Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 1/6/23

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to my first chat of 2023!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Happy New Year to you all

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m in the midst of the one-and-dones on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot, players who won’t get the 5% needed to stick around for another year but whose careers merit a proper sendoff. Today it was Andre Ethier https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2023-hall-of-fame-ballot-andr…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yesterday it was Jacoby Ellsbury https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2023-hall-of-fame-ballot-jaco…, and on Wednesday it was R.A. Dickey, a piece that was particularly fun to write https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2023-hall-of-fame-ballot-r-a-…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Of course, it wouldn’t be a First Chat of the Year if there weren’t some technical glitch that needs my attention for a minute…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK, finally got the banner to show up atop the home page, something I tend to forget to check

Avatar Jay Jaffe: anyway, on with the show

Cal: How do you read the Correa leaks from today?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Until the past 24 hours maybe, I’d have said that I still expect the Mets and Correa to strike a deal, one that traded some ability to void a portion of the contract with an opt-out. Now, I’m not so sure. It wouldn’t surprise me if there is indeed another team willing to take a chance (though again, the physical and any contract language is a nontrivial concern) especially if it’s the Twins, who otherwise weren’t able to put together an offer in the ballpark of the Giants and Mets. But I also think Steve Cohen is sensitive enough to public opinion that he finds a way to get this done.

Inaccessible Rail: Can a baseball player sue over injuries that result in lost contracts? Typically, the lost contract amount would be almost impossible to prove…but not in the Carlos Correa case.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: [deleted previous response] oh wait, i mis-read your question.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: While a team can terminate a deal for a player doing something prohibited by a contract (such as Aaron Boone tearing his ACL playing basketball), I’m having a hard time imagining a player being able to sue a team over something that happened unless it was, like, an incorrect diagnosis via team medical personnel. . I don’t think we’ve ever seen a pitcher sue a team for overusing him, for example.

Cardinals Guy: Do you ever see Mike Trout asking for a trade?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: possibly, but I doubt it would happen before he sees who the Angels’ new owners are, if that’s what you’re wondering

Inaccessible Rail: Why would Danny Mendick sign with the Mets, where it looks like he’ll spend the whole season in AAA? Did they just offer him more $$ than anyone else?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think that the money is mostly it, but given their spending — if the Correa deal is finalized, I mean — it’s not out of the question that the Mets do something to cut salary that lessens their infield depth and makes Mendick’s path to the majors more clear. Even now, the presumption is that they’re going to trade Eduardo Escobar if they finish the Correa deal, and that might be enough; if not, he’s probably only one injury away

Dalton Wilcox: Seiya Suzuki’s periphs scream breakout, no? Hard, flyball contact with limited whiffs and chases sounds like an ideal offensive foundation

Avatar Jay Jaffe: eh, not to these eyes. He’s a very disciplined hitter (25.5% O-Swing and just 39% Swing) but his batted ball stats were pretty modest, he averaged just 89.1 mph exit velo (63rd percentile) and had just a .414 xwOBA. One thing to note is that he pulled just 31.4% of his batted balls, which draws applause for a whole-field approach but means fewer pulled fly balls, and that’s where the real meat of production usually is.

Ross: Jared Kelenic over/under 2.5 WAR this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The weight of expectations and the depth of the holes he’s dug in his two partial seasons suggests he needs a change of scenery, and so I’m taking the under until then.

M’s fan: How disappointed should I be as a Mariner’s fan with how the offseason has played out? We have spent less money than the A’s in FA, the 2 nice trades we pulled off are just 1 year rentals so we will have the same problem next year, and TX and LAA have made massive improvement.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I dunno. I answered this several weeks back pointing to their spending on Julio and Castillo, and their acquisition of Teoscar, and figured that M’s fans had a lot to be happy about — but then everybody signed elsewhere and their biggest expenditure was $1.2 million on Trevor Gott, so I can understand fans’ ire. The one thing i would say is that it’s only a matter of time before Jerry Dipoto makes another trade, and maybe they’ll find ways to take on some salary as a means of adding talent.

Jerry’s Apathetic Yawn: Is there any chance the White Sox make a higher upside play to land a 2B akin to Torres, Lowe, Kim (if available), or should the fans content themselves with running out less than exciting internal options and/or a LasStella type. Thank you for your kind indulgence.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it all depends on who’s actually available and how much the White Sox are willing to give up — nobody’s giving club-controlled talents like the above away for free, they’re gonna make it hurt. Are you prepared to see them trade, say, Michael Kopech in a deal for Lowe?

