Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 1/31/19

Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon from Brooklyn, where it’s a comparatively balmy 11 degrees (-4 with wind chill). The Hall of Fame circus has left town, but having missed last week’s post-announcement chat slot, I’ll still take questions on that topic, as well as hot stove stuff

Syndergaardians of the Galaxy : Even though I am an obsessive baseball fan, i don’t know much about Hector Santiago. So I was surprised to see him #6 on the Mets starter depth chart in Szymborski’s ZIPS article on the Mets, ahead of Cory Oswalt. Is this just a projections thing, or has there been word that the Mets see him this way?

Jay Jaffe: I wouldn’t read much into it, honestly. Santiago has been a versatile and occasionally competent swingman over the years, while Oswalt was dreadful as a rookie last year. We’re talking about a projection for 38 innings versus one for 19 innings, and the likelihood is that there will be some jockeying in the spring, and perhaps another free agent added on a minor league deal who supersedes them both.

Guest: I tweeted you this already but:
Scott Rolen:
70.2/43.7/56.9/ 17 Yrs / 7 ASG / 122 OPS+

65.5/41.8/53.7/ 20 Yrs / 7 ASG / 112 OPS+

Thoughts?  Shouldn’t he be getting a lot more love from stat people?

Jay Jaffe: Rolen gets plenty of love from “stat people” — it’s the general BBWAA electorate that has been relatively reserved (17% included him this year), but that’s also a function of the clogged ballot, which will become considerably roomier over the next five years, as I wrote earlier this week (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/closing-the-floodgates-the-next-five-years…). I expect Rolen’s vote share to climb, especially as he’ll be the next guy in the Raines-Martinez-Walker lineage of players who get a push from the analytics community

yojiveself: Would you give Harper/Machado a 10 year contract?

Jay Jaffe: Yes, though which one would depend on the needs of my team. I would very much like to own each player’s next 5 or so years, and after that, if I’m out of my GM/President of Baseball Ops job, it’s somebody else’s problem!

AT: Is Jenrry Mejia really the best the Sox will do in their pen?

Jay Jaffe: I strongly suspect he’s not the last reliever they’ll sign before Opening Day, and after 3 years away from organized ball, i would also strongly suspect he spends a lot of time in the minors before getting a taste of the majors. He’s a depth piece

Syndergaardians of the Galaxy : If I was a HoF voter, I’d vote for Bonds & Clemens, and I’m glad that so many actual voters are doing so. But I’m not crazy about the “can’t tell baseball’s story without them” rationale, as wouldn’t that apply to Pete Rose just as much?

Jay Jaffe: Yes, but Pete Rose did The One Thing guaranteed to get you banned for life, and he’s absolutely too dumb to see how easy it would be to get reinstated. I could have written him a press release that would have gotten him restored: “Hi, I’m Pete Rose and I have a gambling addiction. Through years of counseling, I have learned about the dangers of gambling and the harm that I have caused, and I understand how badly I have erred in the eyes of Major League Baseball. If reinstated, I will spend the remainder of my years helping to inform and the general public about this problem while continuing to undergo counseling. I hope the commissioner sees fit to reinstate me. “

Jay Jaffe: Other than wounding his pride, I can’t see what negatives there are to preventing that statement from happening.

Nelson: Would you rather HOF voting the way it is now, or 5 year limit, but unlimited votes for ballot?

Jay Jaffe: I hate the 10-slot rule and love the Binary Ballot idea (as former BBWAA pres Derrick Goold termed it). 5 chances seems about right.

Guest: When will people start to recognize Kevin Brown? He was 5%ed off but no one even recognizes him on lists of best not to reach 5%. He should get more love

Jay Jaffe: Ahem:  https://www.si.com/mlb/strike-zone/2014/01/06/jaws-and-the-2014-hall-o…

Kevin Brown presented a rather unlovable public persona and did himself no favors by winding up in the Mitchell Report and then on the ballot (2011) without ever really addressing the matter. Because he was 5%’d, he’s ineligible for Today’s Game committee consideration through the end of what would have been his ballot tenure (2020). As a sub-5% one-and-done guy, he’ll have an uphill climb to wind up on a committee ballot (so far, only Ted Simmons has even gotten on a ballot, while Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich have not).

