Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 8/18/20

2:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to a slightly delayed edition of my weekly chat. I just walked in the door having pried a nearly-4-year-old away from water balloons on the playground and will need a few minutes to get settled

2:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m back, with a bit of housekeeping… here’s today’s story on Mookie Betts’ progress towards Cooperstown https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/mookie-betts-is-building-a-case-for-co… and here’s yesterday’s story about the Yankees’ mounting injury concerns https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/with-injuries-to-stanton-judge-and-lem…

2:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: and now, on with the show

2:14
stever20: Should the Nats shut down Stras for the season?

2:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not sure anyone knows enough to say that’s a necessity. He apparently has carpal tunnel neuritis but I have yet to see anybody offer a timeline for recovery. Obviously, the team shouldn’t push him to pitch if he’s not healthy, but if waiting a month and ramping up allows him to be ready to contribute in the postseason (assuming the Nationals make it; right now they’re tied for the eighth and final seed with the Mets), then that’s a reasonable course of action.

2:17
Estevão: How much the current struggles of the Red Sox pitching staff increase Dombrowski’s reputation as a winner but destroyer of farm systems or is that set in his legacy

2:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think that’s already pretty much baked into his legacy

2:18
AD: If you don’t want a guy to hit a grand slam on a 3-0 count down 7 runs the recipe is pretty simple. Don’t be losing by 7 runs, don’t allow the bases to get loaded, don’t throw three consecutive balls with said bases loaded, and don’t throw a meatball to the hottest hitter on the planet. Blame yourselves, not the guy doing what he is paid to do

2:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Amen. This Fernando Tatis Jr. controversy is just so damned tedious. As I said on Twitter, if I’m the commissioner I suspend both Chris Woodward and Jayce Tingler for three games for their insufferably horseshit responses to the grand slam.

2:19
Jazz: Not sure if Meg chats anymore. If she doesn’t please tell her she is missed.

2:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: In any given week it can be a scramble for any of us to chat thanks to the irregularities caused by the pandemic. Power outages, parenting, editorial cluster****s… it happens. I’ll relay the message to Meg and hopefully she’ll be back chatting soon.

2:21
Estevão: Couldn’t the Red Sox have gotten any pitching from the Dodgers in the Betts trade

2:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Under the original parameters of the deal, they were supposed to get Brusder Graterol from the Twins, but that part got ensnarled for reasons that weren’t quite clear. The Dodgers were prepared to give up Ross Stripling in a separate deal with the Angels that fell apart as well, but they were never going to trade Urias, May, or Buehler in a Betts deal.

2:23
GSon: Thoughts on the punishment for Clevinger and Plesac.. Does service time manipulation appear to be “over the line”?

2:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: For violating MLB protocols, team rules and basic common sense while placing their teammates at a greater risk for the virus? Hell no. They screwed up and deserve every ounce of the medicine they’re getting. There’s very real anger at them in that clubhouse.

I’ll be the first person to stand up for a Vlad Guerrero Jr. or Pete Alonso having his service clock delayed, but this isn’t the same thing. I suspect at least one of the two pitchers has thrown his last pitch in a Cleveland uniform.

2:27
Jazz: Which MVP candidate do you have more confidence in reaching that status this year, Bellinger or Bregman?

2:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Bregman is carrying a 141 wRC+ and .500 SLG right now, to Bellinger’s 57 and .330. There’s been a lot of tinkering with stance and swing at the MLB level for Bellinger, whose struggles Dan Szymborski looked into yesterday. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/cody-bellingers-struggles-arent-just-small… I do think he’ll get it sorted out but it will take a bit of time.

2:30
Estevão: If Castro were to maintain his 172 hits total of last year over the next seven after this one. He’ll reach that 3k mark. Very unlikely but he’ll be 37ish by then, it’s possible and I’m pulling for him

2:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The problem is that he’s actually been a below-average player in recent years, with a 94 wRC+ and 1.5 WAR per year over the past half decade. To assume that he can hold onto a job while his performance erodes from that baseline seems pretty damn optimistic.

2:33
Chris: Kyle Lewis for Mike clevanger sure is an interesting risk for both teams

2:34
Felipe: Do you expect Matt Olson to turn this short season around and get his BA up to .250 in the next 30 games? Will he get an actual double this year!?

2:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not terribly worried about Olson, who despite his .179 batting average has a 114 wRC+. His BABIP is an unfathomably low .135 — about 100 points lower than the annual BABIP for pitchers hitting — which is due for some positive regression. FWIW, his  xBA based upon his Statcast profile is .259, again suggesting better times are ahead.

2:37
FunFella13: Jay,

I was wondering if you had any philosophy or done some investigation of using mean WAR/JAWS versus median WAR/JAWS when calculating hall of fame standards on a per-position basis.  I wondered whether extreme outliers (e.g. Mays, Cobb, Speaker in CF) influenced the threshold for qualification more extremely for some positions, and whether that was intentional because e.g. those positions are where the best players play historically and thus it should be graded on a higher curve.

2:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, I’ve considered the median and there are two big knocks against deploying it as the default. One, it produces far too many positives on a given ballot, making it much less useful as a first-cut mechanism for deciding two to vote for; and two, it’s much less consistent from position to position than the mean. Somewhere on Twitter I’ve got a more detailed answer to this; if I can find it, I’ll paste a link in the comments later.

2:41
GSon: water grenade balloons are the best !! Just the right size for a four year old’s hand.. but, make him throw it lefty !!

2:41
Avatar Jay Jaffe: her, not him, and she still demonstrates some amount of ambidexterity when it comes to throwing balls and water balloons. Look out, Pat Venditte!

2:41
Kurupt FM: What team has changed your expectations the most so far this season?

2:43
Avatar Jay Jaffe: In a positive direction I’d say the Rockies, who are 13-9 and look as though their young rotation has rebounded after a rough 2019 season. They’re worth taking seriously.

In a negative direction, I’m genuinely surprised that the Red Sox and Angels are this bad. Given the state of their pitching, I think it’s going to be awhile before Boston looks like a playoff contender again because the just haven’t shown themselves the ability or commitment to produce pitching from within.

2:44
David: At one point there was talk that teams would pick their opponent in the new first round. Did they go with that? I haven’t seen any update on that

2:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, apparently each division winner will be able to choose its first-round opponent. This a dumb little flourish to an idea I already dislike. Bury it in a ditch along with just about everything else from 2020.

2:46
Chris: Jay why are the Mariners playing 2 games in LA followed by 2 games in Seattle over 4 days against the dodgers? Isn’t travelling a huge risk factor for covid, why not just play all 4 in LA or Seattle?

2:50
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m a little surprised at the prevalence of 2-and-2 interleague series but they’re commonplace throughout the schedule this year. We’ve seen outbreaks and other delays lead to some of those series being rescheduled in one venue with the home team batting as visitors when necessary. In general, teams have handled traveling pretty well with regards to protocols; it’s been suggested (but not definitively) that the Marlins’ outbreak was related to travel but it league-wide it hasn’t been a prevalent factor.

2:50
James: Does the unwritten rules handbook explain why it would be OK if Tatis hit a grand slam on 3-1 pitch while the team is up by 7 but not if it’s 3-0? I skipped that section in school.

2:52
Avatar Jay Jaffe: this all hinges on the delicate mores regarding swinging 3-0 in a lopsided game but since comebacks from down seven runs have become more commonplace in this high-scoring era — including Tatis’ Padres last year — the handwringing is pure BS.

2:52
Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Fernando Tatis Jr.’s grand slam came when up 10-3 in the top of the 8th inning.

The last team to win when trailing by 7+ runs after 7 innings was the Padres on June 14, 2019 – a game in which Tatis played (beat Rockies 16-12).

18 Aug 2020
2:52
Catchers In General: What do you think about the current, Catchers making it in the hall, conversation? IMO Posada might not be a HOFer, but a one and done? .275/.374/.475  123OPS+ (10th Best for catcher since 1921!), 275 HR over 1000RBI, 5AS, 5SS, 2 Top 6 MVP and 5 WS to boot! But we have a bunch of defense 1st catchers that seem to be getting more buzz coming up, yet catcher WAR has a long way to go. Are we not evaluating them properly, by penalizing Offensive catchers by WAR since catcher offense is soooo rare, shouldnt their uptick in offense be valued more?

2:57
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I really enjoyed watching Jorge Posada’s career with the Yankees and think that in another era he might have had a longer stay on the Hall of Fame ballot, but to the extent that we can quantify his defensive shortcomings, particularly when it came to pitch-framing, it detracted from his value enough to keep him out of the must-haves for Hall of Famers.

