Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 4/20/16 by Dave Cameron April 20, 2016 12:01 Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday. Let’s go ahead and talk some baseball. 12:04 mike: who is a guy you are higher on that your colleagues are lower on? and vice versa? 12:05 Dave Cameron: Well I haven’t polled all my colleagues, so I’m not sure I have a great baseline to compare against. But I get the general feeling that I’m higher than most people on Kyle Hendricks. 12:05 matt: Giolito an ace someday? how soon? 12:06 Dave Cameron: I’d say it’s not a great idea to project any pitching prospect as an ace. There’s just so much that can go wrong between dominating the minors and reaching that level in the big leagues. 12:06 max: do you see joey gallo fitting into the Rangers plans? if so, how? 12:06 Dave Cameron: With Beltre officially re-signed, he should stop playing third base immediately. With Mazara looking like a corner OF option and Choo’s contract immovable, 1B seems like the best option. 12:06 Burts_beads: I can’t get anybody to answer this question. Why is Jorge Posada usually the top searched for player on Fangraphs. Does somebody have a bot that’s skewing the results? 12:07 Dave Cameron: We don’t know. That’s our theory. 12:07 tim: i know it’s april but for fun, name 3 players you would begin to worry about? 12:08 Dave Cameron: Francisco Liriano, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gomez 12:08 Mo: Dave, had an argument with a friend the other day about Stroman. He said that his 5.1 K/9 is concerning. I said its April and that he’s not that type of pitcher. What says you? 12:08 Dave Cameron: Well the data suggests that he is a very low K pitcher, so your friend. 12:09 cory: which player has the best chance at not regressing, Segura, Maeda, or Fowler? 12:09 Dave Cameron: Maeda 12:09 JV: Do you see Michael Saunders sticking in the leadoff spot for Toronto? 12:09 Dave Cameron: Would bet Travis takes over the job once he gets back. 12:10 Nate: I see a lot of folks suggesting baseball do something to increase offense in the game. Is there something realistic baseball could do, or should we just expect that it’ll correct itself over time? 12:10 Dave Cameron: This rising velocity trend isn’t going away. At some point, baseball is going to have to figure out how to help the hitters out. 12:11 Zorak: The Twins absolutely need to find some way to get Sano out of the outfield, right? 12:11 Dave Cameron: Long term, yeah, he’s not an outfielder. But with Mauer hitting again and Park around, he has to play the field this year. 12:11 Rabbinical College Guy: Do you believe Greinke and Miller will pitch at some point like they did last year? 12:12 Dave Cameron: Greinke had the year of his life last year. He’s never doing that again. 12:13 Zorak: So we’ve seen this Story story before, right? He looks exactly like Joc Pederson 2.0 to me, just at SS and not CF. He might hit 30 homers this year, but I have to think that K rate and OBP are gonna catch up to him. 12:13 Dave Cameron: Sure, there are plenty of parallels there. But Joc Pederson playing SS is super valuable. 12:14 gary meadows: Who is the greatest defensive player you’ve ever seen? (Didn’t have to watch regularly, just in your lifetime) 12:14 Dave Cameron: Ozzie Smith. 12:15 Adam: Any explanation for the Blue Jays crazy K-rate so far this season? And should we be starting to worry a little bit about Tulo at this point? He hasn’t hit at all since coming to Toronto and some of his at bats this season have looked really bad. 12:15 Dave Cameron: Don’t think the strikeouts are a big deal, but yes, Tulo looks like a guy whose body is breaking down. 12:16 Guy: In your opinion, what is the best way to predict if someone is going to do well on a given day? 12:16 Dave Cameron: Their overall talent level. 12:17 Jacoby: What percent chance would you give Thor of winning a Cy in the next three years? 12:17 Dave Cameron: Better if he gets traded out of Kershaw’s league, but I’d say 20% even if he stays in the NL. 12:18 Al: What is your take on this Noah Syndergaard phenom? Are we watching a future multiple cy young winner? 12:18 Dave Cameron: The stuff is amazing. It’s also worth remembering that we’ve never really seen a guy throw this kind of stuff over a long period of time, so we don’t know how long it will last. 12:19 Jim: Any idea on the insurance ramifications of Panda being on the DL? How much money could insurance possibly save the Red Sox this year if Panda misses rest of year? Could it allow them to have more money to play with in trades? 