Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 2/14/19

12:05
Jay Jaffe: Hi folk, and welcome to another edition of my Thursday chat. First off, today is a year and a day since my FanGraphs debut, so a big thanks to all of you for following along as well as to my boss, David Appelman, for having the good sense to hire me, to editors past and present (Carson Cistulli and Meg Rowley, respectively, with Dylan Higgins pinch-hitting in there as well), and to all of my great coworkers.

Second, happy pitchers and catchers to those of you celebrating — yes, there are a lot of distractions currently, particularly with the free agent stalemates, but with the opening of camps, we can at least be reassured that winter is on its way out the door. On with the show…

12:05
John: Hi Jay! What role do you think statistics should have in team halls-of-fame? Have you heard of any analysis on what kinds of players are or are not in a team’s hall of fame?

12:09
Jay Jaffe: I don’t think it’s really necessary to get too number-crunchy with team Halls of Fame. If a team feels as though it wants to honor somebody, particularly a player (or non-player) who made a huge impact in a short time, even in non-statistical ways, I think that they should.

Case in point: Frank Robinson, whose passing reminded me that the Indians retired his number and erected a statue in honor of his barrier-breaking stint as MLB’s first black manager. Robinson’s teams posted a .496 winning percentage in his two-plus seasons at the helm, and obviously he wasn’t the same offensive presence as he was at the outset of his career, but he nonetheless left a big mark there.

12:09
Alex: Should we be worried about free agent pitchers that sign late in spring training and how they’ll fare early on in regular season?

12:13
Jay Jaffe: Anecdotally, it does seem like last year’s batch of players who signed late tended to struggle. Pitchers such as Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Yu Darvish, and Jason Vargas, and htters such as Eric Hosmer and Logan Morrison. That said, J.D. Martinez signed late (Feb 19) and put up an MVP-caliber season.

In June, Craig Edwards took a look and didn’t find much of an effect (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/did-spring-training-matter-for-free-agents…) , but to my knowledge I don’t think he circled back once the season was over. It’s a topic worth closer study.

12:13
Mat: Over/under of 170 IP for Kershaw?

12:14
Jay Jaffe: I’ll take the over, but not by much; I think he lands in the 180-190 range, and in fact we have him right at 185 in our depth charts forecast.

12:14
Chris: If the rays move to say Portland, would they stay in the Al East? If expansion happens would they go to 4 divisions or 2?

12:18
Jay Jaffe: I don’t think a franchise move would occur without some kind of realignment. If it weren’t coupled with expansion, in the scenario you indicate, the most geographically sensible route — as an alternative to an unequal number of teams in the divisions (a situation that held sway in the NL for awhile until the Astros were moved from the NL Central to the AL West) — would be to put Cleveland in the AL East and Houston in the AL Central.

12:18
Kurupt FM: Is there a track record for guys bodyweight issues getting better or worse when entering the bigs? Vladdy’s excuse that the nutrition options with minor league teams being very limited comes to mind.

12:21
Jay Jaffe: I don’t know that this has been studied in public, likely because listed weights (and heights) aren’t really very reliable, and I would guess that as a population, athletes’ weights tend to fluctuate more widely than the rest of us schlubs, depending upon whether they’re in-season or not.

That said, I would be not at all surprised if savvier teams were tracking this more closely, out of the public domain.

12:21
Mat: Justin Turner has only 2 seasons of more than 500 PAs, projection models all have him between 550-650 on FG player page, you agree with the projections or you more bearish.

12:23
Jay Jaffe: In this particular instance I would tend to be more bearish. I do think you’ll see that playing time estimate adjusted in the coming weeks.

12:23
JRuby: Jay, do you get to watch much minor league baseball?  Do you have a favorite minor league team/park/experience?

12:27
Jay Jaffe: Living in New York City, I have considerable affection for both minor league parks in the area, namely the homes of the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees. Both have very unique backdrops — the defunct Coney Island Parachute Drop is down the right field line for the former, with the real Cyclone rollercoaster visible over the left-center wall, and lower Manhattan visible beyond the outfield for the latter. I try to get to at least one of those parks a year, and now that we have a toddler who’s moving beyond the stage of needing a daily nap, I’m hoping we can pick off both parks this coming year.

What’s more, I grew up in Salt Lake City, where the park for the Bees (the Angels’ affiliate) has the Wasatch Mountains as a backdrop. Went to a game there a couple years ago. During my time in SLC I saw some solid future MLB players come through including Dickie Thon and Willie Aikens.

