Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 7/18/19

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon folks, and welcome to The Chat That Almost Wasn’t. I was scheduled to appear on MLB Now today, with a production meeting in this time slot but last night’s Yankees rainout led to a doubleheader whose opener will be aired on MLB Network, consigning my planned soft on this weekend’s Hall of Fame inductions to the vapors.

Anyway, lots on tap. I’ll be appearing tonight in NYC as part of the Varsity Letters tribute to the late Jim Bouton (https://lpr.com/lpr_events/gelf-magazine-varsity-letters-july-18-2019/). After driving up to Cooperstown tomorrow, I’ll be signing and selling copies of The Cooperstown Casebook on Saturday (https://www.facebook.com/events/2256500964601525/), and then speaking at a SABR meeting on Sunday evening (

As #HOFWKND approaches in Cooperstown, read @SABRbioproject on baseball’s newest Hall of Famers: sabr.org/latest/read-sa…. All fans are welcome to attend #SABR Induction Day meeting at 6:00 p.m. Sunday with @janeleavy1 @jay_jaffe @SplitSeason1981 & @byErikSherman too!
17 Jul 2019


Eppler: Have you met Tim Mead? Any first impressions?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have not, but i’m hoping to this weekend. I have heard nothing but great things about him in his capacity with the Angels, and I hope that translates to his work at the Hall, but i have no idea where he stands on some of the issues I hold dear as compared to his predecessor. (Hmmm, that gives me an idea…)

Guest: Wow, I just looked at Xander Boegarts’ DRS numbers and he has been worst in baseball bad every year by a wide margin. Any idea what’s going on here? UZR thinks he’s neutral.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Woof, -14 DRS compared to 0.4 UZR, and a similar contrast last year. First and foremost, let’s remember that UZR specifically does not account for shifts (which are plays made out of zone), and also has a lot of regression built into it.  The Red Sox have yielded a .307 wOBA on shifts, the 8th-worst in MLB. So maybe some of it is that. And some of it must be range, but I’m not totally sure.

Just for FanGraphs: I was reading a BBC article on Instagram because I saw Mike Trout’s name, and was happy to see you quoted heavily as an expert on Mike Trout’s accomplishments.  How much attention do you think baseball will have in Europe thanks to the London games

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, I spoke to BBC Sports’ North American correspondent Anthony Zurcher for that piece (https://www.bbc.com/sport/baseball/48894773). I’m sure the London series improved MLB’s standing in Europe, though the high-scoring weirdness and length of those games may not have given viewers the best picture of the game. It’s certainly a market worth pursuing, so it will be interesting to see where MLB goes with this. A game in Italy next year? Or Germany? Or back to London? I don’t know

Dave in London: Are analysts really misreading the trade market for Ian Kennedy? Kennedy is owed about $5 million for this season and $14.6 million for 2020. Even if the small-market Royals somehow manage to absorb half of what he’s owed ($9 million) in a trade, what team is going to take on a $10 million salary in 2020 for a player who’s likely to be a middle reliever?


Avatar Jay Jaffe: Even given my historical, um, lack of affinity for Kennedy dating to his Yankees tenure and his intentional drillings against the Dodgers (something I’ll never support for a player on any team), I don’t think he’s that appealing, but I guess he’s a plausible option for closing now, and $10 million isn’t an unreasonable expenditure for a team thats running an actual payroll.

Bo: Is there anyone mentioned in the Trade Value series that was surprising when you saw where they ranked?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m surprised Carlos Correa has fallen from 5th to 45th in one year while having a MUCH better season with the bat, but I guess the injuries, even the fluky ones, have had an impact. Likewise for Corey Seager falling from 47 to 13.

I’m of course still rather mystified how it all fell apart for Jose Ramirez, but the drop from 1st to 33rd doesn’t itself seem an unreasonable response in light of that.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There will be a brief pause as I manage my just-arrived sandwich for additional toppings.

Harry: Do you think Carlos Martinez gets back into the Cardinals’ rotation this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it doesn’t sound like it’s in the cards (haha), particularly given the loss of Jordan Hicks, the time it would take to build Martinez up, and the questions about his durability that have brought them to this point in the first place.