12:20 Dave Cameron: I wouldn’t assume that they have insurance on him. It’s not that common for teams to take out policies. 12:20 Big Joe Montferrant: What record will be broken this year? 12:21 Dave Cameron: League strikeout rate, for like the eighth year in a row. 12:21 abqdodger: Fangraphs has been buying high on a comeback by Alex Wood, but the early results look pretty rough. 12:22 Dave Cameron: Yeah, this isn’t an encouraging start. He might be pitching his way to the bullpen if he doesn’t turn things around by the time reinforcements arrive. 12:23 Chris: Hi Dave, is there any way to access old Baseruns data (2002-2014)? I’ve been trying to find this data on Fangraphs for a school project, but no luck so far. Any help would be appreciated, thank you! 12:23 Dave Cameron: Hit me up on Twitter and I’ll send it to you. 12:24 Kevin: Can Stroman be a top of the rotation guy with such a low K/9? It seems intentional – he’s getting a ton of grounders and pitching a lot of innings – so is this a smart approach by him? 12:24 Dave Cameron: If he wants to be an ace, he’ll need to miss more bats. He can be a good pitcher with this approach, but this much contact will limit his ceiling. 12:24 lloyd: bryce harper: by years end, over or under last years stats? 12:24 Dave Cameron: Over. 12:25 old tex: IS dexter fowler the reason the cubs are winning so much despite some middling lines from the stars? 12:25 Dave Cameron: The run prevention has been amazing, and the pitchers have hit well too. 12:26 mtsw: The Treasury Department just announced that Andrew Jackson is being removed from the $20 bill. If, for some reason, they decided they wanted to replace all the faces on currency with baseball players, who would you pick and who goes on which denomination? 12:29 Dave Cameron: Fun question. Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson seem like the super obvious picks, as both were great players and people that MLB wants history to remember. Probably Sandy Koufax too, and maybe Willie Mays. So I’d go Koufax on the $1, Mays on the $5, Clemente on the $10, Robinson on the $20, Ruth on the $100, and then Bonds on one of those novelty checks that includes a ludicrous amount of money but isn’t real. 12:29 SupremeLeaderNokes: What presents a better case that Searage is a wizard: if JA Happ has a great year or if Happ has a terrible year? 12:29 Dave Cameron: A great pitching coach isn’t one who just figures out how to smoke-and-mirror a guy while he’s around, but one who can permanently fix players. So the former. 12:30 Mack: Does BsR account for instances in which a runner is picked off a base but is not scored a caught stealing? Pickoffs aren’t listed in the UBR components in the primer and don’t appear to be listed under wSB, but it seems like pickoffs should be accounted for somewhere, right? 12:30 Dave Cameron: Pickoffs are counted as a caught stealing. 12:31 Guest: Would anything that’s transpired to date cause you to go back and change your pre-season playoff predictions? 12:32 Dave Cameron: Not really. The Astros are probably the division winner I picked that has dug themselves the biggest hole, but there isn’t another really good team in that division, so they have time to climb back out of this. 12:33 Jim: Is it crazy to say DD/Sox and A’s may line up for a Swihart Devers Johnson Owens hell even a subsidized Castillo for Gray deal way way down the line ? 12:33 Dave Cameron: I doubt that’s the exact package, but no, it’s not crazy. The A’s should probably trade Gray this summer if they’re not in the race. 12:34 Mitch L. : Who would you rather for the next 5 years: Thor or KershW? 12:34 Dave Cameron: Kershaw. But it’s not entirely crazy to take Syndergaard. 12:34 mtsw: What would be someone’s motivation to write a bot to push Jorge Posada up the FG search bar? Is it an unintended effect of a different bot or does someone just REALLY want people to know about Posada’s fWAR? 12:34 Dave Cameron: The guess is that someone was scraping our data and their script broke. 12:35 Reginald Denton III: Re: rising velocity and helping offenses out, didn’t I read something recently on FG that during the velocity increase we’ve seen offense hasn’t actually suffered and runs / gm has either stayed the same or even increased? 12:36 Dave Cameron: If you read that, it’s wrong. Offense has been steadily trending downwards for the past decade, with just a small spike up last year. 12:36 DJ: How should the Mets feel about david Wrights first few weeks? 