Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 2/12/21

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to another edition of my Friday chat — this is the third week in a row I’ve been able to do this, my longest streak since August. So there’s that.

Housekeeping-wise, today I have a piece dreaming on Greg Bird’s minor league deal with the Rockies, who couldn’t possibly have done worse at finding first basemen over the past half-decade.  https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/greg-bird-takes-flight-to-colorado/

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yesterday I took a look at Yadier Molina’s new one-year deal as well as his Hall of Fame case https://blogs.fangraphs.com/youll-never-guess-where-yadier-molina-sign…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And on Tuesday I took a deep dive into the health and safety protocols in the 2021 MLB Operations Manual https://blogs.fangraphs.com/high-tech-contact-tracing-vaccines-and-run…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Meanwhile, in What Is Jay Irate About Today?

they’ve done away with historic league names as well in favor of this generic bullshit?

MLB announces new minor league structure
12 Feb 2021
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok, on with the show

Bauer + Ozuna: Based on the tone of your Ozuna piece, it seemed pretty clear you thought these 2 contracts did not square up with what each should’ve gotten. Do you think the market was too high on Bauer, too low on Ozuna, or some combination of both?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: A combination, I think. It’s not that I don’t understand the difference between a frontline starting pitcher and an outfielder who might wind up DHing, but it sure felt like Ozuna had enough interest early this wintert to get a more competitive deal.

As I tried to illustrate in the piece, the pair had in common what appeared to be career years in the shortened season. In our Top-50 list, Craig Edwards had the two only $5 million apart in terms of AAV on four-year deals ($22.5M vs $17.5M) though our crowdsource was much closer on Bauer ($29M on a 3-year deal).

kcbg: Hi Jay, thanks for the time. Who do you think will accumulate more WAR over the next five years, Benintendi or Franchy?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Benintendi, who has the much stronger MLB track record on both sides of the ball at the MLB level

Marko from Tropoja: Regarding the LA Times article on Kershaw, I’m (reluctantly) allowing for the possibility that 2021 could be it. Which pitchers other than Koufax retired under 35 while still an ace?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The obvious one is Koufax, who retired at 30 and still at the top of his game, and Drysdale was just 32 and a year removed from his consecutive scoreless innings streak. Some 19th century guys like John Clarkson and Pud Galvin were still very good when they retired, too, and Kid Nichols was still very good when he retired at 36.

George: How many good years does Strasburg need to have to become a hall of famer? Is he on pace?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s generally been outstanding when he’s pitched but I wouldn’t call Strasburg on pace. He’s heading into his age-32 season with 33.4 career bWAR, and  just two seasons worth more than 4.0 WAR. He needs like five excellent seasons to get his seven-year peak within the realm of respectability.

Jeff: Jay, isn’t it time to reassess how starting pitchers are rated for the HOF?  Even comparing current pitchers to 50 years ago doesn’t work.  The fifth highest IP total of those who debuted in the 1960’s (Carlton) had over 1900 more IP than the fifth highest who debuted since 1990 (Buehrle).  It was much easier to accrue high WAR totals then than it is now.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: i’m working on it, i’m working on it.

@BuckinBoston @ChristinaKahrl @officialBBWAA plonking around with a workload-sensitive variant of JAWS that I might take for a public test drive soon, Tiant is one of the bigger beneficiaries. already occupies a tier that for me is significantly above this ballot’s non-CY-winning trio.
31 Dec 2020
Gil: This may be antiquated given the drop in cable subs over the years but what’s the movie that if you’re flipping channels and it’s on, you stop and watch it every time?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: we don’t flip through channels anymore, we page through on-demand services, of which we subscribe to most of the major ones. Goodfellas is one that fits the description from the time when we did flip.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: and any Coen Brothers movie

Jeff: So pitchers are going from a 60 game schedule, delayed by months, to hopefully a 162. What are the dangers?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Managing workloads is going to be a league-wide challenge. I think we’ll see a lot of injuries and a lot of teams doing what the Dodgers have done in recent years, which is stash players on the 10-day IL for the most minor of complaints mainly to keep their innings down.

Economically stressed fan: How much does Seager demand in FA/an extenstion?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a good one to ask Szymborski, who has the projections, but i’d guess — purely guessing — it’s something in the $150M range. he’s gotta demonstrate he can get back to being great over 140-162 games though

KB: Your mention of WOWY in regards to historical catcher framing really got my wheels turning. I would love for someone to do this. I know Tango probably has the code and the know-how to make it happen. Probably some other people also. Surprised no-one has made a stab at that yet, or if they have at least I can’t find it published anywhere. I’ve seen Chris Long put out basic college framing numbers and I’m sure the data he’s working with is about the same as historical MLB data.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s basically what Max Marchi did at Baseball Prospectus for the pre-2008 framing. Alas, I believe he’s still working for the Cleveland front office https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/20596/the-stats-go-mar…

Schmegs: Which health good season would you prefer. Bauer pitching every four days or Ohtani as a two way star?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ohtani. We know what a guy pitching every fourth day looks like but we have only a very short history of guys excelling two ways.

