Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 6/4/2024

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to my first chat of June!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We just posted my piece on Aaron Judge turning himself around after a season-opening slump: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/aaron-judge-is-slumping-no-more/

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yesterday I wrote about Luis Severino’s resurgence https://blogs.fangraphs.com/luis-severino-is-in-a-better-place-than-la…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My lunch just arrived as this chat began so please bear with me for a few minutes as I get some nourishment

Gerald H: Opening day 2025….what team do you think Juan Soto is on?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d say it’s either the Yankees or the Mets, with the Giants probably the third team I’d name but their current regime’s precariousness probably working against them.

Tim: Are we staring down another mlb lockout in 2026/2027? Already hearing rumors about it… will the league actually miss games this time?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I get asked this every single chat. I’m really not sure why it’s worth dwelling upon — I have no control over it, you have no control over it, and nobody who does have control over it is going to do much up until we’re approaching a deadline.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Human nature, I guess! But no, i don’t think there will end up being games missed (as opposed to rescheduled as in 2022).

Gm Speak: Is the Blue Jays and Astros Gm’s saying there is no chance they are going to sell there good players at the deadline just lip service or are they really going to be that stubborn? Blue Jays especially being 13 games out of first.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: i think it’s mostly just public relations posturing; nobody wants their fans to start tuning out and looking to next year, and both still have shots at the Wild Card at the very least. The Jays aren’t going to win the division but they’re only 5 games back in the Wild Card race, the Astros are 7 games back via both routes

sodo mojo: Do the Mariners need to trade for a bat in the short term or do they wait until the deadline? Since the calendar flipped to May they are league average by WRC does that give them pause to see which of their struggling bats rebounds?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: While I’m sure they (and you) would like a quick fix, the reality is that at this time there fewer teams willing to trade the kind of players who could be available in late July, and a GM who’s selling would probably have to be bowled over to make a deal. Not everybody is playing up to their capability but the Mariners’ bats do seem to be trending in the right direction, and being in first place buys him some time.

DT: A full season at this rate (around 9 WAR) has to seal the Cooperstown deal for Judge right?
It would put his WAR7 at almost 50. The only position players with that kind of peak are either excluded for other reasons (Bonds, ARod, Shoeless Joe), waiting for the call (Pujols, Trout, Betts) or inner circle Hall guys.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wouldn’t say it seals the deal, because longevity is still the primary driver of who gets elected to the Hall of Fame, and Judge doesn’t even have 1,000 hits, let alone the 2,000 that has been a bright-line test for BBWAA candidates for the past half-century

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That said, yes, Judge is looking good on the advanced-stat front, with a 44.5 peak score (WAR7) and counting; his 3.9 bWAR is already his seventh-best season, and so every additional win he adds counts towards improving that, and adding a full point to his JAWS. Due to his late start, he’s going to be a unique case anyway, but he’s going to need to bulk up his career numbers before he assures himself of a spot in Cooperstown.

Tjf167: What $ number does a reasonable Volpe extension start at? Feels like a high ceiling but lowish floor player. $110mm with a few FA years?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s a better question for Dan Szymborski but the Andres Gimenez seven-year, $106.5 million extension from last year comes to mind as a starting point, with adjustments for inflation and NY. Gimenez was at 2.106 years of service time — not quite Super Two-eligible — as he headed into his age-24 season. Volpe will be at 2.000 year as he does the same next spring.

Tjf167: Are the days of big first basemen FA deals over? It doesn’t seem like Alonso will ever get the $150mm he turned down, and with 1 dimensional guys like Torkleson (busting) and Vlad Jr   (regressing), it just seems like there should be a lot of skitishness.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wouldn’t close the door on another one ever happening but right now, there’s no obvious recipient of one, and if I had to throw a dart as far as who to keep an eye on, it would probably be the Red Sox’s Triston Casas. But that point is still a long way off and he’s got work to do to push his asking price into the $150M range.

brad penny for your thoughts: how “big of a deal” do you find the Tucupita Marcano ban?  how likely do you think more bettors will be found in MLB?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Anytime you’ve got a player banned for life it’s a big deal. I don’t know that another is imminent but in the wake of the Ippei Mizuhara/Shohei Ohtani investigation, I’ve heard lots of rumors about athletes gambling through illegal bookmakers, and if baseball ever gets to the bottom of it, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see suspensions more like the one-year ones given to minor leaguers.

Frankly, I think there should be a blanket ban on professional athletes gambling on sports, and you have to be pretty ****ing stupid to risk your career on the type of money at stake through either legal or illegal betting.

RAGBRAI: As pitchers are pitching fewer innings (impacting other stats) and hitters are hitting less HRs (impacting other stats), do we see those former benchmark numbers become meaningless to HOF entry.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They’re not meaningless — they’re still there as reference points — but it’s going to take Hall of Fame voters adjusting to the reality of changing times before they fully concede that they have to look beyond win, hit, and homer totals when it comes to most candidates.

