Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 9/27/18

Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, good afternoon and welcome to the latest edition of my Thursday chat. It’s tending towards chaos here at my palatial Brooklyn estate because I’ve overextended myself a bit, with a piece on the season and Hall of Fame chances of Zack Greinke (a chat suggestion from last week, I believe), a podcast appearance, and a much-needed haircut in anticipation of my appearance on MLB Networks’s MLB Now tomorrow from 4-5 PM. So I’m going to keep this a bit brief, but let’s get the show on the road…

stever20: how worried should Red Sox fans be with the velocity of Sale?

Jay Jaffe: Honestly, it’s really tough to judge. The raw numbers (from Brooks Baseball) are rather frightening:

BOS@BAL (8/12/18) 98.17
TOR@BOS (9/11/18) 96.19
NYN@BOS (9/16/18) 94.38
BOS@CLE (9/21/18) 93.47
BAL@BOS (9/26/18) 90.21

On the other hand, there’s been virtually nothing at stake for the Red Sox in the games Sale has pitched in since his return; the playoff berth, the division and the top seed were more or less secure by that point, and it’s understandable that he wouldn’t push himself to the max instead of just getting his work in. That’s the real question — was he deliberately throwing with less than full effort? Given his history of wearing down late in the year, if I’m a Sox fan I’m hoping that’s the case, because otherwise, they may have a problem.

natsfan: So you think Bauer makes CLE rotation for 1st round against the Astros?

Jay Jaffe: yes, I think so. FWIW, his velo in his last start (avg four-seamer 93.78 mph per Brooks) was down about 1.5 mph relative to his last pre-injury start, but we know what a scientist he is when it comes to this sort of thing. I wouldn’t worry.

Outta my way, Gyorkass: Does deGrom or Baez have a chance at NL MVP, or has Yelich iced it by now?

Jay Jaffe: Yelich could not possibly have put forth a stronger argument given his September performance, slugging well above .700 while helping the Brewers clinch a playoff spot. I do think deGrom is every bit as worthy of the award, but I suspect that having a single, clear position player alternative will probably cost him some votes. I do think he’ll win the Cy Young, though.

lOsing Season: what are the chances Trout hits 10 WAR this year? 9.7 right now…

Jay Jaffe: He could reach 10.0 with one good night. I’d guess that so long as he’s playing the rest of the games, he’ll get there. Sandy, the Casa Jaffe-Span puppy, says the odds of him doing so are 83.67%.

Jets: I feel like pitchers have been lasting longer than ever. Take a look at the amount of pitchers 30+ that are still pitching well. Is there a gradual shift in the age curve for pitchers? Is this something that will last?

Jay Jaffe: I don’t have any data as far as the greater population goes. Jeff Zimmerman is the one to ask. But let’s think about what’s in play for a moment. On the one hand, we’ve got much-improved sports medicine capabilities that allow for things that would have ended careers decades ago, not just Tommy John surgery but other procedures. On the other hand, the high velocity presents a health risk, and the increasing trend away from starter usage has made relievers more fungible than ever. There are some milestones for workload and performance, established in eras past, that will never be reached by pitchers of today,

A quick Play Index search shows that we have two pitchers in their age-35 seasons or better who will qualify for the ERA title with an ERA+ better than 100. We had 4-6 from 2012-2014, 8 as recently as 2006, and as many as 13 in 2002. You can define the question in other ways but I’m not sure I’d bet on your observation being true, at least as I read it.

You take too long: To answer questions. Hack

Jay Jaffe: I’ll answer the questions at the speed I prefer to. Asshole. What idiot prefers one-word off-the-cuff answers to structured paragraphs that may include a bit of research?

Outta my way, Gyorkass: The Brewers strong play in September has me thinking: How much of this is Counsell / Stearns leaning on the additional guys they can have on the roster? The bullpen game Monday in particular seems like the sort of thing that it would be much tougher to pull off with only 25 on your squad.

Jay Jaffe: I haven’t looked closely to see if it’s a larger trend but clearly it’s easier for any team to do this, and the contenders generally haven’t been shy in doing so. the Yankees had a bullpen game the other day as well and IIRC, the Dodgers have every member of their 40-man roster active right now.

James: How much Treinen will we see in the Wild Card game? More than 2 innings?

Jay Jaffe: I would be very surprised if he went more than 2 innings unless it’s in Weird Baseball territory. Remember, when you’re setting the roster for a wild card game, you’re not including five starters, you’re packing the bullpen, albeit with maybe a couple starters who can give you length in emergency circumstances.

