Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 5/14/24

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Welcome to another edition of my Tuesday chat. I’ve got a piece up today on Jung Ho Lee and the Giants’ unrelenting wave of injuries (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jung-hoo-lee-goes-down-amid-a-brutal-strin…). Yesterday I wrote about Jo Adell finally breaking through (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jo-adell-is-finally-putting-it-together/) — a piece I’d had in mind for a few weeks after a reader asked about him here in a chat!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: All of which is to say that in addition to having a good time interacting with our readers in these chats, they’re a good place to get an idea of what you folks are interested in, and I come out of each one with at least a couple of ideas — not all of which come to fruition, but they’re still useful. So thank you for that. And now, on with the show

Shotamania: Shota has the lowest ERA in his first 8 starts (0.96) since Fernando Valenzuela way back in 1981.  I’m just old enough to remember Fernando-mania.  Should we be talking about Shotamania?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As somebody whose baseball fandom was in full flower during Fernandomania — I cut his box scores out of the Salt Lake Tribune and taped them into a three-ring binder — I’ve thought about this comparison, and even considered doing a Shotamania piece, but  Kyle Kishimoto, who’s not old enough to remember Fernando, beat me to the coverage https://blogs.fangraphs.com/shota-imanaga-is-pitching-like-an-ace/.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Obviously, Imanaga is on an impressive run, with a 0.96 ERA and 2.30 FIP through eight starts. Is it a mania? I don’t think it’s had anywhere near the cultural impact of Fernandomania, which tapped into the Los Angeles Dodgers’ original sin of building their ballpark at Chavez Ravine, which forced the eviction of nearly 2,000 Mexican-American families living there.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do think the Cubs got themselves a great pitcher, and hope his run continues.

Justin: Hi Jay. Do you know how cwpa is calculated for a regular season game? Thanks

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t know offhand but I think you can get the gist of it at Baseball Reference https://www.sports-reference.com/blog/2020/09/__trashed-2/

Curtis: Is there any way to find out the weight of bat players use? or even what the span is from lightest to heaviest?  Seems like years ago they swung real lumber…I wonder if or how much that has changed over time.  Thanks!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Offhand, I don’t think there’s anybody collecting them, and I don’t think even Statcast could really tease it out. Worth remembering that some players use different bats against different pitchers, too.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: But i do think the general trend over time has been towards lighter bats. Nobody is swinging the kind of war clubs Babe Ruth or Hack Wilson wielded.

Andy: How impressed are you with NYY catching situation? Wells with a > .400 xwOBA, Trevino with a 129 wRC+ and an increased emphasis on pulling fly balls. Not to mention Rice and Ramirez at Somerset

Avatar Jay Jaffe: At a time when major league catching talent seems pretty thin, the Yankees do have one of the best pairs in the majors. Trevino has bounced back nicely after an injury-marred season and Wells has been pretty solid thanks to. his plate discipline; both are good framers as well.

mmddyyyy: Which stadiums don’t use real grass?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There are currently five, those of the D-backs, Marlins, Rays, Rangers, and Blue Jays.

Half Man, Half Manzardo: Curious for your take on the Top Prospect Struggle-itis this year. (And, more specifically, if Manzardo will suffer the same fate.)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Offense is down this year relative to last and sample sizes are small, which is a recipe for some guys struggling.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think especially given the velocity we regularly see in the majors — which we generally don’t see even at the upper levels of the minors with the same volume — it can be a lot for a guy with no MLB experience to handle

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Manzardo does look like he’s struggling given that 40% K rate through 20 PA, but I really think it’s a mistake to  jump to concusions on anybody so early.

Teaberry: The Toronto Blue Jays had a lineup last night with 4 starters who were sons of former MLB players.  Has that ever been equaled or surpassed by another team?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not sure that’s been equalled, let alone surpassed. The Jays can regularly field a lineup with Vlad Jr., Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, and Daulton Varsho so last night was hardly a fluke.

Giant Problems: Should SFG think about selling at the deadline?  Looks grim for this year, doesn’t it?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given so many injuries — not only the recent wave of position players but those to the rotation, some of which were guys they entered the year looking at as in-season additions (Cobb, Ray) — I think they’re in trouble. At the same time, they’re just five games below .500, and a good few weeks can erase that.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I liked what they did late this spring by adding Soler, Chapman, and Snell but all of those guys showed up looking pretty undercooked as far as prep for the season. I think that will sort itself out over time; it’s too early to panic.

