Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 6/6/19

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hi folks, and welcome to today’s chat, the last one I’ll be doing before heading up to Cape Cod for a week and a half.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s an annual tradition in the Jaffe-Span household, spearheaded by my awesome mother-in-law, Paula Span (who writes for the New York Times). I’ll be doing at least one chat and filing a few articles from up on the Cape (Wellfleet, to be more specific), and I just booked a very cool interview to conduct while I’m up there. Also scheduled to see at least one Cape Cod League game, which should be fun.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Anyhoo, let’s get to…

Fred: Does Stanton opt out if he comes back and plays to projections in the second half and in 2020, or does he have to get back to MVP-type levels?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If Stanton were to opt out, he’d be 30 years old and bypassing a minimum guarantee of $218 million over his next seven seasons, including the final buyout. Given last year’s dip in productivity, this year’s absence, and the industry’s changing free agent dynamic, right now I have a hard time imagining he’s going to do better than that, particularly as most of the other situations to which he’d be checking in lack the guaranteed commitment to compete that comes with being a Yankee.

Bread Gardner: I don’t think the HOF has anyone representing the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL); do you think it should?  Do you think a woman will ever break into MLB or MiLB?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not opposed to it in theory but the league was only around from 1943-1954. Did any stars play the 10-year minimum? what do the stats even look like? I think the best way to do it would be to honor a few of them under a “modern pioneer” designation (i.e., for something besides an MLB career), an umbrella that could also fit trailblazers such as Lefty O’Doul, Bill James, Pete Palmer and more.

Srhkthew2: Why is Musial listed as a RF on JAWS even though he has more games and innings at both 1B and LF?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: JAWS position classification is based upon where a player had the most value, not necessarily the most games, which is why Ernie Banks is classified as a shortsto. The longer answer is in the book but the short answer re Stan the Man is that he had more value during his years as a RF, 45.5 WAR in seasons where that was his primary position, compared to 38.8 in years where he primarily played LF and 35.3 in those where he was at 1B.

Voldemort: RIP Keston Hiura

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Let’s not be overly dramatic, please. Hiura hit well, but the Brewers  liked what they saw from Shaw on his rehab assignment and are optimistic that he can turn his season around. I suspect that Hiura will be back very soon, and wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Brewers do a bit of experimenting to see if he can get by at another position so as to carve out a bit of playing time for him.

Bread Gardner: How much do you weight “narrative” in your HOF ballots? How often is a good/bad narrative enough to get a borderline candidate over the line/stop him short of it?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I guess it depends what you mean by narrative. There are the numbers, both traditional and advanced, and there are the more subjective factors — how was he viewed during his time, did he get screwed out of playing time, was he a difference-maker in the postseason or close pennant races, did he win awards and honors, did he achieve something of historical importance, was he caught using PEDs — that are perfectly valid to consider as well. It varies from case to case how much weight to apply to all of that but yes, it can certainly put a player over the top or not.

Avid Chat Reader: It’s June and Gio Urshela is still hitting pretty damn well.  When Miguel Andujar comes back, what do you think NYY will do?  What do you think they should do?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There’s a missing piece of information there, and it’s quite a large one: how Urshela’s performance holds up over the next four months. I think that will go a long way towards determining whether he fits on next year’s roster. Secondarily, it could matter whether he’s able to handle other positions in a utility role of the type that led Cashman to sign DJ LeMahieu.

I do think that Luke Voit’s performance thus far minimizes the chance that Andujar gets to try a position switch along those lines. He may be the odd man out once he shows himself to be healthy.

mike sixel: Rather than speculate on what RPs might now be available, I’ll ask you to speculate when the first one will be traded….I’m guessing in 5 weeks. You?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Now that the draft is over and the Kimbrel domino has fallen, I  think the general industry consensus is that the trade market is going to start heating up very soon — remember, there’s also no waiver period (August 31 deadline) anymore. I’d guess we have a reliever trade within two weeks and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if something went down, like, before this chat even ends.

Dave in London: Thanks for chatting Jay. What’s the likelihood that the Tigers trade Matt Boyd, who has three years of team control remaining after this season, before the trade deadline? If they do trade him, wouldn’t ownership/management essentially be telling their fans, “We don’t expect to compete within the next three years, so we’re trading our best starting pitcher?”

Avatar Jay Jaffe: From the standpoint of fan engagement, it is indeed an awful look to deal one of the team’s few bright spots, a guy who as you say has three remaining years of control.

That said, the Tigers’ rebuild isn’t going so well. Our pre-draft farm system rankings placed them 19th in prospect value (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/pre-draft-farm-system-rankings/), which jibes generally with where Baseball America and ESPN ranked their systems pre-season (14th and 18th, respectively). I guess it depends upon what kind of offers they get for Boyd.

In short, Detroit is a land of many contrasts.

Cameron Kear: How long do you think until the Mets get rid of Callaway?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I would be surprised if he’s still employed by the end of the All-Star break, but then again, I’m already surprised he’s still employed.

