Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 7/25/19

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Howdy folks, good afternoon and welcome to another edition of my Thursday chat. I’m still digesting my amazing weekend at the Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown and neck deep in Replacement Level Killers, the fifth installment of which — corner outfielders — should be up soon. Obviously, there are a lot of questions about the July 31 trade deadline, so let’s get to it.

Fry: Is pressure building up in the market that’s going to explode before the 31st or is this going to be an uneventful deadline?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think we’ll see a lot of deals in the coming days. This breakdown from last year, compiled by the great Eric Stephen of True Blue LA, is worth bearing in mind:

Last year:

4 trades during the All-Star break
1 trade on July 21
1 trade on July 22
1 trade on July 24
2 trade on July 25

Then the floodgates, 35 trades over the final 6 days (18 on July 31)

Thus I suspect we’ll start seeing a trickle of deals soon, and then a flood.

Niles: When it comes to acquiring Bauer, how much does his possible effect on the clubhouse come into play? The MVP Machine really spells out how much the Indians had to accommodate him and how he still alienated teammates, but on the flip side it also spelled out how helpful he was when it came to preaching his craft.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I would imagine it’s a factor but one individualized to each team — he’s obviously not going to the Astros given the presence of Alex Bregman and Gerrit Cole, for example. I suspect that the execs of any teams who are serious about acquiring him are discreetly discussing his potential reception with a few clubhouse leaders for some added input. But talent still carries the day, and his is considerable, particularly in a market that’s stretched pretty thin and one in which some of the other top targets — Bumgarner, Syndergaard — might not be dealt after all.

gashouse gorilla : Which teams do you think might me opportunistic at deadline, both buying low and selling? Teams with economic capacity to perhaps get into a 3-team trade to take salary in return for prospects

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wouldn’t be surprised if we see several teams doing both. The Indians come to mind given the potential for dealing Bauer and the need for help in the infield and outfield corners. The Cardinals given that they’re discussing guys like Carlos Martinez. The Giants given their bullpen depth. As for 3-team deals, always keep an eye out for the Dodgers and Padres.

Slew (Seattle): Is Jose Ramirez good again? Related: What about the team?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ramirez is certainly hitting better this month (139 wRC+) so there’s hope that he turned the corner. Craig Edwards had an in-depth look at the team yesterday (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/a-season-of-improbabilities-in-cleveland/). Obviously, now that they’re two games out of first in the AL Central and occupying the top Wild Card spot, they appear to be a much-improved team from the start of the season

billie flyballish: Jay, does Kenley Jansen have any shot at the HOF? he started his run around 2010-2011, so if he sustains for another year or two at a high level (albeit, a diminished one relative to his peak) does he have any shot? 13.42 K/9 career is absurd relative to other closers in the hall, though this is a different era of course. Thoughts?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wrote about the Hall chances for Jansen and Craig Kimbrel last October in advance of the World Series https://blogs.fangraphs.com/world-series-offers-rare-meeting-of-potent…. I don’t think we can count this year as a high-level one yet; the regression I’ve seen from him over the past two seasons suggests he might not have the necessary staying power, and I say that as somebody who considers him among my favorite current players. That said, I am intrigued by his integration of his sinker and slider into his arsenal to a greater degree than before. Perhaps it will help him return to dominance, but we’ll see.

Sanford: Great work on your Replacement-Level Killers series, once again. Can you see LAA trying to make a splash and shore up some of their weaknesses? Maybe even a landing spot for Thor? (Though not if the Mets demand Adell, I’d suspect)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thank you for the kind words. I love doing this series, even in a season where the talk of pitching appears to dominate all trade deadline rumors. I wouldn’t expect the Angels to make too much of an impact at the deadline, because they’re not dealing Adell; their catching and first base situations make the Killers but they’re not going to replace Pujols, and like everybody else, they need pitching. I’m not holding my breath for any team to trade for Syndergaard this week; I suspect that if it happens, it will be in the offseason.

Hello: How often does FG (and/or other sites) evaluate and/or adjust the magnitude of he positional adjustments?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not sure but I do know B-Ref keeps a close eye on that kind of stuff as well as other upgrades (such as this year’s catcher defense adjustments and the additional data that comes with more play-by-play info from Retrosheet).

