Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 2/26/21

2:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, good afternoon and welcome to another edition of my now-regular Friday chat (this is the sixth week in a row, my longest since the first month of the pandemic).

2:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Today I’ve got a piece up on Carlos Correa (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/what-to-make-of-carlos-correa/), which was inspired by a FanGraphs Audio spot I did with Kevin Goldstein (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/fangraphs-audio-bill-james-updates-his-ran…) discussing last week’s piece on Fernando Tatis Jr. (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/fernando-tatis-jr-has-a-clear-shot-at-coop…) as well as Kevin’s piece on the next $400 million deal (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/who-will-be-the-first-400-million-player/).

2:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I spent much of this week in Remember Some Guys mode, writing about the return of Oliver Perez (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/hello-again-cleveland-oliver-perez-returns…), the departure of Shin-Soo Choo (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/shin-soo-choo-heads-home-to-south-korea/) and the indy-league detours of Scott Kazmir (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/schlepping-from-sugar-land-scott-kazmir-on…), who spent a few weeks last season in something called the Constellation Energy League, where among other things he competed against a team laden with the large adult sons of Roger Clemens. In acknowledgement of all of this, I have donated my royalties from all of these pieces to David Roth’s Foundation to Remember Some Guys

2:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Before getting to the festivities, I have to recommend this Washington Post piece on “Baseball Bugs” the famous Looney Tunes cartoon which was released 75 years ago this month: https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/02/25/baseball-bugs-bunny-l… You can watch it here: https://www.supercartoons.net/cartoon/629/bugs-bunny-baseball-bugs.htm…

And now, on with the show…

2:02
Dellin Betances With Wolves: How come no HOF love for Brett Butler? -3rd best leadoff hitter all-time, best bunter ever, received MVP votes in 6 seasons, cancer survivor …

2:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d dispute the notion that Butler is the 3rd best leadoff hitter of all time, first off. Kenny Lofton was a similar hitter but a much better baserunner, and everybody forgets that Pete Rose was an elite leadoff guy, taking more than 10000 PA at the spot.

Beyond that, Butler’s fielding metrics are downright brutal (-84 via B-Ref) such that he finished with 49.7 WAR, about 19 fewer than Lofton and not enough to really make a dent in an advanced stat-based Hall conversation

2:05
45 blows billygoats: Mel Blanc was the best!

2:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: He was!

It’s remarkable, in retrospect, that I spent so much time watching Bug Bunny and his very Brooklyn-driven attitude and then decades later wound up living here for the past 13 years

2:06
Gord: Do you think the Mather situation will affect the Mariners when they’re ready to make a big splash in free agency? I could totally see agents playing up how big of an issue it is in order to squeeze out a few more dollars from the M’s and forcing them to overpay.

2:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given their lack of recent success and their small-to-midmarket approach, I can’t see them being major players for the top free agents anytime soon. Once they’re ready to compete for a playoff spot and for bigger-name (but not elite) free agents — which they haven’t really done since signing Nelson Cruz after the 2014 season — their money will probably be as good as the next team’s provided they give off the impression that their house is in order

2:10
Greg: Thoughts on Pirates signing of Tyler Anderson? I’d hoped they would have signed someone with a higher ceiling for a better trade chip at the deadline – Anderson seems like strictly an innings eater.

2:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: To some extent I think chasing those midsummer trade chips is a sucker’s game. Anderson might show he’s healthy enough to be dealt but a team’s not going to get anybody who’s going to alter their current trajectory, which in the Pirates’ case ain’t so hot. If he’s healthy and good, why not try to extend him for a couple of years and see if he turns into something even betteR?

2:11
Guest: I feel like the Spinal Tap pun in the title of your Oliver Perez article went hugely unappreciated.

2:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not every joke lands. The great thing about my job is that I get to try again the next day

2:14
Cito’s Mustache: The discrepancy in fielding metrics you highlighted in the Correa piece suggests that UZR is an unreliable measurement of infield defense, and we should look to DRS and perhaps OAA more. Is that fair or an overreaction to one example?

2:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s a fair reaction that probably should be discussed more. I’d like to see where a Statcast based defensive runs metric winds up but I don’t know when we’ll actually see one.

2:17
MikeD: Bobby Bonds was a heck of a lead-off hitter too. His use there for a few years was a bit a head of its time in thinking.

2:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Indeed. Wade Boggs is another nonstandard guy who fits well in this discussion. Likewise Shin-Shoo Choo and Derek Jeter. Here’s a B-Ref Split ranking by raw OPS among players with at least 3,000 PA as leadoff hitters https://stathead.com/tiny/3VjxO

2:19
Appa Yip Yip: If you would be so kind, I don’t remember the exact rate at which guys who debut at 21 make the Hall, only that it is way higher than the rate for older debuts. I mention it only because Alejandro Kirk made his debut at 21.

2:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: See my Tatis piece linked above

2:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Kirk would fit into the 1 PA at 21 bucket, from which 7.3% of players have launched Hall of Fame careers

2:20
mmddyyyy: If the remainder of Justin Upton’s career were exactly Melvin Upton’s career, would he make the Hall?

2:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Alas, Justin wandered off the Hall path a few years ago. Two years of negative WAR suggests he might not even get another guaranteed deal, though he does have this year and next to rebound.

2:22
mmddyyyy: Beyond the recognition, are there any perks to Hall membership? Free parking?

2:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a significant financial windfall, particularly when it comes to appearances, memorabilia and (I think) licensing.

2:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Like in the millions of dollars.

2:24
45 blows billygoats: Do you have someone you follow or can you recommend a follow for info on the K League and Japanese League?

2:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Dan Kurtz (@myKBO) is an essential follow for KBO stuff, as is Jeeho Yoo (@Jeeho_1), a Seoul-based reporter. Japan-wise. Japan-wise, Jason Coskrey (@JCoskrey) comes to mind

2:26
Jeff: James having Jeter as a top 5 SS all time is interesting, and not in a bad way. Now that we’re so far removed, I really do think Jeter became massively underrated over time for doing what he did for so long *while also winning.* Is he the perfect example of what we value in the modern baseball culture? The fact that he and his teams *did win so much* is something that even mentioning in today might be derided as Not Understanding Da Analytics….but the gd analytics are supposed to be there *to get better at winning!!!*

2:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t listened to the Bill James podcast spot (which precedes mine on this week’s FanGraphs Audio) so I’m not sure exactly on what basis Bill is elevating Jeter but I don’t think it’s a ridiculous notion that he might be top-5 if you’re 1) wary of the defensive metrics that show Jeter as outlier-level bad; 2) factoring in his considerable postseason success); and 3) applying some kind of timeline adjustment that recognizes that an early 21st century athlete is MILES beyond ones from a century or half-century ago.

2:30
Jeff: Without the PED nonsense, and I really do find it too coincidental that super relatable owner Stevey Cohen got a positive that cleared cap space, where do you think Cano ranks among 2B?

2:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: he’s probably a top 10 second baseman all-time (7th in JAWS) but come on, it’s dumb to think that the timing of the Mets sale has anything to do with Cano’s suspension given that this is a guy who’s already been pinched once. It was downplayed publicly but COVID testing meant that PED testing slipped through the cracks. That some players would get sloppy seems inevitable

2:32
MikeD: I went off a bit of a rant on this a week or so back, but it’s still bothering me. Why on earth did the HOF decide to hold a virtual induction ceremony this year instead of holding the Jeter, Walker, Simmons induction until next year. Between New Yorkers coming to see Jeter and Canadians crossing the border to cheer on Walker, the Hall had the opportunity to have its biggest attendance ever in 2022. The village needs that. Instead, we may have three straight shutouts, or worse, a Schilling-only induction.  Do they even care about the town they’re in?  Care to speculate?

2:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I sympathize with the Cooperstown business who are losing out on a potential bonanza but at some point, you can’t hold up the line forever. I do wish the Hall would have considered maybe a late August/early September date in hopes that greater vaccine distribution made a potential event safer but the last thing the Hall wants is to become a superspreader event. This ain’t Sturgis.

2:35
Pumpsie Green: Do you think the Jays did any long-term harm to Vlad Jr. by bringing him up before he figured out defence and conditioning? In hindsight, he was never going to be Tatis Jr, but can he still be Ortiz?

2:38
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think so. If anything, I think that his initial exposure might have instilled in him the importance of improving in both areas both for near- and long-term benefits. As he’s still a few weeks shy of turning 22, I certainly wouldn’t discount the idea that he could be the next Ortiz or, even better, somebody who can play some passable defense for a good chunk of his career before moving to DH.

2:38
fake baseball fan: How many future Hall of Famers are on the Top 100 Prospects lists right now based on the past? How many will make a Hall ballot?

2:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question! I don’t know the answer but maybe at some point I’ll sit down with the 30 (?) year worth of Baseball America Top 100 lists — since that’s the one that goes back the furthest and was for so long the industry standard, not to take anything away from the others in the field now including our own Eric Longenhagen, who does an awesome job of integrating analytics and risk evaluation into his lists — and count those up.

2:41
Childish Bambino: I think Statcast does have a runs based defensive metric, if that’s what you were saying.

2:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: they’ve got Outs Above Average, which is a play event metric, not a run-based metric

2:44
Dru: Wander coming up in 21?

2:49
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s almost inevitable we’ll see him debut in 2021, but I don’t think that means necessarily that he’ll be a regular this year. We know the Rays are going to game his service clock, and that they’ve already got a very competent shortstop in Willy Adames in place, not to mention Brandon Lowe at second. It might take an injury to open up significant playing time before August/September.

2:51
Childish Bambino: I don’t understand the distinction, there is a column that refers to “Runs Prevented” on Baseball Savant.

2:53
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My bad, I’m looking at the individual player cards, which don’t appear to have the runs figures, and not the leaderboard. I haven’t done or seen any cross comparisons between the metrics as to how they line up or differ.

2:54
Jeff: Javier Baez has never played a full ML season at SS. What do I make of that? Seems like he could slide right over to 2B and still have a shot to be all-world

2:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s played almost 80% of their innings at shortstop over the past two seasons, and Addison Russell is gone. 33 DRS in that time. He’s good! Worth watching!

2:57
WhiteSoxFan: What are your expectations for Michael Kopech in 2021?

2:59
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A season split between bullpen and rotation, since he’s missed a full year for TJ and another year due to opting out. I think he could dominate, but he could also be rusty. I suggest reading what Eric had to say about him on his Top 100 list, as he’s got much greater insight into where Kopech is at than I do https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2021-top-100-prospects/

2:59
Marshall: I see that Fangraphs lets you sort by all-time career value in batting (Ruth), fielding (Brooks Robinson), and baserunning (Henderson). Is there a way to find out the all-time single-season leaders in each category?

3:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Be sure to  toggle the Split Seasons checkbox to the left of where you choose the dates. Here’s the list for batting value https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y…

3:00
T-D-A: Realistic Projections for Wander for 21 and 22

3:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: .477/.564/.946

3:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Man, I don’t know! Check ZiPS and Steamer, check PECOTA. The people who make those systems can do more than pull numbers out of thin air. I’m not sitting here with a stockpile of hand-cranked projections and prospect evaluations that differ from what our experts in those areas can tell you

3:02
Gord: What are the odds that Corey Seager won’t be wearing a Dodgers uniform on Opening Day 2022?

3:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: maybe 50/50 because of the available alternatives such as Lindor and Correa.

3:03
Pumpsie Green: Has the HoF ever banished an inductee, like the way the football hall removed OJ?

3:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: https://www.profootballhof.com/players/oj-simpson/ I don’t think the Pro Football HOF banished Simpson

3:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: but beyond that, no, the Baseball Hall has never banished anyone

3:05
MikeD: Yes, but when Wander does slash .477/.564/.946 for his age 21 and 22 seasons, you will be required to launch the Jaffe Projection System.

3:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: challenge accepted

3:08
Dan: A while ago I read that Andy Petite was easily the best pitcher of his age group. The idea being that rookie pitchers during the steroid era had a historically hard time succeeding and if he isn’t a hall of famer that mean practically noone from the 90s (HOF pitchers who played in the 90s where all established before then or only caught the tail end) would be a hall of fame pitcher. I can get your take on this line of reasoning.

3:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I mean only if you’re using such a narrow definition of “age group” that Pedro Martinez, who’s 8 months older than Pettitte (b. 1972), is outside of it. That said, the next three guys in value who were born within ~5 years of him, i.e., 1967-77, are towards the extremes: Mussina (1968), Smoltz (1967) and Halladay (1977)

3:11
Pumpsie Green: Who of Lindor, Correa, Seager, Story, Baez and Semien do you think has the best chance of a great season and moving up the shortstop rankings? And do you agree with the ranking as currently presented?

3:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Lindor and Seager, I think, will be the top 2 heading into this coming winter, with Corey’s bat shining more brightly than Correa’s glove. Story’a going to have to overcome the Coors factor to move up that list significantly. Baez has work just to get back to where he was offensively before 2020, and Semien likewise.

3:15
Guest: Does a player’s relationship with the media and/or other players contribute in any meaningful way to his HOF election chances? If so, is there any way that could be accounted for?

3:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes but probably much less than it used to matter in an age of greater voter transparency. Dick Allen suffered, Kevin Brown suffered, Ron Santo suffered, and I’m sure I could come up with more, but voting wasn’t nearly as transparent when they were on the ballots, and none was a slam dunk based on milestones and awards, so there was always going to be room for subjectivity in the balloting

3:18
DJ: How long is LeMahieu going to keep this up and are Rockies castoffs an undervalued resource as opposed to our assumption of the opposite?

3:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, it’s not like I’d immediately hand out a two year deal to any player Jeff Bridich thinks isn’t a fit for his team, but we’re getting there. What a backwards-ass joke of an organization.

3:19
P: Bill James touted Darrell Evans as a deserving HOFer in latest FG podcast. I’m curious what is your input on Evans’ case and why you think James is high on him

3:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Evans is 19th in JAWS at 3B (48.4). I get that he was significantly underappreciated in his day, but I don’t see an overwhelming caes for him by any means; by bWAR he was a top-10 player in his league just twice, and by OPS+ just three times. I’d put Scott Rolen, Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Graig Nettles. Buddy Bell and Sal Bando — all 53-57 JAWS — in the Hall before him, and by that point, Evans would probably look even more out of place.

3:24
45 blows billygoats: Do you have an active MLB player comp for Tork?

3:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: No, but that shouldn’t surprise you if you’ve been reading me. I’m not the prospects guy, and I’ve had it instilled in me by the prospect guys that comps to current or recent players are often pretty misleading unless they’re carefully qualified.

3:26
John S.: Assuming the Marlins don’t make the playoffs, who is the starting outfield at the end of the year?

3:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: wait, it’s not going to be Ozuna-Yelich-Stanton?

3:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Right now it lines up as Dickerson-Marte-Duvall, maybe with Cooper in the mix at the corners, but I suspect we’ll see Jesus Sanchez up in midseason, playing RF regularly, and maybe Monte Harrison.

3:29
P: Odds of a universal DH for 2021 season?

3:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think it’s dead yet. Wouldn’t surprise me if we get a resolution on like March 20th just before the real roster cutdowns start.

3:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, I’d like to stay longer but have some Friday afternoon business to attend to. Thanks for stopping by, and let’s keep the good times rolling next week. 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.

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Did Theo really trade LaMathieu like 10 days into his job?