Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 3/7/23

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and happy World Baseball Classic 2023 start day to those of you celebrating!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yesterday, I wrote about Max Scherzer’s first two spring starts and his adventures with the new pitch clock. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/max-scherzer-tests-the-limits-of-the-new-p…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: For tomorrow I’m working on something about Chris Sale’s return

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Today: just chat, so pitter-patter let’s get at ‘er

Farhandrew Zaidman: True or false: the best Team Japan WBC pitcher not named Shohei Ohtani is Yoshi Yamamoto.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I honestly don’t know much about Yamamoto but I know there’s a large contingent who would point to Roki Sasaki, who struck out 35.3% of all hitters last year and walked just 4.7%. I’ve seen clips but looking forward to watching him pitch

Eh?: Who do you think of when I say Luis Garcia? There are 3 of them playing in MLB.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, since I was writing about two Mets-Nationals games for yesterday I’d say the Nationals infielder, who took Scherzer over the wall in his second start, but normally i default to the Astros hurler. Had to look up who the third one was (Padres reliever)

Eh?: Do people call you JJ?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Very, very few. I’ve never been particularly fond of the nickname. Had a classmate in elementary school who went by J.J.; those were his initials, the same as his seven (?) brothers and sisters. My brother calls his wife Jennifer JJ sometimes which is one more reason i avoid going by that

TheVoiceInYourHead: Long-term solution at 3b for Dodgers?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Unless it’s Miguel Vargas, who mainly played 3B in the minors but is more likely to play 2B in the majors this year, I’m not sure that person is in the organization now.

emarkaye: Is there a stadium you haven’t been to that you want to visit? If you didn’t have one already in mind, give us your top contender and oh yeah, it can be for any sport and in any country.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Of the ones I have yet to get to — maybe about half of them — PNC Park in Pittsburgh is by far the one I want to see most.

Devil Ray Jay Johnson: What are the odds that MLB does some form of radical realignment when it finally expands?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There’s certainly going to be a push for realignment when it happens, and like many a Manfred-era change, it’s probably going to suck. The intractability of the Oakland and Tampa Bay situations seems to be the only thing keeping that from happening

YorDaddy: Will there be a scorekeeping distinction made between pitch clock violation balls and strikes and by extension walks and K’s? Should there be?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There should be, and i expect there will, but it will cause some headaches to implement, especially for all of the stat services

Dan the Man McGRAWWWW: Could Bellinger still right his ship and get into the hall or has he missed too many prime years

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he’s still young enough to turn it around but I think I’d bet on oceanfront property in Idaho becoming the next big thing before I’d bet on Cody turning it around to that extent. I’m not sure his shoulder will ever be the same, and good lord, he’ll never stop tinkering

Krusty: What’s your take on the state of play of advanced defensive metrics in 2023?

It feels like things have taken a big step forward between UZR being updated with RAA last year, plus other new metrics coming out. Are we at a place where we can start to regard them as reliable and maybe not quite so fuzzy?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think we always should approach them with some caution. Ideally you want to see them lining up in the same direction (Positive or negative), using samples larger than a single season to draw conclusions, and being mindful of how each one is put together. UZR not capturing shifts, DRS not incorporating framing, things like that.

wandersuero: Could Christian Arroyo hit for an .800 ops this year as a full time second baseman

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Considering that he calls Fenway Park home, I don’t think it’s out of the question but I also don’t think he hits the ball hard enough to where that’s something more attainable than a 90th-percentile outcome.

The guy who asks the lunch question: What’s for lunch?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Beef shawarma wrap from Naya, my new favorite neighborhood lunch spot. I usually go for the chicken but it’s been a few days of good eating and so i could indulge

Trevor B: Hey Jay, do you think there’s going to be a lockout in 2026? Missed games in 2027?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Man, didn’t we just finish a lockout? Why you gotta be a buzzkill?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I suspect that now that they’ve done it once, the owners and Manfred are shameless enough to do it again, but I think there’s far too much money at stake to wipe out games

copecru81: How many PA’s does O. Cab get with Yanks this year. Steady at one position or play all over?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d say about 300 and that he’ll play all over the place. Really impressed by him last year — this is a guy who had never played outfield professionally and put up 9 DRS in 208 innings in right thanks mainly to his arm. I wouldn’t bet on that being sustainable but I think he can be a useful spot player