Scuffy McGee: You wrote a piece awhile back on 2 way players. Michael Lorenzen was featured in that piece, but up to this point in the season he has very few plate appearances. What changed for him

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not totally sure, but i think it’s what’s happened for other Reds that’s the real issue. Nick Senzel has hit well as their center fielder, and with Eugenio Suarez and Derek Dietrich doing well at the two positions where he could move to with a Lorenzen entry (though Dietrich’s 2B work has always been somewhat suspect), the move may have less appeal. I’d still love to see more, but yeah, I expected more than 12 PA total and 15 defensive innings at CF to this point.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe it’s just one of those things where a rookie manager (David Bell) has caved to the pressures of conformity. I don’t know.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: but hey, Jared Walsh has pitched three times!

Kristen: What should/can TEX do about the hugely disappointing Odor/Mazara?  Odor can’t be optioned and has a large contract for minimal production.  Mazara only has 2 years of control left so not much appeal there either.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve heard that they’re giving consideration to sending Mazara down, which makes sense given his 86 wRC+ and 0.0 WAR. He’s just never been able to get away from that high groundball rate, which means fewer opportunities to tap into that light-tower power.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As for Odor, well, now really isn’t the time to ask for a time machine via which they can choose to keep Jurickson Profar instead, since he’s struggling in Oakland. But man, he’s stunk for two seasons out of the last three. He might be a change of scenery candidate, but to get him you’d probably have to take on equivalent dead money.

Nelson: How many HOFers on average play in each All-star game? Have you looked at which one had the most?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t know the average but I think the high is 19 from 1966. I’ve never studied it closely. Maybe one of these years…

WisconsinRev: The Tigers have -0.8 total for position player WAR and the Orioles have +0.1…. I can’t find a good way to search for this but I am guessing a single team to finish with negative position player WAR is rare? And this year there might be two (especially if Mancini is traded)? Or is this ‘grade of futility’ not what WAR is most useful for?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The lowest team position player WAR for a post-1960 season is -9.7 by the 1979 A’s, and there are 20 teams from that period below 0.0. You can see here, and adjust the dates all the way back to 1871: https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=0…

Sam: Does it look like either games will played in the Bronx today?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not in the Bronx, but it’s not looking good. I actually had a ticket to tonight’s game that I had to unload on a friend due to my aforementioned plans. Feel sorry for her.

Ben: With the anniversary of his perfect game, curious as to your thoughts on Cone’s past chances at the HOF, and why he didn’t make it

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Cone didn’t get to 3,000 innings or 200 wins, and he came up for consideration in 2009, 18 years after the last non-300 win starter (Fergie Jenkins) had been elected. Given that, he never really had much of a chance at election. While I can make a case for him, I don’t know that it’s stronger than one for, say, Saberhagen or Stieb or Tiant or Hershiser or Kevin Brown or… you get it.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Funny story about that game. I and two of my best friends who are all part of our Yankees partial season ticket group (est’d 1998, and still going) went to see Eyes Wide Shut while our fourth in the group, my friend Julie, went with her roommate, a non-fan whose last game had been … David Wells’ perfect game in 1998.

I’ve still never attended a no-hitter or perfect game.

Dave: Cubs-Cards are London 2020

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks. I must have missed that announcement

Avatar Jay Jaffe: or forgotten it.

Robbie: Robbie Ray went 6 IP, gave up 4 ER, and got 7 SO. In his defense, he spent a lot of time sitting on the bench while the D-backs offense scored 16,000 runs against the Rangers. Shouldn’t have hurt his trade value too much, right?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: any scout or exec who would be swayed by a pitchers’ raw stat line on a 94 degree night in Arlington is an idjit.

Gaslamp Gary: Who will throw the first Padres no-hitter? Chris Paddack? MacKenzie Gore? Chris Paddack Jr.? Fernando Tatis III?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Randy Jones IV, or a son of one of Steve Garvey’s illegitimate offspring.

