Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 12/5/23

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to a live at the Winter Meetings edition of my chat. I’m here in Nashville at the Opryland MegaBioDome monstrosity with something like a dozen of my FanGraphs colleagues. There hasn’t been a ton going on transaction-wise, but it’s good to be here nonetheless.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yesterday I published my coverage of Jim Leyland’s election to the Hall of Fame via the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee ballot for Managers/Executives/Umpires https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-hall-of-fame-calls-for-jim-leyland/

Avatar Jay Jaffe: On Friday I had my first writeup of a new candidate on this year’s BBWAA ballot, Joe Mauer https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2024-hall-of-fame-ballot-joe-… and today I’ve got a look at Year 2 of Carlos Beltrán’s candidacy https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2024-hall-of-fame-ballot-carl…

Scott: Rumors are rumors, but I don’t see how Ohtani wins a WS ring if he returns to the Angels. That organization just doesn’t seem to have the leadership that’s needed to make it happen. Is that assessment off-base?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: No, i don’t think this is off-base at all. Honestly, I find an Ohtani return to Anaheim rather implausible because their infrastructure — the roster and the DOA farm system (https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/farm-system-rankings) — just isn’t there in a way that suggests anything but more of the same. Whether it’s the Blue Jays, Dodgers, or another team, I think he can do better elsewhere, and I have to think he believes that as well.

Travis: What’re the chances Kelenic suddenly puts it all together?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Reasonable. There was so much pressure on him in Seattle given the particulars of the trade and of being a top prospect, and the organization does not have much of a recent record of developing position players. Going to a team that’s done well in that department, where he doesn’t have to be more than a supporting cast member, would seem to be a welcome change. I don’t think he’s a strong bet to reach his 60-FV ceiling as before, but he can still be a useful player

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Here’s Michael Baumann’s writeup, btw https://blogs.fangraphs.com/mariners-attach-kelenic-to-salary-dump-may…

CJ: What does Jose Ramirez have to do to solidify his HoF case?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Just stay healthy and productive. He’s at 45.5 career WAR/40.2 peak/42.9 JAWS Another 5-WAR season (he had 5.1 bWAR this year) would improve his peak score closer to the standard (43.1), and after that it’s mostly about sticking around in a productive capacity

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As I noted this summer, nearly three-quarters of all eligible position players who reach a 40.0 WAR peak score are in the Hall, and he’s now hit that mark https://blogs.fangraphs.com/cooperstown-notebook-the-2023-progress-rep…

Mike: Can Votto do anything on the field to hurt his HoF chances if he keeps playing?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not really. He’s 0.6 WAR away from being above the standards in career/peak/WAR, even having lost 0.4 WAR though sub-replacement play in the past two years. If he somehow pulls above the standard, he’d be one of four position players above all three standards on the outside of the Hall, two of whom are newcomers to this ballot: Joe Mauer and Adrían Beltré and should gain entry sooner or later; the other is Bobby Grich.

D: How far below average JAWS do you think is a good line to draw between HOF and non-HOF player (as a general guide, of course, not as a hard and fast rule)?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: To me, for position players the really interesting discussion starts at about 50 JAWS (40 for catchers). I track those totals on annual ballots as they’re a better measure of overall quality than the # that clear the standards, which can shift ever so slightly from year to year depending upon who gets elected. This year we have nine such players including Mauer.

D: I am curious why JAWS averages peak and career WAR. It feels like that would lead to missing on some great players who either shone brightly briefly or whose greatness was the result of a combination of excellence and longevity.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s just an attempt to balance career and peak, and it’s easiest to start in the middle. Some voters tend to focus more on one than the other, valuing longevity or short-career supremacy. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for somebody to look at a high-peak career that was curtailed (in an extreme case, for example, Thurman Munson, 2.3 points above the peak standard but 2.7 below the career standard) and conclude that he belongs in Cooperstown

MoKo: Who would you rather have for the same price: Eloy Jimenez or Jorge Soler?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Jimenez, just because he’s over four years younger and might have some remaining upside if he can stay healthy

Sooooo….: The Mets actually won the Diaz/Kelenic/Cano swap…huh.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: eh, i’m not sure it’s all that big a win given production and money spent.

