Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 5/30/23

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to the post-Memorial Day edition of my chat. I had a weekend of solo parenting that was filled with activity, including taking my 6 1/2 year old daughter to a Yankees-Padres game on Friday night, but didn’t see much baseball otherwise until last night when I had Bobby Miller on one device and Bryce Miller on the other.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: anyway… no article from me today due to travel. ON Friday I checked in on Trea Turner’s struggles https://blogs.fangraphs.com/trea-turners-slide-has-not-been-smooth/ and the day before that on Carlos Correa’s foot https://blogs.fangraphs.com/carlos-correas-rebound-from-a-slow-start-h… Surprisingly, the latter has avoided the IL for now

Chairman Meow: What are your thoughts on  Francisco Alvarez after his hot start, future star or even current star?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m impressed so far. I mean, who wouldn’t be given his .269/.327/.558 start through 113 PA?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s +4.9 runs in framing, too. Didn’t see that coming

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He graded out as a 60 FV prospect, which is All-Star caliber. I haven’t seen anything to suggest he won’t be one though I don’t expect him to maintain a 142 wRC+

Dylan: This year probably kills Trea Turner’s HOF chances right? Not just because he really needed another peak season(s), but because this year makes in extremely unlikely that he’s going to return to elite performance at age 30 or 31

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a bit early to say that 1/3 of a season kills a guy’s HOF chances but i already felt like he was behind the wave of younger shortstops and what we’ve seen so far given his struggles with the fastball doesn’t bode very well

Avatar Jay Jaffe: momentary delay while i unpack my lunch (chicken banh mi). bear with me

Chip: What does a contract this offseason look like for Harrison Bader? I would’ve thought he’d be a great fit for the Yankees, but with him injured yet again I don’t think a team with such profound injury issues can afford to add another IL liability to the roster.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, a whole lot depends on whether he can stay on the field, and as we type this we’re waiting to find out if his hamstring injury is significant enough to warrant an IL stay. he’s an elite defender though, and has a ton of value even if he’s not playing 150. ZiPS has him projected for about 10 WAR over the next three seasons in about 110 games a year. I’d expect something north of $20M AAV, but maybe shorter term with some bells and whistles (vesting/club option).

Avatar Jay Jaffe: 4/$80ish maybe?

James: What’s the best option for San Diego moving forward?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Scoring more runs and/or allowing fewer

James: What’s the best option for San Diego moving forward? 1.) Fire Preller and hire a new GM 2.) Keep Preller but add a analytical POBO (Sterns, Epstein) 3.) Keep Preller at the helm and maintain the course

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have a tough time imagining that Seidler is spending all of this money without giving Preller a longer runway than a year to produce results.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As to whether an Epstein or Stearns would come in above, given the current commitments and shape of the farm system – is that their best fit?  I don’t know but I do think it’s simpler than just “let’s add this big name free agent” which is, uh, how the Padres got to this point at least in part.

Dallas: i just don’t see the offensive ability with Ke’Bryan Hayes. His swing doesn’t barrel anything up consistently, and you cannot run a 3B everyday who can’t perform above league average. Am I overly harsh or is it time to start to worry?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: His offense has been a disappointment to date, 67 wRC+ ugh. That said, he’s  averaging 92.7 mph exit velo and 46.9% hard-hit rate, with a career-high 14.3 degree launch angle. He’s got a .261 xBA and .410 xSLG which is more than playable with that glove.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Consider last year he had a .303 xwOBA and still 3.0 WAR, this year he’s at .318 xwOBA. I wouldn’t give up hope yet.

Joe: Are you guys team Trade Jonathan India?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not. I’m team Find Your Good Young Players Positions. Try him in the OF or 3B and Senzel in the OF.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I know there are questions about his arm, but i think you have to try something. The Reds are rightly ridiculed for tearing things apart too quickly, trading him will be viewed as just one more example of that.

Yo-Yo: Wainwright has been terrible this season, and he was barely hitting 85 mph (not an exaggeration) at the end of his last start. St. Louis is miraculously still in the playoff hunt, so every start counts. Teams are starting to move on from ineffective older starters (Kluber). How does STL weigh his run at 200 wins versus a playoff run?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: sooner or later they have to go with their 5 best. LIberatore is one of those five, and it seems like Matz has had a long enough runway to show that he isn’t. I imagine what will happen is that Matz goes to the bullpen while Wainwright gets at least a few more starts, and that the two could swap places if the performances still merit it.

