Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 5/20/22

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to today’s chat!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve got a piece up today on the Blue Jays infield’s underachievement this season https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-blue-jays-infield-has-yet-to-soar/. And I had a piece about Mookie Betts heating up a couple days ago https://blogs.fangraphs.com/mookie-betts-is-mostly-fine/

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve also got a 5 1/2 year old who just came home from school with a fever after getting Not Enough Sleep last night — thankfully everybody in the household has tested negative in the past 24 hours, which is a start — but we’re going to see how long I can push this chat without interruptions. Please bear with me.

Dmitrt: Hi Jay. What should the yanks do with Chapman? And what WILL they do?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They should probably give him a break from closing games until he starts pitching better; he’s allowed a run in each of his past four outings. I haven’t looked at his numbers closely, but I do wonder about whether his release point is off, which is something i noted in connection with last year’s struggles https://blogs.fangraphs.com/aroldis-chapmans-nosedive-is-dragging-the-…

Alby: Are the majority of players in the Hall of Fame small hall or big hall guys, or are they evenly split? I know they get a vote. Do they tend to make their picks public?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The Hall of Famers only get a vote when they sit on the Era Committees, which generally means only ~8 per year. The only guess I’ll hazard with regards to a consensus, based on two decades of covering the elections, is that they tilt towards small Hall, as it’s generally been difficult for living ex-players to get elected through the committees.

Dave: Is this just who Luke Voit is now or do the Padres have reason for optimism?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: When Voit is healthy, he is a fantastic hitter. Unfortunately, health is an intermittent thing with him, and he did just come back from a biceps injury, so I wonder about whether he’s at full strength

Jimmie Foxxalorian: Now that Trevor Story is finally hitting, are the Red Sox more or less likely to trade away players who may become free agents?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s way too early to tell. I’m not even sure we’ll know in a month. The expanded playoff field gives so much leeway — 83-to-87 win teams are projected to make up more than half of the third wild cards, via Dan Szymborski’s model (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/projecting-a-12-team-playoff-structure/) so any team that’s in the middle is going to need as much time as possible to figure out whether they’re buying or selling.

B’Ryce Hammer’s Luscious Locks: You don’t do fantasy questions, right?

So let me sneak one in there that isn’t quite fantasy. MacKenzie Gore starts 12 more games this year, T/F?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ha, good question, especially with ZiPS projecting 12 more starts ROS and Steamer 11 (but 22 relief appearances). Gore threw just 50 innings last year so I imagine he’s going to be on a pretty short leash. I’d take the under on 12, but think they’ll do what they can to keep him around, perhaps in the bullpen or spreading out his starts with some minor league work

Ray: Worry level 1-10 about the Robbie Ray signing at this point? Velocity down across the board and command way down compared to the breakout Cy Young last year.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: This looks a lot more like the Robbie Ray I know than the guy who won the Cy Young last year. Note that it’s last year’s velo that’s something of an outlier.

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he’s a guy who’s prone to command issues. When it’s not great, he’s got a lot of 4s instead of 3s

Alex Wei: Hey Jay! Do you see any of the Dodgers’ up-and-coming minor league prospects (Bobby Miller, Miguel Vargas, Michael Busch, etc.) making a sizable impact with the big league club later on this season? (Ryan Pepiot and Michael Grove have already been called up to make spot starts, but they may not stick around too long if/when Kershaw and/or Heaney return.)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given the strength of the big club’s roster, I think their contributions, if any, will be at the margins unless there are multiple major injuries. Pepiot’s two starts and AAA assignment already suggests that he’s ahead of the other starters in the pecking order. And I do think they believe they’ll be getting Heaney and Kershaw back sooner rather than later.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As for the position players, this team has so much depth and flexibility. It’s built to have guys like Taylor and Lux who can slide into a spot in the case of an injury