Thomas: Of the remaining Ohtani finalists, which would you be most excited to see him sign with?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The Dodgers, given the historical location of my allegiances. It is fascinating to think of what Ohtani could mean to a whole country if he signs with the Blue Jays though.

Jaffe rhymes with Taffy: Jay, as expected Cito Gastón fell well short of making the Hall.  If he had another 1000 or so meh games managing would that move the needle due to longevity?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes if he found some success in those 1,000 games

Avatar Jay Jaffe: like additional playoff appearances

Sad Angels Fan: I’m trying to find some, really any, bright spots on the Angels roster. I keep coming back to Reid Detmers, who shows flashes of being lights out, and longer flashes of be very hittable. Can he be something? That K/9 is very very nice

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he’s a useful starter and but right now he looks as advertised, a solid #4. Maybe there’s a #3 in there if he can find a way to generate more whiffs

Yeah Well Hiura Towel: How do you compare catchers that you have pitch-framing data for to catchers who you do not? Brian McCann and Russell Martin might not look so great if we knew that, say, Mickey Tettleton and Lance Parrish were also great pitch framers (I picked those two because they have similar offensive WAR).

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We don’t have full information, you’re right. Given the time, I think where I’d start would be to see what those teams’ called-strike rates are relative to their leagues. I’ve suggested to people who have the skills to do so to see if there’s signal in the data even pre-1988 (the start of the pitch count era)

Steve: The eras committee process is broken & unnecessarily cruel to men in their 70’s & 80’s. Thoughts on this as a solution? No limit, each member simply votes “yes” or “no” on all 8. If the HOF is concerned about induction classes being too large, then cap the number selected in any year at 3, regardless of how many cross 75%. This way, it remains an exclusive honor  yet still slightly unclogs the bottleneck. What do you think?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s not a bad idea. I’d like to think about that one some more. Regardless of my own feelings on, say, Lou Piniella (whom I think is just below the cut where Leyland was just above), it’s absolutely gutting to see him go through two near-misses, and thinking aboiut Dick Allen in this context makes me want to throw a garbage can through a window

Carlos Beltran: Really enjoyed your HOF piece on him. I was reminded of how Beltran agreed to stay with the Royals for three years and $25 million, but David Glass insisted on $24 million, and Beltran just walked away from negotiating. Obviously there is not enough time for you to recount every stupid thing the Royals did under Glass, but that was a doozy.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We could sit here all day and talk about the mistakes the Royals have made in handling talented young players. As somebody said to me at dinner the other night, just think of how good Bobby Witt Jr. has to be to succeed despite the org’s track record in such matters.

Nashville Resident: When are we getting a MLB franchise?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Nashville seems to be a plausible option. I’d guess we’re looking at something like 2027 for the expansion teams to start play

Effaj Yaj: Does Seattle try to make a splash in FA after clearing up space? I’m confused why they would include Kelenic in a salary dump otherwise.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: considering that they also traded Suarez and his $11.2 million salary I’d say this what Mariners fans should hope is happening and if it doesn’t, they have my permission to start throwing trash cans through windows.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: (our lawyer tells me this is merely for illustrative purposes and is not an action I can endorse)

Trout: Aw man I thought I was gonna get to play in Philly

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If I had to guess on whether Trout gets to be a Phillie at some point in his career, I’d say there’s a strong likelihood.

Chester: Where do u think Yamamoto signs?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: One of the New York teams, or the Dodgers if they miss on Ohtani.

