Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 8/13/14

11:45
Dave Cameron: It’s Wednesday, so let’s go ahead and chat for a bit, shall we.

11:45
Dave Cameron: The queue is now open, and we’ll start in about 15 minutes.

12:00
Dave Cameron: Alright, let’s get this party started.

12:00
Comment From Jason Tyler
Who will win the AL Central, and will the runners-up make the playoffs anyway?

12:01
Dave Cameron: I’ll still go with the Tigers. As for the Royals and Mariners fighting for the second wild card spot, I’d call it a toss-up.

12:01
Comment From The Picasso of Shitty Questions
Can the Angels catch the Athletics?

12:01
Dave Cameron: Sure. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

12:01
Comment From Jared
Who’s mostly likely to move before the waiver deadline?

12:02
Dave Cameron: Probably Alex Rios.

12:02
Comment From Sam
Dave, what’s the best way to find out if there’s any correlation in team double plays from one year to the next? Basically I’d like to know if there’s any predictive value in the Rays being horrendous at grounding into and turning double plays.

12:03
Dave Cameron: Go to the leaderboards, click on the team pages, select a range of years and hit split seasons, then export to excel. Run a correlation between double play rate in one season and the next.

12:03
Comment From Sam
What should the Rays do with Zobrist this winter?

12:03
Dave Cameron: Assuming they’re going to try and win next year, I’d assume they’ll keep him and make a run. If they’re out of it next summer, they can flip him at the deadline. If they’re in it, they’ll keep him and take the draft pick when he leaves.

12:04
Comment From CuriousGeorge
What exactly do minor league GM’s do? Arent they just at the mercy of the major league GM sending up and down guys?

12:05
Dave Cameron: They’re not trying to win games and manage a roster. They’re taking care of the business side of running a baseball team, generally.

12:05
Comment From Sam
Do you think a dominant bullpen could be a market inefficiency? A big reason that Pythagorean records and actual records can be so different is the talent of the bullpen, which contributes greatly to 1 run games. Should teams strive for a truly dominant ‘pen?

12:05
Dave Cameron: You can’t predict bullpen “talent” in advance, for the most part, so no, you shouldn’t pay a premium and hope that luck works out in your favor.

12:06
Comment From Larry
I’m curious about what would happen if new players were not shafted by the system in place. What do you think would happen if everyone not under contract was automatically a free agent? For that matter, why can the MLBPA and MLB teams collectively bargain on the rights of future players with no say?

12:07
Dave Cameron: Because there is no alternative baseball league for people to go play in. With no competition, leagues can do whatever they want.

12:08
Comment From Matt W
Kyle Hendricks with another great start last night. I keep waiting for the ball to drop with him but his recipe of keeping balls in the park and limiting walks has been impressive so far. Can this kind of performance be sustained or should we all expect some regression as the league gets more looks at him? Peripheral numbers suggest the latter.

12:09
Dave Cameron: He has a .252 BABIP. Mariano Rivera had a career .263 BABIP. Do you think Kyle Hendricks can induce more weak contact while starting than Rivera could while relieving? If not, then you should continue to expect regression.

12:10
Comment From Brad
Matt Vasgergian makes childish faces when Eric Byrnes talks about FIP and says WAR is a whiff and what is it good for. Why does MLB Netwrok tolerate his unprofessionalism? I turn channel now when he’s on.

12:10
Dave Cameron: You don’t have to be smart to be an announcer.

12:10
Comment From Dan
With minimal pitching upgrades in the offseason and a lineup containing Rizzo, Castro, Baez, Alcantara, Bryant, and Soler, how many games do the 2015 Cubs win?

12:11
Dave Cameron: I’ll go with between 80-90.

12:11
Comment From Chris Davis Arms
Dave, why do you think the Orioles have out-performed projections for the last handful of years? Is there something that the Orioles are doing that the projections are incapable of accounting for?