All Cats Are Beautiful : Sometimes I get worked up about snubs or unworthy inductees to the HOF, then I remember it’s privately owned by a family of plutocrats and their HOF is just as valid as the one in each of our heads.

Jay Jaffe: As I wrote in The Cooperstown Casebook, what’s remarkable about the Baseball Hall and what separates it from the other sports Halls is that those who care about it carry with them their own mental pantheons of who belongs and who doesn’t based upon our individual criteria. I invest a lot of time in researching and discussing the actual Hall but the election or exclusion of a worthy player doesn’t diminish him in my mind if he’s on the outside.

Job: Do you have a real job or do you just write baseball stuff all day?

Jay Jaffe: My full-time job is senior writer for FanGraphs. I get paid in real money that goes towards food, mortgage, day care, beer, etc. I’m very grateful to have this job, regardless of the number of smart-asses who think they can do it better.

James: Does Alex Cora have a snowball’s chance in hell to beat out Melvin for Manager of the Year?

Jay Jaffe: I don’t see why not. Both of them have done excellent jobs, albeit with very different levels of resources. Given that Melvin has already won twice (2007 Arizona and 2012 Oakland), I suspect that the newcomer will get the nod, because he’s transitioned into the role in a high-scrutiny market seamlessly, not only with regards to the Red Sox performance but the way in which he’s handled being one face of the organizaiton.

stever20: Loved your column with Arizona and their collapse. What about Philly- they’ve gone from 2nd best team in the NL on August 7 to worst team in NL with a -85 run differential in that period.   How short of a leash will Kapler be on next season?

Jay Jaffe: Honestly, i think Kapler did better than expected given what he had to work with, and I don’t expect him to be on the hot seat. As Jeff Sullivan wrote, their defense was record-setting awful in terms of DRS (https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-worst-drs-weve-ever-seen/), they didn’t get many great performances on offense, either. If anything, i think the team arrived a year ahead of schedule.

Natsfan: So in Harper’s last game in DC, he goes 0-4, his replacement next season has his best game ever and goes 4-5, the last out of the game occurs with Harper standing on the on-deck circle, and Nats fans never get to give him a goodbye because the game gets called early due to rain.   Is that the worst sendoff a player has ever had?  Or is it fitting way to end his Nats tenure?

Jay Jaffe: For as brutal as his day was, and as disappointing as the season was for the player and team, I don’t think it’s a given that Harper is departing the Nationals. If anything, I think the odds that he stays are higher now than they were a year ago.

Adam: Yadier Molina is the fifth catcher in MLB history to have 20+ HR in their age-35 season or older (others: Fisk, Piazza, Posada, Pierzynski). He also racked up 2 more WAR. Since his peak numbers aren’t superb, how many more seasons like this will he need until he’s a lock for the Hall?

Jay Jaffe: I looked at Molina’s Hall case a few months ago: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/yadier-molinas-climb-towards-coopersto… I don’t think he’s ever going to get to a point where his career and peak WAR suggests he’s a strong pick for the Hall, but I do think the industry consensus that views him as Hallworthy on the basis of the less measurable aspects of his job will carry the day. Similarly solid seasons like this one through the end of his contract (2020) will certainly help, as would a couple more trips to the postseason.

MARLOSTANFIELD: Any tips or hidden nuggets for DraftKings King of the Diamond contest tomorrow night?

Jay Jaffe: Boy howdy, you are barking up the wrong tree. I’m 10 years removed from playing fantasy and have never done the daily stuff.

Texas Rangers: Nomar Mazara, calling his breakout next year yet again? Or at this point is he just a league-average OF?

Jay Jaffe: He really did fall off after a promising start, didn’t he? 98 wRC+ and 1.1 WAR isn’t very impressive, though he’s still young (23). It’s certainly more difficult to envision a massive peak with three mediocre seasons under his belt than two, but maybe the regime change in Texas will unlock the potential that scouts have seen in him. Maybe.

stever20: Is Dave Roberts managing for his job this weekend?  It’s crazy that vs Mets, Reds, Padres, and Arizona(after eliminated) they go only 5-7 vs them- after going 11-3 vs Contending Arizona, Colorado, and St Louis….

Jay Jaffe: The blood lust among a certain segment of Dodger fans and bystanders notwithstanding, I don’t think so. That the Dodgers are in a playoff position despite their 16-26 start, myriad injuries (including the nearly full-season loss of Corey Seager, and Kenley Jansen’s woes) and comparatively skimpy spending in order to get under the CBT threshold are all things that the team has overcome.

I could be wrong, but I think Friedman and company convert his 2019 club option into an extension after the end of the season.

