Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 7/9/21

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, sorry I’m late. I’ve somehow become entangled in Starlin Castro 3,000 Hit Twitter

Starlin Castro is the new Nick Markakis, with people coming out of the woodwork to ask what-if-he-reaches-3000-hits, which won’t happen given the erosion of his skills.

@matt29756930 @jay_jaffe @WalkingTaako ’20 season cost Castro 100+ hits. Dude doesn’t walk so he’s going to collect hits if in the lineup. Would need to somehow average 136 hits a year from ’21-’30 (Age 40 season). He’s at 83 already this year. Hope it happens. Will be fun to see what BBWAA does with it.
9 Jul 2021
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My piece on the Cubs’ losing streak and pending teardown just went up a short time ago https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-cubs-losing-streak-portends-furthe…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And yesterday I wrote about the state of the Dodgers’ rotation in the wake of Clayton Kershaw’s trip to the IL and Trevor Bauer’s administrative leave https://t.co/VP7Ty2CtNH

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Anyway, the queue is filling so let’s get to it. Before I do so, let me caution you that I have absolutely no opinions or knowledge pertaining to the draft. You’re barking up the wrong tree here.

Fat Spielberg: Are you surprised by how few sticky stuff suspensions there have been?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe a little — i’d have guessed one or two guys a week would get nabbed, as a warning to the rest, but so far it’s just Hector Santiago, and he’s appealing the suspension.

Brad: Hi Jay – do you have a favorite SS from the prep ranks (Mayer, Lawlar, House, Watson) and who do you think fits the Tigers the best at 3?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Alan Trammell.

Babip Roberts: Bryant to Mets makes a lot of sense for NY. Can they do it without moving Alvarez/Mauricio/Baty/Vientos/Armstrong?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My guess based on the fact that Bryant would be a short-term rental is that you’re not going to see anybody give up a top-50ish prospect, which describes Alvarez and Mauricio, but that you might see a guy in the lower part of a top 100 as a piece in the deal.

Guest: By BaseRuns, the Marlins have a better record than, among others, the Red Sox, Mets, and Athletics.  What went so wrong for Miami this year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Offense. Theirs is hitting for an 89 wRC+. They’ve certainly got some good pitching but they’re not getting enough production from some positions

John B: Nelson Cruz makes it to 2000+ hits and 500 HRs does he start to have a case?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: not unless everybody forgets about his Biogenesis case and his low WAR

Vlad’s Dad: Hi Jay, do you think the Blue Jays should shop Semien at the deadline? Obviously he has been an outstanding signing, but in the interest of maximizing their championship window (let’s be honest, they aren’t contenders in 2021) wouldn’t trading him for future assets be the right move?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They have a 41% chance at the playoffs, which is better odds than the Yankees. Dealing Semien might theoretically do more to extend their window but it would be the wrong move, in that it will almost certainly generate ill will among fans and players and a barbecuing from the media.

Appa Yip Yip: The NL central right now is a great argument for expanded playoffs. With the Cubs out and the NL West dominating the wild card spots the other four teams are just conceding the division to the Brewers. How is any of that fun for fans? Even Brewers fans have no real reason to get invested for the next few months because there’s no race.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ugh, expanded playoffs, feh. Gah.

I don’t think anybody but the Pirates have actually conceded anything in the Central, though obviously the Cubs are poised to sell. The Brewers have played better than expected, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come back to earth; they did start May with a 4-13 run, their success depends on the health of pitchers who — like the rest of the league — face a lot of questions about expanded workloads, and they’re clearly not the 1998 Yankees.

Zach: Do you think the dodgers are reluctant at all to trade Keibert Ruiz at the deadline given how well he’s played at AAA?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think they’re holding onto him for the right deal, and given the shape of their rotation right now, this might well be the time to trade him in a blockbuster.