Guest: What’s more likely to be broken: Rickey’s all-time steals or Dimag’s hit streak?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Statistically, DiMaggio’s is harder but I don’t see baseball going back to the era of anybody having 80 steals in a season. Still, it’s a lot easier to imagine an outlier who would have some margin for error in day-to-day and year-to-year production than to beat the nearly impossible odds of stringing together 57 games with hits

Guest: Hi Jay, thanks for following up on comments in the Almora article and explaining how to use the Splits function- I’ve been playing around with that all week, it’s really cool! I found one stat regarding CF defense that I thought was really interesting: for the decade from 2000-2009, it looks like the Yankee’s defense was astoundingly bad, and their CF WAR for the decade was 12.7 (28th in MLB)! My follow up questions for you are: 1) Did I run this data right? 2) Was their CF really as bad as this data suggests? 3) Since they won 8/10 AL East titles during this period (and 2 WS), can I use this as a valid argument that a team can win with a weak CF defense, or would you just say they were an outlier?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Man, the metrics did not love those Yankees’ up-the-middle defense at all. Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter won a ton of Gold Gloves despite some pretty bad numbers (though they weren’t at their worst when they were winning), and Jorge Posada’s numbers now that we can see the framing, woof.

Those Yankees won because they had top-shelf offenses and high-strikeout staffs in spite of their shoddy defenses. Somewhere I think I did a study on the rarity of such teams winning, either at Prospectus or Pinstriped Bible, but it would take me awhile just to figure out how to search for it. If I find it, I’ll leave a link in the comments.

Spin: Where does Mitch Moreland go, now that Boston picked up Marwin Gonzalez?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe as Keston Hiura’s caddy in Milwaukee? Or Cleveland, which with Josh Naylor and Jake Bauers penciled in doesn’t look like it has an actual plan at 1B.

Some Guy: Pitchers and catchers are due to report soon. There are 5 guys who could get 10M+ per year still unsigned (Walker, Paxton, Odor, JBJ, and Turner). Is this more than normal at this time of the year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Odor ain’t getting $10 million, but even four like this does seem high. Then again recall in 2014 that guys like Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ervin Santana didn’t sign until late-February or later and Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales were free agents well into the season.

Naming rights: JJ Cooper appeared to suggest the naming rights of the minor league leagues are being sold, a la the G-League, I guess.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Based on something I saw from John Shea, it doesn’t sound like that’s going to come together this year, and damn, that’s almost certain to be worse anyway. Doing away with the Sally League, the Pacific Coast League and other circuits that have 40 or even 100 years of tradition in the name of cash is a goddamn disgrace

Texas League: 1902
PCL: founded 1903
Appalachian: 1911
Fla. St.: 1919
NY-Penn: 1939
Pioneer: 1939
Cali: 1941
Carolina: 1945
Midwest: 1947
Northwest: 1955
Gulf Coast: 1964
Southern: 1964
South Atlantic: 1980

I hate to sound 75 years old here, but it 1000% sucks to lose these

12 Feb 2021
The Schizophrenic Baseball: Baseball seems to have moved away from defensive prowess towards defensive versatility.  Will the deadened ball put an emphasis back on skilled defensive play?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eh, not unless we see a whole lot more contact and fewer strikeouts, which probably requires curbing pitch velocity. Part of the reason versatility works is that teams are able to position guys better thanks to analytical data, so you have a lot of Max Muncy and Mike Moustakas types playing second base and so on.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe not a lot, but a noticeable amount

Mike Ortman: Any Negro Leaguers stand out as HOF worthy now that we’re working with both sets of stats? Joe Posnanski’s list was Minnie, John Donaldson, Alejandro Oms, Double Duty, and John Beckwith in order from 1 to 5 most deserving. One manager I found that I had never heard of was Vic Harris, who in 12 years won 562 games, for a .655 winning percentage. Won the league 7 times and 1 WS.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t know about Oms but those other names sound great to me from what I know. I can’t claim to be an expert in this area.

