Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 11/7/23

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks! Welcome to the first offseason edition of my Tuesday chat!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: This is also very possibly the last one of these I conduct for a few weeks in my current abode, as The Big Move from the apartment where I’ve spent the past 16 years — the everyday professional part of my writing career, as it is — to our new home further south in Brooklyn is scheduled for a week from Saturday.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s all very exciting and stressful and there’s a lot to do, as you can imagine. Since I’ll be without a computer setup for a few days, I’ll have to work ahead, hence the unlikelihood of a chat next week.

Anyway, yesterday I wrote about Clayton Kershaw’s surgery and Lance Lynn’s option: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/with-kershaws-surgery-and-lynns-declined-o…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And today I published my first candidate profile from the 2024 Contemporary Baseball Era Committee Managers/Executives/Umpires ballot, Davey Johnson https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2024-contemporary-baseball-era-committee-c…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And now, on with the show

Votto: What should I do this offseason? (Assuming that whatever I choose is what makes me happy) Is it to retire? Take a bench role with the Reds (again, assuming they’d have me)? Or sign with another team – and which team?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Congrats, Joey! If this is it for you, you’ve had a splendid career and you’re headed for Cooperstown as a one-team star. If you have the appetite, however, I’m sure there’s a landing spot for you as a part-time DH/1B/hitting guru/chessmaster. The Blue Jays are a logical fit given your Canadian heritage, the Angels will almost certainly need a new DH, and the Diamondbacks could be a good spot with an up-and-coming team

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That said, if the Reds can squeeze you onto the roster, they might make plenty of sense as the trend arrows appear to be pointing in the right direction.

Kevin: is being a Roberto Clemente Award nominee or winner a HOF vote consideration for you along with the other obvious performance considerations?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not really. It’s a data point regarding a player doing good in his community, but the single most unsavory dog**** candidate of this millennium — from a character standpoint, I should clarify — won one before he went around the bend, so that kind of discounts its utility for me.

Eddie: What do you seeing NYY doing this offseason (aside from planning on bunting more)? A whole lot of outrage over (mostly) nothing from Hal’s press conference. Most important nugget probably came after when Jack Curry noted Yamamoto is of great interest to them.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They really do need to make at least one marquee addition, maybe even two. Yoshinobu Yamamoto certainly fills a need, and my guess is that they’ll see what it would take to land Bellinger. I also think they could wind up trading Oswald Peraza, who struggled last year at age 23 but graded out well as a prospect and has six years of control remaining, to help them somewhere else

Matt VW: Thinking about Counsell’s new contract: is there a case to be made that managers are becoming more valuable as bullpen deployment and maintenance is becoming more elaborate?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The in-game tactical stuff is still just a fraction of a manager’s job, albeit one that does crtically rely on timing and the ability to convert a lot of data into a plan of action that gets a team’s buy-in. The softer factors — ability to lead a disparate bunch of individuals and to act as a face of the franchise for the media — are a huge part of the job as well. MLB manager salaries have long lagged behind those of other coaches, so it’s not surprising that they’re finally catching up. Good on Counsell for using his leverage to help make that happen.

Hot Stove Chef: Which Division do you think will have the most interesting offseason in terms of trades and FA signings? NL West given the fact that the Giants need some star power, the Padres are run by AJ Preller, the Dodgers will be making a run at Ohtani and need to put together a rotation, and the DBacks are coming off a surprise World Series appearance? AL West because Trader Jerry always has something up his sleeve? AL Central because it’s such a winnable division that each marginal upgrade could make the difference? Or D) Other?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: NL West for the reasons you mention, AL East because the Yankees are the 800-lb gorilla in the room. As for Trader Jerry, the past year has shown that the emperor has no sleeves.

Benny: What do you make of the argument that Davey Johnson had two thirds of a Hall of Fame managerial career, but also one third of a Hall of Fame playing career, so he should be a Hall of Famer?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Meh, that’s not really how it works. There are many players in the Hall who had ok managerial careers, at least for awhile, and a lot of good managers who had decent playing careers, the point of the Hall is to recognize somebody who kicked ass in one aspect or the other.