Kurupt FM: Do you see the current trend of high value placed on prospects and low value being placed on free agents swinging too far to one side? Could a middling franchise actually take advantage of a cold free agent market and find a lot of efficiency in free agents?

Jay Jaffe: We may already be at that point. A team with a bit of money to play with right now could really fortify itself without breaking the bank, but it’s telling that revenues have become so decoupled from on-field performance that most teams see such expenditures as too risky.

The system is broken, and while we wait for the two sides to hash it out — perhaps with a strike — it’s going to take a relatively daring team to go for it and have success.

ChickenOfTheSea: It’s 72 here in South Florida but the Marlins still exist so, you know, swings and roundabouts. Speaking of which, JT Realmuto is going to be a Padre, right? They’re going to send a few of their 9 billion prospects, and this thing is finally going to happen? Please?

Jay Jaffe: my guess is that it’s the Dodgers who finally nab Realmuto, thus salvaging a pretty unimpressive offseason beyond their retention of Kershaw. Aside from the return of Corey Seager, they won’t have a single position where they’re really better than in 2018, and as Brian Cashman likes to say, if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.

Big Joe Mufferaw: What is YOUR favorite fix to the “frozen” free agent market that we have been seeing? (deadline, caps, floors, max deals, etc)

Jay Jaffe: Remove the incentives to lose big by creating a draft lottery system that rewards teams for competing. Fall short of the wild card? You’ve got a better chance at getting the top pick of the draft than a team that was dead last in payroll en route to 100+ losses.

James: How many more years does Andrelton Simmons need to perform at his current level to be a HOFer and who would be on his cap? He has 19 and 20 left on his current deal and his best years by far have been with the Angels

Jay Jaffe: probably about 4 more years in the 5-6 win range (he’s at 13.3 bWAR over the past 2 years, for reference). That more or less eyeballs as getting him to the peak standard (WAR7) for shortstops. As to hats, it’s far too early to care — right now, it’s obviously the Angels, but we have no idea where he’ll spend his 30s. A step down in play, but for a championship team, changes the equation.

Alex: What should us Braves fans think about Gohara?  Starter, reliever?  Is he still a top prospect or does his stock take a big hit after last season?

Jay Jaffe: I think he’s got a good chance to beat Mothra in their upcoming battle. Beyond that, I’ll direct you to Eric and Kiley’s latest writeup https://blogs.fangraphs.com/top-29-prospects-atlanta-braves/. From what I can glean, if his command and changeup can be at least average — and if he can stay healthy – he’s a starter.

Big Joe Mufferaw: Even on a 10 year contract. Harper and Machado “Should” be productive for the first 7! (All prime years!). If I am a team this is a HUUGE contention window. I’m willing to build a team around him and “suffer” the last 3.

Jay Jaffe: Hell yes.

Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: Would you be open to Pete Rose’s posthumous entry into the Hall of Fame? On one hand, he has been an absolute clown since his ban from baseball…on the other hand, is that too petty?

Jay Jaffe: He never did anything productive to get himself reinstated. He lied about his gambling for years and years, then tried to make a buck out of coming clean via his book. To hell with him, I don’t want him in the Hall, even after death.

“super” teams: It’s a dumb term, but, among the Astros, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Nationals… did any of them actually get better yet this offseason? I guess the Paxton move and such mean the Yankees did.

Jay Jaffe: I’d call the Nationals’ efforts — adding Corbin, Sanchez, Rosenthal, Gomes/Suzuki, Dozier and Adams a very solid effort to improve, and I’d put the Yankees there. Much less to be said in the positive about the other three teams’ offseasons, though there’s still time to change that.

Rivera: Why do you think he was the guy, finally? Yes, fully qualified, etc, very famous. But is it just because no one has ever said a bad word about the man? Could that not have been said about a Musial or Griffey, etc?

