Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 5/23/23

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to my weekly chat!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve got a piece today on the Yankees DFAing Aaron Hicks https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-yankees-have-finally-cut-bait-on-aaron…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yesterday I wrote about the Dodgers’ rotation mess in the wake of injuries to Dustin May and Julio Urías https://blogs.fangraphs.com/injuries-to-dustin-may-and-julio-urias-lea…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And last Friday I had a piece on Manny Machado’s injury and struggles that was published prior to his going on the IL https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-padres-offense-is-broken-and-so-is…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I may revisit that one, there are a couple of loose ends. Anyway, on with the show…

Daniel: Ben Clemens said yesterday he thinks Outman has a substantial lead for NL ROY. Do you agree? Corbin Carroll is slightly ahead by WAR, so I don’t immediately see why this would be the case.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: With apologies to Ben, “substantial” may be overstating the case, at least to these eyes. After all, we’re talking about a subjective argument as to who is “ahead” for an awards race in a season that’s not 1/3 of the way through. I do think that Outman being on the Dodgers, with their higher profile, affords him some advantages that Carroll doesn’t have with the Diamondbacks, particularly in a race that has as much to do with perception as performance. That could certainly have an impact, but the two are even in fWAR (1.5) with Carroll owning a 1.5-1.0 edge in bWAR. Carroll is regarded as the better prospect and if i had to put down money at even odds, I’d still take him.

Bubba: The Mets still have their wrinkles, but the last 5 games are some of the most fun I’ve had as a fan.  That is all.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Even Mets fans deserve a little fun, as a treat. Seriously, having Scherzer and Verlander in working order, and having Alvarez and Baty (and now Vientos) in the lineup to help improve some of the dead spots is what gives them a chance to improve upon their sluggish start.

C-Low: Why is OPS a stat that people use to judge a batter?  OBP and Slugging are not equal.  You can’t add two numbers with different denominators.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s a very quick and dirty metric that’s been around now for three decades. It’s largely been superseded by OPS+ and wRC+, but neither of those are something you can calculate by looking at the back of a baseball card or the stats on a scoreboard or chyron, so it has some use.

“OPS is the Masonic handshake” — MLB official historian John Thorn, on the gateway to sabermetrics, c. 2012 (and probably earlier)

Daniel: Can Acuna keep this (namely a wRC+ >170) up all season? Do you expect him to?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t ever expect anybody to maintain a 170 wRC+ because we’ve seen fewer than two per (non-strike, non-pandemic) year by non-Bonds hitters during the Wild Card era.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That said, i do believe we’re seeing something along the lines of what Acuña was doing before he tore his ACL, and that’s a magnificent thing to behold even if the defense is a bit rougher that you’d like to see

Avatar Jay Jaffe: ON the subject of the defense, Old Friend Mike Petriello had a Twitter thread on his defense. Start here

OK, so Acuña. The first and most important thing to remember is this: OAA, as you see it, is range *only,* not arm. A DRS-to-OAA comparison is not 🍎to🍎.

DRS has him as +4 (arm) and +4 (overall), so a 0 for range.

OAA has a forthcoming arm add. I’m looking at it now. He’s #1.

19 May 2023
Trader Jerry’s: Over the last couple of seasons the Mariners have been excellent in one-run games. People said this was unsustainable, and this year the pendulum has swung the complete opposite way, with the Ms holding a 4-12 record in games decided by one run to this point, a big reason why they are under .500 at the moment. Do you think this swing is random variance, or can we expect to see some positive regression on this front?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Most of what goes down with one-run records has a whole lot more to do with random variance than skill, and is largely unsustainable at the extremes. I’d expect a bit of positive regression unless, like, Scott Servais sticks to pitchers who can’t hold leads

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Joe Sheehan had a good piece on one-run records in the May 18 edition of his newsletter. Here’s a screenshot of how the best one-run teams fared in one-run games the following year

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Highly recommend if you can get your hands on it

