Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat -7/21/20

2:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, and welcome to my almost-Opening Day chat. As I’ll be part of a group chat later this week (Dodgers-Giants, 10 ET on Thursday night), I’m going to work a bit short here.

2:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: First a bit of housekeeping while the queue fills…  My latest piece on the Blue Jays’ quest to find a temporary new home, is here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-blue-jays-are-in-search-of-a-temporary…

2:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A very cool thing that Dan wrote about the odds that somebody hits .400 in this short season is here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/toppling-ted-the-60-game-season-and-the-40…

2:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: And a very cool thing that Sean and Dave did behind the scenes, showing the best 60-game stretches in a variety of categories since 1974, is here https://blogs.fangraphs.com/instagraphs/whats-the-best-that-could-happ…

2:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Via that last one, did you know George Brett had a 60-game stretch in 1980 when he hit .473/.522/.751 (the record for batting average in that span)? You do now. Some guy named Barry holds the records for the other two metrics.

2:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: and now, onward…

2:06
Dodger fan: Gavin lux is starting the season in the minors. It feels risky to do service time manipulation in such a short season. Can Taylor/Hernandez hit righties well enough? or will second be a weakness until lux is called up?

2:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I was just talking about this on Twitter with Mike Petriello, Jon Weisman, and some other Dodger fans. While I don’t think we can entirely dismiss the possibility that service time issues are in play here, the fact is that Lux didn’t report to camp until July 10 for “undisclosed reasons,” and he reportedly has had some mishaps on both sides of the ball (see R.J. Anderson here https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/dodgers-option-top-prospect-gavin-l…). That the Dodgers have Kiké Hernandez, Chris Taylor, and Max Muncy to cover until Lux comes around is also worth noting.

2:08
Gaslamp Gary: Each game in 2020 will mean 2.7 games in a normal season. Will we see quicker hooks and stranger lineups like we do in the postseason? it’s really a sprint this year

2:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Because of the short ramp-up during Spring Training 2.0, not to mention the larger pitching staffs, I think we’ll see a lot of shorter outings from starters in the early going, because they haven’t had as long to build up their pitch counts and because managers might want to try to spread the work around and get everybody some game action as soon as they can.

2:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the larger roster sizes may lead to more platooning as well, and we could perhaps see the occasional “line change” when a pitcher of the opposite hand comes in, like the Dodgers often used during the 2018 NLCS against the Brewers.

2:12
Gaslamp Gary: What if a peak, healthy Garrett Richards is the Padres’ third-best starting pitcher?

2:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it probably bodes well for the Padres, but given as he’s tied with Dinelson Lamet for the second-highest WAR projection among Padres starters (0.9) behind Chris Paddack (1.2), it’s not gonna be earthshaking. I do hope he has a great season, as that guy has been sidetracked by injuries seemingly forever

2:14
BD: Howie Kendrick has had 2.5 amazing seasons in a row, at presumably the twilight of his career.   He was always a major prospect.  Is this a “launch angle” type switch, to get so muich better, this late in his career?

2:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do think that’s part of it. Via his Statcast page (https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/savant-player/howie-kendrick-435062?sta…) he’s increased his average launch angle from the 0.6 to 1.4 range in 2015-17 to 10.6 last year. I suspect he’s also seeing a greater share of left-handed pitching now that he’s no longer playing every day, but i haven’t crunched the numbers to confirm that

2:17
WinTwins0410: Jay, a question on Orel Hershiser: With Jack Morris now in the HoF, is there a more compelling Hall case for the Bulldog?  3 All-Star teams, but also, his World Series appearances and other aspects (record scoreless innings, etc.). From your writing at SI, I know you weren’t sold on him in the past — has your own view on Hershiser changed at all?

2:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: If Jack Morris is the standard by which we’re judging pitchers then there is a boatload of his contemporaries that are Hallworthy, guys like Hershiser, Cone, Stieb, Saberhagen, Gooden, Appier and Finley. Now, I wouldn’t put all of those guys in, and in fact each one of them has significant dings in his case, which is a reminder that we shouldn’t take a lowest common denominator approach to choosing HOFers.

Of that group, I’d probably put Hershiser and Stieb at the head of the line, with Orel’s 1988 postseason and even his work in 1995 (ALCS MVP) weighing heavily.

2:20
David: What do you think of Johan Santana’s hall of fame case? Will voters have to rethink pitching benchmarks to reflect the way modern starters are used?

2:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: here’s what I wrote in December 2017 https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/12/21/johan-santana-hall-fame-ballot-2018

2:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: This connects to what I wrote in the previous question, but if there’s ever a paradigm shift in reckoning with what we might call the workload constraint era, Santana is right there in the thick of things, given his 2 Cy Youngs and the highest seven-year peak (45.0) of anybody I’ve named (Stieb’s 44.4 is tops from the previous group).

2:23
Daro: With only 60 games to play, will teams really prefer an extra year of control over a player than actually being competitive?

2:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think some of the calculus that goes into service time decisions this year has to do with the nonzero possibility that the season gets shut down early, in which case the service time denominator isn’t 67 days, it might be much less. The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly wrote about this in the context of Joey Bart, using an (admittedly extreme and very dark) example where a three-day season would give him credit for a full year of service time https://theathletic.com/1933510/2020/07/16/the-real-reason-that-joey-b…

2:25
David: if there was a COVID outbreak and the season had to be stopped 1 or 2 weeks in would the stats for the season count?

2:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I believe that they would. With the exception of rainouts that failed to go 5 innings, MLB has never been in the business of wiping out stats, much to the chagrin of the pitchfork-wielding mob when it comes to certain players.

Side note: one of this year’s new rules is that any game that’s forced into a delay, such as for rain, can be suspended and resumed at another date.

2:27
Scott: Thoughts on Daniel Bard’s return to the majors after a seven-year absence?

2:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve always had a soft spot for any player who goes through the yips, dating back to being confounded by Steve Sax as a Dodgers fan when I was young. I am so, so hopeful that Bard pulls it off. It’s a remarkable story, and everything I’ve heard about the guy is positive.

2:29
MikeD: Both Jordan Montgomery and Mike King have shown increased velocity during Spring Training and Summer Camp. Would this elevate either of them projection wise?

2:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d caution against getting too jazzed about velo readings in the closed setting of intrasquad games. If either of them carries and maintains higher velo into the season, then it might be something that improves their outlooks, but beware the command difficulties and higher injury risk that can come with higher velo

2:30
Appa Yip Yip: If the Blue Jays make the playoffs they deserve extra credit for couchsurfing all season

2:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hell yes.

2:30
#boycott: Of all the very very silly things, what level of silly is yet another nonsense outrage about kneeling? there aren’t even any fans.

2:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The culture war, alas, is never ending, and there will always be somebody around to provide a bad faith reading of any gesture of protest. That this particular one touches upon the hot-button issue of race increases that likelihood exponentially.

I wish the entire custom of playing the national anthem would disappear from sports  I absolutely try to avoid it when I’m at a game, either for work or recreation. I’ll walk around the concourse, or visit the restroom or the concession stand.

2:35
Homer Thompson: In your Blue Jays piece you mention how this situation will be a good control for testing home field advantage. One thing that has always confused me about people talking about whether or not home field advantage exists/helps is, isn’t there an inherent home field advantage in batting second? Especially in late game situations. Any good pieces that look over that topic that you recommend?

2:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Offhand I’m not sure who’s studied it but check out that Swartz series, and google Russell Carleton on the topic, too.

2:37
thebighen: Not even sure how to frame the question but any recollection of another situation like Jed Lowrie over the years?  Basically 2 full seasons of “his knee/side is bothering him” but we have no updates and he just isn’t going to play.  A bizarre scenario all around.  Maybe BVW should have a rule not to make transactions involving former clients.

2:38
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, there’s Jacoby Ellsbury…

2:38
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Can you believe this idiot praised the Lowrie signing? https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jed-lowrie-joins-mets-overcrowded-infield/

2:40
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think BVW’s preference for his former clients has been a real problem. There’s a lot of concern with Robinson Cano, who’s taking up a good chunk of payroll through 2023, and the Edwin Diaz deal doesn’t look so hot these days.

2:41
WinTwins0410: Jay, what are your thoughts on Keith Hernandez? Should he be in the Hall? And will he eventually make his way onto a small committee ballot, do you think?

2:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wrote about him in The Cooperstown Casebook. The short version is that I’m open to the idea that he should be in, given his glove and his importance to the St. Louis and New York championship teams, but I also realize he’s a borderline case, and from that era I’d put Grich, Whitaker, Evans, and Munson ahead of him. I think he’ll get on a ballot eventually, but it’s a very crowded era, and his maxing out at 10.8% with nine tries on the ballot surely works agianst him.