Ben: If Blake Snell somehow has the same achievements in his 30s as his 20s and ended his career with 4 Cy Youngs, but only 42 WAR, is he a Hall of Famer? Other than Clemens, everyone with 3 Cy Young awards either is or will be a first ballot Hall of Famer, although Koufax at 49 has the lowest WAR of those.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably yes given the dearth of other starting pitching candidates coming down the road after the big four (Kershaw et al). It’s Cole and maybe Nola if he gets his career back on track and… pray for someone else to join them.

Bandit: With Chourio in the fold, do the Brewers look to shop Garrett Mitchell? He impressed in his brief debut, seems like an obvious move to patch up the rotation?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think they do eventually but not immediately. If Chourio makes the team and if he gets through his early months ok, then that becomes more likely. Mitchell’s value won’d decrease by much if he’s traded with 4 1/2 years of control remaining instead of 5

David: The dodgers desperately need starting pitching. Do you think they’ll fill the holes through trade or free agency?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably both. Wouldn’t surprise me if they’re in on Burnes (to answer a question somebody else posted) or Cease, depending on how their free agent moves shake out

Well-Beered Englishman: For the FG crew at Winter Meetings, what % is this a reporting trip and what % just, like, having staff meetings and talking about the site and getting to hang out with your colleagues?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: In a situation like this one, with much less going on transaction-wise than most years, and with both Meg and David absent from last year’s meetings for various reasons (and no meetings for two years prior to that), we’re doing a lot of bonding and catching up. It really is a fun group to spend time with

Sirras: Settling in nicely after the move?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, thank you. Was a whirlwind couple of weeks to get our new-old house into livable shape in time to leave our daughter in the care of my mother-in-law but we’ve gotten a lot done. That said, my office is going to be a sea of boxes and crates for a long while

M: How responsive will HoF voters be in adjusting their pitching expectations? We have the big-4 who will get in, then a few interesting cases in their 30s. But there isn’t really a pitcher in their 20s that jumps out as being on a HoF track, while several 20-something bats seem to be.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s gonna take awhile, i think. I mean, right now it’s tough to even foresee who the test cases are after Sabathia and the big four (Kershaw, Verlander, Scherzer, Greinke, not necessarily in that order).

I’m going to think a bit more about Pettitte and Buehrle before I finalize my ballot this year

Clara: I very much feel that there should be more starting pitchers in the hall of fame. If you agree, what cusp-y pitcher do you feel has the strongest case?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s tough to choose but I did profile a bunch in brief a couple years ago just before the lockout ended. The list includes Ferrell, Tiant, Stieb, Cone, Hershiser, Kevin Brown, Saberhagen.

Zach: Since there only appear to be a couple of teams in on Ohtani, is the lack of activity strange? Do you think it’s because the teams in on Ohtani are also major players in the other big free agents?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: yeah that’s part of it

Jax: If Mark Buehrle’s plethora of iconic moments occurred in Yankees/Red Sox uniform would he have already been inducted?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: No because then he’d be Andy Pettitte, who hasn’t made much more headway than Buehrle

Guest: Any rumors on Jung Hoo Lee?   Any chance the Royals go for it and pair him up the middle and atop the order with Witt Jr.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’ve heard the Mets are interested but so are at least 19 other teams. Not sure why on God’s green earth he’d pick the Royals over most of them given that their path to competitiveness is longer

Jonny: What to make of Eric Fedde, who flopped in MLB but then absolutely crushed in KBO for one year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I can’t say I know what to make of him but I know Eric Longenhagen has thoughts and will post them when he signs. Mets and White Sox are said to be the most interested.

Refugee: When all the FanGraphers (FanGraphites? FanGraphese?) get together, is there anything you like to do as a group?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eat well. We have some great staff dinners every year at the restaurants of, like James Beard award winners, and the one we had last night was an all-timer

Avatar Jay Jaffe: FanGraphians?

Vet Committee SNAFU: To begin, full congrats to Jim Leyland. Great manager, great case for the Hall, deserves it strongly.

