Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 5/3/18

Jay Jaffe: Greetings from Brooklyn, where it’s suddenly 87 degrees. i think we skipped spring entirely.

Bork: Who’s the lucky recipient of this live Tommy John surgery?

Jay Jaffe: By the look of the game of Stroller Crash that my 20-month-old daughter is playing in the hallway, it might be her nameless doll.

v2micca: Have you ever seen a fanbase transition from optimism to fatalism as quickly as the 2018 Mets fans?

Jay Jaffe: For the moment it sounds like the Mets dodged a bullet regarding Jacob deGrom’s hypexetended elbow, but between the mixed messaging, the team’s long history of injury mismanagement, and the pitcher’s importance to their 2018 fate, you can understand why the fan base is a bit nervous.

Rob: Stroller Crash would be an excellent name for a rock band btw

Jay Jaffe: agreed

Moelicious: Why do players wear batting helmets on the base paths? Wouldn’t it be more comfortable to run without the helmet? They could give it to the first base coach.

Jay Jaffe: More comfortable, perhaps, but batted balls coming off the bat at 100 mph plus are still a danger, helmets are now mandatory for coaches after the death of Mike Coolbaugh, and we’ve seen a movement to protect pitchers’ noggins as well. I don’t think we’re going to see a rollback there.

Kiermaier’s Sad Green DL Eyes: You are the Braves GM (congrats on Albies & Acuna) what do you do with the rotation..Teheran,Sanchez.Gohara & Soroka?

Jay Jaffe: Sean Newcombe belongs there right now. I suspect that innings caps on some of the youngsters will give them opportunities to keep sorting through their options for most of the season.

Ash: Jay, our fantasy league has been discussing it, and we think that when the Fisher Cats play the Rumble Ponies in two weeks, it may be the most ludicrous named matchup in the history of mainstream north american professional sports. THOUGHTS?

Jay Jaffe: No love for the Hartford Yard Goats, the Akron Rubber Ducks, the Altoona Curve and two sea-worthy (Portland Sea Dogs and Erie SeaWolves) — that’s more than half the Eastern League with ridiculous names.

Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: Jay, so happy to have you at Fangraphs. Same goes for Sheryl (who needs her own chat!) and Meg.

Jay Jaffe: Thank you for the kind words. i will suggest to Sheryl that she do a chat!

Bort: What can/should the Dodgers do to get Austin Barnes going?

Jay Jaffe: He’s in a tough spot because Grandal and Utley are hitting so well, but I suspect they’ll hit their rough patches too. He does have one minor league option remaining; the Dodgers could send him to OKC to give him some regular playing time. Even once Turner and Forsythe are back, I suspect the team is banged up enough to get him some playing time.

CubFan: 1-10 with 10 being get the knife ready for TJ, how concerned are you with the Jordan Montgomery’s forearm strain? Seems like more often than not they go under the knife.

Jay Jaffe: 3-4 maybe. Yankees said it was flexor tendon, not ulnar collateral ligament, and they expect him back in 6-8 weeks.  If he suffers a setback within that window, I’d start to worry more but for the moment, I’ll take them at their word

Andy: You think Keith Hernandez gets into the HOF via Veteran’s Committee?

Jay Jaffe: Probably not anytime soon. He’s never made it onto a small-committee ballot despite being eligible since 2012, and between the short-ish career, a non-traditional position profile  where much of his value is concentrated in walks and defense), and his cocaine admission, I’d say it’s an uphill climb. I do think he’d be an OK pick in that context, at least measured against the other 1Bs who’ve gotten in via that route.

Richard: What are your thoughts on Marcus Stroman going forward? Are you concerned so far?

Jay Jaffe: Less so after yesterday’s outing, in which he supposedly reintroduced his cutter. Given that he went through a bout of shoulder inflammation this spring, at least we have an explanation as to his decreased velo. But his situation bears watching

Marc: Occasionally you’ll hear or read beat writers say that their team is “only a half game back in the loss column” even though they’re actually two games back in the standings. Is there any benefit, emotional or otherwise, to a team that is three wins and a loss behind first place, as opposed to two wins and two losses or a win and three losses?

