Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 11/17/20 by Jay Jaffe November 17, 2020 2:16 Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to my hastily-assembled chat. With my wife on a conference call and the outdoor weather tolerable, I went out to lunch and sat down for tacos and tostadas, then realized at 1:55 PM that hey, it’s that time of the week. Anyway… 2:17 Jay Jaffe: I launched my Hall of Fame series on Monday to coincide with the BBWAA’s ballot release https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-big-questions-about-the-2021-bbwaa-hal… and posted my updated Scott Rolen profile today https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2021-hall-of-fame-ballot-scot… 2:18 Jay Jaffe: and there was also this, which, if you were among those who chimed in with kind words, thanks! Jay Jaffe @jay_jaffe How it started/How it’s going 16 Nov 2020 2:18 Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Is there a historical comp for the dumpster fire that is the La Russa hiring? 2:20 Jay Jaffe: Two come to mind. In November 2004 the Diamondbacks hired Wally Backman to manage before discovering that he had been arrested twice, once for a domestic incident with his wife, and once for a DUI; additionally, he had filed for bankruptcy. https://www.espn.com/mlb/news/story?id=1916771 2:21 Jay Jaffe: And then, of course, last fall the Mets hired Carlos Beltrán, but parted ways with him in January, before he could set foot in the dugout due to his central role in the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing scheme https://blogs.fangraphs.com/out-before-reaching-home-carlos-beltran-ex… 2:21 Tony: I know the Veterans Committee is a crapshoot generally, but if he really is done with baseball, does Billy Beane have a case for the Hall, or does the complete lack of postseason success pretty much keep him out? 2:23 Jay Jaffe: A very interesting question. I think Beane is viewed within the game as a trendsetter who’s probably worthy of enshrinement, but there’s a backlog of execs who merit a closer look, and the lack of postseason success, even with his famous line in mind (“My shit doesn’t work in the playoffs”), could work against him. 2:23 Inaccessible Rail: There was an interesting question on Ben’s chat about who was the best player not eligible for the HoF because of too short a career. The chat-er suggested Josh Hamilton. Curious who you would pick. 2:25 Jay Jaffe: Well, since Al Spalding (8 years but also a career as a pioneer/executive) and Addie Joss (9 years, with a waiver due to his untimely death) are in, I think it might be Brandon Webb, a Cy Young winner and two-time runner-up who accumulated 31.1 bWAR in 7 seasons (really 6 plus one game). 2:26 Inaccessible Rail: I am really impatient to see some FA signings, but I’m guessing that the market will move even more slowly this year because of the financial uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Any reason to hope that this is wrong? 2:28 Jay Jaffe: Given the apparent heat of the George Springer market, which I examined last week, I wonder if he might sign in a timely manner, but I’m bracing for a slow winter and I think that should be the default assumption in light of what we’ve seen in recent years. 2:28 Curtis: Thanks for the piece on Rolen! What a great and thorough representation of I think a very underappreciated player. Who is the heir apparent to Arenado in the next “generation” of all-around 3rd basemen? 2:32 Jay Jaffe: Offhand I’d say Matt Chapman, who’s already got two 8-win seasons and a pair of Gold Gloves under his belt, but only 2 years separate Arenado and Chapman. Among third baseman 25 or under, only Yoán Moncada was worth 1.0 WAR or more during the shortened season. So if it’s not him — and it’s not Rafael Devers, whose defensive metrics are lousy — then it’s not somebody who’s really proven himself at the MLB level yet. 2:32 DBRuns: Are there merits in looking at runs/wins above average – vs runs/wins above replacement – in hall of fame voting? For instance, looking at the careers of Ron Santo and Scott Rolen: both put up ~70 WAR over 15 and 17 seasons, respectively, but Rolen was worth 456 runs above average while Santo was worth 317. That’s a huge difference! The fact that they both accumulated 70 WAR is, to a large degree, based on the fact that Santo gets a big boost in the number of runs an average player was better than a replacement player from Santo’s era. But if the goal is to decide who belongs in the Hall, shouldn’t there be an emphasis on “greatness”, i.e. how much better someone was above average? 