KCbbq: Has Oakland squeezed all of the juice out of Rooker and now we’re left with just a withered fruit? What are you expecting from him rest of season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he’s still averaged 92 mph exit velo with a 10% barrel rate and 50% hard-hit rate in May even while putting up just a 78 wRC+. I wouldn’t give up on that at all, but I would hope he can cut the strkeouts a bit from this month’s 33%

Avatar Jay Jaffe: his ROS depth charts projection is .223/.322/.428. I think he can surpass that if he keeps pounding the ball as he has

Sweaty Vedder: Could heavier, larger pitchers, like Alex Manoah, be effected negatively by the new pitch clock?  Maybe the game just moves too fast for certain body types

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m currently reading Jack Curry’s book, The 1998 Yankees: The Inside Story of the Greatest Baseball Team Ever, and feel like the criticisms of David Wells were similar. Any time a large pitcher struggles, somebody comes back criticize his conditioning. It seems like too easy a crutch to lean on

Avatar Jay Jaffe: from what I’ve read I suspect his issues are more mechanical, he’s not getting the strikes where he used to and pitching from behind in the count more often. Could those mechanical problems be caused by fatigue? Maybe. Could that fatigue be clock-related? Maybe. But I don’t think it’s guaranteed.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Leo Morgenstern checked in him recently https://blogs.fangraphs.com/alek-manoah-is-falling-apart-at-the-seams/

Brandon: How much more work does JT Realmuto have to do to enter the HOF realm. His WAR is a little light but everyone else is miles behind him

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. I haven’t thought about it a ton but he’s clearly the head of the class these days with the possible exception of Will Smith. I see two HOF-caliber seasons and three other good ones; i think he’s gonna need a few more of the former.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: which isn’t easy as he heads into his mid-30s

Hamandcheese: How do you think the Guardians rotation will shake out ROS with Civale and McKenzie coming back from injuries? Both rookies in their rotation have looked sharp so far.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They have three rookies in the rotation in Allen, Bibbee, and Gaddis, the last of whom has a 5.34 ERA and 4.97 FIP. He’s likely the first man down. As to who’s second… if I’ve learned anything it’s that you can’t project too far ahead when it comes to rotations. Somebody is always sore enough to go on the IL when somebody needs a roster spot.

Eldridge Cleaver: What is wrong with Shane Bieber?  His velocity last year was already alarmingly low but his FIP was 2.87.  His velocity is basically the same this year and his FIP is 4.03.  All I can see is a change in his pitch mix where he’s throwing his cutter a lot more this year and for some reason the pitch is much worse than it was last year.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: i’m not exactly sure but the numbers say the cutter is getting hammered (.339 AVG/.536 SLG) even while generating more whiffs. Its usage has basically tripled against righties but they’re not the ones doing the damage, while lefties are killing it despite a similar usage rate from last year. worth a closer look at some point

Freddie Freeman: Am I a Hall of Famer?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not yet but I do believe you’re on your way

Alby: With the state of pitching at present, how can anyone seriously think expansion would be a good idea?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe what you’re seeing is evidence that there are too many good hitters!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: you can always look at players who are struggling and use that as a justifucation that there aren’t enough MLB caliber players to go around when in fact it’s now been 25 years since the majors last expanded and the player pool has only continued to grow.

Red Ass Red Sock: Now that he seems to have turned a corner health-wise, is 3,000 Ks in play for Chris Sale? Forget the HoF, and quite frankly, forget that he seems to have the general personality and likability of lukewarm dog poo, just curious what his chances of hitting that mark look like.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he needs 871 more strikeouts to get to 3,000. He’s got 65 this year and 122 since the end of 2019. I don’t see enough progress yet to suggest he can make it.

Cole: Is it too early to consider Grayson Rogriguez, Gunnar Henderson, and Jordan Walker post-hype?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes

Pkpkpk: Let’s say the A’s actually do manage to lose 125 games. What, if any, consequences do you think they’ll face, from the league or otherwise? I have to imagine the brass in Vegas will see exactly what they’re doing and do some hard evaluation of funding a stadium. If that happens, what do they do? Stay in Oakland? Find somewhere else in less than a year? I can see this backfiring on them in a catastrophic way.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: haha consequences?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: people will ridicule the team but other than that nobody is going to face any consequences.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: and nothing of their performance is going to affect whether or not they get the funding they want/need to justify a move. that’s mainly a matter of local politics

Anon21: Expecting Michael Soroka to stick in the Braves’ rotation if he remains healthy? His first start was not amazing, but looks like the stuff is about the same. Control was an issue (2 BB, 2 HBP).

