Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 9/7/16 by Dave Cameron September 7, 2016 12:01 Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday, everyone. This is my last chat from North Carolina, as I’m starting the cross-country drive on the move to Oregon on Sunday. We’ll still talk baseball, of course, but if you want to get in any last minute questions about Winston-Salem, this is your shot. 12:01 Dave Cameron: I think I’ll be chatting from Denver next Wednesday, so maybe next week we’ll talk weed and franchises without a plan. 12:02 Otis Redding: Is the AL East the most intriguing division in baseball down the stretch? 12:02 Dave Cameron: Probably, yeah, though I think both wild cards could come from that division, so all three teams in the division race may end up in the postseason. 12:03 Brett W: Which active players if any have in your mind already certified their places as no-research-necessary first-ballot Hall of Famers? 12:05 Dave Cameron: Pujols, Miggy, Ichiro, Beltre, Ortiz, Kershaw. I think I’d vote for Beltran too, but he requires at least a little thought. 12:05 Dave Cameron: And Trout’s basically there, minus the 10 year requirement. 12:05 The Average Sports Fan: I will freely admit to questioning the decision making of the Dodgers. I probably said something to the effect of wasting the prime of the Kershaw. Hard to say anything other than I was wrong. Crow tastes terrible! 12:06 Dave Cameron: Well, to be fair, the Dodgers have gotten an exceptional performance from Corey Seager that wasn’t easy to see coming, and some better-than-expected years from no-name bullpen guys. That helped. 12:06 Dave Cameron: But yeah, the Dodgers are a good team, and they look like a very scary playoff matchup if Kershaw and Hill are healthy in October. 12:06 Erik: If the Cardinals were to sneak into the second wild card almost 20 games behind the Cubs, and proceed to knock the Cubs out in a 5-game NLDS, would you long for the days before the wild card, or just say “that’s baseball” and move on? Or would you even consider that a good thing? 12:07 Dave Cameron: It’s the nature of using a tournament to determine the champion. The Cubs are far and away the best team of 2016, regardless of what happens in October, and nothing about what happens the rest of the year will change that. 12:08 Julio Pepper: Is Rich Hill going for less than 40m this offseason? He has 3 WAR in under a 100 innings. 12:08 Dave Cameron: He’s also, what, 37? The age and injury history limit the length of any deal he’ll sign. I’d bet he gets 2 years at a pretty solid AAV, maybe something like what Lackey got last winter. 12:09 Anon21: Freddie Freeman’s having arguably his best season, but his improvement against lefties (Career: 109 wRC+, 2016: 134 wRC+) has been much larger than his improvement against righties (Career: 146 wRC+, 2016: 157 wRC+). Good or bad sign for his ability to sustain this improved performance? 12:10 Dave Cameron: It’s basically what you’d expect; it’s very hard to improve from a high level. Most players take leap forwards by fixing their flaws, not improving their strengths. 12:10 Ben: Has Manny Machado worked his way into legit MVP Contention, or is he just too far behind Altuve, Betts, and Donaldson? Yes, I know he’s also like 3 WAR behind Trout… 12:10 Dave Cameron: Craig Edwards is writing the MVP case for Machado as we speak. 12:11 Erik: The Phillies are supposedly not going to call up JP Crawford this September, since he doesn’t yet need to be protected on the 40-man roster. But with him likely to be promoted around next May, what could the Phillies possibly do with the 40-man spot between now and then that would be better than getting Crawford experience against MLB pitching? Hold onto one more longshot reliever reclamation project? 12:11 Dave Cameron: Or, you know, do what the Brewers did and give shots to guys like Junior Guerra, Hernan Perez, Keon Broxton, etc… 12:11 Dave Cameron: 40 man spots are valuable. 12:12 CamdenWarehouse: It seems like Verlander has given up a good chunk of his runs when he’s gone out for a 7th or 8th inning when over 100 pitches. Is there a way to see if this is correct and what his numbers might look like if the Tigers actually had a pen and didn’t have to run him out late? 12:12 Dave Cameron: We have times through the order on the splits page now, so you can see how Verlander’s doing as the game progresses. 12:12 Bubba: Assuming Cespedes is honest about not opting out, how much money is he leaving off the table? His walk rate is close to 10% now, is he just better than before? 12:12 Dave Cameron: He’s opting out. 12:13 Amarillo Windmill: All 9 of the Rangers’ starting nine have OPS’s above league average except for Carlos Gomez (who has been playing better since coming to the Rangers). Is this the magic answer to sequencing? 