Kevin: Francisco Lindor is off to another relatively slow start and probably a fringe NL All Star candidate. Is there a point where you would consider Lindor’s streak of missing All Star games deleterious to his Hall of Fame case, whether or not he reaches the JAWS standard?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eh, not particularly. All-Star selections are subjective to begin with, and we weigh them subjectively in the context of a Hall of Fame case. Lindor already has more selections (4) than Robin Yount did (3). We’re talking about a guy who’s 30 who’s already banked five seasons of at least 5.0 WAR and a sixth thats’s not far off.

I also think it’s worth remembering that while Lindor may not be swinging a hot bat, he’s generally always been a very good defender, which rarely gets the kind of attention that leads to All-Star selections if it’s not accompanied by gaudy stats.

mmddyyyy: Barring injury, does Verdugo look like the 3rd OF for the rest of the season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do think that when Jasson Dominguez is ready after rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, we’ll see a fair bit of him in center field, with Judge in left and Soto in right. That will put a squeeze on Verdugo, but he’s made a positive impression on Boone and the Yankees so I don’t think he’s going to be cast aside, nor do I think the Yankees are going to press forward with Dominguez if he doesn’t look ready.

Baltimoron: I’m not convinced the Orioles have a genuine bullpen problem (top 11 in all of ERA, FIP, xFIP, K%, K-BB%), but there’s a glaring swing-and-miss hole. How would you solve that problem this season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d simply wave a magic wand and fix Craig Kimbrel!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Like every other contender, I think they’ll be in the hunt for relief help as the deadline approaches, and they have a lot of trading chips, which should help them get at least one impact arm.

Evan: It seems that if a team is a ways from contending and has a goal of stockpiling assets…it may not be a bad idea to basically convert a lot of your SP prospects with high end skills but glaring flaws (injury history, lack of third pitch, etc) into closers who go all out. Sure, their arm will likely blow out in a year or two, but the rate stats will be insane and some contender will surely pounce.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s hard to simultaneously be a high end prospect while lacking a quality third pitch. I can see a rebuilding team trying to benefit by moving some of their lesser pitching prospects to the bullpen sooner rather than later, but teams also know they can try this with their own pitchers rather than giving up the farm to get the latest one who goes on a roll.

Jason N: Over some beers with my buddies, kicked around some bad contract swap ideas for Bogaerts. Mike Trout came up.  At first we were like “that guy’s a franchise icon – they won’t trade him” but then we remembered it’s Arte Moreno and they could save almost $12m/year.  Should we make it happen?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Among the many problems with this scenario is that Bogaerts has a full no-trade clause and absolutely no reason on God’s green earth to want to play for the Angels.

JT: Is this just another slow start in a slew of them for Alex Bregman, or is this much more troublesome?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: For a guy who looked like he might be on a HOF path early in his career, he’s been trending towards “merely pretty good” for a few years. Davy Andrews did a check-in a couple weeks ago pointing out that he had made a lot of changes to his swing (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/alex-bregman-is-powerless/), so maybe there’s something there.

cards fan: Watching the Cardinals implode as they have last year and this year, has it changed (to the good) your view of Molina’s HOF candidacy?  Not only have they suffered through a downgrade in  game-calling but almost every facet of their game: running, fielding, hitting and pitching has had unexpected declines

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s an interesting data point, but it doesn’t explain why they keep hiring horseshit managers.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve already conceded that the pitch-framing data at FG and BP does enough to bolster Molina’s case where a simple off-the-shelf JAWS comparison makes him look light. But if we’re going to lean on that for Molina we should be taking a long look not only at Buster Posey but also Russell Martin and Brian McCann.

wheelhouse: does the bat speed data affect your opinion on stanton’s outlook throughout the duration of his contract at all, or is it nearly meaningless without knowing long-term year-to-year trend on it? does him being so far above the field mean he has room to adjust and still be productive, or is he just too late into his career for that?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s a good question. My first read of the data is that Stanton is such an outlier that it’s absurd he doesn’t do more to temper his approach in an attempt to trim his K rate and boost his batting average and on-base percentage. .230/.283/.452 from a DH doesn’t have much value

WinTwin0410: Jay, I usually ask about the Hall of Fame, but I’d like to shake it up a bit here and ask you who in baseball history have been your favorite bit player or playersIE, a guy who did something unusual (hero in one game or for a short time, for example, or perhaps got started super late) but otherwise was not at all distinguished?  (Random examples: Mickey Hatcher, Tom Lawless, Jim Morris, Billy Taylor, Rudy Pemberton, Todd Haney, John Paciorek, etc.)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Oh, Mickey Hatcher is a favorite on that level. My first time listening to Vin Scully coincided with Hatcher’s first major league home run on Agusust 10, 1979, which helped to back Don Sutton’s 50th career shutout, and then of course he came up huge in the 1988 World Series for the Dodgers as well.

