Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 4/16/21

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, good people, and welcome to another edition of my weekly chat. You have no shortage of me on FanGraphs today: 

• I wrote about Carlos Rodón, Craig Kimbrel, and hidden perfect games


• I had the honor of serving as the guest host on this week’s Chin Music podcast with Kevin Goldstein https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/chin-music-episode-9-counting-with-jay…

• I had the honor of chatting with Jason Martinez about Fernando Valenzuela for this week’s FanGraphs Audio https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/fangraphs-audio-ross-atkins-feels-fort…

• And speaking of Fernandomania, I’m quoted a couple of times in Jesses Sanchez’s great MLB feature — a discussion that inspired my own piece last week https://www.mlb.com/news/featured/remembering-fernandomania-40-years-l…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: (here’s my piece on the latter: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/remembering-fernandomania-40-years-later/)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: and while I’m hyping things up, for those of you with kids and grandparent-grandchild relationships in the picture who might be looking for an appropriate Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day) gift, here’s my mother-in-law Paula Span’s collection of New York Times articles on grandparenting, drawn from her own reporting and personal experience with my daughter, aka “Bartola” https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Bubbe-Diaries-Audiobook/B091J7M7FL

CoryMC: Any Vladdy articles on the site planned for the future? He’s looked absolutely fantastic to start the year.

Another Blue Jay question, what the heck happened with Danny Jansen?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: New contributor Carmen Ciardiello  debuted with a piece on Vlad Jr. I’ll be keeping my eye upon him for a future article as well, but let’s see him get a larger sample size under his feet first https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-obvious-vladimir-guerrero-jr-tweak/

Avatar Jay Jaffe: This, though

KC barbecue is good.

This SMOKED meatball is better 💥 #PLAKATA

16 Apr 2021

Baseball fan: Dodgers on pace for 137 wins. Think they get the winningest season of all time?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Kevin asked me for an over-under on the podcast yesterday. I said 108 (call it 108.5 in betting terms). While I think they have the talent to give the 2001 Mariners a run for their money, I’m hesitant to go over that mark because stuff happens, as we saw a few years ago when the Dodgers slipped into that late-season funk.

Sultans of swing: How rare is it for a veteran position player to perform like Lowrie had done this year, after not having at bats for almost 2 years?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a good question. Dan Szymborski is probably the one to answer it given that he has all these guys at his fingertips in the ZiPS database, but I’d imagine this is pretty rare even if we are talking just a couple of weeks.

Bob: Paddack looked awful again yesterday, even if his line was ok. Time to cut bait?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Cut bait in what context? On your fantasy team? I’m not the one to ask. In the Padres’ rotation? Eh, I don’t see the rush. He has a 4.15 ERA and 2.98 FIP. Hasn’t been working beyond five innings at a clip but he’s hardly unpitchable

Sultans of swing: Does it help the HOF cause of a player to stay with one team for their entire career even if that means less Post Season success than on a different team?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Interesting question. Let me try a quick Stathead thing…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: 74 position players played at least 1500 games (~15 seasons) with their only team. 38 are in the Hall, 36 aren’t, but the only ones above 50 bWAR who aren’t are Lou Whitaker, Todd Helton, the still active Joey Votto, the not-yet-eligible Joe Mauer, the obscure Stan Hack, and the not-yet-elgibile Dustin Pedroia.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That would seem to suggest that sticking with one team helps, but sticking with one team has something to do with the quality of the player to begin with — the willingness to overpay him in his twilight years, especially.

Joe: If YOU had a chance to put a retired player, that is not in the Hall of Fame, into the Hall of Fame unilaterally, who would it be?  (I know votes, committees, etc., but this is a one-off)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Minnie Miñoso is atop my list as a player with borerline Hall numbers that would probably be over the line had he not been held back at the outset of his career due to the color line and then the informal quota system that followed the fall of the color barrier. Beyond his stellar play, he figures prominently in baseball history as the first Black Latino player.

“Minnie Miñoso is to Latin ballplayers what Jackie Robinson is to black ballplayers” — Orlando Cepeda

Sad, Confused Marlins Fan: Is it crazy for Pujols to make an approach change and try to help the Angels get to the playoffs? maybe give up some contact and hit the ball in the air more?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s never too late to give it a shot, but I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for it to happen.

