Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 6/27/19

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon folks, and welcome to another edition of my Thursday chat. I’m back from a (mostly) restful vacation on Cape Cod, and today I’ve got a deep dive into the soaring home run rates; I think we’ve reached the point of “Too Many Homers” https://blogs.fangraphs.com/weve-reached-the-point-of-too-many-homers/

I Won a Phone: How come FG on mobile is such a spammy wasteland?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have no idea because I never encounter this, as I get to sign into my account. I know that if you become a member, you get an ad-free annual membership (https://plus.fangraphs.com/product/fangraphs-membership/), and if your woes are happening even with that going on, well — we’ve got something that needs fixing.

Cove Dweller: Do you think that MadBum gets Jack Morris-like consideration for the Hall?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he’s going to have to pitch well for a long time for that to happen, and right now, given that he’s staring a third straight season with fewer than 10 wins (yawn) in the face, with a set of peripherals that have generally been moving in the wrong direction for years, I have a hard time imagining him getting the bulk numbers on which to base such a case that would obviously play up given his postseason accomplishments.

Ryan: Hi Jay, thanks for the chat. When you’re looking at historical stats, how do you decide what date cutoffs to use? I’m looking at team records following a loss using baseball-reference data, and I was thinking only looking at seasons from 1900-present day would make sense- thoughts?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think there are some natural cutoffs. 1901 (the start of the AL), 1920 (the start of the live-ball era, more or less), 1945 (post-WW2), 1947 (post-integration), 1961, 1969, 1993 (expansion years), 1973 (DH era)… it depends what your purpose is but I think those are justifiable cutoffs

IsIt2020Yet?: Dodgers reportedly interested in Felipe Vazquez as their setup guy. Do you think something like a Will Smith (C) Josiah Gray (RHP) Omar Estevez (2B) deal would get that done for either side?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I know nothing about Gray or Estavez beyond the fact that Eric and Kiley ranked them among the team’s top 10 with 45 FVs (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/top-35-prospects-los-angeles-dodgers/),  but I would imagine that it’s going to take a lot to acquire Vazquez given that he’s signed through 2021, with a pair of affordable club options tacked on. And I suspect that one of their two top catching prospects, Smith or Keibert Ruiz (who has the higher ceiling of the two) will be the centerpiece of their biggest move.

J: I wouldn’t have thought it a year ago today, but Hamels has at least a decent shot at the Hall now, no? 3000 Ks and 70 bWAR seems doable.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he’s definitely a tier below Kershaw, Verlander, Greinke, and Scherzer, all of whom have much higher peaks. His 37.6 bWAR7 is lower than Sabathia (39.3), and he doesn’t have CC’s Cy Young award; I think we’ll get a better idea of what his odds are when the big man reaches the ballot. But yes, if he has staying power to reach such milestones, the Hall is possible

IsIt2020Yet?: Any way FG could stop asking me to be a member after having already signed up to be one?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hmm, if that’s still happening when you’re logged in, something is probably amiss. I’d try reaching out to david@fangraphs.com or describing the problem via our form https://blogs.fangraphs.com/contact/ in hopes that we can figure out what’s happening.

GraphsFan: What’d you get up to on the Cape?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Saw a Cape Cod League game (Orleans Firebirds vs. Brewster Whitecaps), spent a lot of time on the beach, ate a lot of seafood, drank some local/regional beers (Mayflower, Devil’s Purse, Cisco, Stoneface, Hog Island, Fiddlehead — see https://untappd.com/user/jay_jaffe/beers for specifics), saw Rocketman (loved it), placed my daughter in time-out approximately every 37 minutes (her most Terrible Twos phase ever), worried about my right shoulder (rehab setback that I think we finally have a handle on), caught glimpses of the Womens World Cup and generally relaxed.

Tom C: Does Greinke have a shot at the Hall at this point? Seems like it comes down to quantity over quality at this point

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s got the highest JAWS of any active pitcher (58.0), will be the next pitcher to 200 wins (195), and has a legitimate shot at 3,000 strikeouts (2,528). He’s got two HUGE seasons driving his peak/JAWS but there’s no crime in that. I think he’ll get in and would vote for him even if he retired today.

PD: Is a team slugging percentage of .501 good?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: heh, it (the Twins’ current SLG) would break the record held by the 2003 Red Sox (.491). Yet another silly number from a silly season, offensively.

Nelson: Do you think Alex Verdugo will ever turn into a consistent 20+ HR threat?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: ZiPS doesn’t think so (a high of 12 in his 3-year projection) but in this environment, practically everybody who can consistently elevate the ball is a 20-homer threat. The question is whether Verdugo or the Dodgers tinker with his swing, which is producing a 48% groundball rate and 1.6 GB/FB ratio.

