Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 5/19/20

2:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to the first edition of my Tuesday FanGraphs chat, not to be confused with the Monday chats that weren’t working, schedule-wise, or the Thursday chats that prevailed before my daughter started preschool. Anyway, I’m here, wiping the sweat from my face after quickly slurping down a spicy bowl of Shin Ramyun, and it’s no coincidence that I just turned on the ESPN KBO replay of the NC Dinos and Doosan Bears. Let’s talk some baseball!

2:04
David: What are the chances we get mlb baseball in 2020?

2:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s more likely than not – maybe 2-to-1 in favor — but it’s not going to be ideal, and it will be controversial with regards to the risk factors, the level of testing relative to the population at large, and the protocols with regards to a player testing positive. Buckle up.

2:08
C M Keller: I was looking at JAWS for relievers and was surprised to see that Rollie Fingers – a second-ballot Hall of Famer and universally acknowledged top closer of his era – was so low in the rankings. Was he overrated, or is current WAR rating of modern one-inning closers not well-suited for evaluating relievers of, say, 1990 and earlier?

2:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: WAR doesn’t work tremendously well for relievers in the first place, and Fingers wasn’t elite at run prevention (120 ERA+, compared to 126 for Gossage, 132 for Smith, 136 for Sutter, 141 for Hoffman, 147 for Wilhelm, and 205 for Rivera). He had a distinctive mustache and played a prominent role on some playoff and championship teams (oh, what might have been had he been healthy enough for the 1982 World Series), so he did have the Fame going for him, but he just wasn’t as dominant as some of his HOF peers.

2:12
Sonny: Really appreciate you making this time to chat. Working from home with a toddler these days is no joke. It reminds me of…wait, hold on…Get down from there! How did you get on top of the Fridge!?!…sorry I’m gonna have to call you back.

2:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Haha, thanks. Yes, it is a challenge to juggle work and child care, but I do enjoy these chats and hope that I can keep to doing them weekly.

2:13
Travis: If baseball returns, and becomes a focal point for the inevitable second wave (i.e. – wide outbreak on one team), that means the whole thing is kaput, right? I’m having a hard time imagining a scenario where MLB can justify continuing the season in any sense if they become the face of a new outbreak (in spite of any and all precautions).

2:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Nobody really knows how the league is going to handle an wider outbreak but I’d assume a 2-3 week shutdown of the whole MLB might be necessary, and yes, if that doesn’t quell the spread then the season is probably kaput. I do think MLB needs to clarify its protocol here

2:16
Magic Kingdome: If there was a Muppets Hall of Fame, who are the top 5 ranked by JAWS?

2:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hmmmm, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Rowlf (my personal favorite), Gonzo, and the Swedish Chef (my daughter’s favorite). I’m snubbing Fozzie here, I realize, but having recently re-watched all of seasons 1 and 2 and part of season 3 of the Muppet Show, I find I like Fozzie’s bits the least of the major characters.

Also: it’s now been a week and we still can’t find the DVD remote, which really hampers our ability to play the Muppet Show discs. [update: the prodigal son has returned]

I know at most like eight of you on here have been to my apartment in the Before Times, but if whoever took the DVD remote would kindly return it, no questions will be asked.
16 May 2020
2:20
Jeff: Since injuries are the league’s next frontier, what do you think about athletes turning to PRP and stem cells before considering surgery?

2:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: This isn’t exactly new. Bartolo Colon underwent his controversial stem cell treatment in 2010 (IIRC), and players like Carl Crawford and Chad Billingsley received PRP injections in 2012. I think it’s perfectly reasonable for an athlete to attempt to rehab an injury without surgery, particularly if it’s going to cost him or her a season.

2:24
glt4dc: This question is apropos of nothing but this is the time for such questions right?  Anyhow, I’ve always wondered why there have been fewer 4-home run games hit (18) than perfect games thrown (23).  Perfect games require a pitcher to throw 100 or so well-placed pitches along with flawless defense and a forgiving ump (and scorekeeper).  In contrast, a batter “only” needs 4 pitches to whomp on in the course of 4-6 ABs and doesn’t need anyone else’s help.  The latter seems easier, relatively speaking, than the former, but perfect games have occurred a little more frequently.  Why do you think that’s the case?

2:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hmm, I’d say it might just be a small sample fluke, but it’s also true that the conditions for both events have varied greatly over the course of baseball history; it was close to impossible before Babe Ruth, for example, to hit four homers in a game, and aside from two 1890s guys, who didn’t even hit all the balls over a fence, the first one didn’t happen until Gehrig in 1932, by which point there had been three post-1900 perfect games.