12:12
Dave Cameron: Random variation. I know it’s not a fun answer, especially for Orioles fans who want their team to be “respected”, but there’s nothing particularly shocking about a team beating their expected record by this margin over a few years. If you run enough trials, you’re going to get outliers.

12:12
Comment From DB
Do people under estimate defense, especially in a lower scoring environment like this year? The Orioles seem to always make the routine play, turn two, generally turning balls into outs. They have done so more or less for 3 years now, a reason they outperform their expected record?

12:13
Dave Cameron: Nope. BaseRuns takes all of that into account.

12:13
Comment From Sam
Do you trust defensive metrics enough to say a guy like Peter Bourjos is even an average player, despite his lack of contribution with the bat?

12:13
Dave Cameron: You don’t have to trust the defensive metrics to think that Peter Bourjos is an outstanding defender.

12:14
Comment From Silly Little Man Girl :p
Could you get a rudimentary managerial WAR by getting an aggregated WAR total of how far from the mean their players are each year? Like if a hypothetical player’s career average is a war of 3 and he gets a 2, the manager’s WAR would be -1, repeated for every player. It might reveal interesting numbers for manager’s who have been around a long time but i’m not sure how rookies woul work

12:15
Dave Cameron: Or it might just mean that the manager was in charge of the Phillies, and that his GM kept acquiring older players who were past their prime.

12:15
Dave Cameron: Evaluating managers is hard. That isn’t the way to do it.

12:15
Comment From Jay
Given the relative weakness of the division and the league in general, should the O’s have been willing to give up Bundy or Harvey to get an “ace.” It’s hard to like their pitching matchups in any playoff series and they may not get too many better chances to advance deep into the postseason. If it made sense for the A’s to “go for it” shouldn’t the same be true of the O’s?

12:15
Dave Cameron: The A’s are an actual good team. The O’s are an okay team with an inflated record.

12:16
Dave Cameron: You don’t give up the farm in the hope that you keep outperforming expectations.

12:16
Comment From Barry
Are the Cubs really going to splurge on big-time SP next year (via trade or FA), or is it still a touch too soon for them to take that route?

12:17
Dave Cameron: I would expect that they’ll be in the mix for Scherzer and maybe Lester or Shields, but at the same time, they know that these contracts are almost universally terrible. At some point, people will realize that the Cubs strategy of acquiring pitching is better than throwing a lot of money at a name guy. If they can get Scherzer at a reasonable price, okay. If not, just go get the next Scott Feldman or Jason Hammel.

12:18
Comment From Tommy B
Who wins the NL MVP?

12:18
Dave Cameron: This could be one of the years where a lot of guys each get 3-6 votes and someone just wins by default. I’d probably vote for Kershaw right now, but I don’t see voters giving it to him with his low IP total.

12:19
Comment From Grand Admiral Braun
Better move for the Mets: trade the top prospects for Tulo or sign Hanley Ramirez? Seems to me signing Hanley Ramirez to play SS long-term isn’t realistic..

12:19
Dave Cameron: How about neither? I know people like name value but the Mets are not at a point where they need to give up the farm for a name value player.

12:19
Comment From 286 from Baltimore
When do you stop overrating the Jays and their pathetic rotation and admit the Orioles have always been better? Best record in the AL East.

12:20
Dave Cameron: Wait, you’re from Baltimore? I never would have guessed.

12:21
Comment From Guest
Do you see similarities between Corey Dickerson and Matt Holliday

12:21
Dave Cameron: Yeah, it’s not the worst comparison ever.

12:22
Comment From THE average sports fan
As depressing as the 2014 Reds are, I truly fear the 2016 version. Without elite starting pitchers, this is looking like bottom 1/3 of the league team. Was the Reds best teams wasted on Dusty Baker and going 1/2 in from 2010-2013?

12:22
Dave Cameron: I think next year is the end of their window, barring some amazing infusion of cheap talent.

12:22
Comment From Rick
Out of the would be AL Wild card contenders, who would scare the Angels the most?