Andy: What’s your personal expectation regarding stolen bases and the rule changes? Will we really see a noticeable increase in stolen bases? If so, will it be more a result of the pickoff limitations or the clock?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think we’ll see an uptick in per-game rates and success %, but not as much as we’re seeing early in spring training. The pickoff limitations would certainly seem to favor runners and I think are the bigger driver than, say, the larger bases

Lou Perltzman: Jesus Jay you’re not that far from Pittsburgh. Tickets are practically free here

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a 6 hour drive and I don’t have a car (haven’t had one since moving to NYC in 1995), and as a husband and parent of a small child, I generally don’t have the flexibility to just jump on an airplane to go see baseball on a whim; it’s more likely that baseball is an add-on to another trip (like visiting Petco when I meet up with family in San Diego).

Farhandrew Zaidman: Fangraphs’ own BOARD has Yamamoto over Roki. For same, Jay. For shame.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: One’s a 55 FV at 24 years old, and the other is a 50 at 21. For as much as I respect Eric’s prospect coverage, I would hardly call one ranking like that definitive.

Guest: If you had to pick one struggling OFer to realize a fraction of his potential, would you go Jo Adell or Jarred Kelenic?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: maybe Adell because the raw tools (speed and power) are so loud. I’d love to see them both succeed, though

Pedro: AI is making inroads in science, medicine and other fields.  Could we get AI-based analysis of hitters, pitchers, defensive metrics etc soon?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m sure we will and I suspect some of it will be hot garbage.

Travis Jackson: Likelihood that Brandon Crawford stays on a Hall of Fame ballot for more than 1 year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: virtually nil. 1,337 hits (and eventually still well south of 2,000), 99 OPS+ and 30.8 career WAR aren’t numbers that will keep a guy on the ballot

Skip: Which five people are in the Jay Jaffe Mustache Hall of Fame? Assume you have voting rights as you’ve had a mustache for over 10 years (I assume).

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Only five? Man, there are probably five on the mid-70s A’s alone. Fingers, Catfish, Reggie, Tenace, and Bando.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: five from all of baseball history is way too hard. Fingers, Bobby Grich, Goose Gossage, Deacon White, Don Mattingly and I’m just getting warmed up

Old Hoss Radbourn: Which pitcher’s results were you most surprised by when you configured SJaws?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I guess I’m surprised that Verlander, Kershaw and Greinke are all in the top 25, and Cone and Tiant in the top 50

NPB Bullet Train: It’s a huge indication of the weakness of American railroads that there isn’t a 3-hour train from NYC to Pittsburgh

Avatar Jay Jaffe: agreed. Train travel in this country outside the Northeast corridor is so hopelessly inadequate and even within it’s sometimes prohibitively expensive.

Syndergaardengnomes: Any reason to be optomistic on Kelenic?  I don’t mean because of a few spring training HR’s, I mean in general…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s 23, for one thing. It’s far too early to write him off. Second, guys rework/rebuild their swings all the time and unlock new levels of success; sooner or later he and a coach/hitting guru are going to connect and he’ll get there too. Doesn’t mean the interim will be pretty, and maybe it won’t help your fantasy team or even the Mariners, but barring injury, someday he’ll become a productive major leaguer.

Dave: PIT is also low key one of the worst airports in America

Avatar Jay Jaffe: yikes

Peter: Who has a better season Cedric Mullins, Luis Robert, Jazz Chisolm, or Ozzie Albies?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ll go with Robert but I think they’re all pretty close… 3.4 to 4.2 WAR via our Depth Charts projections

Bill: MLB needs to redefine a quality start. 6 plus innings and 3 or less earned runs is outdated. It should be 4 IP 1 ER or lessX 5IP 2 ER or less or 6 plus IP 3 or less earned runs. Change my mind.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: call it something else if you want to count something else.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: the quality start is a useful metric — more useful than pitcher wins. The 6/3 case happens in like 10% of quality starts. The odds are that if you’ve given your team six innings you’ve pitched well.

Anon21: As dictator of baseball (let’s include the HOF), would your first act be: 1. abolishing the zombie runner; 2. banning the cheapskate Bob Nutting for life; 3. inducting Bonds and Clemens; or something else?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d probably start with holding off on the zombie runner until the 12th or 13th inning, would add Dick Allen to the Hall of Fame before Bonds and Clemens, and would ban Castellini along with Nutting, but i think that’s a pretty good outline you’ve drawn. I’d also start arbitration earlier and have higher minimum salaries.