12:29
Jay Jaffe: However, that can’t touch what I saw in Walla Walla, Washington, where my grandparents lived. They hosted the Pades’ Low-A affiliate and in 1981, I saw Tony Gwynn and John Kruk in the same outfield multiple times. 25 years later, I consulted on a commemorative bobblehead when Gwynn was inducted into the Hall of Fame. http://www.futilityinfielder.com/wordpress/2008/02/further-adventures-…

12:29
Jkim: With the advent of high-speed cameras, spin rate etc.- isn’t it interesting we’re sort of back to “tools” now for prospects instead of the 00s moneyball era? Like we have enough tech to figure out exactly what makes a pitch “dirty” etc

12:33
Jay Jaffe: Advances in technology are a great boon to talent evaluators. F/X and Statcast we already know about, but just yesterday I learned about the Edgertronic cameras that can clearly capture 1,000 frames per second https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/high-speed-cameras-spread-quic… and provide very quick feedback when it comes to pitch grips and mechanics.

A blend of scouting plus technology plus stats will yield better results than any one of those things without the inputs of the other two. It’s not even an argument, and really, it never should have been.

12:34
Glenallen HIll vs Willie Mo Pena: Do you know when and where Harper and Machado will sign and yet you are not telling anyone?

12:36
Jay Jaffe: Yes, that’s exactly it. I’m so smug about my knowledge that I’m not even taking it to Las Vegas because I know it would tilt the odds dramatically.

In all seriousness, I think it’s really down to 2 paths:

* Machado signs with Philly and Harper chooses either the Nationals or the Padres.

* Harper signs with Philly and Machado chooses either the White Sox or the Padres.

12:37
Trent: The one knock on Adrian Beltre’s HOF candidacy I’ve seen is that a lot of his WAR value comes from defense,  and voters may not trust defensive metrics.  But Beltre also fares well in traditional metrics– for example, he has more HRs and RBIs than first ballot HOFers like Chipper Jones and George Brett.  Is there any way that Beltre is *not* a first-ballot HOFer himself?

12:38
Jay Jaffe: With 3,166 hits and 477 homers, Beltre would be a first-ballot lock even if he didn’t rate as one of the top defenders of all time. Short of a post-career smoking-gun revelation about PEDs, I don’t see anything deterring his first-ballot election.

12:39
Guest: Amazon is officially bailing out of NYC, that’s a pretty brutal blow. Politicians kinda screwed the pooch here huh?

12:39
Jay Jaffe: Not brutal at all. The entirety of New York City is turning cartwheels over this because the deal in place really screwed the city.

12:39
waks: did jeff idelson directly say “pls give messr. jaffe my job” or did he merely insinuate it with winks and nods?

12:40
Jay Jaffe: Given the extent of my criticism of the Hall of Fame — I don’t think I’m a threat to succeed Idelson anytime soon. Hell, they won’t even sell The Cooperstown Casebook in the HOF gift shop.

12:43
Jay Jaffe: I haven’t really said anything publicly about Idelson stepping down, but for all of our differences of opinion — and they are considerable — I have great respect for what he accomplished during his tenure as Hall president. When I went up there 3 years ago (I think the anniversary was last week) to do some finishing-touch research for the book, we had a good conversation in the Hall library and then another one over drinks after work one day. That was very cool. I wish him the best wherever his next stop is.

12:43
Big Tuna: What are your odds of a strike when the current CBA expires?

12:51
Jay Jaffe: Right now I’d say they’re above 50%. But we’re three years out from a new CBA, and I do think there’s plenty of time for both sides to begin laying the groundwork for a new agreement and perhaps making some tweaks before then. We’ve seen it before w/r/t more stringent drug and domestic violence policies in the past.

One thing that’s been suggested is that we could see some broader adjustments in exchange for extending the current agreement. I’m oversimplifying here, but suppose MLB owners agree to make all players arb-eligible after 2 years and raise the CBT threshold a bit more in exchange for a pitch clock and the extension of the CBA through 2023. Both sides will have to come to the table in good faith for something like that to happen, though, which hasn’t always been the case.

12:52
Adam: No one’s going to argue that Harold Baines is the worst inductee in the HOF. But how far back to you have to go to find a less-credentialed player without some serious historical significance (like Larry Doby). Is it Hal Newhouser?