Matt V: Rafael Devers is headed for his second 5+ WAR season before turning 25. Allowing for the fact that it’s still pretty early in his career, what do you make of his HOF chances?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: he hasn’t ruled himself out, and the apparent defensive improvement is good, but even if he adds another 3 WAR this year, he’d have 13.7 bWAR through age 24 because his other seasons have either been shortened or partial ones. That total barely cracks the top 30 among third basemen thru 24. I’m not saying he won’t make it but he’s going to need a lot of 5-win seasons to put himself on track.

Nelson: Why are runs scored after errors committed by pitchers unearned? If the pitcher is the one gifting the other team more outs, shouldn’t it count against his ERA?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: unearned runs are a dumb and archaic concept but the original point of them was to try to separate fielding from pitching, and that’s applicable to the guy on the mound, too.

david: what do you think it would cost the dodgers to get kyle gibson?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not Keibert Ruiz, whom I’d think if you’re dealing you’re getting somebody with more than 1 1/3 years of club control unless he’s really elite. Most of their top prospects are lower-level guys, and I’m out of my element in trying to parse them on the fly.

Vlad’s Dad: Hi Jay, Shohei is obviously doing things we haven’t seen before but does he realistically have a path to the HOF? He’s not particularly young and lost a couple key years to injury, but what does his remaining career need to look like to be Hall worthy?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I guarantee you that if he can get to 10 years of hitting and pitching at some high level (not nec. this high) he’s going in, regardless of where his career totals end up. It’s just that remarkable.

Guest: What’s (still) going on with Lindor? Each time it seems he’s turning a corner, he goes back into a slump. He’s been hitting with such little power. Is this like a J-Ram thing where he just stopped hitting for a while (40 games 2018 80 games 2019, ~.620 OPS) but then came back to hit like his usual self? I feel like I keep defending Lindor to my fam and friends saying he’s gonna get hot, but it just ain’t happening yet…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: One thing that stood out to me when I did my piece on Yasmani Grandal’s injury (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/add-yasmani-grandal-to-the-roll-of-injured…) is that Lindor has the majors’ second-worst wRC+ among lefty batters against infield shifts, -14 (.149/.146/.170). I think that’s a combination of mechanics and mindset, which I feel like is about what we heard when the Mets fired Chili Davis and company a couple months back.

Mets Fan: Hi Jay, do you think that the Dodgers will be forced to make a move for a pitcher, giving thier rotation and its breakdown?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: See upthread. Yes, I think they need to make a move for a starter, but they’ll gain more clarity as to how big they need to go once they get Kershaw’s MRI and see where the Bauer investigation is headed (I’d expect a substantial suspension).

mike sixel: just want to say thanks for all the great content.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: You’re welcome! It’s a privilege to write for a smart and engaged readership, and I’m lucky I get to do this.

Guest: Does Kris Bryant really add that much to the Mets? To my mind, if they’re giving up anything decent prospect-wise, it should be for pitching. Assuming the rash of injuries is behind them, they have guys who are proven and capable, if not great, to play 3B & CF; but they’re sending guys like Robert Stock out to pitch every fifth day, hoping that Carrasco can come back in August..

Avatar Jay Jaffe: you lost me at “Assuming the rash of injuries is behind them.” They’re getting dreadful offensive contributions from Conforto and McNeil as well as Lindor, so Bryant would help — likewise, the fact that he’s a good defender (though the silver lining to the Mets’ injuries for Davis and Nimmo has been improved defense). It’s not that the Mets don’t need pitching, too — they do, so treating this as either/or is a mistake.

Farhandrew Zaidman: Sorry if this isn’t exactly your lane, but I noticed that the updated prospect board has Ryan Pepiot listed as a MIRP instead of a SP. What’s the reliever risk there? He’s been thoroughly dominating AA this year.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: ooh i think i can actually sort of field this one as I grazed by Pepiot in my Dodgers piece. From what I gather, the major concerns about him are his command and whether he can hold his new-found velocity over the course of a longer season/bigger workload. The command, which Eric graded at 35/45, does seem to have improved somewhat. As for the velo, wait and see, as he’s only got 41.2 innings under his belt.