Some Guy: Which team (not the Rockies) most needs a Front Office overhaul in your opinion?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The Dave Dombrowski Experience in Philadelphia isn’t exactly generating strong returns, and the shape of that roster is an odd one. I am wondering about whether the Royals could use some change after reading this piece by Alec Lewis and Eno Sarris given how behind they seem to be in some areas https://theathletic.com/3260163/2022/04/20/what-are-the-roots-of-the-r…

Twenty: What’s the best way for the Brewers to improve their lineup/outfield this summer?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe by trading for Kevin Kiermaier, since Cain and Taylor aren’t hitting

Aaron Judge: How much does his price go up if he rocks a .950 ops all year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Looks like we’re going to see, as he’s just hitting the living **** out of the ball.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The package the Yankees offered him beyond this season was seven years at $30.5 million per year. I’m guessing that gets to about $250 million either with an eighth year or a higher AAV.

Matt VW: If the Red Sox decide they want to move Bogaerts, what would the market for him be? It seems like most of the leading contenders have shortstop already figured out.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It may well be that other teams view him as a third baseman given the general consensus of his defensive metrics.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The Cardinals stand out as a possibility, though. I wrote about their demoting Paul DeJong last week (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-cardinals-run-out-of-patience-with-pau…), which now looks like it’s going to mean an experiment with Tommy Edman and Nolan Gorman in the middle infield at least some of the time.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That could be rough given Gorman’s defense at the keystone so I don’t think we should be surprised if it doesn’t last the season, or if it’s just one of many lineups the Cardinals use.

Mike A: What are your expectations for Nolan Gorman? People compare him to Joey Gallo but he can hit for a bigger average than that!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: See the link above for updates to Eric Longenhagen’s prospect capsule. I think that the initial going could be rough for Gorman given his high-strikeout tendency, and particularly under the current offensive conditions I don’t have high expectations for his batting average.

Kids: My son (2) has a fever too. He’s also fine and negative and home with us while we work. Good luck to you

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thank you! Our girl is napping, and history suggests she’ll be fine, but the context of the latest wave here makes every cough a fraught one.

Monkeyball: Hi Jay — Have you been hearing those loud firework-y sounds at night in Brooklyn? Super annoying. Are they from some sports venue? I thought Barclays had a roof so I’m at a loss.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have not heard the fireworks-type sound from Downtown Brooklyn, so I dunno.

Richard: Hi Jay. After Bochy, who’s the most deserving (or at least most likely) HOF manager out of Piniella, Leyland, Scioscia, Manuel and Davey Johnson?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I tend to favor Leyalnd and Scioscia from that group. Longevity is a problem for Manuel and Johnson, and a lack of postseason success after 1990 is a problem for Piniella.

Nathan: Can you arrange these players from most likely to make the HOF to the least? Altuve, Machado, Stanton, Freeman, Betts, Correa, Lindor, Harper

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes but if I’m going to do it it’s going to be in a 2,000 word piece!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Betts has the highest JAWS of that group, and is only 29, so put him first

Avatar Jay Jaffe: and Machado probably second since he is apparently on his way to a big year

Devos: who’s today’s harold baines totally forgettable player, never a top 5 guy who will be in the hall. do i tell my kids they’re lucky to be watching paul goldschmidt

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Goldschmidt already has a better case for the Hall than Baines. He’s 25th in JAWS at 1B and has a 7-year peak of 42.2, 0.1 ahead of the Hall standard. The heaviest lifting is done.

The Baines equivalent would be Justin Upton. Both 1/1 picks, stars early, then injuries; but we’ll have to see if Upton gets off the mat after being cut and gives his career totals some padding. I don’t see Cooperstown in his future.