12:56
Jay Jaffe: Harold Baines is not the worst Hall of Famer; among players, that honor belongs to Tommy McCarthy, 19th century outfielder who spent half his career in leagues inferior to the NL.. He was elected by the Old Timers Committee in 1946; more appropriately, he should have been recognized as pioneer for popularizing tactics such as the hit and run and the intentional outfield trap rather than as a player.

FWIW, other non-catchers/pitchers with lower bWAR than Baines who are in the Hall include George Kell, Bill Mazeroski, Pie Traynor, Jim Bottomley, Ross Youngs, Chick Hafey, Fred Lindstrom, High Pockets Kelly and Lloyd Waner — most of ’em Vet Committee selections from the Frankie Frisch/Bill Terry era.

12:57
Hopeless in Cincy: If Votta puts up a few more good seasons, do you like his chances for the Hall?

1:00
Jay Jaffe: Yes. Wrote about him last April. His 7-year peak WAR is already well above the average HOF 1B (46.1 vs. 42.7) and he’s just over two JAWS points shy of the standard (52.4 vs. 54.7).  think so long as he gets to 2,000 hits (he’s at 1,729) he’ll be fine. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-reds-slump-has-extended-to-joey-votto/

1:01
Gil: “Vladdy’s excuse that the nutrition options with minor league teams being very limited comes to mind.”

Aren’t their options limited because they have to buy their own stuff and they have no money because they typically get paid a pittance? I guess Vlad Jr is an exception but that is a big issue, no?

1:03
Jay Jaffe: Minor league nutrition is a major issue. Their meager pay is part of the problem but so is a lack of education on such matters. By now, I believe that most if not all teams have taken steps to improve the situation, but so long as the players have to struggle to make a living wage, this will be an ongoing problem, because from a nutritional standpoint, bad food is much cheaper and more readily available than good food.

1:04
Steve: Jay, when you say someone should be “strapped to a rocket and fired into the sun” or something to that effect, are you saying that all of these nimrods should get their own individual rockets, or can we just save them up and do a bulk mailing once a month? The latter is more efficient, but the former would be more satisfying.

1:06
Jay Jaffe: Given the volume, and the finite budget of NASA, I think we’ll need rockets once or twice a week for the foreseeable future.

1:07
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: Who should get into the Hall of Fame first: Marvin Miller or Dr. Frank Jobe?

1:08
Jay Jaffe: Miller. No non-player has had as big an impact as he did.

1:08
kent: Really, these are the questions being asked?  Let’s get to the  much more relevant 2019 upcoming baseball season questions.

1:09
Jay Jaffe: Really, it’s my chat, and I get to pick and choose the questions that interest me.

1:09
James: Assuming he plays 20 years, do you think Trout gets to 3K hits, 600 HR and 500 SB?

1:13
Jay Jaffe: I think Trout’s penchant for drawing walks could keep him from getting to 3,000 hits. FWIW, he’s got only 270 hits over the past two years, due to the walks (216 of ’em) and the time missed with injuries. What’s more, he’s only got two seasons with more than 180 hits, and those came in 2012-2013.

FWIW, the Bill James 2019 Handbook has a page for his Favorite Toy predictive system and it gives Trout a 19% chance of 600 HR and a 13% chance of 3,000 hits. I’d bet Dan Szymborski would provide similar odds.

1:13
BigBoiPants: have you heard anything about Kershaw first looks in bullpens? Interested to hear if the new routine has resulted in fastball velo coming back

1:14
Jay Jaffe: I don’t think anybody should expect maximum velocity in the first week of spring training bullpen sessions.

1:14
Slurve: How much better of a lineup (Starting 8 + SP) is IN the HOF compared to those who are not included (currently playing, retired/not eligible yet, banished, haven’t received the votes)?  Is it close?

1:18
Jay Jaffe: Unless you’re simplifying the question to the point of recognizing that the caliber of competition, training and nutrition is such that if you placed today’s league-average regular, with his skills and knowledge, in to a league from, like, 1920 or 1945, he would utterly dominate, I think it’s not even close. Among the players outside the Hall, only Bonds, Clemens and maybe, eventually, Trout, would even have a shot at an all-time starting lineup.

1:18
Archimedes: Thoughts on the Indians “character assassination” of Bauer? I mean, I get that the Indians probably don’t have any plans to retain him in FA, but still seems a low blow to save the franchise $3M.