Dan: For a site called fanGRAPHS it bugs me that the only graph on the homepage is not a good graph. It has 4 lines on the y axis that are equidistant but not 25/50/75% of the top line. I’m sure is possible to make a graph that encourages signups without being visually misleading.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If we get enough new memberships, there’s hope that we can afford better graphics! I kid, but that’s just a cropped part of a larger graph. Seriously, we’d love it if those of you who read our site would purchase a membership so we can continue to find the cool stuff we do and the cool people we employ (myself included) because internet advertising has cratered.  https://blogs.fangraphs.com/announcing-the-fangraphs-spring-membership…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And speaking of ways to support FanGraphs, we have some new merchandise, including cool new t-shirts! https://blogs.fangraphs.com/new-fangraphs-merch-pre-orders-start-today…

aduvall: Carlos Santana is hitting .199 since the beginning of September in 2019. Any concern he doesn’t bounce back to being at least around .225-230?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Batting average is the wrong place to look for Santana’s production, but yeah, that ain’t great. I’ve sometimes thought — an impression, rather than a data-driven conclusion — that switch-hitters are prone  to slow starts because they have twice as much work to get in sync for the season. Would be interesting to study.

Ham: If I dragged an unsuspecting friend down to Lexington for an Atlantic League game later this summer do you think there’s any chance they would notice the extra foot?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Only if it’s stepping on the friend’s toe.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Seriously, it’s a great question. I think i”ll try to find a way out to an Atlantic League game myself, not only to see the new distance but also the electronic umpiring system. I’ve always wanted to heckle a robot ump

Yaz: what does everyone think of the new Atlantic league rules?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Dunno how *everyone* feels but here are my thoughts https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-atlantic-league-will-experiment-ag… with more on the Chin Music podcast during the segment with Baseball America’s JJ Cooper.

David: Do we know why the Mets/Rockies game was just postponed?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Weather, nothing nefarious

Let’s play ✌️ tomorrow!
16 Apr 2021
Trevor: What are your thoughts on Price so far this year? The first two outings were a bit rocky but he rebounded nicely last night after giving up the back-to-back hits.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t actually seen any of his appearances during the regular season yet. Velo up a bit from 2019 (0.3-0.7 mph, depending upon the source) mainly due to short stints. The results haven’t been there but given the rust I’m not tremendously surprised or concerned yet

Pumpsie Green: The Cubs had a Mendoza Lineup this week, with every starter batting under the Mendoza line (.215). Yes, it’s early, but, yikes! Fortunately, it was against the Brewers, who had 70% of their hitters under the line. Will this year’s NL Central be the lowest-scoring division in the history of divisional play? Will the rubber be moved back 5 feet for NLC-only games?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a grim division right now and the Cubs besides Bryant, Kimbrel, Hendricks and a few others, yikes.

Guest: I didn’t follow Fernando, but I enjoyed your piece on him because it evoked my early days as a fan, cutting box scores out of a newspaper while eating breakfast before school. My nephews like baseball, but I am not certain they have ever actually touched a newspaper- it’s a visceral part of the fanhood experience they will never be able to share.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Alas, printed box scores are becoming a thing of the past. My elbows used to get messy with newsprint every morning.

Micah: Corbin looked awful again…do you see him rebounding to his 2019 form or was 2020 his reality?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Haven’t seen him pitch yet but given that his fastball velo from last year and this year is nearly 2 mph below 2019, I’m a bit more concerned than I’d be otherwise. I wonder if the extra work in the 2019 postseason did a number on him.

Pumpsie Green: Do you trust the writers more than the committees to get it right, or the other way around? How about historically – which has done better at identifying HOFers?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The writers. Draw up a list of the most regrettable HOFers and they’re mostly from committees, going back to the big boatload of VC entries in 1945-46 to the Frisch/Terry committees of the late 1960s and early ’70s.

the big lebrewski: if DJ Lemahieu plays hits like Derek Jeter until his end of contract but puts up better defensive numbers – does he start to make a case for the hall?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Let’s say he repeats his 2019 showing (5.5 WAR) this year and through 2026, that’s 33 WAR, which gets him to 58 WAR… that’s a bit ahead of Jeff Kent (55.5) but well below Chase Utley (64.5). I don’t think it gets him there.

