Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 4/6/20

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hello folks, and welcome to another more-or-less shelter-in-place-based edition of my weekly chats. I hope you all are managing out there amid this challenging time. I’m doing all right — better some days than others — while New York is in the epicenter of the US outbreak. My family and I are safe and well-stocked in terms of supplies, going outside to a minimum and while complying with social-distancing mandates as we deal with the needs of our daughter and our dog, and we’re now regularly wearing fabric masks when we go out.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I just filed a piece on the wild career of Evan Gattis, who’s been in the news a lot lately, for better or worse. That should be published sometime during this chat.

Edit: It’s here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/evan-gattis-rollercoaster-ride-through-baseball-has-ended/

Brandonbart: Hey Jay! Thank you for continuing to do these! Just out of curiosity, do you know if all the spring training sites are ‘wired’ for MLB.TV should the season go in that direction?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think they’re all fine as far as TV and streaming. The question — beyond the obvious one about whether some variant of the plan that was reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal on Friday night (https://theathletic.com/1723090/2020/04/03/rosenthal-mlb-pondering-gam…) is even feasible — is whether they’re fully wired for Statcast, which is moving to a new technology called Hawk-Eye this year. I imagine that if this comes to pass, they will be.

Billy: Rather than a home run derby, let’s have a fastest pitch competition…seems just as arbitrary

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If there’s a skills competition for hitters, you’d figure there might be a parallel one for pitchers, but airing it all out in such a context poses a much higher injury risk than a home run derby would, so I’d be very skeptical that comes to pass.

Roy: Do you play MLB the Show? I just bought a copy of the 2019 edition for the PS4 and open to advice! Haven’t played a baseball video game like it since 2k6 for the gamecube

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve never played The Show, and I don’t have much experience with video games of any type over the past 20 years; at some point c. 2000-01, I decided that i needed to spend a chunk of my free time writing instead of shooting bad guys or  whatever, and I’ve never really let myself go back.   I did just get a media copy of Out of The Park Baseball which I’ve futzed around with a bit. Hoping to write about that at some point soon.

Rob: Does missing a season affect HOF cases down the road at all?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Somewhat, yes, but I think the fears are a bit overblown when one considers how many legends missed time due to military service or even major injuries. I’ve got some work on this coming up, likely this week.

Derek: Has the financial outlook for FanGraphs improved in any significant way over the last week?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t have anything that I can share about the bottom line, but we’ve been heartened by the initial response we received in kicking off our membership drive last week (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/a-fangraphs-update-were-asking-for-your-he…). I’m told that tomorrow, we’ll have an update post, via which we’ll launch some fundraising things including ways to donate and to buy gift subscriptions.

On behalf of the FanGraphs staff, my deepest thanks to those of you who have been able to offer support and to spread the word.

Mike in Mexico: Keep your spirits up, can’t imagine what it’s like in NY these days. Question: Your book in particular and the work of a few others has shone a light on a lot of overlooked players. We will always need some type of veterans’ committee for the Alan Trammells that slip past the writers, but do you think we will ever reach a point where we won’t need all the other committees going back to the days of yore?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thank you for the words of support. This is likely going to be a grim week here in NYC (I’m not far from the Brooklyn Hospital Center that’s been in the news) but as I said above, we’re hunkered down and doing the best we can.

The 2016 shift to the four-Era Committee cycle is an acknowledgement that older periods have become more picked-over than more recent ones as far as potential Hall of Famers, with the Early Baseball period (1871-1949) considered just once every 10 years and the Golden Days (1950-69) once every five years. I think that leaves the door ajar just enough to take the occasional look back and see if we’ve learned enough about “ancient” players or other figures; I’d like to see pioneer Doc Adams and shortstop Bill Dahlen elected in December, though there are a few other candidates who could be plausible.

