Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 8/22/23

2:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, welcome to my Tuesday chat. I’m back from California and will dive in here in a few minutes after I add a brief addition to today’s forthcoming piece about the Giants’ offensive struggles. Stand by for a few…

2:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK, that’s done. Had to stop the presses on a piece about the Giants’ offense falling off a cliff because of this earth-shaking news https://twitter.com/extrabaggs/status/1694045181362753778?s=20

2:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: that piece will be out shortly.

2:07
Matt VW: Mookie Betts is on pace for 44 homers. Can you think of anyone else his size who’s hit 40? Campanella’s listed at the same (alleged) height, but had a really different build…

2:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: With the caveat that listed heights don’t always match up with reality, there have been three seasons in which a player 5’9″ (Mookie’s listed height) or shorter have hit 40 homers, none of them recent: Mel Ott 42 in 1929, Hack Wilson (who was 5’6″ but barrel-chested) 56 in 1930, and Campanella 41 in 1953.

2:09
Avatar Jay Jaffe: José Ramírez, listed at 5’9″ and considerably more Mookie-shaped, hit 39 in 2018

2:10
That Guy: Two questions which are related – Is Brian Cashman’s seat flaming hot, and should it be? This season is a disaster.

2:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think it’s flaming hot, but it’s probably pretty warm, and while I don’t think he’s going anywhere, it’s pretty clear that if he stays some significant changes will be needed in that front office. Part of the issue, for better or worse, is that Hal Steinbrenner doesn’t seem terribly motivated to clean house and start anew with another head of baseball operations.

2:11
mac: Should the Yankees trade Cole and Judge in the offseason as a courtesy to those two guys? Legitimately none of the Pirates teams Cole played on were ever this bad, Judge could’ve left in the offseason but was lied to (“we’re not done yet”), and it’s only going to get worse in New York.

2:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Oh please. Star power sells tickets, and what the Yankees have going for them — though they haven’t wielded that advantage to its full extent — is the ability to run big payrolls. Those two players signed to be Yankees and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

2:12
MT_LAD_FAN: Any chance Dodgers sign Ohtani and bring back Kershaw and Urias? They’ll need darn near a full rotation with Buehler, May, Gonsolin all recovering from injury and Miller, Sheehan, Pepiot and Stone all still breaking into the bigs.

2:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s tough to imagine that they can do all three; I would think that if they manage to sign Ohtani, it would means letting Urías walk. But you’re right in that even with two of those guys in the fold, they will need to flesh out that rotation with some innings guys; my guess is that they retain Lynn, either by picking up his  $18 million option or by reworking it.

2:15
Zach: Given the current offensive environment, isn’t Julio Rodriguez’s recent 17 hits in 4 games stretch even more impressive than just being the best such stretch in MLB history?

2:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: that we’re in a low-batting average era makes it a bit more impressive, sure. It’s still just four games, so I don’t think we need to hyperventilate over how cool it was. Wrote about Julio and the Mariners’ surge yesterday in case anyone missed it: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/julio-rodriguezs-hit-parade-helps-mariners…

2:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Speaking of past articles, while I was in Los Angeles and San Diego last week, I wrote about Fernando Valenzuela’s #34 being retired, a cause I advocated for for over a decade. So cool to witness this one in person:

2:18
Sanford: Francisco Lindor is pretty good at baseball, huh?

2:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Indeed. He’s put together a season very similar to last year’s one, which was MVP-caliber. Of the Mets’ multitude of problems, he’s not one of them

2:19
KC Pain: Which team in the AL Central has the best chance of being a dominant team in 5 years?

2:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Honestly I don’t see any of them having a chance at that. Cleveland has the best system (9th in our rankings https://www.fangraphs.com/prospects/farm-system-rankings) but doesn’t have any high-end prospects (60 FV or greater) in the pipeline, and as they’ve demonstrated amply over the years, they don’t spend money.

2:22
Porcho Villa: Do you think Torkelson’s recent surge portends a true breakout, or is it just another hot streak? Great across-the-board quality of contact metrics but drilling down a bit more it seems that he is slaughtering fastballs but still struggling to hit   (/hard-hit) everything else.

