Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 9/24/21 by Jay Jaffe September 24, 2021 2:04 Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon, folks, and welcome to another edition of my Friday chat! Today I’ve got a piece on LaMonte Wade Jr.s out-of-nowhere season and timely hitting for the Giants (https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/lamonte-wade-jr-has-been-a-difference-…). Earlier this week, I had pieces on Jon Lester’s hot streak (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jon-lesters-well-timed-hot-streak/) and the Orioles’ impact on the AL Wild Card race (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-playoff-race-thats-for-the-birds-the-o…) 2:04 Juan S.: Last week you said Harper and Tatis were the top two MVP candidates. Has my last week changed your mind? 2:04 Jay Jaffe: It’s been quite a week, and yes, you’re part of the discussion now. I’m actually scheduled to do a piece on the NL MVP race for Monday. 2:06 Jay Jaffe: I honestly don’t know how I feel about it now except to say that at first glance it looks like a real tossup between Harper/Tatis/Soto, none of them on teams that are going to make the playoffs. Beyond that, we’ll see what sways me. 2:07 Dalton Wilcox: Your favorite FA pitcher this offseason? 2:09 Jay Jaffe: Probably Max Scherzer, because damn, he’s still one of the best in the game, a guy who appears as though he can be the top starter on a championship team right now. I’m of course interested to see how the Dodgers deal with Clayton Kershaw, and would think that the Mets are going to work hard to retain Marcus Stroman. 2:09 Luis: Are Heaney and Bundy good buy-low candidates this winter? 2:12 Jay Jaffe: eh, in that they were guys who had successful seasons in the past, maybe, but I don’t see a lot of strong indicators on either that make me say “if he could just fix this one thing…” 2:13 Treat Urner: Thanks as always for chatting, Jeff. Thoughts on Posnanski’s The Baseball 100 coming out next week? Did you read any of the pieces as they were being published on the Athletic? And if so, is there anyone you would have included that Joe left off? (On his podcast, he mentioned Posey as an oft-cited omission among readers.) 2:13 Jay Jaffe: Jeff? 2:13 Jay Jaffe: Really? 2:13 Jay Jaffe: C’mon 2:15 Jay Jaffe: I’m happy for Joe, read some of his pieces as they were published (I couldn’t keep up to read them all) and haven’t had a chance to look at a comprehensive list to tell you what I think the most glaring omissions are. The thing is a brick, 800 pages (my wife, who edited him at The Athletic and before that Sports on Earth, got a review copy) and is currently being used to flatten some artwork of my daughters that got crumpled up. But I’m looking forward to tucking into it at some point. 2:15 Treat Urner: Separately, I just want to say how thankful I am to have two excellent writers like you and Joe covering baseball history through a modern lens. I think the Baseball 100 and the Cooperstown Casebook are great companion pieces, offering both a historical look at the legacy and impact of the game’s greatest players, as well as a statistical analysis of where they stand in the record books. Thanks for all your work in this space. 2:15 Jay Jaffe: Thank you! 2:16 Dan: Would adding adding an all star short stop (there are a few in free agency thus year) and a solid veteran starter turn Detroit in a wildcard contender for next year? 2:17 Jay Jaffe: I think it’s the right place to start, particularly given the number of good shortstops out there. A lot still has to go right, but they’re nearly a .500 team now, so it’s time to start going for it. 2:17 Mork Borg: Red Sox vs Yankees – who you got for tonight? This series? This season? Eternity? 2:21 Jay Jaffe: I will say that I think the Yankees’ starters (Cole/Cortes/Montgomery) are better lined up for this series than the Red Sox (Eovaldi/Pivetta/Rodriguez), but given that the Yankees are the ones trying to play catch-up and that the Red Sox are trying to shield Sale from facing them before the Wild Card game, it’s understandable. To my eyes, the Sox are the stronger team right now and I expect them to go further than the Yankees. 