As the name of my original blog (b. 2001) attests, I have a soft spot for futility infielders, with Luis Sojo, Lenn Sakata, and Melvin Mora coming to mind. Also the truly craptacular catcher, Tony Suck. I could go on…

A Jolly Good Oberkfellow: Did you get to read the Stark and Rosenthal article about how to save the starting pitcher on the Athletic? Are you interested in any of those proposals, or have any of your own?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Haven’t read it yet but my wife edited it, and we discussed the gist of it briefly (it’s here https://www.nytimes.com/athletic/5484428/2024/05/14/mlb-starting-pitch…). It’s on today’s reading list.

mmddyyyy: How many times each year do you see the end of a game on the west coast?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: More than I should given how often I have to get up before 7 AM, but this is where the pitch clock has been a lifesaver.

RoyalsFan2195: The A’s look like a half competent team this season, so when will they stop running Seth Brown out there for paltry AB’s? K% has ballooned over 30%, Barrel % is down 4%.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think they’re playing him in the hopes that he comes out of it and gives them a potential trade chip, but two years of sub-replacement level work won’t do much for that.

Victoria: “Is it a mania? I don’t think it’s had anywhere near the cultural impact of Fernandomania, which tapped into the Los Angeles Dodgers’ original sin of building their ballpark at Chavez Ravine”

Tom Ricketts needs to do something terrible to make people pay attention to Shota

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Tom Ricketts has done some terrible stuff, but none of it has drawn attention to Shota, alas.

Re-reading what I wrote I realize it was something of an incomplete thought. Given a second swing, I think a better way to put it would be to say that Fernandomania  “tapped into a large but latent audience of Latino and particularly Mexican and Mexican-American fans that had reasons to ignore or loathe the Dodgers in the wake of their original sin of building their ballpark at Chavez Ravine…” etc.

The person who asks the lunch question: what’s for lunch?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Leftover chicken schnitzel and Israeli salad, the originals of which were what we made for Mother’s Day on Sunday

André René Roussimoff: The running game has returned to baseball but the pitchout hasn’t come back. During the ’80s, there were even back-to-back pitchouts sometimes! Is it just considered an inefficient play by today’s teams? Thanks, Jay.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a good question and I don’t really know the answer. I suspect it has something to do with higher velo and higher strikeout rates; why waste a near-automatic ball when you have a better chance of neutralizing the baserunner by striking out the hitter? Just spitballing…

Jeremy: Zack Wheeler just too late a bloomer to have a real shot at the HoF?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s part of his problem; he’s a pitcher who had just 2.0 bWAR in fewer than 400 innings through his age-27 season. The other part of it is that even at age 34, he’s only banked one season of 5.0 bWAR or better, and only three of 4.0 WAR or better. You could maybe put an asterisk next to his 2.8-WAR 2020 and count it in that group, but it’s not enough to make him a serious candidate right now.

Jack Flaherty: Next player to be traded away in Miami?  Jazz?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Jazz or Jesus Luzardo, if they convince another team his medicals are OK

mmddyyyy: At what altitude does altitude matter?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Worth checking out Statcast’s Park Factors page. https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/leaderboard/statcast-park-factors?type=…. It looks to me like anything over 1,000 feet above sea level adds more than 2 feet of carry on a pulled fly ball, and anything under 100 feet above sea level subtracts at least two feet.

John: Any chance we ever get a return of the Fangraphs podcast? I miss it dearly

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do too; behind the scenes, we’ve had some chatter about reviving it, but so far not enough to overcome the inertia of not having it.

Idiotic Failson: No question, just a comment – when people talk about prospects struggling I think about those Pitching Ninja videos where people are throwing curveballs that break 5 feet and follow it with a 95mph painted fastball and wonder how anyone ever hits a baseball.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: baseball is difficult! hitting a baseball is ridiculously hard, and statistically not getting any easier (note the MLB-wide batting average of .240 is the lowest it’s been since 1968).