Guest: Is John Sterling ok? 🙁

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s 81 years old and still holding down a demanding job that involves travel and a lot of concentration — it’s a draining job for a person of any age. I have no insight as to whether he’s got bigger issues than that; I hope not. Even if he’s not my favorite announcer, I’ve grown fond of his eccentricities and enjoy the familiarity, especially when I encounter him and Suzyn broadcasting a game while we’re stuck in a car (which is rare, as I don’t own one).

Al Gone Quinn: Trout report: this last week he passed Miguel Cabrera in career fWAR. He is also now in 3rd place in career WRC+ rate behind only Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Dayum. Still got a couple months before he passes Griffey for 5th in JAWS, the slacker. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_CF.shtml

gabriel: What is the latest a player can emerge and still have a chance of making the Hall? Has anyone not been a star at 27 and had a HoF career?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Edgar Martinez didn’t secure a regular job until 27, didn’t make his first All-Star team until 29, and he’ll be on the dais in Cooperstown this weekend. Dazzy Vance had only 11 MLB appearances and numerous injuries before taking the NL by storm at age 31; he led the league in strikeouts for seven straight seasons and pitched until 44. Hoyt Wilhlem didn’t debut until he was 98 days short of his 30th birthday, and pitched until he was almost 50.

Rick: Why does it seem that the Brewers refuse to add quality starting pitching to their rotation? Is it because they believe in their staff that much? Or are they trying and failing?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the Brewers still believe in their stock of young arms but there have been growing pains, and way too much faith in the recovery of Jimmy Nelson. and they need help if they’re going to make it back to the postseason. They’re often mentioned in connection with trade candidate arms (such as Wheeler, Syndergaard, Bumgarner) but that may just be good PR on their part.  

The real question is what they’re willing to give up in exchange, and I imagine they don’t want to part with Hiura or Dubon, whom you figure teams would be asking about.

Tom: Is Ramon Laureano legit?  or has it just been a hot streak?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: His power output (19 HR, .50 1 SLG) is far beyond the 40 FV grade he had for game power circa 2017, ain’t it? He’s another guy whose GB/FB has crossed the divide; he went from 1.38 last year to 0.88 this year, and given the rabbit ball, that higher fly ball rate pays big dividends.

Guest: In regards to your article on Cervelli and concussions – is Clint Frazier now always going to be seen as an injury risk? It seems that once you get one concussion, it gets easier to get another.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Alas, it’s true that concussions make one more susceptible to future problems (not just concussions but post-concussion symptoms, etc). But that’s just part of the reason why Frazier, who hasn’t played more than 119 games in a season since 2015, might be labeled an injury risk. Hopefully he can demonstrate robust health going forward; that’s the only way he can really shed the tag.

The Cubs Might Still Be Okay: Do you believe in Garrett Cooper? Do you believe the Marlins should and will sell high on Cooper? Could you give an estimate on his price tag?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not a huge believer, and would consider selling high. He didn’t crack our Trade Value list even at honorable mention, but with 4 years of club control remaining beyond 2019, should bring back something of value. Ain’t gonna be a game-changer, though, unless the Marlins get lucky

Just for FanGraphs: Have you gotten invested in any baseball shows?  I have heard good things about Brockmire, but have always been partial to anime for my TV baseball fill (those Japanese sure are passionate about the sport)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I love Brockmire, it’s dark and filthy and funny as hell. I know nothing about anime, let alone any anime-baseball crossovers.

Sean: Any guess who will top the Trade Value list?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve seen the list, so it wouldn’t be a guess. And it’s not my party, so I’m not saying anything beyond that, except ZOMG I can’t believe Yasiel Puig’s bat flips and bare biceps outdid Trout et al even with 2 months remaining before free agency!!!

Joyner: Would you rather see an MLB team in London or Mexico City?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: London, mainly because i don’t think we need more baseball at high altitude, and there are increased security risks with having a team in Mexico.