Tim: Altuve really seemed to change his approach this year.  With the leg injury are we going to see a new Altuve when he’s back?  Can’t imagine he’ll be running much, so SB will go WAY down.  Think he just starts swinging for the fences and a .310+ average is a thing of the past?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wrote about Altuve just after he went down (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/injury-has-interrupted-the-rare-jose-altuv…). I think it’s likely that his approach changed temporarily due to injury/discomfort, and that the Astros, since they’re kicking ass all over the place even with a depleted roster, are going to give him time to get right. This may not be an All-Star caliber year from him but I don’t know if it’s necessarily the end of his days as a high-average hitter.

Hello: Do you ever get tired of producing so much HOF-specific content?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: On the one hand, it can be a little frustrating to be typecast, as though the work I do for the other 10 months of the year doesn’t quite measure up to the same standard. On the other, I’m thrilled that I get to write about baseball daily for a living and proud that my expertise on the subject of the Hall is recognized and guarantees some amount of attention to my work on an annual basis. I’d love to be as good at something else within this field as I am at the Hall stuff, but I still find the topic fascinating, and I’m plenty happy to play the hits, so to speak.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Sorry for the slower pace at the start of this chat. Banh mi, wandering toddler, and rocking out to the late, great Roky Erickson (a favorite of mine) … only the last of those is still a factor now.

Your cranky urologist: As of today, how do you feel about your NL East pick?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As discussed in a FanGraphs Audio podcast that I recorded yesterday with Meg Rowley and that will be posted today, the failure of a 4-team NL East race to materialize is one of my biggest disappointments thus far. And obviously, the Nationals’ sub-.500 record are part of that. That said, they’ve won 9 of 11, and I still think they’ve got too much talent to suck as badly as they have (though holy hell, that bullpen). I’m not quite ready to shovel dirt on them, though I bet they’d get better results with a better manager than Davey Martinez.

Randy: I read your article on the Dodgers bullpen and loved it. Who could the Dodgers target before the trade deadline for bullpen help?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks (Randy is referring to this https://blogs.fangraphs.com/powerhouse-dodgers-bullpen-misadventures-s…). I mentioned a few guys near the end of the piece, target-wise. The best trade target will probably be Ken Giles, but he’s going to cost a lot in terms of talent. Will Smith (the Giants pitcher) could be hard to land given the Dodgers’ lack of trade history with the Giants (the last one was in 2007, and the 1956 Jackie Robinson trade was the fourth-most recent https://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/trade-partners.cgi?franch_ID_1…), though maybe the presence of Farhan Zaidi in SF changes that.  Sean Doolittle if the Nationals do fall out of the race for good.

Beyond that, there are a few recently released guys worth sifting through based on their track records — Luke Gregerson, Dan Jennings, Addison Reed — because they’ll cost essentially nothing.

Mike: Sup Jay— you can only keep three of four: Nick Senzel, Cavan Biggio, Brandon Lowe, Michael Chavis. Need to make a move with Didi on his way back soon.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t normally answer fantasy questions because I haven’t played in nearly a decade, but I can tell you that based on their recent prospect outlooks Biggio is the least likely of those guys to be a star. Eric and Kiley graded him as a 40 FV type, a second-division regular or platoon outfielder.

Tyler B: What does Jose Martinez need to do to get more playing time? or is he a PT vet at this point?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He needs a trade to an AL team that can DH him at least some of the time. His name came up when I looked at the worst defensive metrics for outfielders in the context of Clint Frazier’s rough night. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/down-goes-frazier-when-it-comes-to-defensi

Scott of Lincolnshire: Craig.  Kimbrel.  Not a question.  Well I probably have to ask a question to get this posted, so……………..how much more meat on the bone is there for him to eat to lock himself into HOF?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: IMO he’s got a lot of work to do still. He’s 52nd in reliever JAWS, which I’ll fully concede isn’t the be-all and end-all of analysis, but that’s well below  all of the enshrined relievers. He’s also way down on my combined WAR, WPA, WPA/LI score. Here’s a screenshot of the table circa this winter’s Billy Wagner piece (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2019-hall-of-fame-ballot-bill…)

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That was before Lee Smith’s election. I wouldn’t consider voting for Kimbrel until he at least passes Papelbon, I don’t think.

Cory: I’m sure you’ll be pretty occupied but the Provincetown Film Festival will be going on while you’re in Wellfleet. They do a great job running it every year and is sponsored well. A true hidden gem, plus P-Town is a good time.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks, duly noted.

AAAA: How much are you buying into Frankie Montas rest of season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t looked closely but offhand I like what I’m seeing. Excellent low walk rate, much better chase, whiff and strikeout rates, much higher groundball rate. I don’t know that he can continue pitching *quite* this well, but he’s arrived for sure.

