FanGraphs Chat – 3/5/14 by Dave Cameron March 5, 2014 11:50 Dave Cameron: It’s Wednesday, so let’s chat. The queue is now open, so fire away. 12:01 Comment From _David_Would you support an auction system for the draft? I know you would like it abolished, but might this way remove the surcharge some teams might have to pay prospects who would prefer to sign elsewhere? 12:03 Dave Cameron: I would support an auction format for the draft, and in fact, that was part of my proposal to abolish it. You’d still want to have to a sliding scale of allocations — some prefer it based on prior season W/L record, I prefer it based on market size — but an auction system would democratize things a bit more. 12:03 Comment From doffbhoya123can the cubs be contenders this year? 12:03 Dave Cameron: Probably not, no. 12:03 Comment From _David_Is Fangraphs formulating a plan for a doomsday scenario where all the mlbam data is private? Would it involve FG paying for some level of access? 12:05 Dave Cameron: Well, obviously, we hope it becomes public and we get access to it. But I don’t know if I’d describe the creation of proprietary data as “doomsday”. Realistically, 2/3 of this system is already in place, with PITCHF/x and HITF/x, and we don’t have access to HITF/x data currently. I think there will always be a gap between what the teams have and what the public has, but it doesn’t make all the public data useless. 12:05 Comment From GrahamDo you play Strat-o-Matic, OOTP, DMB, or a similar sim/tabletop game? If so, which is your favorite? 12:06 Dave Cameron: I don’t currently, as I just don’t have time. I played Diamond Mind about 5-10 years ago and really enjoyed it. I don’t know how good the post-Tippett versions have been, though. 12:06 Comment From GuestWith the lack of power hitting first basemen in the majors right now, if Taveras proves he’s healthy, what are the chances the Cardinals trade Matt Adams during the season? 12:06 Dave Cameron: There’s nothing wrong with depth, especially given Allen Craig’s injury history. 12:07 Comment From AlexShould the Tigers explore a trade for Andre Ethier given the loss of Andy Dirks for 12 weeks? 12:07 Dave Cameron: It would seem to make sense, but I bet they go lower tier. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Mariners traded Michael Saunders in the next few weeks, and he’s a pretty similar player to Dirks. 12:08 Comment From GuestWho’s the frontrunner for the Royals 5 spot now that Hochevar is down? 12:08 Dave Cameron: Probably Ventura. 12:08 Comment From GuestTigers stay in-house to replace Dirks? 12:08 Dave Cameron: Rajai Davis isn’t totally useless, but ideally, you want him as a high leverage pinch-runner, which he can’t do when he starts. 12:08 Comment From BookbookAlex Castellanos is no star in the making, I know, but would he help a team as 4th OFer or are his numbers all Albuquerquee illusion? 12:09 Dave Cameron: Probably more of a 5th OF than a 4th OF. Albuquerque is a good place to hit. 12:09 Comment From spclxkis it reasonable to assume that Ervin Santana’s value is depreciating as he continues to remain unsigned throughout spring training? 12:10 Dave Cameron: Yes, his value is diminishing as it becomes less and less likely that he’d be able to join a rotation on Opening Day. That said, his agents argument will be that his cost is also increasing because there will be a spike in demand once injuries start occurring and he remains the only viable option on the market in April and May. 12:11 Comment From Ryan BrainYour puppy and “Hank the Dog” from Spring Training in Arizona – good play date match? 12:11 Dave Cameron: Liberty does like to play with smaller dogs, but she’s probably a little too high energy for the Brewers. 12:11 Comment From Milton BradleyDo you think the TV money bubble is going to burst for everyone or just the small market teams? 12:13 Dave Cameron: I don’t know that I see a burst bubble scenario, realistically. If Cable companies stop making huge TV rights offers to try and save their business model, MLBAM could simply step in and offer to take over and turn MLB.tv into an in-market retail product. This is where MLB.tv is headed eventually, and it provides a really nice safety net in case cable companies eventually die off. 12:13 Comment From spclxkBest case scenario, are the blue jays contending in September with the team as constructed right now? 12:13 Dave Cameron: Sure, but they’ll need a better second baseman between now and then. 12:14 Comment From MikeDo you have any projection for Gregory Polanco this year at the Major League level? 12:14 Dave Cameron: League average hitter, excellent defense and baserunning, stealth ROY candidate. 12:14 Comment From jocephushow quickly do you tire of spring training? 12:14 Dave Cameron: I find no real value in it anymore. 