Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 3/19/21

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks! I’m back after a very abbreviated chat full of technical difficulties last week.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve been kind of scarce on FanGraphs this week because I was working on the first of my two Positional Power Rankings assignments, the catchers, but I did just publish something about Jacob deGrom’s Hall of Fame chances, inspired by numerous questions along those lines in this space. Enjoy! https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jacob-degrom-might-be-blazing-his-way-to-c…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Also, I am pleased to announce that I’m freshly vaccinated as of yesterday! As is my wife as of today! Yaaaay! Here’s hoping that if you haven’t gotten your first shot, it’s coming soon

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And now, on with the show

mmddyyyy: So how much do you weight a pitcher’s offense in their candidacy?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t pay a ton of mind to it except that pitchers’ batting WAR is included in JAWS, because pitchers who can hit (and run the bases) well do have more value than ones who don’t. Zack Greinke, who has 5.1 bWAR for example, gets a nice little bump in his JAWS thanks to his offense.

Joe Fields: What 10 active players would be on your Hall of Fame ballot as of 3/19/21?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hmm, let’s see: Pujols, Trout, Cabrera, Kershaw, Verlander, Greinke, Scherzer, Posey and Votto are all fully qualified, which is to say that they have the requisite 10 years of major league play. Mookie Betts does not (he’s at 7 going on 8) but already exceeds the right field peak standard (42.4, he has 45.4) so I’d save my 10th spot for him.

Carmen Chameleon: Jay, Ben Clemens had a section in his last article saying that the indians will finish behind the royals. This hurt my feelings. Please ask Meg to Fire Ben and send the money that you save to Paul Dolan so that he can stop selling all of our talent 🙁

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ha! I’m not about to fire Ben, and it’s not too hard to imagine scenarios where the Royals — who had a very good winter winter — overtake the Should-be-Spiders, who did not. Cleveland has been half-assing its outfield construction forever, it seems, and their luck when it comes to developing pitchers may not be infinite.

Dodger Fan: Loved your deGrom piece this morning! What hall odds would you give to Kenley Jansen?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks for the kind words on the deGrom piece. I’m not wildly optimistic on Jansen’s Hall chances. While I’m hopeful he can rebound after a few meh seasons, I fear that at best he may be able to eke a couple more good ones out before slipping again

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Saves aren’t everything but i suspect a 21st century reliever candidate has to get to 400 at least (he’s at 312), and let’s face it, “remained in the bullpen while somebody else closed out the World Series” is always going to be a mild ding on his candidacy.

Re: Nats: Is there a 13-pitcher limit on rosters this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: No. That particular roster rule, which was put into place for the 2020 season prior to the pandemic, has been waived under the health and safety protocols.

Concrete fan: How do you think the AL West division race is going to develop this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think there’s a ton of variance regarding the Astros based on their rotation and whether Altuve and Correa can stay healthy, so the A’s and even the Angels have openings if they can fare better in that department. Houston’s belated addition of Jake Odorizzi helps but they should have been the team to sign Jackie Bradley Jr., because I think it’s a stretch for Myles Straw to be the regular center fielder.

mmddyyyy: Just about every expansion location is on a coast. How would that impact the current divisional alignments?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I suspect that when we get to 32 teams we’ll see realignment, either 4 x 8 teams or 8 x 4 teams (ugh), with Rob Manfred no doubt pushing for some kind of radical realignment that would do away with the AL/NL distinction as we know it, make all of your food taste like sand, and end life on earth within 20 years.

Nate: Have injuries killed Giancarlo Stanton’s hall chances?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: His chances haven’t been killed — the guy still has a shot at 500 or even 600 homers, and he’s already banked 41.0 bWAR — but significantly wounded. The bat speed is still there, as evidence by last October”s flurry of homers and those eye-opening exit velos, but he needs to be able to say on the field

Scott: Thoughts on Aroldis Chapman’s HOF chances?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: With the declines of Jansen and Craig Kimbrel, Chapman is the only reliever active who I think has done enough to plausibly have a … chance. I can’t say I’m enthusiastic about the prospect of it or have much emotional investment either way

Belli’s revenge: Notice no Yadi in your 10. Is he close for you?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: When I look at him in the light of pitch framing-inclusive WAR, I think he’s getting close enough that he’s likely to get elected, but I’m not entirely sold because I strongly suspect that the two other catchers with similar metrics, Martin and McCann, are going to be roundly ignored by voters even though their cases are comparable save for the soft factors. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/youll-never-guess-where-yadier-molina-sign…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t anticipate including him on my actual ballot but I no longer see Molina as a Morris/Vizquel-type polarizing candiate.