Farhandrew Zaidman: (Very early returns) has Mookie on pace for nearly a 7 WAR season. Is he firmly on a HOF trajectory, or does he need 3 or 4 more All Star seasons to get there?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s in great shape

Wild Thing: Is Matt Brash destined to be a reliver at this point? The stuff is sooo good, but seems like he has 0 clue where it is going.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eric Longenhagen just wrote about him in Seattle’s Top Prospects list https://blogs.fangraphs.com/seattle-mariners-top-31-prospects-2022/

Avatar Jay Jaffe: “Brash will probably be deployed in a high-leverage, multi-inning relief role in the short-term. That gives him the best shot to a) help the big league club right now, b) do so while mitigating some of the impact of his wildness, and c) retain enough of an innings foundation that he can move back into the rotation if/when he polishes up his command. Brash pitched 100 innings last season. If we were anticipating a typical year-to-year increase, that would have put him in position to work 120-130 innings as a starter this year… If Brash works multiple innings in relief, he could still hover around the 100-inning mark throughout the season and be in a better position for a move back into the rotation than some of the guys who were yo-yo’d…”

Avatar Jay Jaffe: there’s more to what Eric wrote that’s worth reading. I’ll only add that his having 3 pitches that grade out as plus or better means he’ll get multiple chances at starting before they finally give up and make him a reliever long term

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hey, New Yorkers, it occurs to me halfway through this chat that I have 3 tickets to the Brooklyn Cyclones to unload tonight. Weather’s kinda iffy but if you think you can use them, shoot me a message here and we’ll work something out after the chat

Adam123566: Hey Jay. Is Manaea a good replacement for Scherzer?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He ain’t Scherzer but he’s a very good pitcher, so assuming you are talking about a fantasy context, that’s a good way to go

Mike Trout: What do you think the over/under on my final career WAR will be?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: my head spins at the thought. Wild-ass guess let’s say 140

Devos: I’m a radio nerd and listen to a lot of different broadcasts and it seems like there is a universal broadcaster sentiment that all of this (gestures at everything) is because hitters don’t have the right approach, hit for contact, yada yada. But sadly  it seems like they’re getting this perspective from the industry. And meanwhile pitchers keep throwing harder. Are we just headed for 30% strikeout rate game play implosion?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the changes in the pipeline — from roster limits on pitchers to the coming pitch clock, some regulation of infield shifts, and eventually robot umps — are going to alter the batter/pitcher balance before we get to that point.

On a side note, it is frustrating as hell to hear that kind of sentiment voiced. If it’s so goddamn easy to go the other way, grab a bat and hit this lab-created high-velo, high-spin offering yourself, big boy!

Hongo: If Cody Bellinger keeps hitting like this, should the Dodgers just let? him walk at the end of the season? Or, in the current, weak-hitting environment, is he still a valuable center fielder?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: the slash line is ugly but he’s got a 100wRC+ and is an above-average defender in center field. Also he’s got one more year of club control before free agency. So I don’t see the Dodgers giving up on him that easily.

Krusty: HOF-related question: do you think it makes sense to use RE24 in place of Batting Runs to add further context for WAR (or for seasonal awards)?  

Wishing your 5 1/2 year old a speedy recovery!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: WAR is designed to be a context-neutral stat, whereas RE24 is a context-dependent one. I’m glad we have both, because they help us to answer different questions, and it’s worth consulting both kinds of metrics (including multiple flavors of WAR and WPA-type measures) when thinking about awards

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think this Dave Cameron piece on the context-neutral/context-dependent divide is worth reading https://blogs.fangraphs.com/putting-war-in-context-a-response-to-bill-…

Pat: I would think the answer to the “front office” question is Detroit. Been 7 years for Avila now, still struggling mightily, they’ve graduated 4 of the big 5 prospects & only Skubal is really succeeding..& not much hitting in the minors.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d give it time on the pitchers but you’re right, the Tigers belong in this discussion

Fart: Do you think the Dodger’s re-sign/extend Trea?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, I believe that they will

zoopy: Who’s lineup is underrated that isn’t yet showing up in the runs column?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Looking at the BaseRuns version of our Projected Standings (https://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=BaseRuns) suggests that it’s the Marlins, who “should” be averaging 4.56 runs per game but are only scoring 4.27 per game, with the Braves having a .21 gap as well. The Marlins are certainly easy to underrate because of their history, and I almost never write about them because it feels like punting into the void, but they’ve got some talent