That said, really disappointed in Pinella and Bill White juuuust missing out. I know that the new/latest set up of the Committees was a reaction to so many members getting in a few years ago, but I really wish they hadn’t made it a full on battle royale in voting, and that there was a MUCH greater emphasis on the Hall voting in players, managers, execs while they’re actually alive. You’d think they’d care more about that, given the inherent value in having everyone return for induction weekend every summer…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Agreed.

Pirates Rally Train: Appreciate your detailed biography of Jim Leyland. I attendance quite a few of games growing up in the Pittsburgh area in the early 90’s and he was a fun manager to watch when they had a competitive team. Any thoughts which team should be on his HOF plaque? The Pirates, Tigers and Marlins would seem to be different milestones of his career.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: to me the Tigers are obvious given that he also spent his playing career in their minor league chain. But he said yesterday he wasn’t going to make the choice himself:

“I’m going to discuss that with the committee and take their advice on that,” he said. “I managed several teams and I don’t want to disrespect any team I managed. I’m hoping the Hall will help me along with that. Possibly I’ll go with no logo. That’s a bridge we’ll cross later.

“The one thing I won’t do, I won’t show disrespect to any team I managed.”

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Allow me to go out on a limb and suggest that it won’t be the Rockies

WinTwins0410: Jay, I agree with Steve above about the HoF eras committee process being broken and incredibly cruel to men in their 70s and 80s (I’ve commented here before that I think the Hall can be cruel).  Can I ask you this, though: this year, you didn’t write much on the composition of the committee, and that’s fine.  But I took a close look at this year’s committee, and it was odd — if I’m not mistaken, I think there was only one manager (Torre) on the committee.  How does that make any sense?  This eras committee had HoF players but only one HoF manager evaluating a ballot that was half managers.  Your thoughts?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I didn’t get a chance to write about the composition of the committee due to time and fewer blatantly obvious connections. Unfortunately the pool of HOF managers to judge HOF managerial candidates isn’t a large one these days. Both Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa have been in ill health, for example, and Whitey Herzog is 92. Every other HOF manager besides Torre has already gone to the great dugout in the sky.

Sirras: What would deGrom have to do to earn your Hall of Fame vote should he find his way to the ballot?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think I probably need to see him get to about 2,500 innings and 60 WAR unless he wins another Cy Young or something

Brian Cashman: If I trade for Soto, what are the odds I sign him long term?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: before he hits free agency? Probably close to zero. After? maybe 1 in 4. This is scientifically determined and in no way represents a wild-ass guess, nu-uh nope.

Henrick: I know you’re on the record as saying Wright is not a HOFer.  Any chance you’ll include him on your ballot to try to keep his head above water another year?  He has to be a better candidate than Buerhle, Hunter, Pettite, and Rollins!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m thinking about him a bit. .Discussed him on MLB Now last week https://twitter.com/jay_jaffe/status/1729956347121160387

Guest: Bellinger’s 2023 SweetSpot% was in the 86th percentile. Is this something he should be able to repeat moving forward to combat his low Hard Hit rates? How sticky is SweetSpot% from season to season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Esteban Rivera looked at those questions and even he wasn’t really sure. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/is-cody-bellingers-two-strike-approach-sus…

FanGraphs Fan: No question. Thank you for the HOF stuff.  And glad to hear/read that the FanGraphs group eats well on their staff dinners.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: You’re welcome. I have to say that it’s been very rewarding here in Nashville to hear from voters and others how helpful they find my HOF coverage. I’m very lucky to have found an outlet that’s so supportive of my work in this area.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, tons of good questions in the queue, many of them of similar flavor but I just can’t get to them all. Hopefully we get a bit more transactional zazz — don’t even think about using that for your next band name, it’s spoken for — for the rest of the meetings. And hopefully I’ll be back in regular circulation with these chats. Thanks for stopping by!

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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2 months ago

Wait! I can’t keep up.

2 months ago
Reply to  roob

David Glass had the opinion from his days as a big dawg at Walmart:
You are forced to do business my way, take my offer or leave it
That didn’t work as well with major league baseball.