KB: I’m critical of you sometimes Jay, but I want to say thank you for standing up for the right parts of tradition and history. You seem to genuinely love the game of baseball and its history so thank you for taking a stand on the naming of the minor leagues. Like come on you can’t just take away the Texas League. That name carries over a century of baseball history.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks, KB! Much appreciated

JN: Melancon to the Padres–where is Rosenthal most likely ending up now?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. I’d imagine he’s hoping for a closer gig, so maybe he’s the guy waiting for somebody to get hurt. I think he’d make a lot of sense as a setup guy for the Yankees if they want to pack the ‘pen the way they have in years past, but the CBT is an issue for them.

Neuse like Noisy: Dodgers ain’t gonna turn him into the next Muncy, right?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s a question for Eric Longenhagen but as of his 2019 scouting report he had 60-grade raw power and a possible future as “a valuable, multi-positional player (2B/3B with maybe some left, and shortstop in a pinch) with power” according to Eric’s writeup on the A’s list.

Dave: If one manager had to play in at least 81 games this season who would do the best?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I bet Gabe Kapler would be solid as a late-inning defensive replacement in the outfield corners.

Sirras: What do you think has been the best signing of the offseason, where best is defined as you see fit?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: From a team standpoint I think the Ozuna and LeMaieu deals will be bargains. From a player standpoint, it’s nice to see Jurickson Profar get back to a point where he’s worth a multiyear investment, and good to see Tommy La Stella cash in as well.

RJ: If the relative importance of starting pitching is decreasing (and has been for some time) doesn’t it just make sense that fewer and fewer should reach the Hall? In a future world where no pitcher faces a batter a second time, we wouldn’t continue to insist that X% of pitchers be put in, right?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I mean, that’s already happening to an absurd degree. Mike Petriello pointed out that only two starting pitchers born in the past half-century have made the Hall, Pedro Martinez and Roy Halladay https://www.mlb.com/news/missing-hall-of-fame-pitchers-born-in-1970s

Central Malaise: What’s the ceiling on the 2021 Royals now with the Benentendi move? They remind me a bit of the Reds in years past – making moves that don’t necessarily add up to a full sum.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I see a huge gap — maybe 10 wins – between them and the White Sox and Twins, but they could be at least watchable.

Marc: So before the draft, Torkelson was rated as a 50 FV player on THE BOARD. However, looking at the ‘Updated 2020 Report’ section of THE BOARD, he’s rated as a 60 FV player. This jump in FV occurs across many prospects, with most of them seemingly getting bumped up a grade in the absence of scouting. What changed between the draft and now, especially since these guys played no minor league games and very little scouting occurred, and if it was thought that Tork was a 60 FV player from the beginning, why wasn’t he rated that way on THE BOARD pre-draft?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Another question for Eric, not me.

SJ: i don’t know much about the NFL HOF, but I came across their announcement a week or two ago and overall it just felt a lot simpler, a lot faster, and there were a lot of guys who went in. Obviously you can’t compare apples to oranges, but process-wise, what are your thoughts on NFL’s more rapid fire approach vs MLB’s, where it often takes several years (and up to ten) for people

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Last year they finally elected Alex Karras, whose career was too early for me to see, and a few years ago it was Jerry Kramer. There’s nothing especially speedy about the Football Hall process, it’s just a lot quieter and opaque.

MB: Any update on whether Pace data for 2020 will be coming to the pitching leaderboards? The column is still blank.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe Pedro Baez is working on it?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: (Sorry, I forgot to follow up on this last week).

bcdres: What do C Blooms offseason moves tell you about his overall strategy? In your opinion, will it get the Red Sox back on top of the AL East in the next couple years?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that his hands are largely tied by ownership as far as spending money. There are some moves interesting in isolation, and they’re getting younger as far as their lineup is concerned, but I don’t see the addition of any impact players; their hopes depend on guys like Sale and Rodriguez and Martinez bouncing back.

Some Guy: Odor=Odorizzi, you don’t think he will get 10M+ in AAV?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: ah, Odorizzi! I thought you meant Rougned, whom I assumed must have been nontendered after another lousy season. Yes, I think Odorizzi can get $10M+ but i don’t see a windfall coming in this market.

Greg: Understanding that you may have an institutional bias, which set of projections do you think will be closer to the actual 2021 standings: Fangraphs’ playoff odds, or the Pecota projections?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Other than the contrasting projections for the Braves I haven’t taken a close look but I think they’re much closer to an 89-win team (ours) than an 82-win team (PECOTA).