2:27
Bill G: Both Baseball Reference and MLB.com have declared OOTP as the most realistic baseball simulation software.  I have not seen an independent review of the various simulation software games.  I would like to see a review of DMB, OOTP, and others, or can you point me to one.  Given we are all stuck at home this might be relevant today!  Thanks!

2:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t have any pointers, but I’ve enjoyed playing with the review copy of OOTP that I received. I don’t have any gaming experience outside of it, so nothing to compare it to, but I was hoping to write something up at some point.

2:28
Magic Kingdome: Best Hall of Fame speech?

2:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Having not heard anything close to all of them, I’ll go with Ted Williams’ 1966 speech calling for the election of Negro Leagues players, since it was definitely the most impactful on the institution’s history.

2:30
Guest: Statler and Waldorf

2:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Considered them for my Muppets top five, and love them, but that raises the question of how to handle multiples. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and the Chickens being the others.

2:32
David: When does Bobby grich get another look at vets committee? Is he the best player not in the hall of fame (other than ped guys and rose/Jackson)

2:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a good question. I’ve got an ESPN Insider/Plus piece ($)on each AL Team’s next Hall of Famer, a companion to the NL set that ran last week (http://insider.espn.com/mlb/insider/story/_/id/29163993/every-nl-team-…), and I have Grich down for the Orioles (Mike Trout was my pick for the Angels). He’s seventh in JAWS at second base and *should* be in, by my reckoning, but since going one-and-done on the 1992 ballot, he hasn’t even gotten on an Era Committee ballot, in part because of the format change and the depth of the field of contemporaries. With Ted Simmons, Alan Trammell, and Jack Morris (meh) getting elected from the MB  group, the traffic is at least thinning out a bit, so I’m hopeful he gets his day on the ballot; the additions of Dwight Evans, Lou Whitaker, and Thurman Munson for last year’s ballot show that it’s possible, to say nothing of Simmons becoming the first one-and-done BBWAA candidate to get elected.

2:35
Jeff: Historically, Does Theo Epstein have any shot to catch up to Friedman? Old school guys might like the rings but those guys are dying out

2:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not sure what’s being asked here given that Theo Epstein has presided over three World Series winners — including two of the most awaited, drought-wise — while being more or less on the cutting edge in terms of the direction of his front office.

2:37
Jeff: Speaking of, the Negro Leagues seems like a content gold mine. Do you have any articles planned on players? Have I missed past articles!?

2:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t written much about them. Hope to at some point, particularly if any candidates get on the Early Baseball Era Committee ballot.

2:38
Travis: Hearing talk about Buck O’Neil being eligible/on the Veteran Committee ballots this winter. Should that come to pass, and given the voting mechanics of the committees (12/16 votes, only vote for four)…how likely is a split ballot where Minoso/O’Neil/Allen all come up just short? And in that scenario, is it permissible to fast-track R&D of socially-distant rioting in the proverbial streets? (The mechanics of the VC make me mad)

2:39
Avatar Jay Jaffe: And of course, Buck O’Neil is the obvious one. he’ll be on a different ballot than Minoso, though, since his greater impact was before 1950, whereas Minoso and Dick Allen will be on the Golden Days ballot, for those whose greater impact was in the 1950-1969 window.

2:39
Bob Loblaw’s Knoblauch: Thanks a lot for the Bob Watson piece. Much like Jimmy Wynn, I never learned much about sub-Hall players from before my time. What’s the favorite profile of a player like that that you’ve written, or a favorite story that you unearthed in researching?

2:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks. As one of the oldest writers on staff — putting the senior in Senior Writer — I’ve always enjoyed bringing some historical perspective to my FanGraphs work, just as I did at my previous stops. All of the obit/tributes I’ve written mean a lot to me (Frank Robinson, Don Newcombe, Rusty Staub, and Steve Dalkowski are some others that come to mind), but one of the more left field-type ones, of which I am most proud, was the piece i did on Ed Charles. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/r-i-p-ed-charles-who-followed-in-the-track…

2:42
Lorenzo: For a long, long time the best baseball simulation software was Micro League Baseball on the Commodore 64 from around the mid 1980’s.  Anyway, is it possible that some pitchers had their own personal catcher during this shutdown and somehow maintained their arm strength?

2:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I know that Max Scherzer did quarantine with a catcher (https://www.nbcsports.com/washington/nationals/meet-orioles-catcher-li…), and I imagine he’s not the only one, but I don’t recall reading about other examples. I did see Gerrit Cole playing a fairly vigorous game of catch with his wife, Amy Crawford — who happens to be Brandon Crawford’s sister and played on an NCAA championship softball team at UCLA.

Gerrit & Amy Cole 🔥🔥🔥

( via IG/@ amyc23 )

22 Mar 2020
2:47
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As for Micro League, I never played it, but I did spend a lot of time on the family Apple II+ with Strategic Simulations Inc.’s Computer Baseball, which had 13 historical World Series pairings ranging from 1906 (Cubs vs. Hitless Wonder White Sox) to the 1978, ’79, and ’80 matchups. I wrote about it for Michael Clair’s blogathon a few years back. https://oldtimefamilybaseball.com/post/73880788748/the-basement-tapes-…

2:47
WinTwins0410: Jay, I know you’re not a supporter of Andy Pettitte getting into the Hall, but I’m curious about your sense of the voters’ view of him in light of his HGH use admission.  What kind of haircut are voters giving Andy based on PEDs vs. voters just not thinking he belongs in?  (I realize this is just a subjective guess on your part). I think we’d all agree that based on this year’s BBWAA vote, Clemens and Bonds are getting exactly a 38 percentage point haircut from voters for PED use.  Is Pettitte (who got 11% this year) suffering something similar, or do you think it’s more like a 20-point penalty?  (If you could offer the same kind of guess on Sammy Sosa and Manny, too, that’d be great.)

2:51
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s impossible to quantify something like that because it’s not like an individual voter “gives the haircut” if you will, it’s that some people are more strict or loose with regards to where the line is for PEDs. I think it should be fairly obvious that Clemens, Bonds and Manny would be elected if not for their usage, and the same is probably true for Sosa.

HGH stuff aside, Pettitte is a candidate who has a high win total and some big postseason numbers, but he never dominated in the way those guys did. He made just three All-Star teams, wasn’t elite at missing bats or preventing runs, and didn’t win a Cy Young. If not for Da Ringz, I don’t think he’d be in the discussion for longer than a single election cycle.

2:52
Jeff: Is Carlos Beltran a top 10 CF in history or is that position loaded up?

2:53
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, he’s ninth at the position in JAWS and has an outstanding postseason track record to boot, so I’d say calling him a top-10 center fielder is perfectly reasonable.

2:53
Joe: Do you believe the owners?

2:54
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hell could freeze over twice and I don’t think I’d believe the owners if they told me that their feet were cold.

2:54
3rd major league: The KBO has made me appreciate how much I miss lots of contact! If you were to make a 3rd (really, 2nd) major league modeled on the KBO in the US, what type of markets, players, and pay structure would you go for? If we think of it as a AAAA league, could it work?

2:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The KBO and CPBL have definitely illustrated — to me, at least — the virtues of a more contact-centric game. that said, I think it would be very hard to get another league off the ground unless you’re using existing minor league stadiums, because getting a ballpark built with public money is about to get even more difficult than it was before.

2:56
Andrew McCutchen Fan: Where does Tris Speaker rank among the HOFers?

2:59
Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s third among center fielders in JAWs, behind only Mays and Cobb, though both Trout and Mantle are ahead of him on seven-year peak score. An elite player who I think gets overshadowed a bit by being Cobb’s contemporary.

2:59
Joe: So you’re saying you don’t believe that they will lose 2 billion dollars if they have to pay players half the salary they would normally have made when they made 10 billion last year paying players for a full season and have said that gate receipts account for about 30% of total revenue? What, are you a communist?

3:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As former Blue Jays exec and MLB president/CEO Paul Beeston famously said in 2002, “I can turn a $4 million profit into a $2 million loss and get every national accounting firm to agree with me.”

I’m not saying the owners won’t lose money given the current situation, but I’m not taking their figures at face value.

3:05
Mark: Loved the Muppets question. I would give an honorable mention to Hoots the Owl, a hip jazz musician. His work on the 1988 special’s “Put Down the Duckie” is classic. Of course there also are Bert and Ernie. (Bert: “Ernie, those sheep are tap dancing”)

3:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I was sticking with Muppet Show regulars. If we’re getting into Sesame Street, it’s a different ballgame, and I’m nowhere near as comprehensive when it comes to specials.

3:06
Sonny: I never thought much of Jeters defense before, but rewatching a lot of old Yankees games on YouTube good lord! Stunning lack of range in his 30s. Great hands, phenomenal hitter, not a SS

3:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Jeter looked good when he got to balls, was very surehanded, and everybody — this scribe included — loved the jump throws from deep in the hole, but yeah, he didn’t have a ton of range, to say the least.