12:13 Dave Cameron: Nope. For most of the year, they were running out Prince Fielder’s black hole in the line-up, even hitting him cleanup, and winning anyway. The no-holes-in-the-lineup thing is recent. 12:14 Graves: Who would you vote for AL Cy Young? Has Britton been dominant enough to merit winning? 12:14 Dave Cameron: I haven’t looked closely enough to say definitively, but no, I wouldn’t vote for Britton. 12:15 The Flying Hawaiian: Which organization in the AL West is in worse shape going into 2017? Mariners / Angels / Oakland 12:15 Dave Cameron: I just don’t see how the Angels win any time soon. 12:17 Justin: Are you going to record a marathon podcast during the drive? Baseball analysis occasionally interrupted by observations like “why is there so much Nebraska?” 12:17 Dave Cameron: The plan is to podcast from the car, yes. Sullivan is joining me for the western half of the road trip, so we might even do a co-podcast. 12:18 i hate my manager: was medical marijuana ever presented to you as an option? 12:18 Dave Cameron: Nope. I wasn’t really in that much pain during my chemo treatments, really. 12:18 CamdenWarehouse: Kershaw doesn’t have 10 years 12:18 Dave Cameron: He almost does. 12:19 Jack C.: If you don’t mind answering, why are you moving 3000 miles across the country? 12:19 Dave Cameron: My wife got a job that lets her work a bit less and spend more time with our son. It’s closer to my parents. It’s not 100 degrees and humid there in the summer. 12:19 Hall of Fame: Buster Posey not a HoFer yet? 12:20 Dave Cameron: Hmm, I haven’t actually thought about his case before. Maybe? 12:20 Justin: Surprised to see Kersh on your no-doubt HOF list. Not that the performance hasn’t been there, but he hasn’t reached the career milestones voters usually expect from pitchers. Do you think he’s had the kind of Koufax-esque apex where if he never came fully back he would be voted in? 12:20 Dave Cameron: I care about peak a lot more than longevity. To me, I don’t think we need to see a great player be mediocre for another 10 years to acknowledge that he was great. 12:21 Dave Cameron: For instance, does anything Pujols have done the last ~4 years change what we think about him? He’s added a bunch of counting stats to his total, but being a blah first baseman for a while didn’t really make his career any more impressive, right? 12:22 Amarillo Windmill: How can you say the Cubs are “far and away the best team of 2016” when they play in the incredibly weak National League and have two of the worst teams in baseball within their division? Put them in the AL East, and they are still fighting to win their division. 12:25 Dave Cameron: That’s silly. The Cubs are 20-7 against the Reds/Brewers, 69-42 against everyone else. So they’ve won 62% of their games against the other 27 teams; no one else has won 62% of their games against the entire league, even without eliminating the games against their weakest opponents. A failure to recognize that the Cubs are clearly baseball’s best team this year is a failure to see what’s staring you in the face. 12:26 Mike: You mentioned Kershaw-Hill as scary but is it really any scarier than Scherzer-Strasburg, Bumgarner-Cueto, or Lester-Arrieta? 12:26 Dave Cameron: Yes, yes it is. 12:26 Dock Ellis: Any chance for a meet up in Denver? 12:28 Dave Cameron: Probably not during the road trip. I’m driving across the country with the dog, so I’ll be spending the non-driving time trying to get her worn out… 12:28 Julio Pepper: Longoria is looking like a HOF (almost 50 WAR and he just turned 30); barring collapse or injuries, do you think there’s any chance he doesn’t make it? Or are the things he’s good at too unsexy? 12:28 Dave Cameron: He has the wrong skillset. He’s Scott Rolen 2.0. 12:29 SEAtoSD: Do you think Ryan Schimpf is a first division regular? 12:29 Dave Cameron: Probably not. 12:30 Richie: For some reason, driving while podcasting strikes me as as safe as driving while cellphoning. Please don’t. 12:30 Dave Cameron: If we do it, it will be when we pull over to have lunch. 12:30 Erik: Has a team ever told you they made a decision based on one of your articles? 12:31 Dave Cameron: No, and if they did, that would be management misconduct. Any decision an organization made should involve way more thought than “hey, did you see this article?” 12:31 CamdenWarehouse: Peak Kershaw or peak Pedro? 12:31 Dave Cameron: Pedro 12:32 AD: That being said, would you vote for Rolen/Longo? 12:33 Dave Cameron: Rolen yes, Longo if he ages well. 12:33 CapnZippers: Dave, are there players that you seem to like a lot more than the players respective front offices? Players that seem to continually justify more playing time, and can’t seem to break through? 