Jay Jaffe: As I wrote last week (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/candidate-by-candidate-look-at-the-2019-ha…), Rivera’s unanimity represented a perfect storm of voter accountability, transparency, a candidate who was the best ever at his speciality, and a man universally respected throughout the industry, one who lived up to the responsibility of being the last player to wear Jackie Robinson’s otherwise-retired number 42, in order for it all to come together. Yes, it’s ridiculous that it took so long, and that better (more complete) players did not have the title of Mr. Unanimous, but I’m glad it happened.

BTW, it’s a good place to mention that today is Jackie Robinson’s 100th birthday. He’d be mad as hell about the state of our country and the game of baseball with regards to minority representation, which should present cause for deep reflection on all of our parts.

Daniel: Understanding your position on using bWAR vs fWAR for JAWS, do you think Andy Pettitte’s candidacy may be the only one that turns on which WAR is used?

Jay Jaffe: I think the high raw ERA (still a very good 117 ERA+), lack of strikeouts, lack of awards/honors, and HGH admission will all do more to keep Pettitte out than which WAR is used to evaluate his career.

Moltar: I’m a little meh on the totality of the Mets’ on-field acquisitions, but I am very encouraged by some of the front office hires they’ve made. I wa salready encouraged by the Guttridge hiring, but having Russell Carleton in the organization is amazing

Jay Jaffe: It was very cool to see the news about Russell’s hiring. I’m a great admirer of his work, including his book, The Shift. https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/46832/baseball-therapy…

Big Joe Mufferaw: Michael Jordan gambled a bunch in basketball. If let’s say Willie Mays had gambled, would he get the same Pete Rose treatment? And like steroids, I’m SURE Pete Rose is not the only one to have gambled (probably some in the HOF). It seems like it will be one of those things, where they induct him once he dies.. Which is ridiculous..

Jay Jaffe: As has been written about many times, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker got mixed up in a gambling scandal in 1926 (https://www.espn.com/classic/s/2001/0730/1233060.html) but managed to extricate themselves, in part because gambling was still present within the sport.

As for Mays, his treatment thereafter would have depended upon whether or not he showed contrition. As it was, there WAS a period in the 1980s that both he and Mickey Mantle were banned because they had accepted jobs as greeters at an Atlantic City casino. That was one of many dumb decisions by commissioner Bowie Kuhn, but it does show a willingness to err on the side of caution even with regards to superstars, so I think he would have been majorly hosed had he been caught actually gambling. https://www.nytimes.com/1985/03/19/sports/mays-mantle-reinstated-by-ba…

Xolo: Will Fangraphs ever add playoff stats? Especially now that postseason play helped get Mo into the Hall, it’d be interesting to get some perspective on how players have done.

Jay Jaffe: It would be a nice thing to have, I agree. I know we’ve discussed it and I can’t remember the obstacles, but I’ll add it to the wish list of things that I’d like to see on FanGraphs, including K+ (indexed strikeout rate), RED (Chris Dial’s defensive system, which is part of the Gold Gloves SABR Defensive Index), catcher framing and more.

Steve: How hypocritical is it going to be when the writers elect reported steroid user David Ortiz in a couple of years?

Jay Jaffe: As I wrote in my five-year outlook piece earlier this week, it’s going to be a very weird thing to see the differential treatment that Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez receive in their first year on the ballot (2022), which will also be the last year of eligibility for Bonds and Clemens. We can hope that there’s enough cognitive dissonance for a substantial bloc of holdouts to rethink their entrenched positions — I think that’s what it’s going to take to get BB and RC over the hump.

Steve: At this point – shouldn’t some blame for having all these unsigned free agents go to the agents? Were they asleep all last season? Do they think their clients are magically going to get deals in February?

Jay Jaffe: Definitely some blame. I mentioned Scott Boras’ misread of the market in my Greg Holland piece yesterday (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/greg-holland-takes-a-pay-cut/). The root cause of this, however, is the players agreeing to a relatively weak set of terms in the latest CBA, with not enough of a rise in the competitive balance tax threshold, and a change in the way revenue is shared (see Craig Edwards’ piece here) https://blogs.fangraphs.com/as-revenue-sharing-money-heads-back-to-the…

James: With the price presumably falling, Dallas Keuchel returning to Houston is a no-brainer right? Astros need someone to eat innings, and he has proven effective at that for awhile now.