Craig: Since Farhan Zaidi took over in SFG, they have signed 11 free agent pitchers that started at least 5 games in their first season with the Giants. Of the 11, only Drew Pomeranz in 2019 did not do well for them. And, Farhan has had some big “hits”, including: Kevin Gasuman in 2020, Drew Smyly in 2020, Anthony DeSclafani in 2021, Alex Wood in 2021. Others included Trevor Cahill in 2020 (improvement of 1.94 FIP from prior year), Tyler Anderson in 2020 (improvement of 3.26 FIP from prior year), Aaron Sanchez in 2021 (improvement of 2.54 FIP from prior year), Jakob Junis last season (improvement of 0.66 FIP from prior year). Plus, Carlos Rodon repeated his big numbers when others were concerned about health in 2021. Even Alex Cobb repeated a good 2021 in LAA with a solid season last year in SFG. Do you think the trend can continue with Sean Manaea and/or Ross Stripling? Perhaps Manaea can have a season more like he did in 2021 in OAK than 2022 in SDP?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Farhan knows what he’s doing! Have been hearing a lot about Manaea showing improved velocity in spring training so it wouldn’t surprise me if he joins the party. Stripling has certainly flashed strong form before (recall, he was a 2018 All-Star) but has never gotten a full season in the rotation; maybe this is his year too.

Cito’s Mustache: Michael’s piece on Brett Baty today was a good read. If you were Mets GM, how would you handle his playing time to start the season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think i’d have cleared a spot for Baty already by trading Escobar over the winter, eaten a bit of salary and put the savings towards a better fourth outfielder than Tommy Pham.

Big Ben: What does 80 FV Wander Franco’s upside look like at this point? He has been an above average bat thus far, but hardly one of the best players in baseball. Was he over-graded as a prospect or should we expected a big breakout at some point? Given he doesn’t hit the ball particularly hard, his power upside seems limited but hit bat to ball skills are obviously excellent.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably not that much different than when Eric hung that grade on him; the kid turned 22 this week and has 4.7 WAR and a 121 wRC+ in 153 games in the majors so far. We’d all like to see him hit the ball harder but it’s not like he was an 80 on the hope that he would realize his raw power, it’s because he profiled as an exceptional two-way shortstop who could stay on the position .

DBRuns: Sign me up for ocean-front property in Idaho! There are probably people who wouldn’t mind if California fell into the sea.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d be happy to see those people fall into the sea

Wesley: What is the right proportion to judge playoff performance as opposed  to regular season performance in evaluating an accomplished players career ?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: 17.265%

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Wait, no! 17.263%

Avatar Jay Jaffe: (I don’t think there’s an exact answer tbh — if you’re evaluating for the Hall of Fame, it’s still just one of many factors. And if you’re not evaluating for the Hall of Fame you can go nuts weighing it however. you want!)

Well-Beered Englishman: That person who asked about the mustache hall of fame didn’t specify they had to be baseballers.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, that narrows it down LOL

Guest: Best guess at Yankees starting SS, LF and 5th starter opening day and at the end of the season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Peraza, Hicks, German -> Peraza, Cabrera, [starter who arrives in the Gleyber Torres trade once Volpe arrives]

TheVoiceInYourHead: Favorite De La Soul song?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Alas, Three Feet High and Rising is the only album of theirs I gave much time to back in the day but I will always love “Potholes in My Lawn” for the Parliament sample of “Little Old Country Boy” (the yodeling)

Birds: The Mariners gonna let Julio run this season, or they gonna shut that down again to make sure he doesn’t hurt himself?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think they’ll let him run. 30-30 seems possible.

JB: Is there a worse name for a minor league team than the recently-renamed  Lexington Counter Clocks ? Who signed off on that? yeeesh

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t mind that one at all, but I’ll grant you it’s a bit weird. I mean ,in a world that contains the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, Amarillo Sod Poodles, Rocket City Trash Pandas and Burlington Sock Puppets, THAT is the one you’re worked up about?

Concerned Citizen: Just seeing the reporting about “forever substances” in the Phillies AstroTurf, which, well, everything about that is horrible. How many other stadiums from the 70’s/80’s/90’s used that type of AstroTurf? How bad is this?