12:33 Dave Cameron: Steve Pearce. 12:33 Amarillo Windmill: That’s not fair to just use the Cubs’ W/L record against non-Reds/Brewers teams. They still got to play those teams. They still got to save their bullpen in those games. Their SPs still got to cruise in those games. Etc. Etc. Playing in the NL has obviously inflated their record compared to playing in the AL East. 12:33 Dave Cameron: You’re making stuff up. 12:33 Dave Cameron: The Cubs >>>> everyone else this year, and it’s not even close to being close. 12:33 GilaMonster: My understanding is that medical marijuana is to help treat the nausea from chemo, not the pain. 12:34 Dave Cameron: Oh, well, I definitely had nausea. But they just got me a bucket. 12:34 Matt: What would be your Dodgers playoff rotation? 12:35 Dave Cameron: Kershaw, Hill, Maeda, DeLeon 12:35 Dave Cameron: Assuming Urias will be over his IP limit 12:35 Mike S: Moving from Asheville to Durham due to the mrs. landing a job. How sad should we be? 12:35 Dave Cameron: Not that sad. Durham is neat. 12:36 Enzo Amore: As a reader of both fangraphs and Keith Law I’m not sure what to think about his recent xFIP remarks. Is it a bad stat? 12:36 Dave Cameron: You don’t have to agree with everything he says. 12:38 I am the walrus: There simply is not enough AB’s next year for Schwaber, Baez and Soler. Soler is the most likely to go. What type of pitcher prospect do you think the cubs could get for Soler in the offseason? Top 50 with solid 3 ceiling? 12:39 Dave Cameron: Uh, no. Soler’s value is way down. 12:39 Dave Cameron: You could probably get an interesting midlevel prospect or something, but he’s not worth a top 50 prospect. 12:39 NYTT: So is Neil Walker a really good defensive second baseman now after years of being bad or, at best, average? His spike, and others that have defensive season like his, in defensive value makes me skeptical of UZR. 12:40 Dave Cameron: Are you skeptical of offensive statistics since Daniel Murphy is now hitting like one of the best hitters in the league after years of being average? 12:40 Matt: Yankees running a 13-man bullpen right now has to be an argument for changes to the extended rosters. Is it going to be as simple as teams naming 25 active players for a game, will they go for a more elaborate rule to cut down on the number of relievers, or will they simply opt to not bother changing things? 12:40 Dave Cameron: I think we’ll see some kind of taxi squad in the next CBA, and that will carry over into September. 12:41 Jack C.: While maybe a team hasn’t based their decisions off of one of your articles, I think it is safe to say your work has had at least a small effect on some front office decisions. Sure, they didn’t click on one of your articles and make a rash decision, but this website has had a major influence during the transition of advanced statistics in the baseball community. With that being said (and if you agree with me), how awesome is that personally? This may not have been a long-term goal of yours, but it has to be a pretty sweet feeling to effect the game in some sort of way. 12:43 Dave Cameron: I’m proud that FG has helped propel a better understanding of baseball, but I think of it more like we’ve helped change the media narratives surrounding the game, and the change in media narratives have helped change what kind of people are hired for decision making positions. I don’t necessarily look at what we’ve done and say “we’ve changed the game”; I look at more of the way baseball is written about and think we’ve had something to do with that evolving. 12:43 Zonk: Dave, please elaborate on the taxi squad concept. For example, 27 players on your roster, but only 25 active each game, something like that? 12:44 Dave Cameron: Yeah, basically. There will be rules in place so that teams don’t just stash relievers and carry a 10 man bullpen all year, but I think we’ll see the ability for teams to basically deactivate players who need a day off without having to put them on the DL. 12:45 NYTT: I understand that the best defensive players (Simmons, Kiermaier) will always have good defensive metrics, but would you predict a guy like Walker to be a good defensive second baseman in the future, or is this year more of a blip? 12:46 Dave Cameron: Performance can fluctuate, both on offense and defense. I wouldn’t look at Walker’s UZR and predict that he’s now a great defensive second baseman any more than I would look at Tanner Roark’s ERA and decide he’s now an ace. 12:46 Snow: Any chance you think the Indians regret not giving in to Lucroy’s “demands” (ripping up that option) to acquire him? 12:46 Dave Cameron: No; it would have been insane to give up that package for Lucroy as a rental. 