2:36 Jay Jaffe: I think it’s fine to look at above-average but the problem with that approach is the loss of scale; if a guy is 50 runs above average, you don’t have a sense of whether that was in a single season or a 20-year career, whereas you get a better sense of that if the same player is measured relative to replacement level. Put it another way, measuring against average won’t give you any clue as to whether a guy has reached the kind of milestones that voters find essential to their HOF deliberations — the voters tend to reward longevity, which generally is achieved by a bunch of above-average seasons surrounded by average ones (or worse) at either end of a career. Average production has real, significant value at the mlb level, which is why it’s useful to start measuring from a level below that. 2:36 Guille: On that Billy Beane question, projecting far into the future, Theo should eventually get some consideration if only for ending almost two centuries of frustration in two very important franchises. And who knows, where he ends up next 2:36 Jay Jaffe: Theo is an easy call for Hall voters even if he never works another day in baseball 2:37 Buffalo Bluejays fan: Hi Jay. I look forward to your Hall of Fame posts every year, happy to see them start today. I’ve got a hypothetical question for you if you don’t mind. Let’s say Bonds and Clemens fall off the ballot after next year, and then are inducted by the Today’s game committee. Do you think that changes how voters treat Manny (if still in his 10 years) and Arod, or would they keep their not on my watch filibuster? 2:40 Jay Jaffe: I think Manny and A-Rod are in a different boat than Bonds and Clemens because both were suspended by MLB for actual PED-related infractions. Now, I suppose there might be some very limber voters out there who somehow believe that because BB/RC weren’t punished by MLB, it was the BBWAA’s job to administer frontier justice, whereas Manny and A-Rod have served their time and are still worthy of election… but wow, that’s a strange position to take given apparent size of the “if only we knew who did what” crowd. I don’t see any of these guys getting in anytime soon. 2:40 Bryan: Think we’ll see full ballparks in 2021? 2:42 Jay Jaffe: maybe late in the season, but right now I think it’s going to be a huge risk if MLB tries to plan for that at the start of the year unless vaccine distribution goes incredibly rapidly and smoothly. I think every passing day that the Trump administration pretends that they didn’t lose the election, and therefore keeps the incoming Biden administration from getting up to speed on COVID-19 stuff, decreases the odds of finding some level of normalcy in 2021, not just for MLB but for all of us. 2:43 NorCal Angels: When people see players fail as hard as Jo Adell did in his rookie season, do the evaluations change that much? How much of his value does he retain? If Marsh is more ready does Adell stay up because his clock started anyways? 2:46 Jay Jaffe: I don’t think there’s any team that would takes 132 PA worth of struggles of a highly-regarded 21-year-old rookie under pandemic league conditions particularly seriously in terms of his long-term evaluations.That small sample likely revealed areas he needs to work on (pitch recognition, etc) and it seems probable that he starts 2021 in the minors, but the Angels would be foolish to let that override the way they’ve evaluated Adell over the past 3-4 years. 2:46 Go M’s: Cubs fire sale? Bryant non-tendered? 2:47 Jay Jaffe: I can’t imagine Bryant gets non-tendered. Guy had a bad 34 games but is one season removed from being an All-Star, and a few hot weeks away from being one of the top trade targets of next summer. 2:49 Jay Jaffe: I imagine the Cubs will work to pare payroll, but taking them into the tank seems silly considering how competitive they were in 2020 despite the things that went wrong. 2:50 Dave: What are the chances of Omar Vizquel getting into the HOF? Seems he is arguably one of the top 5 defensive shortstops of all time 2:52 Jay Jaffe: B-Ref’s defensive numbers put Vizquel 18th all time among shortstops. He’s not even in the top 5 since the start of the 1978 season (Ozzie’s first year). https://www.baseball-reference.com/tools/share.fcgi?id=8ZgBr Given that he received 52.6% of the vote, I do think Vizquel will eventually be elected, but it won’t be with my endorsement. Planning on running my JAWS series piece on him tomorrow. 2:53 Guest: Who should the Padres bring in to replace clevinger in 2021 2:54 Jay Jaffe: Charlie Morton strikes me as a good choice who won’t break the bank, but I think he prefers to be on the East Coast. Masahiro Tanaka could be a good mid-priced option if Bauer is too costly for them. 2:55 David: what team do you think lindor will be on next year? 2:57 Jay Jaffe: I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the Indians given the glut of good SS on the free agent market and the reality that teams aren’t going to gut the farm system for 1 year of Lindor. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/francisco-lindor-and-the-crowd-of-availabl… If they do deal him, the Blue Jays – who have some Cleveland connections in their front office — and Yankees are my top picks. Don’t ask me to construct the deals, though. 2:57 Alex: If you could pick one part of a park (or just outside of it) to see someone homer off of/on to, what would it be? Put another way: If you could guarantee a 475 foot homer from someone, where would you choose they hit it? 3:00 Jay Jaffe: Homers that go into the water, like McCovey Cove in SF or the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh’s PNC, are very impressive, but I really miss homers into the black at old Yankee Stadium II. Was lucky enough to witness a few in person. 