Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 2/24/20

12:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hey hey, folks! Welcome to another edition of my Monday chat. I’m back from a week spent in sunny Siesta Key, Florida — no baseball, just family stuff like watching my daughter and her cousin splash in a swimming pool and build sandcastles on the beach.

I just finished making a presentation about baseball to my daughter’s preschool class, which was wild. We gave out baseball cards, popcorn, and sunflower seeds, and sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” Did not get into the various flavors of WAR.

About to give a presentation about baseball to a bunch of 3-4 year olds in my daughter’s preschool class. Trying to decide first topic
24 Feb 2020
12:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Gah, the poll didn’t post there.

12:04
Jaffe rhymes with Taffy: Happy Monday!  The Astros are in for a tough year, especially on the road.  At what point in the season do you think we might start to feel for them for all the booing, vitriol etc.  Self inflicted of course…but….how long?

12:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hmmm. I can’t see mustering much sympathy for the players who were involved if they’re getting razzed about it daily. I do think I’d reserve my sympathy for those who weren’t part of the 2017-18 teams and may catch some collateral damage.

12:06
Thank you for the chat!: Who ‘owns’ article series between authors and publications they work for? Do you agree on ownership before jobs? Part of exit negotiations? Also, how does it tie to book deals? Do you have to work profit sharing out with the publications? I imagine all this could get complicated

12:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It varies from publication to publication and sometimes from writer to writer. At Baseball Prospectus, the rights for each piece reverted to me after a period (18 months I think). At Sports Illustrated, they retain the copyright but are pretty cooperative about granting permission to re-use, such as for my book or to update as part of my JAWS series. Here, I retain the rights to my work.

12:07
Matt: My 3 year old daughter has a cursory interest in baseball, essentially she likes randomly yelling “Go Phillies!” and likes Bryce Harper.  what do you recommend for getting her really into it?  Would she get something out of a spring training trip?

12:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Spring training is fun but tickets have gotten very expensive. I’d suggest a well-run minor league team’s games because they’re low cost and very geared towards capturing kids’ attention. My daughter has really enjoyed the Cyclones games she’s gone to.

Funny thing about mascots. She loves Mr. Met but when I was in Cooperstown a few weeks ago and touring the museum to get some ideas for this presentation, I sent my wife a picture of the Phillie Phanatic, and daughter was like WOW, so I bought her a Phanatic figure (phigure?), too

12:11
Nathan: Who do you see with a better season, Lux madrigal or urias?

12:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Right now, I’d say Lux, who’s the better prospect (#2 on our list!), is healthy, and I think has the clearest path to a starting job.

12:12
Guest: Question on joe torre and his hall of Fame induction.  Can he still be inducted as a player? As a front office person?  Or does his election as manager override the other two categories ?

12:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Once you’re in, you’re in regardless of the path you took. Torre wouldn’t have been a bad choice as a player (much depends on whether he’s classified as a catcher or not) 9x All-Star, NL MVP, clears JAWS standard at catcher, though he’s classified as a first baseman based on accruing slightly more value there. Explained here

@AlexanderRaine7 @GoldenHalloFame @sean_forman Torre had a lot of playing time at 1B even when he was a regular C, apparently enough so that the fractional WAR from those seasons tilts the balance such that his total WAR(1b+3b) > WAR(c).

For standards purposes, it’s a moot point since he was elected as a manager.

24 Nov 2019
12:15
Kurupt FM: With the white sox aiming to be competitive in the near future and the real possibility of a step forward competitively this year do you feel as if they should’ve been more active in adding this offseason?

12:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: They were one of the most active teams, signing Grandal, Keuchel, Encarnacion, Gio Gonzalez, Cichek, and trading for Mazara. You could quibble about the wisdom of some of those moves, but they kept busy and look to be an interesting and much-improved team.

12:17
1987: Is there a loophole to be exploited by big money teams w/r/t time value of money?  Ie, what if, instead of a 8 year $300M contract, the Dodgers offer Mookie Betts a $200 M / eight year contract, with a $192M signing bonus and annual salaries of $1M?  This may be an extreme example and I didn’t work out the math, but seems like this would be a way to manipulate the luxury tax numbers of a contract.

12:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The time value of money comes into play a lot with regards to deferrals. The thing about signing bonuses is that for luxury tax purposes they’re averaged out over the course of the deal (AAV) but from an individual taxation standpoint, the hit would be much, much larger for a player getting that much money up front.

12:20
Jacob Degrom: If I win the Cy Young again this year, am I on a path to the HOF?

12:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it would certainly help. Wrote about deGrom for ESPN Insider/Plus (behind the paywall) in the context of players who could give their Hall chances a big boost in 2020. https://www.espn.com/mlb/insider/story/_/id/28571688/five-players-most…. I gave him about 500 words so it’s too long to excerpt here coherently.

12:22
John: Thoughts on the severino injury situation ? Very odd

12:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a bummer, but I don’t think we know enough to say whether it’s odd. We know he missed most of last year with shoulder and lat stuff, and that he’s got a loose body in that elbow. Pitchers, man…

12:23
I Like Her Not: How do you the three-batter minimum rule playing out from a strategy standpoint?  If you bring in a Loogy with two outs and he doesn’t record an out, isn’t he hung out to dry against the next batter(s) in an inning?

12:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, that’s a problem, and I think you’ll see some of the lefties with more extreme splits struggle to gain roster spots for that reason. I’m not a big fan of the rule, because I think that while it will shave seconds off games, it could also lengthen them because some of those guys will get pounded within the context you mentioned.

12:25
Pre-School Troll: Excuse me Mr. Jaffe but why do you have such hard-on for Pete Rose getting into the hall? Can I Have a juice now please…

12:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Excuse me? I’m as anti-Pete Rose getting into the Hall as anybody in this industry.

12:25
Dave: re: Pre-schoolers and baseball– after going to a game and him seeming to like it, a fun thing I started doing with my son last summer (2.5 at the time) was going over the Nats’ line-up for the day at bedtime each night.  It was repetitive (so helped him get sleepy), but he also started to learn the positions and players.  And it prompted a great text exchange with my wife when I wasn’t there– “Why does [kid] want to know who’s pitching for the Nats tonight??”

12:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s awesome.

12:26
ResumeMan: How would you suggest the HoF improve the 5% rule to get rid of the no-chancers and minimize the possibility that a goof excludes a legit candidate?

12:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think a sliding scale minimum is a workable solution. Maybe something like, a player must get to 5% at least once in his first 3 years and be at 10% by year 5 or he falls off. You can play with the times and thresholds but I think that would clear the ballot sufficiently while giving guys a second look.

Fun fact: originally (c. 1979) the 5% rule applied to a player’s first two years on the ballot.

12:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok, maybe that fact wasn’t quite as fun as advertised.

12:28
John: It always seems to me that projection systems struggle with handicapping someone who was injured (known or unknown).  Do any systems have injury overrides?  For instance if you know the date Luke Voit was hurt –  should the system weigh the before and after differently?

12:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Projecting players is hard! Most of the manual control comes in the form of estimating playing time, which is where knowledge of the timing of a player’s injury comes in. If you have 2 guys the same age and skill level who threw 180 innings last year but one had TJ in October, obviously, you will adjust their estimated innings accordingly.

Now, if somebody played through injury and it dragged their stats down to the point of affecting their projections, that’s a different matter, in which case it’s probably more helpful to look at percentle performance if that’s offered.

12:30
Gil: The projected standings are bullish on the Mets. What do you think needs to happen for them to meet or even exceed a win total of 88 games? Do you think that’s likely?

12:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I mean, 88 wins basically means that the players as a group perform as expected — the rotation’s top arms pitch well, the rotation and lineup stay healthy, and the team isn’t wiped out by injuries. Now, in reality we’ll se a much wider spread of performances; the key is having the depth to account for injuries. Right now, the team looks to have a good bit of near-term depth (Wacha as the 6th starter, Lowrie as a spare infielder, Cespedes hopefully useful), but of course things could go pear-shaped rather quickly, and then if somebody important gets hurt, that’s trouble.

