Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat -7/14/20

2:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon folks and welcome to another edition of my Tuesday chat. Apologies in advance for what’s likely to be a shortened one this week, as I have to bolt to pick up my daughter at some point. 

I’ve been pretty buried in Positional Power Rankings lately. My first one, tackling the first basemen — much of which was written before the pandemic — went up Monday: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2020-positional-power-rankings-first-base/ , and I’ll have right field up Friday.

2:03
Sonny: If the bouncy ball is here for the foreseeable future how does that impact the way we might view HR totals? Will 400-which is at the outer band of Josh Donaldson’s potential between now and 40y-be diminished like it was in pre-testing steroid era?

2:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, the steroid era already turned 500 homers into a milestone of questionable value; where attaining it once meant virtually automatic enshrinement, now a player has to have reached it almost without a hint of scandal. There have long been 400-homer players who didn’t come close to sniffing the Hall, even before PEDs were on the scene, such as Dave Kingman. As always, i advocate taking a more complete look at a player in terms of evaluating him for Hall fitness than just one number.

2:06
viceroy: How worried are you abot Ohtani’s inability to throw strikes at summer camp?

2:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not particularly — it’s pretty common for TJ returnees to struggle with control and command initially. So long as he’s pain free, I think he’ll come around.

2:06
sympathy: poor Byron Buxton

2:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: We just can’t have nice things, particularly in 2020.

2:07
Nolan: The Washington Post had an editorial saying that the Texas Rangers’ name might as well be the “Texas Klansmen.”  Idiocy? Or complete idiocy?

2:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have to admit I’m not as well-versed on the Rangers name as I am on the Indians, Braves, or Redskins, but I did find the link to that piece. It’s worth a closer look. I’d like to hear what historians have to say about it. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/13/texas-rangers-team-…

2:08
Brian: What are the chances a guy like Acuna/Albies/L.Robert/Eloy opts out? There’d be no repercussions to losing a year of service time since they agreed to back-loaded long-term deals and their free agency date is locked in and won’t change. In Acuna’s case he signed a $100M contract yet is only owed $370K for the 2020 season.

2:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s certainly possible that such players opt out, particularly at a time when they’re playing for peanuts, relatively speaking, and as you say have their long-term earnings locked in. I do think that if a star-level player — Trout or Betts, or somebody nearly as high caliber — opts out while particularly questioning how MLB is handling this situation that several other players could follow suit.

2:10
Guest: What do you think about Fangraphs moving on from using Cleveland’s nickname? I think some publications’ refusal to use the Washington football name did lead to more awareness/pressure and Fangraphs is a leading voice in the baseball community.

2:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wrote about it here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/for-baseballs-honorifics-and-team-names-an…

It’s a ballclub that’s rich in history, and a name that, while it’s fallen out of fashion, does have some acceptable uses. I felt more strongly about getting rid of Chief Wahoo than I do about the name, but I also think that it’s an important time to be listening to the concerns of people who fall outside the dominant white culture. I see this of a piece with the retiring of brands and mascots like Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. it’s time to move on.

2:13
That guy: Do you see the Mets as having manipulated Alonso’s service time in a particularly egregious way, since you brought it up yesterday? What about him makes him an ideal poster child, other than the team being an easy target generally? Do you not think there were any legitimate non-service time factors in their decision?

2:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: There was little doubt at the time that Alonso’s bat was big league ready, and the noise about his defense rang pretty hollow given that it has become the automatic fallback used by teams to justify keeping players in the minors. What the Mets did was inside the lines as far as the rules go, but at the same time, I found it distasteful and I know lots of folks, fans and within the industry, did as well. That the organization was particularly awash in dysfunction at the time — even by the Mets’ standards — is one reason why I have a hard time taking their decision at face value.

2:17
Mr. Burrito: A couple weeks back, when I suggested Dick Allen and Reggie Smith were comparable players from the same era who’ve been comparably hosed, HOF-wise, you suggested Dick Allen was substantially better. Initially, I think I agreed. But I saw both players in the latter half of their careers and thought both were among the best in baseball. Also, after looking a bit at the numbers, I think the difference between them is slim. Allen was better offensively, but not by some overwhelming margin. And Smith was better on defense — at least based on WAR ratings, etc. What’s more, Smith was more consistently excellent (I believe seven seasons of 5 WAR or higher)…. My point? I know within the broader baseball community there’s a small “get Dick Allen in the HOF.” And I agree with it; he should be in. But I think there should be a similar push for Reggie Smith.

2:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I loved Reggie Smith when he was with the Dodgers, and he had a fine career and actually finished with a higher bWAR than Allen thanks to defense and an additional ~800 PA; both were done by their mid-30s. The separator for me is that Allen had six years where he was one of the top three hitters in the league by OPS+ (leading three times) and 10 in the top 10 — every time he qualified for the batting title, basically. Smith, by comparison, led once, had two other top five finishes, and five in the top 10 out of 10 seasons qualifying for the batting title. Less black ink, though he did play on 3 World Series teams.

2:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not at all opposed to Smith being in the Hall, but he’s lower on my list than Allen, and doesn’t have the same kind of hooks to his case.

2:23
That guy: I think that you very conveniently ignored the question of whether there were any factors besides service time in the Alonso decision- for example, another prospect running slightly ahead of him on the development track who had earned some September PT. I feel like you’re looking at the decision in a vacuum, where Alonso’s readiness is the only consideration. Also, feels like you ascribe an inordinate importance to September decisions, compared to April ones.

2:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: man, this horse isn’t going to get out of this chat without a severe beating, huh? (I see your question too, Curious, and the several you asked in Clemens’ chat yesterday). Yes, the Mets had Smith, but he had struggled mightily in 2018, and it felt a lot like the Mets were making excuses on why not to call Alonso up. Were there other factors? Probably, and their names are Fred and Jeff Wilpon.

2:26
Guest: HOF question for today: what do you think of guys like Charlie Finley and George Steinbrenner and their HOF candidacies?  Bad guys, obviously, but worthy as a contributor and an executive.  Billy Martin, etc.

2:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I favor putting both Steinbrenner and Finley in and have written about their careers in the context of Era Committee ballots. Both were horse’s asses, however, and they brought some negative aspects to their time in the game. Neither treated their managers and other employees well, and to some extent, the karma has caught up to them among the voters.

I’d still rather have either or both in the Hall than Tom Yawkey, whose teams never won a championship and who dragged his feet on integration.

2:28
TKDC: Do you think there will be a lot of players who play all 60 games? It seems that having a few off-days now and then is about “the long season,” but this season ain’t long.

2:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think we’ll see many, even given the shorter schedule and lesser travel, not to mention the larger rosters

2:31
big mac: No doubt, service time will be hotly contested in the next CBA.  Is there a path for both parties to find common ground?  Call me a cynic, but I have little hope of avoiding a work stoppage after what transpired these past few months

2:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t know anybody who’s optimistic about the coming CBA war. I think both sides will need to rethink the way in which they use the media to leak details about the negotiations — more with regards to tone rather than substance — if they’re to avoid a replay of what just happened with regards to the restart of the season . Maybe that means some turnover at the top; I don’t expect Rob Manfred to go anywhere, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other voices enter the picture.

2:34
WinTwins0410: Jay, outside of both Schilling (who’s about to get in) and Clemens, do you believe there are any eligible (either BBWAA or small committee) starting pitchers from the post-1950 era who are not in the Hall but who you think should be inducted? Interested in Hall-eligible SPs only, not guys still playing like Verlander or retired-but-not-yet-eligible like Sabathia.

2:38
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I can see arguments for both sides on Kevin Brown and Luis Tiant; I’m not overly fired up about either getting in but the latter would make me (and many others) quite happy. I think there are a handful of pitchers whose careers are just shy of the Hall, such as Saberhagen, Stieb, Cone, and Hershiser, that are as good as pitchers who are in, but I don’t see what’s going to push them over the line in a committee format.

2:39
AC/SD: The Padres have a lot of pitching and up-the-middle depth in the Minors, but no future middle of the order guys. I realize they have Machado but, they still don’t have a top ten offense and no thump on the way in the Minors. Who should they target to hit in the heart of the order going forward? Springer? Mookie? Jose Ramirez? Please and thank you.

2:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I can’t see them committing a Machado-sized contract to Betts, too. They’re set on the left side of the infield, so Ramires doesn’t make much sense, but Springer would be a fit.

It feels like the Padres have brought a thousand outfielders to the majors in recent years, but none of them have stuck around long. They need some of their prospects like Trammell and Abrams to pan out because they can’t afford to keep buying off the rack.

2:42
Doug: People keep referring to this year as a sprint. But if a normal season is a marathon, shouldn’t we be calling this season a 10k? Usain Bilt

2:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: By ratio it’s more like 10 miles than 10k.

2:42
Brendan: Hi Jay–I have a weird HoF question I’ve never found an answer to. Why did George Foster, Vida Blue, and Don Baylor appear on the ’95 ballot despite getting <5% in ’94, while others who were <5% in ’94 (like Ted Simmons) didn’t?

2:44
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Huh, i had never noticed that one. There was a 1985 amnesty that restored some (13?) guys who had gotten less than 5% in the days while the rule was still emerging, including Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, and Ron Santo, and there was a 1996 petition to do the same for Simmons, Larry Bowa, Al Oliver, and Bill Madlock that would have done the same if not for a dispute within the BBWAA but I’ve never heard about one involving Foster, Blue, and Baylor. I’ll look into it when I get the chance.

2:46
WinTwins0410: Jay, who is the guy with the best case from an advanced stats standpoint who you nonetheless are not sold on as a HoFer?  Based on previous chats, it seems like Rick Reuschel and Kevin Brown *could* fit in this camp — are there others also that jump out at you?  (both pitchers and position players)

2:52
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Assuming we’re talking about players on the outside looking in, Reuschel is probably that guy for me, at least on the pitching side; he generally wasn’t regarded as a star, let alone a guy with a case for Cooperstown, albeit not a strong one.