Christian: Hi Jay! With the integration of Negro League stats into the MLB record and increased awareness of lesser-known NeL stars, do you see any Negro Leaguers who might find their way into the Hall of Fame soon?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues Black baseball players, managers and executives will be eligible for the 2025 Classic Baseball Era Committee ballot, but they’ll be directly competing for space and votes with pre-1980 AL/NL players, managers, and execs, and the ballot can only contain eight candidates in all. I’m hopeful that somebody will break through but it’s going to be a challenge to break out of such a crowded field. I would have much preferred to have a Negro Leagues/Black Baseball Era Committee ballot voted upon by experts.

gila monster: Luis Gil bumpday. He’s been on fire, do you think it’s legit?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes, he’s legit, which isn’t to say that I envision him continuing to pitch in a way that earns him Cy Young votes. he’s got some impressive stuff and he’s done a fantastic job of seizing the opportunity. I hope that he’s able to continue pitching well after whatever slowdown the Yanks impose upon him so as not to overwork him.

Zach: Loved your Judge piece. One thing I’ve noticed that no one is talking about is that a couple weeks ago he finished off the best 50 game rolling xwOBA in the statcast era, and he currently has the best 100 game rolling xwOBA in the statcast era. Seems absolutley insane to me.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Wow, I missed that facet but it hardly surprises me. Given his plate discipline, power, and max-EV force, some Judge stretch seemed likely to be the top one. But as I showed in the piece, there’s a case to be made he’s as hot as he’s ever been, or pretty damn close.

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

wheelhouse: if the 2024 yankees are fake, what will the reason be

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’re all inside Tommy Westphall’s snow globe.

Tacoby Bellsbury: On this day two months from now, where do you suspect Pete Alonso will be playing?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Tampa Bay

P: After reading Dan’s article about Eduard Julien’s demotion, it may not be that justifiable purely in terms of performance, but given that the AAA team is at home this week (so Julien doesn’t need to actually move anywhere, just take a different highway from home), do you think there’s anything to be gained by simply saying “go play 6 games in St. Paul and for God’s sake, just swing the dang bat” in an effort to bust his slump or change his approach?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That and a means of navigating a roster crunch (welcome back, Royce Lewis!)

Sanford: Please do to Pete Alonso what you did to Aaron Judge. Thanks!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ll probably write about him at some point but nothing imminent

slumppy: At what point does MLB step in to try and do something about the offense? It has been so bad overall this year. Currently it is the only of the big American sports that doesn’t seem to get and cater the rules to increase offense since that is what the general public wants.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Scoring is actually higher than it was in 2022, before we got a whole bunch of new rules designed to goose the offense, and we haven’t even hit the summer yet, when the ball tends to carry more and scoring levels rise. MLB does have future rule changes in mind, ABS being the big one, but after a one-two helping of rule changes, I don’t see the league and the union reacting to every single dip by rewriting the rule book.

JT: Even if Vladdy isn’t great at 3B, is this finally a recognition from the Blue Jays that we need to sacrifice some defense for offense if we want to, um, win a game?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It sounds like it’s going to be a once-in-awhile thing, and while I don’t hate it, I think the incremental gains are pretty dang small on a team that needs like five guys to start hitting like they have in the past

Kyle: Does Jasson force his way into the BX?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably not until late in the season unless there’s an injury. The Yankees are playing so well they’re in if-it-ain’t-broke territory, and Dominguez still has just nine games at Triple-A. Give it time.

Mark S: Would 500 HRs get Stanton to Cooperstown? Or has that benchmark been forever tainted by the Steroid era.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think if Stanton got to 500, he’d probably get into the Hall, but it’s not going to be automatic.

Zach: Anthony Rizzo has a 58 wRC+ in his last 30 games and a 72 wRC+ since his collision with Tatis last year. Are the Yankees ride-or-die with Rizzo or would they consider a move at 1B?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: lots of yankees questions in the chat so this is the last one for awhile — I think they’d get DJ LeMahieu some reps at first base before they consider going outside the organization.

HoganLegDrop: Is there any reason to think Severino (if he keeps current pace) gets any more than what Lorezen did last year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Absolutely. He has a much longer and stronger track record, particularly as a starter. Lorenzen made his first All-Star team last year but finished with a 4.18 ERA and 4.46 FIP, both of which were worse than his career averages; he has a 4.23 ERA and 4.59 FIP as a starter for his career. Severino is coming off a bad year but has generally been much more successful.

HoganLegDrop: How should we feel about Yamamoto and that contract given what we’ve seen so far? Do we think that there is another gear he could kick into but is an above-average but not dominate pitcher looking more likely?


Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yamamoto has been inconsistent but sheesh, the guy is carrying a 3.32 ERA and 2.69 FIP while adjusting to a new country, a new culture, and a new baseball. I’m not sure how much better you expect him to be. I think this is a pretty good start to what I expect will be a long and productive career.

