Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 2/21/19 by Jay Jaffe February 21, 2019 12:02 Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, welcome to today’s chat. It’s going to be a short one, because I’m finishing up a piece on the disappearing knuckleball and have to depart for my first installment of physical therapy; last week, I was diagnosed with rotator cuff impingement syndrome, a relief since I thought I had re-torn my labrum, which I first tore in 2003. Hang tight and I’ll get to the questions shortly… 12:15 Jay Jaffe: OK, I’m back 12:16 Kurupt FM: Assuming equivalent salaries, who would you rather have for 10 years, Machado or Harper? 12:18 Jay Jaffe: If marketability is a primary concern, Harper is probably the choice, but the fact that Machado plays a more important defensive position, and is still a very skilled defender, probably points the needle in his direction for me. 12:18 Tucker: Is there such a thing as a rate of diminishing returns in MLB. Meaning does Machado impact San Diego projected wins or playoff odds at a greater rate than he’d impact the Yankees? 12:22 Jay Jaffe: There are basically two key factors in play: how good is the player Machado is replacing, and how many wins was the team projected for previously. Ofhand I’m not entirely sure where the point of inflection is in the two wild card era, but I think it’s around 85 wins where the addition of each additional win increases a team’s playoff odds much more substantially than it would otherwise, and once you get above 95 wins, each additional one doesn’t change things that much. See https://tht.fangraphs.com/rethinking-the-win-curve/ for a fairly recent look. 12:23 Jay Jaffe: tl;dr: yes, there’s a rate of diminishing returns — a 95-win team isn’t going to get the same spike in odds as an 85-win team, though given the distinction between winning the division and merely securing a wild card spot, there’s still something to be said for improvement. 12:23 Roger: Which 2010 first round pick has the best chance at Cooperstown: Manny Machado, Chris Sale, or Bryce Harper? 12:24 Jay Jaffe: I’d put the position players ahead of Sale, who got a later start and as a pitcher is certainly more fragile and vulnerable to a career-changing injury. 12:25 Lou: Why is the knuckleball disappearing? 12:30 Jay Jaffe: Because it’s a difficult pitch to master —and to catch — there are a limited number of people able to do so, and able to teach it. What’s more, knuckleball pitchers usually lack major league stuff without the pitch, so if it’s not working that day, they are toast. 12:30 Dash: Who do you like to make the Hall of Fame next year? 12:32 Jay Jaffe: Derek Jeter is a lock and could even get 100% of the vote now that that barrier has falen. Curt Schilling might make the leap from about 61% (though I wish he would just go away), and I hope hope hope Larry Walker makes it as well in his final year of eligibility. 12:32 Lazzaro Da Fietta: Any chance Padres signing of Machado gets Dodgers more interested in Harper? 12:32 Jay Jaffe: That doesn’t appear likely 12:32 Jack: What do you make of Craig Kimbrel’s extended stay on the FA market given how in recent years top relievers had been scooped up relatively quick? 12:36 Jay Jaffe: Kimbrel was reportedly seeking a nine-figure deal, which was never going to happen, particularly given that last year he showed some signs of decline, and his chances of surpassing Aroldis Chapman’s five-year, $86 million deal are probably slim in this market and at this late date. Something slightly beyond Wade Davis’ three-year, $52 million deal, in terms of AAV, is probably the best he’s going to do. 12:37 Slurve: Is it surprising at all that Hosmer has 100 more hits than Trout? Both have 8 years in MLB… 12:39 Jay Jaffe: You’ve got to look closer than thaat. Hosmer spent most of 2011 in the majors (128 games) where Trout had just 40. Hoz has ~400 more PA than Trout, and ~800 more at-bats, since he doesn’t walk nearly as frequently. The total difference in hits is pretty meaningless given that context. 12:39 Kurupt FM: How real was that awful Eric Hosmer season and could that contract be salvaged or is it dead in the water as is? 12:42 Jay Jaffe: That was a dreadful season, with a 95 wRC+ and -0.1 WAR. The problem is that Hosmer is just killing worms, with a 3.06 GB/FB ratio and an average launch angle of -1.2 degrees. The good news is that unless there’s an underlying injury that we don’t know about, I see no real reason that he can’t find an approach that produces more consistent elevation and greater production. But he and the Padres have to find something that works, because last year wasn’t it. 12:42 AJ: Estimate not on Harper destination but rather years and dollars? 