2:21 Treat Urner: Also, Jay*** (I guess when I see your name and read it too quickly in my head, “Jeff” is what comes out, sorry!) 2:21 Jay Jaffe: I wasn’t really worked up about it, especially when i saw the Casebook mention. We’re good 2:21 Maddoning: Are front offices planning for a NL DH for next year? Is it that likely? Many talk like it’s a forgone conclusion…. 2:22 Jay Jaffe: I think so, yes. And i’d bet we’ve got a 90-95% likelihood of seeing it, assuming there is a season 2:22 Dansby SwanSong: Any idea why MLB waited until this late in the season to test the pre-tacked ball in the minor leagues? 2:24 Jay Jaffe: Without seeing in-depth reporting of this, I’m guessing it’s probably a question of manufacturing/quality control capacity. Hard to get enough prototypes out there on short notice for so many teams to use them. 2:24 Sammy So-so: Just wanted to say that although I’m a big baseball fan, I never cared one bit about the Hall of Fame until I came across your analysis. Now I do follow it closely enough to gauge how justified selections and omissions are. Thanks for adding another facet to my fandom, Jay. 2:24 Jay Jaffe: You’re very welcome, thank you for the kind words! 2:25 Ben: I know postseason stats aren’t a part of JAWS, but how important for an eventual Hall of Fame case would a strong postseason showing be for someone like Nolan Arenado or Chris Sale, who have poor numbers in limited postseason experience so far? Assuming, of course, their career regular season stats get them into the conversation. 2:26 Jay Jaffe: I don’t think it’s right to ding a guy for not getting to the postseason or for having limited (and not great) experience. Billy Wagner doesn’t get any *help* for his case due to his postseason blahs (10.03 ERA in 11.2 innings) but it shouldn’t be the difference maker as to whether somebody votes for him. 2:27 Jay Jaffe: And likewise for Sale and Arenado 2:27 Maddoning: In your opinion how likely is the CBA negotiation to drag into spring and have an impact on the regular season in 2022? 2:28 Jay Jaffe: I think there’s a good chance we see a lockout in the short term but that we’ll see a resolution in times for camps to open in a reasonably timely fashion — after putting the squeeze on a lot of free agents with a compressed signing period. 2:29 Jay Jaffe: After last year’s pandemic and this year’s limitations on attendance, I think teams have to be more concerned that they’re going to lose chances to make up financial ground by shortening the season, and perhaps risk turning off some fans for good. 2:31 kt Wizards of the Coast: If you made up 3 all time teams, one team of players best known for being clean-shaven, one team of players known for having mustaches, and one team of players known for having full beards, which team would have the most cumulative WAR? (Feel free to categorize goatees/muttonchops as you see fit) 2:32 Jay Jaffe: My guess is the clean-shaven guys are going to have a huge advantage, starting with Ruth, Mays, Aaron, Bonds, and Trout. 2:32 joe: Do you think tonight’s game in Fenway is a wild card preview? 2:33 Jay Jaffe: if Sale were starting for the Red Sox then it’s probably the most likely matchup, but I’m not ready to bury the Blue Jays yet 2:35 Buzzkill: What’s wrong w second half shohei at the dish? Mechanics? Fatigue? League figured something out? 2:38 Jay Jaffe: Offhand i’m not sure but his statcast numbers tell us he’s not barreling the ball as frequently (14.9%) or getting great results on contact (.204 AVG,.209 xBA,.382 SLG, .430 xSLG, .312 wOBA, .333 xwOBA). I’d guess fatigue and mechanics could be part of that, especially as we’ve seen him struggle with both in the past. 2:38 Joe Don: Rangers question: A small but vocal groups of fans is howling for Texas to go hard after Correa, Story, etc. But if the team is (as I believe) another two years or more from contention, does it make sense for them to pursue a high-dollar FA this off-season? 