FanGraphs Chat – 5/7/14 by Dave Cameron May 7, 2014 11:41 Dave Cameron: It’s Wednesday, so let’s talk (non-fantasy) baseball for an hour or so. 11:41 Dave Cameron: The queue is open, and we’ll start around noon. 12:02 Comment From BenjiAt this point is Allen Craig broken? 12:03 Dave Cameron: He’s probably not going to be what he was in prior years, but at the same time, he actually hit really well last week, so there’s no reason to think he’s more broken now than you did 10 days ago. 12:03 Comment From zurzlesWhat to make of the Ian Kennedy resurgence? His K/9’s never been this high 12:03 Dave Cameron: The Padres have two catchers who rank very well in various framing metrics. 12:04 Comment From DanielAre the Padres’ hitters this bad? Are the Rockies hitters this good? Is it possible that park factors don’t account for all of the psychological stuff that goes along with hitting in an extreme hitters/pitchers ballpark? 12:05 Dave Cameron: No one is as bad or as good as they look right now. The Rockies will come back to earth, and the Padres will score some runs. In terms of park factors, keep in mind that if the mental aspect shows up in on the field performance, then park factors will measure it, because that’s where park factors come from. 12:05 Comment From RagsIs anyone else amused that after all our complaining about not using the best RPs in high leverage situations (instead of save situations), it’s kinda happening anyway because of arbitration concerns? 12:06 Dave Cameron: Closers actually pitch in higher leverage situations, on average, than setup guys. Pitching the 9th inning is a high leverage situation on most occasions. 12:07 Comment From DarrenWith Colby Rasmus heating up, have the Jays missed the opportunity to extend him before the end of season 12:07 Dave Cameron: Most players don’t want to negotiate in-season, and so they probably missed their opportunity once Opening Day rolled around. 12:09 Comment From Another JeffWe knew a healthy Stanton and Fernandez would be great, but are you a believer in the Marlins’ offensive performance to date? Sullivan’s chart of season wRC for similar April starts seems to make an historical case for taking them seriously. 12:10 Dave Cameron: I’m not buying into their offense just yet. Lots of room to fall for guys like Yelich, Ozuna, and McGehee. 12:10 Comment From TimRe: Laz Diaz. Maybe out of your realm, but… does MLB lack critical info on how fans react to umpires? Seems to me umpires affect the product and MLB has zero way to access fan opinion with regards to umpire tantrums. 12:10 Dave Cameron: You don’t think MLB watches Twitter? 12:11 Comment From MattWhat are your thoughts on Justin Verlander? His BB/9 seems to be a full point higher than his career numbers yet his FIP is right in line with where it was when he was elite. Was last year an aberration or are we going to see that FIP rise in the near future? 12:11 Dave Cameron: His FIP this year is based on an insanely low home run rate, which is the least predictive part of FIP. If he doesn’t start missing bats soon, the homers will come, and his FIP will rise. 12:11 Comment From Ringtone ComposerWho would you rather have in your farm system: Javier Baez or Mookie Betts? 12:12 Dave Cameron: Baez, probably, but that might depend on defensive abilities. I’ve heard talk that Betts could move back to SS eventually, and if he’s good enough with the glove to handle short, maybe he’s closer to Baez than everyone thought before the season started. 12:12 Comment From PonderosaWould HR/K tell you anything interesting about a hitter? 12:13 Dave Cameron: Not anything you couldn’t better get from looking at other numbers. 12:13 Comment From zurzlesIf it takes 600 BIP for LD% to be reliable, is it just generally unwise to put stock in LD% season-to-season? 12:14 Dave Cameron: LD% fluctuates a lot. You shouldn’t really use it as a predictive tool. 12:15 Comment From meatHow many IP does it typically take for xFIP or SIERA to stabilize? 12:16 Dave Cameron: I really, really wish Russell Carlelton would have chosen another word for his study, because “stabilize” gives off such a wrong impression of what he was actually trying to say. If you’re asking how long before a pitcher’s xFIP becomes an indicator of his true talent level, the answer is basically never, and this is true for almost every stat. If you want to know how good a player is right now, use multiple years of data and regression. Basically, look at a projection system, and not single year numbers. 12:17 Comment From JoeThoughts on Tanaka thus far? 12:17 Dave Cameron: Splitter is amazing, as advertised. Fastball is just okay, though, and I think he may end up as closer to Iwakuma than Darvish. 