2:24
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t had a chance to look very closely at him lately, and you’re right, he’s scuffling against most secondaries (curveballs an exception), but jeez, a 23-year-old with a 14.6% barrel rate certainly looks promising

2:24
Smiling Politely: FYI, on the main site, it says 8/8/23 Jaffe chat (though otherwise, it works)

2:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Whoops, sorry about that. Rushed home from looking at some real estate to get this chat together in short order and I just cut-and-pasted from the last one without catching that.

2:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s fixed on the file but the home page hasn’t updated yet.

2:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: (And yes, the Jaffe-Span clan is looking to move elsewhere in Brooklyn. Nothing imminent yet but we liked this one!)

2:27
Jaf Jayee: If you had to vote today, who’s your NL MVP and why is it Mookie?

2:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Mookie has been on fire lately and has taken over the MLB leads in both fWAR and bWAR. Without looking more closely into secondary stuff I’d still probably lean Acuña — the base-stealing stuff adds some extra excitement, and he was so good so early — but I don’t think he’s an automatic anymore.

2:29
Sammy So-so: Would you move Oneil Cruz from the tallstop position and make him a corner outfielder starting next season? Seems like it would be far less stress on him in multiple ways. Thanks, Jay.

2:31
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think a position change is a long -term eventuality but it’s still worth seeing whether he can handle a full season at shortstop now. It’s not like a pennant depends upon it

2:31
Smiling Politely: Sometime this week (presumably), I’ll become a first time dad! I know you’ve got a young one, and while I’m sure the Jaffe/Span household is, itself, an introduction to baseball, any advice about making sure it’s fun and something they enjoy (I don’t wanna be *that* parent)?

2:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Congratulations! I’ve found that a soft touch is best. Show them baseball in its many forms — major league, minor league, Little League, on TV, in person, books, videos, balls, gloves, and MASCOTS — and see if it captures their attention; don’t force it upon them.

2:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: For us, we have a lot of baseball memorabilia and books lying around, and we sort of see what our daughter engages with

2:34
Avatar Jay Jaffe: explain the rules (briefly and simply, not easy) if she watches a game with us, tell her about the best players and the good and bad guys

2:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Our daughter is very worked up about the Astros cheating, since she began to understand a bit of baseball while my wife was editing the stuff at The Athletic and since one of her tee-ball teams was nonetheless named the Astros because it was coached by a Texan

2:35
Mike: Joey Gallo still has a job. MAT is among the least valuable CF in the game. Are the Twins going to squander this playoff chance out of fear of trying younger players in place of these two?

2:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hey, somebody has to lose that division! Taylor (1.4 WAR) has actually been around a league-average player with his defense, which as a whole for the team has been subpar

2:39
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Gallo’s decline from Gold Glove winner to slightly-below-average defender, OTOH, has reduced him to a somebody of very limited utility. I dunno, man, it’s just a bummer to watch

2:40
Yoshida’s Island: How many star players had their career cut way short by legal issues before the past few years? Felipe Vasquez, Bauer, now possibly Franco, but I feel like this wasn’t a thing before the last decade.

2:43
Avatar Jay Jaffe: you’re right that it’s a weird constellation of them, but we did see a bunch of careers in the ’80s and ’90s derailed by the legal aspect of their drug issues and more recently, how about Ugueth Urbina doing time for attempted murder?

2:43
Steve: Jay, How far ahead do they schedule the venue for all star games? Any idea when Camden Yards gets another turn?

2:44
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Right now they have 2024 and ’26 scheduled but not ’25. https://www.mlb.com/all-star/future-locations. OPACY is probably due but obviously John Angelos has to get his **** together if that’s going to happen. My guess is that once he does, the O’s get a game there in the near future

2:45
Hank: Will the Rangers hold on in the West? Now two teams right on their heels, with the particularly hot Mariners and always-dangerous Astros? Mariners turned the AL playoff picture extra-interesting real quick in the past couple weeks.