John Olerud’s Helmet: Your Grace Lord Jay! All hail thee!! What’s your take on Mr Cohen starting up an annual Bobby Bonilla day event? I think it’s great we finally have a Mets owner willing to embrace the former players and do fun things for the fans!

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I like the idea. It’s a good way to have a little fun with a weird little quirk of the team’s history without casting aspersions on Bonilla, who seems to be on board with it. https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/31744695/new-york-mets-new-steven-…

Tacoby Bellsbury: With the removal of the super-sticky stuff, does this mean we have a better chance to see a knuckleballer stick in the show going forward?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I would hope so, but it takes years to develop into a good knuckleballer, and the last two who have shown up in MLB haven’t lasted for more than a few days (Ryan Feierabend and Mickey Jannis) because they just weren’t anywhere close to good enough.

FannyGraphy: could MLB eliminate the need for sticky stuff if they just raised the seam height on the balls so the pitcher could get a better grip?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: if it were that simple, I’d think they would try it, but it’s never that simple because of the way it would affect the ball’s drag and other characteristics.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: speaking of the ball, The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, Britt Ghiroli and Eno Sarris had a good piece on this topic earlier this week https://t.co/u1jk8bzXw7

jimd: sticky stuff – I’ve heard the 70% of SP’s (maybe all P’s) dropped in spin rate. Is there a list? Are there conclusions that can be drawn either about individuals or the overall impact?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: You can go to Baseball Savant and do a search to make the list yourself.  This Eno Sarris tweet provides a good summary but might need to be updated

Since the enforcement memo dropped:
* 63 pitchers (17%) have dropped 2+ standard deviations (spider tack level, 230+ RPM)
* 145 pitchers (38%) have dropped 1+ SD
* 230+ pitchers (60+%) have dropped enough to call the drop ‘statistically significant’ via @choice_fielder
29 Jun 2021
The Solak Train: Heya Jay and thanks for the chat.  The Rangers are a terrible baseball team, but they have intriguing arms in Allard, Dunning (though I’m wondering if he’s really all that intriguing anymore), and of course Gibson, with a few prospects in AA getting close.  What do you think the ‘right deal’ for Gibson and/or Kennedy might be?  Any way they could be packaged for a really nice prospect+ or are we looking at a bag of baseballs and a rosin bag for either/or?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think Gibson will bring back a solid return if they choose to deal because he’s signed for so cheap next year ($7M). Again, probably not a top-50 guy but maybe a couple top-100ish types. Kennedy probably gets you a flyer on a couple of lower level, non-100 prospects.

Guest: Feels dicey to say “Bryant would help”, as if that’s assured. He’s coming off a month when he put up a .445 OPS- so he’s just as capable of struggling as Lindor, Conforto, & McNeil are capable of getting hot. My point was sooner that, if limited prospect capital allows only 1 big move, shouldn’t pitching be the priority?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Nothing in life is assured, and I’d guess that the Mets are as aware of that as anyone else.

Farhandrew Zaidman: Correa and Altuve skipping the All Star game…story or not a story?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Seems to be to be a bit of a story because it looks a lot like two participants in the Astros’ 2016-19 sign-stealing shenanigans who are unwilling to face their peers.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Which isn’t to say that they along with everybody else couldn’t use the 4-day breather.

Michael: With his run from 2010-2016, how many more years of that performance would Jose Bautista have needed to have a HOF case?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: probably something like 5. His 2016 itself wasn’t much good (1.2 WAR), and he’s the rare player with a higher JAWS than career WAR (36.7/38.2/37.5) but he averaged 5.9 WAR from 2010-15. Add another 25 WAR and he’d at least get a long look.

No longer 2016: Could the Cubs get a top-50 prospect for Kimbrel if they threw in some money to sweeten the deal? He’s under team control for another year.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think so.