Guest: Hi Jay. How do you feel a second world series MVP impacts Corey Seager’s HOF case? I know multiple Cy Youngs haven’t helped some cases, but nothing seems more important than being the main cog in winning multiple titles.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it helps a little, certainly, but he’s significantly behind contemporaries such as Lindor (same age) and Correa (one year younger) in JAWS as well as some like Bogaerts and Turner who are older. This was his first season above 4.0 bWAR since 2017; he needs to be able to stay on the field and perform at a high level to catch up; if he can do that, the postseason stuff will put him over the line

All I Want for Christmas Is Ale: What’s your favorite seasonal beer around the holidays? As a Californian, I’m a big fan of Firestone Walker’s Cinnamon Dolce Nitro Stout (don’t forget the surge pour!) and will be pouring one out for my first Christmas without an Anchor Steam Christmas Ale.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. I don’t chase a ton of holiday beers anymore, so I’m as likely to just settle for a favorite dark stout or porter in the colder months. I do love the Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale as a holiday beer

Boomstick: Loved Kiri Oler’s article on Nelson Cruz upon his retirement from baseball. I learned a lot about Boomstick, from his humanitarian efforts to the mentorship he provided to younger players to the Rangers’ hot dog named after him. Hardball question: have you ever eaten a Boomstick Hot Dog?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I need to get back to Kiri’s article, which is here for those who haven’t seen it: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-anti-hero-of-the-aging-curve-calls-it-…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve never eaten a Boomstick hot dog. Not opposed to trying it (as a share) but i’ve never been in a ballpark where one was being served

1st Ohtani Question of Millions this Offseason: MLBTradeRumors’s three surveyed writers unanimously predicted Shohei to the Dodgers, predicting a 12-year $528M contract that would tie the highest average annual value and take him through his age-40 season. Sir, your thoughts?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That seems about right but I’d expect him to get both the $ and AAV title belts in one fell swoop

Captain ACAB: What do you think of Bartolo Colon’s HOF case? Have you written about it yet?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’ll be on the ballot this winter. I greatly enjoyed the guy’s career, especially its third act from the time he joined the Yankees, but he doesn’t really have a strong case for the Hall (just 46.2 bWAR) even before we acknowledge that his PED suspension basically kills his candidacy

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And the same goes for Nelson Cruz, by the way. He did a very good job of earning his way back into the game’s good graces, is held in high esteem by teams and teammates, but as I said on Twitter the other day, it would look utterly stupid and ridiculous for the BBWAA to elect a player who was actually suspended for PEDs when clear penalties were in place after rejecting several such as Bonds and Clemens, who were alleged to have used during a time before the testing-and-penalty framework was in place.

Sanford: Congrats on the new home, Jay! What neighborhood are ya moving to (if you don’t mind my asking)? I’ve been renting in NYC for a while now but looking to buy soon too

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not going to be too specific about where in a public forum, except to say that it’s within walking distance of Prospect Park.

Best of luck buying, holy hell is it an ordeal

JC: Have you tried any AI bots for baseball questions? The ones I’ve tried are terrible

Avatar Jay Jaffe: No. I’ve done very little playing with AI. I’m not gonna be the one who feeds and trains the machines

Captain ACAB: Does Dusty Baker give a HOF speech in his lifetime?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes. Summer of 2027

Jon: Does Stuff+ appear somewhere on individual player pages?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not yet, no. What I’ve done is navigate through the leaderboard and create a custom player page where I swap out the name. here’s Clayton Kershaw:


MostlyToasty1: Is Nick Martinez finally going to be a full-time SP next year or are potential buyers more interested in his multi-use role?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. I don’t get the sense that he has the stuff to be a full-time starter. At the very least he’s going to have to cut that walk rate if he’s going to survive in that capacity

Matt VW: Hindsight is 20/20 and the conversation on pitching still had a strong “horses gotta horse” bent to it at the time, but is putting 276.2 innings on 20-year-old Dwight Gooden a factor in evaluating Johnson’s HoF candidacy?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eh, it’s tough to hold that against Johnson specifically — those were the times and Gooden held up pretty well under the workload, or at least that wasn’t really the cause of his downfall. That said, we don’t have pitch counts for him (or anyone else, at least systematically) until 1988 so it’s a bit harder to judge on a more granular basis.