Smiling Politely: Thx to the Pads, the Dodgers don’t need to panic, but they probably need to start thinking about reinforcements to hold off AZ. You wrote about Stone and Miller coming up; who do you think they’re mostly likely to look at in the trade market?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d say it’s inevitable that they will, because let’s face it, Kershaw and Gonsolin aren’t the most durable hurlers and they’re being asked to carry the load.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: oh, sorry, i didn’t see the “who” part of that question

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d expect them to look into Shane Bieber and Corbin Burnes at the top end, which doesn’t mean either will be traded or that they’ll make the prospect sacrifices that such a move requires.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Lucas Giolito is another name, as he’s a pending free agent in a tire fire on the South Side

Mork Borg: Imagine that all winning percentages were the same at the trade deadline as they are now. What do the AL East teams try to do?  They can’t all make the playoff, so which ones buy, sell, stand pat, etc.?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: barring ridiculously high offers, I don’t think you’d see any of them SELL in the event they’re dead even at the deadline because that’s terrible PR; at worst they’d stand pat, but it’s more likely that each of those teams makes some kind of move, because not doing so sends a message to the clubhouse: “we don’t think you can do this.” That’s no way to run a team.

Mugghead: To paraphrase John Madden, if you’ve got three of something, it probably means you haven’t got one of anything. I’m currently carrying Tellez, France, and Naylor at 1B in my H2H Points League. How would you rank them for ROS? Thanks for the time.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: without knowing the categories, I would say I judge France and Tellez to be pretty even, with Naylor a beat behind. in a fantasy context — and I haven’t played fantasy in over a decade, and rarely a h2h league — i’d say Tellez if you prioritize HR, France if you prioritize AVG.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: This has been “Incomplete Fantasy Advice with Jay Jaffe”

John: Could we see Austin Wells in LF this summer for the Yankees? AAA should be soon and the current options obviously uninspiring

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If you think the Yankees are going to turn a catching prospect with 70 games at Double-A and no professional outfield experience into their left fielder in-season, I would ask you if you have watched the Yankees during the Brian Cashman era. They don’t do that kind of panic move, and frankly i don’t see many GMs/PrezOps who would. That’s just insane.

Mordecai and Rigby: Hey, if you were a hot dog, and you were starving, would you eat yourself?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Only as a sandwich

LetsGoDads: Are the Padres broken for the long term? Hard to see where they go with no catcher, a solid SS losing value playing 2B, an All Star 2B losing value playing 1B, a CF who cannot hit, a thin (and old) bullpen, very little minor league depth and a proven track record of NOT being able to develop talent.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: there are reasons to be concerned long term, as you note, but it’s also worth noting that AJ Preller does love to trade, and there might soon come a point where Kim, Cronenworth, or even Tatis is dealt to fill other needs and help to reshape the roster. it could still blow up even if they do of course. But they’ve amassed so much talent that they still do have options to reconfigure it in interesting ways

Bob: The O’s are on fire — all while Gunnar has struggled, Grayson Rodriguez has been shaky, and impact-level prospects remain at AAA (not to mention Jackson Holliday raking in High-A). Should they go all-in beginning this year, or focus on building for next year/beyond when they could be best positioned to win it all? How do you balance their success this year with long term goals?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think you piss it away by NOT doing what you can to challenge for a playoff spot if you’re still in it in late July, but I don’t think you start trading significant minor league talent just to look busy at the deadline. I also think the two months they have between now and then is enough time to see if the team is for real or if the decision is made for them.

Tacoby Bellsbury: What do you think the rest-of-season fix for the Yankees’ left field situation will be? (And should be, if those are different?)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I expect we’ll finally see some of the Judge-Bader-Stanton alignment once the last of those guys gets back, but they really do need another bat from outside the organization to prop up the position. If nothing else they really missed an opportunity to grab Jurickson Profar on the cheap in the spring when he was still a free agent.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As to who they could pursue at the deadline, it won’t be who you hope for.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: but it won’t be Joey Gallo either

homana: CHW’s pitching staff has quietly been a top-10 unit since the calendar turned to May, and Hendriks is coming back soon. They’re presently somehow just 6.5 back in a pitiful division. Would you cut bait & have a fire sale, or stay the course for now?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the roster needs a real overhaul, but again, there are two months before they really have to decide. If they’re still an improved team in mid-July, they probably should go for it, but they do have a lot of potential to make some deals, especially if they’re willing to consider trading Tim Anderson, who has a club option for next year.

