Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 12/15/20

2:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to my first chat in [mumbles] weeks. I’ve been busy with my annual Hall of Fame series and just a few minutes ago the first entry in my One-and-Done set, covering outfielders Shane Victorino and Michael Cuddyer, went live https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2021-hall-of-fame-ballot-one-…

2:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: You can see the full schedule here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/a-2021-hall-of-fame-ballot-of-your-own-and…, and find a link to our Crowdsource Hall of Fame ballot, which allows registered users to vote for up to 10 candidates, just like the pros.

2:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d also like to call your attention to my spot with Shakeia Taylor on last week’s FanGraphs Audio podcast, where we discussed the life of Dick Allen, and the racism and other obstacles he encountered during his career https://blogs.fangraphs.com/fangraphs-audio-reflecting-on-dick-allen/

2:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: And since it’s been awhile, I’d like to wish those of you out there celebrating a Happy Hanukkah. I hope your latkes are as good as the ones in the Jaffe-Span household.

2:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok, on with the show

2:06
Bart: Any more news about baseball season may be 140 games and start in May per owners

2:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: There’s not a whole lot of news yet because the league and the union haven’t formally begun discussions. All we’re seeing is the run-up to that, as the sides stake out their opening positions via the media. If you’re like me, I’m sure you can’t wait to learn that neither commissioner Rob Manfred nor union exec director Tony Clark actually learned a damn thing from last year’s vitriolic public back-and-forth.

2:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: But beyond that i think it’s going to be awhile before we have any real grasp on what the 2021 season will look like because the situation in this country is such a mess with respect to surging COVID-19 rates and the reality that the vaccine could take most of the year to circulate throughout the population.

2:09
David: If owners want to make taking the vaccine a requirement to spring training, shouldn’t the MLBPA use that a negotiation tool to get something they want back, something big?

2:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, that presupposes that MLB is going to cut the line when it comes to vaccine distribution. After the league failed to make good on most of its pledges to contribute to public health — the New York Daily News’ Bradford William Davis (@_beewilly on Twitter) has the receipts — I don’t think that’s going to go over well.

2:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Knowing that they may not get full ballparks all year, the owners clearly have enough reason to delay the start of the season and shorten the schedule while hoping they can get players vaccinated. I do expect it will be a requirement in there somewhere.

2:12
John: The initial results on HOF voting seem to lead to a conclusion that no one will be elected this year but that Helton and Rolen will move into Vizquel territory with schilling losing votes.

2:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’ve seen 36 published ballots so far, less than 10% of the expected total, so I think it’s too early to conclude that nobody will be elected. I’d guess that it’s Schilling or bust, though, since nobody else is close enough to make the kind of jump that usually pushes players past 75%.

2:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Which ain’t a lot of fun, alas.

2:15
Elmo’s Other Song: Do Hall of Fame voters get any information (beyond a blank ballot) about the players? Or are the expected to know the case for and against each candidate?

2:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The packet comes with a sheet showing last year’s results and noting how many years of eligibility have lapsed for each player. The Hall’s website is supposed to contain short bios of each candidate but damned if I can find them at a moment’s notice right now.

2:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The real research (if any) is up to the individual voter.

2:17
Chamaco: Great piece on Gary Sheffield.  While he was not a great defensive player, he played 17 of 22 seasons in the NL, which had no DH option for him.  Since he had to play somewhere in the field, and his defensive position was determined by his manager/team, would all of that warrant a reconsideration of the impact of his defensive numbers on his career WAR and JAWS? Seems like if he spent his career in the AL as a DH (like Edgar Martinez), his HOF case might be viewed differently.

2:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks. I discussed this a bit with Baseball America’s JJ Cooper via Twitter yesterday

Stuck in neutral for his first five years on the ballot, Gary Sheffield saw a big jump in support in 2020, but he still has a ways to go. Does he have a realistic shot at the Hall? And is he worthy of a bronze plaque? @jay_jaffe goes deep on his case. blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2…
14 Dec 2020

and with multiple voters last year. I can certainly see granting Sheffield some leeway regarding WAR/JAWS given that the matter of DHing was largely out of his control for a good chunk of his career, and that his defensive metrics are so extreme that it’s worth comparing them via other systems.

FWIW, Shef was on my virtual ballot for the first time last year and is likely to wind up on my actual one this year.

2:22
Curtis: How many HOFers have a similar “late start” story like Edgar Martinez?

2:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hoyt Wilhelm didn’t debut until he was 29, while Jackie Robinson and Iron Joe McGinnity didn’t do so until they were 28; both had parallels in terms of players who arrived late due to the color line or their playing in advantageous minor league situations.

2:24
Guest: Happy holiday of your choosing and best wishes for the coming new year from the guy who likes to needle you about Pete Alonso & service time manipulation but respects your opinions about other things.

2:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thank you, and likewise.

2:24
Not Bob Nightengale I Promise: How many top-50 free agents do you think the Mets end up with?

2:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably four if you’re counting Stroman. McCann’s signed, and I’d expect Springer plus another starting pitcher but perhaps not Bauer if they do get Springer.

2:27
Justin: Absolutely crazy to me that Billy Wagner doesn’t get more love.

2:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: His career is shorter than any of the enshrined closers, but he did jump to 31.7% last year, nearly doubling his support. That’s not nothing and I’d expect his share to continue to increase.

2:28
45 blows billygoats: Given a full season, and considering injury history, how many IP do you see them giving Sixto this year?

2:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s so tough to make predictions like this because of the aforementioned likelihood that we don’t get a 162-game season and the lack of insight into how teams plan to handle such situations. Sanchez threw just 47 innings last year including playoffs. I’d be surprised if he went far past 120, regardless of season length right now.

2:31
Pat: Thinking of race relations & society & media treatment, not only of Dick Allen, but, Sheffield…does that help explain some of the 70’s/80’s flame outs/substance abuse of guys like Parker, Bobby Bonds, Templeton, Wilson, Blue, etc? Something I’d never considered before, but, sure seems like their was likely a lack of support for minorities during that time period.

2:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think we need to be careful not to generalize. The issues that Allen and Sheffield faced were different ones due to their timing and surrounding circumstances, not to mention their individual makeups. The guys that you mention, whose careers took place in between those two, have in common the fact that they arrived in the majors at a different time and were subject to different pressures — the widespread availability of cocaine in the late ’70s and ’80s, for example, and the game’s nascent drug policy — but I’d avoid lumping them together beyond that. They each had their own circumstances and personalities.

2:38
Ariel White: What message is a writer sending to victims of abuse (if they vote for) or the writers (it they elect) a player like Bonds or Jones? What message is being sent to young people who are on the edge of darkness and are on the verge of potentially committing abuse themselves.

What message is a writer sending to young trans or muslim baseball fans if they for (or the writers if they elect) a player like Schilling? What message are they sending to young people on the verge of hate?

2:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: This is a good question that deserves more than an offhand answer in a chat, but I think any conscientious voter has to wrestle with these questions and whether s/he is in fact “sending a message” by evaluating what a player did on a baseball field.

2:42
Curtis: Having never been to the actual Baseball Hall of Fame, what is the one thing that stood out to you most? or perhaps the thing that surprised you the most?

2:44
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That it’s far more than the plaques and the annual debates over who belongs. It’s a quality museum that has its charms and its quirks. Some of it feels a bit dated but their recent exhibits — the Whole New Ballgame one covering the 1970s onward, and the baseball card one — have some very cool, eye-opening stuff.

2:44
David: Happy Hanukkah! Do you think there will be extended playoffs this year? I hope not but manfred seems determined

2:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I expect we’ll get something more than the 2012-19 format but less than the 2020 one, and that I’ll probably hate it.

2:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: and thanks/back at you for the Hanukkah wishes!

2:46
Chris: In a recent column, Buster Olney said Madison Bumgarner was a “no-doubt Hall of Famer.” Is that true considering he has 36.5 career bWar and 30.7 career fWar and looks pretty close to cooked?

2:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: woof. Swing and a miss from Buster there.

2:46
Matt J: What’s the deal with the seemingly increase in non-tenders and fewer contracts to vets over the past few seasons? Seems like low to middle end players are underpaid while top end free agents are getting most of the teams’ budgets. How would you fix this?

2:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eric Longenhagen wrote about the increasing number of non-tenders last month https://blogs.fangraphs.com/on-the-coming-deluge-of-non-tenders/. As we’ve seen in recent winters, teams are doing more to put the squeeze on free agents who aren’t top-tier, and they know that flooding the market with several roughly equivalent alternatives helps to keep costs down.

2:49
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t have a great answer for how to fix that beyond making sure that players get paid more earlier in their careers so that pre-arb and arb-year guys can so easily crowd out the vets.

2:50
Guest: How does the “cap” work in a prorated season.  Is it also prorated?  Or, could teams that might be going close, go past it, since the season will likely be ~10-15% shorter, thus saving them about that much in actual salary?

2:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I thought I remembered MLB waiving the CBT for this season but now I can’t find where I read that; I know that they waived the revenue sharing between large and small-market teams. Rather than bring this chat to a halt as i dig further, gonna move on and hopefully somebody reminds me.

2:56
David: Andruw Jones….in what year would you “guess” he will be elected to the Hall? Being the best defensive center fielder of all time and all.

2:57
Avatar Jay Jaffe: 2028, maybe? That would be his 10th year of eligibility on the writers’ ballot. By then I expect both Carlos Beltran and Kenny Lofton to be in, which will make his omission stand out more

2:57
Purple Drink: Should teams that don’t need shortstops (e.g. the Mets) be looking at Marcus Semien as a 3B solution?

2:58
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think he’s got enough bat for 3B and I suspect many if not most teams feel that way

2:58
Springer: What more does Scherzer need to do to get in to the Hall of Fame?

2:59
Avatar Jay Jaffe: With 3 Cy Youngs he might get in even if he never threw another inning but I think that by the time he reaches 200 wins and 3000 strikeouts (he’s at 175 and 2784, respectively) he’ll be considered a lock.

3:00
45 blows billygoats: If Buster Posey retired today…HOF’er?

3:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d vote for him myself but I suspect most voters feel he has to have at least a couple more solid and healthy seasons

3:00
John: scratch that.  Looking at era committees it looks like Allen, oliva, piniella, Parker and Evans are next –  agree?

3:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The ones I’m most keen on and realistic about are Allen and Miñoso for Golden Days, and Whitaker and Evans for Modern Baseball. Past voting totals suggest Oliva for the former, Parker for the latter, and Piniella for Today’s Game but i’m extremely lukewarm on all of those. I’d take Jim Leyland, who has yet to be on a ballot and who took teams to 3 World Series in a heartbeat over Piniella, who only took 1.

3:05
John: how do you feel about Marty Marion’s chances?

3:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

3:05
Mike Ortman: Fastidiously following HOF articles and info is what I’ve been doing to keep myself sane in my spare time during this decade long year we’ve been through.  But I LOL’d multiple times reading Ray Ratto’s article on Defector about his HOF vote.  What were your thoughts?  His jabs at you and others were obvs tongue in cheek.

3:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Totally. Ray’s one of a kind and I enjoyed that so much it probably makes him angry.

3:06
Ortman: How about some outlier picks for the HOF that you would get behind?  One 19th century guy?  One Negro Leaguer?  One contributor?

3:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Bill Dahlen for the 19th century guys (though he crossed into 20th), Buck O’Neil for the Negro Leagues, and Doc Adams for his pioneering work.