2:39 Jay Jaffe: It’s tough to time the market perfectly, but this is a very impressive crop of shortstops even with Lindor peeled off and Story at less than 100%. The guys who’d be in play are likely the ones signing deals of 6-plus years, so if it takes an extra year to get to contending it’s still probably worth it. 2:39 Derek: Has Lux’s late season resurgence (or just “surgence”?) restored faith in him to any significant degree? 2:41 Jay Jaffe: Whose faith? I don’t think the Dodgers have lost faith in him, just decided that they had better choices for the immediate opportunities. Good on him for taking advantage of his latest one; it may be that he’s got more of a future in the outfield or bouncing around the diamond than as a 2B fixture. The next Chris Taylor, with the original approaching free agency? maybe. 2:42 Fraudman: What kind of contract do you see Chris Taylor pulling? Seems like he’s lost a LOT of money in the past 2 months. 2:44 Jay Jaffe: he hasn’t been healthy lately, but I think he’ll be fine. Probalby something in the Zobristian 4-year range, maybe around $60 million. 2:44 Kevin Kiermaier: Was me grabbing the Blue Jays pitching plan card cheating or a heads up play? 2:45 Jay Jaffe: heads-up play. You bring your cheat sheet on the field, it’s on you to protect it, and if it falls into my hands, tough shit. Weak sauce by the Blue Jays in saying it was “agua under the bridge” (Montoyo’s words) and then drilling him anyway. I’d have suspended both him and Borucki for longer. 2:46 Puster Bosey: I don’t think my Giants are cheating, but I think it’s a perfectly fair question to ask given the recent cheating scandals 2:50 Jay Jaffe: nah, it’s weak as hell. Particularly in the past half-decade, we’ve seen that given the flood of good information in the hands of skilled coaches and players willing to buy in, career paths are more malleable than ever. Players change their swings and find more power, shape new pitches, turn themselves from fringe guys to All-Stars. Falling back on “must be PEDs” or “must be sign stealing” is just pathetic. If you’re so cynically debilitated that cheating is your first assumption, find another sport. 2:50 Mariners: Umm…the Mariners have a pretty weak schedule over the rest of the season. Could they really make the wild card? 2:51 Jay Jaffe: They have a 5.4% chance, per our Playoff Odds. They have to leapfrog the Blue Jays AND the Yankees without playing either, which makes it harder. Not impossible, but harder. 2:53 Cube Jockey: Would you prefer Arozarena long term to any of the Cards current OF? 2:54 Jay Jaffe: Yes, probably over Bader, maybe even over O’Neill, whose high strikeout rate worries me. 2:54 Mrs. Phanatic: Does Kyle Kendrick get any HOF votes? 2:54 Jay Jaffe: 10 years, 81 wins, and a 4.68 ERA won’t even land him on the ballot. 2:55 Max Scherzer’s Third Eye: Did Scherzer and Buehler impact their Cy Young chances this week, or will voters largely ignore the starts since they were at Colorado? 2:57 Jay Jaffe: I think Buehler’s multiple rough starts have probably dropped him from the top tier in the eyes of voters, and still think people are overlooking Burnes. But letting Ramiel Tapia upper-deck you, even in Coors, is never a good look if you’re trying to win a Cy 2:57 Tommy g: The biggest difference between Nicky Lopez 2019&2020 vs Nicky Lopez 2021 is his BABIP went from ~.270 to ~.350.Any reason to believe that Nicky Lopez’s profile can sustain a .330-.350 BABIP and this breakout is for real? 2:58 Jay Jaffe: I don’t see it as sustainable given his 86.9 average exit velo, 0.7% barrel rate, and 26.9% hard-hit rate, .242 xBA, etc. 2:58 Guest: Re: NL MVP: He won’t win, but Trea Turner certainly deserves some votes. How would you account for the fact that he spent half the year on a different team? (It’s hard to say he was particularly “valuable” to the Dodgers while he was playing for Washington, after all.) 2:59 Jay Jaffe: I’m certainly not married to the idea that the MVP has to come from a contender. He was valuable to Washington, it’s just that most of his teammates (besides Scherzer and Soto, obv.) weren’t. 3:00 Ross: How should Mariner’s fans feel about Kelenic’s season? 