Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 9/16/19

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon folks, and welcome to another edition of my Monday chat. Apparently, I screwed something up and the queue has been open for awhile, but that just gives us a good stock of questions to start with.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My piece for today, on the premature end of Mike Trout’s season, went up a little while ago https://blogs.fangraphs.com/mike-trouts-season-is-over-which-completel…. It’s a bummer, but not half as much a bummer as the death of Ric Ocasek, news of which reached me (and everybody else) last night.

The Cars were an unstoppable hit machine when I was in grade school. Entry level new wave/post-punk, catchy as hell, icy cool. Only later did I appreciate the extent to which they were a gateway to so many great bands that influenced them — Kraftwerk, Roxy Music, Bowie, Suicide, the Modern Lovers, etc. Their first album is utter perfection, and the ones that followed are pretty damn good as well.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Anyway, on with the show.

MVP: Do you think Trout hangs on to win the AL MVP vote despite missing effectively the last 3 weeks of the season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I address that in the piece. While we’ve seen a handful of players win while toiling for sub-.500 teams, and win while playing in 140 or fewer games in a 162-game schedule, we’ve never seen anybody who’s at the intersection of that Venn diagram. Alex Bregman is closing in on Trout, and while he won’t overtake him, I can see the strong possibility of voters screwing the best player on Planet Earth yet again. Brace yourselves.

stever20: How crazy is it that in the last 3 years Trout has missed now 98 games.  Costing him 30 homers and 106 hits based on what he’s done in those 3 years on average.  How worried are you that he’s gonig to turn into this generations Ken Griffey Jr.?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Eh, I don’t think we’re there yet. The thing that felled Griffey was chronic hamstring injuries; he was never able to get back to 100%. Trout has suffered some dings but I don’t think any of the individual injuries has rated as more than a passing concern — obviously, the thumb and wrist injuries didn’t prevent him from excelling after returning, and this neuroma thing is pretty minor in the grand scheme.

Ben Dubose: Will Bregman get seriously consideration for MVP now? He can get pretty close to Trout in both flavors of WAR with a good finish to the season. Not sure who has the better narrative advantage though “best player on best team” or “we can’t possibly screw over Trout again can we?”

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s possible — his isn’t a bad case at all given how close he is in WAR and rate stats for a playoff team. That said, the Astros are running away with the AL West by such a degree that it’s tough to make the case they couldn’t have won with (insert name of the several ex-Astros 3Bs currently playing elsewhere) manning the hot corner instead of Bregman.

Adam: Have we seen the last of Rich Hill?  If the answer is “yes,” please lie.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think so. I’m not sure he’ll make it back this year, though his experience as a reliever and his determination obviously keep that door open. He said this weekend that he doesn’t intend for this to be the end, and man, I’m never gonna bet against that guy given how hard he’s worked to come back from so many things.

Wicho, Jr.: Which currently unemployed former managers do you think will get another shot this winter?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Joe Girardi gets a job, though his high salary could be an impediment. Jeff Banister would seem to be a reasonable guess in Pittsburgh given his past connections there and Hurdle reaching his sell-by date.

Big Joe Mufferaw: What’s your thoughts on Cano and his HOF chances? It seems like people aren’t using the PED thing against him, and the counting stats and metrics are there. Also, why does it seem some people get an automatic NO due to PED (Sosa, Sheffield, Bonds, Clemens, etc) and others, no one seems to care (Ortiz, Pettite, Cano)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Cano will have to wait in line behind A-Rod, Manny and Bonds, at the very least. I don’t see it happening any time soon. I do think the voters will care, particularly once he banks some milestones that would otherwise make him automatic (he needs 436 hits for 3,000, 76 homers for 400, and has four years under contract remaining).

With regard to which ones voters care about, I think it’s worth noting the nuances and the personalities — each of those cases is different. Ortiz was all but officially exonerated by Manfred himself, for example.

Big Joe Mufferaw: Do you think Hideki Matsui should be in the HOF? He was a bigger star in Japan than Ichiro ever was, and anyone we have seen since. He has a combined 509 HR, 1000+ xbh hits, 2600+ hits, .293 avg, .908 OPS, 1500+ Runs, 1600+ RBI, 1400 walks.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s in Japan’s Hall, which is where he belongs.

TK: For the A’s to get the roster space they need to use Luzardo in the offseason, they’d have to keep Piscotty on the IL for the year. Worth it?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: i haven’t really tracked this and I’d generally caution about chicken-counting when it comes to injuries even two weeks out, particularly given that Piscotty isn’t close to game-ready yet.

