Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 2/28/23

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to the second edition of my chat in my new (old?) timeslot. I’ve got a piece up today about Gavin Lux’s season-ending knee injury (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/gavin-luxs-knee-injury-further-compromises…), and yesterday checked in on Joey Votto as he work his way back from shoulder surgery (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/joey-votto-tries-to-bounce-back/).

Broken Bat: Looks to me the Dodgers must procure a shortstop to support the aging Rojas who all of a sudden the light is shining on. I don’t think they one ready in MILB. So… what team do they toss one of their pitching prospects to get one from? Would they dare pay Baez? I think Tigers would be content to get out of that contract for a decent tier 3 SP. What about trading with Reds? The ex Pirate Frazier? Might be available cheap. Thoughts on what they do?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think the Dodgers see anything as “must” at least in the near term. They have reason to hope that after undergoing wrist surgery, Miguel Rojas can provide something closer to a league-average bat with plus defense filling in for Lux, and that they have enough depth to allow Chris Taylor to play there as well. There’s no way on God’s green earth they’re taking on Javier Baez’s contract or giving up a starting pitcher prospect for him, and I doubt they see Isiah Kiner-Falefa as an option, either. Not sue who you see on the Reds as an option, but ex-Pirate Adam Frazier (now an Oriole) isn’t a shortstop, totaling just 26 innings at the position in the majors.

One guy worth keeping an eye on is the Cardinals’ Paul DeJong,  who after being displaced by Tommy Edman worked to rebuild his swing after being sent down last year, though the dividends certainly weren’t apparent at the major league level. If he’s recovered his form, he could be of interest.

Oaktown Blues: Is a Cristian Pache DFA in the cards this spring or will the A’s give him one more shot?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he’s out of options but as the A’s are playing for crickets, I imagine they’ll give him every chance to hold onto a roster spot unless they have a crunch that they need to alleviate.

Still not sure I can name six A’s even after looking at their depth chart.

TheVoiceInYourHead: Why are people so stubborn about Rojas taking over for Lux?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The Dodgers obviously see enough in Rojas’ glove and bounceback potential that they extended him into a two-years-plus-option deal for $11 million. This being the Dodgers, some people think that’s still petty cash to them, but not the way they’re currently running their roster (though as Alex Eisert pointed out at the time of the trade, it did push them back over the first tax threshold https://blogs.fangraphs.com/dodgers-seemingly-scrap-spending-plans-acq…)

History: Do you think baseball’s emphasis on its history holds the sport back? The NFL and NBA have seemed willing to openly make major changes (adding a 17th game and the three point line) without worrying about its impact on records, while MLB gets bogged down in debates over smaller rule changes.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The debates may be incessant, but come on. The past three decades have seen realignment, interleague play, the introduction of the Wild Card, the expansion of the postseason from four teams to 12, the arrival of the DH in the NL, the pitch clock, the extra-innings rule, instant replay to review umpire calls and more. Those are all major changes, and while they’re not universally beloved, they’ve changed the sport significantly

Joe: Were you surprised by the Machado deal, especially given your article?\

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, a bit. As Dan Szymborski put it in his piece (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/opting-out-may-not-be-manny-machados-best-…), “I think Jay and I both underestimated just how motivated the Padres were to ensure Machado stayed in mustard-and-brown for a long time.”

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do think this probably makes retaining Juan Soto even more difficult than before, but that’s a problem for another day.

Matt: With Harper’s injury keeping him out until the ASG, what do you think his trajectory needs to look like for him to have >50% chance of making the hall?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s a lot of math to try to assess in the context of a chat answer but over the winter Dan added JAWS to his ZiPS forecast and in the edition he gave me, Harper finishes with a 48.8 JAWS, which would place him 25th between Gary Sheffield and Enos Slaughter — a possible HOFer and a Vet Committee one. Considering that figure represents a distribution I’d say he’s maybe got a 40% chance now but has to  make a strong rebound with a few more star-level years to get back above 50. It’s doable.

Westburg fan: I know it’s not really your department but where is Eric’s “Best of the Post-Hype Prospects” article? Was originally slated to be released yesterday

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m told through the editorial grapevine that “there weren’t really enough dudes” to fill out a piece at this time.

Broken Bat: Thanks for response I had wrong name Newman is the ex Buc name.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hello, Newman… Kevin Newman is now penciled in as the Reds’ SS and no, I don’t see this making the Dodgers perk up, as he’s netted 2.0 WAR with a 77 wRC+ in 1,663 PA. Not happening.

Rich Allen and the Ebonistics: Votto’s fine and all but
Dick Allen >>Joey Votto

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They should both wind up in the Hall of Fame; it’s not either/or.

