Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 10/1/21

2:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to the first Joctober edition of my chat

2:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It was a busy week for me here! Today I’ve got a Team Entropy update with a focus on the Mariners’ Pythagenpat-defying clutch goodness http://blogs.fangraphs.com/team-entropy-2021-dial-m-for-mariners/

2:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: And also a podcast spot with Fred C. Harris, co-author of one of my longtime favorite baseball books, The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, and Bubblegum Book http://blogs.fangraphs.com/fangraphs-audio-fred-harris-chats-baseball-…

2:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yesterday I looked at Devin Williams’ ill-timed, wrong-handed punch of a wall http://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-brewers-devin-williams-has-punched-hims…

2:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: and on Wednesday, I dug into the NL MVP race http://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-fascinating-and-still-unsettled-nl-mvp-…

2:05
Dan: Any suggestions on steps to learn R/Python with an end goal of executing baseball queries? I’ve started with a YouTube course, but wanted to see your opinion. Thank you!

2:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My opinion is that it’s a good idea to learn that stuff… which I have no idea about, but if you tweet this at me I’ll retweet and see what kind of responses turn up

2:07
Chris: Do you believe???? Go mariners!!

2:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Other than being happy that they were hanging around the Wild Card race, I didn’t have much feeling either way about the Mariners before writing today’s piece, but I have to admit that after doing all that research, I hope their ship comes in. I was born in Seattle, have a ton of family on both sides there, and of course this site is historically heavy with Mariners-flavored writers.

2:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The M’s have a 30% chance of winning a Wild Card spot, which is about 60 times what it was on September 18, which is pretty remarkable!

2:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Looks like we’ve got a technical issue that’s gotten the chat off to a slow start (sometimes the “LIVE CHAT: Jay Jaffe is chatting now” banner doesn’t go on) so the queue is pretty slim. Might have to take a pause shortly.

2:13
Naftali: Where would rank Judge among the top players in the league and do you think he’ll get a huge extension this winter?

2:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think Judge is among the top 10-15 position players in the game; he’s 12th in WAR this year and 4th since the start of 2017. His durability and propensity for injuries probably keeps me from putting him much higher than that but the Yankees are getting better about managing his workload; this is just the second time he’s gotten at least 600PA in a season.There’s some good stuff on that topic in today’s Lindsey Adler’s feature at The Athletic https://theathletic.com/2861339/2021/10/01/the-drive-of-yankees-slugge…

2:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As to whether he gets an extension, I wouldn’t expect anything to happen before a new CBA is in place. That’s going to slow down business in general, and without knowing what’s going to become of the current Competitive Balance Tax system, the Yankees probably aren’t going to do much.

2:23
WinTwins0410: Jay, it’s a small sample size, but it seems like a lot fewer guys play into their late 30s and early 40s than they used to. Feels like a guy playing at age 40 is far more of an anomaly now than it once was (say, in the 1970s or 1980s). But I don’t know the data! Have you run any statistics like this? If not, what’s your sense?

2:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: since we have the time, here’s a Stathead query on players 35 and older making 100 PA in a season since 2008 https://stathead.com/tiny/5dAsV

2:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: and 28 in 2019, compared to an average near 40 from 2008-11

2:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: only 2 40 year olds met that criteria this year and none in 2018-19, compared to 4-5 annually fro
m 2008-12

2:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: front offices’ better understanding of aging curves and the squeeze they’re putting on mid-tier free agents are both probably factors in that, but not the only ones

2:26
>this guy<: tre: the python question, there is a program just for that called “Learn to Code with Baseball.” I bought it, have not started ot yet so cannot confrim effectiveness. But it’s affordable!

2:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: thank you for that response

2:26
JupiterBrando: Regarding a Twitter comment the other day, why are you so dismissive of people thinking the Giants are cheating somehow? Either they’re cheating, or whatever they’re doing is a breakthrough in baseball development not seen since the invention of the farm system. Shouldn’t writers and the media be a bit more incredulous about what they’re doing? It sure seems like they’re undermining a lot of modern sabermetric theory regarding aging curves.

2:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m dismissive when somebody offers it up as the only explanation without a shred of evidence. As a professional, I can’t responsibly sit here and offer “probably cheating” up as even the most remote explanation for an anomaly.  

Yes, we’ve seen scandals in recent decades — PEDS and sign stealing (I don’t consider sticky stuff a scandal) — and we’ve also seen changes that have reduced the routes by which those could happen. Have the Giants come up with a new way to cheat? I highly doubt it, but if you have actual evidence towards that, by all means, please share it with the class.