Morbo: Reading your write up of the Molina signing yesterday one aspect of Molina’s value that I think your methodology fails to capture is just how completely he controls/shuts down opponent’s running game on the bases. Molina does have one of the highest caught stealing rates 7% higher than posey, 10% better than Martin, and 15% better than McCann. However, I don’t think that caught stealing rate remotely captures the full effect of his ability. If you look at the average number of innings between stolen base attempts (innings caught/[SB+CS]) Martin, McCann, and Posey are all between 11 and 11.5 innings between stolen base attempts while Molina averages 19.2 innings between stolen base attempts. Simply put opponents fear running against Molina so much that they do so at roughly half the rate of the other elite defensive catchers you talked about in your article. For reference opponents ran on Pudge ever 14 innings on average.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We discussed something along these lines in the comments.

I say Halo: Any rumblings/rumors about Mickey Callaway’s fate?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The likelihood is that he’ll be fired but if I understand correctly, whatever investigation is being done is to make sure he can’t sue.

I knew that guy was a fraud when he challenged a reporter to a fight and then half-assed his apology to the point that he needed to do a second one. Didn’t know that he had other even worse tendencies lurking below the surface, but I hope we never see him again in a major league uniform.

Seager: Which Seager were you disscussing?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think Kyle has another nine-figure extension in his future.

Fanhandrew Zaidman: Who has more value, all other things equal? A corner infielder with a good glove and average bat, or a corner outfielder with a good glove and average bat?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, there’s a very big difference in value between a third baseman and a first baseman. and a smaller difference between a right fielder and a left fielder, so it’s not as though all things are equal.

Not Sandy Alderson: Hi Jay. Given the nearly identical WAR between JBJ and Kevin Kiermaier over the last 4 years, and projections showing Kiermaier to be better than JBJ this season, wouldn’t it make more sense for the Mets to try and swing a trade with the Rays? At around $26 mil over the next two years, including buyout of a third year, and a luxury tax hit under $9 mil a year, seems the better move.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There are a few potential trade options the Mets could target for center field. Keirmaer is one of them — and yes, I’d take him over JBJ in a heartbeat — but the Rays aren’t going to give him away and the Mets don’t have a deep system to draw from at the moment. Harrison Bader, with a bet on his bat rebounding, would be another option as would absorbing all of Lorenzo Cain’s remaining contract. It takes two to tango and any of those moves will cost in talent. JBJ only costs money, and I thought that was supposed to be the big deal about Cohen was a willingness to spend.

Guest: Who starts the most games at SS for the Reds this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Concepcion.

Mike Ortman: Okay now that Bauer signed in LA, do the Padres have any chance to win the West or are they just going for the Wild Card.  And thoughts on the Melancon signing?  No Yates or Rosenthal??

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s not as though the Padres aren only just going for the Wild Card spot, not with how stacked that roster is. The odds still favor the Dodgers but a 39% shot (vs. 60% for LA) ain’t cause to wave the white flag.

Guest: Granting that David Concepcion at 72 years old is probably a better option that some of the others currently under consideration, which active player starts the most games at SS for the Reds this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Picky, picky. I suspect it will be about even between Kyle Farmer and Jose Garcia, and it won’t be great.

Guest: Re: Concepcion:  Any HOF possibility for him in a future Veteran’s Committee?  His career WAR total is obviously pretty low, but he doesn’t trail the likes of Omar Vizquel (whose candidacy seems to be gaining steam) by much.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Once upon a time maybe but I don’t see it happening now, first because the defensive metrics really do paint him as similar to Vizquel and second because the death of Joe Morgan means one fewer prominent teammate to serve on the Era Committee.

Aaron: What are your thoughts on the NL East? Specifically on the Braves and young CF Pache and young starting pitching

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it could be baseball’s most interesting division race. Mets and Braves at the top, Nationals trying to get back to where they were, Marlins moving in the right direction, and Phillies once again hoping things will jell. The Braves’ pitching depth is a key here, as they shouldn’t overwork those young arms. I’m interested to see Pache but his offensive projection doesn’t exactly suggest the second coming of Andruw Jones.

Blue Jays Jaffe: Why aren’t we just resigning Walker already?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. They reportedly had interest. I suspect we’ll see the dominoes — Walker, Paxton, Odorizzi — fall very quickly like that cluster of infielders a few weeks ago.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, I’ve got to mosey now. Thanks so much for stopping by this week, and stay safe!

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... and Mastodon @jay_jaffe.

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1 year ago
Reply to  Jay Jaffe

Thanks for the link! I have been randomly combing through splits the past few days, and it’s really interesting to see which teams have succeeded without strong performance at up-the-middle positions. Cleveland in CF from 2017-2020, for example, or the Braves at SS over the same period; both appeared to be barely in the black defensively and absolutely stinko offensively.