12:23
Dave Cameron: Probably the Mariners, due to the possibility of having to beat Felix.

12:24
Comment From baltic fox
Re: bullpen talent. Maybe most guys can’t predict bullpen talent in advance, but Buck Showalter apparently can. Having a lot of contacts in baseball and lots of experience at evaluating players isn’t something that can be measured with metrics.

12:24
Dave Cameron: Yeah, the Orioles are outperforming their expected record because Buck Showalter has a lot of contacts in baseball. That’s it. You’ve figured it out.

12:24
Comment From Joel
What does a Chris Young the pitcher contract look like this offseason. Something like 2/16? Or am I way off?

12:25
Dave Cameron: I don’t think he ever gets a two year deal, given his history of health problems.

12:25
Comment From New Winston Salem Resident
Is Little Richards BBQ a place I should eat at?

12:26
Dave Cameron: Depends. Do you like Lexington-style (vinegar-y) BBQ? Do you have cash? If yes to both, then yes. It’s a solid BBQ place, though it won’t change your life or anything.

12:27
Comment From Guest
Maybe the Royals aren’t a dumb as we all thing and they were just looking for that ‘outlier’ season when they traded for Shields.

12:27
Dave Cameron: By BaseRuns, the Royals are a below .500 team. Their current run is fun for their fans but they still aren’t very good.

12:28
Comment From Through the Mooking Glass
Of 151 qualified batters, Jackie Bradley ranks 150 and 148 in wRC+ and wOBA respectively. Obviously his huge defensive numbers keep him relevant (2nd overall in FG’s Def metric), but how long can the Red Sox realistically afford to not replace him with Mookie? The offensive upgrade is obvious, and you’d think he’d be able to learn OF quick enough to at least be serviceable out there. Do you see them making the switch this year or making use of an off season trade?

12:29
Dave Cameron: My guess is they’ll use them in tandem in CF next year. Mookie will take over as the regular, but they’ll keep Bradley around as a defensive option and hope the bat improves.

12:29
Dave Cameron: It’s not entirely crazy to think the bat improves, by the way. Bradley’s current numbers are pretty similar to both early career Michael Bourn and Carlos Gomez.

12:30
Comment From Guest
In the calculation of WAR, how is the positional adjustment determined? Is it adjusted on an annual basis like run environments would?

12:30
Dave Cameron: There’s a full breakdown of the position adjustment in the FG Library.

12:30
Comment From Ringtone Composer
The BaseRuns expected win-percentage leaderboard is currently ordered: A’s, Angels, Nats, Dodgers, Mariners. Wow–that was an unexpected #5. What is the M’s secret?

12:31
Dave Cameron: Their bullpen has been insanely good and Chris Young is getting ace-like results. I wouldn’t bet on either thing to continue forever.

12:31
Comment From Matt
What is the most underrated component in projecting which team will win a baseball game?

12:31
Dave Cameron: Randomness.

12:32
Comment From Matt
If you’re advising the Twins this offseason, how aggressive are you in regards to going after FA’s – especially pitchers?

12:32
Dave Cameron: They should follow the Cubs model.

12:33
Dave Cameron: One year deals, mid-priced guys.

12:33
Comment From bellinghammer
% chance this is Felix’s peak season?

12:33
Dave Cameron: 99%. It’s almost impossible to be better than this.

12:33
Comment From 286
Baseball reference’s Simple Rating System (SRS) has the Orioles as the best team in baseball outside of the AL West. Seems awfully disingenuous to repeatedly call them anything but good.

12:33
Dave Cameron: Or maybe that’s a junk stat you shouldn’t care about.

12:34
Comment From Amir Khan
“If you can get Scherzer at a reasonable price” What’s a reasonable price in your eyes for a Scherzer/Lester type pitcher?

12:34
Dave Cameron: Under $150M.

12:34
Comment From Guest
Let’s just say the Twins were willing to part with Joe Mauer, free and clear. For which teams, if any, would he be a worthy claim this month?