3:09
Guest: Players need to face the media after games, voters should face the media after their votes. Prove me wrong

3:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The BBWAA overwhelmingly voted to make ballots public a few years ago. The Hall rejected our decision.

3:10
GSon: The confidence in the business of baseball  has been serverely tested and has barely survived.. With the news that the MLB owners are attempting a gambit/end run by including the vaccine (and, hopefully it’s effectiveness) as a prerequisite to opening the 2021 season, this will give the owners a fighting chance to achieve some form of fiscal “win”.. Do all teams survive? Will a team, like the indians have to “sell off” the Lindor’s and Ramirez’s to stay afloat? Will the MLB ownership band together to assist this difficult time?

3:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: There’s no way in hell the viability of any franchise is threatened by the pandemic — all of them would sell for massive amounts of money if they hit the market.

3:11
WinTwins 0410: Jay, in your 9/1/2020 chat, I asked you if — by postponing the small-committee voting one year — the Hall was run by idiots, was just plain cruel, or both.  You answered at the time that you didn’t think it was run by idiots, and I accepted that answer then and now, as the Hall clearly was ahead of the curve on the pandemic.  But can a case be made that — looking at delayed inductions and heartbreak for Ron Santo, Marvin Miller and now, likely, Dick Allen — something with these era committees is cruel and has to change?  Posthumous inductions of the recently deceased seem really, really stupid to me.  And if a case can be made that something with the committees has to change, do you think Allen’s death *will* spark a change in the coming months with the era committees?

3:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the fault lies less with the institution and more with the mindset of individual voters. The Hall was quite reasonable in creating the Era Committeee process and in downshifting so that older eras were considered with less frequency. The fact that these guys have all come up for votes several times, and that their candidacies have become more favored by additional research in that span — that’s on the voters, some of whom may have held petty grudges against the likes of Santo, Allen Miñoso et al or failed to reflect upon the obstacles that they faced. The one thing I’d say the Hall could do to simplify this would be to allow voters to name 5 guys instead of four from among the slates of 10 candidates.Tom Tango has done the math on this and it’s nearly impossible with just 4 votes per voter.

3:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I should note that when I put that on the individual voters, the living HOFers who participated in the old VC process, which never elected a single candidate and which endlessly f*****d up with Miller bear a significant amount of the blame.

3:18
Chris: Mariners just made a trade

3:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hold onto your butts

Another trade for the Rangers, who have been very busy: Right-handed reliever Rafael Montero is headed to the Seattle Mariners, sources tell ESPN.

Seattle is trying to rebuild a bullpen that was worst in the AL. They’ve hit free agent RP up, too. One possibility: Blake Treinen.

15 Dec 2020
3:18
Mets fan: If Degrom wins the Cy young this year is he a hall of famer? Would be 3 in 4 years with a 60 game season breaking up the 3 peat

3:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: if he wins another it will put him in a unique situation regarding his candidacy. Short and sometimes less-than-stellar careers explain away why the 2-time winners aren’t in, but the only 3-time winner on the outside is Clemens.

3:19
Collin: Does the McCann deal mean the market is not nearly as cold as we expected?

3:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: No, it means Steve Cohen is telling the truth when he said the Mets would be aggressive this winter.

3:20
David: Beltran and Lofton before Andruw?  He is definetly above them.

3:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: he’s 11th in JAWS, Beltran 9th, Lofton 10th. Gold Gloves and favorable defensive metrics aren’t everything.

3:21
C@$hman: would you rather have Lemahieu at 2b and gleyber at SS or Trevor story at SS and gleyber at 2b?

3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Story-Torres. I don’t think Gleyber is good enough defensively to hold down SS

3:23
Ariel White: Thanks for your answer. I do recommend talking to your colleague, Sheryl Ring, before voting for someone like Bonds or Jones to get her insight on voting for an abuser. I think that it is important to understand that it isn’t up to the voter whether or not they are sending a message with their vote.

3:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m well aware of Sheryl’s position on Bonds et al., and I respect it as well as the opinions of many others who have spoken up on the subject. Being a Hall of Fame voter comes with an ironclad guarantee that you won’t be able to please all of the people all of the time, and figuring out how to weigh non-baseball matters in the voting is one of the challenges that comes with the privilege of voting.

3:28
chris’s aunt netty: If dick Allen makes it, does Albert Belle?

3:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: No. Different circumstances.

3:28
Cube Jockey: Thirty years from now, there will probably be another 10-15 metro areas large enough to support an expansion team.  Is there a limit to the number of teams MLB could field that would make it too unwieldy?

3:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: ‘Color me very skeptical about that number.

3:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: (10-15 metro areas large enough to support an expansion team)

3:28
Guest: I’m sure you’ve written about this, but how did you end up with the HOF as your niche?

3:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Gonna do a piece on the road to getting my ballot probably sometime in early January.

3:29
turtle: is there any breakdown on the amount of money each year going to position players vs pitchers? Not scientific obviously but it feels as if position players are the ones loosing money and pitchers are for the most part not loosing money in free agency. We still see a lot of money being given to bad starting pitchers. I wonder how much of the supression of free agency money is being driven by the glut of 1-2 war hitters teams have been able to produce.

3:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: This is a question probably better directed towards Craig Edwards, who tracks payrolls and free agency more closely than I do.

3:30
Will: As a HOF expert and just all around smart guy have you ever thought about baseball in the historical context? Professional sports are relatively new in the big picture. What are the odds people care about baseball in 100 years? In 200? Aside from societal collapse, what are the odds baseball is something like madrigals or opera or horse racing that has a definitive window and then becomes niche or worse?

3:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think about it in the historical context often, and admittedly right now it’s fair to wonder whether all this stuff will matter even 50 or 100 years from now given the disaster-in-progess of climate change.

3:32
Guest: Will news about the desire to play a shortened schedule next year push any free agents to sign deals for smaller amounts and at an earlier point in the off-season than they would have otherwise?

3:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eh, maybe leads to some quicker one-year deals but I don’t think it will have a huge effect on the market. Players and agents understand that “news” about schedule length is designed to create leverage for owners.

3:34
Montgomery Noodleton: would the blue jays ever trade bo, even for carrasco and lindor?

3:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Doubt it

3:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: unless they’re getting a significant long-term piece back as well

3:35
Matt V: Taken together your pieces and Jones and Sheffield have me wondering anew about the vexed question of evaluating defense. Clearly these evaluations still need to come with a grain of salt, especially when they produce extreme impacts. Has your sense of the default size of this grain changed at all, or is it remaining pretty consistent?

3:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think we’re destined to remain somewhat stuck in terms of historical evaluations based on the amount of data we have (play-by-play, batted ball, statcast). There’s always going to be some margin for error to be accounted for, but having more methodologies and seeing how close their answers are when it comes to measuring defensive ability can help

3:37
Ariel White: Why isn’t San Juan discussed as a potential spot for a team? Puerto Rico has such a rich baseball culture that I’m surprised people don’t at least throw around the name as a possibility a bit more.

3:40
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I love the idea but realistically think it’s a very long shot. San Juan got a long look when the Expos played there in their final two seasons, but it needs a new ballpark and probably statehood as well to support the investment. MLB isn’t going to put an expansion team in a place that isn’t overflowing with reason$$$$ to put it there.

3:40
Alex: I’ve wondered about this regarding Vizquel, but it can be extrapolated. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that a given player possesses elite defense, isn’t it the case that three true outcomes baseball diminishes the value of said skill? This feels even more true for infielders, since no one wants to hit the ball on the ground anymore.

3:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: There’s something to that. In bWAR, pitchers share less credit with their defenses on balls in play, and the batted ball distributions are factored into the way that credit is doled out.





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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