Tom: HOFers on St. Louis Cardinals, over/under, 3.5?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pujols a lock, Molina very likely, Arenado and Goldschmidt in good shape but not lock territory… I think I’d probably take the over

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that sneaky-good Andrew Knizner case…

Some Guy: Why has Cleveland’s rotation been so… meh to start the season? We’re so used to it being the opposite, with our hitters being awful and our pitching been good.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. I don’t have a ready answer but they’re 20th in the majors in strikeout rate (21.6%) and K-BB% (13.0%) where they were 2nd and 1st in those two categories two years ago.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Might be a topic for a future piece

Guest: Do you think playing in a cold weather city during early spring and fall makes a sizeable impact on a player’s career counting stats?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pretty small, because you’re only home half the time and because players do move around the league.

Guest: How much does a team value leadership and clubhouse presence when evaluating a free agent or extension candidate? Thinking about Xander here. He’s the longest tenured player and the backbone of 2 championships, the players all love him and fans love him, but of course X sees himself differently than the FO sees him. Does the FO owe him a “loyalty”/leadership bonus, in other words.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There are all kinds of intangibles that get factored in when a team is considering a long-term deal, beyond the simple math that we can trace via WAR, dollars, and years. I think the gap between the Judge projections and the Yankees’ offer (see https://blogs.fangraphs.com/aaron-judge-bypasses-yankees-extension-off…) is a good illustration of the effect. I wouldn’t say that a FO “owes” anybody a loyalty/leadership bonus, but I would say that a player’s team might have more reason to overvalue that player’s performance and presence than another team would.

Guest: If for some reason Ohtani doesn’t make it to ten years of service time (let’s hope not though, obviously!) would MLB make an exception for him to be able to get into the Hall?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: This is and has always been the Hall’s rule, not MLB’s rule. They only deviated from it in the case of Addie Joss’ premature death, and it took over 40 years from the institution’s inception for that to happen. Barring the most unfortunate circumstances I don’t see a similar decision for Ohtani

Jeremy Pena: Am I…. a top 5 SS in MLB right now?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d be hesitant to say top 5 on the basis of 33 games (and the competition’s 30-some games), but I think he could well be among the top 10.

Nate: It seems the Astros have somewhat of a refusal to handout any kind of extension/FA deal of longer than 5 years…even though they’ve shown a willingness to field big payrolls/AAV’s up into the mid 30 range. I get that Pena looks incredible, but when it comes to people like Correa and Kyle Tucker more recently…is that as just unbelievably negligent as it sounds? I can understand not wanting to go to 10-12 years or even 300 +…but it’s just mind boggling as a fan to watch Correa walk, and potentially Tucker down the line over it…can you seriously not project those guys to be good on at least 7-8 year deals into their mid 30s?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wouldn’t give up on the Tucker extension yet. As for Correa… I do wonder if letting him walk was in part an effort to distance the team from its sign-stealing. We’ve see the reports about Altuve (who is signed long-term, though that term is nearing its end) not wanting to use the trashcan  system whereas Correa used it more.

G Kirby: Re: the Bellinger question.  His arb rate for his final season will be well over $20MM.  You’re saying you’re good signing him up for say 1 more year at $22MM vs. letting him become a FA a year early?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m saying that the Dodgers aren’t going to sweat that kind of money, particularly now that it looks like they’re getting salary relief on Bauer.

WAR: Let’s say Trout precisely equals Willie’s WAR. Would that make him better because athletes are better, or worse because Willie fought/missed years and also dealt with being Black in that time? Or the same? Because to me, Willie is the bar.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s very tough to say definitively, but I lean towards the latter. Trout is facing a much higher level of competition. Willie was a 10-WAR player annually for  a long stretch because the league still had a lot of stiffs who would have been replaced if integration happened more quickly and evenly.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, it’s time for me to roll, thanks so much for stopping by! No chat from me next week as I’ve got my [redacted]-year college reunion. Stay safe and dry!

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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