Evan: What is the outlook for Longoria? He was scorching the ball before he ran into Crawford.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: From the good folks at Rotowire:

July 3, 2021
Longoria (shoulder) could return from the injured list around the third week of July, Kerry Crowley of The San Jose Mercury News reports.
Longoria has been participating in baseball activities for just over a week, and he could return the Giants shortly after the All-Star break. The third baseman has been on the injured list since June 6, so he could require a rehab assignment before he’s cleared to return.

Bruno: Do you think the Yankees will make a play on Baez? Should they?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: For as much a disappointment as Torres is, I don’t think Baez’s bat is enough of a certainty that he’d be the Yankees top choice if they pursue a replacement, and I think they’d eye increased production in the outfield before they’d worry about the middle infield (and like everybody else they need pitching).

Guest: If Jed executes this perfectly (ie trades everything not bolted down), how big of a leap can the Cubs farm system take in the next year?  They’re generally ranked between 20-35 right now, can they be top 10 by midseason next year?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Being anywhere from 31-35 in farm system ranking would be quite impressive in its own way, no?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I would think they could come out of this with a top-10 system if they dealt as well as, say, the Yankees did with their 2016 teardown, which brought in Gleyber and Frazier and pieces that helped them get Britton and Paxton down the line.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: But i’m not the prospect guy, so go ask Eric or Kevin.

Guest: “Nothing in life is assured, and I’d guess that the Mets are as aware of that as anyone else.”- a good first half from Lindor was not assured; a good half from former All-Stars Conforto and McNeil was not assured. But, history and statistics suggest Lindor, McNeil, Conforto, and Dom Smith will improve to a certain extent. Nothing, to me, suggests that any of Corey Oswalt, Robert Stock, or Nick Tropeano will step up to fill the SP void in the second, so if I’m the Mets I don’t even think about Bryant until I have the pitching situation improved.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s a fair assessment of their pitching reserve, but I think the mistake in logic is to position this as an either/or dichotomy. They’ll make moves to shore up the pitching and the offense, and if they don’t have the prospect reserves to get both done at a high level, they may have to touch major league talent to do so (an outgoing infielder in this case).

Evan: Moncada has been a disappointment this year. What has happened to his power? Playing through Injury? Any realistic chance for 2nd half rebound?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s hitting the ball on the ground more than any point since his rookie season, and there aren’t a lot of homers there. As to whether that’s because of his approach or something physical or mechanical, offhand I don’t know.

Emperor Felix: Do you envision the Mariners being closer to buyers or sellers at the deadline…or possibly both?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s Jerry DiPoto, man. They’re going to be buying and selling so much your head will spin. Probably.

Toshi: Do you think the Mariners should and will exercise Kikuchi’s unusual option after this season? Thanks.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My hunch is that they do it, because he’s really improved this year and $66 million over 4 years isn’t going to prevent them from doing other things.

Sloan: So is it just a certainty at this point that Yadier Molina gets into the Hall of Fame? Relatedly do you feel like the HOF voting pool is getting smarter or just changing? Its depressing to see compiler + narrative candidates like Vizquel and soon to be Molina gaining, while never being one of the … oh… 20 best players in the game for a single season

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s a likelihood that Molina gets into the Hall because he’s aged reasonably well, but I wouldn’t call him merely a compiler in the same way that Vizquel was. The defensive metrics never made a case for Vizquel to be as good as some people believe he was, but the framing metrics show that Molina had a couple of 7+ win seasons and over a 5-year span from 2009-13 was the game’s 2nd-most valuable position player https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do think the BBWAA voting pool is a smarter one than it once was, because I’m now a voter! But seriously, beyond the fact that we can always quibble about relievers, I don’t see any Jim Rice-level clinkers happening, and we’ve seen voters move beyond triple crown stats to embrace WAR and JAWS and defensive metrics to at least some extent.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: On that note, it’s time for me to pack up for the day. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the All-Star festivities!

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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