Jay Jaffe: I don’t know about a no-brainer, but it definitely makes some sense. I’ll have something on the top remaining free agents up at FG tomorrow.

radermecher: Jay,how far back,can DRC+ be realistically used.

Jay Jaffe: While I think DRC+ is promising  and have great respect for Jonathan Judge, its creator, I’m not sold yet on it, mostly because I don’t yet understand how they can use single-year park factors. It’s something I need to look at more closely.

Roger: What is your predicted order of finish for the NL East this year?

Jay Jaffe: I’m 100% certain the Marlins will be 5th. Ask me about the other four teams once Harper and Machado sign somewhere.

Jeff: Why does it seem like the owners don’t have to do anything to get fans on their side? Are most fans secretly billionaires?

Jay Jaffe: The median household income in the US is something like $56K, and most of the people making that money don’t belong to labor unions. They see what the players are making for “playing” a “kid’s game” while spending much less time thinking about all of the ways in which the owners are getting handouts. It’s much easier to think about millionaires with faces and names that are in the news daily than billion-dollar corporations and owners who don’t have nearly so high a public profile.

Corry: Are the Yankees the favorites to win the AL East the way they’re currently constituted?

Jay Jaffe: We have the Red Sox forecast for 97 wins and the Yankees for 96. Any substantial move or injury could alter that pecking order but that’s well within the margin for error — right now, this looks like a tossup.

Hobbs: Do you know when all of the minor league player projections will be completed?  We have minor league drafts coming up very soon and these would help greatly.

Jay Jaffe: Ask Dan Szymborski, he’s the one doing ZiPS.

Jeff: What kind of HoF case does CC Sabathia have? His career seems anong the last of a dying breed – the true workhorse ace

Jay Jaffe: Decent case but not great. He’s going to notch his 250th win and 3,000th strikeout — just the third lefty to reach the latter plateau — early this season, which will help. His peak isn’t especially high, so he doesn’t do great in JAWS. I’ve written about him a bunch since coming over to FG; see  https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-reinvention-of-cc-sabathia/ and https://blogs.fangraphs.com/zack-greinkes-climb-towards-cooperstown/

Jeff: How hypocritical is it that Mejia’s ban got lifted? Is it lifted if he were a true elite who couldn’t just be scooped up with a MiL deal?

Jay Jaffe: MLB’s lifetime bans come with the opportunity to apply for reinstatement, a condition that applies to Mejia as much as it does to all-time great Pete Rose. Only one of those two players was able to convince a commissioner that he had reformed. If he were a better player, he’d probably get a bigger deal upon reinstatement, but the truth is that Mejia is just another reliever.

Sonny Slayhern: Clint Frazier- Last I saw he was a 55 FV prospect, and the injuries have really taken off his shine. LF seems to be a position ripe for the taking while Stanton DH’s in NY. Do you still foresee him as an above average everyday player?

Jay Jaffe: It was a lost year for Frazier due to his concussion and post-concussion problems. With that kind of injury, there’s always a concern about its longer-term impact (see Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer), and I don’t think we’ll really know what kind of lingering effects there are for him. With Gardner re-signing and Ellbury somehow still on the roster in addition to Hicks, Judge and Stanton, there’s no immediate room for Frazier but it’s not unthinkable that sometime this spring or summer he could play his way into the picture, with Garner on the outbound.

Trent: If the Padres sign Machado, where will their infield rank in, say, two years.  Would Hosmer, Machado, Urias, and Tatis surpass the great infields we’ve seen in Houston, Chicago, and elsewhere recently?

Jay Jaffe: It’s juuuuuust a bit early to start ranking that group as one of the great ones in recent memory given that 1) Hosmer was dreadful last year (95 wRC+, -0.1 WAR); 2) two of the four guys you mention don’t have substantial MLB experience; and 3) then there’s the issue of convincing Manny to sign with the Padres.