Rickey: All seems well for the Braves, but i wonder whether you think Michael Harris is going to rebound? He’s just not looking right. Do you figure it’s his back, knee, or just a sophomore slump?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d say all of those could be factors; back and knee problems can mess a hitter up, and it’s worth noting he was well ahead of his Statcast expected numbers last year, suggesting the likelihood of some regression

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Just the same, he’s significantly behind those Statcast numbers this year, so I’m not sure it’s as bad as it looks

Mike M: Does the balanced schedule bring us a step closer to some sort of divisional or playoff realignment?  In a world where all teams played each other equally, being a division winner doesn’t mean much because the playoffs could just have the X teams with the best records.  We’re not there yet, but are we heading in that direction?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think that expansion will bring about an attempt — perhaps not one that can gain approval of enough teams — at a radical realignment but there’s always going to be a need for some amount of geographic/division-based scheduling because the travel burdens aren’t equal when it comes to west vs. east.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Top to bottom, with the new schedule you have teams like the A’s and Mariners traveling about twice as many air miles in a season as the midwest teams, and overall, the so-called balanced schedule has added about 7% more travel in miles

Avatar Jay Jaffe: At some point, the Players Association is going to balk at increasing the travel burden without getting something in return

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe that’s how they get a 154-game schedule at the same pay? Just spitballing.

Sean: Why is the AL Central?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Man, I dunno either. They should just go their separate ways.

chet: has anything changed with jake burger? why is he so good now?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Michael Baumann was on this last month. Apparently, he got very into virtual reality stuff and an iPitch machine in addition to working on his mechanics and pitch selection https://blogs.fangraphs.com/can-jake-burger-save-the-white-sox/

TomBruno23: Wait, Paul DeJong and Nolan Gorman will not continue at a 170+ wRC+ pace all summer?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: well, the Cardinals have the best fans in baseball, so maybe it will happen

Avatar Jay Jaffe: On a serious note regarding the Cardinals, RIP Rick Hummel, the former BBWAA Career Excellence award winner who was beloved and respected within the game. Derrick Goold penned a wonderful tribute https://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/hall-of-fame-bas… as did just about every St. Louis-based writer who came up in his wake.

Cito’s Mustache: Good afternoon, Jay! Have you spent much time using the new Pitch Modelling data at FG? I always hit a roadblock when Bot and Pitching+ disagree with each other on a guy. Instead of just abandoning my analysis there, what kind of additional context or data should I be looking for to help reach a consensus?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve dabbled a bit, sticking to Stuff+, which I was more familiar with before, rather than getting caught up in learning the nuances of two models at once. Mainly I’ve played around with Stuff+ and focused on year-to-year changes instead of getting too granular and digging into smaller samples.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I still think you also want to look at the trad stats and the Statcast ones to get a more well-rounded picture of how a pitcher is doing, but gaining a better appreciation for what a lost mile per hour and shaky command has on his Stuff and performance is worth appreciating

Matt Brash: He’s running a 1.99 FIP and 4.50 ERA right now thanks to a .524 BABIP. Do you expect his results to improve as the season goes on?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t know if he can maintain that 41% strikeout rate, so I’d expect the FIP to rise, but both that and his 3.48 xERA suggest his actual run prevention numbers should come down — he’s really done a very good job of limiting hard contact, and that .524 BABIP is the biggest outlier of his stats.