12:34
Dave Cameron: Zero. No one would even think about taking that contract.

12:34
Comment From Jesus
Can you give me a better comp for javy baez than sheffield?

12:35
Dave Cameron: Anyone else. That comp is terrible.

12:35
Comment From A. Lane
Any chance you’ll stop hiring more writers? It is becoming increasingly plausible to conclude Fangraphs is a foreign financed plot to destroy the productivity of American (and some Canadian) workers.

12:36
Dave Cameron: Well, we weren’t planning on hiring anyone else, but then The Score just handed us Drew Fairservice, and that was hard to turn down.

12:36
Comment From Hrkac Circus
Where did all these Baltimore fans crawl from the last couple of weeks?

12:37
Dave Cameron: This is completely normal. Every time a team has a better record than expected, their fans always show up to demand respect and say that the models are broken.

12:39
Comment From Catoblepas
What is the rotation of fans angry at you like? Obviously this week Baltimore, but I remember a recent past with KC and Cincinnati in particular. Is there a pattern?

12:39
Dave Cameron: Giants fans a few years back. Braves fans from when I suggested Andrelton Simmons might not be the best shortstop of all time.

12:40
Comment From Dave
Considering injuries and how bad most long term contracts turn out do you think we would see any team constantly try to build for the short term and just constantly turn over their roster every couple of years?

12:40
Dave Cameron: Say hello to the Oakland A’s.

12:40
Comment From Fisher Man
Heard you talking about Trout’s changed game on the podcast this Monday. Is it pure coincidence that Trout’s game change and Angels winning games has coincided?

12:40
Dave Cameron: Yes. Trout being a worse baserunner is not what made Garrett Richards good.

12:41
Comment From Northsider
RE: The Cubs going after the next Hammels/Feldman over the next few years. At what point does it no longer make sense for the Cubs to do these risky 1/6M deals with pitchers? Can the Cubs continue to make these transcations in 2-3 years when they start contending?

12:41
Dave Cameron: Instead of a risky $6M pitcher, you prefer they go after a risky $25M pitcher? There will never be a risk-free pitcher, and risk only goes up as you spend more money.

12:42
Comment From Former Winston Salem Resident
Fail. Lexington style BBQ is tomato-y. Eastern NC style is the one that is vinegar-y. Little Richards does fall under the Lexington/tomato-y style.

12:42
12:43
Dave Cameron: Lexington style has vinegar in it. It isn’t solely vinegar, but it is very acidic.

12:43
Comment From Petey Pablo
I have to go to North Carolina for the third time in my adult life this December and have never really explored. Anything a 28 year old with a super middle class budget needs to do (cali native, ill be there about a week)?

12:43
Dave Cameron: Go to Asheville. Eat everything in sight.

12:44
Dave Cameron: The NC mountains are awesome, basically.

12:44
Comment From BassmanUW
Any reasonable possibility that Lester would give the Cubs a slight discount considering front office connections, and he does seem a bit like the type who would relish the opportunity to win with a team with the Cubs’ history. Or is that stretching the idea of the type of discounts players give too far?

12:44
Dave Cameron: I have no idea why people think that a player is going to take millions of dollars less than they would otherwise get just because they know the GM a little bit. It’s not like Lester and Theo are childhood friends.

12:45
Comment From Andrew
Is it possible Kershaw is considered clearly the best pitcher in baseball simply because he has little competition comparatively, for the NL Cy Young every year?

12:46
Dave Cameron: Well, it’s also because he’s just better than everyone else.

12:46
Comment From Grand Admiral Braun
Do the Tigers currently own two of the three worst contracts in baseball? Not that it really matters to old man Lolitch.

12:47
Dave Cameron: They might have had three of the worst five if they hadn’t dumped Fielder.