Inaccessible Rail: Did Steve Cohen support the implementation of the highest level luxury tax? Wouldn’t it be interesting if he did, realizing that no one but himself would be willing to go over it?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes. He was pretty visible about falling into line with the other owners. Recall it was four owners who were the real holdouts when it came to adjusting the CBT thresholds: those of the Angels, Reds, Diamondbacks and Tigers. I wrote about it here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/even-with-holdouts-path-to-new-cba-runs-th…

Chip: Does Chapman even get a ML offer this year? He wasn’t very good, he didn’t help himself with his shenanigans during last year. And there’s the elephant of his previous…ahem…behavior.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. It wouldn’t surprise me, because there’s always at least one executive willing to put winning ahead of any moral responsibility, but woof, Chapman didn’t give many teams a whole lot of reasons to pursue his services.

On a related note: we are not going to discuss ****** ***** in this space today lest it send this chat off the rails. Suffice it say that this decision should not have been hard for the Dodgers.

Matt: Is the Pirates reported offer to Bryan Reynolds of 6 years, $75 million insultingly low?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Here’s one for you: as I was reminded when writing today’s HOF series profile, when the Guggenheim group took over the Dodgers, their first big move was to extend Andre Ethier via a five-year, $85 million deal IN 2012. Granted, Reynolds has more time to go before free agency but what the Pirates are offering wouldn’t have been agreed to by even an All-Star level outfielder a decade ago.

Inaccessible Rail: I just paid $6 for a dozen eggs. What’s the price of beer going to be in ballparks next year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It really depends on where you are, but $13-$15 for a big “craft” beer at Yankee Stadium is hardly uncommon and I pay about $6-7 for an organic dozen eggs.

Mr. Redlegs: Players can sue teams if they believe they directly contributed to their injuries. Dustin Fowler sued the White Sox saying their field caused his injury (don’t know if he won).

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good point. Sheryl Ring wrote about that one in 2019 https://blogs.fangraphs.com/lets-check-in-on-dustin-fowlers-lawsuit-ag… and I don’t think it’s even been decided or settled.

Cardinals Guy: is there a more interesting arb / contract extension talk than tommy edman? WAR has him above all these mega contract SS

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Edman had a fantastic year but his 5.6 WAR ranked below Lindor, Swanson, Turner, and Bogaerts among shortstops, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about on that front. While I think he’s a player worth extending, he’s also a guy with a 102 wRC+ overall and 108 last year; his value is in his defense and at 27 years old, I’m not sure how many more years we should expect him to be elite.

Leon: How do JD Martinez and Justin Turner compare?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I said words to this effect at the time of the two deals: I wouldn’t trade Turner — older but still a better hitter and defensively capable at 3B — for Martinez, who is pretty much DH only and a shadow of the hitter he once was. And that’s even before we get into the softer factors of, like, trading a key clubhouse figure and community pillar for a guy who used a Hitler quote in a meme about gun control.

mmddyyyy: Does an empty ballot count towards the denominator?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: correct. It’s a no on every single candidate.

Keith: Uninspiring winter for the Royals?  What would your next step(s) be if you were leading that organization?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Their major additions are Jordan Lyles and Ryan Yarbrough so yeah, that’s pretty much the definition of uninspiring.

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Avatar Jay Jaffe: they’ve obviously got some interesting young players but I don’t see how they can expect to compete without getting some frontline starting pitching, but right now Lyles’ 4.42 ERA is the second-lowest among their projected starting five. Good luck with that. There was good starting pitching to be had this winter, but the only way they were going to get it would have been to overpay. That they weren’t even getting mid-rotation guys like, I dunno, Bassitt or Walker tells me they weren’t interested in actually improving.

Sammy So-so: Was thumbing through Baseball-Reference pages as one does, and was stunned by how good a career Chet Lemon had. Maybe not Hall-worthy, but still very significant. When you first started doing JAWS research, were you regularly surprised by individual careers or was it more of just an occasional occurrence?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Oh, Chet Lemon was a helluva player, a 3x All-Star RF with a 122 wRC+ and 52 career WAR. I certainly found my share of surprises when i started doing JAWS, with Bert Blyleven and Ron Santo — two players I quickly began championing for the Hall — among the most prominent.