Sugarsticky: On the leaderboards page, filtering by team, the top 15 teams by Def WAR are all NL. That seems statistically impossible. What’s up?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: not sure what’s going on there but I’ll point it out to the folks who can check [Update: it’s because UZR has not been loaded yet — that will happen tonight, I’m told — so it’s all just positional adjustments.]

glt4dc: You’ve been named Commissioner of Baseball (congrats!) with a single mandate – reduce the length of an average baseball game by 25-30 minutes by the end of 2022.  How would you do it – you have full owner, player, network buy-in as long as revenues and player health aren’t significantly impacted.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d implement a clock limiting time between pitches and between innings, penalize batters one strike if they leave the box between pitches for more than 3 seconds, and allow for wireless communication technology between pitcher and catcher

pak: Hi Jay! So, moving the rubber back in the Atlantic League… would lowering the mound like MLB did in ‘69 (I think) be a better alternative? Do you know if that was considered?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a good question and if I hadn’t been pushing 2,500 words in my piece I might have written a bit about this. If I’m remembering correctly — and I’ll check on this — I think the ASMI was OK with the prospect of lowering the mound, saying it was not an injury risk. I’d imagine it was discussed but lost out to moving the rubber back.

Guest: Do teams and players like having double headers now since they get to work 23% less by going seven innings?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think players like it as a contingency under the current conditions, but there’s a large swath of relievers whose jobs would be in jeopardy if it were made a regular thing.

David: I actually like all of those ideas you listed for reducing game time.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I was due.

Fernandomania: The thing I remember the most about Fernando Valenzuela in the summer of 1981 is trying to figure out how he could look straight up at the bill of his cap during his windup and still get the ball anywhere near where he wanted it.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that skyward gaze at the peak of his delivery was just crazy given the control he shoed.

v2micca: Whenever someone talks about MLB moving the mound back, I never hear them discuss how it could impact the running game.  Moving it farther away from home moves it closer to 1st and 2nd.  Do they just assume the difference will be notable for pitching, but negligible for holding base-runners?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: You’re right, there hasn’t been much if any public discussion of this, but it’s worth noting that MLB is trying a bunch of things to promote the running game in the affiliated minors this year, some of which could help offset whatever losses are brought about by moving the mound back.

Puster Bosey: Luis Robert’s strikeout rate is below 25%! His PAs are getting better and better visually too– what do you think the chances are that he outperforms, say, Acuna by fWAR by the end of this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Dude, have you SEEN Acuña? The guy is as hot as anybody right now, carrying a 280 wRC+. To paraphrase Sparky Anderson about Johnny Bench, don’t embarrass anyone by comparing them to Ronald Acuña Jr while he’s hitting like this.

Zach: Gavin Lux has seemed to figure out his throwing issue and now is ranked #1 in OAA this year. He had a great spring and great first week but has since slipped into a little bit of a funk. His contact numbers are up so far but his power has been absent for the most part even including spring. Do you still expect him to eventually hit for power? And even if not, assuming his defense is legit, can he still be a star?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wonder if the wrist soreness that sidelined Lux last night is linked to his recent slide (1-for-18). The scouting grades on his game power were 60/70 so yes, I still expect him to be at least at the lower end of that. I think he still has the tools to be a star but there’s less certainty that he gets there now.

Pumpsie Green: Casebook II chapter ideas! Chapter 15 – Regrettable Committee Selections. Chapter 16 – Top 10 Writer Whiffs.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I did have a whole chapter on the Veterans Committee’s poor selections

Avatar Jay Jaffe: With the caveat that there will always be a sizable contingent that doesn’t believe relievers should be enshrined, I think you have to go back to Jim Rice in 2009 to find a BBWAA selection that’s on par with even the mid-level bad selections of the VC.

A Redicent fan: Is Aristides Aquino just a 4A guy or is there some team who could use his bat?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he might be more of a change-of-scenery guy than a Quad-A guy. he’s gotten 70 PA in 33 games over the past two seasons, which isn’t enough to tell us much besides that he’s not playing much.

Connor: What do you think about the White Sox so far? Their Base Runs record is 3 games up on their current record, but all projection systems seem to go against them a bit.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They’ve got some good hitters off to slow starts (Abreu, Grandal, Moncada) offset by the Yermin Mercedes show. Their pitching has been very good, Keuchel and Hendriks aside. Still think they’re one of the top two teams in the AL Central, though I think they’ll have to address the loss of Eloy with something more drastic given Andrew Vaughn’s struggles.