It is a question that Johnson has thought about, however. When I was researching my piece I came across a recent Q&A he did with MLB’s Bill Ladson (https://www.mlb.com/news/q-a-with-former-mets-manager-davey-johnson). This was the closing exchange:

MLB.com: Besides the Mets, you managed the Nationals, Orioles, Reds and Dodgers. Do you think you are a Hall of Fame manager?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Johnson: I don’t think anything about that. That’s the least of my worries. After I retired in 2013, my job is being a good father and husband. I take care of my dogs, chickens, and I have good properties now. When I look back on my [managerial] career, I hope I gave everybody chances. I also hope I didn’t abuse the pitchers and hurt their careers.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: sorry, had to break that up

Farhandrew Zaidman: Do you get squirmy by the idea of the pitcher leading the league in walks winning the Cy Young (Snell)?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t love it in the abstract and I really don’t enjoy watching Snell nibble and walk four guys per night but he’s shown a knack for sequencing and suppressing hard contact, (note the career -0.62 gap between his ERA and FIP) so I do believe those walks are less impactful than they would be in the hands of a less skilled pitcher

This is how it works: Actually, that’s how Bonds+Clemens will get in. Some beloved, less notorious PED user will get in regardless of his suspension (no, I don’t think it’ll be Cruz), then enough voters will say, ‘OK, guess it’s just too unfair and inconsistent to not take Bonds/Clemens next’.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The problem with that assumption is that the Hall controls who sits on the committees that votes on candidates and as we saw (again) last year, the institution isn’t shy about stacking the deck. See https://blogs.fangraphs.com/in-naming-the-era-committee-members-the-ha…

Farhandrew Zaidman: Muncy was quoted as saying his extension was “probably under market.” Is that actually true, though? The wRC+ keeps creeping down, and the 3B defense is…erm…not great.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The ZiPS forecast for Muncy as a 3B with -4 or -5 defense was two years and $37 million, and he got 2/$24M https://blogs.fangraphs.com/max-muncy-and-the-dodgers-renew-their-vows…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: So yes, the extension was almost certainly under market.

Guest: In the case of someone like Colon, do we need to go strictly on numbers? If I were a writer and I decided to vote for him partly based on his numbers and partly based on his other contributions to the game– namely, the home run he hit and the jiggly-belly gif– would that be so wrong? He straddled eras. He had a rise, a fall, and a redemption arc. He brought joy to many, and he was intermittently very, very good. Why can’t that be enough?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Look, the world and the Hall might be better places if we recognized those things for what they are but the Hall is supposed to be a means of honoring the elite performances and most impactful figures in the game’s history and I don’t think you can easily get him onto those admittedly subjective tiers without opening the door to dozens of other guys who, for example, did similar without getting suspended.

Reds Enjoyer: Why are my Redlegs not mentioned more in the Bellinger discussions? Our payroll is going to be ridiculously low (even for us) and the fit seems perfect to me. 4 years/ $100 million, let’s ride!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he’s going to get much more than 4/$100M

MostlyToasty1: I know he’s coming off an elite GG-winning defensive year in CF, but does Brenton Doyle run the risk of losing playing time next year if the bat doesn’t come around at some point? What does a realistic ceiling look like for him?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, the Rockies gave over 1400 PA to Raimel Tapia and his 77 wRC+ so it’s pretty clear they have only a partial inkling of how to navigate this. I think they have to hope the bat will come around but Eric Longenhagen put grades of 20/30 on his hit tool and 30/40 on his game power, with a 40 FV overall grade, which isn’t even low-end regular material. At best, based on my read of the grades (I honestly have seen very little of his play and am not a scout anyway), my interpretation is that he could outdo himself and gets into that low-end regular bucket for a few years.

Jason: Are there any starters you think fit within Arizona’s price range? I’ve seen Lorenzen as a guess but I’m not convinced he actually moves the needle at all.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eduardo Rodriguez might be an option but I don’t see why they couldn’t pursue somebody like Jordan Montgomery, whose AAV will probably be in the low $20Ms. It’s not like they’re running $200M payrolls. If they’re unwilling to pay to sustain this competitive window, direct your pitchforks towards Ken Kendrick

Just Fowl: Should Ohtani be wary of the Dodgers’ dubious history of pitchers’ health?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: should the guy with two TJ procedures (one modified)… wait you lost me there

Farhandrew Zaidman: Any surface level (or deeper) takes from the Steinbrenner press conference? Pointing out AZ/HOU as an excuse not to spend feels weak, and pre-meditated going all the way back to CBA negotiations.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I didn’t listen, tbh. He’s clearly a very risk-averse and mostly controversy-averse owner, which would be less of a big deal if he were in a different market or had a different last name. If you’re the Yankees, sometimes you just gotta hit the right players with your wallet, but that involves choosing the right players, too.