Giants fan: Hi Jay, thanks for the chats.  Much hand wringing here as you might imagine. On which side of the buy/sell argument do you fall for SF?  The real choice might be sell/stand pat.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given the overall state of the organization as this season began, I think they should be selling regardless of what has and will happen in July, because their core has aged, their currently-hot hitters are likely not going to sustain this production (Alex Dickerson?), and their farm system is a bottom-third-ish one. Trade Bum, trade the relievers, trade Crawford and eat $, and if the right offer to trade Belt comes along, trade him, too.

dmitry: Is Mike Tauchman a starting caliber regular? Does he make Frazier expendable, or does he drop back to earth from his 4-WAR pace?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m skeptical that Tauchman’s current production (127 wRC+) is sustainable, and I wouldn’t take him ahead of Frazier due to his age, even with the redhead’s lousy defense. I’m not sold that Tauchman is a first-division regular, but I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he’s used as a trade chip in the right deal. Hypothetically, he could help the Giants or Indians at an outfield corner for years to come if the Yankees do include him in a blockbuster for a big-name starter — not as the headliner, obviously but as a supplemental piece.

Hello: Thor for Deivi Garcia?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s an idea worth considering. The Yankees wouldn’t be the first team to sell high on an undersized starting pitching prospect.

Ryan: In reality, the Rays are ten games back of the Yankees; by BaseRuns, the Rays are six games better than the Yankees.  Which statistic do you think better reflects the talent of the respective teams?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think those are both extreme. Note that the Yankees have a four-game advantage in Pythagorean record, and a two-game advantage in ROS depth charts record. I’d say the Yankees are better by a handful of games, but all that really matters in the end is the actual standings. They don’t give out projected standings or BaseRuns pennants.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That reminds me that my first year of doing the Prospectus Hit List (2005), which took the average of a player’s actual, first-, second-, and third-order Pythag records, the Indians topped the season-ending list AND missed the playoffs by two games. Off to a flying start!

Craig: What teams does Eric Sogard get traded to where he is an everyday starter? CHI? Who else?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My guess is Cubs or Brewers, both of whom have Replacement Level Killers in their middle infields. (2B Cubs, SS Brewers)

Craig: Anibal Sanchez has had a strong May, June, July after a poor start to the season. Do you expect him to keep this up through the summer?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Check your data, he’s got a 6.16 FIP this month while striking out and walking 4.24 per nine. His overall FIP (4.73) is about the same as his FIP since May 1 (4.67). I expect some regression.

ben: Has Addison Russell played his last major-league game?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Doubt it. Sending him down wasn’t a punitive measure for his DV infraction, it was primarily a reaction to a roster crunch, though his missing signs didn’t help. I don’t believe the Cubs have the guts to cut bait on him outright, and even if they do, some other team will snap him up, because that’s the way the world unfortunately works.

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

What Should Jay Eat For Lunch

Banh Mi (35.2% | 25 votes)
Dumplings (33.8% | 24 votes)
Poke (30.9% | 22 votes)

Total Votes: 71
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Poll is open until 1 pm ET.

Jackson: Jansen’s 13.42 K/9 rate is impressive, but the context kills his Hall of Fame chances.  This is an era in which someone like Matt Barnes can strike out 17 per 9 innings.  That’s not to disparage Matt Barnes; it’s just to show that a high K rate does not a Hall of Famer make, at least in this era.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I pushed for years to get K%+, and now that we’ve finally gotten it (thanks, Dave!) we can see that Jansen’s 184 is the third-highest mark of the past decade (500 IP min) behind only Kimbrel and Chapman. It’s a point in his favor but it’s not going to be the lone driver of a Hall case. https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=5

Jenski: Would Nick Castellanos accept a qualifying offer? Think that comp pick would have more value than trading him if he were to decline?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he gets deal by July 31 because the market is short in bats and because the Tigers are still terrible; they need something that’s closer to ready than a comp pick , and it sounds like he could be part of a larger package involving either Greene or Boyd, which boosts their chances of landing a premium prospect.

Chuck-it: Why are teams more enamored with Bauer over Stroman? Aside from the gaudy strikeout totals, which aren’t leading to a better FIP, and the innings, Stroman has the advantage in every other category, including salary. Are people hoping that Bauer can magically be anything like his ridiculous outlier of a season a year ago? Or are they just selling Stroman short?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the preference for Bauer over Stroman comes down to health and upside. Barring disaster, Bauer is headed for his fifth straight season of 170 IP, and was worth 5.8 WAR as recently as last year. Stroman, who has already had an injury scare this year, is trying to secure his third season of 170 IP and has never topped 3.4 WAR. He just doesn’t miss nearly as many bats.

