Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 1/6/20

12:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and happy new year! It’s been awhile since I got into a rhythm with these chats, so it’s good to be back at it. Hope you all  had a nice holiday break.

12:03
stever20: when do you think the Donaldson saga is over?

12:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It sounds like it’s nearing the finish line given that there are apparently multiple 4-year offers out there. I’d imagine we get resolution in the next week

12:04
Thank you for the chat!: Would Bryant make sense for the Yanks? Some return around Andujar, Frazier, Deivi, or similar players?

12:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: So much of Bryant’s value depends upon the outcome of the grievance and whether he has two years of control remaining instead of one. in the abstract, he’d obviously be a nice upgrade for the Yankees, but how much talent they give up for him hinges upon that decision, which will probably (but not definitely) go against him

12:05
Ernie Pantusso: Does Josh Donaldson have a path to the Hall of Fame? Injuries and the fact that he was such a late bloomer will keep his counting stats low, but he’s already met the 7-year JAWS peak standard and has a shot at the career standard since he’s still putting up 6 WAR seasons, plus he’s got an MVP in his pocket. Seems like an interesting case

12:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Color me skeptical. Nomar Garciaparra’s peak meets the JAWS standard but he finished with just 1,747 hits and 6,116 PA. Donaldson almost certainly needs to get to 2,000 hits to be considered; he’s at 1,048. Long way to go

12:08
Rollin’ for Rolen: Following the valuable HoF Tracker (courtesy Ryan Thibodaux), it looks like the ballot backlog is freeing up a lot of votes for players who received marginal support in years past. Who among that crop of major gains (Rolen, Sheffield, Jones, Wagner, etc.) are you most surprised by/not surprised by? (Or intrigued if that’s a better word choice)

12:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The ones that interest me most are the gains of Rolen, for whom I’ve been strongly advocating since he hit the ballot, and Sheffield, who doesn’t fare all that well via JAWS but has an intriguing case nonetheless. Also nice to see Billy Wags doing well. Surprised Jeff Kent hasn’t gained as much as those guys on the public ballots — I expected him to have a Vizquel-like start to his candidacy and get to 75% even without my blessing.

12:11
DJ Kitty Tears Down the Trop: Serious question… what’s the rationale for voting for Bonds OR Clemens but not both?

12:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I really can’t see a rationale that splits hairs so finely that one is ballot-worthy but not the other. Both are among the greatest ever, both are alleged to have used PEDs during the pre-testing era, and both had some off-field stuff that may repel voters too.

12:13
Ben: Next year, between Mark Buehrle, Tim Hudson, and Torii Hunter, which is most likely get 5% of the Hall of Fame vote? With a weaker ballot, do any of them stand a chance to make it to a 2nd year?

12:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: meh, I can sort of see it for the two pitchers if Andy Pettitte is drawing support. Maybe an edge to Buehrle because of the 2 no-hitters and the championship (though he was only OK in the postseason).

12:16
WinTwins410: I know I’m already looking ahead to next year, but do you think that Tony Oliva has a shot with the Veterans Committee next year?  Or do you think Dick Allen, Jim Kaat and Minnie Minoso have far better chances?  (I realize we don’t yet know the committee’s makeup.)

12:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the four of them constitute a real cluster**** that could work against any of them. Oliva and Allen both fell one vote short last time; if the recent election of Marvin Miller and Ted Simmons tells us anything, it’s that that might mean something to the panel. Personally, I’m in favor of Allen and Miñoso the most, and more inclined on Oliva than Kaat because of the former’s peak, but that’s not saying I’d vote for either of those two.

12:19
Alex Anthropologist: What kind of return would Happ bring if the Yankees eat a third of the money he is owed this year and, if the option is triggered, next year?

12:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: nothing that’s guaranteed to provide value; maybe an intriguing bullpen candidate or lower-level arm.

12:19
Bloom: Mookie to the ChiSox?

12:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: They can’t get everybody this winter. I’d imagine if the Red Sox trade him, they’d prefer to get him out of the AL

12:20
Gumbo Watkins: There is no way the Angels trade Adell for Clevinger, even straight up, right?  Furthermore, the value added by Clevinger is a) not likely to push the Angels over the top into “good playoff team” as opposed to “wild-card contender” and b) is higher in potential risk due to injury than keeping Adell.  Agree or disagree?

12:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d be utterly shocked if they traded Adell. I also think that aside from the Yankees and Astros, and maybe the Rays, that the AL teams who will be contending for playoff spots all point closer to “wild card” on that spectrum — though obviously, somebody’s gotta win the AL Central.

12:25
Hawk Harrelson: True or false: despite all the acquisitions, Luis Robert, Madrigal etc., the White Sox are no better than an 85-win team?

12:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: 85 may be plenty. They have a ton of players with a lot of upside, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes together, but I’m also not going to get too worked up about a good offseason for them while other teams haven’t come close to finishing their work.

12:26
Calvin Hobbes: Would you like to work in a major league team’s front office?

12:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: While I would have listened if a team came calling, working for one was never my goal, and my window for making such a move probably closed long ago

12:28
Tim: Rolen & Helton’s jump (helped by Walker, I’d imagine) bodes well for their individual candidacies – but does it mean we’re going to get a larger hall going forward? Pettitte and Sheffield votes seem like a bridge too far, IMO.

12:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pettitte’s polling at like 12.7%, I wouldn’t expect him to go anywhere. I do think we’re seeing a changing dynamic but given the smaller-than-usual public sample to this point, we should be careful not to overstate it before seeing the final returns.

12:30
Judgean blast: Who is most likely to be traded: Bryant, Lindor, Betts, Price, or Nolan Tornado?

12:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Lindor and Price, IMO.

12:31
Christopher: Re: DJ Kitty: One reason for voting for Clemens but not Bonds is the serious domestic violence allegations that come with the latter but not the former.

12:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, though Clemens’ relationship with Mindy McCready is highly questionable — though multiple interviews and sources blur its timeline.

12:33
John: I know that predicting the committees is folly, but who do you think has better chance of induction: Kenny Lofton or Johan Santana?

12:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Lofton. It’s very clear that career length means a whole lot more to the voters than a high peak/short career profile

12:33
Dave C: Does Larry Walker make it in this year?

12:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it looks like a coin toss but if I had to bet I think he falls a little short. Just too much ground to make up and he has historically seen a pretty big fall-off on private ballots.

12:35
Christopher: In light of the Eagles always having to rely on backup QBs in their playoff games, what is the best post-season performance by an injury replacement in MLB history?

12:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Brian Doyle, who replaced Willie Randolph at 2B for the Yankees in the 1978 postseason comes to mind. Mickey Hatcher in place of Kirk Gibson for the Dodgers in 1988, too. I’d have to think of some others.

12:37
Clint Frazier: Will I EVER get to play?

12:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, but not in New York. I thoroughly expect a trade.

12:37
henryv: It seems that Ichiro will be a Hall of Famer, but his MLB numbers don’t really support his case.  Will he be looked as a combined NPB/MLB player?  Or will his special place as being the first really successful positional player from Japan be more important?

12:40
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Uh, his JAWS may be a little low but 3,000 hits and 59.4 WAR from age 27 onward is a massive achievement and if you don’t think the numbers support his case, have your head examined and possibly removed and replaced.

Also, it’s the National Baseball Hall of Fame — covers MLB, not NPB or any other foreign league.

12:40
EL: Hoping for a bounce back season from Posey. How far away is he from HOF consideration?

12:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: IMO he’s checked all of the boxes except longevity. he’s above the WAR7 standard even without considering his elite framing, and if he never played another day I’d vote for him without hesitation. That said, he’s clearly breaking down, and has just 1,380 hits. This could be a Mauer-like denouement

12:41
Gumbo Watkins: How do you think Kyle Seager is valued by contending teams needing a 3B and who miss out on Rendon/Donaldson?  Would you value him as a 3-4WAR player?  If you are a contender, is this good enough to a) trade for or b) swap a moderate to good prospect?  If he is a 3-4WAR player, should Seattle just keep him?