2:46
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s suddenly a lot of fun, right? I still think the Rangers hold on, though their bullpen strikes me as vulnerable

2:46
Slava Ukraini: Cashman is a HOF?

2:47
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think so, yes. It’s no small feat to remain in that particular job for that long with that much success. Even given the money advantage, winning is hardly automatic.

2:47
Mt Elden: Damian Lillard routinely got criticized by national media types for “not wanting to win badly enough” because he was content to play out his contract in Portland. Why doesn’t Mike Trout receive the same treatment from the media considering the dude spends more time playing golf and watching the Eagles every October than he does playing meaningful baseball games?

2:49
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it all depends what kind of media you’re talking about. Talk radio assholes live and die by this stuff. Print media much less so. beyond that, one basketball player can have a bigger impact on his team’s fate than one baseball player, though I don’t think Lillard is quite Trout-level.

2:49
Vlad’s Dad: I asked the same of Ben, but what odds would you put on a Pete Alonso HOF career? He’s off to a great start despite the late start…

2:52
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Low. He’s had one season of 5.0 bWAR or better, and it was his rookie year. Great power, obviously, but not a great all-around hitter; he’s had two seasons with a wRC+ in the 140s, none higher than 144. 17.2 career bWAR nearing the end of his 5th season. Dan Szymborski’s offseason ZiPS spreadsheet has him finishing with a JAWS in the low 30s.

2:52
Evan: Any thoughts on the Michael Busch call up?

2:53
Avatar Jay Jaffe: With J.D. Martinez out, he can play his best defensive position, DH.

2:54
Stevie: Is there any upside to Ohtani pitching again this year?

2:55
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes. Because he’s f’ing good at it, in the middle of perhaps the greatest season ever, and we want to be entertained!

2:56
Zach: Is it time to start talking about Cal Raleigh as one of the best catchers in baseball? Sure, he somehow might have been omitted from even the deep honorable mention section of the Trade Value series (tsk tsk, Ben), but he’s closing in on a second straight 4+ WAR season and is fourth among all catchers in WAR since the start of 2022.

2:58
Avatar Jay Jaffe:

2:58
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yeah, seems fair to me. 2022-23, he’s 4th in fWAR among catchers at 7.6, with less playing time and more defensive value than anyone else in the top 5.

2:58
2:58
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Any day I get to reference Wile E. Coyote and Leo Tolstoy in the same piece is a good one

2:59
KC Pain: Thoughts on a rookie Cy Young and naming if after Valenzuela?

2:59
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hmm, it’s a nice little idea. Hardly essential but kind of cool

2:59
salt water jaffe: does jaws account for different calculations of war from different outlets/sites/etc?

3:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: No. I stick to bWAR because I find it more useful for historical pitching than fWAR. But in any complete analysis, I do want to eyeball fWAR and the multiple fielding metrics to see if there’s anything it’s telling us that’s notably different from what bWAR is telling us.

3:00
Sirras: Good luck with the house hunting! The Brooklyn market is tough these days!

3:01
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks. It’s a real challenge given all of the various facets we have to consider

3:01
mac: Did the Rizzo concussion story drop out of the news cycle quicker than you thought it would? Borderline medical malpractice and no update about anyone being held responsible or facing any consequences

3:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it got a fair bit of play and could resonate behind the scenes, more as a cautionary tale and driver of additional measures than as something where individuals are going to be singled out for punishment or something. Part of the issue is that Rizzo’s own words suggest he didn’t really make the connection between his initial collision and his more recent struggles, so it’s not as though his pleas for help were going ignored. MLB (and other sports) has to help players learn to recognize the signs that they may be having issues in order to advance in this area.

3:05
Ben Bates: Is Soto’s ceiling lower than we thought/is he always going to be a streaky, lowish average hitter? Or is he still developing?

3:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The issue isn’t his ceiling on the offensive side but rather his declining defense. I wonder if he’s not plugged in enough when he’s out there in left field, stewing about his last plate appearance

3:07
salt water jaffe: does the exclusion of bonds, clemens, and other similarly statistically qualified players for the hall of fame have any effect on the jaws model? other models?

3:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Bonds ,Clemens, and A-Rod would raise the JAWS standards by a noticeable few decimal points if they were enshrined. You’d scarcely notice if a Manny, Sammy, Mac, or Sheffield   were elected as they’re much closer to the standard

3:08
Jeb: I loved your article about the Yankees and agreed with the points you made. On the other hand, I feel like the press, in general, (and fans!) have really piled onto the Yankees to the point where they’re underestimating them in 2024. This year is bad, unequivocally, and despite being a fan, I too, have questioned the front office. On the other hand, there are plenty of green shoots for next year – prime Cole and Judge is a good starter kit, for example. The farm has some interesting prospects, even if it isn’t top tier. And while hitter development at the MLB level leaves much to be desired, pitcher development has been quite encouraging. That might not be a world series contender, but it could be a playoff contender, on paper. What do you think about the 2024 Yankees?

3:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Thanks. I think they have to make some significant improvements in their processes behind the scenes — there’s been some stuff out there about the lack of accountability in their analytics department, for one thing — and it’s probably time to cut bait on both Stanton and LeMahieu, becuase they’re just not productive anymore; they’ve netted 0.2 WAR between them.

3:12
YorDaddy: Odds on Altuve getting to 3000 hits?

3:13
Avatar Jay Jaffe: From talking to Dan I think it’s something in the 30% range. Freddie Freeman is the most likely active guy to get there but even he’s not 50/50.

3:13
Pat: what’s your best (lowest) Immaculate Grid score? My lowest is 105. All those old baseball card days pay off .Goal is to break 100 someday. I think my most obscure answer was Will McEaney a 70’s reliever who pitched for Cincinnati & Montreal (Washngton Nationals).

3:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My lowest is around 20. I’m generally about 75 or less when I complete them. I don’t bother playing them out if I guess one wrong.

3:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: But it’s a lot of fun and everywhere I’ve gone over the past month — from the cool stuff behind the scenes in Cooperstown to the Dodger Stadium dugout — people are talking about it.

3:15
wADHD: In your opinion, who has had the best rookie season ever as a hitter? Ichiro?

3:16
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Mike Trout. Not a hard question, really https://stathead.com/tiny/v2wzw

3:16
Bob: Where would Joe Morgan rank among the best second basemen of all time?

3:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s 4th in JAWS and tops among post-Integration 2B, behind only Hornsby, Collins, and Lajoie, all of whom had their best days nearly or over a century ago.

3:19
Lamonte Wade Jr’s 10th place MVP vote: Do you think teams will be willing to offer Ha-Seong Kim a big contract in free agency in a couple of years? He is young and has turned into one of the best middle infielders in the game, but his value is certainly centered around the stellar defense.

3:20
Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s not THAT young (27), but if he keeps up the offense he’s gonna get a big payday.

3:20
DJ Tofu: What’s wrong with the Giants’ offense? Any hypotheses on why the whole group collectively declined so much? How do they compare to other historical offense collapses?

3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As noted in today’s piece, a whole lot of it is injuries, particularly in the outfield. They’ve had to play a bunch of prospects who last year were in some level of A-ball, and many of those guys have been overwhelmed. While they may be able to cobble together lineups to get a left/right platoon advantage, they’re not able to match up as well in other ways and have fewer PA being taken by MLB-caliber hitters

3:22
AL Central Casting: If Bryon Buxton is done as a center fielder, or even as an outfielder, what do the Twins do with him? He’s not such a great bat that he can DH full time, right? Some fans are calling for them to try him at 1B, which seems kind of ridiculous to me, but I can’t put my finger on why.

3:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: They signed him to that extension with the belief that he would have enough value as a hitter to withstand no longer being a full-time center fielder. The problem is that he hasn’t hit. It sounds like they’re going to give him some work in center now that he’s “built up” https://theathletic.com/4789532/2023/08/19/twins-byron-buxton-center-f…

3:25
Mr. Burrito: As of today, I can think of at least 13 sure-fire (or very, very close to sure-fire) HOFers currently in the bigs… Votto, Goldschmidt, Freeman, Betts, Otahni, Trout, Miggy, Kershaw, Verlander, Scherzer, Greinke, Harper, Altuve…. Is that a lot?