3:02 Jay Jaffe: A tough season for the kid but he hasn’t quit, and we’ve seen some second-half improvement (.203/.285/.401). The final numbers will be ugly, and arguably if he’d at least delivered that it might have been enough to make up the ground between being in a Wild Card spot and scrambling desperately for one behind 2 other teams. But what can you do except hope that better days are ahead? 3:02 Ross: Who would be your biggest FA target if Jerry Dipoto called for your advice? 3:04 Jay Jaffe: Carlos Correa (move Crawford to 2B), and then Max Scherzer. 3:04 Devos: The 86 win Cardinals beat the 105 win Dodgers in the coin flip game in extra innings with a ghost runner rule. Does anything change with the format? 3:05 Jay Jaffe: there won’t be any Manfred Man in the postseason 3:05 Jay Jaffe: (there would be in a tiebreaker game, which is considered part of the regular season) 3:06 Jay Jaffe: I don’t know that a single upset is going to change the playoff structure and with everything that’s on the table in the upcoming CBA negotation it will be tough to isolate and say that a single result is why it changed to a best-of-3 or lower-seed-needs-2-wins format 3:06 Guest: Re: favorite FA pitcher: Does Robbie Ray’s season put him in the running? I might prefer him even over Scherzer, given the age difference. 3:07 Jay Jaffe: I like Ray, but his career has been erratic, and i’d rather commit 3 years to Max than 5 or 6 to Ray 3:08 Key Flaw: When thinking about HOFers, the ones with younger starts to their career are more likely to make it, and this makes sense because if you are awesome young, you are probably awesome. But in terms of JAWS, does the younger start have more of effect on the counting stats or the peak? For example, do the HOFers that debuted in the late teens/early 20s have a strictly accumulation advantage or does their early starts often inclue their peak (Andruw Jones-like)? 3:09 Jay Jaffe: you know, the question of where peak seasons land in a career for HOFers is probably a question I should study more closely, but one I need help executing (I don’t deal with big data on my own very well). But it stands to reason that the earlier start has more to do with counting stats and career WAR than the peak WAR. 3:14 sam: What do you think Rodon gets this offseason 3:15 Jay Jaffe: Sorry had to pause for some child care (kiddo’s got a cold and had to stay home from school today) 3:16 Jay Jaffe: throwing a dart on Rodon, i’ll say something like 3/$33M+ option. 3:19 Hyde: What is wrong with Kikuchi? So much talent, but the results mostly suck since coming stateside. No way the M’s pick up his option at this point. 3:20 Jay Jaffe: just a guess but looking at his pitch splits on Statcast, he just doesn’t have much that plays well versus righties. 2021 wOBA vs righties on FF is .363, CH is .171, CT .418, SL .387. That’s not gonna cut it 3:22 Brian: Do you know what the 2nd tiebreaker is for draft order? 1st is last season’s record, and currently #9-#12 (Royals, Rockies, Angels, and Mets) all had the same 26-34 record last year. 3:22 Jay Jaffe: Seen a couple versions of this today, but I don’t know the answer. Eric or Kevin would 3:22 AnotherAnnoyingDodgerFan: Hi Jay! Thanks for putting out so much great content. Where do you think the Dodger’s priorities should be this offseason? If you were Friedman, with a large but not unlimited budget (assuming, for sake of argument, that Bauer and his money are non-factors), how would you handle and prioritize the 5 big FAs (I’m including Taylor and Jansen) going into the offseason. 3:25 Jay Jaffe: it’s such a tough call but Taylor and Jansen are clearly behind the others, with Kenley probably number five (sorry, man). it’s probably Kershaw and Scherzer ahead of Seager given the Trea Turner trade. 