12:43 Jay Jaffe: 10/$326M — enough for Boras to claim victory, albeit with some money deferred (not $100M, as the Nationals’ end-of-season offer reportedly contained. 12:43 mika: Has Sale overtaken Scherzer as best pitcher? as the projections seems to suggest 12:47 Jay Jaffe: I think they’re very close in true talent but Max is the more durable one even if he is five years older. What you’re seeing is a reflection of that age gap and an assumption that Sale is good for 200 innings — but last year, Scherzer threw about 60 more. So he owns the belt for now. 12:47 Name: Out of those three (Sale, Manny and Harper) who would have the best chance if they retired today? Would any of them have any chance? 12:48 Jay Jaffe: None of them has played 10 seasons in the majors, which eliminates them from qualification for the Hall. 12:49 Pikachu: Any reason to believe teams will be dissuaded from sign stealing with the new rules? 12:49 Jay Jaffe: Teams have been stealing signs since forever and will continue to do so, even if there are barriers in the way of that. 12:49 Lou: Why don’t teams just take a traditional pitching prospect that is not working out and convert him to a knuckleball pitcher? 12:51 Jay Jaffe: In general, the pitcher has to buy in, which is a big hurdle to clear. The team has to buy in as well, AND employ an instructor and a catcher who can handle the pitch. And then the team has to commit to giving innings to the convert that could be used for another prospect or at least an organizational depth piece. You would think there would be more, but here we are. 12:51 Outta my way, Gyorkass: Where does Kuechel ultimately land? 12:53 Jay Jaffe: At this stage my guess is that he returns to the Astros and gets a deal with an early opt-out. Maybe a Cespedes-like contract. 12:53 Vinny: What is the best pizza in Brooklyn, and why is it L&B? 12:57 Jay Jaffe: I’ve never had L&B — I don’t get to that part of Brooklyn much. I LOVE Di Fara and would probably place that atop my list, with Lucali probably second (sister restaurant Giuseppina’s, in South Slope, is an underrated player too). Unfortunately, the pizza is pretty unremarkable in downtown Brooklyn, where I live. 12:57 Moltar: How often is “player X reported to be seeking Y dollars” leaked out by a front office to make player X sound ridiculous and ultimately drive down their price? 1:00 Jay Jaffe: Well, that’s not the only reason why a team would leak the information; being seen as in pursuit of a free agent is positive PR (see: the White Sox’s pursuit of Machado) even if there are no points for not signing. But both players and agents have ulterior motives when they leak — the former wants to present the figure as too high, the latter wants to create the perception of multiple bids. Always view that stuff with suspicion. Always. 1:01 Cam: Can someone explain WAR and what statistics are used to calculate it? 1:02 Jay Jaffe: Both of these are good starting points: https://library.fangraphs.com/misc/war/https://www.baseball-reference.com/about/war_explained.shtml 1:02 tnt9357: Hope your PT goes well! Before the HOF voting, you wrote about Bobby Abreu that he was “totally screwed” for HOF vote, that Sheffield could be reconsidered due to fWAR treating his defense like a Superfund site, but that Ichiro, who’s case is reliant on outlier defense going the other way (that Fangraphs and other sites doesn’t recognize nearly as highly) is “beloved throughout the game. First ballot. 95% plus”. 1:03 Jay Jaffe: Thanks! Easily 95%+ for Ichiro, but he won’t be eligible until 2024 or ’25, depending upon whether he plays with the Mariners this coming year. Even a single appearance, such as in the season-opening series in Japan, would delay his eligibility. Which might be a small price to pay if that’s a bucket-list item for him. 1:04 Lee: What would a reasonable extension for Chris Sale be? The Red Sox have to be a little wary about that arm. 1:06 Jay Jaffe: I wouldn’t begin to think too hard about an extension until seeing how he holds up this season, but I have to think he and his reps would look at Strasburg’s 7/$175M as a starting point. 1:06 BTucks: Why did Carlos Delgado never receive any HoF love? All evidence points to him putting up CLEAN monstrous numbers in a dirty era. 1:12 Jay Jaffe: Delgado landed on a VERY crowded ballot in 2015. While his offensive performances were impressive, he was viewed as something of a one-dimensional player — McGriff-like, but without the league leads and substantial postseason presence — and he was basically done at age 36, which never helps. HIs WAR and JAWS place him even below McGriff. I respect the hell out of him for making his voice heard about the God Bless America bullshit and the bombing of Vieques, but I don’t see him as a Hall of Famer. Here’s my 2015 profile of him for my HOF series at SI.com https://www.si.com/mlb/2014/12/15/jaws-2015-hall-of-fame-ballot-carlos… 1:13 Indymets: The Mets are letting Mickey Jannis develop as a knuckelballer. 