12:16 Comment From Concerned White Sox FanAny updates on this new data from MLB? It was unclear who would have access to what. Also, why wasn’t it installed in more stadiums? 12:17 Dave Cameron: Jonah Keri did a great Q&A with Bob Bowman at Grantland yesterday, and his responses were encouraging. 2014 is a test run, so they’re using 3 parks to validate that their collection and analyzation models work. Think of it as a product in beta. 12:18 Comment From Concerned White Sox FanHow do you think the new MLB data will affect Fangraphs specifically? 12:19 Dave Cameron: It all depends on how much of it gets released. If they open up the spigot and give us access to the actual data being captured, the community could theoretically could rebuild all of our fielding metrics based on reaction time, distance traveled, route efficiency, etc… That would be a pretty big deal, and obviously would lead to adjustments to WAR, etc… 12:20 Dave Cameron: It’s possible that they just release summary data, however, which would allow us to essentially test high level results against things like UZR and DRS, but it would be difficult to rebuild the defensive metrics without access to the play by play files. 12:20 Comment From Concerned White Sox FanWhat do you expect from Jose Abreu? 12:21 Dave Cameron: Everything I’ve heard so far has been positive. I’d say maybe top 10-20 hitter in MLB. 12:21 Comment From RickJust getting into SQL, wondering where/how I can get my hands on a thorough MLB database, any idea? 12:22 Dave Cameron: Retrosheet is your best bet. 12:22 Comment From RKover/under 1.5 trades including ML players before opening day? 12:22 Dave Cameron: Over. 12:22 Comment From JasonWill you be at an opening day game this year? What potential opening day matchup you most looking forward to? 12:22 Dave Cameron: We do an opening day live blog here on FG, and it’s far more helpful for me to be in front of a TV than at a stadium. 12:23 Comment From GuestHow come you guys don’t use video? I feel like video would be a really good medium for sabermetrics stuff. 12:24 Dave Cameron: Suggestions are always welcome, but the reality is that we’re not going to be able to put on a studio show like Clubhouse Confidential. The cost and time involved with making a professional video is significant. 12:24 Comment From Ned CollettiCan I (please) trade Carl Crawford, maybe with some name value? Of my four OFs, he’s by far the worst player and contract – man’s produced 2.5 WAR in the last three years while being paid $60 million to do so. 12:24 Dave Cameron: That’s a silly way to evaluate a player who has spent a large part of those years on the DL. Etheir’s the one to trade. 12:24 Comment From Chris206Dustin Ackley *looks* better this spring. With how much we hear about his confidence at the plate, do you think this may be a case where a good spring is more important than for most? 12:25 Dave Cameron: It doesn’t matter. 12:25 Comment From GSonWill the next commissioner of baseball push for a plan whereby the affordable / young talent can be skewed in favor of the small market teams, thereby improving the competitiveness of the league, overall? 12:25 Dave Cameron: No, the commissioner doesn’t have unilateral rights to make that kind of structural change. That would have to be a CBA issue. 12:25 Comment From Ringtone ComposerWhat is the spread in talent in baserunning among MLB players (in terms of runs)? 12:26 Dave Cameron: Probably +8 to -8, somewhere in there. 12:26 Comment From OrangeHey Dave, I’m moving to Asheville NC in a couple of days. Ever been to the area? Any thoughts? 12:27 Dave Cameron: Asheville is one of my five favorite places on earth. Run, don’t walk, to Curate, the best restaurant in town for a reasonable price. Also, if you’re not already a big time hiker, become one, because the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Linville Gorge area are awesome. 12:28 Comment From TylerSeems like your new inside edge data will be quickly obsolete with MLBAM data? Oh, and errors… 12:29 Dave Cameron: I think people are perhaps underestimating the amount of time it will take for legitimate conclusions to be reached based on BAM’s player tracking system, even if we are given access. Keep in mind that it won’t go live in all 30 parks for another year. Even when it does, we’ll have no way to do year to year correlation tests, and we simply won’t know how much to regress various statistics. 12:29 Dave Cameron: It’s not like we’re 12.5 months away from having solved fielding ratings. 12:29 Comment From Swing and a Miss Puiggydid FG pick up any other data that may be made available to the readers from Inside Edge aside from the defensive #’s? They seem to offer a wide slate of custom #’s 12:30 Dave Cameron: Yep, there’s more IE data coming to FG. 12:30 Comment From ZacharyIf there were one tool you valued most from a position player what would it be? Hitting? (Versus Power, Defense, Speed, Arm). 