Jay Jaffe: I don’t think there’s much benefit. It’s basically shorthand for saying the team has a bit more control of its own destiny as opposed to needing other teams to stumble.

jay jaffe reddick: how many more seasons of roughly 2 war 3.8 FIP baseball would bartolo need to pitch before he could make a credible HoF case?

Jay Jaffe: If he’s still pitching by the time I get my first ballot in 2021, he can have my vote whenever he reaches eligibility.

prospects r 4 nerdz: So McMahon’s back down to AAA, Tapia’s never left, and Dahl appears to have forgotten how to hit quickly… is there any hope the Rockies ever manage to get their bats to break in like their rookie arms?

Jay Jaffe: My track record for understanding WTF goes into determining the Rockies’ outfield makeup has been horrific since at least 2014, when CarGo had his first terrible season there. Between keeping him and Gerardo Parra instead of playing  the kids, I have no damn idea whatsoever, except to think that they assume nobody else can catch fly balls but those guys.

Jay Jaffe: we’ll take a brief pause while I go find some pepperoncini to spice up this rather dull Italian sub…

Johnny : What is your personal view re factors other than on the field performance when it comes to HOF voting? Bonus points for leadership, face of the franchise, historic or cultural significance, awards, etc?  Demerits for clubhouse cancer, cheating, off the field problems, etc?

Jay Jaffe: historic and cultural significance is important as far as I’m concerned. The rest of what you’ve mentioned contains a lot of subjectivity and rumor — I think those should be carefully considered  and their context understood. Without that, they can wind up becoming Rorschach blots, excuses to hide behind for not voting. “This guy has the performance and historical stuff, but I hear he’s a bad guy, so no”

daro: Donaldson could be a good 3b for Atlanta next year. What do you think?

Jay Jaffe: Seems like a good fit, offhand, but I’m worried enough about the shoulder to want to see how this season plays out.

Vegan Man!: When Bird and Drury come back, what does the Yankees infield look like? Thanks!

Jay Jaffe: That’s a good question, for which I’d say, “Don’t count your Birds before they’ve hatched.” If Torres and Andujar keep playing this well, with the team firing on all cylinders, I don’t see how you can send them down except to buy a few days for some roster maneuvering.

I think my dude Neil Walker is in trouble given the squeeze, because I know they really like Drury.

Richard: OK, so AJ Pollock probably doesn’t keep this up, but can he still be one of the best players in the NL this year?

Jay Jaffe: I think so, if he stays healthy. The guy put up a 6.8 WAR season in 2015 and has had a lot of injuries since, but he can still hit and carry center field (quite well according to the metrics). That’s a very valuable player.

BK: Hey appreciate the shout out in the Acuña piece

Jay Jaffe: No problemo. These chats are good fuel for article ideas. I probably take at least one out of here every week.

BK: What do you think the chances are that Judge makes the HOF?

Jay Jaffe: The late start hurts. Not counting players whose career starts was affected by the color line, we haven’t seen a 25-year-old or older rookie position player reach the Hall since Earl Averill, a VC pick whose career ran from 1929-41. But if he keeps hitting like this for several years…

Bork: Shout out to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp

Jay Jaffe: and the Lansing Lugnuts and the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. There are a lot of great/dumb minor league team names out there

Ash: If Jurickson Profar gets regular at bats, do you still see the potential for a star breakout? He’s only 25 and his plate discipline looks fine. Talk me in or out of this plz

Jay Jaffe: a full complement of playing time for Profar would be one silver lining for what’s shaping up to be a rough season in Arlington, but so far, I haven’t seen enough to convince me he’s headded towards stardom.

Guest: Can Nick Ahmed continue to be a decent bat, has he figured something out?

