Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 8/15/19

12:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to my “Ides of August” chat! Today is the third anniversary of my daughter’s due date; she put off her arrival for another 11 days while we tore our hair out, in marked contrast to the way her two writer-parents approach deadlines.

Anyhoo, my piece staring into the heart of darkness that is the 2019 Tigers just went live https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-tigers-might-be-historically-bad/

And in honor of getting to use the phrase “heart of darkness” into my work, I’m spinning the Peter Laughner box set this afternoon. Laughner was the original guitar player for Pere Ubu when they did their first two singles (“30 Seconds over Tokyo” b/w “Heart of Darkness” came first) and left behind an incredible legacy for somebody who died young at age 24.

12:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Anyway… on with the show.

12:04
Ay Ay Ron: Hi, Jay.  Who do you greatly helped their HOF case the most based on their 2019 performance?  Who do you think hurt it the most?

12:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: This is quite likely my next article, so look for it either tomorrow or early next week at FG.

12:05
nibbish: In your recent article, you mentioned that the Twins could have upgraded at first by trading for Tyler White or Miguel Andújar. Could you elaborate about that? Neither of them (particularly White) seem to be upgrades, or at least not enough to actually *trade* for.

12:05
nibbish: I mean “Jesús Aguilar” my mistake, sorry.

12:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: “Upgrade” is perhaps too strong a word, but “try literally anything else, because what you’re doing clearly isn’t working” was my point

12:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My point was that with guys like Aguílar and White, there were alternatives out there available at low cost, and little reason to settle for Cron given his months-long slide.

12:08
stever20: Hot take- the trade of Greinke hurt his HOF chances more than anything else this year.  Would have had a real shot at the Cy Young, and also a much tougher situation in Houston than he had in Arizona.

12:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Winning a World Series, or at least getting to show off in the postseason, is a big deal when it comes to a Hall of Fame case, too. The trade to Houston deprives Greinke of the value boost that comes with his offense, but one look at the way that the Astros have helped guys like Cole, Verlander, Pressly, and now Sanchez improve should tell you that this isn’t likely to be a step backwards for Greinke. Plus, I don’t think he had a strong chance at a Cy in AZ this year without some great hot streak down the stretch.

12:11
Concrete fan: Ramón Laureano has quietly (aside from his great throw) put up 5.1 WAR over his first career 595 PA. Do you think he can keep performing like a borderline star?

12:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: What’s weird is that despite the proliferation of web gems that he produces, his defensive metrics aren’t all that good this year (-2 UZR, -5 DRS). I’d be pretty cautious about buying high on a guy with a walk rate below 6%; I think he’s likely to settle in as above average but not a star.

12:15
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Honus Wagner’s Hall of Fame plaque begins with “The greatest shortstop in baseball history.” Do you feel it’s appropriate to put statements like that on the plaques? It’s opinion-based and subject to change should a Troutian SS emerge tomorrow.

12:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s pretty silly to understand this as something beyond a statement of his standing at the time of induction, looking back at 50+ years of major league history and taking into account the tendency towards purple prose that weighed down so much sportswriting of the time.

Besides, he’s still #1 at shortstop in the JAWS rankings https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_SS.shtml

12:17
mmddyyyy: How long have you been with fangraphs?

12:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: About 18 months. I came aboard in February 2018 after nearly six full years at Sports Illustrated. The place no longer feels new to me, but that’s not a bad thing at all — I’m enjoying writing about baseball as much as I ever have, and feel lucky to have such great colleagues

12:18
Clayton Kershaw: I feel like I’m pitching at an elite level again. Is there any way for me to get in the Cy Young conversation this year?

12:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My advice is to throw up a string of zeroes down the stretch, because right now you have to overtake to pitchers in your own rotation (Ryu and Buehler) to get in on the action. Not saying it can’t be done, given how well you’ve been pitching.

On the Kershaw note, check out Ben Clemens’ recent piece here: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/what-remains-of-clayton-kershaw/ and Craig Goldstein over at Baseball Prospectus: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/52368/deep-but-playabl…

12:22
stever20: who is  the next 75+ year old coach to come take over a team and get them better after Phil Regan and Charlie Manuel?

12:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The new market inefficiency is septuagenarian coaches! Leo Mazzone is only 70 but he seems like a guy who should get another shot.

12:25
Roman Numeral Three: Now that catcher defense is getting easier to quantify through analytics, are past catcher WARs being retroactively changed to account for the defensive metrics?

12:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes. When we added Jared Cross’s version of a framing metric in March, ours was retroactively upgraded (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/war-update-catcher-framing/) — with some eye-opening results (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/framing-the-hall-of-fame-cases-for-martin-…). At some point, we’re hopeful that we can add framing for the pitch count era (1988-2001) as Baseball Prospectus has done.

Separately, B-Ref updated its 1890-1952 catcher metrics “based on stolen bases, caught stealing, errors, passed balls, and, from 1925 on, wild pitches.  Prior to this update, these players’ defensive abilities were judged only based on errors and passed balls.”

12:30
Tom: Where do you see Trout ending up on CF JAWS rankings?

12:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: top three but it will be tough for him to overtake Mays and Cobb unless he’s still posting 4-6 WAR seasons into his late 30s, as those guys did. Not saying it won’t happen, but he’s got a ways to go.

12:31
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: The most amazing thing to me from your Tigers article is that the Red Sox have 0 players with 100 PA and a wRC+ below 90, but they need binoculars to spot the wild card game. That pitching is remarkably awful.

12:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Crap, you know, I just looked at that and it can’t be right given the presences of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Sandy Leon… Their number should be 15.7%, and the A’s 25.2% (joining tables was not quite seamless).

Fixed.

12:38
Mason Jarre: Mike Tauchman is a rookie. A nearly 29-year-old rookie. Will his age keep him out of the AL ROY convo, which he deserves to be a part of ?

12:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a good question. The NL has Alonso, Tatis Jr., Soroka and Paddack (though he’s faded), but the AL has no clear frontrunner, at least if we’re incorporating Vlad Jr.’s defense into the question. I guess it will come down to opportunity — how much playing time will Tauchman get if and when some of the injured Yankees come back. I do think he’ll have to get a lot AND be exceptional to surpass the easy answer that Vlad Jr. presents.

12:42
HappyFunBall: Speaking of Charlie Manuel, how precedented is it for a former manager to come back as an assistant? Does Gabe Kapler have a babysitter now?

12:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The examples that spring to mind are Leo Durocher working under Walt Alston on the Dodgers from 1961-64, and Cito Gaston coming back to the Blue Jays in 2000-01 under Buck Martinez and Jim Fregosi. I’m sure there are others… and I’m sure there are things that Manuel can teach Kapler, whose teams have underachieved.

12:46
Max Scherzer: Ryu’s low ERA is soft right? i’m the front runner for the NL Cy Young this year, aren’t I?

12:50
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think you’re perceived as the frontrunner right now, Max, and as Kershaw’s absences have shown, being on the shelf is a bad move in a CY race. Then again, Ryu just missed a couple of starts, too.

Scherzer has a much higher strikeout rate than Ryu, hence the advantage in FIP, and Ryu’s 58-point edge in BABIP is helping to drive his ERA lower. Right now, Scherzer has a 1.4-WAR edge in fWAR but just 0.1 in bWAR. We’re going to have to wait and see how they fare down the stretch.

12:51
ROY: When can we get a Yordan piece? Check daily for the Yordan piece. YORDAN!

12:51
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Noted. His name certainly came up in my Aquino piece https://blogs.fangraphs.com/aristides-aquino-is-punishing-baseballs/

12:51
Klews: There’s always some team every year that is terrible, but not notably so, that becomes the most boring, forgettable team in baseball. Last year it was the Giants, who is it this year?

12:53
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My vote, cast today, is the Tigers. The Orioles are getting all of the attention because they’ve been so pummeled by the Yankees and are about to set the single-season record for homers allowed — seriously, they could claim it this weekend — but the Tigers might be the worst collection of position player performances in this millennium (though their rotation is actually not bad).

12:55
Squid Vicious: Brantley probably won’t get much HOF chatter, but several current Astros are still young enough to play the “maybe” game (Altuve, Springer, Correa, Bregman). Add in their star pitchers, and you get a whole lot of potential HOFers on one team. Does any team compare—maybe the 2000s Yankees?

1:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: There are teams from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s with as many as nine Hall of Famers at one time. The 2000s Yankees had Jeter, Rivera and Mussina; they also had Raines in the mid-1990s, before the Moose arrived. Perhaps Sabathia will join them in Cooperstwon, but don’t hold your breath on A-Rod or Sheffield or Kevin Brown or…

As for the Astros, Brantley is amid his second HOF-caliber season at age 32, so that’s not happening. Correa needs to stay on the field to reap the benefits of his early arrival, and Altuve needs to arrest this year’s slide.