12:18 Comment From JBDWas sad to see the O’s near the bottom of your recent article on wOBA+baserunning for and against. Could you have just used “off” for every hitter on the roster, instead of the calculations you used? 12:19 Dave Cameron: OFF and DEF are both set to runs above average, which creates a problem for teams who have played different numbers of games. Being +10 runs above average in one game is much better than being +10 runs above average in 30 games. 12:19 Comment From GuestHow does one calculate team WAR into team wins? 12:20 Dave Cameron: Team WAR + 48.6 will give an estimated final season record. So, if a team is on pace for +35 WAR, then we’d expect them to finish with around 83-84 wins. 12:20 Comment From Gavin ZHow sustainable is the marlins early season performance and at what point of the season would you say run differential becomes relevant (and less a function of sample size)? 12:21 Dave Cameron: There’s no reason to focus on run differential as a way to evaluate a team. 12:21 Dave Cameron: If you want to strip the timing aspect out of wins and losses, you should also want to strip it out of runs scored and runs allowed. 12:21 Comment From RyanWhen does Alex Guerrero get the call? Defense is suspect, but the bat looks legit. Dee Gordon can only keep it up so long…. 12:21 Dave Cameron: They’re not going to replace Gordon while he’s hitting. 12:22 Comment From J. PetermanTrumped by the offensive juggernauts in the Rockies lineup, is Nolan Arenado off to the best under-the-radar start in baseball? 12:22 Dave Cameron: I’d say that’s Desmond Jennings. 12:22 Comment From GregMookie Betts already with a home run to lead off today’s game against Reading. His numbers over the last calendar year have been absurd. Do you think he’ll be up at some point this year (even September)? How long do the Red Sox wait to give him experience at another position? In a recent article on him, he’s quoted saying that he felt more comfortable in center field and only moved to the middle infield at the suggestion of the front office. Given Fenway’s large right field and Bradley’s strong arm, might we eventually see Mookie in CF and Bradley in right. 12:23 Dave Cameron: Generally if you have a player who can play the infield, you don’t want to move them to the outfield unless you have to. Betts is most valuable as a 2B (or maybe SS if he can play there), and thus most valuable to Boston as a trade chip. 12:23 Comment From Another PoetIs Carson happy or somewhat troubled about Charlie Blackmon’s rise? Seems like the answer should be “happy,” but he is a strange one! 12:24 Dave Cameron: He doesn’t keep on loving guys after they succeed. He only loves them when they suck. 12:24 Dave Cameron: Or people don’t realize they’re good yet. 12:25 Comment From AnonymousJust listened to the latest fangraphs audio; sorry to hear about your grandfather’s cold case. Have you already seen the documentary and will you be in Baltimore for the showing? 12:26 Dave Cameron: I saw it on Sunday at a family screening; 10 of the 13 siblings and a good number of cousins/spouses were there as well. I flew to SF for that screening because I won’t be able to make it to Baltimore this weekend, unfortunately. But you should still go! 12:27 Comment From DrewIs this what we should expect from Kyle Seager? 12:27 Dave Cameron: Pretty much, yes. 12:27 Comment From LarsFrank Thomas humorously declared last month that the balls are “juiced” which is why so many home runs were hit in the first week. When I think of possible juiced ball seasons, 1987 first comes to mind with Wade Boggs’ 24 HR standing out. Then of course we realized it was more likely PEDs and not a juiced ball causing more home runs. What’s your take on the juiced ball theory? 12:27 Dave Cameron: Home Runs are down this year compared to previous Aprils, so… 12:27 Comment From Wacha Flacha FlameMichael Wacha is for real, right? 13.2% whiff rate, keeps the ball on the ground enough to avoid a HR problem, reasonable BABIP… plus, hitters are whiffing at an insane 22.5% of his pitches IN THE ZONE. That’s the best in the league besides Dickey. 12:27 Dave Cameron: Yeah, he’s really good. 12:28 Comment From MakDoes Kris Bryant end the season in the majors or AAA? 12:28 Dave Cameron: Big leagues. 12:28 Comment From LarsWith some teams pulling in their fences in recent years (Seattle, NY Mets), could this partly explain the dip in league batting average? (which hasn’t been this low since 1972) I understand pitching overall is better, but don’t smaller ballparks help pitchers by giving fielders less ground to cover? 12:28 Dave Cameron: Smaller ballparks are generally more hitter friendly, since they turn outs into home runs. 12:29 Dave Cameron: Home runs are also down, so I don’t think your theory holds. 12:29 Comment From SabrmagicianHow does one determine whether a statistic is predictive or merely descriptive? 