George: Obviously postseason stats are clearly SSS, but do the poor performances of Nick Anderson and Brandon Lowe for TB last year concern you for what 2021 holds for them?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: no, and especially no after the weird year that was 2020

Belli’s revenge: If Adam Wainwright somehow manages 3 more seasons like the last 2, ends up with over 200 wins as a lifelong Card – that put him in the Hall convo?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: No, I don’t see it. A fine career and he’ll never have to pay for a drink or a dinner in St. Louis but he’s a guy with 41.0 career bWAR including offense and I don’t see him delivering the 20 more he’d need to make things interesting.

Tacoby Bellsbury: Using some examples along the spectrum — Franco, Tatis, Soto, Acuna, Lindor, Trout, Cabrera — at what point do you as a spectator transition from, “wow, this kid is fun” to “wow, this kid is good” to “wow, this kid might make the Hall someday”?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’ve got such an embarrassment of riches right now when it comes to young talent. For the most part I don’t really think about Hall stuff until a player has fleshed out his 7-year peak or at least come close, but the Tatis extension set off a wave of looking at through-age-21 stuff that really highlights just how extraordinary these guys are.

Charley: How do u think Gavin Lux has looked so far in ST? Was he over hyped as a top5 prospect last year? Or do u think he does have the tools and potential to take that leap into all stars?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t seen him in ST this year but the reports have been good and he’s on track to be the Dodgers’ regular 2B. While he never did confirm that a COVID-19 diagnosis was the reason he showed up late to summer camp last year, his struggles makes a whole lot more sense when seen through that lens. He may have been a bit overhyped, and there’s some concern about the accuracy of his throws but the industry belief is that he’s still a star in the making, and that the bat will play even if he’s a left fielder.

Doug: Is Dave Winfield still a Hall of Famer if he retired after 1991 at 40?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think so. He’d have come in with 406 homers, 2,697 hits and 12 All-Star appearances. Maybe not first-ballot material without the milestones  — and JAWS really dings him because of defense — but easy HOFer given his stature within the game

clh: Does Kirilloff stick with the Twins or is he sent down to AAA?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My hunch is that because he’s struggling in spring training Kirilloff starts the year at the alternate site while the Twins cobble together an alternative for the first few weeks or month.

Mad Joe-Don: Are there any current 30ish players who you think might have in them a Randy-Johnson- or Adrian-Beltre-type kick to the back half of their career that might get them into the Hall?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Freddie Freeman comes to mind. I took a look at  his Hall prospects last October https://blogs.fangraphs.com/freddie-freeman-fastballs-and-the-hall-of-…. Stanton, if he stays healthy.

Pumpsie Green: True or false: the Red Sox will have zero guaranteed contracts in 18 months once Sale and Bogaerts opt out, and ownership will be content to subsist on stylized-B hat sales alone.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: False, mainly because I’m highly skeptical Sale will opt out after 2022 at this juncture unless he’s flat-out dominating, which is rare for post TJ guys, but also because I don’t think this current curb on spending will last if the Sox don’t at least make the playoffs in 2021.

clh: Hi Jay,  Dylan Cease – does he take the next step to being a #1 or #2 starter or is he just a tantalyzing #4 or #5 guy with command issues?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not a prospect guy and Cease isn’t a prospect but i think we’re a long ways from the day when he looked like a 1/2 in the making. I think mid-rotation guy if he irons out his command issues. Dan sees him as a breakout candidate but I don’t believe he’s talking ace-hood https://blogs.fangraphs.com/szymborskis-2021-breakout-candidates-pitch…

WinTwins0410: Jay, on the small-committee HoF ballot in December (assuming they go forward with one), Jim Kaat will be on the ballot.  I know you’d prefer several guys from his era ahead of Kaat (Minoso and Dick Allen), but if Kaat does get in (along with, say, Allen), would you be upset?  I mean like Harold Baines-level upset?  (I’m asking this totally seriously.). And would Kaat’s induction provoke an outrage among the advanced stats community?  Beyond that, would Kaat’s induction make it easier or harder for Tommy John to get in via a future small committee, do you think?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: At least before he went all grumpy-old-man when it came to the modern game I liked Kaat more as an announcer than as a candidate. I’d be frustrated by his election ahead of Allen or Minoso but happy for the guy, just as I was for Baines — just not willing to tell anybody that the Committee got it right.