Jason N: MLB did a piece on every team’s next Hall of Famer.  I was surprised they pegged Tatis for the Padres instead of Machado.  Is Machado on a HoF path?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, I think so. Wrote about it in February https://blogs.fangraphs.com/harper-machado-betts-and-history/

stever20: had a question about the single trade deadline. What happens with a guy that gets DFA’d.  Are teams then not allowed to trade him?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not 100% sure but that would appear to follow from the fact that trades of players on major league contracts aren’t allowed in August

Trent: The Rockies were 9th in SP WAR last year, but are 19th in SP WAR this year.  What happened, and is it something that’s correctable?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela have both had disastrous seasons because young pitching is designed to break your heart. I haven’t looked closely at either pitcher but I know that neither has had a major injury this year. So there’s some hope at least.

Fang Raphs: Seems like Manny Ramirez has a borderline HOF case at least, but he’s been stuck at 22% last two ballots. Odds he gets voted in traditionally?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Manny’s numbers are pretty squarely HOF caliber, but two PED suspensions is probably the death knell of his candidacy. It will take a major philosophical change among the electorate for him to get to 75%, and i just don’t see that happening in his final seven years on the ballot.

Benji: Even if the prices are as high as reported, are you surprised we haven’t seen one “early” July trade? There are so many bubble teams (NL especially) where one game could make all the difference. That coupled with the singular deadline should have resulted in more urgency across the board

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think anybody who says they knew for certain what the new deadline setup would bring is full of BS, but yes, I’m a bit surprised we didn’t see a major late June/early July blockbuster so that a team could separate itself from the pack. That suggests to me that asking prices have been ridonkulous and won’t come down until on or around the 31st.

Benji: Do you think once the Yankees realize that no one wants Clint Frazier headlining a deal for a quality SP, that they will A) trade him for relief help or B) stubbornly hold on to him and continue to squander his career?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think the Yankees are trading him for relief help, and I expect he’ll be a significant piece in a deal for a starter. He’s a good but flawed player, and I’ve heard that while the front office isn’t terribly fond of him, they’re not going to sell low just based upon that.

Big Joe Mufferaw: Aaron Judge is playing at a 9+ WAR pace, and just being a beast. Is it just me, or is he flying under the radar this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Missing two months — about half of the season to to this point — will certainly leave your counting stats nowhere near the top of the league, so yes, I’d say he’s flying under the radar.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK, the polls are closed, and banh mi edged dumplings by one vote, 25-24, with poke a close third at 22. There will be a pause while I order.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Spicy chicken banh mi and summer rolls order. Thanks for voting!

Trey: The Diamondbacks signaled they were rebuilding by trading Goldschmidt and letting Pollock walk, but they are now tied with the Giants at 52-51, and they have a much better claim to be legitimate contenders, given their third-best run differential in the NL.  If the Giants are now considered potential buyers, shouldn’t the DBacks be as well?  And if so, what might they try to acquire?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t believe the Dbacks view themselves as contenders, and I think they’ll move Robbie Ray while hoping to do the same with Zack Greinke.

Also Jay: What available reliever do you think fits best with the Nats?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Literally any of them. Draw a Venn diagram with All Available Relievers Except Trevor Rosenthal inside it and there you go.

mikesixel: Gut feeling, do the Twins collapse and lose the division, maybe even miss the playoffs? Odds they make a big trade?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: No, I think they’ll hold on. They need pitching and I suspect the front office will be able to convince ownership to be appropriately aggressive.

Chuck-it: I love the additions that you guys have added to the individual player pages, like service time and Rule 5 eligibility. Can I request one more – 40 man status.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Noted.

stever20: who this year has helped themselves the most in terms of the HOF?  Sabathia with #250?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Sabathia’s 250th win and 3,000th strikeout were both inevitable given his totals coming into the season. Yes, they probably increase his odds incrementally, but I think the strong seasons of Greinke, Scherzer, and Verlander, which suggest that they aren’t nearly done, are a bigger deal from a future HOF perspective.

Chris: Were the 95-97 mariners the best team to never win a world series? They had Edgar, arod, Griffey and Randy johnson

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They’re certainly a contender but we can just as easily include the Indians from that period in the picture. Manny, Belle (1995), Thome, Lofton, and even the best years of Vizquel. If only they had more pitching…

Brian: Jay, I just wanted to express my gratitude to you and all the fangraphs crew for providing a real source of joy in my life. The content of late has been without parallel in analytical journalism. To you and all of the fangraphs crew, Thanks!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thank you for the kind words!

Craig: Which trade deadline rumored pitcher do you like most for the remainder of this season – Leake, Minor, Lynn?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Our projections say Lynn, Minor, Leake in that order; I’d call it a toss-up between the first two,  with perhaps a slight preference for Lynn because his major arm injury from a few years ago was elbow (TJ), not shoulder (labrum).