I can’t remember if it was Tom Tango or maybe Bill James who said something to the effect of a good metric should surprise you about 20% of the time. I think that’s about where JAWS falls for me

mmddyyyy: You’ve considered alternate approaches to underrepresented classes such as catchers and modern starters. How do you determine the types of players that are underrepped? Is there similar consideration for switch hitters?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s generally by focusing upon a given position, since positions tend to center around certain skill sets and limitations — and, over time, different types of data — with both positions you mention being excellent examples. We’ve got an underrepresentation of catchers in the Hall, and an increasing amount of data that illustrates the value of pitch framing, so it stands to reason that we should be recognizing the best of those players from the era for which we have data, which is why i’m keen on Buster Posey despite his short career, further emboldened regarding Joe Mauer, accepting of the inevitability of Yadier Molina, and ready to advocate for Russell Martin and Brian McCann as well.

Guest: Do you foresee the Yankees pulling off any more moves of substance this off-season? Trading for Reynolds? Trade away Torres? Find someone to take Hicks/Donaldson?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t see them as players for Reynolds and think that the injuries of Hicks and LeMahieu are making it harder for them to deal. With so much uncertainty at SS, they’re not trading Torres, and while a healthy LeMahieu might allow them to move Donaldson, a banged-up one does not. Maybe if DJ and Hicks demonstrate health in the spring, they will be able to move somebody and cut some payroll but they’re in a tough position now.

Ben: Jim Bowden says the Cardinals are working on a trade but are keeping the details very tight lipped. Any thoughts on who it could be?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My guess was you-know-who but that was just a wild-ass guess.

Ancient: Thank you for another exciting series of my favorite winter game: “No way he’s been out of the league for five years!”

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Time remains undefeated. As of this week it’s also five years since I interviewed for this position at FanGraphs, a story you can hear about on this week’s FG Audio podcast https://blogs.fangraphs.com/fangraphs-audio-derrick-goold-returns-jay-…

Newbie: Will opening day rosters be 28 again in 2023?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think so. That was done due to pandemic health and safety protocols and shortened spring/summer training, and I don’t expect the owners have much appetite for paying a couple extra players for a month of big league service.

Cardinals Guy: I was daydreaming about the Cardinals making another Arenado trade… aka trading for a big contract the team wants to shed, get money attached and give up little in prospect value.

How about a Trevor Story-Arenado reunion after the Sawx extended Devers? Would the Dodgers dump Chris Taylor to free up space to complete their roster? Could the Tigers with new leadership want to dump Baez and/or E-Rod and reset?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: All of those deals seem too fresh for the signing team to cut bait after only one year. Story is the only one who wasn’t a huge disappointment last year (only a mild one) but I don’t see the point of extending Devers if you’re cutting bait on him. Maaaaybe the Dodgers would have moved Taylor if they could have found a replacement via free agency (or if they trade for Reynolds), but they seem more concerned about cutting payroll than they do about winning the NL West right now.

Inaccessible Rail: So…who gets the money the Mets will be luxury-taxed for 2023? All the teams evenly? Or just some of them?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As I understand it, half the tax collected is distributed among the teams that didn’t pay the tax and half goes to various other player benefit plans

Bubba: Just wanted to say I love your HOF write-ups.  Don’t care too much about the HOF itself, but love reading about interesting players like RA Dickey.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks! Putting together a piece about a unique player like Dickey or a cartoon villain like A.J. Pierzynski is some of the purest fun I have while writing.

Anon21: How do you evaluate the Braves’ trade for Murphy? From where I sit, they definitely did upgrade, but not necessarily all that much, and at a real cost. Also with robo-umps on the way, Murphy’s framing may soon be less valuable.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If we knew the ABS was going to be implemented in 2024, then keeping Contreras would have made more sense, but within the game it seems clear that we’re still at least a few years away from robo-ups. Thus paying a good framer and above-average hitter for a catcher something less than the free market rate is going to continue to be a good idea. Michael Baumann had a good breakdown of the deal https://blogs.fangraphs.com/three-teams-nine-players-one-surprising-wi…

Tiger Fan: If Tatis Jr. goes on to have HOF worthy stats would you lump him in with other players that have tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (ie. Alex Rodriguez)?  Or is his circumstance unique in the sense he claims the drug was taken unintentionally and the fact he never actually played baseball while testing positive?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As we’re probably ~20 years away from his landing on the ballot with a resumé that would merit consideration (if he reaches there sooner it’s likely he didn’t play long enough), I think we’re really in wait and see mode. If voters do come around to elect A-Rod and other players who tested positive, I think it’s more likely Tatis’ suspension will be overlooked.