Adam: On the list of eligible players not currently in the HOF, how far down do you have to go before you get to Gary Sheffield?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He has the 12th-highest JAWS among next year’s BBWAA slate, and I wouldn’t hesitate to put him ahead of number 11, Bobby Abreu, because of my suspicions about the extremity of Shef’s defensive metrics . I could be convinced to put him ahead of Sosa, who’s a lost cause among the voters, too.

Seamus Catuli: I am sure you have covered this elsewhere/efore, but what are your quick opinions of HOF worthiness of the CFers on the list in your Trout piece who are not in yet: Beltran, Lofton, Andruw, and Edmonds?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d put the first three in. I’m less convinced about Edmonds but whoa could that guy play.

Dave: Where do you think Maddon goes if he isn’t given a new contract?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, the Mets won’t pay him what he wants, and he’s probably too smart to walk into that organizational mess. Maybe the Phillies given the hot seat that Kapler is on.

Alec: What direction do you think Farhan should take looking for the next Giants manager?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d be very interested to see what Hensley Meulens can do, though I know Ron Wotus, who’s also on the coaching staff, is considered to be a strong candidate, too. I’ve heard great things about Carlos Beltran and it wouldn’t surprise me if he surfaces as a candidate, too

Eric C: What kind of contract does Dellin Betances get offered this year via free agency?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Two years plus an option, with vesting and escalators in there. There’s a lot riding on how he looks over the next several weeks.

Oaktoon: People sleeping on A’s?  13-2 last two weeks. 10-4 v HOU/NYY home and home last month. 71-35 since May 16– best record in MLB. Manaea 18IP 6 H 1 R. Laureano healthy again. Puk and Luzardo up. Why can’t they win the AL?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: In a short series, anything can happen, and it’s not out of the question that they win the AL, but the odds suggest they have to beat both the Astros and Yankees to get to the World Series, which is a very tall order.

Nick: Looking at the JAWS leaders for relief pitchers, a lot of the leaders have a substantial number of games as starting pitchers.  That obviously gives them an advantage in JAWS (since more innings means more WAR), so have you considered a revised JAWS metric for relievers that might try to exclude people who spent large chunks of their career as starters?  Such a metric might help isolate those pitchers who actually satisfy our modern conception of what a “relief” pitcher is.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m 3 years into looking at relievers using a combination of bWAR, WPA, and WPA/LI. See https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jaws-and-the-2019-hall-of-fame-ballot-bill…

Chat Mapman: It seems like teams have been reluctant to use the 7 day IL lately. Why is this? Guys like Gary Sanchez, Brad Hand, Alex Dickerson, and Mike Fiers are clearly going to need to have had at least 10 days off before returning.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: the 7-day is only for players dealing with concussions.

Morbo: Speaking of unemployed managers: How do you think the Cardinals defensive turnaround this season and current status as the division leader further affects the perception of Mike Matheny as a major league manager?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If Matheny manages again in the majors, I would be shocked.

Ryan: Someone asked Craig Edwards this question in a chat last week, and he suggested Bryant or Correa:  Which current player has the best chance to break Jeter’s all-time record for post-season PAs?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think anyone will get anywhere close to Jeter’s 734 PA, but if you’re putting those two guys on the board, the two I’d add are Bregman and Lindor, especially because the latter isn’t likely to stay in Cleveland once he reaches free agency

mike G: Who wins AL Cy Young, JV or Cole?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s going to be such a coin toss. The stats say Cole’s been better, and he’s likely to get to 300 K (he’s at 292), which could make Verlander a bridesmaid yet again.

RE: Edmonds: Why are you not convinced on Edmonds? He has a nearly identical slash line to Griffey and better defensive metrics. just not as high of a peak or counting stats

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Because he’s 15th in JAWS compared to 9th, 10th, 11th for the other three, further below the standards, and has less in the way of traditional stats as well. You do know I’ve written about all of these guys at length, right? https://www.si.com/mlb/2015/12/14/jaws-2016-hall-of-fame-ballot-jim-ed…

troke: Scrolling through the list of career WAR leaders not in the Hall, what do you know about Jim McCormick ?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Relatively little beyond the numbers and the basics in his SABR bio. He was an early pioneer of the curveball. He was throwing 500+ innings when the game was very different in terms of what was allowed pitching-wise, how many balls and strikes, etc. Frankly, I’m not tremendously compelled by the idea of admitting more guys from the 1880s, even if he is the best of them. There’s a Twitter account devoted to getting his numbers in front of people in hopes of getting him on the ballot https://twitter.com/McCormick_HOF

Girardi: Boone makes… questionable pitching decisions at times. But do you think the team would have done as well amidst the injuries with Girardi’s personality in place? Or is this sort of stuff just random and impossible to find a cause for? (Ie, maybe the replacement players are just good)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s unknowable, and for every theory about Boone having a way with younger players, you’ve got things like Gary Sanchez declining on his watch despite less friction there than with Girardi. I do think that Joe was the better handler of the bullpen, one of the best I’ve seen. Boone has a lot to prove in that area, but he can’t do it if the Yankees don’t get out of the first round.