A Boy Named Yu: Which seasonal milestone happens next: 74 homers, .400 AVG, or 100 SB?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: 74 HR, Juan Soto, 2023. I’m calling my shot.

Mike Ortman: You didn’t include Machado, Arenado, or Altuve in your top ten above.  Where would they sit?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They’ve all got serious work still to do. Machado is heading into his 10th year and as I see it has 4 HOF-caliber seasons under his belt (5.0 WAR or more); he has a 36.1 peak score where 43.1 is the standard. Arenado is heading into his ninth year and has five such seasons and a 37.5 WAR7. but he’s also about a year older than Manny and coming off injury questions and a stat-altering career move.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Altuve has 3 such seasons, four if you count his 4.8-WAR 2018 but he’s also had more injuries than either of the other two, has below-average defensive metrics, and the stigma of being involved in the Astros’ scandal, which may or may not matter in 15 years when he’s eligible but certainly colors the perceptions of him right now

Scott: Please rank these teams in the order of who is more likely to surprise and win their division:  Reds, Phillies, Royals  thanks!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Phillies.I have a tendency to overrate them and to like Joe Girardi more than most, but I think most of the pieces are there. Tough division to win, though.

gabriel: any thoughts on how we’ll look back on the catcher framing era for HoF purposes? it’s looking like there will only be around 15 years (2008-2023) of knowing how to quantify framing before the electronic strike zone inevitably makes the skill irrelevant

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think the electronic strike zone is that inevitable yet but I don’t see how we can avoid granting the players who were good at framing their due given that we’ve got multiple versions of the metrics that tell us there’s huge value to be gained there.

A Boy Named Yu: Favorite baseball video game if you have one?  The Show is hard to beat but I had a PC game called Earl Weaver Baseball back in the day that I spent entirely too much of my preteens and teenage years playing.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I played a bit of Earl Weaver but it was Strategic Simulations’ Computer Baseball that was really my baseball laboratory. Wrote about it for a blogathon at Michael Clair’s Old Time Family Baseball several years ago https://oldtimefamilybaseball.com/post/73880788748/the-basement-tapes-…

Jack C: Jay – would you like to play 2020 Strat-O-Matic sometime in Brooklyn? Stats simulated to the 162 game season. You can be the Yankees.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I appreciate the offer! Would love to try sometime (I barely played any Strat) when it’s safe.

Pat: How is the one player from your childhood who “seemed” like a HOF’er to you at the time, but, in retrospect wasn’t close? Mine is Steve Garvey. Excelled in the baseball card categories, was a huge name, constant post-season presence with some big post-season moments, had a fair amount of hardware. (Also, my mom thought he was handsome)..but, when you look at it, he never walked, mid range power that eroded in his early 30’s & his fielding was way overrated (couldn’t throw at all)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Assuming you mean “who” not “how” I think it’s Garvey for me, too. Wrote a bit about my personal attachment to him as part of his HOF case a couple years ago https://blogs.fangraphs.com/steve-garvey-is-modern-baseball-ballots-ba…

Dave: Let’s say Bryce Harper puts up a few more statistically impressive seasons before age takes its toll, but never replicates his 2015 numbers or makes it to a World Series. Hall of Fame?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he’s got a good chance because of his early start and potential to really rack up the counting stats even if he never approaches MVP level agian

mmddyyyy: Do you keep score when you watch a game?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: When I go to a ballpark I almost always keep score unless I’ve got the kid (now 4 1/2, obv. hasn’t been in over a year) with me. Only a fool would try to pull that off.

Jason: Trevor Rosenthal’s projection’s are super doubtful that he can throw strikes. Do you share that skepticism? Wasn’t it a health issue in ’19 and now that he’s healthy he should be back to competent control?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not tremendously worried. I see last year as more in line with what he was able to do the last time he was healthy in 2017

Concrete fan: Is Greinke real about his 10 HR + SB goal? And do you expect him to push his next team to use him as a pinch runner or hitter? (Assuming universal DH in 2022)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Greinke is as real as it gets when it comes to that stuff, and he only needs 1 more of each. I can see a team using him in a PH/PR capacity in an emergency situation but not much more than that, even if he’s lobbying.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Speaking of Greinke, I highly recommend this https://theathletic.com/2414947/2021/03/12/zack-greinke-catchers-oral-… and need to go back and catch up with the previous entries of the series. As I wrote in a tweet last week, the stories about him amplify his status as a legend and will help a Hall of Fame case that may not jump out as immediately obvious (though I think his milestones will be solid by the time he retires).