He’s a Jolly Good Oberkfellow: Obviously he won’t sustain a .650 BABIP, but given his hot start to the year, is it time for folks to appreciate Brandon Nimmo for all the good things he does (OBP) and stop focussing on what he doesn’t (play a great CF)?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Entirely dependent upon him staying healthy. He has one season of more than 69 games, which isn’t so nice.

True Submariners: do you think McKinstry will be for real?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably more of a Kiké Hernandez than a Chris Taylor is the impression I get, at least on-field.

Pumpsie Green: Moving the mound back a foot would bring it, what, an inch closer to first? I’d have to get out my protractor to measure it. But if that made a whit of difference, every pitcher would learn to pitch with his heel (or toe, for righties) on the edge of the 1b side of the rubber. They don’t, because it does not matter.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s a game of inches, and when they’re talking about enlarging the bases by 3 inches as an experiment, well…

WinTwins0410: Jay, I know you’re not sold on Tommy John as a HOFer, but could I flip around a question on him?  For a long time, I thought being associated with the eponymous surgery would *help* his HoF case.  Is it possible that it actually *hurts* his case?  IE, if there never had been Tommy John surgery and TJ had the same career that he had (I know there’s a missing year in the middle due to the surgery, but work with me here!), would he have gotten more support, the same support or less support at the BBWAA and committee levels, do you think?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d never thought of it that way, but I’m skeptical it’s harming him. Anybody who’s read the history of the surgery knows that he was facing a great unknown by being the first, and that he worked his damn ass off to get back. I can’t see where that would hurt his cause.

david: During hall of fame season you mentioned you were working on something to take into account how modern SP workloads have changed. Any update on that? i am looking forward to it

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it was something I’ve been ploinking around with but i didn’t get it to the point where I was ready to show it to a few people I trust so as to get some feedback.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: the run-up to baseball season can take away time from those winter projects, but it’s still something I anticipate sharing at some point well before HOF SZN

Pops: Hello! Which distressed pitching asset (if any) do you still believe in? Strasburg, Paddock or Corbin.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m a bit concerned about Strasburg but I think that the disruption to the start of the Nationals’ season is something that’s not being taken into account. Give these guys a couple of clean turns through the rotation to see if there’s improvement.

Gary: What is the latest on Roberto Osuna?  I haven’t heard anything in over a month

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t heard anything either. Maybe he’s working on being a better human being.

Wire Fan: Do the Yankees actually need a lefty power bat or is this more just a media narrative?  Their righty hitters don’t have massive splits and they have actually performed against righty pitching the last 2-3 years.  Is lefty righty lineup “balance” a bit over-rated in general?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They could probably use a lefty power bat but inviting whoever just showed up at the bus station to play regularly just because they swing from the left side is probably not the way to go about it. Their lack of lefty power is mitigated by the way Judge, LeMahieu and their other righties go oppo. Which, they’re third in wRC+ among righties going oppo since the start of 2020 https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders/splits-leaderboards?splitArr=80,4&sp…

Grubble: Does the hot start change your opinion of the Red Sox? Or are they built to fade?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not tremendously. Figured they’d be competitive but not threats to win the division. Don’t expect them to maintain a top-five pitching performance for a full season

Pumpsie Green: Are the Braves ready to upgrade on Swanson at short? He’s only got one year of arb remaining (I know! Time flies.) and not much money on the books next year. Maybe they look at Story or Correa come July?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, they’ll never sign either of those guys for pennies on the dollar as they did Acuña and Albies… I don’t see them bringing a whole lot of urgency on Swanson in-season unless he’s hitting like this in July; even as a rental those two guys are going to cost significant talent. Maybe they make a run at a shortstop next winter but I have a hard time believing they’re going to be the high bidder given the way they operate.

Hopeless Braves Fan: What the heck happened to Kyle Wright? Is there any hope he can still be a mid-rotation starter?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Cribbing from Eric Longenhagen’s post-prospect report, the short answer is below-average fastball movement and command issues. be interesting to see how he fares as  he was just brought up to face the Cubs tonight.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, it’s time for me to cut and run. Thanks so much for stopping by! Stay safe, get those vaccines if you can, and we’ll see you next week.

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.

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