Brian: Do you think Will Smith will bring back a big return for the Giants?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eh, not really. He may be the most desirable reliever on the market, or at least the most desirable lefty, but he’s also a pending free agent. They’re not going to get a Francis Mejia-level prospect.

Norman: True or False: The Rays will play more than 0 regular-season games in Montreal.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If they do, it won’t be as the Two-City Rays (the Tampareal Rayspos?), it will be as a Montreal-based franchise, post move/sale. About which, here’s what I wrote yesterday for those who missed it. http://blogs.fangraphs.com/its-hard-to-take-the-rays-tale-of-two-citie…

Morbo: Jay, how do you foresee  the alteration to the All Star selection process this year affecting the relevance of an All Star appearance for HOF election, Jaws, and more broadly the electorate’s view of a player’s selection as an All Star going forward?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t given it a moment of thought, to be quite honest — haven’t given anything All-Star related beyond my plans to do a HR Derby preview much thought, really — but even with the way the process has changed over the years, it’s a very rare thing for a voter to do more that note how many times a player makes a team. In the end, the good players usually make it to a bunch of them, but I think voters understand that with more teams, it’s tougher for guys to rack up, lik, 15 appearances as they did in the 20th century.

Craig: Give me hope as a Mets fan

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Someday the world will be just a frozen rock hurtling through space, and then nobody will give a shit just how awful the Wilpons’ tenure as owners has been.

Big Joe Mufferaw: Where is the Closer threshold for RPers? Like are Kimbrel, Jansen, Champan HOFers?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think all three of those guys have a chance, but really, it’s going to come down to whether they’re still effective in their late 30s. bWAR-wise, none of them has even surpassed Joe Nathan (21.7) or Jonathan Papelbon (19.6) in peak score, for example. My bWAR/WPA/WPALI combo measure makes the case that the floor is around Hoffman to really justify election. See https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2019-hall-of-fame-ballot-bill…

faffri: If the characteristics of the ball keeps changing from year to year in a noticeable way would it be possible that stats eventually gets weighted depending on what year they were accomplished?  Even if we have don’t have absolute proof it seems MLB could change the ball at will from year to year if they want to.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Weighted by whom, MLB? That’s not their job. Already, any analyst worth his or her salt knows that raw offensive numbers from the 1920s and ’30s, or the late ’90s and ’00s, require context, and that the major milestones have been devalued. That’s why I went to WAR/JAWS in the first place — to get a more level playing field that translated counting stats to value.

1947: I’m torn. I think Ruth and Gehrig and such are important, but as a black guy, I also think I can’t find the people who competed before Jackie to have truly played against the best. So for me, I just say “best since integration” and go from there.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think that’s an entirely fair cutoff to use.

garywmaloney: Nats – what moves would you suggest to Rizzo over next crucial month? Thanks, Jay, for all the great articles and insights.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Short of investing in a time machine so as to go sign Kimbrel, or lighting an insurance fire and skipping town, you mean?

I I think he should mandate playing Kendrick at 1B, getting a better 2B than Dozier, and trading for ALL OF THE RELIEVERS.

Big Joe Mufferaw: I will fight anyone who says CC is not a HOFer. He’s been a great pitcher, leader and winner for like 42 years. But seriously, do you think the HOF will be extremely tough on SPers in the coming decade?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a good question. I think now that we’ve seen the 300-or-bust roadblock fall via the elections of Blyleven, Mussina, Pedro, Smoltz, and Halladay, it will be a bit easier for guys to get in. I don’t think CC is going to sail in but I do think he gets there, for example, and likewise for the other guys I mentioned above (Verlander, Greinke, Kershaw and Scherzer).

Billy Beane: HI Jay, read your piece, and I have to respectfully disagree. Home runs are, generally speaking, fun and even if we compare it to the late 80s we’re talking about a difference of less than 2 home runs per game and they’re more spread out. If it were impacting the game where one guy were hitting 90 bombs or something, I could see where that would feel a little cheap, but the kerfuffle about guys going from 10 to 30 HRs seems a little old man yells at cloud to me.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: while you’re free to disagree, you’d better check your math on “about a difference of less than 2 home runs per game” when teams are hitting 1.36 per game, about 0.6 more than in the ’80s.

Brandon: Chances the mets sell syndergaard or Degrom at the deadline?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: LOL no.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Look, they signed deGrom long term, with full no-trade protection. He’s not going anywhere — you have to imagine that before he did so, he played out the various scenarios in his mind, including something on the order of a shitshow like this, and decided he’s still better off in Queens than elsewhere — and I have a very hard time imagining they’re selling low on Syndergaard with two years of club control remaining. And it’s very clear that they’re not a dreadful team in need of a rebuild. I’d start with a new manager — I’d have fired Callaway long ago — and see where it goes from there.