12:44
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Seager hasn’t been a 4-win player (by either b or fWAR) since 2016, so I’d say he’s more like a 2-3 win guy now. His remaining money is just $37 million but if he’s traded, his 2022 option becomes a player one at $15 million. I think the return will depend upon how much $ the Mariners are willing to eat

12:44
No Neck Williams: What’s the case against Tommy John’s election to the HOF?  Almost 80 fWAR!  His very own brand of surgery!  Postseason appearances!

12:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: well, there’s a huge discrepancy between b and fWAR (61.5 bWAR), and by that reckoning he was an outstanding compiler but rarely dominant, and only fleetingly among the league’s best.

12:46
Brood550: Any scenarios where Mookie and Price to the Cubs makes sense?

12:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: if the Cubs stop the charade about how much money they don’t have. Which ain’t happening.

12:47
Gumbo Watkins: I should have asked this in the same breath as my previous, but how many HOF voters are women?

12:47
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My guess is somewhere between 10 and 20, and that may be high.

12:48
Cheating Expert: Buehrle is also a near-unicorn. It would be nice to see a guy who was Hall of Fame caliber at every aspect of pitching except “throwing the ball” get some ink even if his numbers don’t really bear enshrinement.

12:49
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the big problem for Buehrle is that he didn’t miss a ton of bats (1,870 strikeouts). it will be a different electorate but if voters didn’t reward Tommy John, they’re not going to reward 2/3 of Tommy John Minus Surgery

12:49
Greg: Will we ever see relievers who were not primarily closers get HOF consideration?  Someone like Tom Gordon slots in ahead of closers like Hoffman and Sutter in WAR, but the voters so far have not been kind to such players. (Gordon fell off the ballot in 2015 after getting 0.4% of the vote, for example.)

12:50
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t see it. Those guys either become closers or regress. FWIW most of Gordon’s value was actually as a starter.

12:50
Gumbo Watkins: Lindor and Matt Chapman:  both likely for Hall?  Neither?

12:52
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Both off to great starts to their MLB careers but huge advantage for Lindor, who debuted at 21, vs. Chapman, who debuted at 24 and is the older of the two. I hope they both make it but if I had to pick which one will it’s Francisco

12:52
Ben: Between you and Emma, is your child going to be the greatest baseball mind of the 21st century? Some serious Chosen One vibes here.

12:53
Avatar Jay Jaffe: LOL, we’re bracing for the point that she completely rejects baseball, though she does enjoy it now (which is adorable). I think we’d both prefer she finds a career more stable than sports media.

12:53
LLW: You’ve been invited by the Academy Awards to assemble a version of JAWS that will establish a Baseball Movie Hall of Fame. What criteria do you look at to separate the classics from the Hall of Very Good?

12:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Without thinking too hard about it, the two things that separate the best from the rest, I think, are realistic baseball action, and an avoidance of too much corn. So many baseball movies fail at either one or both of those. ESPECIALLY the latter. Good god, Field of Dreams makes me want to throw up.

12:55
Peter: When Jim Rice was voted in all I kept hearing was that he was the most feared hitter of his generation. I remember reading various writers debate this fact by looking at intentional walk rates.
When Sheffield played no one was more feared as a hitter than Sheffield. At least by third base coaches.

12:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Agreed. Watching Larry Bowa dodge Sheffield’s foul balls in New York was a sport unto itself.

12:56
Eau Canada: After Fergie Jenkins and Larry Walker, who is the greatest mlb player of Canadian provenance?

12:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Joey Votto is a clear number 3, with Russell Martin 4th.

12:57
Peter: Kenny Lofton, Top 10 Lead Off Hitter?

12:59
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes and perhaps top 5. Henderson, Raines, and Rose are probably the top 3

1:00
mmddyyyy: Do you get to vote for the class that is inducted in 2021 or 2022?

1:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: 2021

1:00
Cashman: What has been the secret of my surviving 20 years in the lion’s maw?

1:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the demise of George Steinbrenner and emergence of his less emotionally driven son Hal has a lot to do with it. The consolidation of power away from the Tampa cabal greatly reduced the number of organizational leaks. a willingness to be forward-thinking with regards to analysis and tech has helped as well. The Yankees were out front when it came to valuing on-base percentage and catcher framing, and they’ve been aggressive in other areas as well. Having enough money so that even a disaster like the Ellsbury contract doesn’t affect things too much obviously helps

1:04
WinTwins410: There’s been a lot of talk about strategic balloting, especially with the writers’ ballot logjam (which in fairness has eased some).  All this is a setup for my question, which is: Do you think Jeter will get 100% of the vote this time around?  Or do you envision there being a strategic voter (or a hater?) denying Derek the 100% that Mariano got?  What’s your thought?

1:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he gets 100%. Sean Forman was pretty public on Twitter about considering a strategic vote and I got the impression he was surprised by the negative response. I think a strategic vote is much easier to justify when the ballot is bursting with great candidates even at the bottom, but this one is not. It’s one thing to keep Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez off so as to vote for Alan Trammell and Larry Walker — one now a HOF, the other headed there even if by committee — as Mike Berardino did in 2015, but another to not vote for Jeter when you’re hoping Bobby Abreu scrapes by to a 2nd ballot with 5%.

1:09
Doug: Is David Price worth 3/54 if the Red Sox pay his contract down to that level?

1:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As a guy who mostly likely produces in the 2-4 WAR range, he’s probably worth that gamble in a vacuum, but a high-payroll team might have a harder time justifying it.

1:13
Guest: Any reasonable HOF path for deGrom?

1:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A year ago I’d have said no, but two Cy Youngs gives him some hope. he’s got to keep kicking ass for the better part of the next half-decade, I think, and another CY would help.

1:16
Chaim Bloom: What kind of a jam am I in?

1:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a tough spot to be in, for sure, but I don’t think you’d have taken the job without a clear plan for how to potentially avert a Betts trade or at least have a set of goals for what you need to be satisfied while becoming known as The Guy Who Traded Mookie.

1:17
Thurman Munson: Was I on a path to the HOF at the time of my unfortunate early demise?

1:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes, quite clearly. MVP (and annual down-ballot consideration), ROY, 2 championships, perennial All-Star, multiple Gold Gloves. He made the mistake of not getting along with the media before dying young, and that has really torpedoed his chances

1:19
Guest: As a NYY guy, thoughts about how Clemens’ bat-throwing incident affects his legacy?

1:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: i get a good laugh out of it when i see the tabloid covers hanging at Foley’s. Mets fans will always hate him. Yankees fans are glad he helped them win a couple.

1:20
Three Fingers Brown: Is there room for the proverbial intangibles in the JAWS system?  If not, should there be?

1:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: JAWS is a tool to help a voter, not a vote unto itself. There’s plenty that it doesn’t cover — postseason, awards, historical context, PED usage — whose value and weighting vary from voter to voter.

1:21
Guest: You seem a bit dismissive of people who prefer longevity over peak; care to comment?

1:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not dismissive, just understanding of the reality, especially as to how it goes down in those committee discussions and in ballot explainers. Longevity clearly outweighs peak in the minds of most voters.

1:23
Cheating Expert: Still not sure if you mean cornball sentimentality or actual corn, as Field of Dreams has a ton of both.

1:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I meant the sentimentality. I like corn on the cob.

1:24
v2micca: Regarding the Canadian question, do Freddie Freeman count, or do they need to be born in Canada to qualify for the list?

1:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I was going by players born in Canada.

1:24
Gumbo Watkins: Is Ichiro #4 in the top 5 leadoff hitters?

1:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d have to think he’s a candidate. Would need to think how I define it though, esp as to how long a player lasted at the spot and how important SB% is. Molitor, Boggs, Ashburn, Biggio, Combs, Stan Hack — most of those guys would draw consideration along with those mentioned.

1:28
Happy New Year, etc.: Any recommendations for trying to find out the status of a guy who was DFA’d two weeks ago? Google refuses to help. Is it possible he’s still in limbo, or is it just that no news has been made public?

1:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: If he was DFA’d 2 weeks ago it would have resolved by now, since a player needs to be put on waivers, traded, released or outrighted within 7 days.

1:29
Cashman, Brian: Me again. Am I a Hall of Fame GM?

1:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: most definitely

1:29
Trent: What’s your prediction for how many minor league teams will in fact be eliminated in the next PBA?

1:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: 20ish, maybe even 30 (one per team?) and more gradually.

