Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 9/9/19

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hello and good afternoon! Welcome to my first chat in this new time slot — real life events (mainly my daughter starting preschool) have necessitated changing from my Thursday slot, and thankfully, Dan Szymborski was able to accommodate. You’ll still get the same artisanal blend of sense and nonsense as I usually dish out.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve got a thing in the pipeline today about Michael Pineda’s suspension and its impact on the Twins. And now, onto the questions…

JH: How weak is it that Red Sox ownership isn’t going to discuss Dombrowski’s firing with the media?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: That is a particularly weak move as it leaves Alex Cora and the players to answer questions without knowing all that went into the decision or what the future holds

Wicho: Presumably, the new regime is going to have to cut payroll in Boston but how are they going to do that? Most of their big money players are not worth their contracts and they don’t have the prospects to attach to them.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, I suspect that J.D. Martinez will opt out and that the Sox might decide that their chances of re-signing Betts are better if they haven’t committed $100M+ to him. Beyond that… they’re going to have to get creative and hope that some of their young players pan out.

Vander: Do you think it’s going to be easy to get Votto into the HoF (where he belongs), or is he going to linger on the ballot like Tim Raines?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think a lot depends upon how he rebounds from this season. He’s 35 and amid a career-worst year but signed through 2023. A long denouement of mediocre production will be harder to overcome than if he returns to his previous level, obviously. How much it will have an impact, I don’t know

Nate: Josh Donaldson has now exceeded the JAWS peak standard and still has one more light season (1.5 WAR) left in his top 7 that should be relatively easy to replace.  Does he have a chance at the HOF based on peak value, or does the late start doom his chances?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Good question. I think the late start is a serious impediment for him; he’s in his age-33 season and has just 1,035 career hits. Nobody from the post-1960 period with fewer than 2,000 has been elected by either the writers or the committees, and while that barrier may eventually fall, he doesn’t have much margin for error even to get to that (figure 6 seasons of around 150 hits… when right now his last one reaching that level was 2016).

Ay Ay Ron: Did you see this article? Any response to it? https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/everyone-thinks-justin-verlander-…

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, saw it. I like Nathaniel Rakich’s work but I think he treats the JAWS line as more of a binary demarcation than it is. to say that a 36-year-old pitcher who’s amid a very strong season and clearly has more in the tank is “not yet deserving” is a bit too detached from the context of his current performance — he’s very close on peak, and the things he’s done (3rd no-hitter) or is about to do (reach 3,000 strikeouts, maybe win a 2nd Cy Young) will probably seal the deal in most voters’ minds.

I’ve been writing about the need for voters to recalibrate their standards for recent pitchers for at least the past two years, and lately have been playing with something within JAWS that might offer a bit of guidance though i’m not ready to reveal it (the article did stimulate me to dig into my spreadsheets though).

MPH: Do you think Jack Flaherty is going to line up any Cy Young votes? Clearly not top ballot with his struggles in the first half but the second half is downright Gibson-esque

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Color me skeptical because he’s nowhere near the top of either the fWAR or bWAR leaderboards or a lead in any traditional category. He just doesn’t have anything that makes him stand out relative to deGrom or Scherzer or Ryu, who are the top 3 (in whatever order) in the minds of most observers right now.

Kosch: Is JAW’s based on a rolling consecutive best 7 seasons?  Or any best 7 seasons?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: best seven at large, not necessarily consecutive. When I started JAWS with the 2004 ballot, it was best 5 consecutive with allowances made for military service or injuries. I think i changed that in 2005 or ’06 but some people still get confused, which is one reason why i’ve always been reluctant to tinker too much with the basics of the system

Tony: After looking over his numbers and how this season has shaken out (excluding the handful of starts since he came off the DL), Cole Hamels is going to end up a fascinating HOF candidate in a decade of so. If he plays 4-5 more years, which he has expressed interest in doing, he has a real shot to pass 70 WAR and 3,000 strikeouts, but 200 wins still seems like a longshot. Even if he hits those two milestones, he’s still not getting in, is he?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hamels has an even lower peak score (WAR7) than Sabathia, plus he never won a Cy Young, so I think we’ll know a bit more about how he’ll fare when we see the kind of treatment that CC gets

trots: is realmuto the best catcher in baseball in your eyes?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: IMO it’s a toss-up between him and Yasmani Grandal. Baseball Prospectus, which has the best defensive system for catchers IMO, has the two dead even this year, while FG and B-Ref have Realmuto ahead, but not so far ahead that if you were doing a multi-year true talent estimation that you’d definitively elevate him as the number one catcher. His younger age would probably put him ahead from a projection standpoint, though.