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m sure he’ll get more reps if he’s healthy given the current state of things.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That said, Stuff+ was not a big fan, liking his slider and his command but not much else.

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he did get a good swinging strike rate and chase rate, so I would hardly give up hope.

Travis: Popped this one in too late last week, but still curious:
What kind of rest of career does Marcus Semien need to have to generate any kind of HoF case? He seems like a prime Hall of Very Good type player, with a late start and only a few seasons (to date) at a highly elite level, but he’s got the heavy lifting done on peak scores, and is (so far) having another high performing year, it seems.

(fwiw, given the number of qualifiers in the question, I think he’s a prime candidate for a few token/courtesy votes when the day comes, but I’ve been wrong before.)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I see three HOF-caliber seasons — which happen to be his last three full ones (2019-22 ex ’20) —  and a couple of decent ones. He’s already at 3.2 bWAR this year so maybe that’s gonna be another HOF-caliber one. He’s got a lot of low-hanging fruit in his peak score. four 5-WAR seasons would take him to something like 57.7/42.3/50.0 which starts to look pretty interesting

Cinci: 3B Elly 2B India 1B Steer SS McLain DH CES LF Senzel… there’s room

Avatar Jay Jaffe: not unreasonable.

Bill: What do you think about the big jump in Trout’s Zswing over the last couple years? Do you think he’s gone too far in the wrong direction?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. He’s seeing more strikes to begin with, which suggests more pitchers think they can beat him in the zone, and at 31 with his mileage and increasing swinging strike rate, they may be right. I wouldn’t panic just yet, but at some point he’s going to be a 140-150 wRC+ guy instead of a 170-180 wRC+ guy

bork: proposed trade: tim anderson to LAD for cartaya, stone, and pepiot. who says no?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: i don’t see the Dodgers giving up that much for a rental given the state of their rotation and the fact that they traded Ruiz less than two years ago.

Pops: What do you think is the likelihood of Dave Parker ever making the Hall?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: low

Avatar Jay Jaffe: His production numbers from the 1980s are pretty empty,  high RBI/low OBP/minimal to negative defensive value

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he just wasn’t great for that long

Liz: Kenley Jansen has a big frame and has been just fine with the pitch clock, and I think it’s kind of absurd to suggest that heavier guys are naturally going to struggle with tempo more than others just because we culturally associate fat bodies with poor fitness.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: well put. it’s worth noting that Kenley has worked his ass off to adjust to his own stuff and the game’s demands, both physically and mentally. Manoah, as a guy who hasn’t been in the league that long, hasn’t shown that yet but I do believe at some point he’ll figure it out.

Mr. Burrito: Dumb question: If the Dodgers offered Michael Bush and, say, a non top-100 prospect to the White Sox, could they pry away Dylan Cease? Feels like a solid starter to offset the many question marks in the rotation is the big piece for this year’s Dodgers…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think that would be a big enough package, nor does Busch, with his lack of a defensive position, fit the White Sox’s needs very well

Avatar Jay Jaffe: now, maybe a Busch/Stone package could be the starting point for a larger swap involving Cease and Anderson

Andrew: Where would you put Altuve’s HoF odds today? He is about to surpass 2,000 hits, 200 HR and 50 fWAR in his age-33 season, coming off maybe his best offensive season. The 2017 thing is there too, but I’m not sure how much that will impact him considering that (1) voting will probably start about 10 years from now, (2) neither his nor the Astros success changed when the sign-stealing stopped, and (3) he didn’t really participate in the whole thing anyway.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably better than 50/50 given the resumé and the fact that all of the other contemporary second basemen appear to have fallen short (though I will stump for Utley)

Sonny: Had a chance to check out a southern league game this weekend and it’s been a while since I was that motivated for a foul ball. Very interested in how noticeable the pretack’d ball feels in hand. Has anyone written about player reactions to it yet?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not that i’ve seen.