3:07
WinTwins0410: Graig Nettles: He didn’t fare well on the writers ballot, and a critic would of course look at a traditional metric like batting average (.248) and dismiss Graig (his 390 HRs notwithstanding).  But his WAR would argue for him rating a shot on a Modern Baseball era committee ballot.  What do you think?  As the MB committee continues to meet and induct players, will Nettles make it onto a committee?

3:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Nettles is 12th in JAWS and just 0.5 below the standard. When you consider his impact on the 1976-81 Yankees (especially the 1978 World Series) and the ’84 Padres, he should be in already, but his low batting average is an impediment, and I think the fact that he won only two Gold Gloves — because Brooks Robinson had a monopoly on them, and then Buddy Bell took over — is held against him. That said, it’s very hard to get enough screening committee members to focus on candidates who derive a great chunk of value from their defense. That’s probably why we haven’t seen Grich or Keith Hernandez on ballots, either.

3:10
Jeff: Worse for humanity: the major sports’ owners or whoever the hell runs the NCAA?

3:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: there’s a special circle of hell for the NCAA, FIFA and the IOC, well beyond major league owners.

3:11
Tatatoothey: And we should take the players at face value? When they have idiots like Blake Snell saying “I have to get mine.” Meanwhile we have 36.5 million unemployed. The players will never win this fight in the Court of public opinion and they really risk damaging the game. They should take the split, and have the owners make up the difference in future seasons.

3:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t see anyplace where I said we should take the players at face value. I do think that having multiple economically literate analysts examining the claims of both sides is the way to go.

I don’t think Snell did the players any favors with the way he expressed himself, but I also think that the revenue sharing offer is ridiculous unless the owners retroactively give the players the split of that extra money they were making while the league’s revenues were growing for 17 consecutive years.

3:13
Travis: Wasn’t Tris Speaker in the Klan? or at least attended rallies? or am I misremembering?

3:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Speaker apparently told writer Fred Lieb he was a member of the KKK. Later in life, however, as a coach of the Indians, he helped Larry Doby convert from second base to center field, and became a staunch advocate for Doby. People change, thankfully.

3:16
Jeff: Are you a draft guy? Thoughts on Pete Crow-Armstrong? I found out today that his mom is almost 60, he’s maybe 18, and continue to be fascinated by what money enables

3:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The only thing I know about the draft, other than the fact that it’s ridiculous and short-sighted to cut it to five rounds, is that potential 1-1 pick Spencer Torkelson grew up in Petaluma as a neighbor of my cousin.

3:18
Lorenzo: Don Mattingly would have easily made the HOF if he had just ____ more league average or so seasons.

3:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Mattingly only had four seasons worth 5.0 WAR, so he’d have probably needed at least a few more of those to be a solid candidate. He’s 24.5 WAR short of the career standard at JAWS, so if you’re assuming 2.0 WAR seasons, well, you can do the math.

3:21
The Stranger: With the news of Colon wanting to play again and Manny trying to get a look in Taiwan, it got me thinking I’d love to see a 40+ league for all the guys who can’t contribute on a MLB roster anymore but still want to play. Maybe some of those contracted MiLB teams can reinvent themselves?

3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: They actually tried something like this in 1989, but it drew less than 1,000 people per game and folded midway through its second season. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senior_Professional_Baseball_Association

3:23
Matt Klentak: on the radio in Philadelphia today they are arguing who was the “most important” player on the 08 Phillies. WAR says Utley, lack of pitching down the roster says Hamels (Also NLCS & WS MVP). The heart was Rollins. Howard was 2nd in the mvp that year to Pujols.. where do you fall on this covid-19 induced argument?

3:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a good question. Utley was their most potent bat by OPS+ and their best defender. He was worth 9.0 bWAR, with Rollins second at 5.5. The drop from Hamels (4.3) to Moyer (2.8) was less, but I think it’d be pretty tough to win a championship if Moyer was your best pitcher, so I can see why one would argue in his favor.

3:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, my window for chatting today is closing. Thanks so much for stopping by and dropping a question or two my way. We’ll do it again, same time next week! Until then, stay safe and sane!

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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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David Parsons
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David Parsons

Has there been any discussion of how likely it would be to get the Latin players who are now in their home countries back into the US in time for games? What if there are still strong travel restrictions? Would exceptions be made followed by quarantines?