1:13 Jay Jaffe: He’s mentioned in my piece, which is now live! https://blogs.fangraphs.com/ryan-feierabend-and-the-disappearing-knuck… 1:14 Qualia: I’ve always thought the knuckleball could be a viable path for a woman to become a MLB pitcher. Thoughts? 1:22 Jay Jaffe: it’s not a new thought, and in fact we’ve seen precedents. Eri Yoshida, a Japanese woman, has pitched in independent leagues both in Japan and the US. She didn’t have much success stateside (7.62 ERA in 78 innings from 2010-2012). https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=yoshid001er… Claire Eccles pitched in the collegiate West Coast League in 2017 and ’18 and struggled as well https://www.mlb.com/cut4/claire-eccles-made-history-in-west-coast-leag… http://d15k3om16n459i.cloudfront.net/baseball/player.html?playerid=113… So there hasn’t been much success to speak of, but one has to admire the fact that those women have gotten even that far. I do think we’ll see more of them in the coming years. 1:22 Rick: Do you expect Jon Gray to bounce back this year or is pitching in Colorado just too much? He did talk about his off season workout so of course he must be in the best shape of his life 🙂 1:27 Jay Jaffe: Gray had some health issues last year that he attributed at least in part to weight loss https://www.denverpost.com/2018/10/10/rockies-jon-gray-health-stronger… and he’s since put on more weight by lifting and changing his diet. The guy pitched to a 4.08 FIP last year at altitude, and the Rockies still believe in the talent, as do I. Maybe not as much as I believe in Kyle Freeland or German Marquez, but still. 1:27 Jv: I also live in Downtown Brooklyn – the pizza at Circa Brewing over on Lawrence St. is worth a try (not top tier but the best in the neighborhood). Solid beer too. 1:30 Jay Jaffe: Yes, I live very close to Circa and eat there about once a month. Likewise Fortina, in DeKalb Market, and Fornino, at Pier 6 down by the water, are good as well. They ain’t Lucali or Di Fara, but they’re a whole lot more manageable. 1:30 Hakaida: Is there a HOF case for Buerhle or Tim Hudson? 1:31 Jay Jaffe: No, not in my eyes. Hudson’s 81st in JAWS, Buehrle 88th. They outrank some HOFers, including Sandy Koufax and Whitey Ford, but neither has a convincing case. 1:31 stever20: But would Sale really get Strasburg money? I mean, for Strasburg- his contract covered 28-34 years. Sale start of next season will be 31, with a very similar injury history. So 7 year deal would be 31-37. 1:32 Jay Jaffe: No, i don’t think Sale will get Strasburg money. But I do think that’s the starting point for an extension without a trip through free agency, since the guy has been on a club-friendly contract for so long. 1:33 JD: Hi – What do u think of Profar moving to OAK? Does he still have superstar potential? 1:36 Jay Jaffe: I like the move to Oakland, assuming he’s playing regularly (we have him projected for 616 PA at 2B). I’m skeptical he ever becomes a superstar, but I don’t think it’s out of the question that he makes an All-Star team or two over the next few years under a best-case scenario. 1:37 JD: I can’t get a read on Victor Robles…is he a full-time player this year? (Would Harper re-signing put him on the bench for another year?) 1:38 Jay Jaffe: Bryce ain’t coming back. The plan appears to be for Robles as the starting CF, but given how much time he missed last year, and how little experience he has in the high miors, I don’t think it would be a huge surprise if he starts the year in Triple-A. Eric and Kiley consider him an impact prospect for 2019. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2019-impact-prospects/ 1:38 JD: Does your middle name start with a “J” by any chance?! 🙂 1:39 Jay Jaffe: It’s Steven, so yes, of course. 1:39 Lazzaro Da Fietta: Chances of a third NY team within five years? 1:39 Jay Jaffe: Absolutely zero. 1:40 Bread Gardner: How bad a commissioner is Manfred, really? Like, relative to his historical peers. 1:40 Jay Jaffe: I don’t think we can really answer that yet, but when Bud Selig has a case as the best, the bar is pretty goddamn low. 1:42 Jay Jaffe: OK folks, lots of good questions in the queue, but I’ve gotta jet. Thanks for stopping by, please tip your waitresses and bartenders, and tune in next week!