Jay Jaffe: I’m skeptical given the track record but a few weeks ago, the great Nick Piecoro had a very interesting look at the Dbacks’ team-wide change in approach, which centers around pitch tunnels. https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/mlb/diamondbacks/2018/04/10/ari… It had seemed to click for guys  like Ahmed and Owings, who really haven’t hit at the big league level. So maybe there’s something real here

Sonny: What do you make of Yu’s struggles? I was writing off as ‘he’s only pitched in really cold games and at Coors’ but that doesn’t apply anymore

Jay Jaffe: Between the trade to the Dodgers and the move to the Cubs, Darvish has been the subject of a lot of tinkering in a short amount of time. I know the goal has been to simplify his delivery and repertoire, but the efforts might be complicating things for him.

54: Jay, non baseball BK question for you, did you visit “David Bowie Is” and if so do you have any recommendations? Planning to visit in the next 10 days

Jay Jaffe: I’m going on Sunday! Excited to check it out. I’ve been spinning a lot of Bowie this week in anticipation

Dr. Dave: What’s up with Bryce Harper’s defense?  FanGraphs has him as the worst Defensive Runs in MLB so far (-5.6)

Jay Jaffe: Offhand, and without having seen him play much this year — the Nationals haven’t been atop my viewing priority list given their slow start — I’d guess some combination of Small Sample Size and bad positioning. I wouldn’t panic yet.

Sonny: Is the difference between Jack Morris and Bartolo Colon greater than a dominant WS performance?

Jay Jaffe: Colon’s got the higher JAWS thanks to slightly better run prevention and better strikeout rate, but yeah, that’s largely the difference once you adjust for the different ways that their cult followings developed.

Austin: Any hope for Lance Lynn/Alex Cobb?

Jay Jaffe: I’m inclined to cut any free agent signing who spent the winter expecting a deal that didn’t arrive until Feb/March a good deal of slack before judging their performance. These guys didn’t get the usual spring trainings, after all.

Zonk: Thank you for your Pujols article.  With the Angels in a tight race, it shouldn’t be a tough lift to find a better RHH DH/1B, I would think….how do the Angels manage this?

Jay Jaffe: Thank you! The article of which you speak is here https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/albert-pujols-and-the-crawl-to-3000-hi… for those who haven’t seen it yet.

Handling Pujols is going to be a delicate matter. I suspect that it becomes easier if he gets banged up and there’s a plausible out to DL him for awhile. Given his 42% O-Zone rate, I’d send him to the eye doctor first, because I legitimately wonder if his pitch recognition is suffering.

Tom: Pepperoncini is wonderful addition to an Italian sub

Jay Jaffe: It’s damn near essential. Any Italian sub that doesn’t have some acidity in there is broken.

Vlady Jr.: What do you see as my floor? Ceiling?

Jay Jaffe: Floor: pretty good player with a solid career.
Ceiling: museum in Cooperstown renames itself to The Hall of Vlad

Matt: Hey Jay! Are you one of the foolish folks around here who tolerates fantasy questions? And if so (or it not!) what are your thoughts on Taillon RoS?

Jay Jaffe: I haven’t played fantasy baseball since 2011 and haven’t written about it since 2012. Surely you can find somebody who’s more up on that angle than me to field that one — but I do think Taillon can improve upon what he’s shown so far.

Keefths: Any idea why Aaron Sanchez is throwing his Curve almost 10% less often?

Jay Jaffe: Haven’t looked closely. Offhand (no pun intended) I wonder if it’s a grip/blister avoidance thing

Hammerin Hank: Jay, what are your thoughts on Brooklyn Brewery, and how is it regarded locally? Is it becoming so big that it’s not hip anymore?

Jay Jaffe: Good q. They put out some pretty good beers, and I think they should be regarded as the local equivalent of the Sam Adams/Sierra Nevada vanguard leaders, breweries that changed the landscape but reached the too-big-to-be-hip point a long time ago.

While BB has a good tap presence in the city, they’re more or less out of the local scrum in terms of competing with the Other Halfs and Singlecuts and Barriers and Threes for cutting edge brews. I hear they’re focused on the European market, and I wish them well.