2:30
barney gumble: hey jay. should yankee fans be concerned about Gerrit Cole, at least in a wild card game? he looks quite shaky but insists it’s not the hammy…

2:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s tough for the Yankees to feel great about where Cole’s at given his last 5 starts (6.15 ERA, 5.14 FIP, just 26.1 innings), just two of which were serviceable. Maybe it’s the hamstring, maybe it’s fatigue. If they make it to the Wild Card, the Yankees better have a backup plan.

2:33
Guest: How will you or others evaluate Salvador Perez’s Hall of Fame candidacy?  The disparity in fWAR versus brWAR is pretty amazing.

2:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: considering his Hall case without somehow incorporating framing stats — an area where he is alas not very good — is malpractice.

2:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: We have multiple resources — FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, Statcast, and even a version of DRS — that tell us he isn’t very good at it. That can’t be dismissed

2:35
>this guy<: Giants are doing a lot of practice, development, research etc that no one else does. Eno hints at it all the time on R&B podcast

2:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: There’s been a lot published about some of the stuff the Giants have done regarding coaching and preparation. at the Athletic and elsewhere. Some of it certainly seems to be paying off.

2:37
Morton, Fried, Pray for Rain: Braves and Brewers have super similar run differential. Are they actually comparable or is this more the Brewers enjoying the fruits of a big division lead?

2:40
Avatar Jay Jaffe: They have very similar records in blowouts (games decided by 5 or more runs): 28-15 for Brewers, 27-14 for Braves, but even there, their run differentials diverge (+79 for Milwaukee, +114 for Atlanta). Meanwhile, the Brewers are 21-15 in one-run games, the Braves 25-30. i think it’s fair to say that the Brewers have been more  “efficient” in their run distribution. They’re 1 game ahead of their Pythagenpat record, the Braves are 6 games behind theirs.

2:40
TarzanJoe: If it’s true that today’s players are exponentially better than those in the past (i.e. Trout would hit 100 HRs per year in the 20’s, Ottovino would K Ruth every time he faced him, etc.) then isn’t it specious to use WAR as a means of comparing players across eras? Maybe DJ LeMahieu is an objectively better player, but he’s never reaching Rogers Hornsby’s WAR total

2:43
Avatar Jay Jaffe: What WAR is attempting to do is to measure a player relative to a baseline based upon his surroundings. We can speculate about what Trout would hit in 1927 or what Babe Ruth would hit today, but all we really have is a knowledge of what these guys did in their own times and what the competitive landscape looked like then. Mike Trout is ahead of the replacement level of his his time by comparable amounts to Willie Mays in his time, but the actual level of play has improved thanks to better training and nutrition, for example.

2:44
Avatar Jay Jaffe: better training and nutrition as well as a narrower gap between the best players and the worst (which is why we don’t see Ruth/Hornsby-level WARs consistently)

2:44
Naftali: Before this year, Salvy didn’t have a wRC+ above 110 in a full season since 2013. With him in his thirties now I can’t see him being a HOFer.

2:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Perez is a fan favorite, and fans aren’t always rational about their favorites.

2:45
Mrs. Phanatic: Has there ever been a team with the MVP and Cy Young who didn’t make the playoffs? Will it happen this year with the Phillies?

2:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Somebody asked me this recently on Twitter. I believe the only team so far is the 1962 Dodgers (Maury Wills MVP, Don Drysdale CY) – and they just missed the playoffs, losing a best-of-three tiebreaker series to the Giants

2:46
Cy Young: There’s about 5 guys in the NL you can make a case for, who gets your vote for my award?

2:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: while I’d be tempted to go with Corbin Burnes on the basis of his microscopic FIP, Zack Wheeler’s 52-inning advantage and the two-win gap between the two of them that comes up when one incorporates adjustments for quality of defense and opponent via bWAR carries the day for me there

2:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the late-season hiccups of Scherzer and Buehler simplified that race for me

2:49
Nate: As a Yankees fan, it continues to blow my mind that the Red Sox traded Mookie Betts. They don’t get enough criticism for that IMO.

2:49
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do my best to remind the world of that fact

2:49
Bobbo the Blobbo: I have absolutely fallen in love with ole Cedric this year. Is he going to be this dynamic in future years, or is this Brady Anderson hitting 50 homers devil magic?