2:45
Mike Ortman: Hey Jay! When do you think they will roll out a name change in Cleveland? During the off season?

2:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That would be my best guess. I think the regular season is fraught enough, and if they’re not just going to go with the Spiders (my knee-jerk suggestion), then they ought to do a real process which might include some fan input as well as expert research and advice.

2:46
MikeD: Do you expect David Ortiz to be elected to the HOF, and if he is, will that change the election chances of players who have had some connection to PEDs?

2:52
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I expect he will be elected, though not necessarily on the first ballot, and probably without my vote, as he doesn’t fare all that well in JAWS.

As for the PED issue, my “Wild West” rule — not holding any pre-testing-and-suspension era infractions against a player, including survey tests — wouldn’t stop me on Ortiz, and it’s worth noting that Manfred all but exonerated him with his public declaration that a number of survey test positives would have been contested (a caveat that should apply to Sosa as well, except he doesn’t get the same kind of love from the powers that be).

Will the candidacy of Ortiz change minds with regards to Bonds and Clemens? I guess we’ll find out whether voters see the cognitive dissonance in selecting him but not the far more qualified pair, as his first year on the ballot will be their last. I’m not holding my breath.

2:52
Harry: Is Addison Russell effectively banned from MLB?   Disgusting actions but he is still only 26.   I wonder if someone would take a shot on him.

2:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Somebody did, halfway around the world: he signed a 1-year deal with the KBO Kiwoom Heroes, but he has yet to debut. As to whether he’ll ever get another MLB job, well, it’s worth noting that his performance deteriorated on both sides of the ball; he went from being an OK-for-a-shortstop hitter to being a bad one, and his defense descended towards average. Add that to the DV history and the way he handled the allegations and you can understand why most teams would say, nah.

2:55
NotGraphs Revivalist: Does the Matt Adams signing preclude the Braves from signing Puig once he has tested negative?

2:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: So long as they have room in their 60-man pool they can revisit the Puig deal but I suspect they will have moved on

2:56
Hall of fame fan: I was looking at some of the best non hall of Famers on jaws and someone named bill dahlen showed up. Apparently he’s a shortstop from 120 years ago. Should he be in the hall of fame? The numbers seem to say yes but no one alive has seen him play

2:58
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Dahlen might be the best of the Early Baseball candidates. He was a colorful character who was damn good on both sides of the ball, and he’s 11th in JAWS, sandwiched between Trammell and Larkin, with Ozzie and Jeter two rungs removed in either direction. I wrote about him a few years ago https://www.si.com/mlb/2015/12/02/hall-of-fame-pre-integration-era-bal… and would vote for him if given the chance.

2:59
Sirras: Will FG be doing a retrospective/recap of projections vs actual for the PPR?

3:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not in any systematic fashion, at least that I know of. Those things are a bloody ordeal to write; i personally jam crayons up my nose in the hope of finding the spot in my brain that remembers doing so each year —and wiping it out.

3:00
Thom Homerson: Re: your article on deGrom yesterday: beyond the minor league depth in their pool, do you think there’s any chance they’d stretch out Lugo or Gsellman if need be? Especially if Diaz and Familia are solid and Betances is healthy? Seems like another decent potential option if they’re in the race and Jordan Humphreys is next man up…

3:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Beyond the fact that Gsellman’s triceps tightness may rule him out from anything for a bit, I think it’s a real challenge to stretch out a guy without sending him down to the minors because of the effect it has on the rest of the staff, which isn’t an option this year. I suppose you could do an opener/tandem-type arrangement to build a guy up as a starter and it would be easier with the larger staff than in years past but  I haven’t seen anybody report that the Mets will revisit Lugo as a starter but The Athletic reported that he might absorb some of the extra innings left on the table by short-working starters.

3:04
YardGoat: How are you doing Jay? Make any particularly delicious lunches lately?

3:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m doing all right, thanks. Lunch has been interesting lately, as the Doner Kebab place down the street, where I have generally eaten 2x/week (usually falafel or chicken) is open for takeout again and I also ordered a frozen dumpling kit from Xi’an Famous Foods (https://xiankits.com/) and wow, that’s been great.