12:48
Comment From King Flops
Is there any amount of differentiation from predictive models that would make you question the models over simply reciting, “luck/coinflips/randomness” like a SABR doll whose string was just pulled

12:48
Dave Cameron: Of course there is. And if you knew how standard deviations worked, and weren’t just a disgruntled Orioles fan with a chip on your shoulder, you’d know that this isn’t that amount of differentiation.

12:50
Comment From Zach
Seems like an awful lot of your answers each week are essentially “random variation.” It’s not that I disagree (I also agree that randomness plays a much larger role in the game than fans want to admit), but doesn’t that make watching baseball somewhat silly? Or can you find a certain joy in that randomness? Is that what fandom is about, in the end?

12:50
Dave Cameron: One can enjoy and appreciate a baseball game without thinking that every single event had a definite identifiable cause.

12:51
Comment From Transient Gadfly
The Braves are performing far worse than your models predict! You are not shaming the Braves enough. I demand that you disrespect the Braves!

12:51
Dave Cameron: Actually, as I wrote for Fox today, the Braves are performing almost exactly as expected based on the preseason forecasts.

12:52
Comment From Prich
Favorite Robin Williams work?

12:52
Dave Cameron: Good Will Hunting, probably. I am not much into celebrities and pop culture, but I will say that I was legitimately sad when I heard he died.

12:54
Comment From primantis
Am I thinking about this correctly: a LHP has the platoon disadvantage against most batters so only the best ones should be starters.

12:54
Dave Cameron: Sort of. I’d say it more like this: LHPs have a platoon disadvantage against most hitters so the ones who want to be starters better come up with a pretty awesome change-up.

12:54
Comment From Josh
I went to Asheville with my wife for a small getaway after we got married. Absolutely amazing food/drink scene. Navitat zip-lining was awesome, too. Just wanted to join the “asheville is awesome” club.

12:55
Dave Cameron: It really is. Curate is my favorite restaurant there, but really, just spin in a circle and point, and you’re probably going to aim at some great food.

12:56
Comment From Bradley Pooper
(You might be tired of Orioles questions but I am legitimately curious and not angry or trying to argue) BUT What are some specific things that make the Fangraphs crew so much confident in the Angels than the Orioles? As an outsider perspective they seem to have similar team setups right now (Powerful offense, okay rotation, good bullpen)

12:56
Dave Cameron: The Angels pitching is much, much better than the Orioles pitching.

12:56
Comment From Andrew
You don’t think that plays into the story line at all? Since 2010 Felix has 28.2 WAR and Kershaw has 28.1. We’re going on five years of them having essentially the same value.

12:57
Dave Cameron: Kershaw is a guy who is underrated by FIP.

12:57
Dave Cameron: So Felix is as good as Kershaw if you ignore the extra things that Kershaw is also good at.

12:57
Comment From From out west.
Can you answer random variation questions without being paranoid that every person who asks them is an Orioles fan who hates you?

12:57
Dave Cameron: I can see the queue and what other “questions” these people are submitting. You can’t.

12:59
Comment From Sam
Has anyone ever discovered anything specific that allowed a team to sustainably outperform projections?

1:00
Dave Cameron: Not really. There are basically three ways to outperform expected record: bunch your hits together, strand a ton of baserunners, or distribute your runs to high leverage situations. No one has really figured out how to do any of them over a significant period of time.

1:01
Comment From John
How do you deal with all the hipsters in Asheville?

1:01
Dave Cameron: I eat at their restaurants and tip well.

1:02
Comment From Dr. Met
How many times do Orioles fans have to come in here looking for team respect, just enjoy that your team is doing very well!

1:03
Dave Cameron: It’s a weird thing about fandom. I don’t entirely get why it’s not enough that the team you’re rooting for is winning. Isn’t that the outcome you’re rooting for? Why not be happy about that rather than finding something to get angry about?

1:04
Comment From baltic fox
As a long time Orioles fan, I’ve seen the effect of random variation over time and it’s indisputable. What I will argue is that some managers, like Showalter, will squeeze greater performance out of marginal talent than others. No way Brad Ausmus could’ve turned this franchise around.