Datt Mamon: Any idea what the heck has happened to Kris Bryant? Why is he not even raking in Colorado?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given injuries (especially back) and changes to his approach, he’s just not hitting the ball anywhere near as hard. Baumann had a look recently https://blogs.fangraphs.com/friendships-come-and-go-and-so-do-kris-bry…

WinTwins0410: Jay, I know he died in obscurity (and worked blue-collar jobs after baseball) and has an unmarked grave and clearly wasn’t remembered as a major star long after retiring, but (and this may sound like it’s not a serious question but I promise you it is serious): Why hasn’t there been a groundswell for Bill Dahlen for the Hall of Fame?  I get that no one living saw him play and he didn’t capture the public’s imagination the way other 19th-century guys did, but still — he had a terrific career by the standards of his era.  I feel like the advanced-stats community by now would have latched harder onto his candidacy for the Veterans Committee and not let go.  (I realize the limitations of what I’ve just said, as I see how advanced-stats cases Lou Whitaker and Bobby Grich, among others, have gotten the stiff-arm from the Committee.)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the groundswell has come and gone. He’s been on ballots, he’s been SABR’s Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend, his JAWS is right there at number 10 on B-Ref’s shortstop leaderboard (https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_SS.shtml). but he’s still outside and now it’s harder than ever to get him in due to the structural changes. I think he’s hurt by character issues (temper, drinking, gambling) — including an allegation of domestic violence — to the extent that the Hall probably is happy he’s gotten little traction.

Oaktown Blues: Any thoughts on the Glen Kuiper situation? Justified firing or overreaction?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Always enunciate your words carefully lest you mess up on air in grand fashion.  

I don’t think there’s any room for any kind of discriminatory sentiment when you’re the voice of a team, but I’m less sure that this is a Brennaman-like situation; that guy clearly knew what he was saying and was dumb enough to do so into a hot mic. Given the most innocent explanation of Kuiper getting unfortunately tongue-tied at a critical moment, I can see room for granting him leeway. I thought Negro Leagues president Bob Kendrick was very gracious in stepping forward on Kuiper’s behalf.

That said, I have to wonder what else was going on behind the scenes — ranging from had there been any hints of racism to had he not treated people well — because the A’s seem rather merciless in letting him go. Then again, maybe they’re just using him and the situation as a distraction while they try to sneak out of town.

TomBruno23: Cardinals pick up the 12.5M option on Paul DeJong for 2024?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: my hunch is yes if he continues to hit (though he won’t slug .627)

Big Maple: Am I back? What do the numbers say?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The numbers say you have eight major league starts since the end of 2019. Glad to see you on the mound and pitching well, but let’s not get too far ahead of the fact that investing hopes in you given your injury history generally leads to heartbreak

AL Central Casting: Hi Jay, do you buy the argument that a team’s average runs scored per game could be significantly inflated by scoring a bunch of runs in a few games – enough to hide that they might actually be a worse offensive team than that mean would suggest? Related, is there any place that publishes the median runs per game?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It is of course statistically possible for such a thing to happen. I don’t know any place that publishes median runs per game but FanGraphs does publish a BaseRuns estimate that strips out the effects of sequencing (including piling up 27 runs in a game here but not scoring there) to get a better idea of a team’s offensive quality. See https://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=BaseRuns

Justin: when is it time to panic on Michael Harris?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Depends who you are. If you’re a fantasy owner who just wants to be noticed, light your hair on fire and run down the street so that we can laugh. If you’re the Braves, you’ve signed the guy through 2030 based on 114 games of major league experience so it’s gonna look pretty silly if you start to panic. Again, the underlying data shows his 2022 and ’23 aren’t as far apart as the slash stats say they were. Give him time and a larger sample size before doing anything rash

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, it’s time for me to ice the shoulder. Thanks so much for stopping by!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’ll do it again 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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9 months ago

I don’t consider Profar a missed opportunity so much as a dodged bullet.

Rollie's Mustachemember
9 months ago

Considering the Yankees have MLB-worsts 57 wRC+ and -1.0 WAR from the left field position, I think Profar would still be an improvement.