Craig: Is Justin Smoak simply a bat off the bench for any contender?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably something closer to a platoon option given his splits (123 wRC+ vs RH, 73 vs LH). The Nationals come to mind, as he could pair with Matt Adams.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: General note: odds are I’m not going to publish your 300-word rant posing as a chat question.

LLW: Would you ever, under any circumstances, order soup at the ballpark

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If David Chang brings Momofuku ramen to Citi Field, I would consider that, for sure — not on a hot day, obvs, and not to take back to my seat.

Anthony: Hi Jay, I think Ted Williams is probably the most underrated inner circle HOFer when one considers his WAR plus years lost where he could have accumulated other WAR.  Penny for your thoughts please as the HOF maestro.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Williams’ career totals are certainly a bit light because of his military service, but his relative lack of defensive value keeps him out of the Ruth/Bonds/Mays tier for the all-time greatest. Mike Trout is working his way into that tier if he isn’t already there.

Garm: Who do you think is the most likely target for the Braves at the deadline this year? Minor? Stroman? Financial flexibility?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Either Minor or Stroman make sense given that they’re relatively inexpensive, salary-wise, and that the Braves are throwing nickels around like they’re manhole covers.

David: The 95-97 Mariners weren’t even the best Mariners team ever. Did you forget about 2001?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wasn’t taking the 95-97 part literally, particularly in comparing them to the Indians. Both had incredible 1995-2001 runs, though at least CLE got to the World Series twice.

Woogie: The Montreal Expos with Pedro, Vlad Sr. and a host of other talent…thanks Strike year

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Vlad didn’t debut until 1996 or become a regular until ’97 but Larry Walker was a big part of that 1994 team.

TarzanStretch: Friends and I were talking about Trout possibly being the best hitter ever.  But then I looked at Ted Williams stats and the guy raked through two wars and pre/post color barrier.  Are there some valid ways to compare across eras?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: i mean, that’s what wRC+ (or OPS+) and WAR are for, in part — to provide a context-neutral means of comparing players.

JustCurious: How accurate are historical defensive metrics? I have a hard time buying that Ruth was a better defender then Ted Williams

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I mean, we don’t have ABSOLUTE answers, but based upon the Total Zone system, Ruth was about 110 runs better than Williams defensively over the course of the two players’ careers. Ruth’s alternation of outfield corners based on the sun and other factors, and Williams contending with the Fenway Park wall — those are confounding factors. But any h2h comparison also needs to remember that Ruth was a hell of a pitcher before becoming the game’s top slugger.

James: How close do you think Angels are to be legitimate world series contenders? If they pick up another top tier arm in addition to the return of Ohtani could they contend as early as next year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Their lack of elite pitching leads me to say nowhere close. I think a healthy, well-built version of this Angels core can contend for a playoff spot, but so long as Pujols is dragging them down with his lousy performance and huge contract, they’re going to be hampered.

Brian: How much of a component is race in HOF election?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Far less now than in the past. I can’t even begin to figure out what the hell was going on with the voters’ reception of Larry Doby, who polled below 5% in 1966-67 and wasn’t even included on the 1968 ballot despite the fact that the actual 5% rule didn’t come into existence until 1979.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, the banh mi has arrived, and I’m too hungry to eat and type at the same time. I’ll be back next week to discuss the deadline fallout and so forth. until then, have a great one!

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, and a Hall of Fame voter since 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe... and BlueSky @jayjaffe.bsky.social.

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4 years ago

“Williams’ career totals are certainly a bit light because of his military service, but his relative lack of defensive value keeps him out of the Ruth/Bonds/Mays tier for the all-time greatest. ”

Three years leading up to WWII, Williams averaged 9.8 fWAR and he averaged 10.3 fWAR in the three years after coming back. Most likely he puts up about 30 fWAR in those middle three years (and that ignores that his military duty as a 24-26yo might have negatively impacted his growth as a player as well).

Another 1.5 seasons missed around the Korean War; averaged 7.1 and 7.3 fWAR in the three (full) years before and three (full) years after, so figuring 7.2 fWAR per season, there is another 10.8 wins.

Add 40.8 wins to his career and he’s at 171:

181 Ruth (inc pitching fWAR)
171 Williams
164 Bonds
150 Mays
149 Cobb
138 Wagner
136 Aaron
131 Speaker
130 Hornsby

Does that really suggest that it was his defense that knocks him down a tier over his missed time in the military? To me, it looks more like Mays is headlining the second-tier (or the top five there are all first tier and Honus Wagner starts the next tier, or Wagner and Aaron are also in the first tier and Speaker and Hornsby are the top of the second tier, etc)