3:25 Guest: was listening to EW and had no idea you had a Milwaukee connection and RAN IN THE SAUSAGE RACE. Would love to see a full article on how that went down, what it was like, etc… but would you do it again? 3:26 Jay Jaffe: The connection owed to a friendship between my now ex-wife and a long-gone friend of hers in the Brewers’ front office on the business side. Wrote about it at the time http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2005/09/hot_doggin_it_a_1.php 3:26 Jay Jaffe: 3:27 Jay Jaffe: I’m the Hot Dog. Mark Grant (Padres announcer) is the Polish Sausage; he and his partner won that race 3:27 Guest: if you were a professional wrestler, what would your gimmick be? 3:27 Jay Jaffe: A copy of Total Baseball to drop on my opponent’s head 3:28 Team Entropy: St Louis seems to have messed up all the WC entropy in the NL. 3:28 Jay Jaffe: The Cardinals have made a point of mucking up my plans for a good long time now. Nothing new 3:29 David: If Wainwright had two more seasons like this, would that be enough for Cooperstown consideration? 3:31 Jay Jaffe: to my mind, not at all — two more 3.3 bWAR seasons gets him to 51 career WAR, which isn’t somebody I’d support for the Hall. 3:31 TT: Speaking of Soto, September slash line .473/.608/.838. His BB/SO is 26/6 (74 AB) He’s 22yo. Crazy! 3:31 Jay Jaffe: Bonkers. 3:32 WinTwins0410: Jay, we’ve discussed in previous years the topic of an empty HoF stage in an upcoming year. I think that an empty stage is absolutely likely in 2022. It seems highly likely that none of the following get in from the writers in 2022: Ortiz, A-Rod, Schilling, Bonds and Clemens. It’s almost a certainty. And if the two Golden Days guys you’re advocating for the most (Allen and Minoso) are the only two who get in, then there’ll be an empty stage in 2022. Any thoughts on that, as well as on how the Hall would view that? Could you see the Hall “nudging” the Golden Days committee to vote to induct someone living (Oliva, Kaat, Wills)? I don’t sense the Hall has done that in the past (Era Committees have had plenty of past shutouts!), but I’m just curious what your thoughts are. I’m not suggesting that Tony Oliva on stage would be a huge traffic driver (assuming things go back to the way they were, pre-COVID), but I have to think that the Hall cares about this kind of thing, and knows everything I wrote above. 3:35 Jay Jaffe: it won’t be an “empty stage” as somebody will be on hand to represent any posthumous honoree, but it would be weird. While I don’t plan to vote for Ortiz, I’m not entirely convinced he won’t be elected, as incongruous as it may be given his standing relative to other PED-linked-but-not-suspended players on the ballot. And I don’t think the Hall can afford to be seen putting its thumb on the scale when it comes to the committees, because the ramifications are longer term than the very modest bump an Oliva/Kaat/Wills produces for attendance 3:36 Olay: How much of a factor is location when trying to attract any given free agent? If the Los Angeles Dodgers were the Minneapolis Dodgers, how much would it matter? 3:36 Jay Jaffe: location matters for any one of a number of reasons. Market size, revenue, ownership, taxes, proximity to family… there are a lot of variables and two players can view the same location very differently 3:37 Olay: Why do umpiring crews still get replay calls wrong? 3:37 Jay Jaffe: Because umpiring isn’t an easy job and the replay setup is far from perfect, too. 3:37 Olay: How do you feel about the current number of baseball teams? 3:38 Jay Jaffe: I think it’s time to expand to 32 but that it needs to come after some economic reforms. 3:38 Olay: Was Tom Glavine actually that good? 3:38 Jay Jaffe: more of a compiler than a dominator, but a very, very, very good and skilled compiler. 