Other than that, yeah, by all means, put them in the class of the Astros and Cubs!

kevinthecomic: Rotoworld saying the Rockies are talking to CarGo about rejoining the team. That just means they’ll play him, doesn’t it?

Jay Jaffe: Jesus, Felipe, and Matty Alou, it never ends. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/why-cant-the-rockies-put-together-an-outfi…

Turtle Jetpack: Are Ichiro’s accomplishments strictly in MLB Hall-worthy?  Part of what makes him so amazing is the fact he came over after having a lot of success in Japan, right?  He was great for the first 6-7 years with Seattle, but it wasn’t a long peak.

Jay Jaffe: He exceeds the peak standard among RF (43.7 to 42.1), outranks Vlad, Winfield, and like a dozen other RFs in JAWS), has over 3,000 hits, 10 All-Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves, MVP, ROY, a 234 Hall of Fame Monitor score (where 100 is a likely HOFer and 130 a lock)… yeah, I think he’s got this.

Ben: In your opinion, how many years should players remain on the HOF ballot? Is ten the right number?

Jay Jaffe: I’m OK with the 10-year limit but think the Hall should have changed the slot limit from 10 to at least 12 as a concession for cutting from 15 years to 10. It was grossly unfair to wave off five years of candidates’ eligibility in mid-term, and we’re lucky that Raines, Martinez and Mussina survived that and were elected.

Turtle Jetpack: Pujols was a Hall of Famer after his Cardinal career ended, right?

Jay Jaffe: Basically, yeah.

Environment: What changes might the yankees’ environment hire make for a team? Would we as fans notice?

Jay Jaffe: If you go to games at Yankee Stadium, I imagine you’d notice some things. More thoughtful ways of packaging food and handling waste mainly, but I bet a lot of it is stuff you’ll never notice. Here’s an interesting look; apparently the Yankees have already been working hard to keep stadium waste out of landfills, which i guess explains why Jacoby Ellsbury is still on the roster:


TKDC: 2022 will be Schilling, Bonds, and Clemens last years on the ballot, and Ortiz and Arod’s first. Why not just put them all in that one year and anyone who wants to ignore it can feel free to ignore it?

Jay Jaffe: I’d make that trade in a New York minute. I doubt Jeff Idelson would.

Jeff: If Cano were the exact same player – same age, same career, same amazing hitter – but cost less how much more praise would the owners’ serfs be laying on the Mets for landing him? Not eniugh

Jay Jaffe: He already costs less for the Mets because the Mariners included $20 million of his remaining $120 million. He’s still 36 and likely to decline significantly over the course of those next five years; that aspect of the move was fine as a win-now thing but less so as a long-term play.

Richard Clayton: Is there any chance Randal Grichuk could follow in the footsteps of Encarnacion and Bautista and experience a mid-career power renaissance in Toronto? He turned things on in the 2nd half, and has decent athleticism. Would be a boon, if so.

Jay Jaffe: Grichuk doesn’t have nearly the command of the strike zone that those two do/did. His O-zone swing rate to date is around 36%, with EE at 25% and JB at 22%. It would take a radical change in approach for him to get down to such levels. If he’s going to become a star it will require a different path.

Big Joe Mufferaw: I love new age stats as much as the next guy, but did anybody WATCH Bobby Grich and think “that is a future HOFer? He’s very good, but with no outstanding skills other than plate discipline, I have a very hard time seeing a Hall of Famer.

Jay Jaffe: He was one hell of a defender who won four straight Gold Gloves and had six All-Star appearances in an 11-year span. He’d have put up bigger power numbers if he played more recently, and gGiven MLB.TV and highlight shows, he’d have been an even bigger star.

Jay Jaffe: OK folks, I’ve reached my pitch count. No chat next week, as I’ll be traveling, so by the next time we chat, pitches and catchers will have reported. Stay warm, and pray for free agent signings!

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Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe.

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John Autin
John Autin

That CC Sabathia will be just the 3rd LHP to reach 3,000 Ks seems a pointless distraction. Has left-handedness been shown to be an inherent disadvantage? Is 17 pitchers a big enough sample to make handedness meaningful? Drives me nuts every time I see that point mentioned in his HOF case.