(Thoughts are with all families affected by cancers brought on by this. This is rough.)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: oh god, that is awful

Six former @Phillies have died of brain cancer. To see if there might be a connection, @barbaralaker and I had two labs test pieces of Veterans Stadium’s infamous AstroTurf. They found numerous “forever chemicals,” which @EPA says can “devastate families.” inquirer.com/news/inq2/astr…
7 Mar 2023
Avatar Jay Jaffe: From the story:

Decades after the final out of the 1980 World Series was recorded, McGraw, Vukovich, Brett, and Quisenberry had all died from brain cancer.

They weren’t the only ones: In all, six former Phillies have reportedly been felled by glioblastoma — a particularly aggressive and deadly form of brain cancer — including former catcher Darren Daulton and former relief pitcher David West, who died in 2022.

The rate of brain cancer among Phillies who played at the Vet between 1971 and 2003 is about three times the average rate among adult men.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Offhand, IIRC Phillies, Cardinals, Royals, Expos, Astros, Blue Jays, Pirates, and Reds were turf teams.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: somebody on Twitter pointed out that Gary Carter died of glioblastoma as well

JB: Lexington is my hometown team. Lexington Legends was badass. Counter Clocks , not so much. Also, the reasoning is sus. “because KY is known for horse racing and the direction the horses run is counter-clockwise”   *puke*

Liz: The Counter Clocks should be allowed to run the bases the opposite way.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: everybody runs the bases counterclockwise

TheVoiceInYourHead: Grove or Pepiot for 6th starter on Dodgers?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pepiot until Miller is ready

Bill: How do you think the HOF voters will treat some of these guys signing deals into their early 40’s? Some teams will be smart and cut bait and eat the remaining years, but I’m sure some of these guys will play and have a few pretty bad years on their resume. Do you think the voters will look the other way and not weigh the bad years heavily knowing the only reason they are not retired is because of the contracts to circumnavigate the luxury tax?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it will end up being pretty negligible. Guys have always played into their 40s without being very productive, HOFers and non-HOFers alike. Just because they’re getting paid doesn’t mean somebody HAS to give them a spot; think about what’s happened to Robinson Cano, making $24 million last year and this.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Rightly or wrongly, voters tend to value milestones even when they’re obtained under negative-WAR conditions (Biggio’s 3,000th hit, for example).

Avatar Jay Jaffe: But not all of the guys on those long-term deals are going to be chasing milestones

Justin: How high are you on Ronald Acuna this year after the down year post injury? Seems like it hasn’t been talked about much that he looked a little less special last year. Expecting a big year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m a little nervous that we’ll never see the pre-injury Acuña again but a full offseason to heal could be just what he needed.

Devil Ray Jay Johnson: Let’s assume the veterans’ committee (or whatever they are called now) is scrapped.  How would you structure the selection of HOF candidates after they leave the ballot?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I preferred the Era Committee system that was replaced last year; I would tweak that by adding a separate Negro Leagues/Black Baseball Era Committee into the cycle to capitalize on the interest generated by the Seamheads data, and create one all-eras ballot for non-players (managers, execs, umps) instead of having them crowd players off the ballot.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I also would put the creation of the ballots in the hands of many more historians and fewer of the writers who ignored so many great players of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s when they were on the writers’ ballot. Too many of the same people who failed to recognize Lou Whitaker when he was a BBWAA candidate are involved in deciding whether he’ll be on an Era Committee ballot.

I would also double the sizes of the committees and prevent anybody who was a teammate, manager, or executive on a candidate’s team participate in that vote. Just too many opportunities for cronyism as it’s set up with these 16-member panels. Make them 32-member but in some cases you may have only 28 or 29 voters.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, that’s it for me today. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the spring baseball! Especially the WBC!

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, and a Hall of Fame voter since 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe... and BlueSky @jayjaffe.bsky.social.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
1 year ago

The US doesn’t have high speed rail because the larger population centers are either clustered (the Bos-Wash megapolis already has rail) or too far apart to justify the cost in view of the usage of passenger rail. Plus the Penn Turnpike serves just fine.

“Build it and the will come” isn’t a good business case when the comparable project (California HSR) costs $206.4 million per mile, $100B total. NY to Pitt is 370m so somebody is going to have to cough up over $70B.

By contrast, interstates run $4-6M a mile yet states have trouble coming up with that much. (Converting NY17 to interstate I86 started in 1998 and its still unfinished.) California’s HSR started in 1996 and won’t by finished until 2030+).

Rail takes too much time and money.

Last edited 1 year ago by fjtorres