Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 6/9/20

2:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to another edition of my weekly chat! Apologies for not being able to fill this slot last week — the protests in Brooklyn left us without our usual dose of child care from my saintly mother-in-law, because travel from New Jersey was untenable.

2:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A bit of housekeeping: I’ve got a two-part deep dive into MLB amateur draft history, illustrating the best picks from later rounds by WAR. Many thanks to Ben Clemens for the database help that made such a series possible; I had some fun putting it together.  https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/beyond-round-5-the-best-later-round-dr… https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/beyond-round-5-the-best-later-round-dr…

2:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Regarding the draft: I’m really no expert, so I won’t have answers to most questions regarding who will go tomorrow — those questions are best left to Eric Longenhagen.

2:04
Anj: A lot of what I’ve seen has the Orioles taking Martin #2.  If say, the Tigers surprise and go Martin at #1, do you think the chances of the O’s going underslot increase or decrease?  So basically, would they be more or less likely to go underslot if it was Torkelson on the board at 2 rather than Martin?

2:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The entirety of what I know about this year’s draft is that Torkelson was my cousin’s neighbor in Petaluma, California and so therefore should be taken first, because my cousin was super-generous with passing me his 1966-75 baseball card collection when I was younger.

2:06
David: do You think the bad faith negotiations by ownership are going to impact the next round of cba negotiations in 2022?

2:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s pretty clear from the current state of things that the next round of CBA negotiations is going to be a nightmare even if they do manage to find compromise for something besides a 50ish-game season this year. There’s so much rancor between the two sides right now, and Rob Manfred is constitutionally incapable of coming off like anything but a bully. I don’t think all that highly of Tony Clark as a union leader, but the players have been galvanized by what the owners and Manfred have done over the past few years — the free agent freezeouts, most notably — and are clearly leery of giving up more ground.

2:11
Anj: Any further updates on Trey Mancini?

2:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t have any inside info, alas. I know that he’s undergoing chemotherapy (for Stage III colon cancer) and that it was expected to take six months, ruling him out for whatever 2020 season transpires. Judging by his Twitter account (@treymancini) he’s at least online these days. Here’s hoping for the best for him.

2:14
Mike Ortman: Stereolab had to cancel their show in SD also.  What’s your favorite track and/or album?  I would go with Cobra and Phases Group.

2:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Gah, I’m sorry to hear it but it was inevitable given all this mess.

I am a huge fan of Stereolab’s earlier work. Transient Random-Noise Bursts with Announcements was the first album of theirs I bought, and the run from that album to Mars Audiac Quintet to Emperor Tomato Ketchup is my favorite. I was sooo put off by Dots and Loops, and while I’ve come around to it in recent years, the stuff between Ketchup and Margarine Eclipse doesn’t get played much around these parts

2:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: and man oh man, i know it’s going to be a long time before I get to see a show again and it really hurts

2:18
gabekaplerscoconuts: how will shortened season MVP/Cy young awards be looked at down the road for HOF voting

2:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: good question. I imagine it will depend at least somewhat on who’s in position to win it. If they’re won by players with proven track records and awards already on their shelves that will be one thing, but if somebody very random goes 9-0 with a 2.50 ERA or something it will be regarded with particular suspicion.

2:20
Mister Drummond: Hi Jay.  Regarding Hall of Fame criteria, Fame itself is something altogether than Greatness, or Really Goodness, or even Talent.  At what point does a person/player who was Famous (for whatever reason) but maybe not that Great or even Talented, inject himself into the discussion for inclusion?  Ala Laurel and Hardy, or maybe Bob Uecker, Tommy John?  Is this even a consideration?

2:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s less important in Hall consideration than ever because we have more means of quantifying and contextualizing performance than ever. Time was that a pitcher with a short career who starred in a couple World Series — Lefty Gomez, Jesse Haines, and Chief Bender come to mind — wound up in the Hall via the Veterans Committee in part because they were famous; even without TV, the World Series commanded national attention, and their achievements resonated.

2:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The fact that Tommy John, who has huge counting stats and a major role in the most impactful sports medicine procedure in baseball history hasn’t gotten over the hump, I think, tells the story that fame isn’t enough. When closely analyzed, his run prevention isn’t up to the caliber of his Hall cohorts, and I think that has hurt him.

2:25
Mike Ortman: I have been doing a deep dive into Cooperstown Casebook during these last months.  It dawns on me that a paperback edition couldn’t just be a republished hardback, but that you would have to have a truly updated edition?  Any timeframe for that?

2:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Welllll, it’s something I’ve thought about a lot, but unfortunately, Thomas Dunne Books, which published the book in 2017, has been shuttered, and I really don’t know where I stand with St. Martin’s, its parent company.