1:03
bosoxforlife: Yanking the starter after retiring 14 straight on 79 pitches after 6 sent me through the ceiling last night. This is modern managing and Callaway got what he deserved. What is your take?

1:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Nothing looks worse for a manager than calling the wrong number in the bullpen ,but I understand the decisions that got him into this mess. Callaway isn’t a good manager, but Matz — who’s not exactly known for his stamina or robust health — was in his 3rd time through the order (he’s been hit hard); Donaldson and Duvall (next two hitters) have generally feasted on lefties; and Lugo has been their best reliever. It wasn’t a terrible process, but the outcome was terrible, and the pitchfork mob is going to judge on outcomes alone.

1:08
Ryan: Better odds: Pujols gets to 700 HRs, or Cabrera gets to 500 HRs?

1:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pujols needs 49 homers over the next 2 1/4 seasons, Cabrera 27 over the next  5 1/4. You do the math on that one.

1:10
Nate: On AL ROY guys…wouldn’t Yordan Alvarez have a big voice there as well?

1:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes. Should have included him.

1:13
Guest: Baseball Reference says Tauchman exceeded Rookie status in 2018

1:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: hmm, yes, 79 days of service entering this year.

1:14
Position battle: DJ, Gio, Andujar… where (positions) do they all play next year? Or do they sell high on Gio/low on Miguel?

1:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A lot will depend upon what they decide to do with Didi Gregorius, who’s a pending free agent and scuffling in his return from TJ surgery. If they return Torres to SS (where he held his own) and put DJ at second base, then there’s room for both Urshela (who can spot at other positions) and Andujar (who won’t necessarily be ready to go on Opening Day)

1:16
Archer: Things don’t look good for the Tigers in 2020, either. Their rotation might be improved, but their position players will probably be even worse. What chance do you give them of pulling an Astros and getting 3 straight #1 picks?

1:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Are you forgetting the Orioles had 1/1 this year? Their 3 would need to be 2020-22, and I’m not quite THAT down on them.

1:18
Archer: Whoops, forgot that Mize was 2 years ago, and the Tigers had the 5th pick. The badness all blends together, it would be 3 out of 4 1st overall picks.

1:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: didn’t see this until after I answered the above

1:18
Cove Dweller: How is Al Avila still employed given the Tigers’ struggles in conjunction with the moves he has (and hasn’t) made?

1:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Really, that’s a huge question. The timing of his extension announcement was strange, and his track record since taking over doesn’t scream “lock that guy in”

1:19
Ralph Rowdie : Boy is it hard to not compare Will Smith to a young Buster Posey. As a Dodgers, and baseball, fan is it hard to temper expectations? Whom are you more excited for, Smith or Buehler?

1:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m more excited about Buehler. Smith is good, but Posey-good? he’s about a year and a half older than Buster was when debuting, which says something about the two players’ ceilings, as does draft position.

1:21
EndlessBacklash: Aristides Aquino is the most recent example of a trend where  prospects come up and hit home runs very quickly. It seems like those ‘X home runs in the first Y games’ club/league records have been falling everywhere the last couple of years.  Is there a reason for this beyond launch angle, approach, more prospects with a plus-power profile, and the new baseball?

1:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a perfect storm of those things, I think. High home run rates league-wide driven by the post-mid-2015 ball, big rewards for changing to a more uppercut-oriented swing, limited minor league video on guys for scouting purposes.

1:23
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: Don’t you think the real problem was having Matz hit and then taking him out?

1:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ah, missed that, and yes, that’s a dumb mistake by Callaway.

Sorry, I didn’t watch the game last night (I was watching Kershaw deal when I wasn’t wrangling the toddler) and only briefly glanced at the box score.

1:24
Dunkin’ Donuts: I have never read a definitive opinion whether Jay Jaffe believes Tony Gwynn deserves to be in the HOF.

1:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Does the word “duh” mean anything to you? Yes, of course he deserves to be in. Batting average tends to inflate a player’s reputation beyond what the value metrics tell us but it would take some kind of density to conclude he’s got no place in Cooperstown.

1:28
rick: how can we reconcile the recent and massive aristedes aquino stance/swing change, and the existing – relatively poor – outlook from the projection systems?

1:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d guess we better wait and see instead of casting his Hall of Fame plaque.

1:28
Altuve: Haven’t I already arrested this year’s slide?? I want an apology!!!

1:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m talking big picture. 8.1 bWAR in 2017 (age-27 season), 5.2 last year (and with injury), 2.8 so far this year (with more injury)… Given the general aging patterns of second basemen, that’s not a good trend to be wearing.