D: What did you make of Bill James’s flip-out over Thurman Munson on Twitter? Putting aside the awful joke, is there a case to made that Munson was not an excellent player/borderline HOF?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: the tastelessness of the joke aside, I really don’t get James’ intransigence on Munson. The guy was an MVP, perennial All-Star, multi-Gold Glove winner on multiple pennant winners. His peak is clearly HOF-caliber to these eyes, he just made the mistake of dying before his career totals read as such, but to suggest that he’s not even worthy of discussion strikes me as odd.

Whatever. I don’t really want to get sucked into a debate about Munson unless somebody can show me good *evidence* that he’s significantly worse than the numbers suggest. Until then, I’ve said my piece  https://blogs.fangraphs.com/despite-early-demise-thurman-munson-is-hal…

KM: Besides Derek Jeter, who is someone that comes to mind who makes/made incredible defensive plays, but really isn’t all that great defensively overall?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I was surprised that Gio Urshela’s defensive metrics weren’t very impressive when he was in NY, but he was merely average-ish, not a million miles in the red.

Zach Attack: Zach Mckinstry seems to be a different player, statcast page full of red….is he a must grab (I know context matters, but all things equal?) Take him over Vargas or Lane Thomas?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he’s hitting the ball hard and yet his numbers are behind his x-stats, so yeah, i think he’s probably worth having if you can get him

seth r: notably no Votto on that Reds depth chart…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s in his final year under contract and hasn’t started a rehab assignment yet. Supposedly feeling better and taking live BP. ONce he comes back, it shouldn’t be hard to fit him into a lineup where the regular DH (Stephenson) has an 82 wRC+. And anyway, that’s a short-term problem compared to having all those youngsters to play.

Vince: Do you think Mark Buehrle ever gets in to the HOF? Loved him when he played. Perfect game, no-no, WS win, 200-inning streak. He was good, man! Just very good, though?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wish I saw enough to compel me to include him on my HOF ballot but to me he still looks short. Most of the voters see it that way as well, and there are a whole lot more dominant pitchers outside the Hall who have more convincing cases, IMO

McGraw45: What’s up with Tatis? Less K’s, but lower hard hit % and lower expected stats. Is he still gaining strength or did he change his approach or both/neither?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not sure yet but so far he’s definitely a ways off as far as how hard he’s hitting the ball, not surprising given the injuries

Logical change: It’s not really a big deal but I’m always bothered when a home plate umpire makes the call on a check swing.  He may be certain it was a swing, but what’s the harm in checking with the 1B/3B umpire instead just to be 100% sure?  It’s only an additional 5 seconds maybe.  It’s kinda like having the 2B umpire call a HR ball down the line fair or foul.  Let’s see a rule change for this!  Love your work, rock on.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: thanks. Agree with you on the check swing, seems worth getting some help

Nolan: Can you explain why so many people seem to take Adley over Murphy? Just saw a question posted by foolish baseball on who the best catcher in baseball will be for the rest of the season between Murphy/Adley/Smith/Realmuto and the poll was overwhelmingly in support of Adley. The stats favor Murphy by quite a lot actually.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s because Murphy is perceived as being well over his head, performance-wise, and those people may have a point. He’s got a 160 wRC+ now, was at 122 last year and 100 the year before, projects for 122 ROS. Adley has a 133 now, same as last year, projects for 129 wRC+ ROS, and is 3 years younger.

The counter to that is that Murphy is putting up great numbers and yet is still well behind his x-stats (.611 SLG). So is Adley but just a .485 xSLG. Anyway, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable argument to make to think that the former #1 prospect is going to be better than the good-and-suddenly great guy because regression does happen.

Mac: Volpe a bust?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Man, get a grip if you think 1/3 of a guy’s age-22 season is enough to label him a bust

Justin: What will Jarred Kelenic’s triple slash look like at the end of the year? Has his start changed your long term outlook on him?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Case in point, i thought it was way too early to dismiss Kelenic as a bust (go back and see for yourself) and here he is, raking. He’s a bit ahead of his x-stats but I don’t think i’d bet on too much regression from his current line. .270/.335/.515?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, so many good questions in the queue — a lot of Cubs q’s that I’d like to give some thought to, so maybe I’ll write about them soon — but I can’t get to them all. Thanks so much for stopping by today! 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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Carson Kahla
10 months ago

Stumping for a man with a borderline HOF case who was non apologetic after breaking Rubén Tejadas leg is certainly a decision.