Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 9/16/22

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to today’s chat! It’s a crisp fall day in Brooklyn, appropriate for the September stretch run.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve got a piece today on Kevin Gausman https://blogs.fangraphs.com/fip-or-flop-why-kevin-gausman-isnt-part-of…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: yesterday I wrote about Trayce Thompson https://blogs.fangraphs.com/trayce-thompson-makes-a-splash-as-the-dodg…, and the day before that the very slumping Juan Soto https://blogs.fangraphs.com/juan-soto-isnt-having-a-juan-soto-year/

WildCard: If you were a fan of one of the three (likely) AL wildcard teams— would you secretly be rooting for third to trade home field advantage for a matchup against the AL central winner? Or would you rather home field advantage against one of the other stronger (by record at least) WC teams?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: This really is a bit of an unintended consequence of the way MLB came up with the new format. Zach Crizer wrote about it at Yahoo just the other day https://sports.yahoo.com/race-for-last-how-the-new-mlb-playoff-format-…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My instinct tells me the odds are better by facing a weaker Cleveland team even if I’m on the road, but I worry about getting too cute by trying to steer myself to one opponent rather than another, and my gut tells me that keeping the home games might be better.

Leland: You’re Farhan Zaidi…what do you do this offseason to make the Giants a Wild Card contender in 2023?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: screw the division, go for the NL West. My biggest moves would be to retain Carlos Rodan and sign Trea Turner (you could also go for Carlos Correa but this keeps Turner from returning to the Dodgers). I think they’re the only likely west coast landing spot for Aaron Judge if he doesn’t re-up with the Yankees  but I don’t think you could fit all three of those guys on the payroll

Mike M: Banning infielder shifts doesn’t really address the problem of overpowering pitching.  Why hasn’t lowering the mound been discussed more?  Why didn’t the MLB committee consider it?  Would you have preferred a lowered mound to the shift ban?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Every time I think about What Must Be Done about dominant pitching and think about mound heights or distances, my spidey sense tells me that these changes are going to cause more injuries because pitchers are more likely to try to overcompensate for the changes. I actually think the pitch clock might have a better effect by not letting pitchers dilly-dally until they’re ready to throw max effort again

Sodo Mojo: I know talking about Julio Rodriguez and the hall is premature but for other 21 year old’s with 5 War seasons what is the rate of hall enshrinement?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Going by bWAR, 17 out of 34 players with 5-WAR seasons at age 21 are enshrined, with Trout and Pujols obviously on their way; Andruw, Correa, and Acuña possibilities, and A-Rod derailed by his own mistakes. I’d say it bodes well for Julio, but it’s not automatic. Just ask Cesar Cedeño (8.0 WAR in 1972).

Matt VW: Devers looks for all the world like someone who came back too soon from his hamstring injury. The top and the bottom halves of his swing just don’t synch up at all right now. There’s nothing tangible left to play for in Boston this year; wouldn’t it make sense to go ahead and shut him down? Watching him run the bases right now is terrifying.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: What little I saw of him didn’t look great. While I obviously wouldn’t play him if he’s got a significant injury, i do think from a player’s standpoint, trying to get right before the season’s end can bring some peace of mind going into the winter. In theory, maybe some days off to rest and reset and then a run of games before the end, but of course I don’t really know the specifics of what Devers is or isn’t dealing with.

Jon: How do I tell you apart from Ben Clemens?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I have a mustache and Ben is better at math.

Sonny: Feels like winning the Triple Crown is something that would put Goldschmidt over the top for a lot of HOF voters if he gets himself to the doorstep stat-wise.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As Dan Szymborski noted today (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/how-likely-is-a-triple-crown-winner-this-s…) everybody who’s won one is in except Miguel Cabrera, who’s on his way. That doesn’t mean it’s going to punch Goldschmidt’s ticket but JAWS already has him most of the way to Cooperstown and he’s clearly not going to retire tomorrow so my guess is that he’s going to be a pretty solid choice by the time he’s done

JJ: Do the Padres miss the playoffs? Soto playing below replacement level, Musgrove and Clevinger struggling, feels like a repeat of last year where good players just forgot how to play at the worst time of the year.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They still have a game and a half on the Brewers and about a 3-to-1 edge in terms of the two teams’ Playoff Odds. The longer his slump proceeds, the more I wonder if Soto is actually injured and not just a bit out of whack

Appa Yip Yip: How is Ross Stripling being so effective this year? Is it just limiting to two times through, or is there something new going on?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Offhand it looks like he’s getting better movement on his fastballs, doing a better job of avoiding hard contact, and getting the good defense/luck behind him where Gausman has not, particularly with the shift on.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably worth a closer look, especially if the Blue Jays make it out of the Wild Card series

v2micca: Spencer Strider needs to log 8 more strikeouts in the next 4.2 innings to break Randy Johnson’s record for fewest innings required to reach 200 Ks in a season.  How do you like his chances?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s probably right on the edge of doable; he’s reached eight strikeouts in less than five innings twice this year.