12:37 Dave Cameron: I’d say encouraged. He’s hitting the ball pretty well. 12:37 GSon: Kluber with an 0-3 record and mid 5’s era.. FIP and XFIP say, he’s not that bad.. but, isn’t he?.. 12:37 Dave Cameron: Yes, Corey Kluber sucks now, because ERA over three starts is definitely the metric you want to use to evaluate a pitcher. 12:37 MN Ben: Besides the Obvious (command) what scares you about Liriano? Or is it just the obvious? 12:38 Dave Cameron: Command is awful, missed a start due to an injury, long history of health problems. I wouldn’t be shocked if we learned that his hamstring was a cover for an arm problem PIT was trying to keep quiet. 12:38 Call me Jake: Follow up on Stroman question from earlier, he has I think a 62% ground ball rate and with Toronto’s defense he doesn’t need a high strikeout rate. Do you agree? 12:38 Dave Cameron: Nope. 12:39 Dave Cameron: The list of pitchers who were frontline started with significantly below average strikeout rates is very very small. 12:39 Fitzy: Is there any chance Fangraphs will display Statcast data like exit velo or launch angle, or is that a licensing issue? 12:39 Dave Cameron: MLB owns that data. We’d love to have it, but we can’t just take it from them. 12:40 Brian: What can the Nats do long term with Harper? It seems like they won’t be able to sign him and they can’t really trade him. Should they just enjoy the next couple of years and be resigned to ending up with (maybe) a comp draft pick? 12:40 Dave Cameron: Yeah, you keep him and try to win while you have him. If the team falls out of contention in his walk year, you maybe think about a trade, but you cross that bridge when you come to it. 12:41 Mookie Betts: D-do you still like me Cameron-senpai? 12:41 Dave Cameron: Yep. It’s early. You haven’t forgotten how to hit. 12:42 Erik: Sitting at work, reading this chat and eating a pizza covered in mozzarella sticks. Yup, life is good. No question, that’s all. 12:42 Dave Cameron: What is the point of putting mozzarella sticks on a pizza? Are you at some kind of fair? Is the pizza also on a stick? 12:42 primantis: What do your contacts in the game think about the Padres’ strategy/direction since they hired Preller? 12:43 Dave Cameron: Pretty much no one that I talk to knows what that organization is doing. 12:43 Matt E G: Who says no: Thor for Betances and Aaron Judge? 12:43 Dave Cameron: I can only imagine the reaction Mets fans will have reading this question. 12:44 Kolten: The implementation of shifts was once a creative means of gaining a competitive advantage in baseball, but couldn’t you make a case that at this point shifts are bad for the game now that every single team is utilizing them, and offense is becoming unnecessarily depressed as a result? 12:45 Dave Cameron: In no other sport are defenders expected to line up in a suboptimal position in order to help the offense. There’s no reason why baseball teams shouldn’t also be able to position their fielders where the ball is likely to go. 12:45 old tex: Jeff Sullivan hiking vacation weeks are so rough. 12:46 Dave Cameron: He’ll be back tomorrow! 12:46 HappyFunBall: i know it’s april but for fun, name 3 players you would begin to feel super exuberant about? 12:47 Dave Cameron: Syndergaard, Cano, and Smyly have all helped their stock a lot. 12:48 Jack: Trea Turner. I’m a nats fan – and what the fantasy experts and etc is all fine a dandy about him coming up very soon, but realistically I want him down in MILB until he proves he can field SS. Espy may not have a bat, but I don’t want to see our defense with Murphy and Turner at SS/2nd. Plus I want the extra year of control. Rizzo is smart enough to keep him down until something happens where he will play everyday. 12:48 Dave Cameron: People are overreacting to SSS in both directions. The difference between Turner and Espinosa over ~30 more games isn’t that big a deal. 12:49 Joe: Agree with you re: Kyle Hendricks. It seems a lot of people automatically equate lack of velocity to junk baller. And in many (most?) cases, that’s probably true. But there’s nothing “junky” about his non-fastball repertoire. 12:49 Dave Cameron: His change-up is fantastic, and he commands everything. He reminds me a lot of Doug Fister a few years back. 12:52 Adam: On the topic of Tulo’s body breaking down: I’m not saying that isn’t a possible explanation, but it’s odd that it doesn’t seem to be affecting his defense at all, which has been consistently terrific. Well… it showed up in his actual glove – did you see the play where the ball went right through the webbing? 