3:00 John S.: Could Gary Sanchez play first base for another team? Is his bat good enough to make it worthwhile and could he handle the defense? 3:01 Jay Jaffe: There’s no way a team would take a chance on him at an offense-first position given the current state of his offense, and I’m not tremendously confident about him making the transition defensively either. He needs to get his shit together or he’ll be a journeyman DH soon. 3:01 Guest: I think the Yankees could use a good defensive 4th outfielder. What options do you think would be good? I’m wondering if Jake Marisnick would be a good fit? 3:02 Jay Jaffe: They have one option staring them in the face named Brett Gardner. 3:03 Jay Jaffe: They turned down Gardner’s $10 million option but are said to be interested in bringing him back. Clint Frazier has earned the starting LF job but Gardner’s ability to play both LF and CF makes him a good candidate to stick around. Better than Marisnick. 3:04 WinTwins0410: Jay, can you talk a little about Mickey Lolich and the Hall? Low WAR, but high “K” total (20th all-time — ahead of Mussina, Glavine, Spahn, Feller and yes, Cy Young himself). Plus, Lolich had some dominant years in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In his early years on the writers’ ballot, Lolich got modest upward momentum, but his votes really tailed off in one year (from 25% to 10.5%), likely due to Gaylord and Fergie (and Jim Kaat) all coming on the ballot and soaking up votes ahead of him. More dominant pitchers hit the ballot afterward as well. (I didn’t realize until now that Mickey stayed on the ballot for all 15 years of eligibility.) Also, can you comment on Lolich’s incredible 1971 season, where he went 25-14 and threw 376.0 innings — the second-most IP of anyone in the modern era after Wilbur Wood’s 376.2 IP in 1972. 3:10 Jay Jaffe: Lolich racked up 2,832 strikeouts and put up some ungodly single-season numbers; he averaged 337 innings and 7.1 WAR per year from 1971-73 despite the two-week player strike in ’72. But the main reason his numbers don’t shine is that he wasn’t particularly great at run prevention; his 3.44 ERA translates to a very middling 104 ERA+ for his career. He’s 119th in JAWS (48.0/37.8/42.9), still better than Jack Morris (43.5/32.6/38.0) and Catfish Hunter (40.9/34.9/37.9) — 169th and 170th — but without the fame quotient. 3:10 Jake: The Red Sox with the highest WAR in 2021 will be… 3:11 Jay Jaffe: I’ll go with Xander Bogaerts. 3:11 Jay Jaffe: Bogaerts projects for 4.0 WAR via our Depth Charts, Devers 4.4 even with shaky defense https://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=ALL&teamid=3 3:12 Mike Ortman: Were you able to catch any of the Buck O’Neil discussion on YouTube last Friday with Joe, Bob, Ken, and Ken? I am a small hall person I would say, but call Buck a “contributor” and elect the man already! A shame it would be too late, but all the same, it’s good for the legions of Buck fans and sure someone whose plaque would bring actual joy to a lot of people. What do you think Jay? 3:12 Jay Jaffe: I missed it but i’m generally in favor of electing Buck. 3:14 Key Flaw: I know there is a feeling that relief pitchers are getting the shaft with WAR and the Hall of Fame, and some folks think of treating them as a different position than starters. But, really, they aren’t a different position but instead are the same position (pitcher) that is used differently than starters. So wouldn’t arguing that the best relievers should be in the hall of fame would be (flippantly) akin to saying the best pinch hitters or pinch runners should also be? I know that is silly and not the same, but I it doesn’t feel like Lee Smith and Trevor Hoffman really had Hall of Fame careers due to them pitching so few innings no matter how good those innings were. 3:17 Jay Jaffe: you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Voters have recognized a small handful of the best relievers by electing them, but even with Hoffman, Smith, and Rivera gaining entry in close proximity, the group isn’t exactly threatening to take over the Hall. Maybe Wagner gets in, but it’s tough to see another reliever besides him doing so over the next decade, at least. 3:17 Isolated Thinker: Theo Epstein stepped down today. Are the Mets the obvious fit here? 3:17 Jay Jaffe: Not if we take the multiple reports that Epstein plans to take the year off at face value. 3:18 Jay Jaffe: It sounds as though he wants to be involved in something with an ownership stake, and unless Steve Cohen makes that part of the package, I wouldn’t hold my breath. 3:18 David: buehrle and hudson seem realy similar to me. do you think the voters will prefer one or the other or will they basically get the same support? 3:20 Jay Jaffe: Offhand, I’d think that Buehrle’s no-hitter, perfect game, 2005 championship, and Gold Gloves make him the more attractive candidate to the casual observer, but theHall of Fame Monitor — which captures that kind of stuff reasonably well — has Hudson ahead of him, 66-52. I imagine they’ll fare similarly, getting a handful of votes but not enough to reach 5%. 