Jaf Jayfe: Johan Santana is a Hall of Famer to me. Undoubtedly the best pitcher in the game for a half decade or more, five straight top five Cy Young finishes (including winning twice), four All Star nods, averaged 4.1 bWAR in seasons in which he threw a single pitch, lead the league three times apiece in ERA, FIP and Ks, and of the seasons where he had 100 IP (so excluding 2000 and 2001, his first two years in MLB) he only had an ERA higher than 3.33 in his final season in 2012. Think he gets in eventually?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably not. Guys who fall off the ballot immediately via the 5% rule just don’t get to the head of the Era Committee lines, and we have yet to see one elected. The prevailing perception that Santana’s career was too short will be difficult to overcome no matter how many advanced metrics suggest he’s a 21st century Koufax analogue.

On that note, I do have an idea about JAWS and pitcher workloads that I’m going to explore in the coming weeks and months. Can’t promise it will yield anything I’m going to implement immediately, but I’m excited to futz with it and see where it takes me.

Pat’s Bat: The Giants are 2.5 games out of the Wild Card.  Buy, sell, or hold?  When can we begin to judge Zaidi as a GM?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If I’m Zaidi, I’m still selling. The need to rebuild the roster is long overdue, and sacrificing significant assets for a shot at a wild card berth is fool’s gold. I don’t know that we can get a good read on any GM before he’s been on the job at least a year and even then it takes much longer than that to get a full read on how he fared.

Ralph Rowdie : What is the likelihood this is Pete Alonso best-ever season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: High, given the possibility that we see a return to a less aerodynamic ball by next year.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Which is hardly a guarantee, but I can’t imagine MLB and Rawlings won’t take steps in light of so much criticism.

mets fan: What do you think about Amed Rosario in CF? The bat seems to be coming along and he could probably put on another 30lbs if he moved off SS

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The metrics say he’s a lousy shortstop, and so do my own eyes (to the extent that I can watch the Mets, which is the equivalent of slicing onions with a dull knife). By all means, they should give it a shot, though they probably need a whole offseason to do that. Winter ball, spring training, etc.

Guest: Could Austin Romine start anywhere else? I believe its a contract year for him.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The guy has a career 61 wRC+, and is at 43 this year, along with 0.1 career WAR in 990 PA. If he’s anybody’s idea of a starter, they’re doing it wrong.

ben: Within the span of a couple weeks, Callaway tries to have a reporter thrown out of the clubhouse, Vargas threatens physical assault, and BVW throws a chair in a meeting. Evidence of a toxic culture, or is that overstating things?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The lack of accountability in Queens starts at the top.

The Cubs Are Okay: What would you do with Ian Happ? He has recently caught fire in Iowa. Do you trade him now for pitching/hitting help or call him up to make up for the lack of production from guys like Almora and Descalso?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d be taking a long look at him if I were the Cubs, given the aforementioned woes you cited. The metrics don’t suggest he can survive in CF, but maybe he can help in RF while Heyward plays CF and contribute at 2B as well.

oaktoon: When will your playoff odds formula ever be updated to reflect real events? A’s are now on pace for 90 wins– their record since May 16 is 36-16, best in baseball. 18 of last 23…Run differential projected to be somewhere in neighborhood of +160-170.. And yet FG claims they will barely be a .500 team rest of season. Huh??

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We have multiple flavors of Playoff Odds. Our standard one is driven by our individual player projections, and what the odds are saying in this case is that they don’t project all that well/a lot of players are outdoing theirs, suggesting a high likelihood of regression.

If you click the projection mode tab to “season to date” stats, you simply assume everybody’s going to keep doing what they’ve been doing (good luck with that); via that methodology the A’s have a .584 ROS winning percentage and 62.4% odds (compared to 26.8% in the first, which still seems plausible) https://www.fangraphs.com/standings/playoff-odds/season-to-date/div

As always, the answer probably lies somewhere between those two extremes. Use both to bracket your expectations.

Jones: Which will be the most surprising team to miss the playoffs this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Red Sox. I just think the bullpen will be their undoing.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, I’ve reached my pitch count. If you’re in NYC, i hope you’ll come out to the Bouton tribute tonight, and if you’re in Cooperstown, I hope we cross paths. See here for details https://blogs.fangraphs.com/instagraphs/hall-of-fame-induction-and-bou… and keep an eye out for the 2019 Replacement Level Killers series, which launches on Monday.

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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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