12:30 Dave Cameron: Power has the most demonstrative effect on a player’s value. 12:31 Comment From Joseph (Orlando, FL)Any reports from you or your people on Trevor Bauer’s two spring training appearances so far? 12:31 Dave Cameron: I’m reporting that they happened in Spring Training, and are therefore irrelevant. 12:31 Comment From GuestSullivan said that based on how players are currently being valued there wasn’t much more to gain with this new set of statistics as far a valueing players. Do you agree? 12:31 Dave Cameron: I don’t know the context of what he said, but based on your paraphrase, no, I wouldn’t. 12:32 Comment From TbirdWhy would the Mariners trade Saunders given their lack of outfield depth? Would they trade him for another outfielder, pitcher? 12:32 Dave Cameron: If they hand the CF job to Abraham Almonte, I could see them wanting a more veteran/bench type 4th OF. They fell in love with Endy Chavez for no reason last year, for instance. 12:33 Comment From BrianDo you see Puig or Harper having a better career. Obviously there are more unknowns with YP, but as far as skillsets, they grade out (or seem to) pretty similarly. The both play hard and want to learn hard. I’m sure answer is harper – but – how close could it be? 12:33 Dave Cameron: Harper’s a lot better. 12:34 Comment From GuestAre you a fan of the fact every park is different or would you prefer that every new park built hence for has the same dimensions? 12:34 Dave Cameron: I love the variety of MLB parks. Going to a standardized field would be awful. 12:34 Comment From RickTrue or false: in terms of wins (runs), the spread between the best and worst defensive teams in baseball is 15-20, as UZR/DRS indicate. 12:36 Dave Cameron: Well, you can’t just interchange wins and runs and act like the scale is the same for both. And the scale is much larger than you’re suggesting. The best defender is probably +50 or +60 runs worse than the worst defender who actually gets to play the field. 12:36 Comment From Will AtkinsonFor an aspiring baseball writer, what type of content should one focus on? 12:36 Dave Cameron: Find a niche and become the guy who owns that space. 12:36 Comment From AlexChris Davis is the 1b version of Giancarlo Stanton. Obviously, the attitude towards Stanton is way sexier – he’s 3 years younger and more handsome and more of an underdog, and davis is a late bloomer. But who’s to say these guys aren’t literally the same player (if not davis much better) over the next 5-7 years (until stanton’s youth helps)? davis at 1b will help him be healthy also. Is this a bad theory? 12:37 Dave Cameron: Yes, you’re essentially ignoring aging curves and everything that happened before 2013. 12:37 Comment From DylanWhy haven’t the Nationals locked up their core? Zimmerman,Desmond, and Fister are going to be FA after 2015. Harper and Strasburg are arbitration eligible and will be pricey. And attempting to buy low on Harper makes sense. 12:37 Dave Cameron: Makes sense for the team, not Harper. These guys want real money. 12:37 Comment From RyanO/u 87 wins for the O’s 12:37 Dave Cameron: Way under. 12:38 Comment From GuestWhat do you think explains the huge gulf between the recent BP catcher numbers and the contracts for the top defenders, like McCann clearly isn’t being paid at anywhere close to +3 wins from defense. 12:38 Dave Cameron: Even the teams that believe in framing aren’t willing to believe the current estimates in value. 12:39 Comment From BenDid the White Sox have the best offseason this year? 12:39 Dave Cameron: They’re up there, for sure. 12:39 Comment From AndrewGiven the relative dearth of power and offense compared to pitching right now, curious why the bidding for Abreu was less than half that of Tanaka. Their WAR projections are quite similar. Team need? 12:39 Dave Cameron: 1. Yankees needed an SP, not a 1B. 12:39 Dave Cameron: 2. Japanese players are easier to scout than Cubans. 12:40 Dave Cameron: 3. Tanaka is younger. 12:40 Comment From DylanAre teams like the Pirates taking a risk not calling up Tallion and Polanco to start the season? From what I hear both are pretty much ready and the difference bewtween Tallion/Polanco and Locke/Tabata has to be worth a couple wins, which could be the difference between making the playoffs and not 12:41 Dave Cameron: Sorry, no, even good young prospects aren’t worth “a couple of wins” over 4-6 weeks. If Polanco goes to Triple-A and tears things up while Tabata struggles, they’ll make the switch. 12:42 Comment From HobbsIs 1000 MLB at bats the point at which we believe MLB players will not “get better” appreciably? How heavily does age influence this probability? 