Jay Jaffe Answer Me: Does Bannister get another manager job next year? Who for? Heard the Pirates want Hurdle gone, possible fit there?

Jay Jaffe: I think Banister did a solid job in Texas but I don’t necessarily expect him to land another one immediately. That said, his roots with the Pirates organization make him a natural candidate to succeed Hurdle if the latter has fallen out of favor.

Fahad: Any reason why Cy Young did not get elected to Hall of Fame until 1937?  He missed out on the initial 1936 election.  Preferential bias?  I see no more deserving candidate than him.

Jay Jaffe: Young wasn’t elected because it was never clarified which of the two voting bodies — the BBWAA, which was in charge of 20th century candidates, and the Old-Timers Committee, which was in charge of 19th century ones and which was a forerunner to the much-despised Veterans Committee — had jurisdiction over him. Once that was established, the writers elected him the next year.

David: Is Manager of the year all about narrative?  Or is there any quantitative measurement to support a candidate that we are not aware of?

Jay Jaffe: Narrative, mostly. Maybe some citations regarding Pythagorean records or preseason projections from some quarters, maybe even a deeper dive into statistical aspects such as bullpen usage and platoon percentage, but it remains the most subjective of the major end-of-season awards.

Brian CashGod: Assuming Harper leaves for somewhere else this offseason, and Ryan Zimmerman plays his whole career in DC, who wears the “Greatest National” crown? Is someone like Scherzer also in the running?

Jay Jaffe: I would have to think Scherzer is the leading candidate for that title given his run of dominance.

All Cats Are Beautiful : Which under 30 player has the best chance of HOF induction? (Non-Trout division)

Jay Jaffe: Giancarlo Stanton, with 302 homers and 38.4 WAR as he nears the end of his age-28 season, seems to me the strongest one.

OneFan: What do you see the Phillies doing with all their money this offseason?

Jay Jaffe: I think they’ll make a strong run at major free agents — Machado, Harper, Kershaw if he’s an option, maybe even Donaldson.

Canha Corn: Dan Vogelbach is worth more in WAR than Ryon Healy  (0.3 in about 70 AB to -0.3 in 500).  Can you tell me why Ryon Healy is still starting today?

Jay Jaffe: No, but I can tell you that making a definitive judge of value based upon 70 PA from a player is a fool’s errand, and that the difference between 0.3 WAR and -0.3 WAR over even 500 PA is negligible and subject to the assumptions that go into those measurements. Beyond that, I haven’t looked to see who’s pitching for either team, or if there’s an injury situation, but all of that could be in play.

Most of the time, getting wound up about the lineup for a single game is pretty silly.

Dodge the NLW: Odds that the Dodgers do indeed take the NL West?

Jay Jaffe: 50/50, I think. Our odds have them at 53.8%

Tom: Is there a more interesting team from a HOF perspective than the St. Louis Cardinals? Inner circle HOFers like Musial, Gibson, Hornsby, Ozzie (and Pujols soon). HOFers whose cases are questionable like Sutter, Brock, and Red. Players that should be in but aren’t like Simmons, Rolen, Edmonds. Players that may one day be in but will create compelling discussions like Molina.

Jay Jaffe: You asked the same question last week. I don’t really know how to answer it. I think many of the “original” 16 franchises (the ones in place from 1901-1960) have similarly compelling cross-sections of HOFers and near-HOFers. But yes, there are some very interesting guys you list, and I’ve enjoyed writing about them all. Simmons and Rolen are on my short list of guys I’d put in immediately if I could, and I’d also include Ken Boyer, who’s pretty high on the 3B list.

stever20: what player helped his case the most for the HOF this year?  Which player hurt his case the most?

Jay Jaffe: I’m doing something on Greinke that will have an answer for most improved on the pitching side, but offhand I think it’s Verlander. On the hitting side, I think it’s Mauer (Rule of 2,000).

On the other side of the coin, I have little doubt that Felix Hernandez’s case suffered the most this year among pitchers, and wish that Chase Utley could have enjoyed a late-period Davey Lopes-like season to leave a more positive impression, performance-wise.

Scott: Who will have the next Jack Morris/Omar Vizquel support for the Hall? Largely based on gut instinct rather than peak performance or stats

Jay Jaffe: Yadier Molina.

Christian: Is Craig Counsell a lock for MOY?

Jay Jaffe: I think Brian Snitker will get some consideration, too, and you know some writers just love Joe Maddon, but I’d call Counsell the favorite and offhand, I think he’d get my vote. His outside-the box handling of that bullpen separates him, I think.