Guest: Good morning Jay! I saw a tweet highlighting that there is a non zero chance that we might end with 6 100-loss teams and every comment on the tweet was a variation of “this is why nobody goes to ballparks anymore”. Honestly, more than everything, baseball in 2019 ain’t cool. NFL is cool, NBA is cool. J Cole hoops. PFTCommenter is funny. College football/basketball is HUGE. ESPN and Fox talk more about football and basket than baseball in July. It’s not the homeruns, it’s not the shift, it’s not the tanking, it’s not the pace of play. It’s that we’re a borderline niche, not hip sport.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t really care about how cool baseball is perceived to be relative to football or basketball. I do care about the quality of the product on the field and right now I think it’s fair to say that it’s suboptimal. The home runs, the tanking, and the attendance — they’re all linked at least somewhat. The disconnect between revenue and on-field performance via the most recent CBA is a major problem that both sides need to help solve.

Angels: Do you think Scioscia manages again? If not is he first ballot HOF coach?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Scioscia’s 60 years old and probably viewed as too old school for most of today’s front offices, so I’d be very surprised if he manages again, and I’m not sure he wants to. I think he’s a HOFer, but not sure if he’d get in on a first ballot.

Outta my way, Gyorkass: How long, in your opinion, will it take before pitcher wins are discarded as a stat that really matters as far as HOF voting?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s going to be a long time before they’re completely ignored. I suspect that anybody from among currently or recently active pitchers who doesn’t get to 200 wins won’t get in.

Guest: Why did you switch peak JAWS from 7 consecutive years to any 7?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It was never 7 consecutive, it was 5 consecutive. Found that 7 worked better in identifying short-career guys who got in.

Matt W: If ever there was a rookie on a 4th place team deserving of the MVP, it would be Alonso. I know he won’t overtake Bellinger and Yelich, but there’s no way at all that the Mets would be on the fringes of the playoff race without Alonso’s contribution. Would you consider voting for him?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: No, because defense matters, and it’s not that his is bad as it is that there are several players who play more important defensive positions and are having stronger seasons. He’s outside the top 10 in both flavors of WAR for example Beyond Bellinger and Yelich, you’ve got Rendon, Acuña and Marte, at the very least.

Phil Diggety: Pick two: A’s, Ray’s, Tribe

Avatar Jay Jaffe: A’s and Rays for the Wild Card. Losing Jose Ramirez is a tough blow, and it appears they’re probably not getting Kluber back.

Tom: Had Adam Wainwright not been injured those seasons and had he performed to a close or similar level, would he be a HOFer?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: that’s A LOT of ifs. He’s got four 6-WAR seasons (B-Ref wise) but never won a Cy Young award, and never led the league in ERA or strikeouts. A nice career but I’m not seeing a particularly strong foundation for a case.

Nick: The Dodgers’ undoing in the playoffs will be (a) their shaky bullpen, or (b) their suddenly lackluster rotation?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: The bullpen is a bigger problem, IMO, but Maeda could be a major part of the solution.

Bean sandwich: Do you sometimes wish people would ask you questions about the best bagels you’d ever eaten?  You could call your chat sessions The Hole of Fame, right?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: LOL. My favorite bagels were from a place in the East Village called David Bagel’s, but my favorite toppings — lox, whitefish, and other delights — is from Russ and Daughters, whose bagels are about league-average at best.

Mac: If the Cubs tailspin out of control for a 2nd consecutive September, do you see any managerial changes being made in the offseason?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: If they miss the playoffs I have to think Maddon is a goner. The fact that he’s working without an option suggests that he may well be even if the Cubs do make it.

Matt W: He probably started his career too old for it to really happen, but deGrom would be a fascinating HOF case if his career continues to play out the way it has in the last few years. Elite statistics and personal accolades with paltry win totals.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yeah, my hunch is that the late start will make it hard, but I said the same thing about Max Scherzer, who has shown himself to be very durable and has pitched his way into a likely HOFer. Granted, Scherzer was in the majors at 23 vs. 26 for JdG, but health is everything.

Nick: Biggest end-of-season / playoff impact: the loss of J. Baez, the loss of J. Ramirez, or the loss of M. Pineda?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: all big, and tough to answer. The Twins are in almost certainly, but it’s less certain about the other two, so those could loom large if they come up short. Assuming they all make the playoffs, I’d say Pineda because of the outsized impact that a starter can have in October, and the fall-off from him to Perez or one (or some) of the rookies.

owsley stanley: Calloway has got to be fired- right?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do think he winds up losing his job. I’d have done it over the Tim Healey clubhouse blowup, which was thoroughly unprofessional on the part of both Callaway and Vargas. The in-game managing stuff has been awful at times, too.

Dale: What’s more impressive; a team with two pitchers with 300 K’s, or a team with three 40-homer guys?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: In recent history there have been far fewer guys with 300 strikeouts than with 40 homers, and even in the high-K, high-HR environment, workload considerations are such that the former is more rare.