John: Did you see Max Scherzer calling his own pitches on pitchcom? Do you think we will see most veteran pitchers doing this by the end of the season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I only read about it, didn’t see. I’m not sure all that many veterans will have the latitude to call their own games via PitchCom; Scherzer, given his stature, has. Maybe it plants the seed for more pitchers to do it, though.

scrapper: Can we please keep the whining to a minimum about violations by hitters and pitchers of the pitch clock?  The players will quickly adjust and fans and players will both enjoy the snappier pace of play.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I though The Athletic’s Marc Carig nailed it:

It is good that these rules mistakes are happening now in the fake baseball games and not the real baseball games. Adjusting to the rules is a great use of fake baseball.
26 Feb 2023
scrapper: Player under 25 who you are most confident will some day be inducted into the Hall of Fame?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Juan Soto, 23.2 bWAR through his age-23 season and heading into age 24. Next closest who’s heading into age 24 is Vladito but just 13.2 bWAR. Next closest who just finished age 24 is Acuña but just 17.6 bWAR; I don’t have nearly as much confidence in either at this point, which isn’t to say the potential’s not there.

Birds: John Angelos, after leaving payroll flat this winter, declining to renew the Orioles lease, saying that new investors didn’t have to be connected to Baltimore, that the Orioles over-performed last year, weren’t there yet for a payroll over $100M, and that it was lucky the O’s had gutted their team when the pandemic hit, went on to say in regard to payroll, “I would be disappointed if we’re not the next Tampa”.  

As an O’s fan, on a scale of 1 to swift-kick-to-the-junk-if-I-ever-see-him, how should I feel about this abominable man?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think you should hope that the Angelos family’s ownership of the Orioles is very near its end, but that’s not to say that it is. Ugh. He’s among the worst in the game right now.

JWR: Which Hall of Fame selection in the last 10 years was the least defensible?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The Harold Baines was the least defensible choice of the last 40 years, at least. I’d posit that Rick Ferrell’s Veterans Committee selection in 1984 is the most recent rival.

Wireless Joe Jackson: It isn’t so much about Rojas taking over for Lux, but who takes over for Rojas?  Chris Taylor, who you can put there but is more of an emergency option, and then ?????.  They really need a competent backup.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yonny Hernandez is the next man up in the utility sweepstakes; Eric Longenhagen saw some hope for him last year, writing, “A gritty, gamer-type prospect, Hernandez’s ability to get on top of fastballs and his infield versatility make him a 1 WAR utility infield sort.” He had more here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/arizona-makes-savvy-opportunistic-trade-fo…

As for who else could take over for Rojas, I think the answer is blowin’ in the wind… it will be somebody from a waiver wire or small-time late-spring trade.

Duel: Will 2023 have more 40+HR seasons or 40+SB seasons amongst players?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d say homers, even given the new rules. Last year there were four 40-HR guys, one 40-SB guy, and over the past four full seasons, the margin is 22-9. I just don’t think teams are as geared to run as they were 20 years ago. I’d welcome more steals if they do come about via these rules.

GBS42: Jay, do you think the degree by which elite players from a century ago dominated the competition skews our perception of what a Hall of Famer is, whether by JAWS, traditional stats, or simply, “He feels like a Hall of Famer” standards?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: To some degree, yes. The problem is that the quality of competition was lower, and so the WARs of the best players were higher. At a time before television (and at the dawn of radio), those players nonetheless captivated the public imagination, and their legends have been burnished by a century of repetiion.

Tacoby Bellsbury: Is Joey Votto’s markup of C. Trent Rosecrans’ oral history of Joey Votto enough to push Votto over the Hall of Fame threshold?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ha, I loved that one. https://theathletic.com/4191913/2023/02/27/joey-votto-reds-oral-histor…

I have said this before but I do think that Votto’s public persona will greatly benefit his case. He’s already a stathead darling who’s 12th in JAWS despite low-for-a-1B totals of hits (2,093) and homers (342), but what he’s been able to do beyond that by displaying his offbeat sense of humor and deep curiosity is humanize himself, giving him a more broad-based appeal.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think there will be many voters who conclude he wasn’t good enough for the game of baseball to warrant election.

Guest: Are you a coffee, tea or water guy?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Coffee, 2 large cups a day in the morning. When I had COVID a few weeks ago it was the first time i made myself tea in maybe a decade.

I do drink a ton of water, mainly seltzer with a splash of grapefruit juice. This helped me cut soda almost entirely out of my diet.

Birds: Yankees have a crowded infield even before Volpe arrives.  The OF/DH situation is a collection of china dolls and Judge (not exactly a paragon of health either).  Who in the infield could manage LF or something?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’ve already seen Oswaldo Cabrera (not to be confused with Oswald Peraza) take up the outfield after spending virtually all of his minor league career at second, short, or third. I would expect him to see more time in the pasture than on the dirt, and that’s the way our Depth Charts folks see it as well.

Dalton Wilcox: How comparable is Machado to Adrian Beltre?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think Manny is a future Hall of Famer but Beltré is fourth all-time in JAWS at third base, and Dan’s long-term ZiPS forecast has Machado landing closer to ninth or 10th. Manny has the better bat by wRC+ or OPS+ but a long way to go to reach the 3,000/400 milestones that Beltré reached. Beltré has the better glove — the best this side of  Brooks Robinson in fielding runs — while Manny is already descending towards average. A very flashy and entertaining descent at this juncture, but a descent nonetheless.