Canha Corn: Say the Nationals do sign Harper.  Who is the odd man out in the OF? Michael Taylor seems an obvious answer, but his value is so low right now, would you trade Robles for Realmuto +, or pitching?

Jay Jaffe: I think Eaton, with his below-market contract and strong work as a table-setter, is the top candidate to be dealt given that he’d bring something worthwhile back in return. His injury history does ding his value somewhat though.

Billy Beane: Do you have any award votes this year? (forgive me if you’ve mentioned this elsewhere)

Jay Jaffe: No. In the industry’s largest media market, I don’t have nearly the kind of presence at games that would lead a chapter head to give me a ballot, and I have no beef with that. Just a little over 2 years until I get my Hall of Fame ballot.

Sarah: if someone wanted to start blogging about baseball, would you have a recommended platform to set up the blog on?

Jay Jaffe: I’ve had good results using WordPress at several junctures: Futility Infielder, Pinstriped Bible, The Cooperstown Casebook, even my first couple of years at SI.com. Not sure what the field of alternatives is like anymore. Best of luck!

Xam: Austin Barnes in 2019: are you buying any shares? I feel like he’s been hiding an injury this year.

Jay Jaffe: No. It’s been a pretty disappointing season from him, TBH. I know the Dodgers system has some good catching prospects in Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith, both of whom spent time in Double A. It will be interesting to see if they just let Grandal walk as a free agent and try to muddle through with Barnes and one of them or go out and get a placeholder. I don’t see a lot of great  options out there.

Hoping to do a thing on Grandal sometime in the next couple of weeks, btw.

Canha Corn: Are you a fan of a particular franchise, and if so, is that a geographical affinity, a family-based affinity, or one you made up for yourself because you can’t stand the pain of a losing franchise?

Jay Jaffe: I grew up a Dodgers fan, which was handed down from my Brooklyn-born grandfather and my father; they were out west a decade before the Dodgers left town so it wasn’t like they had a grievance over the move. Soon after I moved to New York City in 1995, I started going to Yankees games with a group of friends; that evolved into a partial season ticket package that has survived since 1998.

Given the volume of writing I’ve produced on both over the past 18 seasons I don’t think it’s a secret that I still have affection for both teams — they’re the ones I default to watching, for one thing — but my relationship to fandom is very different now, and I always have to put the objectivity of the job first. Writing about the Dodgers losing Game 7 of the World Series, for one thing.

keith Wengronowitz: Is there a link on fan graphs with the top 2018 statistic called “Pitching Game Scores”?  Jacob deGrom had an 88 last night and I would like to see where that ranks for all starters for the entire season.

Jay Jaffe: At FanGraphs we use Tom Tango’s Game Score 2.0, which differs from the Bill James one in its use of home runs and maybe a few other areas. It’s available on each pitcher’s game log but I’m not sure if there’s a way to search for it or do rankings of averages. I’ll ask and input the answer here sometime after my chat — check back.

stever20: How are the odds for the Dodgers in the NL west the exact same today as they were yesterday?   The Rockies did win and the Dodgers did lose.

Jay Jaffe: I’m not sure when they were last refreshed  — I think they refresh after every wave of games, but you can see the deltas using this link and changing the dates: https://www.fangraphs.com/standings/playoff-odds?date=2018-09-27&dateD…

Canha Corn: This was a horrible year for Dee Gordon.  Is he in decline phase for fast guys who survive on contact, or was it injuries, being jerked around positionally, and whatever luck?

Jay Jaffe: I’ve never been all that high on Gordon, but man, that’s a rough season. The transition to a new team and new position may have something to do with it but a profile that’s  highly dependent upon BABIP isn’t worth much when that BABIP is only .304.

Frank Lyman from Amherst: Were you making the case for Grandal over Ramos last week??  You dinged Ramos for durability.  Even that’s flimsy.  He came back from the knee surgery (ACL if I’m not mistaken) in almost record time.  Aside from that, he’s been very durable (for a C) the past 4 seasons.  And Ramos is clearly the better hitter the past 3 seasons.

Jay Jaffe: I will continue to make the case for Grandal over Ramos when I write about the former. I like Ramos a fair bit but he’s had two write-off seasons out of the past five with < 1.0 WAR, and the BP defensive numbers, which are the gold standard as far as catchers are concerned, paint a much rosier picture of Grandal’s work. Until then…

Jay Jaffe: OK folks, there are a lot of good questions in the queue but as i said, it’s a tight day for me, and my laptop (the desktop is again out of commision) is slowing to a crawl. Enjoy the rest of the regular season, follow #TeamEntropy, and be good to one another.

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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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Was there any good questions you wanted to do but ran out of time to do?