12:42 Dave Cameron: I’d suggest googling “aging curves” and doing some reading. Short answer is that it’s way more complicated than that. 12:42 Comment From spclxkre: Ervin Santana’s agent POV about his value — do you buy it? Or are you willing to bet that his value will go down? 12:43 Dave Cameron: I don’t think the appetite for a multi-year deal will be there in-season. I think if he gets past Opening Day without signing, he takes a one year deal and hits the market again next year without a QO hanging over his head. 12:44 Comment From FitzHow good do you need to be at SQL and R in order for it to be useful to a Major League club? 12:44 Dave Cameron: If you’re working as a low level data analyst, SQL is basically a requirement. 12:45 Comment From matlockbrewers wins: o/u 81? 12:45 Dave Cameron: Under. 12:45 Comment From Gila MonsterCan we have a live blog for the Australia game? A “staying up an insane hour” support group if you will. 12:45 Dave Cameron: I did this for the games in Japan a few years ago, and it was awful. 12:45 Dave Cameron: So probably not. 12:45 Comment From mattquick note: retrosheet (as distributed) isn’t a database in the sense that it’s immediately queryable. there is at the very least a data loading step, and even then, you’ll want something like the chadwick register and/or the lahman db on hand to do real work with retrosheet data. 12:45 Dave Cameron: Correct. It’s probably better referred to as a data set. 12:46 Comment From BeattieCould I pay more for Fangraphs+ and get to shut up the video ads which start playing while I am working in another tab? 12:46 Dave Cameron: If you see an autoplay video ad, take a screen shot and use the contact us form to report it. 12:47 Comment From Making $$$$Put $40 to win $720 on the A’s winning the World Series. I mean that is just easy money right 12:48 Dave Cameron: That’s implied odds of 5%. Let me look at what our playoff odds page says. Hey, look, 5%. So the line agrees exactly with our estimate. So no. 12:48 Comment From JonoWho would you rather have hitting lead off & playing CF: Revere or Span? 12:48 Dave Cameron: Span, because he’s good and Revere is not. 12:49 Comment From matlockwill we ever see a hard cap for payroll? I feel that an even playing field will increase interest in the sport 12:49 Dave Cameron: A hard cap doesn’t create an even playing field. 12:49 Comment From j6takishAsheville is great.However You will spend your life expaining to people that you don’t live in Nashville 12:49 Dave Cameron: Also, you’re probably going to smell like weed. 12:50 Comment From CatoblepasIs possible defensive value less than possible offensive value? Is that part of the reason why we see so few defensive specialists? If 2001 Barry Bonds’s 118 OFF is a reasonable cap, what’s the theoretical DEF cap? 12:51 Dave Cameron: Yes, there are simply more opportunities to create value at the plate than in the field. A reasonable cap in defensive value is probably in the +50 range. 12:51 Comment From Swing and a Miss PuiggyInside edge claims to have all ex-mlb players as their stringers….can this be true? 12:51 Dave Cameron: Sure, why not? There are a lot of ex MLB players. 12:51 Comment From johnRuggiano – a kind of Shierholtzian break out in the friendly confines? or not enough playing time? 12:52 Dave Cameron: I don’t think he’ll breakout, but I think he’s roughly a league average player. 12:52 Comment From JoeThy NY Post says the Mariners are looking at David Phelps. What is a fair return going to the Yankees? 12:53 Dave Cameron: If the Mariners and Yankees make a trade, Nick Franklin will be in it. 12:53 Comment From garethDo you eat/drink at the ballpark? If so, whats your poison? 12:54 Dave Cameron: If I’m going to a new park for the first time, I’ll try the specialty item; Boog’s BBQ in Baltimore, for example. But generally, no, I avoid paying $10 for a terrible hamburger. 12:54 Comment From MasonReports out today that Masterson is asking for an extension in the 3-4 year and 40-60 million dollar area from the Indians. If true, the Indians should jump all over that, right? 12:54 Dave Cameron: Yes. 12:54 Comment From GuestSo you see the owners pushing through any measures to put downward pressure on salary inflation in the next CBA? 12:54 Dave Cameron: Nope. As long as MLB’s revenues are increasing (and they are), so too will salaries. 12:55 Comment From AJSpring Training is not irrelevant. Stats might be, but plenty of performances have predictive value. Bauer is one example–a guy re-making his delivery. Last year Scherzer worked his curveball all spring. I would’ve found that relevant. 12:55 Dave Cameron: It’s all post-hoc rationalization. You can’t tell in advance which of these tweaks matter and which are just noise. 12:56 Comment From BillyDo you know where I might find the raw totals going into the number for DRS and UZR before the players are compared to average at their position? 12:56 Dave Cameron: You’d have to buy them from Baseball Info Solutions. 