1:29
Frustrated Grad Student: Atypical question here, but I’m a grad student struggling to write my thesis at a consistent pace. Any tips on how best to proceed with writing?

1:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: good writing doesn’t necessarily happen at a consistent pace, but you can usually find ways to make forward progress even when you’re not at your sharpest. Like, spend some time on the gruntwork – organizing, notes, citations, etc — if you’re not feeling it one day, or write from the middle of what you’re going for instead of trying to take a linear tack. Writing is not a live broadcast, you can always cut and paste something into more coherent form later.

1:32
Sean: 4/$110 for Donaldson a good deal for Braves/Twins?

Or is that woah, crazy crazy for a 34 year old?

1:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he gets something in that range but it does seem high for a guy with his injury history.

1:33
Ben: Which will be resolved first–the investigation and discipline regarding the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal or Kris Bryant’s grievance?

1:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d guess Bryant, by the end of this month, but that’s a guess.

1:33
Scott: Did your views towards any of the players change when preparing this year’s Hall of Fame materials?

1:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, I found room for Sheffield this time, though I’d generally always considered him to be a possibility down the road. Expected I’d be able to convince myself more firmly about Abreu but I just couldn’t get there.

1:34
Gumbo Watkins: What do you think of retrospective catcher defensive WAR?  Do you think we should be seriously considering players like Martin and McCann as HOF candidates?  Do you think there should be a place in the HOF for extreme, freaky players? (see Jeff Sullivan post for more on most extreme players idea).

1:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do think McCann and Martin deserve consideration alongside Molina. Have written about it in the past.

1:35
Bond, James Bond: Would you rather have root canal or watch the 2020 Orioles?

1:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Does watching the Orioles come with anaesthesia?

1:36
Matt: If the Yanks are to trade Frazier, what kind of return are we looking at? One would think some sort of a pitcher, but there aren’t really any holes on the team large enough that would warrant a Frazier-sized trade, no?

1:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: with the exception of the bullpen and maybe the bench, the Yankees’ 25-man roster is so packed right now that I don’t see them using Frazier for a significant 2020 piece so much as something that could have bigger value down the road

1:38
Trent: Which is the worse trade: the Reds trading away Frank Robinson the year before he won the Triple Crown, the MVP, and the World Series MVP?  Or the Cardinals trading away Steve Carlton before he won the pitching Triple Crown, the Cy Young (and, in later years, three more Cy Youngs)?

1:40
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Both were pretty imbalanced, and the players the other team received had relatively short stays. I’d say the Robinson one was the bigger imbalance because of the success the Orioles enjoyed after acquiring him

1:42
Harvey Keitel: Is the pizza better in Brooklyn or the Bronx?

1:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I can’t say I’ve had much Bronx pizza but I’m sure there’s good stuff to be had there

1:42
mmddyyyy: Does your last name rhyme with cafe or coffee or taffy or something else?

1:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Jaffe like taffy

1:42
Ben: Between Ichiro and Beltre, who is more likely to be a unanimous Hall of Famer?

1:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ichiro because he made such a huge initial impact.

1:44
Jerome: Yusmerio Petit has been a full-time reliever for the last five seasons. The highest xFIP he had was last year at 4.48. Steamer has him forecasted at 5.10 for 2020. What about his performance recently speaks to it being likely that he won’t be effective moving forward?

1:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Take the projection with a grain of salt, like every other pitching projection. Petit doesn’t strike out many guys but he walks almost nobody — the kind of thing that tends to get heavily regressed in any projection — and has generally beaten his peripherals as a reliever.

1:46
Danny: I’ll try to bring this up in the comments for the crowdsource ballot, but are you familiar with this rationale for Hall voting: players who were raised in the steroid culture (Manny, A-Rod, etc.) get a “pass” for PED ties, meaning the line should be drawn at those being drafted or debuting after the start of the testing regime in the mid-aughts? This strikes me as an eminently reasonable way to turn the page.

1:47
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t heard that one before. What you’re suggesting basically distinguishes between Latin American players and non- and I’m not sure I’m comfortable using that as my rationale when compared to the cleaner line of pre/post-2004 testing and suspensions.

1:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, lots of great questions today and I’ve already gone longer than I expected. Thanks for stopping by and let’s do this again next week!

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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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