I do think one lesson from the pandemic is that I should be making lunch at home more often, though, and so figuring out how to do that without getting too tired of the same deli meat (usually Boar’s Head Cracked Pepper Smoked Turkey, which has less tendency to get slimy) or letting the bread get moldy will be important.

This has been LunchGraphs.com

3:07
Lorenzo: Doesn’t it suck that the Nats can’t have a true celebration with their fans?  By the time it’s safe to do so, there will be another champion (or maybe more?) to celebrate as well.  What, if anything, can the Nats plan?

3:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It sucks, but in the grand scheme of things it’s far down the list of Things That Suck in 2020, and hey, didn’t they get a parade last fall when they won? The banner raising and the ring presentation are kind of secondary to that, which itself is secondary to the actual winning of the World Series.

3:09
Mike Ortman: So far I have found that I have many things in common with you, but I guess the Field of Dreams is not one of them. Two questions: are you at all concerned that James Earl Jones is also Darth Vader and that could not bode well for you? And what are your favorite baseball movies?

3:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I found JEJ more convincing as Darth’s voice than I did as the FoD character, particularly because the latter movie never confronts the matter of race (and the change of his character from white in Kinsella’s book to Black on the screen) in its romanticization of Old Timey Baseball, which, after all, was segregated.

3:12
Dodger fan: Do you think May gets into the rotation this year? If yes will he replace stripling or wood?

3:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Price opting out almost certainly raises the likelihood that May gets innings as a starter; we have him down for 38 in that capacity, same as Stripling (Wood at 55). Barring injuries (ha!) I’d guess that he’d absorb some innings from both of those guys, and Urias, who’s getting his first shot at starting. I could see May taking spot starts for all those guys when they need a breather, then joining the rotation if one of them is flagging or anybody gets hurt.

Bottom line, Dustin May is a land of contrasts.

3:16
Gaslamp Gary: Can the Padres “bullpen” their way to the playoffs without a good offense or deep rotation?

3:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: We have them ninth in our starter depth charts and 5th in our Reliever depth charts, so I don’t think pitching is their biggest problem. I think a lineup where only Tatis, Pham, Machado and Grisham project to be league average or better in terms of wRC+ is the bigger problem.

3:19
Gaslamp Gary: Ok, I am trying to convince people that this year’s champion wont have an asterisk next to it. When you boil it down, the playoffs wont be any different besides fans. The shortened season will be over. Any tips for a stronger argument?

3:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The year 2020 is a goddamn ordeal at every turn. We all deserve gold medals for surviving it without cracking open each other’s skulls and feasting on the goo inside, though it ain’t over, so let’s hold off on handing those out. Anybody who thinks less of whoever wins the World Series — after running a comparably-sized postseason gauntlet — than the average winner can eat a bowl of asterisks.

3:22
Steve Nebraska: I’ve been looking at the awards prognostications and seen no mentions anywhere for Spencer Howard and was really surprised… Any thoughts?  It seems everyone’s choice, Lux, is not going to be the winner now.

3:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Howard is a very interesting prospect but he has just 30.2 innings above A-ball, so I suspect a lot of people either haven’t seen him or are skeptical that 2020 is going to be his year.

3:24
Yada: Does Bernie Williams have any shot at getting into the HOF on a committee backdoor?

3:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pretty low, I think, but not impossible. I would guess that his Gold Gloves are more likely to overshadow his brutal defensive metrics in that context than elsewhere, but fizzling out in the mid-30s rarely leads to a plaque in Cooperstown.

3:26
C M Keller: The Early Baseball committee meets this year – I just discovered Pete Browning in an old baseball facts book. Do you think he gets serious consideration, and what do you think has kept him out this long? His stats look impressive, and he has the “pioneer” thing going for him, having been responsible for Louisville Slugger bats.

3:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the short career (5,315 PA, about 1,400 fewer than, say, Sam Thompson) and the fact that he did his best work — won all three of his batting titles — in leagues besides the NL (American Association and Players League) probably work against him. I honestly have never thought that hard about him as a candidate. Might be worth reconsidering.

3:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, I’m going to call it right here as I’m on a compressed schedule today. Thanks so much for stopping by, and if you’re in the chatting mood, stop by sometime on Thursday or Friday when we’ll be doing group chats with several FanGraphs writers at a time.

3:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Until then, please stay safe, and don’t overwork your arm, we might need you for a few innings later this week.

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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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