Harmon Ripkowski: Is an active pitcher gonna go in the HOF with fewer than 200 wins?  Scherzer and Kershaw would, and who else would you bank on getting 200 that’s active…?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Scherzer has 170 wins, and Kershaw 169, so I think it’s likely they’ll both get to 200, which when combined with their three Cy Youngs apiece, and likely membership in the 3,000 strikeout club will be more than enough to carry them over the top.

I think the one to watch is Jacob deGrom. He’s about to turn 32 and has won the past two Cy Youngs, but has just 66 wins. If he gets that third Cy, he’ll become something of a test case, as everybody with at least that many is in besides Roger Clemens and the aforementioned pair.

Derek: On the topic of baseball video games – I’d also recommend OOTP (Out of the Park Baseball) for anyone with an interest in PC gaming. It’s great fun, especially for the FanGraphs sabermetric-leaning crowd!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yup, my first impression of it is that while the on-screen action is rather run-of-the-mill, it’s fun for the stat-savvy. I’ve so far been re-playing a few games with the 1977 Dodgers, the team that represents the very beginning of my baseball consciousness; it wasn’t until 1978 that I learned to read a box score or began collecting cards, but I devoured stuff that summer.

Harmon Ripkowski: Not really a question, but I’ve always wondered if Gil Hodges or Johnny Pesky would have had better Hall arguments had they played during WWII…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hodges missed what would have been his age 20-21 seasons in the military. He had debuted (one game) as a 19-year-old in 1943, spent ’46 in the minors after the war, and was pretty bad in ’47 and ’48 (ages 23 and 24) while spending the entire seasons in the majors, so it’s not at all clear that he would have been major league caliber during his missed time. That said, he might have developed more quickly had he spent those two years in the minors.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pesky might have had a stronger case given 6- and 7-WAR seasons on either side of his three-year stint, but he was basically replacement level from age-33 onward due to injuries. I wrote about him for SI.com when he passed away in 2012.


Russell Martin: I’m still a solid defensive catcher at 37 and I get on base at a decent clip.  Why am I still a FA?  I’m better than a lot of backup catchers out there.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Martin can probably still find work, and i hope he does, as he’s been a favorite of mine for years, but he spent the winter turning down opportunities due to unspecified family reasons, and he didn’t go to camp anywhere before the outage. https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2020/02/latest-on-russell-martin-2.html

Pepperoni Piazza: With expanded rosters, and the possibility of a condensed schedule with many doubleheaders, does catching depth become more important now?  Do you see a lot of teams carrying 3 catchers?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: This is one thing that could help Martin find work. Particularly if there are a lot of doubleheaders, I think we’ll see teams carry a player who can at least serve as a third-string catcher in addition to fulfilling some other duties (like in Martin’s case, providing mop-up relief).

Scotty: If there is a season, let’s say ~81 games, will there be more or less demand for Puig? He will have less of a hit to Luxury Tax because his contract should be lower but he also is only going to impact 80 games. Even though those games are worth more with the shortens season.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d imagine that he’ll land a deal once baseball restarts, but that like any other player, his AAV hit will be based on a prorated salary.

Josh: With ESPN reporting that the KBO will likely be the first major sports league to reopen can we expect an Fangraphs content (e.g., what to expect, how to watch games, how to pick a rooting interest)?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, I think we’ll have some KBO-related stuff here at FG. I’m hoping to learn more myself.

Harmon Ripkowski: Speaking of arbitrary milestones, does Miggy get 3000 and 500?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He needs 185 hits and 23 homers, and he’s signed through at least 2023. I don’t see how he doesn’t get there unless his injuries are so overwhelming that he retires; even making Pujols-like progress he’d only need two years.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: From somebody who knows more about the gaming stuff than me…

PurpleMagic: I was thinking about the HOF question as well. Do you think something like this will be an impetus for voters to put a little more focus on xstats as opposed to career totals when deciding who gets in? For instance, I was looking at Edwin Encarnacion. Without this work stoppage, he had a legitimate shot at 500 HR, 2000 H, and 1500 rbi. Now, if we lose this entire season. He will be 38 next year and I don’t know if he can get there. I’m sure several players will be affected when it comes to reaching the  “milestones”.