Mets Fan: Do you think there is any chance the mets trade carrasco at this point? I know you need depth, but David Peterson is probably better than carrasco now and should be in the rotation

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I would think that your time as a Mets fan has made it abundantly clear that you can’t have too much starting pitching, and I wouldn’t expect Carrasco to be traded *at this point* (i.e., this spring). As the nominal 6th starter, Peterson will certainly get his chances in the rotation this year if he’s healthy, and if he’s outpitching Carrasco (or anyone else), the Mets will adjust accordingly.

olethros: I’m surprised you didn’t mention Morris as a subpar HoF honoree.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I was too locked into my thinking in terms of position players, but yes, that one rivals it. Morris is now <whistles> 164th in S-JAWS.

A Jolly Good Oberkfellow: Did you see/hear that the Mets held closed to the press drills this week? What do you think Showalter has up his sleeve to mess with the new pitch clock rules?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: herds of wild dogs unleashed onto the field; a Marlinator-like contraption popping up out of the apple in center; Justin Verlander doing a Roger-Clemens-as-Chicken impersonation.

Joe: The worst part about John Angelos is that no one even brings him up when talking about bad owners. Not only is he terrible, he’s irrelevant!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Man, that’s gotta sting, but he’s working on becoming as obnoxious and tone deaf as Phil Castellini, so I wouldn’t lose hope entirely.

Best path for Altuve: assuming health, what would be Altuve’s best path to the HOF? Remaining a declining MIF who hits or shifting this year to DH and taking a bigger WAR hit but  racking up counting numbers?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s probably in making a run at 3,000 hits. FWIW Dan’s long-term ZiPS spreadsheet had him finishing at 2,715 hits and 49.1 JAWS, which is a little light but above Pedrioa/Kinsler/Kent and probably gets it done.

Drew: I know a trade between the Padres and Dodgers would never happen at this level, but Kim for Bobby Miller would be a lot of fun to see.  Both teams get what they need right now.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m sure it has to gnaw at the Dodgers that the team they’re now chasing has about 17 guys who are better shortstop options than Rojas. Including Machado.

Birds: Scherzer was 24 his first full season and 28 the first time he was an All-Star.  What guy who’s currently in his mid-20s that’s not a star is going to end up a HOF slam dunk?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s tough to think about this in terms of starters given the prospect of that path looking so dire due to reduced workloads. Sticking with position players, Kyle Tucker has banked ~11 WAR over the past two seasons at ages 24-25 and even though he made his first All-Star team and won his first Gold Glove I think he’s still a bit under the radar.

JudgeAWS: Judge needs two more 5bWAR seasons to be top ten all time in RF WAR7. That 2022 season did a lot of work.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Those big yers certainly help a WAR7. Mookie Betts banking a 10.7 and a 9.5 has helped him to a WAR7 of 50.5, which is already eighth among right fielders… and he’s played just nine seasons, with one the pandemic short season and another his 52-game rookie campaign.

Blue Jay Jaffe: At the park with a friend and we are seeing some butterflies, wasps, and other pollinators. Here’s to hoping for awesome weather and the start of some baseball Jay!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Amen

John: Is the Catcher Pitchcom receiver an earpiece? What’s the workaround for the hitter not hearing

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s not an earpiece, it uses bone-conducting technology that’s inaudible to anyone not wearing it. I wrote about it here last year https://blogs.fangraphs.com/mlb-signs-on-to-in-game-usage-of-wearable-…

Guest: Speaking of Mookie, what’s he gotta do to pretty much solidify a Hall of Fame career? A few more seasons of 30 homers and 5/6 WAR?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Mookie’s already 15th in JAWS, just 3.2 points below the standard. I think his biggest issue is getting to 2,000 hits (he has 1,306) and not making that contract look too ridiculous as it winds down (he’s signed through 2032)

HOF “feel”: How much stock in your voting do you give the idea of someone “feeling” like a HOF for an extended period of his career. The anti-Rolen crowd uses this argument against him because we’ve largely changed the way we evaluate talent, but it has an interesting idea in affirming hof’ers with less than stellar JAWS scores

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think my lack of support for guys who had a few great years at the pinnacle and then either padded their stats in rather value-free fashion like Dave Parker or else faded away too early like Don Mattingly or Dale Murphy gives you a sense of where I fall on this one.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, I have to pack it in now. Somehow I botched the end of the chat by not sending this response through before signing off. Thanks so much for stopping by this week! We’ll do it again next Tuesday.

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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26 days ago

What the heck happened to the question-posting box?? Disappeared on me. (and I had a good one, too!)

26 days ago
Reply to  Jay Jaffe

That’s OK. I was lying about the “good one” part anyway.