Shift ban: It is very unpopular among people I know my age. We grew up with it as an exciting part of the game. How is mlb going to grow the game among young fans when they just keep pandering to the nostalgia of old people?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: this is the first time i’ve heard the word “exciting” connected to the shift.

David: What’s the value of second base defense starting next year? Second base defense historically has seemingly been a place to try to put an okay defender with the better bat. We’re now at a point where defense is more valued and effectively measured AND they can be less protected without shifting.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’re going to have to see. There’s definitely been a class of defensively challenged players able to hold down second thanks to the shifts; the question is how much of that is the ability to position them more optimally based on the better analytics and how much of it is just having a rangy shortstop able to cover for them, which won’t be quite as easy next year.

Pepper Martin: If the Yankees don’t get LaMahieu and Rizzo and Carpenter and Bader etc. healthy in time for the playoffs, do they have any chance at all with their one- man offense?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Obviously that would be a problem, but all except Carpenter are due back within the next few days, and there’s a couple weeks for them to get up to speed.

YorDaddy: Astros playoff rotation prediction?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My guess is that if he’s healthy (he comes back tonight) Verlander is Game 1 and Garcia is the long man in the bullpen

Mike M: How much do the Dodgers playoff hopes depend on a healthy Gonsolin?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They’ll need him to win a World Series unless Dustin May can iron out all the kinks, which is asking a lot given his short track record.

Jim M: Given that the postseason is basically a crapshoot, are the Phillies (assuming a healthy Wheeler) the Team No One Wants To Play? Their pitching is sneaky solid, but they will need the kids in the lineup to rise to the moment.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They’ve got a very good 1-3 in the rotation but their defense, while improved, is still bad and I don’t trust their bullpen.

Strasburg: The Washington Post has a story today about Stephen Strasburg not being sure if he’ll come back. Do you know if contracts are usually insured? Also, if said he was already showing signs of TOS before signing this contract. If so, the Nats can’t be thinking too well of their medical staff.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That Strasburg piece was depressing as hell https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2022/09/16/stephen-strasburg-inj…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Some big contracts are insured but it can add a lot of cost, and I don’t know what the situation is for Strasburg’s; we tend to find out about these things only in a situation like David Wright when the team is actively trying to discourage a player from playing so that they can collect on the claim

Avatar Jay Jaffe: As for the TOS stuff, it’s tricky to diagnose and I don’t think we’ve heard of another case in baseball that presented as Strasburg’s did, with the carpal tunnel issue at the forefront.

Dick Allen is a Hall of Famer: Nate Silver regarding the pursuit of the home run record:

“There’s something delightfully euphemistic about people saying that Aaron Judge is chasing the “Yankee home run record” or “American League home run record” when they really mean the not-credibly-suspected-of-PED-use home run record.”
I skip the euphemisms
Good luck Mr. Judge and I hope you team loses every game. Forever.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Gonna disagree. Some people are using that as a euphemism, but as somebody who lives in New York and watches a lot of Yankees games, I can tell you that people do care about 61/62 and want to see it even while knowing that Bonds is out of reach.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: And yes, it happens to be the AL record, too. Which is cool even if we generally don’t spend a ton of time distinguishing between AL and NL records

John Olerud’s Helmet: Hello Mr Jay! How hard are you rooting for Albert to make it to 700??

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ll be honest, him passing A-Rod was enough for me. 4th all-time is pretty damn special whether it’s 697 or 700

Marko from Tropoja: Which active pitcher other than Kershaw, Scherzer, Verlander, Greinke, and deGrom (who I think gets in someday) has the best HOF chance, and what percentage would you put it at?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: There’s a big gap between deGrom and those other four in terms of likelhood of getting in because of his recent health issues. But moving beyond that I think it’s probably Gerrit Cole and Aaron Nola who show signs of having the stuff to last long term.

Factory of Sadness: How early do you usually start keeping an eye on players from a JAWS perspective? Asking for a fan of Andres Gimenez, who’s basically matching Jose Ramirez step for step in fWAR this year and only *just* turned 24

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Unless a guy has at least 5 seasons in the neighborhood of five or more WAR it’s probably too soon to look at JAWS

Sanford: Gut reaction—who do you think makes the HOF among these SS?

Lindor: 41 fWAR entering age-29 season
Bogaerts: 34 fWAR entering age-30 season
Correa: 31 fWAR entering age-28 season

Other SS from this crop either got started too late (Swanson), missed too much time (Seager), or both (Story) to keep with those top 3 in counting stats at this point in their careers (though I’d be most bullish on Seager making up ground in his 30s).

Avatar Jay Jaffe: wrote about all three here in late July https://blogs.fangraphs.com/making-tracks-on-the-road-to-cooperstown-w…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: My money is on Lindor and maybe Correa but the latter has to gain some durability. Bogaerts isn’t going to be a shortstop for much longer I don’ think.

Harmon Ripkowski: I imagine Judge and Ohtani finish one and two on most people’s MVP ballots.  But if someone else cracks the top two, it’s most likely…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: …. because they’re trying to game the system by downvoting one of those two.