Andy: Speaking of Bartolo… is his 2005 Cy Young the most egregious example of rewarding pitcher wins for the award?  Mo was probably the winner that year… and even if you dont want to give it to a reliver, Johan had a significantly better year just based on simple stats like ERA, K’s, WHIP

Jay Jaffe: Bob Welch over Clemens in 1992 was a bigger clinker and I’m sure I could come up with others https://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_1990.shtml#all_AL_CYA…

Rob: Would Drury be a good target for the Dodgers?  Not obvious that there’s a spot for him in NY.

Jay Jaffe: when push comes to shove the Yankees will keep Drury and DFA Walker, I think. Not sure how much sense either makes assuming Turner returns soon, but youneverknow

Austin: Do you think there is any chance Kershaw opts out now with his rough start (by Kershaw standards) to the season?

Jay Jaffe: the odds might be decreasing, but it’s too early to say.

Adam: How should the Mets handle their outfield moving forward? Conforto, Bruce, and Cespedes probably aren’t going anywhere–could they trade Lagares to make room for Nimmo, or even move Nimmo for another asset?

Jay Jaffe: they’re prepping Bruce to play more 1B, which should find Nimmo some playing time assuming that works (sorry, not sorry). In that scenario i think you still have to keep Lagares around for defensive and platoon purposes.

Randy: Any thoughts on BP’s second and third order winning percentages and how much better they reflect team quality? Personally I am quite intrigued.

Jay Jaffe: You’re talking to the guy who invented the Prospectus Hit List, which used an average of actual , 1st, 2nd and 3rd order Win% for a better gauge of team strength. I think all of those numbers have something to tell us about team quality and are worth a look.

Josh: Should Dick Allen be in the Hall of Fame?

Scrapper: I’m interested in learning more about the micro-data (i.e., spin rates, exit velocities) but its hard to tell how much more we learn than what we already get from more conventional statistics.  How have you been using micro-data, if at all?

Jay Jaffe: I use exit velo and batted ball stats more than spin/movement stats, as it’s been a bit easier for me to grasp (no pun intended there) the offensive side of things and easier to get that info without wading too deeply. I think we always have to be wary of sample sizes with that stuff, but some people are very good at picking out patterns that are worth keeping in mind. I’m still learning how to do that.

Big Joe Mufferaw: Take out that cold, bad weather start in Fenway and Severino has allowed 15 hits in 6 starts.

Jay Jaffe: he is a badass. I hope he stays healthy because he’s kicking ass right now.

Grover: If Kershaw opts out and wants a 8 year deal, do you see the Dodgers front office being the type to give it to him?

Jay Jaffe: I think the Dodgers do everything they can to keep Kershaw in blue (and green) IF they are convinced he is healthy, and I think if they back away, it will be a tell that has reverberations for his market throughout the industry.

Pat: I know JV is likely in the “borderline” for the HOF category, but, would he be already a lock if you turned his 2 2nd place CY votes to wins? IIRC, he has lost the 2 closest votes in history..the 2nd of those (2016) was galling due to the TB voters that sent in ballots a week before the season ended.

Jay Jaffe: I think about this a lot with respect to Scherzer and the 3x Cys (but lesser trad and advanced stats AND postseason so far). We’ve seen several 2x Cys miss the Hall due to injuries and decline but we’ve never seen a 3-timer miss out.

Thanks to his Houston resurgence, I’m increasingly optimistic about Verlander’s HOF chances. At some point this year, I’ll write something longer about it.

John Oleruds Helmet: Mr Jay, oh honored Hall of Fame guru! Oh most gracious addition to Fangraphs chat! I assume Albert Belle has a case for the Hall (based solely on his play) but how good is his case??

Jay Jaffe: Not all that solid. Took a look here for the 2017 Today’s Game ballot https://www.si.com/mlb/2016/11/28/hall-of-fame-todays-game-ballot-haro…

Chatbot 4000: According to statcast, Matt Kemp runs faster than Bryce Harper this year.  Could a slower than average spring speed contribute to Harper’s poor defensive metrics?