12:29 Dave Cameron: You see how well that statistic predicts the future. 12:30 Comment From Rated RookieCould Wieters (continue to) play at DH with a damaged UCL? 12:30 Dave Cameron: Theoretically, yes. I believe Pujols played a few years with an elbow problem that needed surgery. Not a good idea, though, since he’s most valuable as a catcher. 12:30 Comment From Tigersin14Robbie Ray was outstanding last night and Doug Fister is broken down injured. Who won the trade now??? 12:30 Dave Cameron: All the people who understand critical thinking and process-based evaluation? 12:31 Comment From GuestHas Prince Fielder already peaked? I thought Arlington would have helped him out. 12:31 Dave Cameron: Big guys age poorly, and early. 12:32 Comment From BryanIf one were to take ROSw% on the Playoff Odds page at face value, what warnings might you give them? Do they account for known injuries? Might they underreflect what we’ve learned so far this year? 12:33 Dave Cameron: Yes, they account for injuries, and they are based on projections that include current year performance. They don’t know about future roster moves, however, so a team that makes a bunch of trades at the deadline or calls up some good young players from the minors could be undersold. 12:34 Comment From MakSpeaking of broken, what is going on with Gyorko? 12:34 Dave Cameron: He’s not as good as the Padres think? 12:34 Comment From Sammy SooserArizona’s a wreck. If you’re running the show, do you blow it up like the Cubs and Astros did? Their systems are stocked now. 12:34 Dave Cameron: They have some good young players already in place, so they don’t need to go in the tank. But they need a new plan. 12:35 Comment From GuestAs a follow up to the Cano/Pedroia article, wouldn’t you highly favor offense over defense in a single game scenario? You know a player will get PAs, but you don’t know if a player will get fielding ops in the 15 12:35 Dave Cameron: That there is game to game variance in fielding opportunities does not make fielding less valuable. 12:36 Comment From GuestSeems like everyone in the Rockies lineup is hitting over .300. In past seasons when huge drag scores held the team back, is depth the key reason the Rockies are being successful? Unworldly start from Tulo aside… 12:36 Dave Cameron: No, Unwordly Tulo is why they’re off to a hot start, with a side of Unworldly Blackmon thrown in. 12:37 Comment From disco derkWhy wouldn’t the Jays keep Lawrie at 2nd to fill that black hole, move Bautista back to 3rd and find a servicable right fielder that would represent a net upgrade over their previous second basemen? 12:37 Dave Cameron: Because Bautista was moved to the OF for a reason. 12:37 Comment From DanielI think I understand the concept of “park-adjusted”, but is it possible some parks are adjusted better than others? Does that even make sense? 12:38 Dave Cameron: Sure; park factors aren’t perfect, and for places like Coors, we don’t entirely know how to measure what the park does when a team goes on the road. 12:38 Comment From disco derkIf all players were free agents at the end of the year would the highest paid players be Trout and Fernandez? 12:38 Dave Cameron: No, there are a bunch of hitters who would get longer/bigger deals than any pitcher. 12:39 Comment From MarkWhat metrics are best to look at if I want to determine whether a veteran (Jason Kubel in this case) can carry an unusually high LD% compared to past performance? Thanks for chatting! 12:39 Dave Cameron: Assume he can’t. 12:39 Comment From JustinIf you were John Mozeliak would you call up Oscar Taveras or wait until this roster sorts out it’s hitting woes? 12:40 Dave Cameron: Depends on if I thought Craig’s offensive problems were related to playing the OF. If they are, then I’d move Craig back to 1B and use Taveras in RF. If they’re not, then I’d probably wait and let Craig try to get himself straightened out. 12:40 Comment From Jacks ColonI understand SSS, but how does a power/speed guy like Springer progress? Is he not running bc of a low OBP or is he focusing more on hitting and he’ll run later? 12:41 Dave Cameron: How are you supposed to run from the bench? 12:41 Comment From TimObviously, line drives are more likely than grounders to turn into hits, but are there precise baselines for each category of ball put into play (LD/GB/FB)? 12:42 Dave Cameron: If you go to the leaderboards, click league, and then use the splits drop down to select batted ball types, and you can see the data there for any year back to 2002. 12:42 Comment From BarvesIf contract wasn’t an issue, would BJ Upton’s be a MLB player? 12:42 Dave Cameron: Sure. He was a good player two years ago. Teams don’t give up on guys that fast. 12:43 Comment From FI-curiousDo Walker & Paxton’s missed time mean that they can go full-bore the rest of the season without running into their inning limits? 