1:21
Jay Jaffe: Anything Bauer says ought to be taken with an aquarium-grade brick of salt, but this is exactly why arbitration is something that players and teams should try to avoid, and instead strive for middle ground. One side is making an argument that this player isn’t as good as he and his agent thinks he is, and the other side is basically arguing that this player is being exploited, at least to some degree. That’s the type of situation that is bound to create some hurt feelings.

1:21
Woad Raider: I’ve traveled a lot to Salt Lake City and have a lot of family there. Would there ever be an expansion team there? Viable at all?

1:24
Jay Jaffe: The NBA’s Utah Jazz have done pretty well there, and i know there’s enthusiasm for the MLS franchise but SLC would be a comparatively small market as far as MLB is concerned. Looking just at the Nielsen TV market size rankings because I bookmarked it a couple weeks back (https://www.sportsmediawatch.com/nba-market-size-nfl-mlb-nhl-nielsen-r…), SLC is ranked 30th in market size, ahead of Kansas City, Cincinnati and Milwaukee. Weather (early-season snow) would be an issue to consider, and i’m not sure how the other economics and demographics stack up compared to those markets. But I think it would be a struggle for a team there.

1:25
Guest: If team stupid money signs Harper, could you see them going for Keuchel and Kimbrel? That would have to put them as favorites in a tight nl east assuming all three.

1:26
Jay Jaffe: I can’t see the Phillies signing all three but if they get Harper or Machado, I suppose I can see the possibility of them making a move for one of the pitchers.

1:26
Big joe Mufferaw: How do you chose the questions you answer?

1:28
Jay Jaffe: mostly by scrolling up and down and finding ones where I might have something interesting to say. HOF questions are one of my domains, but anybody asking me a fantasy question is barking up the wrong tree (I still get a fair number of those), and for the most part that’s true of prospects as well, though at least I have a better basis from which to draw an answer – the strong work of Eric and Kiley here, not to mention other prospect evaluators that i read.

1:28
Bo: Is Andruw Jones’ (lack of) HOF credentials due more to his numbers coming in an offense-heavy era, or an under-appreciation of his defense?

1:29
Jay Jaffe: mostly, I think it’s the latter — measuring defense is difficult, year to year fluctuations are common, and even well-designed systems can disagree widely. That said, the sudden post-30 fade and the ugliness of his year in LA don’t help his case at all.

1:29
Dave: Do you prefer yellow or brown mustard? Honey mustard is a garbage condiment and doesn’t count.

1:32
Jay Jaffe: I was just saying this the other day while admiring the stock within my mother’s Sub-Zero fridge in SLC: there are more good mustards than I have time to eat. I tend to prefer dijons (Grey Poupon is a favorite), brown mustards (Gulden’s), and whole grains (Maille) to straight yellow mustards and it’s a rare day when I settle for honey mustard.

1:32
Dave: Happy Fangraphsaversary! What are you looking forward to in your second season here?

1:36
Jay Jaffe: I’m looking forward to feeling more settled and comfortable in my (virtual) surroundings and hopefully getting to the ballpark to do more reporting. To single a couple of teammates out, full season with the likes of Dan Szymborski as a teammate — he’s fun to collaborate with — and with Meg Rowley as editor (though I greatly enjoyed working with Carson, too; he really let me lean on him when everything was new). And I can’t wait to see who else we add to our lineup.

Most of all, I’m looking forward to learning more. There’s a whole lot to pick up from the various skills and strengths of my teammates, and if I’m not taking advantage of that in some way, then I’m falling short in what I do.

1:36
Brian CashGod: David Price is switching his jersey from #24 to #10. His ERA against the Yankees last year was just over 10, so I think we all know why he made the change

1:37
Jay Jaffe: My initial guess was that it was a tribute to Lefty Grove, who wore number 10 throughout his career including his 1934-1941 stint with the Red Sox.

1:38
PD: With the recent slate of extensions signed in the past day or two, what’s the restated $ per WAR? It definitely doesn’t seem like $9 million or what has been touted in the past couple of years.

1:38
Jay Jaffe: At the end of January, Eno Sarris took a look and found it was still about $8 million per win https://theathletic.com/793317/2019/01/31/sarris-is-free-agency-becomi…

1:39
BenZ: Between Kershaw and Verlander, who ends their career with more WAR? I know Kershaw is a lot younger, but Verlander is actually projected by Steamer to be quite a bit better this year.