12:52 Dave Cameron: Bat speed and fielding ability aren’t necessarily related. 12:52 Matt: Teheran, Inciarte, and Toussaint for Springer…Who says no? 12:52 Dave Cameron: The Astros 12:53 Ritt Momney: In the not-at-all-probable chance that Harper/Nats go all the way to arbitration next year, what would that number look like? 12:54 Dave Cameron: He’s coming off a base salary of $7.5M, and I think the largest raise anyone has ever gotten is ~$9M or something like that. I bet he files close to $20M but settles for a little under that. 12:55 hi erix: Bryce Harper “OVER” last year … I got chills thinking about it 12:55 Dave Cameron: He’s so good. 12:55 Nicolas: How does Syndegaard’s stuff compare to Kerry Woods’ circa his rookie season? Who else would you compare him to in terms of pure stuff, or is he in a league of his own? 12:55 Dave Cameron: Wood didn’t have this kind of command. 12:56 Dave Cameron: Randy Johnson in his prime is probably the closest thing I can think of. 12:56 Shoeless Joe: Chris Sale is sitting in the back of the room wondering why everyone is talking about Syndergaard. If sale pitched in a pitchers park in the NL would he get more respect? 12:57 Dave Cameron: I love Chris Sale, but let’s not pretend that he has Syndergaard’s stuff. Thor is getting attention because he’s throwing 100 with 95 mph sliders and a devastating change-up. 12:58 Jim: What’s your take on Rusney Castillo? Total bust with no trade value or a guy who could still contribute to a team? If the latter should sox keep him or trade him? 12:58 Dave Cameron: Still looks like a guy who could be a useful CF to me. Not a star, but something in the Leonys Martin mold. 12:58 Dave Cameron: Of course, Leonys Martin doesn’t make $50 million. 12:59 BS: The Panda’s future. Misses the rest of this year with shoulder surgery, and comes back in the spring of 2017 in the best shape of his life and stars for the Red Sox, right? 1:00 Dave Cameron: More likely he misses the year with shoulder problems, reports in better-but-still-round shape, and serves as a part-time player for a few years before they cut him. 1:00 Joe Early: So what do you do to help hitters? Raise the bottom of the strike zone? 1:01 Dave Cameron: That’s the first place to start, yes. But if velocity keeps climbing, the league will at least have to think about lowering the mound a little bit. 1:01 McDillo: A follow-up on the shift Q/A…but other sports (flow sports, granted) do have zone, formation, and offsides rules…I’m not a proponent of eliminating shifts but it would seem to me a simple way to offset pitcher gains (“help the offense,” as you said)–maybe something as elementary as mandating that 1B/2B and SS/3B set up on their traditional sides of 2B. 1:02 Dave Cameron: The primary reason offense is declining is the rise in strikeout rate, not a decline in singles due to the shift. It’s just not a big enough issue to mess with. 1:02 mtsw: In dollars, what contract is currently the most underwater in MLB right now, in your opinion? 1:02 Dave Cameron: Pujols. 1:03 James: Hey Dave, I know there’s been a lot of work done on why some guys like Mark Buehrle are able to beat their peripherals. But what about the opposite, like Javier Vasquez? His fWAR suggests a borderline Hall of Famer but his RA9WAR suggest a really good but nowhere near hall of famer, how did he underperform his peripherals? 1:04 Dave Cameron: Some guys just suck with men on base. It could be that they’re not comfortable pitching out of the stretch, or perhaps its a mental issue where they don’t respond well to pressure situations. But there are definitely some pitchers who historically underperform over sustained periods of times 1:04 Jordan: 2016 Syndergaard kind of reminds me of rookie Strasburg, but without the dingers 1:04 Dave Cameron: Yeah, debut Strasburg is probably a good comparison. 1:05 Matt: I’v never played baseball past like 7th grade, so forgive me – but isn’t a high heater tough to catch up to? With the (assumed) source of issues being rise in velocity, would moving the bottom of the strike zone up actually achieve anything? 1:05 Dave Cameron: You wouldn’t shift the zone, you’d make it smaller. 1:06 Dave Cameron: Okay, off to do some writing. Have a fun piece coming tomorrow that I think you guys will like. 1:06 Dave Cameron: Thanks for hanging out, everyone.