12:43 Dave Cameron: Arm injuries should cause you to be more conservative with a pitcher, not less. 12:44 Comment From JasonHave we reached a point where we can say that Paul Goldschmidt is truly one of the elite hitters in the game? It’s early, but he seems to be picking up where he left off last season. 12:44 Dave Cameron: Yeah, he’s a beast. 12:44 Comment From ErikThere’s seems to be a lot of smoke around Kendrys Morales eventually signing with the Orioles. How does this in anyway make sense?? They already have a terrible defender, DH type player with Cruz. Why would they even look at Morales? 12:44 Dave Cameron: I think he signs with either the Mariners or Angels. 12:45 Comment From KlatzyDo defensive metrics for 1b measure the ability to catch errant throws (i.e. dig out low throws). Or is it indirectly measured by number of outs per opportunity? 12:46 Dave Cameron: Yeah, digs are included. And it turns out that the gap between the best and worst digger at the MLB level is barely noticeable, a couple of runs per year. 12:46 Comment From D GoldDo we know the exact date for the Super 2 cutoff this year? 12:46 Dave Cameron: It’s impossible to know the exact date. 12:47 Comment From TubeAny reason to believe Sabathia can be effective with reduced velocity? 12:47 Dave Cameron: You mean besides the fact that he’s not walking batters, striking out plenty, and still getting ground balls? 12:48 Comment From Jon LesterHow is my WAR higher than Jose Fernandez? I know I’m doing well, but that surprises me. 12:48 Dave Cameron: Pitching in Boston in the AL is tougher than in Miami in the NL. 12:48 Comment From Johnny RocketsRe: Rasmus – Is this type of production sustainable? Eno had talked in a recent podcast about JHamilton being a wild swinger, but that he made enough (powerful) contact to produce. Is Rasmus somewhere between Hamilton and Upton when it comes to power among wild-swingers? 12:49 Dave Cameron: He’s the kind of guy I wouldn’t want to give a ton of money to long term. This kind of approach works while you have power, but lose any of it and you’re screwed. 12:50 Comment From PaxHow does Corey Dickerson ultimately see everyday AB’s? Will it be on the Rockies or by way of an eventual trade? 12:51 Dave Cameron: Probably needs a trade. 12:51 Comment From JimPedroia has 30 more net SB than Cano over the past 3 seasons. Do the other baserunning numbers really suggest they’re about even on the base paths? 12:51 Dave Cameron: 44 extra steals, 14 extra outs trying to steal. That makes the value of those steals very low. 12:52 Comment From BrianHow would Craig’s offensive woes be related to playing the OF? Is it b/c his legs are more fatigued, he can’t drive the ball as well? Or something else? 12:53 Dave Cameron: Right, that would be the theory: playing OF is exacerbating foot problems he’s had in the past, and power comes from your lower half. 12:54 Comment From SKAre you concerned about Chris Sale? 12:54 Dave Cameron: I’d be concerned about any pitcher who is on the DL with arm problems. 12:55 Comment From RickAfter the start of the season, which transaction from your list of the 10 best and 10 worst has your opinion changed on the most? 12:55 Dave Cameron: The Dexter Fowler trade. If the Rockies had any inkling that Charlie Blackmon was good, that deal makes a lot more sense. 12:56 Comment From Dave S.It blows my mind that more Major League hitters can’t stay inside a baseball and beat the shift many teams are putting on 12:56 Dave Cameron: It has nothing to do with “staying inside the baseball”. Hitting opposite field ground balls is hard. 12:57 Comment From GregRe: Mookie Betts. If he could serve as the back up middle infielder while starting in the outfield wouldn’t that recoup some of the value lost? They’d get Mookie instead of your typical weak bat backup middle infielder, an extra roster spot to for a stronger bench bat and more innings going to the 4th outfielder (meaning there’s also more incentive to pay for a slightly better one). Does that seem reasonable? 12:58 Dave Cameron: He’s too good to be a utility player long term. Maybe they could use him that way this year, but at some point, he needs an everyday job. 12:58 Comment From Dave EssesI am shocked that some players dont PRACTICE slapping a ground ball to the opposite field and beating the shift. If they start hitting over .400 with the shift, teams would stop, and then you can hit normally again! 12:58 Dave Cameron: Again, it’s not easy to do. 12:59 Comment From SantosI am shocked that some player dont PRACTICE hitting homeruns. If they hit 400 homeruns, teams would stop pitching to them. 1:00 Dave Cameron: Alright, off to get some lunch and write about the Gregory Polanco contract offer. Talk to you guys next week.