Nolan: What do you think the Cardinals’ approach at the deadline looks like?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d think they’d be in the market for a starter, perhaps Bumgarner, and I’d imagine that the loss of Jordan Hicks to Tommy John surgery will put them in the relief market too.

Big Joe Mufferaw: Have HRs become “too common”? And if MLB decides it has, what can they do to change that, go back to the old balls?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s the case I’m making in today’s piece. I don’t think it’s a matter of simply going back to the old balls. As Meredith Wills makes clear in her work, Rawlings has instituted several changes in its attempts to tighten specs and improve the production process — but it seems that in doing so, they’ve created a monster.

The league and the plant need to get a handle on the relative impact of their recent tweaks and attempt to engineer a ball that that more closely hews to their expectations. I know that they’ve been working on a more grippable ball for a few years, but they need to take a comprehensive approach that yields a ball that’s a little more difficult to hit 450 feet.

jkim: If Ryu continues being this excellent (ok maybe not 1.27 ERA good) and ends the season around 1.8-2.1 ERA and 6-7 FWAR and win teh CYA, where do you place him among Asian-born ballplayers?

Shouldn’t he overtake basically everyone and be no. 1 by then?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That might be the best pitching season by an Asian-born player but in the big picture, I think you’re forgetting Ichiro Suzuki, who did rack up 3,000 hits and about 58 WAR stateside. Even if you’re just limiting the question to pitchers, I think you’d want to see a body of work that at least matches guys like Nomo, Darvish, and Kuroda before anointing Ryu the best.

IsIt2020Yet?: What other teams besides the Dodgers figure to try and make a back of the bullpen move? Twins, Rays, missing anyone?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Every. Single. Contender. Needs. Bullpen. Help. Because. You. Can. Never. Have. Too. Much. Pitching.

Keith : Do you think the Angels will be buyers? Could they possibly pull off a deal for syndergaard or Bauer without Adell?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Their playoff odds are at 4.6% right now, so I’d be skeptical they do more than a touch-up while hoping for the best. If they want a blockbuster for a guy lie Bauer or Syndergaard, they can wait until the offseason when they’re under less time pressure to make a move.

Kawasaki Home Run: Aesthetically, what are the issues with Bludgeon Ball? For example, basketball today is starkly different than it was 15 years ago, due to an avalanche of perimeter shooting. While this isn’t equipment related, and while MLB needs to acknowledge the more aerodynamic ball, perhaps this change is a good one?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Like all aesthetic matters, it’s a question of taste. There’s been a growing chorus over the past few years regarding the preponderance of three true outcomes events, the lack of balls in play, and the variety that’s been lost, the streamlining of offenses to downplay the impact of baserunning and contact hitting, for example.

I did not find myself in that camp until very recently, but now that I look at the evidence, both in terms of the brand of baseball we’re seeing this year, with record home run levels, and the evidence that the ball itself is fueling this, I think it’s time to address these matters. Your mileage may vary, but I suspect that more people are joining this camp than leaving it.

Guest: When does NYY go after a starter, and who is it

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Like everybody else in contention, they’ll be going after a starter in July. I think they missed a major opportunity with Keuchel, and now it will cost them talent as well as money to patch the rotation. I think Wheeler is a longshot (to say nothing of Syndergaard), but I wouldn’t surprise me if they target Stroman, as they’ve dealt with this Blue Jays regime before.

Don: Why are so many using WAR as the end all to selecting MVP candidates? Seems very narrow sighted.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Gosh, I would think that if we’re trying to define “value” as in “most valuable” we might want to use a tool that estimates a player’s offensive, defensive and baserunning contributions instead of relying on ye olde eye test and gut instincts. I don’ think WAR needs to be the only tool in an MVP discussion — WPA has its place, for example, and we can also bring information that doesn’t fit neatly into a statistic (did this player have a career year while a teammate was out due to injury, say) or decide based upon what’s to the right of the decimal. But if I had a vote, I’d start with WAR and place a heavy weight on that in my deliberations.

Ryan: The Twins haven’t lost 3 games in a row yet this season. Since 1900, only the 1902 Pirates managed to avoid a 3 game losing streak all season. What do you think the chances are the Twins manage to go the entire season without a three game losing streak?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Wow, that’s cool, but I highly doubt they get through the season with no 3-game losing streak. They’re plenty good but it also takes a lot of luck to avoid such a thing, and when you consider that they’ve only given four starts to pitchers out of their front five, you can imagine, say, a DL stint weakening the rotation and making such a streak possible in a given week.