I’m amused by his campaign but not tremendously sold on Jim McCormick, who has the highest JAWS besides Clemens of any SP outside the Hall, above the standard. He was a guy throwing 400+ innings annually from 1878-87, when the game was very, very different.

2:52
Isolated Thinker: Teams should have cardboard cutouts of all the Hall of Famers and other great players scattered around where they sit in the stands during games.  “Go sit next to Ted Williams next half inning. That’ll fix your slump.  You! Go sit next to Rickey we need more SB out of you.”

2:52
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Sure, why not?

2:52
Appa Yip Yip: Am I wrong for thinking that the Jays’ pitching is going be be Fine, Actually? Not world beating by any stretch but solidly middle of the pack with the potential for more because of how many young starters with AAA success and MLB experience they have?

2:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, their rotation is 25th in our projections. I’m a big Ryu fan but think he’ll have a much tougher time in the AL East than the NL West, and I don’t think we’ll see a lot of Nate Pearson this year. Shoemaker hasn’t been healthy since 2016, Roark and Anderson look to me like solid #4s… and outside of Giles there isn’t anybody in the bullpen I see as a standout. That’s not to say somebody won’t break through but I see a staff that’s probably in the lower third of the majors this year

2:57
Mike Ortman: Yeah let’s stay with the Padres, an exciting team who is coming up with all kinds of talent. Does Preller have what it takes to assemble a legit contender?

3:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The farm system is loaded, the roster has intriguing talents that are still in their control years, and ownership has shown a willingness to spend money, so Preller *should* have what he needs, but he’s made some questionable decisions, the Hosmer contract being the most glaring one. I don’t think they can afford another mistake of that magnitude.

3:01
Mike Ortman: How much of a difference do you think it makes towards a player’s HOF election if they played for just one team? It’s for sure a small boost I think, but how big a difference does it make?

3:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it *was* a factor but now that every candidate has spent his entire career in free agency it’s less of one, because there are fewer of those guys. Being a one-team player doesn’t seem to have helped Lou Whitaker or Todd Helton; we’ll see what it doe for Joe Mauer and (perhaps) Joey Votto. Other than that, it’s going to be a long time before we see a test case.

3:06
Nolan: Despite the cancellation of the All-Star game, will certain players be named All-Stars for the purposes of incentives in contracts, etc.?

3:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: not to my knowledge, no.

3:08
Roy: Remember when Lindor was supposed to be all glove & no bat. Wonder who’s next

3:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Surely the prospect hounds have better memory than I do on the subject but I don’t really think there was ever a time in his professional career where Lindor was thought of as good field, no-hit. His minor league numbers may not have been remarkable at some stops, but in age-to-level terms, he pretty much always held his own, starting with A-ball at age 18.

3:11
Lorenzo: With the new extra inning rule, whats your over/under for longest game this season?  How many innings?

3:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I bet we don’t see a game go longer than 13 innings.

3:14
AC/SD: What do you think the Pads would have to offer Springer to get him- roughly? And yeah, they’d have to trade away Myers and some money to free up space. Please and thank you.

3:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: They can’t seem to give Myers away. As for Springer, who of us knows what the free agent market will look like next year, but I’d think he aims for about $23-25 million annually.

3:16
Nick: Which players have a better chance to win an MVP, Cy Young, or ROY in a 60-game season than in a 162-game season?

3:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: All of them, basically, except for the guys who won’t get enough playing time. We see mediocre players have great half-seasons with some frequency; the only thing that might stop (spins the wheel to choose a random starter) Kyle Gibson from winning a Cy Young award is the chance that 10 other guys will have stats that look somewhat like his over that short a stretch

3:19
Joe: What will it take to lead the league in WAR this season?

3:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: 3-4 WAR, i think. 3 is basically an 8-WAR season, 4 is almost on pace for an 11-WAR season

3:20
Mike Ortman: Last one from me. Not a question though…..just wanted to say thank you for doing these. It is super fun for me and I think all of us who jump on here with you. Definitely in my calendar each week, and it’s a blast to be able to pick your brain on this stuff.

3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks for the kind words, Mike! I enjoy these chats, to — enjoy connecting with readers — though in pandemic times they come at a high cost to productivity given the other factors in play, including child care and the folly of talking about sports while the country falls apart. Whew, that’s starting to get dark. Anyway…

3:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s my time to skidoo, pick up the kiddo, and run some errands before I sink my teeth into the lower reaches of PPR right fielders. Thanks for stopping by this week, and please be safe out there!

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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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gvanlue
Member
gvanlue

I feel like I’m starting to make some headway in these discussions with Jay. Maybe he won’t come around, maybe he’s not even wrong. But at least he’s listening.