I do have an outline for a Casebook II, as well as some material that’s already publication-ready (Kenny Lofton profile, for one) and if I ever get a chance to catch my breath somewhere between the endless cycle of work, child care, and outright panic, I’ll look into what’s next.

Glad you’re enjoying the book!

2:28
David: Urias May or stripling for the 5th spot in the dodgers rotation?

2:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My guess is that it will be Urias, particularly with an innings cap no issue, that May will work out of the bullpen or in a swing role, and that Stripling will be traded at some point.

2:29
Archer: Do you think the MLB owners are underestimating the damage of cancelling the entire season would have on the league’s relevancy to casual fans? It seems to me, that considering baseball’s viewership decline the past few years that it would be a huge mistake to take games away for over a year.

2:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes. Yes. A hundred times yes. It should already be evident that these billionaire bozos don’t have a single clue between them on how to market the game, or the damage they will do if they let baseball go dark for the entire season.

2:30
Anj: This may have already been addressed, but if there’s no baseball this year, what happens to pending FA?  Like with Mookie, the Dodgers gave up Verdugo and some to get him.  Does he just become a free agent after this season regardless of whether there’s games or not?  Has this been decided?

2:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes, Mookie would be a free agent. Per the March agreement, players will receive service time on par with what they got last year. From an AP thing I quoted here (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/mlb-and-the-union-hammer-out-a-deal-and-hu…)

If there are no games this year, anyone currently on a 40-man roster, 60-day injured list or an outright assignment to the minor leagues with a major league contract would receive 2020 service time equaling what the player accrued in 2019. If a partial season is played, service time would be the equivalent of what the player would have received over a full schedule.

2:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it sucks for the Dodgers, to have given up five years of control over Verdugo, etc., for a player who would never play an official game for them, but them’s the breaks, and they’re a team that’s fully capable of putting on their big boy pants and writing the man some large checks to keep him in Dodger Blue in 2021.

2:33
Greg: When will the mustache return to baseball ?

2:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m right here, man !

2:34
Mike Ortman: Have you had a chance to see this kid Sam the Stat Man on YouTube?  I think he is going to go viral.  He has some serious game for someone his age.  FanGraphs has to feature him, or get him one Effectively Wild.  (I am no relation, just stumbled onto him because of a pandemic related rabbit hole deep dive on Twitter/YouTube.)

2:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have not! But IIRC, I signed a Casebook bookplate for him recently, and should really check out his videos.

2:35
David: if there are no games does the mookie trade go down as one of the worst ever?

2:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it would have to come with a giant asterisk, because Pandemic Cancels Season isn’t something that anybody was gaming out when the two sides were negotiating the trade. I don’t see how you can penalize the Dodgers for that the way you would a team that knowingly traded, like, Jeff Bagwell for a month of relief help.

2:38
Trent Hauser: Biggest winner of this draft format: MLB owners or the NCAA? Are they secretly one and the same?

2:40
Avatar Jay Jaffe: MLB owners. I don’t think you can call this a win for the NCAA because it will result in a massive cluster**** due to players likely return to school because of their meager draft prospects, and that’s without accounting for the fact that their budgets are going to feel the squeeze due to the cancellation of revenue-generating sports (e.g., basketball and the NCAA tournament, plus the possibility of no fans at football if not the cancellation of the football season entirely).

2:40
Mike Ortman: My next project is to reread James’s Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame.  What measurement of his do you think is the best?  HOF Monitor?  HOF Standards?

2:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I use the Monitor far more than the Standards, but the reason I created JAWS was in part because the Monitor doesn’t do a good job of accounting for variable levels of scoring and specifically the high-offense 1990s and 2000s. James did publish an updated version in one of his recent Handbooks, but I haven’t seen a single person cite it and TBH haven’t looked very closely at it myself.

2:43
Lorenzo: In a 50ish game regular season and expanded playoffs, would it be appropriate to include postseason performance in MVP voting?   I understand there would still be series and WS MVP’s which may or may not overlap, and I understand not every team will play the same number of playoff games,

2:44
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I would imagine that if we do get a season, the BBWAA will keep the rules the same and require ballots to be submitted by the end of the regular season. There are separate awards for postseason MVPs that are outside of the BBWAA’s purview.

2:45
Lurker: Hey Jay – I was looking at the Team Page for the Dodgers and the “usage” page, which lists lineups for the year, is incorrect for the majority of lineups.  This is really a small issue, but could you pass it along?

2:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: as in the lineups for 2019 games are incorrect? You’ll have to clarify.

2:46
Defenestrater: Would it be tenable to have the first regular season game be July 4th

2:47
Avatar Jay Jaffe: At this point probably not. a three-week spring training would need to start on June 13, and even if an agreement were struck today, that’s not enough time to mobilize players and have teams prepare their respective training sites to comply with whatever health protocols would be necessary (which haven’t even been finalized — yet another problem).