Dmytro: Think Rodon makes a bounceback? What do underlying stats tell us about him when he is healthy, why did he stop missing bats?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: on that subject… I did not see Rodón sustain any level of performance for very long that gives me particular hope for a rebound, BUT his track record clearly illustrates an ability to fight his way out of the weeds, and that’s not nothing. A cycle of back troubles is very tough to break, and I’m guessing that an offseason of not trying to fight the clock will be beneficial, which is to say that I think you/they just have to hope that they turn the page on a nightmarish year and go forward with a clean bill of health

Kyle: What do you make of Harper (via Boras) possibly hinting that he’d like more money in the form of an extension? The owners would never let Middleton set this precedent, right? It’s not like they can renegotiate when a player is a bust.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s silliness. He signed that deal. Salaries inevitably catch up to make such deals look less outrageous. The only way I’d extend him would be to create a lower AAV which would help navigate CBT issues. Like you wanna add two more years at $10 million? Uh ok I guess.

Byron Denniston: The $600 millionhype/expectation for Ohtani from late summer is long gone, down to $500. How low does it go? Harper, Machado, Bryant, etc all got hit with fake numbers before FA too

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The $600 million number disappeared not because it was “fake” but because he had elbow surgery, creating very real concerns about his future as a pitcher.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: as well as knocking him out for a full season in that department

Reds Enjoyer: My 100/4 estimate was a bit of a joke (obviously Bellinger will get a longer deal) but the sentiment was real. Even if he gets 175/7 I don’t see why the Reds wouldn’t be a suitor to pay him that. He would make a joke out of GABP if he played the way he did last year. Anyway, thanks for the chat as always Jay!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I probably fired off my answer too early; i threw around 4/$100-ish type estimates in-season when it looked more likely he would regress towards his less-impressive Statcast numbers.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It would make sense for the Reds to pursue him but he also does carry more risk than your average position player in the $100-200 million range based on his history, and the Reds… they carry more risk aversion when it comes to big salaries.

Justin: Not sure if you’ve seen mlb trade rumors free agent predictions but their salary predictions seem high to me on average. Do you agree?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I saw the 12/$264M prediction for Bellinger and Coca Cola that I drank last week started shooting from my nose.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t systematically evaluated their top-50 predictions, but some seem all right and a few seem outrageous. it will be interesting to compare their numbers with ours when our Top 50 runs next Thursday

Bob: Perhaps Dan is better suited for this question but are playoff stats included in a players projection for the next season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t believe so

Captain ACAB: Is HOF worthiness truly one of your passions or is it just the first way you broke on to the scene and were stuck with that niche?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: More the first than the second. I really enjoy the topic, came up with a tool that people found helpful, and was able to build that out in a manner that comprises a substantial part of my workload without feeling like an undue burden. It’s great to occupy a spot where you’re considered an expert on the subject — I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things from people within the game, and that means a lot to me

A Boy Named Yu: Initial thoughts on Counsell to the Cubs? How did they keep it so quiet? Thoughts on David Ross now?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s certainly a shocker, a move whose stealth wouldn’t have been possible if Counsell had been under contract, because the Cubs would have had to seek (and likely be denied) permission to speak to him. I can sort of understand the logic; if I’m going to go to a bigger market, maybe the one closer to home makes more sense even if the owner isn’t as inclined to spend as much and even if I don’t know the POBO as well.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s still kind of weird but maybe the working relationship between Stearns and Counsell wasn’t as strong as previously believed. And it does appear that raising the payroll bar for managers was a priority for the guy

Kyle: Let’s say Soto’s 2024 is similar to his 2023. Does he beat Ohtani’s deal in either total value or AAV?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think so. He’ll hit free agency at three years younger, and his three-year offensive performance is similar to that of Ohtani, but he doesn’t have the extra hooks of also being a top-flight pitcher and having a history of stardom within and connection to a country of 112 million people the way Ohtani does.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, time for me to wrap this one up. Thanks so much for stopping by. As I said before, it’s going to be a few weeks before I’m back in this spot, so enjoy what November has to offer.

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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6 months ago

“It’s a data point regarding a player doing good in his community, but the single most unsavory dog**** candidate of this millennium — from a character standpoint, I should clarify — won one before he went around the bend, so that kind of discounts its utility for me.”

I disagree strongly.

6 months ago
Reply to  Gregg

You disagree that fact discounts the award’s utility for Jay? I mean, he said it did. Why would he lie?

6 months ago
Reply to  FranklinP

Obviously I didn’t mean your pedantic interpretation of the quote.

I disagree with discounting players’ exemplary community service recognition because someone 20 years ago won it that we don’t like anymore. It’s short-sighted and overly simplistic thinking.

6 months ago
Reply to  Gregg

It’s more discounting the value of “Roberto Clemente Award Winner” by itself. A player’s exemplary community service record and high character can still be valued regardless of if he won that specific award. Often those two things are correlated, but clearly not always.