Steve from Tampa: Is it time to worry about Gleyber Torres?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yeah. He belongs on the side of a milk carton

Dirty Dan McGrew: which prospect were you really high on only to see struggle in the majors?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, I picked Wyatt Langford as my AL Rookie of the Year and so far that’s been, uh, not great. Last year I had Volpe in the AL and Corbin Carroll in the NL, the year before that Julio Rodríguez and Seiya Suzuki, and in 2021 I had Randy Arozarena and Ian Anderson; with Yamamoto my pick in the NL this year i might wind up with four years in a ro of picking one Rookie of the Year correctly

Jack: What is wrong with Gausman? He looks more droppable than a supposed top of the rotation starter. Is it injury related?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There’s a lot not going right for the Blue Jays, and Gausman is just one problem — but one I’m going to add to my check-in list for a possible future article

Colton: Mentioned this in Ben’s chat yesterday but I’d like your take on it as well. Apparently all the Cardinals players fully support Marmol and the coaching staffs strategies and approaches according to Katie Woo. But after 200+ games of terrible results, that has to change at some point, right? Like they have to stop beating a dead horse and start questioning something soon

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, and IMO it may change if DeWitt starts thinking about Mozeliak’s neck.

Alan: Speaking of the Cards and the HOF, Goldschmidt has seemed to be on a Hall trajectory for a bit, and a few more good seasons would lock him in. But this year he has fallen off a cliff. If this persists, how much does it affect his chances?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I took a quick look at Goldschmidt a couple weeks ago (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/paul-goldschmidt-and-the-crowd-below-repla…) and he’s actually lost five points of wRC+. I don’t think what he’s going through is anything that some adjustments can’t overcome, but I do wonder if he needs a change of scenery to have a better chance of pulling them off. The Cardinals are sinking fast and being in the position of a struggling veteran playing for his next contract seems like a recipe for pressing rather than fixing what ails.

THe GUy WHo MAKEs TRADEs: Give me a reason for a Marlins fan to be optimistic (If there is one)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Someday later in this century, global warming will raise the sea level enough to wash away Miami, in which case the Marlins and their sordid history will no longer be a focal point of baseball discussions.

MikeD: Don’t the comparisons for players like Martin and McCann fall apart since it’s not a consistent compare across history? That was my “fear” when Fangraphs implemented pitch framing. They’re simply getting an uplift on WAR that most catchers throughout history don’t.

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We can’t do everything we want to compare them across history but we can compare them within their era and see that they were more or less Molina’s — and Mauer’s — equal thanks to their framing.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We also know that with strikeout rates much lower in earlier eras, it matters a whole lot less how well, say, Yogi Berra framed pitches than it does how Buster Posey or Yadier Molina framed them.

Closers in HOF: Would Craig Kimbrell’s HOF case be helped by getting to 900+ innings in his current role (late inning high leverage but not necessarily closer) — even if he does not get to 500+ saves as a result?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think so, because he’s going to wind up with similar numbers to Billy Wagner, who seems likely to gain entry sooner or later.

mr.wacker: luis sojo, hero of the 1995 1 game playoff…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He also hit the two-run single that put the Yankees ahead of the Mets in the 9th inning of Game 6 5 of the 2000 World Series, and had a few other big hits that fall.

NYY: Down year on the farm for the Yankees top prospects so far this year. Is there anything to get excited about prospect wise?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Seems pretty early to start jumping off the Spencer Jones train but beyond that I don’t really have a bead on their system

Smiling Politely: Jay, after seeing Buehler start twice, I’m puzzled why he isn’t still in AAA if he’s openly admitting he’s forgotten how to do things like cover 1st on a ground ball and clearly does not have consistency with his mechanics. Any thoughts?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: His rehab stint ran the maximum amount of time required without another IL placement, and since it’s hard to simulate the extra adrenaline that comes with being in the majors the Dodgers are giving him a look. Beyond that I believe he has enough service time that he can’t be optioned without his consent, and I don’t think the Dodgers are to that level of concern yet.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, time for me to head out. thanks so much for stopping by. We’ll do this again soon!

Melvin Mora: Melvin Mora a futility infielder? Two ASGs and 4 straight 4+ WAR seasons.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Oh, just to complete the thought — Mora hit .161 in a cup of coffee as a 27-year-old rookie; nobody ever envisioned he would be the late bloomer that he became. It was fun to watch his evolution, particularly knowing that his wife gave birth to quintuplets in 2001. The man had many mouths to feed, and so it was especially great that he became a star.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: and with that, goodbye for now…

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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Smiling Politelymember
16 days ago

Ah, did not realize he’d maxed out his rehab time, which makes a lot of sense. Thanks, Jay!