Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 2/3/20

12:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, good afternoon and welcome to today’s chat, which — as the first day after the Super Bowl — marks the dawn of baseball season, as far as I’m concerned. Pitchers and catchers is so close I can see it.

12:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m working on the laptop today, as my desktop computer — the Mac Mini I bought in December 2018 — melted down like 5 minutes after I set off my Dusty Baker piece last Thursday. Hence, this may not be a full-length chat as I can only take so much one-window-at-a-time nonsense with this setup. Anyway, please bear with me.

12:03
Chris: So mookie to the dodgers and prospects to the redsox? Is Jerry dipoto gonna take on salary and get involved in this?

12:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: From what I’ve heard, Price may be in the deal as well. If this does go down, we’ll have lots of stuff here, including me on the main trade writeup

12:06
Guest: How concerned are you about Sale’s arm injuries going forward?

12:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: people have been predicting gloom and doom with Sale since before he even reached the majors, but until the past 2 years, he’d always been remarkably healhty. Now, he’s made just 52 starts over the past two seasons and saw a fall-off in performance and velo — down 2 mph from 2018, via Pitch Info — so yeah, I’d say it’s time to be at least somewhat concerned.

12:10
Cam: With Jeter Downs possibly being traded to the Red Sox for Betts, do you see him as their future 2nd baseman?

12:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That seems possible — Kiley and Eric said last May that he has a non-zero chance of sticking at shortstop, but I think the general feeling is that he’s better suited to second.

12:13
Dave: Who is your favorite person named Jay that isn’t you?

12:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: hmmm. from a baseball standpoint it’s probably Jay Buhner

12:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: From a broader cultural standpoint…. I’d have to think a bit longer.

12:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Years and years ago at Futility Infielder, I did a history on all the ballplayers named Jay up to that point. Most of them were pretty mediocre but Buhner really stood out

12:17
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Do you have a recommended scorebook? Bob Carpenter’s scorebook lets you write in the defense over a diamond, which I love, but is cramped and lacks diamonds within each cell. The Eephus Halfliner seems to be the hot thing but the defensive alignment is so helpful when I don’t know players…

12:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I used the Carpenter scorebooks for a long while, but I’ve had a compact BBWAA one that I got as a gift a long time ago, soon after I got into the org

12:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: wait, it wasn’t the Carpenter ones it was the C.S Peterson ones that I used for a long time. sorry

12:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A friend gave me a couple of those Eephus League ones which really appeal to the design nerd in me. I handed one to a friend for his 8 year old son and he reaally took to it

12:20
John: Do you think Arenado gets traded before the season?  And if so, who do you think is the favorite?

12:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not unless the contract is restructured to get rid of the opt-out because that’s basically a built-in dealbreaker

12:21
Colby: Are the Dbacks legit contenders? Opinion on Luke Weaver?

12:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d call them Wild Card contenders. i don’t see them (or anybody else in the NL West) overtaking the Dodgers but I think they’re capable of something along the lines of last year. Weaver, if he’s healthy, looks like a good midrotation guy

12:24
Adam: All the trade chatter about Price surrounds his underwater contract, but purely on performance what do you expect from him next year?  Is he basically a #4/5 guy on the Dodgers?

12:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he’d be greatly helped by any change of scenery, and a move from the AL East to the NL West is probably optimal in terms of pitching environments. If he’s healthy I don’t see why he can’t be a mid-rotation guy, but the health has to be a question mark now

12:26
Tony Z: Who has the best 2020: Brendan McKay, Jesus Luzardo or Nate Pearson?

12:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d go with Luzardo, especially because I doubt the Blue Jays are in a hurry to push Pearson

12:27
Outta my way, Gyorkass: Verlander’s HOF chances – do they take a major hit with the Astros’ sign stealing scandal, or does the fact that he was traded into the org (as opposed to willingly signing with them) spare him from major judgment?

12:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t really see where you can hang sign-stealing culpability on a pitcher to any degree that you could a hitter. Did he know about it? Most likely. Did he benefit from it? Almost certainly. Is he a hypocrite given how outspoken he’s been about other teams’ and players’ infractions? Yes indeed. But it had no impact on his own performance, so I fail to see how one can dock him for it.

12:30
Lyle: Re: Position for Jeter Downs: just how bad is Downs’ defense at shortstop?  In Boston, he’d be vying with Bogaets for playing time there, and Bogaerts was terrible by DRS and Infield Outs Above Average last year.

12:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I highly suggest asking a prospect guy instead of me. I’m only going on what those guys write. Yes, Bogaerts’ metrics have been bad by some measures, but I can’t think of a scenario where an All-Star is pushed off a position by a prospect whose own ability to stick at that position is a question mark

12:33
Pat’s Bat: Would you ever withhold your 10th vote from a sure thing HoF candidate like Jeter or Rivera to try and keep a lesser candidate like Abreu on the ballot?

12:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: If unanimity were in question? No. There’s almost certainly a better play than that, a guy who won’t make it this year and who wouldn’t miss my vote.

Also, I’m happy to see Abreu survive to a second ballot but even having pored over his numbers, i remain far from convinced he’s HOF-worthy. I left him off my virtual ballot

12:36
MTL: Besides Betts, do you expect any other high profile trades in the next couple of weeks?

12:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d think that there’s a good chance Kris Bryant is traded, because the Cubs are committed to being foolishly tight-fisted this winter. No on Nolan Arenado, for reasons noted above

12:37
Guille: Mike Ford has to at least get a long look at playing time vs RH in spring training, right? he mashed last season, and NYY is short on LH bats

12:39
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I would think so, though I believe that the hope is that a healthy Voit reclaims the job. Plus Andujar may be in the mix for reps there too. Ford’s really going to have to stand out to stick

12:40
WinTwins410: Jay, good afternoon and thanks for doing these chats.  I know Hall of Fame season is over for now, but will you indulge me this topic?  Are there any traditional counting statistics minimums that make a guy an automatic HoFer in your mind, regardless of more advanced statistics?  When I was growing up (late 1970s/early 1980s), I always had felt that 3,000 hits and/or 500 HRs or 300 wins was automatic or close to it — and yes, I know that it took numerous tries for Harmon Killebrew (573 HRs), Gaylord Perry (314 wins) and Don Sutton (324 wins) to get in.  Today, obviously, due to PEDs and gambling, stars in each of those buckets are on the outside looking in.  In your mind, is there a statistical threshold in any of those three counting categories that makes someone an automatic HOFer?  3,400 hits? (Jeter is above it)  600 (or 700) HRs?  350 wins?  Or going in the other direction, say, 250 or 275 wins?  What are your thoughts?

12:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: 3,000 hits should be automatic unless Nick Markakis or somebody of his ilk reaches that threshold. Obviously, 500 homers is no longer a guarantee of anything, and I don’t really care much about pitcher wins by themselves.

12:42
mcgiveittome: as a twins fan the sentiment seems to be that they don’t have nearly enough pitching to potentially compete in the playoffs and there isn’t anyone to acquire via trade by July 31st that would make a difference. Agree or disagree?

12:43
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d say that they need some best-case scenarios — comebacks by Pineda and Hill to go well. But I wouldn’t sweat there being nobody to acquire on July 31. There’s always somebody even if it’s not a true ace.

12:43
BK: Who gets into the Hall of Famer sooner: Andruw Jones or Ronald Acuña Jr.?

12:44
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given that we’re likely talking about a 20-25 year horizon for Acuña, I’d take the bet that Jones gets there within that window.

12:45
Sirras: Is there a storyline you’re most interested in for the coming season?

12:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The ball and home run rates is a pretty big one. Obviously want to  see how the new pitching rules (3-batter minimum) play out. Certainly interested to see if the teams connected to sign-stealing take a step backwards. Plenty of individual ones — i’ll do a post at some point

12:46
Gregg: If Verlander is indeed a hypocrite about baseball matters, doesn’t that actually affect his HOF case?  Writers penalize Schilling for his off-field character flaws totally unrelated to baseball; why not penalize a pitcher for his character flaws that *are* related to baseball?

12:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: because nothing Verlander has said rises to anything close to the degree of Schilling. He’s not suggesting violence against anybody, he’s not attacking anybody in a protected class. He’s merely being kind of an asshole in a competitive context. That’s garden variety stuff.

12:48
Sirras: Will getting a HoF/award ballot change what content you release or when you release it going forward around the awards?

12:49
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve been eligible for awards ballots since I got into the BBWAA but being in the New York chapter I have zero shot at getting one. As to the HOF stuff, while I will certainly be excited to get that first one in the mail, I will still probably execute the series as I have done in recent years and save my ballot explainer to the end.

12:49
brad: Correct, if you are going to knock verlander it would be going to Houston and using the pine tar resin mixture to go from a SP that Det was literally giving away for free, to cy young winner….

12:50
Avatar Jay Jaffe: nobody cares about pine tar

12:50
Sirras: Do you anticipate any of Yoenis Cespedes, Jed Lowrie, or Dominic Smith being traded before the regular season begins?

12:51
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I can’t believe the Mets haven’t traded Smith, quite frankly. The odds of him hitting like that in a 200 PA sample again are low, so why wait until his value drops again?

12:51
mmddyyyy: How much time passes between you writing an article and it being published?

12:53
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it depends. If I submit a piece before i go to bed it might be 12 hours, but it could be an hour or less if it’s in the morning and it’s a high-profile thing.

12:53
mmddyyyy: Supposing Ohtani ended up with 55% of an HoF career as a hitter and 55% of an HoF career as a pitcher. How would you expect the electorate to handle it?

12:54
Avatar Jay Jaffe: They’ll give him 110% of the vote!

I expect that if Ohtani has an impressive dual career, the raw numbers aren’t going to matter nearly as much as the uniqueness of the performance.

12:54
Hank: Thoughts on Curtis Granderson’s career?

12:58
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Really excellent career. Not a Hall of Famer but he almost certainly deserved more than 3 All-Star appearances. I enjoyed seeing his breakout with the Yankees, and he was fun to cover. only ballplayer I’ve ever seen with a Simpsons backpack (If I’m remembering it correctly). I think he’s going to have a great second career involved with baseball in some other way — perhaps the union.

12:58
mmddyyyy: Liquid or bar soap?

12:58
Avatar Jay Jaffe: liquid

12:59
Eric: Is prospects week not happening this week anymore?

12:59
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s next week

12:59
mmddyyyy: Any players that have surprised you by hanging around the top or bottom of the ballot for longer than you expected?

1:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Jeff Kent. Not that I’d be likely to vote for him but I’d have figured he’d be 50% by now.

1:00
Them: If you don’t think Dom Smith can replicate his hitting from last year, do you think that other teams are basing offers on the same assumption? And, if so, then are the offers maybe such that it makes as much sense so keep him to see if maybe he can put up those numbers again? Also, he’s a Pete Alonso hamstring tear away from being a big part of the team…

1:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s not that I don’t think he’s capable of a 133 wRC+ again, it’s that in 200 PA of sporadic playing time behind Alonso and god help the Mets, in the outfield, the likelihood of him replicating that performance is slim. Think about it this way, if he starts off the season hitting .170 through 30-40 PA in April instead of .370 as he did last year, the Mets are going to decide they have better uses for that roster spot.

1:04
Nathan: Which big year guy from last year do you see the most regression from

1:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given his shoulder surgery, there’s no way in hell Eugenio Suarez is hitting 49 homers again

1:08
Narvain: I don’t understand the Padres – Red Sox trade rumours for Betts.  Red Sox presumably want to get under the luxury tax, which taking on Wil Myers’s contract would not help them do.  Padres want to dump Wil Myers’s contract and allegedly get to a $145mil payroll for 2020.  Doesn’t seem like this trade would accomplish either.. Am I missing something?

1:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It looks strange to me. Craig Edwards went into detail here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/walking-through-a-potential-mookie-betts-t…

1:08
Guest: Isn’t 3,000 hits no longer an automatic qualifier with ARod coming to the ballot soon?

1:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I would assume any PED suspensions to be disqualifying in that context, sorry if that wasn’t clear.

1:10
Dog mutton: Are you at all skeptical of LeMahieu’s success last year?  And, who do you think plays first base for the Yankees most in 2020?

1:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think Voit gets most of the reps at 1B, with LeMahieu settling in at 2B. Will he hit .327 with a 136 wRC+ again? I’m skeptical, but it’s clear that he’s not just a Coors Field confection

1:11
Dave: Standard ballpark food order?

1:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: At both Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, I generally go for the pulled pork (MIghty Quinn’s and Blue Smoke, respectively). even if it means trekking halfway around the ballpark from the press box to get it. Hot dog or sweet sausage sometimes if I’m there as a fan

1:13
mmddyyyy: How much harder is playing infield defense than playing outfield defense?

1:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: You’re asking the wrong person, as I couldn’t judge a fly ball for shit.

1:14
BK: Who’s going to be the next unanimous Hall of Famer? Albert Pujols? Miguel Cabrera? Or some other rando that’s unknown to us?

1:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As I’ve said before, my money is on Ichiro

1:14
Seabass: Is this where we place the ludes?

1:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: you holdin’?

1:15
Dave: Outside of the Pirates finishing in last, do you think any team in the NL Central can finish in any spot in the standings?

1:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I appreciate the Reds’ aggressiveness this offseason but I don’t see them finishing first. That outfield projects to produce a total of 2.9 WAR in our depth charts, and while i’d take the over on that, I don’t think it will be a real asset for them.

1:17
Jordan: do you think if ARod continu in the direction hes going as a media personality that he may still reverse enough no votes for him to get into the hall?

1:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: No. He’ll do better than Manny but ain’t no way he’s getting to 75% barring a sea change in how the whole era is viewed

1:18
swansby danson: Does Torii have a shot at 5% next year? Comparing him to guys like Lofton or Edmonds he shouldn’t have a shot, but I see some similarities to Omar Vizquel’s career – longevity, defensive accolades/reputation.

1:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: While I get what you’re saying, the defensive metrics just aren’t there for Torii (+29 runs career via B-Ref) even remotely the way they are for Omar  (+129). I’m skeptical he gets enough support given how other recent CF have fared

1:21
CubbieBear: Likelihood Dustin May secures a rotation spot in LAD out of spring training.  Is Julio Urius ahead of him in development?

1:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Urias is certainly ahead of him. I’d expect May to spend time in the rotation but as he’ll almost certainly be on an innings cap I doubt he’s there in April. Plus there’s still the question about whether Price joins the rotation via trade

1:22
Greene: Re: Reds: Fangraphs’ depth charts don’t include Akiyama in the Reds’ outfield.  ZIPS has him as about a 2.0 WAR player, which might not be decisive in the race for the division title, but certainly helps.

1:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: oof yes, good point.

1:22
Pat: Granderson “break out” in NY? He was a 20-20-20 guy for Detroit in 2007!  (same year as Jimmy Rollins) Having met him, he is one of the truly nice guys in the game. Class act & one of my all time favorites, even if he only spent 5 years in Detroit.

1:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: fair point but he didn’t hit 40 homers in back-to-back seasons while making All-Star teams in Detroit. But yes, a nice guy and a class act.

1:24
Big Joe Mufferaw: Seriously, if Markakis gets 3,000 hits. Do you think he has a shot of getting in?

1:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the guy’s been league average or worse three years out of four. there’s nothing he does well enough to tolerate that long enough for him to get to 3,000

1:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, it’s time for me to get some lunch and get on with the rest of my day. Thanks for stopping by!

1:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Oh, and please be sure to vote in the SABR Analytics Award voting. I’m one of three FG/THT representatives there. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2020-sabr-analytics-awards-voting-now-open…

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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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