Callaway: I should be fired, right? Are these little hot streaks enough to save me? Because then we lose again.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d have fired you over the incident with the Newsday reporter.

Nate: Have a prediction for how big of a contract Gerrit Cole lands this winter? We’ll assume he lands the Cy Young here to make it more interesting

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe not $200 million plus given the frigidity of the recent free agent markets but bigger than Corbin’s 6/$140 million.

lipton: reading clemens’ article on facing LAD in the playoffs reminds me how punishing the current best of 1 wildcard playoff can be for teams already only marginally contending. if you had any say, what would be your preferred wild card scenario / fix?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I much prefer it this way to the previous one. You go in through the side door, you should be at a disadvantage.

Marshall: How useful is WAR for evaluating pitchers’ careers? For as dominant as Kershaw has been (granted, I’m a Dodger fan), his WAR (individual seasons or collectively) don’t stand out compared to prior generations.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: With pitchers you do have to be mindful of the changing workloads, something I’ve covered extensively in HOF-related discussions. Kershaw is already within an eyelash of the WAR7 standard for starting pitchers through his age-31 season. What’s more, he’s led his league in bWAR three times, with three other top-three finishes plus a fifth and a seventh — and that’s in 12 seasons of work. Very clearly one of the best of his generation, and an easy guy to vote for when his time comes

RE: Edmonds: Didnt know new to fangraphs sorry

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hey, I’m relatively new here, too. Debuted in February 2018. Long story short (something no editor would accuse me of), I’ve written about every Hall of Fame candidate since 2004 somewhere that’s still online.

Sanchez: Would you agree that Gary maybe read too much of the “your blocking is bad!” stuff (esp when he hit poorly/was injured last year) and focused so hard on that (and it is better) that he’s now a jumpy, fidgetty, poor framer, and that the metrics (rightly) focus more on the later whereas the commentary focuses on blocking?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think we can discount the physical stuff. The endless groin injuries. That’s gotta make squatting and rising and squatting and rising a real grind. But yes, his framing has suffered and it might have to do with a tradeoff between that and blocking

georgehermanski: Matheney was hired by Royals as special assistant and supposedly successor to Ned Yost.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I forgot that the Royals existed. LOL that is f’ing perfect.

Adam: Do the Braves/2-seed have an advantage over the Dodgers/1-seed in terms of DS opponent, not having to face Washington in the DS?  Or does Washington’s odds of losing the WC game negate the fact that they’re a stronger opponent than St. Louis?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There’s more to any playoff matchup than just the resumés of the starting pitchers. The Nationals have to burn one of their top starters for the WC game (which they could lose), and they also have the health of Scherzer to be concerned about. Plus that bullpen has been very bad as a unit even since the 7/31 deadline and the additions of the not-bad Hudson and Rodney https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=rel&lg=nl&qual=0&…

Tom the Bomb: Dick Allen HOF worthy ? I think so

Pat: Of all the penny wise, pound foolish things to do, organizations worth billions of $$ with payroll between $100-200 million going cheap on the person managing the payroll is right up there. Is it really worth paying some unknown $700K vs paying Maddon or Girardi $2M?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: i agree, it’s kind of silly that most managers are making less than backup catchers or setup relievers despite being in positions of authority — and their salaries don’t count against the CBT threshold.

cavebird: Can a person get into the HOF twice?  For example, the talk about McCormick led me to wonder whether, if MLB ever recognized the National Association, AJ Spalding could make it as a player.  He’s already in as a pioneer, but he was the dominant pitcher of the NA.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: No, unlike the Basketball Hall of Fame (i’m not sure about the others). Once you’re in, you’re in, and your plaque will acknowledge accomplishments in areas peripheral to what got you in, as with Joe Torre https://baseballhall.org/hall-of-famers/torre-joe

Ralph Rowdie : Have we seen Cody Bellinger’s best season or can he continue to be in the Trout/Betts/Yelich stratosphere next season?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Given that he’s just 24 and has tremendous athleticism, i don’t think it’s a guarantee we’ve seen Bellinger’s best season, but nobody, not even Yelich or Betts, is on Mike Trout’s plane of existence.