3:39 Jose: What about Brandon Crawford for MVP? Most fWAR for on offensive player on a playoff bound team. 3:40 Jay Jaffe: i think he’ll get some support, and if I’m filling out a 10-man ballot he’s probably the Giant I’d have in there, but I just don’t see enough to overcome the huge statistical advantages that Harper/Tatis/Soto have on him 3:40 Mike Ortman: Last week you commented to the effect that you weren’t so sure about Altuve’s HOF candidacy. Apologies if I got that wrong. But looking at his stats and his age, he sure looks like he’s well on his way. Counting stats, black ink, WAR, peak. Is there something I’m missing? The “banging scheme” will weigh in for sure, but I don’t think will keep him out. 3:44 Jay Jaffe: I think people underestimate the chances of attrition. Second basemen tend not to age as well because of the vulnerability to injury (see Pedroia) and the limitations that put them at the position in the first place (not enough arm for left-side infield). We’ve already seen Altuve put up bad half-seasons and they’re pretty unsightly. For any 30ish player, it still takes a lot more going right than one would assume in order to get to the Hall. 3:44 Ben Cherington: Barry Bonds had a mustache. 3:44 Jay Jaffe: sometimes yes, not all the time though. 3:45 Billy G: White Sox are only 25-29 vs over 500 teams? Does that impact how you view them for the playoffs at all? 3:46 Jay Jaffe: sure. And I think they’ve got an uphill battle against Houston, assuming the Astros don’t catch the Rays for #1 seed. 3:47 BohmNeverTouchedHome: You sure Harper’s team won’t make the playoffs? Braves’ 2-game lead is looking shaky, and the teams play 3 next week. 3:47 Jay Jaffe: Sure? No. but our odds give them a 24.5% chance, and with the Phillies, I’ve learned that it’s wise to take the under 3:48 Tommy g: Is xBABIP a thing? If no, should it be and would it provide value? If yes, where can I find it? 3:50 Jay Jaffe: i’ve seen multiple attempts to do xBABIP going back for more than a decade. 3:50 Jay Jaffe: I don’t think anybody has really nailed it, but that’s not to say they haven’t tried 3:51 Northside: Re: Kyle Hendricks not being on the ballot. How is it determined who gets on the ballot? And what should the threshold be? Would a very good not great player like Anthony Rizzo be on the ballot? 3:53 Jay Jaffe: you (or somebody) said Kyle Kendrick, not Kyle Hendricks. Hendricks is probably bound for a ballot if he lasts long enough. The way it works is that there’s a 6-member screening committee made up of BBWAA writers. Each potential candidate with 10 years has to be nominated by two of those six members. 3:54 Jay Jaffe: it’s tough to tell who will get nominated until we see where a player’s final numbers come in but I’d assume the key players for the Cubs’ 2016 champions, like Rizzo and Hendricks, will be on there at some point. 3:55 Manny Machado: How are my Hall of Fame chances looking? 3:56 Jay Jaffe: See https://blogs.fangraphs.com/ten-position-players-who-have-most-helped-… and add another 0.7 career and peak WAR and 0.6 JAWS 3:56 Jay Jaffe: good shape for this stage 3:56 J: Jay, is Cole Hamels a HOF’er? Thanks! 3:57 Jay Jaffe: Not with two lost seasons at this stage i’m afraid. I had hopes he could make headway towards 200 wins and 3,000 strikeouts but it doesn’t look like he has anything left 3:58 Mike Ortman: Question regarding the Era Committees. Loved the podcast that Adam Darowski did and your appearance on there. But once the ballot is finally assembled for Early Baseball, aren’t we almost done with valid candidates. Let’s say over the next decade you put in 3-5 guys, could we at some point say “we’re done”? And looking at Negro League candidates, maybe that extends for another decade. But again, won’t the day come where we’ve picked that era over completely? 3:59 Jay Jaffe: That’s why they’re considered only once a decade. There’s a lot of candidates — more than can fit on a single ballot — but not a ton of new information on the white players. The Black players are another story, and I think they merit a separate track for closer consideration given the explosion of recent research. 3:59 Jay Jaffe: Folks, i’m right up against the time limit here. Thanks for stopping by, have a great week, and stay safe!