Don’t let Kent Hrbek sit on you: Going forward, does it get tougher or easier for relievers to make the HOF?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: probably tougher now that every one of them will be implicitly measured relative to Mariano Rivera. I’m pro-Billy Wagner, and can see a case for Joe Nathan based on win-expectancy stuff (go dig the Wagner piece up) but Papelbon and K-Rod are nos, and the recent directions of Kimbrel and Jansen suggest they won’t have the staying power to get there either.

stever20: what do you think of the job Dave Martinez has done with the Nats?  I had my doubts earlier this year but he’s really impressed me.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not terribly impressed. IMO, based on the talent on their rosters, the Nationals should have won back-to-back division titles over the past two seasons and at best they’ll have one Wild Card appearance to show for it. Some of that is on injuries and roster construction (esp the bullpens) but that can’t be all of it.

BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: So you think that the Twins hang on to the central?  Their injuries are piling up.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They have a 5 1/2 game lead with three weeks to go and the team pursuing them has major injuries, too.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Our odds give them a 97.8% chance for a reason.

Dakota Hudson: How am I doing it? Jeremy Hellickson Voodoo Magic?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s a combination of the majors’ highest groundball rate, a good job limiting hard contact, and a very good defense behind him.

Ryan: Do you follow the NFL at all?  If so, which baseball player had a career most reminiscent of Andrew Luck, i.e., a career full of potential and flashes of brilliance, but ultimately derailed by injuries and an abrupt retirement?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t follow football closely but maybe Johan Santana or Brandon Webb?

Guest: the highest ground ball rat – sounds like a mascot for a Colorado independent league team

Avatar Jay Jaffe: LOL at that typo (which i fixed). A few weeks ago “strikeout rat” made it into an article of mine and made me yearn for a giant inflatable rodent to protest the rising tide of punchouts.

comsin: Rays have BY FAR the toughest schedule remaining in the WC race. You still like them above the Indians?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes very much so, and so do our odds by about 85% to 35%, with the A’s at 77%.

Bryan: Aaron Boone deserves all the votes for Manager of the Year….right?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think he deserves consideration but so do Baldelli and Cash. Voters don’t tend to favor managers with $200M payrolls in this regard because the implicit expectation is that they’re supposed to win.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Even Alex Cora – with 108 wins (and ultimately a championship, though voters couldn’t have known it at the time) – as a rookie came in 2nd last year.

Archer: I live in metro-Detroit, and I’ve heard that Detroit bagels are (generally) better than New York bagels, with the reasoning being that the water quality is superior in Michigan, which improves the boiling process. Do you find this plausible?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: Heh, who knows. NYC has very good tap water, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best for bagel making. However, the water is just one element of the process.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: the recipe matters, and the collective knowledge about bagel-making in this city, not to mention the level of competition, probably produces better bagels.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: It would be tough to do any kind of side-by-side comparison under optimum conditions, so the debate will rage eternally.

Home Runs in MiLB & MLB: Question & potential article idea:  Wouldn’t MLB organizations, themselves, be upset with MLB the company for what they have done with the baseball?  Meaning … MLB teams have spent millions of dollars on amateur players and then spend time and effort procuring these players thru the minor leagues and are presumably moved up thru the chains based upon a combination of stats and projection … and yet, they get to AAA and then MLB and since the baseball is radically different, their ‘game’ can be rendered obsolete [think, some pitchers may not be able to spin the ball correctly, some hitters who can hit well with the juiced ball, but don’t hit so well without it, or some who hit better with a non-juiced ball and the juiced ball doesn’t aid them so much].  It would seem that MLB teams would want the playing field to be level from Rookie level day 1 to MLB so that they can accurately judge their own player talent [to say nothing of the year-by-year changes of the ball that affect free agency decisions]

Avatar Jay Jaffe: I know there are some complaints being voiced about the Triple A ball/player development situation. As to how loud they are and how much they force MLB’s hand, we’ll probably have a better idea after the GM meetings this fall.

Mike: Kinsler vs Pedroia is a fascinating compare/contrast study, but do either make the HOF?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: They’re 18th and 19th in JAWS among 2B, but neither crosses any of the career/peak/JAWS standards and it will probably remain that way. Kinsler’s next hit is number 2,000 but he doesn’t have the hardware that Pedroia has. If the latter could have kept playing past 2,000 hits (he has 1,805) I’d have bet that he’d make it.

J: Shelsky’s salt and pepper bagel is one of the very best. Would highly recommend.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: You know, they’re not too far from me but I’ve never tried them. Will give them a look/taste.

BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: Think  Acuna can get MVP if he gets that 40/40?

Avatar Jay Jaffe: not with Bellinger and Yelich likely pushing 50 homers and having big advantages in WAR.

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK, folks, it’s been great to chat today but I’ve got to go get myself some lunch and then figure out what I’m writing for tomorrow. The Pineda piece should be up very soon as well. Until next week, have a good one

We hoped you liked reading Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 9/9/19 by Jay Jaffe!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs

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.

newest oldest most voted

FYI, I believe the water/bagel connection has mostly been debunked in that, although what water you use has a minor effect on the outcome, it’s really technique etc. that matters.