2:51
Avatar Jay Jaffe: On the basis of just one season at this level I wouldn’t bank on 30 homers again given his xSLG, barrel, and hard-hit rates, but he is hitting the ball in the air and harder than before. I do hope he can be somewhere near as entertaining as he was this year

2:52
Mitchell: Unless some one among Soto, et al goes bonkers with the bat this closing weekend, 2021 will mark the first, full regular season in which no position player amassed as much as 7 WAR since 1918, when Cobb led baseball with 6.5. What might one make of that?

2:54
Avatar Jay Jaffe: If you’re going just by our numbers, there are three players (Vladito and Semien being the others) at 6.6 with three games to go so I wouldn’t write off the possibility. Beyond that, I think we’ve seen fallout from last year’s shortened season in a higher injury rate and efforts to counteract that with workload management. If we see two years in a row like this, maybe it’s actually something rather than just an artifact of the outage

2:54
Nate: What historical player do you most wish could be measured by stat cast? Mantle?

2:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: whew, it’s impossible to pick just one. Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Mays, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Nolan Ryan… the mind reels

2:55
david: any chance extended september rosters return? it probably was’t great for quality of games but i enjoyed seeing guys get a chance in the bigs who otherwise might not.

2:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe another player or two added but probably not going back towards 40

2:56
Farhandrew Zaidman: Who do you have producing more WAR the rest of their respective careers: Corey Seager or Trea Turner?

2:59
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ll go with Seager but I think both are going to have long and productive careers. The two players have produced about the same amount of WAR in their careers, with Turner getting about 400 more PA and being about a year older. Yes, Seager’s missed time due to injuries, but a broken bone isn’t predictive of future problems the way a soft tissue injury is.

3:00
Cynthia: Is Jackie Bradley Jr. cooked on offense? He was never a world-beater offensively, but this year he’s been historically bad and will be 32 next year. Do you think the Brewers release him before his contract ends?

3:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Having championed his signing last spring, I’ll take the L on that one because a 36 wRC+ that’s not tied to an injury-related explanation (see Cody Bellinger) is unfathomable. He’s always been pretty volatile offensively, and I wonder how much the late signing meant to his offensive woes.

3:03
Jake in Pittsburgh: So I see on the homepage that the Phillies are looking for analysts and programmers (plural). Huh…you laugh out of town the young, dynamic, analytically-minded manager who goes on to lead a team, out of nowhere, to the best record in baseball. And now you want to invest more in this analytics thing. Go figure.

3:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: To be fair, Kapler had work to do as a manager as well, and it helped that he landed in a front office led by a man (Zaidi) who had already been part of two successful, analytically-driven front offices in Oakland and Los Angeles. I would have thought Joe Girardi would have fared better in Philadelphia based on his success in New York, but that decidedly hasn’t been the case

3:06
Alaska Tracy: Would have liked to asked Fred C. Harris this, but do you have an opinion on Fanatics trying to monopolize the fan side of the game by acquiring baseball card rights and now trying to get a gambling license?

3:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: We didn’t touch on the gambling aspect but I did talk to Harris a bit about the Fanatics stuff later in the podcast.

3:07
5 Run Homer: I find it very funny that both Cole and Ray had their Cy Young bids damaged by each other’s teams on back-to-back nights

3:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Crazy, right? I wonder how many voters mailed their ballots in already.

3:08
OutsideAnimals: Do teams in preparation for a huge FA offer or trade ever have interns/analysts go through video of every at bat or fielding opportunity to gauge luck or weird outcomes against the statistics? If I was going to shell out $200 mil, I’d want to double check everything with video.

3:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: This would be a better question for Kevin given his front office experience but on the offensive side, I highly doubt it gets that granular, particularly when we have Statcast xBA, xSLG, and various versions of xBABIP floating around, not to mention multipe fielding metrics including in-house proprietary ones

3:13
Cynthia: What % of players do you think could name a sub-Saharan African country (excluding South Africa) and point it out on a map?

3:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Why should we care? I’d love for a greater percentage of players to know geography but there are significant barriers to that happening, and none of it changes the quality of the baseball we get

3:14
Mi Nombre: Jeter & Larkin had incredibly similar careers from a value standpoint. Do you give the edge to Derek for longevity & postseason success or to Barry for being a better defender & accumulating similar value over considerably less (like 550 G / 3,500 PAs) playing time?

3:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It depends what you’re after. They produced similar value despite Jeter getting about 3,500 more PA thank Larkin. Larkin produced 5.2 bWAR per 162 games, Jeter 4.2. The higher value increases your chances of winning a championship in a given year, but the longer career keeps the window open for a greater amount of time, and if you’ve got a stronger team around him (which was the case for the Yankees vs. the Reds) you’re going to win more by that route

3:18
Ben Cherington: If you’re still short on questions I’d love to hear your thoughts on Roansy Contreras’s MLB debut.

3:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Alas, the Pirates aren’t on my viewing agenda these days and I’m not a prospect guy. I’m 100% certain Joe Girardi would call him “Roansie,” if that helps.

3:19
Zach: If Corey Seager leads the Dodgers to another World Series can Friedman and Co. really justify not giving him whatever he wants?

3:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have a tough time watching Seager and thinking the Dodgers can afford to let him get away. Pay the man

3:20
Mr. Redlegs: Is Eugenio’s 30 homer season the least valuable of all time? How do we get him back on track for next year?

3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: 30 homers with 0.1 WAR is pretty bad, but Dave Kingman hit 37 and was 0.5 BELOW replacement level in 1982 and also 36 with -0.8 WAR in 1986, plus he was a misogynistic asshole who didn’t get another deal after that year because he sent a rat to a female reporter.

3:22
Naftali: Where do you think Correa goes?

3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Detroit makes a certain amount of sense given where they are competitively and the amount of noise being made.

3:23
Nate: How about Cool Papa Bell for stat cast?

3:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Oh man, dozens of Negro Leagues players as well. Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Bell, Rogan…

3:24
Thunderclap Jackson: Where would you rank Morton, Fried, Anderson among NL playoff rotations? Morton and Fried have been cookin lately, and Anderson has seemed solid after some early post-injury worries

3:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: in order, off the top of my head: LA, Milwaukee, Atlanta, SF, STL

3:25
Robert McGowan: Why do the Fangraphs projections like the Yankees’ World Series chances above the Rays when the Yankees haven’t clinched a playoff spot and have to survive a one game Wild Card and have also been crushed by the Rays this year.

3:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. I don’t know the answer to that one.

3:25
Josh: Re MVP and Cy Young from same non-playoff team: That 2011 Dodgers team with peak Matt Kemp and Kershaw was very close. I still maintain Kemp should have beaten Braun for MVP (which looks worse for Braun in hindsight). Both those guys put up close to 10 WAR seasons and the Dodgers went 82-80

3:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yup, i think it was an LA Times article about that possibility which did my homework for me about historical precedents

3:26
Plooto: Do you see Carlos Rodón continuing his darn good performance from this season and earning a long-term deal with some team, White Sox or not?

3:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Health is the big wild card with Rodon, as he’s thrown more innings this year (132.2) than any season since 2016, and it’s still not all that many. If he can maintain the big velocity boost  and stay healthy? Yes, he can continue at some high level. But those are big ifs

3:28
Guest: How do you feel about Austin Hays going forward?

3:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: guys with .300ish OBPs and 5% walk rates need a whole lot to go right or their production crashes through the floor.

3:29
Nate: With Voit out, and DJ banged up, the Yankees bench looks aweFully thin. His much of a concern is this?

3:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a concern for sure. Though it won’t be if they lose the Wild Card game

3:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: log onto FanGraphs dot com for more trenchant analysis like that LOL

3:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the Yankees have dealt with injuries all season long. Right now the good news is that Stanton and Judge are healthy and things are trending right with Loaisiga and Severino improving that bullpen. their realigned infield seems to be faring better but the big question for them isn’t LeMahieu, it’s Cole.

3:32
Sean: Jose Ramirez is awesome, but he doesn’t get much said about him.  Well, he has been written about here for his high trade value.  Seems underrated to me.  He seems to be on HOF track.  What say you?

3:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ramirez has since added 1.4 WAR to what was there just 4 weeks ago (wow!) and now has three seasons of 6.6 bWAR or better — a good start as far as HOF tracks go

3:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Regarding the World Series Odds question above:

3:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: (from Sean Dolinar)
“The quick answer is the projections don’t like the Rays. I feel like this happens often when a poorly projected team wins a division.The Yankees would have like ~15% WS chance similar to the Astros if they won the division. So it’s a little bit of an incomplete analysis/comparison.”

3:36
Dansby SwanSong: Is there any analysis that shows pitchers, particularly starters, are more fatigued than usual at this time of year, because of the shortened season last year?  Lots of noise about both Cole and Ray pitching poorly in their last starts with so much on the line.  Just randomness?

3:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: i haven’t done a study on it. I know that early season injury rates were higher but I haven’t seen any velocity studies

3:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, that’s all I’ve got time for this week. Thanks so much for stopping by. Chat status for next week is probably touch and go based upon the wall-to-wall baseball we’ll be getting with all four series up and running. Until then, stay safe and root for this weekend to produce some extra baseball!





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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