3:26
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not at all. Historically, the average is about 1.5 HOFers per team-season, which would suggest ~45 future HOFers out there.

3:26
Tony: The NL Central has 3 decent but not great teams, a team that is usually decent but not great and the Pirates.  They also have 3 of the top 5 farm systems in baseball by most metrics.  Which team is best positioned for success over the next 5 years?

3:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think you could make cases for everybody but the Pirates. The Cubs can spend and have the best farm system of the other four, the Brewers have been successful running shoestring operations and at developing pitching, the Reds have a boatload of raw talent, the Cardinals… well, historically they’ve been the powerhouse in this division though the cracks are obviously showing now, and so I think they wouldn’t be my first choice to succeed here.

3:29
John: How many current Phillies get HOF consideration if they retired tomorrow? I have Harper, Turner and Schwarber.

3:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Harper, maybe Turner if he can get back to his 2021-22 level, maybe Nola if he can evolve. Schwarber nah. He’s topped out at 3.2 bWAR and that’s his only time above 3.0

3:31
Fletcher: Why is Joe Torre a 1B in JAWS? He played the most innings at catcher and 7 of his 8 top seasons by bWAR were primarily as a catcher (with the other at 3B). It doesn’t seem like he accrued the most value at 1B.

3:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: tl;dr: Torre had a lot of playing time at 1B even when he was a regular C, apparently enough so that the fractional WAR from those seasons (based on innings in the field) tilts the balance such that his total WAR(1b+3b) > WAR(c). 

For standards purposes, it’s a moot point since he was elected as a manager.

3:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, i’ve reached my pitch count here even though there are still some good questions in the queue. Thanks so much for stopping by!





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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sandwiches4evermember
7 months ago

If you think about it, it’s hard to be comfortable about a player’s HOF chances until they’re about 1/2-2/3 way through their careers. From the list of that was in the question, there’s only 1 guy who I’d definitively say has more seasons ahead of them than behind them (Ohtani). Harper might come close (he just seems like the type where they will have to pry the bat out of his hands).

I’d cautiously add Judge, assuming he doesn’t fall off a cliff and can put up a few more 4-5 WAR seasons (even in partial years). Depending on his playing time from here out, he’ll get to around that number this year despite being right around 100 games.

Mac Quinnmember
7 months ago

If I had to guess 15 years into the future (not thinking too hard about that, no thank you), I’d think he winds up with borderline numbers with a chance for narrative to put him in. Funny enough just looking now, Judge, Harper, and Stanton are all bunched up on the JAWS for RF list within 0.5 of each other.

sandwiches4evermember
7 months ago
Reply to  Mac Quinn

Of course, if he puts up another 2017 or 2022 season, I think that’d be enough by itself (three 8+ WAR seasons in modern ball is super impressive, especially with the 11 in there).

As mentioned elsewhere, Arenado is a guy who’s already getting “future HOF” labels by baseball media/fans; I think he’s pretty much determining what “circle” HOFer he is.

Ramirez/Lindor are two guys who I’d agree are putting together serious cases. Machado has got a pretty good base to work with. Salvador Perez has that “future HOF” narrative and some good #s to work with as a C, though I wouldn’t vote for him, assuming he is post-peak.

Kenley Jansen feels like a HOF RP based on what standards have emerged (and has been getting “future HOF” for a bit).

68FCmember
7 months ago

It’s hard to really assess who is a good bet for the HOF until they have mostly assembled their peak and by that point they are usually reaching the start of the decline phase. Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor have done most of the groundwork and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them grind it out into their late 30s.

Chili Davis Eyes
7 months ago
Reply to  68FC

Yeah there are a bunch of young guys out there who will end up with HOF careers, we just don’t know which ones yet: Acuna, Soto, Tatis, JRod, Rutschman, Devers, Witt, Strider, Carroll, etc. have all gotten off to great starts.

Trevor May Care Attitude
7 months ago

I’d add Arenado to that list, as well.