Monsignor Martinez: Roy, I love the Show.  And 2019 is a very good version of it imo.  I just got 2020 and have been playing it like crazy.

Anyways, if you play a franchise, I recommend planning for the medium haul  (getting ML-ready prospects or something close) because if you like the game that much, you’re going to end up buying the next game.  You can, however, import your franchise roster into future games, so there is that, but MLB the Show 2020 has real life prospects, which kinda makes it more fun for me.  I also recommend turning up the power sliders a bit, as I find that the game did not reward well-timed swings enough; I often got routine fly balls despite putting the best possible swing on very hittable pitches.  Hope that helps

Avatar Jay Jaffe: whoops, got those two questions out of order; the second one was for those looking for The Show advice. As for the HOF one, it’s only the last half-decade where WAR has gotten greater play in Hall elections. I don’t see xStats gaining traction in the near future nor do I think 500 homers will be enough for EE given his WAR limitations (36.0 via bWAR). But yes, I do think some players will be affected wrt milestones. More to come sooner or later.

Dave: What do you know about this year’s HOF induction plans or contingencies?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Nothing at all. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Induction Weekend is postponed or drastically reconfigured

Rob: Kluber could be a HOFer with his peak

Rob: Although I guess johan would be way ahead of kluber

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As those two pitchers, Denny McLain, Bret Saberhagen, and others can attest, two Cy Youngs alone doesn’t guarantee a berth in Cooperstown.

MSW: To anybody wondering, NYC is surprisingly calm these days, as long as you can tune out the ambulance noise. Most everybody is wearing masks and gloves when they go out. People are giving you space in stores. Shelves are well stocked, plenty of toilet paper even. It’s very weird here but nobody is panicking. The only time I really can’t deal is when I read the comments on twitter and see supposed “patriots” denying or outright cheering for our death and destruction.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, it’s calm on the surface, and we’re all just trying to get by. Stock in the stores is rather patchwork — TP has returned in some places but cleaning supplies are VERY hard to track down, and if I’m out and all masked up, i’ll drop by a drugstore or grocery store on the off chance I get lucky.

The thing I struggle with the most is when I’m outside and see people who aren’t doing the social distancing thing, or aren’t doing it well enough. I want to tell them to do better, but I’m not about to get confrontational, especially because I’ve got my daughter in tow.

BringBackDeSpanielHair: Hey Jay! I don’t have much to say about baseball right now, but I wanted to say thanks for being here to maintain some normalcy. I was glad to buy a membership last week to help keep the lights on. Looking forward to seeing other ways to help support Fangraphs.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Many thanks for your words and your support.

MSW: I am now a diehard Lotte Giants fan due to my unwavering devotion to Sung Min Kim

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think a whole Lotte of us are about to become Giants fans thanks to Sung Min Kim.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: (Sorry)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: (REALLY SORRY)

LScott: I cant find any updates on Michael Conforto’s grade 1 oblique strain.  Latest update was back on March 11 with an early to mid-April estimated return. Have you heard anything?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve heard that it’s not going to matter for a long time due to a lack of baseball. I don’t think you should expect much in the way of injury reports — especially Grade 1 strains, which are minor by definition — during the outage.

Jesse: Is there any precedent in a HOF player with what Felix Hernandez is trying to do in Atlanta (meaning he was on track for the HOF, nose dived, then bounced back)?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think so but nobody’s coming to mind. Probably a good topic to stash away for a sheltered day. Which, by the way, officially-unofficially extends through April 29 in NYC according to what I was just told.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, child care duties call to me. I’m sorry this week’s chat was shorter than usual, but I’m glad I got to share some time with you. It’s a welcome bit of normalcy amid abnormal times, just as my video virtual happy hours are with my close friends. Stay safe and sane, and thank you for your continued support of FanGraphs.

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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