12:56 Comment From Mr. XCubs worst team in baseball in 2014? 12:56 Dave Cameron: The Marlins say hello. 12:57 Comment From JonoIs Jon Daniels really a sleaze? 12:57 Dave Cameron: Based on my interaction with him, no. 12:57 Comment From garethI mentioned this in a chat before buy you really should come to progressive http://cleveland.indians.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130826&content_id=58488862&vkey=pr_cle&c_id=cle field in 2014 for puppypalooza 12:58 Dave Cameron: I don’t know how excited I am about a 7 hour car ride with the dog. 12:58 Comment From GuestWhat numbers should we be looking for with Inside Edge? Are there MLB averages for each set? 12:58 Dave Cameron: If you go to the leaderboards, click on league, and you’ll see the averages. 12:58 Comment From DanielAny idea the most WAR a player has been worth over one month? 12:59 Dave Cameron: Probably +4ish, back in one of Babe Ruth’s crazy years. 1:00 Comment From Swing and a Miss PuiggyIs it possible that rather than “not believing in the run values” teams are aware of the spread in values and not willing to pay for it until the market forces their hands? Basically a market inefficiency for now? 1:01 Dave Cameron: If more than one team believed in the spread, then the market would have already forced their hands. If anyone believed that Jose Molina was a +3 to +4 WAR catcher, he wouldn’t be signing for a couple of million and playing a few times a week for the Rays. 1:02 Comment From EricMost team’s analysts and developers are making 30% of what they could if they left baseball. Isn’t the first team to pay market rate for them going to have a huge advantage in getting the best ones? 1:02 Dave Cameron: It’s not so easy to identify “the best ones”. 1:02 Comment From Swing and a Miss Puiggywouldn’t Cistulli be perfect for the opening game chat? It’d probably be afternoon to evening in France…. 1:02 Dave Cameron: Carson will be in America for the month of March, actually. 1:03 Comment From DanielI have a friend with a math degree from Stanford (the exact degree I can’t remember) and he has the goal of working in baseball somehow. Any advice? 1:03 Dave Cameron: Have a backup plan. 1:03 Comment From DTSSPlease no video. It ads no value. On blogs I follow that have video and text posts, I usually skip the video ones. Text is a much more efficient medium for conveying information. 1:03 Dave Cameron: I’m pretty much in agreement. 1:04 Comment From SantosDoes Fangraphs pay to use the data it displays (BIS, Tango, UZR, etc) or does it have a non-monetary agreement with each, or are they all just freely available to use 1:04 Dave Cameron: We buy our data. 1:04 Comment From CatoblepasHard cap wouldn’t stop inflation, just channel it elsewhere. Longer/shorter deals (as the player prefers), opt-outs, perks, etc. Happened during WWII with price controls, and employers just started offering employees health insurance. 1:05 Dave Cameron: Yep. And the player’s association won’t simply stand around and let MLB pocket a larger share of the revenues. 1:05 Comment From JLate addition, but if you’re in Asheville try Tupelo for breakfast. Delicious pancakes! 1:06 Dave Cameron: Tupelo’s okay. A little overpriced/overcrowded. 1:07 Comment From guestDean Anna > Nick Franklin? 1:07 Dave Cameron: No. 1:07 Comment From PrichSantana/Morales/Drew… order of signings? 1:07 Dave Cameron: Morales, Drew, Santana. 1:08 Comment From Swing and a Miss PuiggyWe’ve been seeing umpiring on balls and strikes become more and more “accurate”…is is possible teams see pitch framing as something that could go away in the future so they’re uneasy about putting solid value on it? 1:09 Dave Cameron: As long as humans are calling balls and strikes, catchers will always be able to influence their calls. 1:09 Comment From Im not a sleazeballHow can I defend signing Joe Saunders? 1:09 Dave Cameron: He’s a serviceable depth piece and cost nothing. 1:10 Comment From GuestIn one game, is possible to accumulate more WAR than your opponent and lose? 1:10 Dave Cameron: Yeah, easily. Timing of events has a big impact on game outcome. 1:11 Comment From DanielBovoda odds to win AL West: Rangers 7/4; A’s 2/1; Angels 9/4/ Mariners 7/1; Astros 50/1. Would you put $5 on the Astros, because BASEBALL. 1:11 Dave Cameron: Not if I valued $5. 1:11 Comment From GuestCould a team openly have a policy of not offering a qualifying offer and make it public? 1:11 Dave Cameron: No, CBA prohibits team or player from engaging in any agreement ot circumvent QO process. 1:12 Comment From Slack Schpeinkehow does not offering a QO circumvent “the process?” 1:12 Dave Cameron: Agreeing to not offer it ahead of time violates the spirit of the rule. 1:13 Dave Cameron: And isn’t allowed. 1:13 Dave Cameron: Okay, lunch time. Thanks for hanging out everyone.