1:30
Tim Livingston: Has Buster Posey completely fallen off the wagon for HOF consideration with his last couple seasons? This is really starting to look like a Mauer situation, even though the award bonafides are more impressive.

1:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A catcher playing 140 times a year (including other positions) will wear a guy down prematurely, but no, he hasn’t fallen off the HOF wagon, particularly given that catcher framing is going to be a significant aspect of his case and he’s been one of, if not the, best in that department. More to the point, this should help the blithering idiots who think Mauer is undeserving of Cooperstown get a damn clue about the realities of the position.

1:35
Nolan: Will Cabrera actually play the next 5 1/2 years?  He seems like a prime candidate to retire soon in light (1) his age, (2) his injury issues, (3) the sorry state of the Tigers, and (4) all the accomplishments he has already accumulated.

1:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m guessing he might not play the entire time, but there aren’t a lot of players willing to walk away from $100 million-plus instead of sticking around for the sometimes-grim denouement.

1:36
Nick: Does Will Smith have a Gary-Sanchez like ROY campaign in him?  It’s probably too late to catch Alonso, Tatis, etc.,  but he’s 13th in rookie batting WAR already, and Tatis is on the IL…

1:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Pete Alonso says hi.

1:37
Derek: It’s easy to be upset at owners not spending a ton of money each offseason, but spending up to or over the soft cap every yearcan get teams into situations like the Red Sox are currently in, where extending Betts would almost certainly skyrocket them into the tax. As a Red Sox fan it will be a real bummer to see Betts go, especially if it’s because they’re paying guys like Eovaldi and the ghost of Pablo Sandoval instead… Then again, if this is the price for a WS win, then maybe it’s worth it? Is that how I should be looking at this?

1:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Huh, it’s like re-signing Eovaldi wasn’t a great idea.

The Sox are in a bit of a bind, but they have one more offseason to reorient themselves. Porcello’s coming off the books, Martinez may well opt out, and Pedroia probably retires with some kind of buyout or deferred compensation package that reduces their AAV hit or concentrates it on one year (maybe this one). It might mean they can’t retain JBJ in order to further trim payroll, but I can’t imagine that would be a dealbreaker.

1:41
Bo: Are the Braves’ bullpen woes going to ease up eventually? They bought high on Greene, Martin and Melancon, but all three have had amazingly terrible luck in Atlanta by FIP measures.

1:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It seems like judging a trade on two weeks of performance isn’ t a great idea.

1:42
BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: You talked about the Twins not getting a first baseman – do you think that is worse than them not getting at least one more arm for their bullpen?  seems like they’ve already tired out Dyson and Romo

1:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It seems like judging a trade on two weeks of performance isn’ t a great idea.

1:47
Avatar Jay Jaffe: In both of these cases, you’re complaining about a small sample and the fact that these teams DID something but maybe not enough. How many pitchers should they have added? Always, it’s one more than they did, because the old truism about not having too much pitching is generally, you know, true.

Yes, the Braves bought high on Greene in particular, but I do think the added talent from those 3 deals will help them over a 2-3 month window, and I’m not about to dwell on two weeks of FIP. Dyson hit the IL with biceps tendinitis, and if I know pitchers, it seems quite possible that he was pitching through some amount discomfort before he arrived.

I’d not panic about either situation just yet, unless setting yourself on fire and running down the street is how you get your kicks, in which case, go nuts but don’t expect me to spray you with the hose. I’ll be too busy laughing.

1:47
Mason Jarre: Jay, Fangraphs includes Tauchman as rookie on the leaderboards. Maybe an internal memo is in order.

1:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m aware of that; I think at the moment, it’s pulling players based only on AB/IP requirements without knowing the service time issues (B-Ref has long had the same problem). When we get Roster Resource fully integrated, this should be less of a problem, but yes, I’ll make a note.

1:48
J: What’s for lunch today

1:49
Avatar Jay Jaffe: A good question. I’m about to find out, because it’s time for me to move along.

1:50
Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, thanks for stopping by, it’s been fun as usual unless you were the subject of those Braves/Twins q’s. See you next 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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stever20
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stever20

think it’s comical to say that Buehler would be ahead of Kershaw right now for the Cy Young race. Just going off the Tango tracker- Kershaw is right now well ahead of Buehler…. But still behind Ryu, Scherzer, Garrett, and deGrom(just barely).

it would be really interesting if Kershaw finishes strong, and Ryu comes back to earth and Scherzer doesn’t dominate/has a finish like Sale last year. You wonder if the voters would give Kershaw the edge.