3:21 WinTwins0410: Jay, I can’t disagree your ineligible-for-the-Hall pick in Brandon Webb. But does Mark Prior fit as an honorable mention in that category? No Cy, but an All-Star pick, a ton of strikeouts in his five years in the bigs and now…pitching coach for a World Series-winning team. 3:22 Jay Jaffe: The fact that Prior’s career was so short is a massive bummer but he really only had one season good enough for CY consideration and about half the WAR that Webb had. 3:22 NorCal Angels: Why is Scott Rolen not in the hall? 3:23 Jay Jaffe: because too many voters think his career was too short and don’t properly weigh his offense/defense combo. 3:23 Mike Ortman: Because we’ve talked about the current ballot so much already, and you’re about to do a lot of work writing about the newcomers, I find myself thinking more about the overlooked greats that still have a chance (Dick Allen and Minnie Minoso, etc.). Next to Buck O’Neil, the other “contributor” I’m curious about would be Curt Flood. I don’t recall your personal take on Curt Flood going in, other than he has a better chance now that Marvin Miller has been elected. Would you vote him in? 3:25 Jay Jaffe: It’s been a long time since I’ve written about Flood. I’ve come around to the idea that he should be recognized as a contributor. While I’d be in favor of voting for him, they’d have to put me on the Era Committee, which… well, let’s just say that I’m not tremendously optimistic that opportunity will ever come. 3:26 Guest: Speaking of modern reliuevers, what do you think about Kenley Jansen’s hall case? He was consistently dominant from 2011-2017 and still may add a few more WAR. I like him more than Kimbrel, who has had more peaks and valleys. 3:26 Jay Jaffe: Things have only gone downhill for both Jansen and Kimbrel since I wrote this https://blogs.fangraphs.com/world-series-offers-rare-meeting-of-potent… 3:28 Jay Jaffe: Based on their 2019-20 performances, I don’t see either of them as likely to have the longevity to enter into serious HOF discussions. 3:28 Key Flaw: Lou Whitaker not being in the hall (but Trammel is) is….well, we know probably why. But Bobby Grich not being is just as shocking. Both are overqualified, but is the value of pretty good offensive second basement with good gloves not seen by voters (I wonder if many see them as similar to Jeff Kent, despite the vast difference in defense). 3:29 Jay Jaffe: There weren’t any advanced defensive metrics to go by when Grich was on the ballot in 1992, alas, and he’s never gotten a sniff from the Era Committees. Given his low batting average and hit total short of 2,000, I think it’s going to take another generation of turnover before he even lands on a ballot. 3:30 Will: Where would Vizquel rank in the worst HOFer discussion? At any point in his career was he considered one of the best 20 players in baseball? Would be a huge overvaluation of accumulation and overestimation of both his defense and defense’s relative value. 3:33 Jay Jaffe: He’d replace Rabbit Maranville as the lowest-ranked SS by JAWS, but still way better than Lloyd Waner, Chick Hafey, and Fred Lindstrom, High Pockets Kelly, and more. 3:34 Isolated Thinker: What’s your take on Leo Mazzone and/or Johnny Sain making the HOF one day? 3:35 Jay Jaffe: I think it’s more likely they get a special award that makes them auxiliary members, like the Spink/Frick winners. Very tough to truly measure what makes a good coach, but there are a number who deserve some kind of recognition. 3:35 Jesse: Do you expect the Cubs to begin a proper rebuild this off-season? 3:35 Jay Jaffe: because they were still pretty good despite having several players struggle in 2020, i can’t see them cutting it to the bone the way they did for their previous rebuild. 3:36 Cove Dweller: Is there a player that you think would be HoF worthy had they not played as long as they did? In other words, can a player ruin his HoF chances by playing too long? 3:36 Jay Jaffe: I’m struggling to think of a single example that would really fit the bill. 3:37 GSon: Jay.. can you just NOT construct Francisco Lindor trades.. it’s not in your wheel house.. thanks.. 3:37 Jay Jaffe: Gary Sanchez for Francisco Lindor. Who Says No???? 3:37 NorCal Angels: Watching other major sports, you see them trade picks a lot. Why does baseball never seem to trade draft capital like that? What are the rules/ practices that prohibit it? 3:41 Jay Jaffe: it’s something that really should be allowed so as to give teams a fuller range of options in rebuilding. I think there’s fear that it would lead to something along the lines of what JJ Cooper of Baseball America describes here: https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/ask-ba-should-mlb-teams-be-all… “But the bigger problem is that any added excitement created by trading draft picks would be wiped away the first time a team sold a top-10 pick to a large revenue team for salary relief on a bad contract, which would happen. In other words, trading draft picks would only highlight the differences between high revenue teams and low revenue ones.” 3:41 GSon: the gary sanchez deal.. EVERYONE with a brain.. 3:41 Jay Jaffe: That was my point, thanks. 3:43 Jay Jaffe: OK folks, that’s all I have time for today. Thanks for stopping by! There will be no chat next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, so please, have a happy and safe T-day.