Jay Jaffe: It could, though again, I’d caution SSS warnings about any defensive metric right now. But I suddenly wonder a bit more about last year’s knee injury

Mag: How likely do you think it is that Mookie Betts ends up with a higher WAR than Mike Trout?

Jay Jaffe: Defense counts, but I don’t think Mookie’s gonna slug .823 all year, which is how he’s overtaken Trout on the leaderboard

Scottrick: Are you related to Eric Jaffe, formerly of the White Sox minor league affiliate?

Jay Jaffe: Not to my knowledge

Chris R: Do you think Barry Bonds would be a Hall of Famer if we excluded every season after 1998? It’s still insane

Jay Jaffe: From a JAWS standpoint, he’s more than qualified if you cut things off after 1998. As I wrote in his SI.com ballot profile (https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/12/barry-bonds-hall-fame-ballot-2018)

“If you want to play the “He was a Hall of Famer before he touched the stuff” game, consider only what Bonds did through 1998: His 411 homers, 1,917 hits, 445 steals and .290/.411/.556 line were good for 99.6 career WAR (which would rank third among leftfielders), 62.4 peak WAR (second) and 81.0 JAWS (third behind Williams and Rickey Henderson). Bottom line: Warts and all, he gets the nod here.

The only knock there would be fewer than 2,000 hits (1,917 to be exact). A 3x MVP with those sterling numbers might have been the guy to break the Rule of 2,000, but we’ll never know.

Belted: Are there any/many cases of guys with very short brilliant peaks getting into the hall? I’m thinking specifically of Lincecum – great pitcher for about 4 years, won 2 CYs and 3 WS rings. Was the face of the franchise and a media darling. Do these things play in at all?

Jay Jaffe: Sandy Koufax, Hank Greenberg, Jackie Robinson, Ralph Kiner.. .sure, there are guys enshrined more for peak performance than for longevity. Some of them (Dizzy Dean and a whole lot of VC selections) aren’t very good picks. I don’t think Lincecum would be a good one either, much as I love me some Timmy.

Bo: Surely Dale Murphy and his back-to-back MVPs would get into the Hall over Timmy.

Jay Jaffe: and he never even got 25% in 15 years on the ballot.

Mark: I know it’s a long way off and probably wont happen, but since you’re the HoF master (and since the man in question is playing quite well these days) I’ll throw this at you: what happens to Nick Markakis if he gets to 3000 hits?

Jay Jaffe: I don’t think he’d get in even if he gets to 3K. Somebody will be That Guy, and for awhile it looked like Johnny Damon might be the test case, but at least he had some big postseason stuff to hang his collection of hats on. Markakis not so much. I don’t think he’ll get that close, because he doesn’t have that many standout skills, and once his performance takes a dip below average, he’ll be done racking up 160 hits per year.

54: If Chris Taylor can play a passable SS and hit, and Turner returns, I dont know why the Dodgers need a guy. They’ve been overloaded with outfielders forever, now they have room to play them.

Jay Jaffe: Agreed, they’ve got a lot of outfield depth to draw upon, including the freshly recalled Verdugo and the still farmed out Toles. Plus there will be more usable OF in the trade market than SS.

silv: ever had rhinegeist? i was in cinci for the homecoming festival this past weekend and there were more rhinegeist tees than band shirts in the crowd; the cougar blonde ale was particularly strong.

Jay Jaffe: have not. But I’ll keep an eye out.

And on that note, I’ve got places to go, hair to get did, articles to write and beer to buy. Thanks for stopping by today!

Jay Jaffe: Until next week….

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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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John Autin
John Autin

I hope no beat writer really says “a half game back in the loss column,” since that makes no sense — each column is whole numbers, and half-games only come from averaging the two.

And fwiw, aren’t we required to say “the ALL-IMPORTANT loss column”?