cameron: Yes. Pablo could get hurt on Opening Day. 12:35 Comment From Hop HeadWhat are the Astros plans with their 1B/DH mess? Does Singleton make the squad or get shipped out? 12:35 Dave Cameron: He got optioned out this morning. Carter to 1B, Gattis to DH. 12:35 Comment From ConorDo you prefer a consumption or income tax? 12:36 Dave Cameron: Way too broad of a question to give a short answer. Consumption taxes are generally too regressive, so trying to replace income tax with something like a much higher sales tax would crush lower income people. 12:37 Comment From mtswDo you regret the mid-century shift from neighborhood ballparks to parks surrounded by massive parking lots or are we just nostalgic for a model that doesn’t make any sense for an era where (almost) everyone is going to be travelling to the game in a car? 12:38 Dave Cameron: Even if you had neighborhood ballparks now, the demand for parking would be so high that those neighbors would just turn into de facto parking lot attendants. 12:39 Dave Cameron: Until incredibly cheap self-driving cars become ubiquitous and we can all get our cars to give us rides places and pick us up at specified times without needing to be parked near the place we’re staying, it’s just part of life. 12:39 Comment From Eric WeinsteinWhy can’t you convert one inning relievers into starters with an off-season/spring of building up stamina? Rangers did that pretty well with CJ Wilson and Alexei Ogando 12:39 Dave Cameron: You think Ogando’s career has worked out? 12:40 Dave Cameron: It can happen. Adam Wainwright did it. Smoltz moved back after a while. It’s just hard. 12:40 Comment From GKHopefully Joel put his $$ in a Roth or that $17 will be taxed! 🙁 12:40 Dave Cameron: If he didn’t put it in a Roth, he gets the tax benefit now. Your money will always be taxed; question is only now or later. 12:41 Comment From Alt OltI do not get the Kris Bryant hype. He profiles more toward Mike Olt or Pedro Alvarez to me. Last time I checked, those guys aren’t exactly superstars. 12:41 Dave Cameron: Would you like to put some money on that? 12:41 Comment From STiVoIn your Mookie/Cutch article, did you contemplate mentioning their size disparity, in that it may be one more reason Betts doesn’t profile to be able to have as much power upside as Cutch? 12:41 Dave Cameron: McCutchen’s only an inch taller. 12:41 Comment From Big Fly PeteChances Joey Gallo sees the bigs this year? What is most likely to expedite his schedule: injuries, Rangers out of contention early, keeps mashing in the minors? 12:42 Dave Cameron: I think he’ll be their left fielder by mid-summer. 12:42 Dave Cameron: Which is why they didn’t bother to roster a big league left fielder. 12:42 Comment From BMarkhamI was more referring to applying it to single games where you know the other team’s runs scored and runs against as well. For instance if Team A averages 5 runs scored a game, and Team B averages 5 runs against a game, wouldn’t Team A average much more than 5 runs a game when playing Team B? How do you calculate that? Alternatively, how would you take the Pythag record of each to calculate head to head odds, like how often a .550 team will beat a .450 team? 12:42 Dave Cameron: Google “odds ratio” 12:42 Comment From Natitude AdjusterOverall, was the Scherzer deal a smart move for Washington? 12:42 Dave Cameron: I’ll say no. 12:43 Comment From Guestre minor league salaries, it seems to me that teams will eventually realize that making life slightly more comfortable for their minor leaguers will ultimately more than pay off in enhanced development down the road. It’s crazy that professional athletes are expected to hone their skills while eating stale hot dogs and potato chips. The Dodgers’ recent move in this regard seems like the start of a new trend. 12:43 Dave Cameron: You can improve their nutrition and conditioning without paying them more. 12:44 Comment From randplatyWould you ever let scouting observations inform your opinion on a team/players over projections? Lets say a lot of scouts are saying team A will beat their fangraphs projection. Would you take that into account in your articles? Or is it analytics only? 12:45 Dave Cameron: Depends on what “a lot of scouts” means, what kind of scouts they are, and what their arguments are. Absolutely, scouting matters, but if it’s a bunch of former-GMs hanging around on payrolls because they’re in the good old boys club telling me that I’m undervaluing the RBI guy in the cleanup spot, it’s worthless. 12:45 Comment From Kamikaze Baseball ManWhat’s the point of 401K’s and retirements? Rather spend my money now and live life than have pensions cashing in when I’m too old to do much anyway. 12:45 Dave Cameron: Do you want to work until you’re 80? Because that’s how you work until you’re 80. 12:46 Comment From Robot InvestingDo you know much about Weathfront or Betterment? Are those better options than a real live human being? 12:46 Dave Cameron: In general, I’m mostly against paying someone to manage your money for you. Vanguard has real live people you can call and talk to if you have general questions, and passive investing doens’t really require much in the way of professional maintenance. 12:47 Dave Cameron: (This advice goes away if you have a ton of money or your time is insanely valuable.) 12:47 Dave Cameron: (I’m mostly referring to middle class people who don’t have the ability to just outsource everything.) 12:48 Comment From BrianLast year I asked about pitchers not getting credit for inducing weak contact and the response was that pitchers have no control over it. With inside edge and hard hit ave being more available has that changed at all? 12:48 Dave Cameron: No one says that pitchers don’t have any control over it. 12:48 Comment From domas defensive metrics gain popularity, do you see the potential for outfielders to have incentive to “steal” their teamates flyball chances by calling them off etc? Like in basketball when a big man goes out of his way to grab a rebound from a teammate? 