12:47 Brian: Is there precedent for how the O’s are handling Dylan Bundy? This season he has already blown past his total innings pitched for the past three years combined, and the team publicly has no plans to slow/shut him down. But, of course, he has generally pitched quite well in the rotation. Should we be terrified or thrilled? 12:48 Dave Cameron: Well, there’s a lot of precedent if you go back a while to before teams carried about pitch counts and workloads in general. 12:48 Dave Cameron: And lots of pitchers broke down back then. 12:48 Dave Cameron: But the reality is we don’t really know enough to know for sure how much damage the Orioles are doing to Bundy. We think it’s probably not great for him, but how bad is it? Don’t know. 12:48 Erik: On Effectively Wild recently they were discussing whether “smart baseball” is boring. What do you think? And if the MLB thinks so, are they likely to implement rule changes to encourage teams to play suboptkmally 12:49 Dave Cameron: I do think too many balls-not-in-play is bad for the sport. I think, at some point, a continually rising strikeout rate would be an issue MLB would have to try and fix. 12:50 Jordan: “now” an ace? This ERA is who Roark has been for 3 out of his 4 years in the majors 12:51 Dave Cameron: He threw 53 innings in 2013, most of them in relief. He’s now had two excellent seasons in three years as a starter, but he’s preventing runs with the weak-contact-and-runner-stranding model, and Shelby Miller can tell you all about how long you should bet on that lasting. 12:52 NYTT: Why are right fielders required to have strong arms? Wouldn’t a guy like prime Michael Bourn be just as effective in right because he can get to the ball quicker? Wouldn’t a more effective measurement be the amount of time the fielder needs to get the ball into the infield rather than how fast he throws it into the infield? 12:52 Dave Cameron: Right fielders have to try and keep guys from advancing from 1st to 3rd. Left fielders never have to try and throw a guy out at 1st. 12:52 Dave Cameron: The difference in footspeed in cutting off balls is less important in preventing guys taking the extra base than arm strength. 12:53 TRANE: Wouldn’t teams deactivate Starting Pitching (instead of relivers) everyday to really expand rosters? 12:53 Dave Cameron: Easy enough to put rules in place that don’t allow that. 12:53 Carrotjuice: Roark Truthers are gonna replace Teheran Truthers. Calling it. 12:53 Dave Cameron: I like Tanner Roark a lot. I’ve been one of his biggest boosters. But he’s not an ace. 12:54 Dave Cameron: He’s a perfectly solid mid-rotation starter. 12:54 mshirk: Would you find it helpful to think about HOFers using a bsaeline above replacement and zero the rest out? Average? Something higher? If peak matters, then why worry about 1 or 2 war years? 12:55 Dave Cameron: I don’t think we want to pretend that being average has no value. A guy who is average for 10 years is more valuable than a guy who is replacement level for 10 years, and those guys have different HOF cases. I just don’t really care about the value produced in non-great years from guys who are inner-circle all-time greats. The Kershaws and Trouts of the world do enough in their peak that the rest is irrelevant. For guys who don’t reach that peak, the rest matters. 12:55 Alex: King Felix is at 50 fWAR and only 30, though is trending poorly, HoF? 12:56 Dave Cameron: I’m down on every starter’s chances to make it to Cooperstown until the electorate changes. If we can’t get Mussina and Schilling in, we can’t get anyone in. 12:56 Hi Erix: No Verlander on your HOF list? 12:57 Dave Cameron: Same deal as Felix, and Sabathia, and all the rest of the very good starters from the last decade. The BBWAA just doesn’t put SPs in the Hall of Fame right now unless they’re top 10 all-time or something. 12:58 Philip Christy: Fangraphs Playoff Odds page has the Cubs rosW% at .599…but it has the Nats’ rosW% at .612! Does that mean your projection systems think the Nationals are a better team right now? 12:58 Dave Cameron: That page includes schedule; that just means the Nationals have easier opponents the rest of the year than the Cubs do. 12:58 CamdenWarehouse: The voters might be having issues and Moose and Schilling should be in, but they aren’t going to be confused regarding Doc, are they? That should be easier 12:58 Dave Cameron: Did Halladay really have a better career than Mussina? I think both are easy choices for the HOF, but I’m not sure Halladay > Mussina. 1:00 Dave Cameron: Alright, mover showing up in a bit to do inventory on the house, so I’m off for the day. We’ll talk from the road next week.