Ben Dubose: RE: Bregman’s value on the Astros, I think you should remember that he started 53 games at SS, which has been very valuable given how brittle Correa is.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes, it’s a minor point in his favor. Still, Marwin Gonzalez could have done that, too.

Roger: Re: Lindor and the all-time post-season PAs:  Do you think Lindor will necessarily land with a contender in free agency?  I’m thinking of A-Rod landing with the Rangers or Machado signing with the Padres.  Something could similar could certainly impair Lindor’s post-season prospects, but perhaps Lindor is more dedicated to remaining with a current contender?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: well, when you think of the kind of money it’s going to take to sign Lindor, it’s probably not going to be the Pirates or Reds or Mariners signing him. Two-plus years out, I’d guess that the Yankees and Cubs are the most likely based on the fact that both can print money (ownership’s protestations to the contrary) and neither has a foundational shortstop in place.

Guest: How about Kyle Lewis?  A late season aberration or a long term bright spot for the Mariners?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Right now, it’s just a very cool thing but probably also an aberration. Eric and Kiley have him as a 45 FV guy with LOTS of concerns about the hit too. MLP Pipeline has him as a 45 as well. Maybe he’s more than that, sure, but he ain’t gonna slug .920 forever.

Adam: How worried are you about Jansen heading into October?  He looked good last night and says he figured out a mechanical issue, but he’s had more of those the last couple years, and less margin for error.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’ve heard that he’s figured out mechanical issues before. He rates as a serious concern for the Dodgers, as even a single failure at the wrong time could derail them.

John: Not to rain on a parade, but don’t any of the Dodgers figure in the possibility of getting to the number of PA’s that Jeter got just because they are in the playoff so often?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: a fair point. Bellinger already has 124 PA in the postseason and is about to get a bunch more, and likewise for Seager (110)

Mason Jarre: So Jay, you’re predicting the Yankees WILL sign huge free agent deals because you argue they can ignoring their recent willingness to?

That’s very … twitter of you.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That Jacoby Ellsbury contract only seems like it’s going to last forever (last year is the final guaranteed one), and the Yankees were able to tell themselves the same stories about Machado’s makeup as many other teams  — stories that pretty clearly don’t apply to Lindor. Maybe they won’t pursue him, but the odds are higher than they are for the Red Sox, who have Bogaerts signed through 2025. We could add the Dodgers to the mix if they don’t retain Seager, who can be a free agent after the 2021 season.

cavebird: Isn’t Baez a foundational SS for the Cubs?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Possible but he’s shown a positional flexibility that doesn’t rule him out of playing elsewhere.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, there are still some good questions in the queue but I’ve got to deal with the rest of my day. Thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you next week!

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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3 years ago

The Nats bullpen numbers are really deceiving. Nats have 6 guys- including 2 position players that have given up since August 1 25 er in 15 ip. That’s why the overall team numbers are so bad.

3 years ago
Reply to  stever20

Eliminate those six player from the Nationals pen and you go from a 5.80 ERA all the way down to 4.61. Fact.

But you don’t get to delete bad players from one sample and not do the same for others. Remove the six worst 8/1 onward ERAs from each NL team:

1.78 STL
2.18 PHI
2.36 LAD
2.85 ARI
2.93 CHC
3.09 SFG
3.14 CIN
3.32 NYM
3.40 SDP
3.92 MIA
4.00 COL
4.01 PIT
4.15 ATL
4.60 WSN

Once you allow all the teams to ignore their worst guys, WSN’ bullpen issues just stand out more!

3 years ago
Reply to  rosen380

but how many of those other teams guys would be in the post season bullpen? I mean, take the LA Dodgers.

their 6 worst ERA’s-
Casey Stadler, Caleb Ferguson, Kenley Jansen, Julio Urias, Dustin May, JT Chargois.

5 of those 6 guys could easily wind up in the Dodgers playoff bullpen.

Braves- 2 of their 6 guys would be in their playoff bullpen- Melancon and Swarzak
Cards- 4 of their 6 guys would be in their playoff bullpen- Brebbia, Webb, Miller, and Gant
Cubs- 3 of their 6 guys would be in their playoff bullpen- Kintzler, Strop, and Kimbrel
Brewers- only 1 of their guys would be in their playoff bullpen- maybe Albers?

lets see these numbers when we know who the bullpens are in and then do the comparison. A lot of the guys doing the damnage in the Nats pen- not going to be clsoe to pitching in the playoffs. Can’t say the same for other teams.