2:47
Skip: With the current state of everything, could you suggest a good book about the Negro Leagues?

2:50
Avatar Jay Jaffe: One book that’s been in my rapidly growing reading pile — alas, a pastime that’s fallen by the wayside since child care began competing with sleep and work as the most time-consuming pillars of my day —  is Jeremy Beer’s recent bio of Oscar Charleston. I can’t vouch for that one except for word of mouth.

From way back, I really enjoyed the hell out of Larry Tye’s Satchel Paige bio.

2:52
Pumpsie Green: Are you at all comfortable commenting on the perception that the mostly-White ownership group is perceived by some to be bullying a diverse union membership headed by a Black man?

2:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think mostly-white is an understatement when it comes to MLB ownership. Derek Jeter owns 4% of the Marlins, Magic Johnson owns like 2.3% of the Dodgers, and I can’t think of another prominent minority in ownership, but it’s no mystery how this group might be out of touch with its employees and the issues that concern them, regardless of whom is heading the union.

2:56
Your Name: Thoughts on the protests, brutality, black lives?  Or read anything enlightening in regards to them?  As always, hope you and yours are doing well!

3:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m heartened to see that a majority of people are in support of the protests and that the message of Black Lives Matter is getting through. I’m hopeful that this burst of momentum can survive the challenges created by the still-raging pandemic and effect real change, not only with regards to police brutality but in addressing so many disparities that permeate life in this country. And I’m hopeful that I can soon carve out some time to do more reading on the various hot topics at hand.

3:00
Defenestrater: I accidentally hit submit too early and you may have missed my full comment. I am suggesting having one game on July 4th for each team but waiting another week or so for the rest of the regular season

3:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hmmm, interesting idea but I fear that even that ship is about to sail because of how many obstacles there are to an agreement right now, both economic and health/safety-wise

3:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Getting back to the protests-etc. question, I was struck by this thread from my friend Trent Rosecrans, who writes for The Athletic

This is something I’ve noticed, thought about and been bothered about — but haven’t DONE enough about. I have such privilege to have the place and voice I have. Please, please, please. If you are an aspiring baseball writer who is black, brown, Asian, LGBTQ or female, I am here

Another issue is MLB doesn’t have nearly enough Black, Brown, Asian, LGBTQ, and women journalists. In fact, some Black beat writers have left the sport altogether. How many coded Gary Sanchez assassination pieces do we need? Klapisch wrote a BOOK detailing his disdain for Gary.
4 Jun 2020

It’s no secret that our little corner of the baseball-writing world is overly white and male and privileged, and I am certainly all three of those. I’d love to help aspiring writers from outside that Venn diagram — African American, Latinx, Asian, LGBTQ, female — find their way into this field (if they’re not terrified by the grim economic realities of the journalism industry, etc.), so I’m here for anybody who fits that. You know where to find me, and I probably need to do a better job of finding you, too.

3:08
David: If universal DH is used in 2020 do you think it will stick around for good?

3:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, I think this has been building for awhile and if it’s implemented, it will probably stay that way.

3:09
Sanford: To avoid legitimacy concerns of labeling this year’s championship (if any) as a World Series, have you heard any rumblings or are you in favor of a re-hashed “playoff cup” of sorts (it could literally be named…anything else?) that has a new format, and could be held ever few years or so in addition to the yearly World Series hereafter? Could be a fun new wrinkle–owners will definitely be on board with additional $$$, and players too so long as they see proportional bonuses. Maybe it could transition to be post-season for non-playoff teams?

3:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: No. The World Series as a brand is something that MLB is banking upon — note that a very high % of this year’s expected revenue is based on postseason dollars. Networks aren’t paying for the Major League Baseball’s Ad Hoc Championship Tournament, they’re paying for the World Series.

3:10
MJA7: Mr. Jaffe, what are the rules for players on the HoF ballot if they decided to go back and play professional baseball again (MLB or otherwise). Would they be removed from the ballot and have to wait 5 years again? Stay on?

3:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Mr. Jaffe is only what they call me when they’re trying to shoo me off the premises. “Mr. Jaffe, please, you’re making a scene!”

but anyway, I digress. i had to give myself a refresher course in this recently but the player to look at is Jose Rijo. After he left MLB in 1995, he appeared on the 2001 BBWAA ballot and got one measly, stinkin’ vote, which would have knocked him off the 2002 ballot. Remarkably, he came back to pitch in 2001-02, throwing a total of 94 innings, and was then included on the 2008 ballot, meaning that his eligibility was reset. Alas, he was shut out, and then bumped from the next ballot.

I wrote a bit about this in relation to Rick Ankiel’s 2019 appearance on the ballot and his hopes for a comeback, which alas have yet to materialize https://blogs.fangraphs.com/slights-returns-and-hall-of-fame-ballots/

3:15
Trent Hauser: Chances Strasburg builds a serious HOF case under this contract ala Scherzer?

3:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a good question. Looking at both pitchers in the light of bWAR, since I’ve got JAWS on my mind for a question such as this, Scherzer — who joined the Nats for his age-30 season — already had two seasons of at least 5.0 WAR by the time he came to Washington, and has since added five more, ranging from 5.7 WAR to 8.4. His peak WAR of 48.4 is a bit short of the Hall standard (50.0), but in light of his other accomplishments (3 Cys, and future 200 W/3000 K milestones) wouldn’t be an impediment for election.

Strasburg, about to enter his age-31 season, has a higher WAR than Scherzer did at this point (32.3 to 30.8) but aside from two seasons of at least 6.0 WAR has no other ones higher than 3.4. In other words, he’s going to need to pitch like Max for about five years to really put himself on a Hall track.

3:20
Jae Jaffy: What’s to stop from the players from purposefully but subtlely tanking the valuations of the teams? (i.e. if Max Scherzer decides that he wants to step off the mound 25 times between each pitch, or if Mike Trout wants to walk fly balls back to the pitcher)

3:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pride and professionalism. Nobody wants to look horseshit out there.

3:22
MJA7: That is interesting, in that example of Rijo had gotten enough votes to stay on during the season he competed, would he have remained on the ballot despite being an active player?

3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: no, i believe his eligibility would have been suspended just the same.

3:23
Harmon Ripkowski: Best base stealer ever, not taking into account ability to get on base?  I always believed if Vince Coleman got on base like Henderson, Cobb, Raines, Brock, he’d hold the all time record…

3:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, in terms of SB success rates, Carlos Beltran (86.4%) and Raines (84.7%) are first and second among players with at least 300 attempts, where Coleman (80.9%) is 18th. Raines (954 SBA) ran a lot more than Beltran (366 PA) so I’d call him the best in that regard.

3:25
Mr. Burrito: The stories about the late-round picks were excellent. Thanks. Dumb question: Do you think you’d be able to write a similar piece in ten years, if you limited the years to, say, post-2010? In other words, are teams getting significantly better at identifying talent and drafting appropriately? Or is the nature of baseball and human development such that picking 18-21-year-old guys for a sport that requires some on-the-job instruction means the crapshoot-ism is kinda baked in?

3:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks for the kind words; that was a lot of fun to put together. A series more limited in scope would have to account for the draft being shortened to 40 rounds (as of 2012 IIRC), and I think the time horizon might make it hard to fully study the careers of the players in question. If a 2010 draftee makes it to the majors in 2014, he might not have even reached free agent eligibility, for example

3:27
WinTwins0410: Jay, are there any minimum “counting stats” that in your mind, you’d say *are* locks for HoF voting?  And relatedly, that in your mind *should be* locks?  Do any exist?  3,000 hits, 3,000 strikeouts, 500 (or 600) HRs.  Or in your mind, are there none?

3:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think those numbers still carry weight, with the caveat that PED allegations can derail anybody who reaches them. Which, I guess is a way of saying that no numbers are locks for voting. I’m OK with that, as context should matter, but i’m in favor of thoroughly appreciating that context, which is why, for example, I distinguish between PED usage before and after testing was put in place.

3:31
Mr. Burrito: Bigger HOF snub, Dick Allen or Reggie Smith?

3:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Dick Allen by far. Reggie Smith is a Hall of Very Good guy.

3:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: which reminds me…

3:31
Jay d: You’ve been put in charge of electing the inaugural class of the hall of great, the best of the best, who fall below the level of Hall of Famer.  Banned players are still banned.  Fortunately PEDs don’t exist in this alternative world, so anyone who is Hall of Fame worthy based on WAR, and other factors, don’t qualify.  What is your five man class?

3:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I saw this question but am a little confused by it. if it’s guys whose careers I greatly appreciate but aren’t quite HOF worthy I’d say that Fernando Valenzuela is at the front of the line. I’d have to think about who else would be in that class, though.

3:34
Your Name: In an age where sarcasm and faux outrage seem to rule everything, I genuinely appreciate your authenticity, Jay.

3:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thank you for the kind words. I certainly offer my share of sarcasm, especially on Twitter, but I think particularly at this sensitive moment it’s important to try to cut through the bullshit when possible.

3:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Folks, i’ve chatted for longer than i intended to today, which isn’t a bad thing. Thanks for dropping by, and let’s do this again next week!

3:36
The Ghost of Bobby Thigpen: Thoughts on Bill DeWitt’s comments that the baseball industry isn’t very profitable? Horsehockey? Or Total Crock of Horse****?

3:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: LOL yes





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... and Mastodon @jay_jaffe.

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