1:41
Jay Jaffe: I’ll go with Kershaw, because the two players are very close despite the 5-year age gap. Kershaw owns a slight lead in bWAR (64.6 to 63.4) and trails by just a bit in fWAR (63.6 to 61.6).

1:42
kent: So you choose to embarrass me instead of answering either of the two questions I asked?

1:44
Jay Jaffe: honestly, I wasn’t trying to embarrass you or anyone. Just didn’t feel I had much to add to your questions with that you couldn’t get elsewhere. In one of the questions, you asked me about ZiPS, which isn’t my domain — it’s Dan Szymborski’s. In the other, you asked me about “the best projected statistics to indicate a pitcher’s success for 2019” — and there I’ll suggest looking at ZiPS and Steamer, our projection systems, and maybe check out PECOTA as well. If you’re talking about individual stats, FIP, K%, and K-BB% are probably the places to start.

1:46
Vegan Man!: What are the chances that CC makes the HOF? 250 wins, 3,000 K’s, CY Young and a WS Title (where he pitched well). I know his Peak and JAWS aren’t quite there… Thanks!

1:47
Jay Jaffe: A decent chance despite his JAWS shortage. The reality is that we’re not going to see a whole lot of pitchers with counting stats that big over the next couple of decades, and Sabathia’s postseason success (and his 2008 stretch run with the Brewers) should help him a bit.

1:47
Alby: Do you think Harper and Machado are leery of Philly because of its fickle fans?

1:47
Jay Jaffe: I’ve heard within the industry that playing for Gabe Kapler might be the bigger reason. Given the number of controversies in which he’s currently immersed, my guess that he doesn’t have a very long rope anyway.

1:49
Archimedes: If you had to replace your first name with a HOF nickname, which would it be? Catfish? Sparky? Lefty? Goose?

1:51
Jay Jaffe: Oh, let’s show more imagination than that. Maybe “Old Tomato Face” Jaffe (using Gabby Hartnett’s nickname), or “Slug” Jaffe (Harry Heilmann) or “Old Aches and Pains” Jaffe (Luke Appling) — the last is especially relevant because I’m heading to the orthopedic surgeon tomorrow for a look at my right shoulder, as I think I have re-torn my labrum.

1:51
BenZ: Other than Trout and Betts, is there anyone who would get more money in a 10 year deal if they were a free agent this winter other than Harper or Machado? Maybe Lindor? Bryant? Ramirez? Anyone else?

1:53
Jay Jaffe: I’d bet Lindor would be in the same ballpark, $-wise. Maybe Ramirez, too. Bryant no given his power fall-off. Correa if he can stay on the field for 150 games in back-to-back years, which he hasn’t done yet

1:54
Bill: Why not Harper signs with Nats and Machado signs with Philliies/White Sox/Padres

1:54
Jay Jaffe: quite possible, sure.

1:54
Pat: Beer sales would be awful in SLC!

1:54
Jay Jaffe: Eh, maybe. But there is a dedicated craft beer community there, and even the current ballpark has some good beers available.

1:55
Jay Jaffe: OK folks, I’ve emptied the tank today. Thanks for stopping by, happy pitchers and catchers to you all, and we’ll see you next week!

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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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DBA455
Member
DBA455

“The entirety of New York City is turning cartwheels over this because the deal in place really screwed the city.”

This may say more about what constitutes the “entirety” of Jay Jaffe’s version of New York City than it does about anything factual.

If you want data – and you may not – it’s here:
https://scri.siena.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/SNY0219-Crosstabs-021219.pdf

NYC residents (Siena polling) favored the plan overwhelmingly: 58/35 in aggregate, and higher in some demos state-wide (eg. 70/25 in Afr. American households, 81/17 in Latino households)

schlomsd
Member
schlomsd

By looking at who favored the plan I think Jay meant “All of my friends are doing cartwheels about it.”

Dave T
Member
Member
Dave T

I don’t know why Jay decided to take and answer a pure politics question (i.e., it’s not even a politics-tinged baseball question), but I hope that does not become a trend in Fangraphs chats.

fjtorres
Member
fjtorres

There’s too much politics in everything these days.
Why drag it here, too?
Won’t end well.

averagejoe15
Member
Member
averagejoe15

If you really squint the Amazon HQ is analogous to tax payer funded baseball stadiums. Not that it was mentioned here but it’s a similar idea. Only it’s worse because Amazon was able to drive up bidding in a way MLB teams don’t really have the power to do.