I think reasonable minds can differ about which of those two should be MVP but I really don’t see a plausible alternative to either in the AL.

Harmon Ripkowski: Has Jose Abreu changed his approach or is the relative lack of power and more walks drawn something else?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I haven’t watched closely enough to tell you about his approach but that’s usually a pattern associated with aging and with Abreu, who’s 35, we shouldn’t be that surprised. the good news is that he’s still exceptionally productive. A whole lot has gone wrong for the White Sox this year but his 143 wRC+ in 142 games (so far) has been huge.

Nestor: Even if he’s more of a 2WAR guy than this season’s numbers, worth locking him up? He has been doing this for a year and   half now (and I… am not sure that IL stint wasn’t load management)

Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s for real, and worth keeping around. Wouldn’t surprise me if there’s an extension coming his way.

Homer lead: I think the homer lead Judge has is the most remarkable part. I’ve seen people hit more homers, but never that many more than everyone else. Remember when Yordan was like 2 behind?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yeah that one blew me away

Avatar Jay Jaffe:

Aaron Judge (57 HR) now has 20 more homers than anyone else in MLB (Kyle Schwarber, 37).

It’s the first time a player will finish a calendar day with a 20+ HR lead since the last day of the 1928 season when Babe Ruth led Jim Bottomley and Hack Wilson by 23 homers.

14 Sep 2022
Avatar Jay Jaffe: as my friend Nick said, it’s literally a Ruthian accomplishment

Joe Don: Putting aside competing or contending for the nonce, how far are the Rangers from just being relevant?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think it’s that far. Starting pitching is their big need and they’ve got upper level prospects in Leiter and Winn, though both have taken their lumps this year. THey’ll need pitching from outside the org, too.

Harmon Ripkowski: Can Gonsolin tie Roy Face for 18-1?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Doubt it because I don’t see him being built up enough to last 5 innings as a starter in his return.

Tiger’s Fan: If the modern game continues to prove more difficult to hit and accumulate counting stats will the HOF voters have to adjust their criteria and use more stats like OPS+?  It appears almost impossible for today’s players (including Mike Trout) to come close to Miguel Cabrera numbers let alone Albert Pujols numbers.  What criteria would you use based on a season like this one?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The vast majority of voters have adjusted to using advanced stats such as OPS+ and WAR. Note the recent elections of Edgar Martinez and Larry Walker, neither of whom had the counting stats that make for an automatic election. The same will be true for Todd Helton and Scott Rolen, with defense in the mix as well.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Milestones tend to make guys automatic entries (PED-linked 500 HR guys being the exception) but voters are increasingly geared to handle more nuanced cases

JAWS: “Unless a guy has at least 5 seasons in the neighborhood of five or more WAR it’s probably too soon to look at JAWS” Hey look it’s Judge’s 5th 5WAR season. That’s gonna be hard though.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Judge is a strange case because of his late start, as noted within the pice I linked above

Guest: Would it kill you guys to answer questions other than from Appa Yip Yip and the same 3 people over and over? There’s no way you don’t notice the names…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Honestly, I rarely look at names, I look at questions that interest me for which I can provide concise insight. Do some chat participants understand that better than others? Probably, but I don’t spend a ton of time trying to make sure I’m not answering multiple questions from the same person.

Dipoto’s Burner: Is Julio’s recent hot streak vaulting him into a top 10 MVP finish? He’s got some dollar bills on the line.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably but he’ll only get one bonus, whichever is larger:

  • Rookie of the Year: $750K for first place, $500K for second place
  • MVP and Cy Young: $2.5MM for first place, $1.75MM for second place, $1.5MM for third place, $1MM for fourth or fifth place
  • All-MLB: $1MM for being named “First Team,” $500K for being named “Second Team”
Guest: How much fanfare was there when Giancarlo hit 59 homers in 2017?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: less than for Judge because he was in Miami.

Tony: Quick HOF question I’ve been thinking about lately, with Buck’s induction, do you think there could be other “lifetime achievement inductions”? Offhand, I am thinking of someone like Bill White, who was a very good player and then went on to be a pioneer in multiple roles after retirement, too

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Buck was such a singular case because he contributed in so many different ways and was so broadly popular with the general public. I think White is worth a closer look but I don’t know that as many people know about his contributions, including those on the committees that make the ballot

not Appa Yip Yap (seriously): weird for that chatter to single out someone who only got one question answered

Guest: Higher seeded Teams should get to pick their opponent. Pick a deadline that works logistically, makes it a ranked choice if needed. Guaranteed drama every year

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think the simpler answer is just to re-seed the teams after the Wild Card round and go from there

Avatar Jay Jaffe: ok folks, it’s time for me to head out. Got a few things to do before my parents arrive for the weekend! Looking forward to a fun one, and hope you are as well

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... and Mastodon @jay_jaffe.

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2 months ago

Yikes! Poor Strasburg. The article says his right arm is so painful day to day that he has learned to do routine tasks with his left hand. I hope he doesn’t try to come back…one Dave Dravecky is too many (I know it’s different).