One thing I know is that you can pretty much toss what a player says about “unintentionally” out the window when it comes to PEDs. At this juncture it’s pretty clear that it’s part of these guys’ job to know better.

Inaccessible Rail: When I was growing up, most teams had a guy who was mainly a pinch hitter, someone like Dan Driessen or Rusty Staub to come off the bench. With today’s shorter benches, those players are as gone as third string catchers. Any idea who was the last of the PH type?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Lenny Harris comes to mind, but a quick look at the single-season PH plate appearance leaders via Stathead shows Ichiro (109 PA in 2017), Mark Sweeney (92 PA in 2008), and Tommy La Stella (90 PA in 2018) ahead of Harris’ highest total (89 PA in 2001), and even Matt Joyce had 85 PA in 2019. https://stathead.com/tiny/pNUBm

Nate: I know this will probably never happen, but what would you think about a BBHOF voting process where the top two vote getters plus anyone else over 75% makes the HOF?  I went back and did this exercise starting in 2000 and everyone except (for now) Bonds, Clemens and Schilling that get in under this methodology have made it into the HOF, it just speeds it up for some candidates and smooths things out.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: You’re right that it will probably never happen. When I was on the BBWAA committee that explored ways the HOF election process could be improved so as to alleviate the ballot bottleneck, we were told that the Hall wasn’t budging on 75% so don’t bother to propose that. We ended up proposing an expansion to 12 slots, and even that was table by the Hall.

Inaccessible Rail: Did you see Joe Posnanski’s Ten Most Underrated Baseball Players list? He had Keith Hernandez #10. Any idea why the committees haven’t given KH another look? Do they just not like him?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t seen Joe’s list but I do think KH is ripe for reconsideration and would have put him in the Hall long before McGriff. His nonstandard offensive profile and comparatively modest counting stats work against him, and I suspect he’s probably got somebody among the ranks of the Historical Overview Committee — the group of BBWAA elder statesmen that tasked with building the ballots, and painfully lacking in turnover — who is pretty set against including him.

Kenny Lofton Propoganda: What is your opinion on Kenny Lofton’s HOF case? Do you think he deserves to be in?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have Lofton high on my list; he’s 10th in JAWS, one spot below Beltrán and one above Andruw, both of whom I voted for. He was eligible for inclusion on this year’s Contemporary Baseball ballot for the first time, but the recent allegations regarding sexual misconduct that surfaced this year may have cost him a spot and could hamper him for awhile unless he’s able to credibly refute those allegations. Nobody’s going to bend over backwards to include him so long as that’s hanging over his head. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-22/kenny-lofton-accus…

Sandwich: Should there be a lower bound in terms of defensive penalty for the purposes of WAR or HoF evaluation? I have always found it a bit odd that a player who is forced to play the field is more penalized more than someone who only acts as a DH.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s sort of what I’m doing in justifying my vote for Sheffield — more in setting a lower bound for how much I believe his fielding metrics (vis à vis other systems) rather than the positional adjustment. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2023-hall-of-fame-ballot-gary…

emh: Who can best help their HOF chances with a bounceback season is 2023?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe Gerrit Cole.

Broken Bat: happy new year. Jay, I see many concerns with the Dodger infield defense heading into ST. Muncy at 3rd, Lux as Ss and TYlor at 2b.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Very much so. That’s not the infield of a division winner. I don’t think it would be even if they do something like trade for Eduardo Escobar to play 3B and have Muncy and Taylor share 2B. Just don’t see Lux as having the glove for regular SS duty and their lineup needs a bigger bat at the hot corner.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, thanks for stopping by today, and best wishes to you all for a great 2023, both in terms of reading FanGraphs and beyond!

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, and a Hall of Fame voter since 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe... and BlueSky @jayjaffe.bsky.social.

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