DCW: Will Dustin Pedroia get in the HOF?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Unless something changes, I don’t see it, but if the Rule of 2,000 finally falls — and there are many candidates who could topple it in theory, with Miñoso, Oliva, Allen, Grich, and Utley the most likely — then he’s got a shot given his traditional accomplishments and role in the Red Sox’s 2007-13 run. Still, I’d bet against it. It’s a bummer the way all of this has played out

WC: Do the Rays and Red Sox end up with the two WCs? I know FG thinks so but do you agree?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think that’s the most likely scenario. Cleveland’s barrier to getting back into this just got higher with the Carrasco news, which … wow, I don’t even want to go there until we know more.

mike: Is dom smith actually a good major league player?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think he’s gonna hit for a 178 wRC+ forever but he’s good enough to be a regular 1B, and I hope for his sake the Mets can make that happen with a trade, because Alonso has staked his claim on the job in Queens.

LLW: In honor of your summer trip to Cape Cod, is chowder a winter food only?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: No, and while I wouldn’t eat it on a 90 degree day, it’s more likely to be better the closer one is to fresh seafood.

Nick: Any idea why Tyler white hasn’t been sent down to triple A?? Seems like Alvarez or Tucker would be a much better option at this point

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I tend to agree, but I think the Astros are giving him a longer look based on what they saw last season. Also, while he’s not exactly known for his 1B defense — which they need given that Gurriel is playing elsewhere in the infield at times amid the injuries — they probably regard it more highly than that of Alvarez.

Jesse from Brooklyn: Jay, any relation to Moe Jaffe, of “Bell Bottom Trousers” fame?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: not to my knowledge.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That Jaffe also did the lyrics to a song called “The Baseball Polka” for which I actually own the sheet music. My first wife, whose last name was Hardt, thought it was very funny that there was a Hardt-Jaffe baseball collaboration, and gave it to me as a gift https://baseballsheetmusic.omeka.net/items/show/5

Mick D: In your HOF analysis, do you ever feel comfortable ignoring a negative defensive rating? I guess the situation for Cepeda/McCovey sharing 1B/LF is the most obvious comparison or Gary Sheffield/ (a variety of bad fielding teammates) to someone like Edgar Martinez.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think there’s room for skepticism about defensive metrics in this context, particularly at the extremes, and they don’t get much more extreme than Sheffield. I spent a fair bit of time in my JAWS profile of him pondering that question, and if my ballot (c. 2021 onward) ever has room, he’ll draw serious consideration for a spot, both on that basis and the fact that he was grossly mishandled in Milwaukee, which cost him value at the front end of his career. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2019-hall-of-fame-ballot-gary…

David: Thanks for your recent piece on Clint Frazier’s defensive woes. Do you have a hypothesis as to what might actually be the cause of his abysmal fielding this season? As noted in your piece, the scouting report on him as a prospect suggested that he was at least an average outfielder. In addition, I honestly don’t recall Frazier’s route-taking and ball-tracking being this poor during the brief stretches that he was in the majors prior to the concussion last year. Some Yankees watchers have speculated that his shift over to RF is to blame, but Frazier’s defense was still quite shaky when he was strictly playing LF earlier this season (e.g., that awful series in Houston in April). So what gives? Does he have case of the dreaded “yips”? Is he dealing with some sort of physical issue that, for some reason, isn’t affecting his hitting?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Beyond the obvious factor of sample size, I mentioned in the piece that I don’t think we can ignore his concussion issues when considering his fielding issues and the suddenness with which they’ve turned up; after all, this was a guy who was primarily a CF until coming to the Yankees, and nobody ever considered his defense to be a major liability even after the deal… until now. His vision, concentration level, reaction time, appetite for diving and contact (such as going backwards into the wall), and overall defensive approach may all bear the effects of his injury.

Dave in London: Re: Tyler White: out of options, I believe

Avatar Jay Jaffe: A quick peek at Roster Resource — which is now part of the FanGraphs family! (see https://blogs.fangraphs.com/roster-roundup-may-27-31/) — reveals that is indeed the case. Good catch.

JoeyBoomBats: Brendan McKay the pitcher looks ready for the majors. Brendan McKay the hitter does not. Do you think the Rays abandon the two-way experiment because there are only so many innings in an arm? Doesn’t seem prudent wasting those innings in the minors waiting for a bat that might never arrive

Avatar Jay Jaffe: IANAPE – I am not a prospect expert – but my guess is that with only ~50 IP of high-minors work under his belt and no glaring need at the moment in Tampa Bay, there’s no rush to bring him up yet, but that we cold see him later this summer (August?) once the loss to his developmental time as a hitter is minimized.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, that’s it from me for the day. thanks for stopping by. I’ve got a Corey Seager piece in the pipeline for tomorrow and a Vlad Jr.-related idea that I’m excited about for early next week. Hopefully gonna get to that Joey Votto piece soon, too, and by the next time I chat with you, I’ll have gotten my first taste of Cape Cod. Stay cool until then…

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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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