Nathaniel Lowe: What’s going on with him? I see a a drop in LA and a big drop in ISO and Barrels/Rate. I traded for him when Casas went down and have appeared to acquire a rock.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Wow, a 2% barrel rate? a .338 SLG? I think your guy was kidnapped by aliens and replaced by James Loney.

Dk: More likely to turn their career around after severe early career struggles Baty or Torkelson?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Torkelson, I think. He did have a bit of a breakout in the second half last season (.238/.318/.498 , 121 wRC+), so he’s shown he can be an above-average major league hitter, whereas we’re still waiting for that from Baty, whose ceiling was never judged to be quite as high.

T(win)s: No question, just happy Royce Lewis is back!  Being a fan of MN sports we’re preconditioned to default to “That’s why we can’t have nice things”

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m glad Lewis is back, and I’m almost completely indifferent to the Twins!

MikeD: Do you believe MLB has “deadened” the ball this year, or are there other issues at play. If the former, why would they do that?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think they’ve done anything to the ball with intent, but as we’ve seen, changes in sourcing of materials can have a larger-than-expected effect from batch to batch and year to year. As the game’s preeminent physicist, Alan Nathan, told me in 2011, “The specs on major league baseballs, they almost don’t deserve to be called specs, they’re so loose that the range of performance from the top end to the bottom end is so different.”

Jason N: Hey Jay – looks like the FanGraphs servers are compromised (again).  I keep getting my screen taken over by scam ads – even during your chat.  May want to alert the site admins.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: First I’ve heard of it, but I’ll pass this along to the authorities. Are you logged in?

Phil: Are Bello, Houck, Casas, Devers, Abreu, and Rafaela the core of a future contending team? Or are we waiting for Mayer, Teel, and company, in which case I presume some of the above will be traded or let go in free agency following a few more years of the current endless middlingship? Asking for a few million friends across five and a half states, thanks.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not at all convinced w/r/t Rafaella but this is a pretty decent team, with a better-than-expected rotation and some welcome breakthroughs in the outfield. I wouldn’t give up hope.

Theeeehauahsuehaueheueheushh Yankees win: I was poking through the EVs of some of my favorite players and I noticed Freddie Freeman’s average EV is down a bit and so are most of his hard contact numbers. This isn’t to say that he’s having a bad year obviously, he’s still probably a top 20 or 25 player right now based just on the season, but it got me thinking about declines. Could something like this be the sign of an oncoming decline for someone like Freeman? If so does it portend steep ugly decline or a more graceful one? And, say it does lead to a steep sudden decline, is that enough to keep someone like Freeman out of the Hall of Fame? He’s got a fairly strong but probably not complete resume in that regard, so I’m wondering if he’s in danger of falling out of consideration with a hard drop off

Avatar Jay Jaffe: At 34 years old, Freeman NOT declining somewhat is more of a surprise than if he were declining, but the guy is still carrying a 150 wRC+ so I don’t think it’s really time to panic; he hasn’t woken up with Chris Davis’ swing or <checks notes> Nathaniel Lowe’s. He’s checked a lot of boxes for the Hall of Fame, and while I don’t think he’s a lock yet, I expect he’ll get in with a normal career progression.

Ben: What do you make of Snell and Montgomery’s awful starts to the year? Both arrived very late to spring training and didn’t even know where they’d be playing until mid-March at earliest. Obviously there are a lot of factors at play, but hard not to think that this interfered with their prep for the season.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Woof, was typing an answer and my whole computer just crashed… hang tight

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s entirely possible that the late signing contributed to their rocky starts; after all, part of coming to a new team is building relationships with coaches and teammates, none more important for a pitcher than his catchers. That said, it’s also on players to keep themselves in shape, and I wonder how much of their difficulties are because they weren’t quite ready enough when they began game activity.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And yes, I get the temptation to Blame Boras, and he probably misjudged their markets to a degree — but he takes his orders from his clients, and so they bear culpability as well.

Sanford: Is there a reason why FanGraphs does not have HR% (allowed) as an available pitching stat? Perhaps I’m missing it, but I never am able to find it on leaderboards or player pages. K/9 and BB/9 are accompanied by K% and BB% (which are definitively more useful), but I’m surprised we’re still left with only HR/9…something you could pass up the chain?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Agreed, it would be nice to have. Will mention it.

grader135: Will tommy pham end up back in Arizona?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Man, I have no idea where Tommy Pham will send up but that guy needs as much therapy as his salary can afford.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, a lot of good questions still in the queue but I have to call it a day to go pick up my kiddo. Thanks for stopping by and have a great 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.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
15 days ago

I worry about Tommy Pham. His comments after being thrown out at home(by a mile) in the game against the Brewers were disconcerting to say the least. Saying he trains all winter so he can f*** somebody up was kinda weird.Hope he finds some peace.