I’m not crazy about any of the versions of WAR when it comes to catcher defense; i prefer Baseball Prospectus’ WARP, which incorporates framing as well as blocking and throwing. The problem is that the data only goes back to 1988, which limits our ability to compare recent catchers to those from the past

2:57
Avatar Jay Jaffe: For my money, Thurman Munson is the Yankees catcher who has been jobbed by voters, and Joe Mauer and Buster Posey both belong in Cooperstown once they’re eligible. Some people feel that way about Yadier Molina, too, but if we’re going to consider the measurable impact of pitch framing then I have Russell Martin and Brian McCann ahead of them. See https://blogs.fangraphs.com/framing-the-hall-of-fame-cases-for-martin-…

2:57
bighen: Are there any steps that Manfred or MLB can take to prevent the Mets from doing something dumb with their sale?  Like the reports coming out are just silly.  Jeff Wilpon is a clown, are they going to let his feelings of being called a clown have an impact on the sale?   The Arod team doesn’t have the liquidity to run that franchise and it will be way worse if they don’t get SNY as part of the sale

3:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Sure. It takes the approval of three-quarters of the other owners (so, 22 of 29) for a franchise sale to go through. If, for example, the Wilpons want to sell to A-Rod & Co. despite them bidding $50 million less than Cohen, they can vote against the sale on the perfectly reasonable grounds that it devalues their own franchises.

3:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: (not that they need to provide actual excuses for voting no)

3:01
Catchers In General: Why does it seem like the HOF does not reward guys who walk a lot? They put so much more value in career hits than walks, and avg over OBP.

3:04
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hall voters have always rewarded players who hit for average and put up flashy Triple Crown stats over a long period to a greater degree than players who gain “hidden” value through walks and defense.Thanks to WAR- and JAWS-driven choices, we’re seeing more exceptions to that, but some voters’ HOF analysis doesn’t go beyond the numbers on the bottom of the TV screen.

3:04
Derek: Two years in a row with major injury problems for the Yankees… Any chance there’s something at play here beyond bad luck?

3:06
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s certainly worth looking at the training and medical staff as a whole. Worth noting that in January, the team hired the well-regarded Eric Cressey to oversee its training and strength and conditioning departments. The pandemic shutdown and short ramp-up may be blurring the extent to which the new staff is having an impact, though. The Yankees are hardly the only ones dealing with a bunch of injuries

3:06
Estevão: It’s fair to say that the Padres “lucked” into Tatis Jr? At least to a certain extent

3:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, in that at the time of the trade, Tatis was 17 and had yet to play a competitive season. Eric Longenhagen graded  him as a 40 FV prospect at that point, and he was hardly alone within the industry https://blogs.fangraphs.com/evaluating-the-prospect-in-the-james-shiel…

3:09
Dmitry: Is there any merit to my friend’s argument that a catcher (say Sanchez) who blocks poorly can have an unmeasured negative impact on pitchers, who become too scared to throw pitches in the dirt, and thus get too much plate?

3:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, how about the measured impact of Sanchez’ improved blocking last year? https://blogs.fangraphs.com/gary-sanchez-takes-a-knee/

3:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: (sorry, was trying to track down BP’s 2020 catching numbers but they’re not readily available yet)

3:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Sanchez has been working with a new one-knee stance designed to improve his pitch framing at the bottom of the zone, possibly at the expense of his blocking. I wrote about it in February https://blogs.fangraphs.com/gary-sanchez-takes-a-knee/. The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler checked in on his progress today https://theathletic.com/2004547/2020/08/18/in-a-new-stance-is-gary-san…

3:20
Derek: Any defensible reason the Orioles haven’t called up Mountcastle (and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Rutschman) yet?

3:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I imagine even they aren’t so convinced that their start is for real.

3:20
jake: what’s a realistic return for Workman, Barnes, or Moreland

3:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: if its MLB-ready talent, a guy you can plug in and expect very little of, just like those guys. Every organization already has their equivalent, for the most part.

3:22
WinTwins0410: Jay, the Cubs’ starting rotation has gotten it done so far this year.  Does that surprise you, or would you have guessed from the get-go that they’d be where they are, 21 games in?  Also, any thoughts on relierver Jeremy Jeffress’ strong performance thus far?

3:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m a bit surprised, but they’re a smart organization so I’m not shocked. One had to figure that sooner or later, if healthy Yu Darvish would pitch like the guy who merited that $126 million deal, and that somehow they’d fix Tyler Chatwood. Jon Lester is once again outpitching his peripherals by a very wide margin (2.74 ERA, 4.38 FIP) that I don’t expect to continue. Likewise Jeremy Jeffress (0.90 ERA, 2.82 FIP), whose low strikeout rate (17.1%) doesn’t do much for me.

3:27
Derek: After reading your article on Betts this morning, it again led me to wonder if Betts should get moved to center in LA. In Boston it made a good deal of sense given Fenway’s dimensions and JBJ’s existence, but am I wrong in thinking the Dodgers are probably leaving runs (and therefore, wins) on the table by keeping Betts in right?

3:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, the Dodgers do have Cody Bellinger, who was outstanding in right field last year and held his own in center. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to experiment with the placement of the two, just as the Sox did at one point when it came to Betts and Bradley.

3:30
Brian: Yordan just placed on the DL with knee soreness.  Have you heard if it’s chronic and how do you view him past just this season?

3:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m concerned anytime a player returns to the IL quickly after missing time with a similar problem, but I don’t know the details about his knee beyond the Astros saying that his MRI was clean. As to his long-term outlook, if he can hit anything close to last year he’ll be fine, but DH-only guys tend not to have much longevity because once they stop hitting they’re useless.

3:34
Sodo Mojo: Kyle Seager has looked very sharp this year after finishing strong las year.   Does the option clause still make him unlikely to be traded or does his latest resurgence given him surplus value?

3:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Seager’s due $18 million next year and $15 million plus some unspecified increase between $5M and $20M based on award and playing time. I think it’s tougher to trade a player like that if those incentives are attainable (he’s not going to win MVP, sorry Kyle). Any kind of deal probably requires the Mariners to absorb a fair bit of salary, particularly if the option is picked up.

3:37
TKDC: Mike Clevanger, more like Mike Angerclev(eland), amirite?

3:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the petition to rename the Indians the Cleveland Clevingers is on hold for the moment

3:37
Estevão: Clevinger for healthy Will Smith, DJ Peters and Dennis Santana. Too much for either side?

3:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Far too much for Dodgers to give up.

3:38
Appa Yip Yip: Re: Meg chats. I am sure she is aware but just in case can you please tell her that the Blue Jays are putting scarves on the cutout of the classy lady behind home plate. It seems like the sort of thing she will enjoy.

3:39
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I relayed this to her and she enjoyed it. She reminded me that her expanded duties on Effectively Wild are a factor in her scarcity on the chat front.

3:40
Robert: Plesac or clevinger to Anaheim: Do the angels have what it takes to get that done? Not a whole lot that the Indians could throw into their lineup to improve the outfield. Is Goodwin plus stuff enough? I doubt it.

3:43
Avatar Jay Jaffe: to these eyes, it’s tough to see the two teams matching up in a trade. Brandon Marsh, their top non-Adell prospect, might have a hard time cracking an outfield with Trout and Adell, especially if Ohtani winds up in the OF, too; maybe taking on some amount of Justin Upton’s deal is the poison pill that helps to balance things out? Spitballing here

3:43
Estevão: Which early decline surprised you more Hanley Ramirez or King Felix?

3:45
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Felix. Hanley’s inability to stay healthy and the difficulty of hiding his glove made the possibility of a rapid decline more likely. I’m genuinely surprised and depressed that Hernandez, a pitcher on a Hall of Fame track until a couple years ago, fell apart so completely

3:46
Jazz: Between Tatis Jr’s otherworldly start and the Nats’ mediocre record it seems Juan Soto is not getting a ton of fanfare this season but wow do I love watching him hit. He’s been awesome this year.

3:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Blame that damn West Coast Bias!

3:47
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Soto missed time due to COVID-19 but he’s hitting .409/.490/.955, which is insane but also through only 51 PA. But you’re right, he’s a ton of fun to watch.

3:47
Mike Trout: Why isn’t there an article about the fact that my BB/9 is less than half of my career rate, and my SLG is 120(!) points higher than my career average? When can I expect one?

3:47
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Over short stretches, stats do weird things. That’s it, there’s the article.

3:48
TKDC: Are we nearing the end of the slow death of the knuckleball and if so how do you feel about that?

3:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Wrote about the disappearing knuckleballer last  year https://blogs.fangraphs.com/ryan-feierabend-and-the-disappearing-knuck…

3:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s a huge bummer

3:50
Red: If you could pick one characteristic as the most salient for what makes a good hitter, what would it be – hitting the ball hard (EV or Barrels), making consistent contact (SwStr%), or distinguishing between balls and strikes (O-Swing%)?

3:53
Avatar Jay Jaffe: they’re all important so i guess it depends at least somewhat on sample size. For EV, a single instance of an extreme one (108+  mph) tells you a lot about a hitter’s capability.

3:53
YardGoat: Hello Jay. I hope you are doing well this week. I apologize if you have already written about him, but I’m curious about DeGrom’s chances at the Hall with his late start and having a prime year cut short this year. Would he have to average 4 WAR for the next 5 years to have a shot?

3:54
Avatar Jay Jaffe: answered similar q two weeks ago. He’s got to do a lot better than 4-WAR seasons. four 5.0-WAR seasons gets him to something like 56/43/49 JAWS, which is slightly ahead of where Cole Hamels is, but with a much higher peak. From a JAWS standpoint, he needs Cy Young-caliber seasons in the 7.0 vicinity to really make up for lost time.

3:54
stever20: Re MLB playoff format- division champs are 1-3 seeds, 2nd place are 4-6 seeds, and then 2 WC teams are 7-8 seeds.  Straight 1/8, 2/7, 3/6, 4/5- teams don’t pick opponents.  https://www.mlb.com/news/mlb-announces-expanded-playoffs-for-2020

3:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve seen conflicting information regarding the picking opponents — thought it hadn’t gone through but then a Buster tweet and one from somebody else suggested it had. This looks more correct

3:55
Mike Ortman: Do you keep score at games? Or rather, did you keep score pre-child? Any ballpark traditions for you?

3:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do, in general, yes

3:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: though i have not in the games where I’ve taken my kid

3:56
Thunderclap Jackson: The ludicrous amount of young talent, much of it concentrated on a handful of teams, made me wonder if you have any guesses/research about what teams in history have had the most projected HoF-level guys under a certain age (say 25) over a certain playing time threshold on the roster at one time. I guess going back in history would require using some of Dan’s time travel ZiPS projections to project old guys futures from a specific point?

3:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d have to think about this one!

3:57
Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, the clock is running out on me here, so i’ll have to call it a day. thanks for stopping by, and let’s do this again next week!

3:57
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Stay safe!





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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stakhanovitamix
2 years ago

Dom Smith may ultimately have a better career than Pete Alonso, but Jay will never get over the Mets giving Dom the at bats that could have gone to Pete in September 2018.

stakhanovitamix
2 years ago

Downvote if you like, he’s the one who brought it up in the chat. Service time manipulation has screwed over plenty of guys over the years; Kris Bryant and others have lost years of free agency and the accompanying millions of dollars. But one of the most egregious cases is clearly the ultimately-inconsequential decision not to give Pete Alonso 50 or so AB in September 2018.

stakhanovitamix
2 years ago

If Alonso lands somewhere in the Trade Value series, I’ll be interested to see if they mention that Alonso’s trade value is diminished because the team didn’t hold him down in April 2019 to gain an extra year of control…

stakhanovitamix
2 years ago

Ronald Acuna lost a potential year of free agency that would have been valued at $25million+ (if he hadn’t signed an extension); Vlad Jr. lost a year that will likely be worth millions. Bryant, Springer, Harper, and others all lost years. Their teams all gained a year of low-cost control. The White Sox used the possibility of service time manipulation to sign Eloy Jimenez to a contract extension.

What did the Mets gain by keeping Alonso down in September? They retained the flexibility to keep him down in April, but I’m not sure they gained much else. What did Alonso lose? As far as I’m aware– please correct me if I’m wrong!– he lost a month of salary at the major league minimum. So that’s what, around $100,000?

It’s entirely possible that service time was a factor in the decision not to bring Alonso up in September, but to continually trot out Alonso as an example compared to these other cases that had significant potential repercussions is disingenuous at best. I understand and respect Jay’s distaste for the practice of service-time manipulation- but I firmly believe that he is misleading readers on this issue. At the risk of being a troll, I am going to continue to call it out every time I see it. And if anyone has any genuine feedback about why I might be wrong, I’m happy to read and reconsider.