12:34
Dylan S: What do you think of the young pitchers in Oakland?

12:34
devin has cheeto lips: Out of the 3 lefties in the A’s starting rotation(Puk, Manaea, Luzardo), who has the best year?

12:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ganging those questions up. I think it’s an exciting time to be an A’s fan given their young pitching, which could make them legitimate contenders for the AL West title if the Astros take a step backwards, which seems possible given the state of their rotation and the self-imposed distractions they have coming their way all season.

Of the three lefties, I like Luzardo the most in terms of ceiling. They’ll all have their workloads carefully monitored, though, and I think it will come down to who has the best fortune to fill out his innings complement.

12:37
Alby: I think by “having a hard on for” the questioner meant you’re against it. I don’t know why the phrase works this way — it seems backwards — but I’ve heard it used that way before.

12:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s a pretty weird way to describe something, then.

12:38
Cespayless: If Cespedes proves he is healthy can the Mets trade him asap?  The restructured contract would help, no?  He seems a better fit for an AL team with the DH.  Plus, the Mets don’t need to further clutter the OF logjam and deal with him potentially complaining about playing time.

12:39
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, he still has full no-trade protection, so that’s a hurdle that would have to be surmounted. But I’m not yet sure they can afford to trade him if he’s performing well. Keeping Nimmo and Conforto healthy and productive in the same lineup has proven to be a challenge and J.D. Davis’ fielding in the outfield (or anywhere, really) costs him considerable value, so…

12:39
Sirras: My sister just moved to the Gowanus/Park Slope area and I’m visiting soon. Any suggestions for food to check out?

12:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Because of recent closings of some favorites — including Freek’s Mill, a place where i had a couple birthday dinners and celebrated the completion of the Casebook manuscript – I’m at a bit of a loss to come up with a ton of suggestions in that area. But Pig Beach BBQ is fun, as is Threes Brewing, and Ample Hills Creamery, home of the It Came From Gowanus ice cream, the single best ice cream flavor ever created.

12:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Damn, Freek’s Mill closing sucks. Boo.

12:42
Toshi: Hi Jay, thank you for the chat. What kind of teams would benefit most from the 26th roster spot, and which teams would they be for this season in NL and AL?  Thanks.

12:44
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the teams that might benefit most are the creative ones who already have versatility on their rosters and might have, say, a third catcher who can also play other positions or something neat like that. Teams with managers more inclined to play towards getting platoon advantages and other favorable matchups.

12:44
Kurupt FM: Thoughts on the jays rebuild? Seems like a bit of a quick turnaround and the lack of upper end prospect depth leaves them vulnerable if any of their big names don’t pan out.

12:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I mean, give me Vlad Jr., Bo Bichette, and Cavan Biggio early in their careers and Nate Pearson on the verge of joining them, and I’ll take my chances with upper end depth; that’s a big bounty to come along at once and dinging them for it not being more staggered seems odd. I think they’ll be an interesting team but the rotation still looks quite thin, as does the outfield.

12:48
BlueJayMatt: Over/under on Nate Pearson’s mlb innings pitched in 2020 – 100.5?

12:50
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That seems a little high. For some reason we don’t have him down for any innings on the Depth Chart; I’ve seen other projections around 80sih innings and might start there as a reference point.

12:51
Cole Miners Daughter: Awkward moment:  Yankees players asking Cole if the Astros cheated in 2019.  Either he says yes, no, I don’t know, or I cannot comment on that.  Are any of these potential answers going to make the Yankees happy?  I wouldn’t believe him if he said no.

12:52
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he’s in an awkward position but as a pitcher and a player who’s now on a direct competitor, he’s a couple of degrees removed from the fallout. I imagine it’s not something his teammates — who need him to be at his best in 2020 and can’t do anything about the bast — spend a lot of time or energy on in their interactions with him.

12:53
I Like Her Not: What player are you waiting for to “put it all together” one year?  This means they are healthy the entire year and consolidate skills growth.

12:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: One who quickly comes to mind is Nomar Mazara, who has the physical tools to be a beast but can’t seem to keep the ball off the ground, though he did cut his rate from 55% in 2018 to 47% in ’19. Maybe the change of scenery and new voices in his ear will help him adjust his swing and hit some light towers.

12:55
Craig: Can Ketel Marte repeat last years success? Why or why not?

12:58
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given how sharply he improved — 7.1 WAR, after a solid 2.6 the year before, and a net of 2.1 spread out over the previous three partial seasons — I think it’s a very good question to which we don’t know the answer. I know that the Diamondbacks were concerned about the physical toll of the move to center field took on him, but it strikes me that second base is no picnic given the injury risks there (esp. collisions). Off the cuff, I’d bet against him being an MVP candidate again, because of how out-of-nowhere his season was, but I think that assumption might be worth a closer look.

12:59
Nate: Is there any player besides Schilling from the 2020 HOF ballot that makes the HOF (either through BBWAA or era committee) in the next 3-4 years?  I’m having a hard time figuring out who that would be unless 1) there is a change of heart towards Bonds / Clemens or 2) if someone in the 25% – 35% vote range rapidly breaks through (a la Edgar or Walker).

1:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Quite possibly no, unless the holdouts suddenly warm to Bonds and Clemens. While I do think we’ll see Rolen, Helton, and Vizquel build from where they finished this year, it could be awhile before any of them gets to 75%. Wrote about the next five years here. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/big-battles-looming-the-next-five-years-of…

1:00
John Olerud’s Helmet: Mr Jay! Oh Wise One!! Can you be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player but then later as a Broadcaster as well? Im thinking Ralph Kiner type here…

1:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: In theory, yes. Let’s note that the Frick (and Spink) honors are awards that do not equal full induction into the Hall, though they’re often conflated as such. I do think that voters might favor guys who haven’t otherwise been honored (as HOF players) but I have next to zero insight into the voting politics of that body.

1:03
Matt: Any guesses as to where and when Puig signs?

1:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A couple days ago there was a rumor that the White Sox and Rockies were the leading contenders; the latter is dead last in our LF rankings and have no idea how to build a functioning outfield so don’t bet on him to land there.

1:05
Guest: How much regression in Verlander’s numbers given his age, the cheating implications and his homeritits last year are you expecting?

1:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t see where the sign-stealing implications are going to have much impact on his performance, particularly if (cough) there was no cheating going on in 2019. I expect the ball won’t be as lively this year (just betting against the most extreme) and so he’ll be helped by that, but let’s face it, hard-throwing 37-year-olds are always in danger of regressing because shit happens.

1:07
Guest: Do you see Jose Berrios taking a significant step forward this year?

1:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t seen anything to suggest he’s particularly due for a step forward, but I haven’t looked very hard. His 2019 level (4.4 fWAR) is pretty darn good. Having Donaldson behind him should trim his ERA and boost his bWAR (3.3 last year) a bit, but I’m expecting a guy who again will be a possible All-Star but not a likely Cy Young contender

1:10
BK: Have you read any of The Athletic’s Top 100 Baseball Players? Thoughts?

1:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Many of them but nowhere close to all of them. I love reading Posnanski, and let’s face it, he’s mostly writing about HOFers, so this is right in my wheelhouse

1:11
HoF Future: What are the chances that Gary Sheffield turns into a Dick Allen type candidate for Veteran’s Committees down the road, i.e. one who was polarizing at the time but becomes a cause celebre down the line the further removed from the Steroid Era we become?

1:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Seems more likely than him fading away completely. Those 509 homers and his ferocity at the plate certainly left quite an impression.

1:15
Jerome: Who do you think will have the higher wOBA if they both play ~600 games: Mark Canha (DC projects .341) or Stephen Piscotty (DC projects .331). It’s closer than you think because the projection systems don’t know about the tragedy impacting almost a year of his performance.

1:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think you mean 600 PA or AB, but… we’re talking about two guys who both have career wOBAs of .336, one of whom (Canha) is two years older and the other of whom, as you note, had a tragedy (his mom’s death) potentially weighing on him during a rough season. I’d suggest then that Piscotty is the better bet to outperform but it really looks pretty close to a coin toss here.

1:17
When a competition becomes a job: It seems most professionals involved with the industry are against stripping the title from the Astros, while many fans (although certainly not all) are for it.  Would you care to speculate on why there’s this (perceived) chasm?  I have yet to read / hear a coherent response from any industry professional on why the title should not be stripped.  The fines ultimately are a pittance, the draft picks an inconvenience, and the lucrative reward for cheating (both for the team and the players) remains in place for both short term and long term benefit and absurd profit.  It seems baseball is relying upon consumers of their good to remember that the Astros’ season was tainted. When that memory fades, the entire episode will be effectively swept under the rug.  Is this fair / appropriate?

1:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the gap comes because a higher percentage of fans than writers is invested in other sports (mainly college sports and Olympics) that have a history of stripping titles. That’s pretty foreign to baseball, and the commissioner, for all of his flaws, is dead set against going down that road.

I’m against stripping the title because I think that pretending something didn’t happen is an insult to the intelligence of everybody who saw it. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle, can’t rebottle the sprayed champagne or recoup the invested emotion that was released. The best you can do is contextualize and compartmentalize what happened and hope that steps are taken for it not to happen again.

1:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Jayson Stark wrote a good column on the topic in January https://theathletic.com/1534933/2020/01/15/stark-take-back-the-astros-…

1:21
Them: Am I wrong in thinking that the idea that it’s easy to find a first baseman is a bit exaggerated? I saw that suggested again recently in connection to Dom Smith’s trade value. Sure, they’re easier to find than quality CF, but quality (or even decent) 2-way 1B are not overabundant. Seems like every year a number of teams- contenders, even– struggle to find a good fit at 1B. So it can’t be that easy!

1:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The thing about 1B options is that the pool is so large. Corner outfielders and third baseman who are stuck behind incumbents or not very good at defense, veterans at those positions who have lost a step, Quad-A misfits looking for a chance to string together a couple hundred PA uninterrupted… I think it comes down to uneven distribution and some teams being less tolerant of risk than others.

I do think Dom Smith needs to be freed, as noted before in this space.

1:24
Matt: How long does Nick Markakis stay on the ballot if he survives in the big leagues long enough to reach 3,000 hits? No way he’s elected, right?

1:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s a part-timer now, and also really not all that good. I think we can close the door on the 3,000 hit hypothesis.

1:26
Overbearing Padre: Padres have, like, ten guys vying for a job at second base, notably including Dozier, Profar, Garcia, Cronenworth, Ty France. If you were in charge, who would you give the job? How would you platoon it?

1:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Based on what we saw in 2018 (2.8 WAR, 107 wRC+), I’d like to see what Profar can do given the chance and the change of scenery, first and foremost, with Dozier as the fallback. Beyond that, it seems like a grab bag to me.

1:30
Matt W: My wife and I are expecting our first child in the early fall. Any tips for raising for a kid in the big city?

1:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Far too much to put here, but I will say this, as for the near term, as your wife gets less mobile and the birth approaches (and then more tied up with the newborn): ALWAYS look for things to do, ways you can help — shopping and other errands, cooking, cleaning, etc. You’ve got the easy part of the job. Use your mobility and energy to your advantage.

1:32
Green Gambit: What are the chances, in your opinion, that Julio Urias has the second-best season of any Dodger SP in 2020?

1:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That would mean that he outperforms either Kershaw or Buehler, which could either be a very pleasant surprise or a sign that something has gone very wrong. Is it possible? Yes. Likely? I’d say a slim chance but there are always injury risks

1:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK, folks. Some good questions still in the queue but that’s all I have time for today. Hope you enjoyed the chat, and we’ll be back at it 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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martyvan90
Member
martyvan90

Jay great job. Your misinterpreting PST must mean you’re a lover not a fighter. 😉