Avatar Jay Jaffe: 10/10 baby!

Concrete fan: (Long shot) Does Matt Chapman have a shot at the HOF?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He banked two incredible seasons but he’s also got only 4 seasons played and is already heading into his age-28, so I’m highly skeptical

Joe W: Hey Jay, I’ve seen Kimbrel crack the top 10 in multiple closer rankings. Seems insane to me. Hasn’t this guy been terrible for 2 years now? Do you think he finishes the season as the Cubs closer?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he’s at best a middle-of-the-pack closer these days. Maybe he can put it all together again after a couple wilderness years, but if he can’t, it’s not hard to imagine him being bad enough to again lose the closer job.

Sonni Cox: What is your viewpoint on Jimmy Rollins’ HOF chances? Do you believe that the Bonds/Clemens/A-Rod/David Ortiz presence on the ballot will hurt Rollins’ chances of getting at least 5% next year? And, what do you think Rollins’ chances of eventually getting in are?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: “[I]t’s difficult to see Rollins gaining traction; he made only three All-Star appearances and ranks just 30th among shortstops in JAWS, ahead of only two Hall of Famers, Phil Rizzuto and Rabbit Maranville (not to mention Vizquel).

Avatar Jay Jaffe: and no, the circus around the other guys you mention won’t help him, in part because they will help to fill the ballot up without getting anywhere. Maybe he scrapes through like Torii Hunter did but I doubt he gets much further

Gashouse Gorilla: Interested in your response regarding Kimbrel and Jansen.  Recognizing WAR is difficult metric to evaluate relievers, do you see an emerging standard of what would be considered HOF-worthy excellence, and what about multi-innings pitchers in light of new usage

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I use the average of bWAR, WPA, and WPA/LI for my HOF reliever deliberations these days. Kimbrel barely grazes the leaderboard:

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s kind of hard to flesh out a standard for that but I’m open-minded enough to believe Wagner belongs in, and if so, then Joe Nathan’s got a case

Avatar Jay Jaffe: but I’m much less sold on Gordon

linh: realistic outlook for ian anderson this year and next?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I imagine he’ll land in the 120-150 range in innings this year, with the Braves working to keep him available for October. I don’t think he’s going to go 1.95 ERA/2.54 FIP but low 3.00s seems like a good best-case scenario.

Puster Bosey: I was meandering through pages when I happened upon something a little strange– Ryan Doumit appears to be have been nearly impossibly bad at defending, putting up -60 (!!) runs defensively in 2008, en route to -3.4 fWAR despite a 123 wRC+. Is there a bug here or was Doumit really THAT bad?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m afraid he was really that bad.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s kind of sad, really

Dan: Will we indefinitely have an underrepresentation of pitchers born after Roger Clemens but before Justin Verlander? Did we really have less HOF worthy pitchers for a generation or will we reexamine the transition of pitcher usage and find a dozen more people worthy at some point in the future?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, I think we’ve got at least 5 SP in the pipeline in Kershaw, Verlander, Greinke, Scherzer and Sabathia, but as to what comes after that, it’s an open question; maybe deGrom and Sale stay healthy long enough, maybe standards shift enough that Felix makes the cut. The problem is that the drop-off from those guys to the next tier is kind of steep. I tried very hard to stay open-minded about Pettitte, Buehrle, and Hudson — to mention a few current candidates — but I can’t really see them as HOFers, though when I wonder who active will have their not-quite-HOF careers, I’m not even sure who’s that good.

tina: what do you make of the rays offense? What is Randy’s realistic upside — will he cross 5 WAR or even drive in more than 90 runs?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m a bit concerned, though perhaps more concerned about their rotation. Maybe Arozarena is a 5-win guy but right now he’d stick out like a sore thumb in that lineup until Franco arrives, though maybe B. Lowe is as good as he looked last year.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, I have to wrap it up. A programming note: I’ll be on vacation next Friday and probably involved in an Opening Day chat the week after that, so it might not be for a couple more weeks that we’re in this space.

Just got word that my brother and his wife got vaxed, too! Happy Friday to you all and here’s to turning the corner on this miserable saga (the pandemic, not my chat).

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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The Should-be-Spiders? You mean the team that is actually called the Indians right now.