1:05
Dave Cameron: Sure, maybe Buck Showalter is worth a win or two more than another manager. We can’t prove it, but it could be true. He’s definitely not worth 7 or 8 wins, though.

1:06
Comment From Pale Hose
Dave – Are you being overly simplistic due to the chat format? It is certainly possible that a model has systematic errors that wouldn’t return results outside of a couple of standard deviations. There could also be offsetting errors causing us not to see something. I don’t think that is the case, but it shouldn’t be dismissed.

1:07
Dave Cameron: I am in no way insinuating that BaseRuns is perfect. I will state, flat out, that the Orioles winning a dozen more games than expected over a couple of years provides zero evidence that BaseRuns is imperfect. If you want to prove that the model is flawed, you need to prove that it’s flawed, and one team winning a few more games than expected is not anything close to proof of that.

1:08
Comment From Dr. Met
Puppy and health update? My late father’s birthday is coming up and first one without him. Need a good pick-me-up.

1:08
Dave Cameron: Got my three year remission check up a few weeks ago. The puppy is an endless ball of energy. Thanks for asking!

1:08
Comment From Jock
Plant in Asheville. Not a vegan, but I’d eat there again anytime in a heartbeat

1:08
Dave Cameron: I haven’t been, but have also heard good things.

1:09
Comment From Sean
Do you think it is possible the Orioles have smarter and more highly educated statisticians than Fangraphs?

1:10
Dave Cameron: Maybe I’ll ask them this weekend when I see them in Boston.

1:10
Dave Cameron: Alright, off to get some lunch. Maybe i’ll go buy some crab meat for dinner in a show of solidarity with my friends from Maryland.

1:11
Dave Cameron: Enjoy your team’s success, O’s fans.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

newest oldest most voted
286
Guest
286

When do you stop overrating the Jays and their pathetic rotation and admit the Orioles have always been better? Best record in the AL East.

Eminor3rd
Guest
Eminor3rd

When will you learn that the comments section is not the chat box?

286
Guest
286

Never!

nard
Guest
nard

Ha, Baltimore.

Mark
Guest
Mark

If the Jays rotation is pathetic, is the O’s rotation downright embarrassing?

O's
Guest
O's

I’m sorry, Toronto are you still in this? Can barely see you way back there. There’s still time to be sellers and get something from another lost season. You’ve got some interesting pitchers a contender might like to put at the back of their rotation. Don’t despair though, hockey is right around the corner.

nard
Guest
nard

Is it still an inferiority complex when you are objectively inferior?

TurnYourCrankToFrank
Guest
TurnYourCrankToFrank

When did Orioles fans get such huge chips on their shoulders? Just a game, O’s.

Mark
Guest
Mark

I’m not the one who said Toronto is better than Baltimore, just that it’s laughable to call out the Jays rotation as an Orioles fan when

Mark
Guest
Mark

The Orioles weakest link is the rotation.

OriLOLe Rotation
Guest
OriLOLe Rotation
O's
Guest
O's

WAR based on FIP. Orioles pitchers consistently outperform FIP so this doesn’t capture the true quality of the staff. If you believe it can be skill that enables a pitcher to outperform their FIP and you believe that some Orioles pitchers possess this skill, it is perfectly reasonable to believe the Orioles staff is more valuable than FIP indicates.

Jimmer
Guest
Jimmer

Is it possible that having a very good defense behind them makes their ERA look better than what their actual skill is.

In other words, do you think their ERA would be as good if the Twins defense was playing behind them…or the Tigers?

FIP measures what the pitcher himself can control. Pitchers will, over the course of their career, have good defenses and bad defenses behind them which will effect their ERAs, but a quick look at some of the best pitchers in recent history ( Pedro, Ryan J, Greg Maddux) show that, in the end, over the course of a lot of innings, the FIP and ERA come pretty close, but not necessarily year to year. Again, I just randomly took the three best recent pitchers I could think of that retired recently and looked.