Gabe: What is going on with Odubel Herrera?  Is he suspended by MLB right now or just on leave?  Will be

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Being on administrative leave, as he has been for about a month, is a de facto suspension. Obviously, he’s not coming back anytime soon, and it sounds as though the Phillies are operating that way (

Matt Klentak could not provide an update on Odúbel Herrera, who has been on paid administrative leave for 28 days.

“I can tell you from a roster building perspective,” Klentak said, “we need to assume that we’re not going to have Odúbel anytime soon.”

24 Jun 2019


Mat: What do the Dodgers do with Urias long term?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I would imagine they’re targeting about 90-100 innings for him this year with the hopes that he can stay healthy and be a full-fledged starter next year.

connor: Isan Diaz and Monte Harrison cannot be worse than Starlin Castro and Granderson.  Why aren’t the Marlins promoting them?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Because the Marlins have no interest in being competitive right now. It serves their purposes better to keep losing and save the service time for a day when they’ve got a stronger roster.

I do suspect that Granderson will be gone as of July or August. I guess with Castro it would depend on how much $ they’re willing to eat.

Ryan: What’s your opinion on extended netting? I really don’t like the argument that people need to pay closer attention. I don’t know the case at other stadiums, but at Target Field they advertise on the scoreboard before the game that you should download the MLB ballpark App and also provide a free WiFi network. On top of that, who’s to say paying attention means constantly watching the ball? If I’m looking at the statcast results of the previous at bat (which Target Field also shows on a video board) or watching a runner get his lead and don’t watch the pitcher throw the ball, I’m still paying attention to the game.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think we’re moving towards pole-to-pole netting by next seasons, and I’m in favor if it. The ball moves too quickly, the distractions at the ballpark are too great, and the price of tragedy is too high for this not to happen, particularly given that the MLBPA wants this.

As a matter of policy, I have decided that I no longer have any time to engage the Never-Net Bros on Twitter.

Dan: What do the Yankees and Red Sox think about the two days off? I’m sure they appreciate the extra rest but I assume they’d prefer to have their days off spaced out more.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: competitive eel pie eating, maybe? I can’t imagine that they’re complaining about the days off given the impact of such a quick transatlantic trip. Jet lag and sleep issues do impact performance.

Ralph Rowdie : Any chance Stu Sternberg is eyeing a John Henry-like swoop into NY and hoping a deal is worked out where the Wilpon’s are ousted, he buys the Mets, and someone else takes over the Rays either keeping them in Tampa Bay or moving them?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: LOL if you think MLB is ever going to oust the Wilpons. The chance to do so was when the Madoff scandal hit. Both Selig and Manfred know how to count votes, and they know that moving on any owner short of a McCourt-type bad actor is a recipe for crumbling consensus.

Ralph Rowdie : How hard will it be for deGrom to work himself into a tier with Scherzer/Verlander/Greinke?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If you’re talking about his chances for the Hall of Fame, quite hard, given that he’s already 31 with one Tommy John surgery and just two 5.0 bWAR seasons under his belt. That shouldn’t devalue what he’s doing, but the deck is stacked against him to get to Cooperstown.

Homers: Do the (almost) healthy Yankees catch the Twins in homers by EOS?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think so and said as much in today’s piece.

Big Joe Mufferaw: On avg, how many HOFers are active in the league at all times?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Limiting to BBWAA selections only, here are the averages I cited when writing about my virtual ballot in December.

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The jury is still out on the 1993-2005 period (and I haven’t updated this since the election) but a 1969-92-type level would mean roughly 40 Hall of Famers active right now.

LenFuego: Why did your article on too many home runs being hit (a sentiment which I agree with) not even mention the Commissioner’s recent pronouncement about the centering of the pill being a potential source?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Mostly because Wills considered it unlikely. Quoting from her latest (https://theathletic.com/1044790/2019/06/25/yes-the-baseball-is-differe…)

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Big Joe Mufferaw: Clint Frazier, Domingo German (2 MLB ready, good players under 5+ years on control) for Scherzer? Is that a good trade scenario?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Max isn’t going anywhere.

Guille: on Hyun-Jin Ryu, top adjusted ERA+ in the modern era is Pedro Martinez 2000 with 291… Hyun-Jin Ryu is topping 300

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s awesome! He’s been a wonder to behold, but let’s see if it’s still there 80 innings from now. Baseball history says almost certainly not.

Morbo: Do you think the Cardinals are in on Greinke at the deadline, assuming he’s available?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have a hard time imagining they’re a team likely to eat enough $ to make it happen.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: wow, it’s time to go. Thanks for stopping by, folks!

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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3 years ago

I concur with the, “FanGraphs member who still gets pop-up ads that tell me i’ve won something or have encountered a virus while on the mobile site”