12:49 Dave Cameron: Whenever there are two outfielders available to catch a fly ball, there’s basically no credit given in defensive metrics for making the play; that’s a play that’s expected to be made 99.9% of the time anyway. 12:49 Comment From GabirleFrom all Opening Day starters (at least known until now), which one will have the worst year? 12:49 Dave Cameron: Kyle Kendrick. 12:50 Comment From mtswWhich player is most likely to be traded at the trade deadline this year? 12:50 Dave Cameron: Jonathan Papelbon. 12:50 Dave Cameron: If he lasts that long. 12:50 Comment From ffsRegarding some of the non-baseball stuff in this thread: I, for one, would read the shit out of a Dave Cameron personal finance blog. 12:51 Dave Cameron: The trick is that it would quickly become repetitive. “Hey, what should I do with this money?” “Max your 401k, just like the last guy.” 12:51 Comment From JLewIf the Cubbies fall out of contention this year, do you think they’ll move Castro? 12:51 Dave Cameron: I doubt it. He seems like a winter trade guy, not a summer trade guy. 12:52 Comment From JoeIs it a good strategy to always take until you get a strike as a hitter? 12:52 Dave Cameron: No. A good strategy is to swing at any middle-middle meatball in the middle of the plate, no matter the count. 12:52 Comment From Jack Glasscocks CupIf McAllister and Carrasco and Kluber keep up their transformations through this year, is Mickey Calloway walk-on-water great or just saintly? 12:52 Dave Cameron: He’ll certainly boost his stock if he can keep turning these guys into aces. 12:53 Comment From ConorIt seems odd that there is a maximum contribution limit to IRAs. Can’t you just open as many IRA’s as you want? (Assuming you don’t make enough income to be disqualified from IRAs) 12:53 Dave Cameron: The maximum limit is per person, not per account. So you can have five IRAs if you want, but you still only get $5,500 (or $6,500 if you’re older) to spread between them. 12:54 Comment From MattAre the Diamondbacks more dysfunctional than the Phillies now? 12:54 Dave Cameron: It’s close. Maybe. 12:55 Comment From ljcAssuming the service time issue is truly the only thing keeping Bryant down, does Theo not come out and admit this merely because it’s bad form, or would there be other consequences to his doing so that would flow from certain provisions of the CBA (even though Bryant’s not a union member)? Or is he avoiding that just because it’s bad form to admit it? 12:55 Dave Cameron: He can’t admit it or he’d give the union actual grounds for their appeal. 12:55 Comment From MattI’m a 24 year old, single, working full time. my employer does not match on a 401K. What should I invest in? I just opened a rothIRA and am not sure if this is the best way to go. 12:56 Dave Cameron: If you just want the easiest road possible, get a Target Retirement Fund from somewhere like Vanguard (they’re the cheapest) and pick the most aggressive one you can find; you should be something like 90/10 stocks/bonds at this point in your life. 12:56 Dave Cameron: If you ever want to get more involved, you can do a simple three fund portfolio or something, but a Target Retirement Fund gets you 98% of the way there with no work. 12:57 Comment From THE Average Sports FanIf you took the Diamondbacks, Phillies, and Rockies, and combined them. Would you have a playoff team? 12:57 Dave Cameron: I don’t think so. 12:57 Comment From SeanI know the government keeps limits on IRAs/401ks to prevent stashing away money – but isn’t this counter-intuitive? Investing keeps the money in the market (stimulating the economy),, but if you increased the limit on Roth IRAs, the government still gets tax money. Win-win? 12:58 Dave Cameron: Yeah, I’d rather see the limit on IRA contributions go up. But I’m not in charge. 12:58 Comment From canofcorn66The other day Rany J. tweeted “21 of the 25 guys on the Padres’ tentative OD roster bat/throw right-handed. This isn’t a team, it’s just a random collection of talent.” Agree or disagree? Does team handedness matter that much? 12:59 Dave Cameron: I agree to an extent. You don’t have to have balance, but the Padres are going to be very easy to match-up against late in games. Any team with a few sinker/slider righties is going to own them in the 7th-9th innings. 1:00 Comment From Mattwhy is a target retirement account better than a rothIRA 1:01 Dave Cameron: You buy a Target Retirement Fund within a Roth IRA. Roth is simply the kind of retirement account you have, while the Target Retirement Fund is the specific thing you’re buying. 1:01 Comment From TwinkyIs Danny Salazar’s issue physical or mental? Is the offseason criminal allegation affecting him more than people are admitting? Guilty or innocent, if the guy has stage fright now thinking everyone is staring at him with accusing eyes, how does he come back? 1:01 Dave Cameron: He seems to just have really crappy command. 1:02 Comment From GuestHow much should I save for a house down payment compared to spending on investing? 1:03 Dave Cameron: Depends entirely on your stage of life and personal situation. A house probably shouldn’t be seen as an investment, though. It’s an expense that may or may not appreciate while you own it. Most people don’t live in homes long enough to make significant money from them anymore, though, so generally better to treat them as an expense. 1:03 Dave Cameron: Okay, off to finish up my NL Central Preview piece. We’ll chat again on Monday, when we have actual baseball to watch.