Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 4/27/18

9:07

Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:07

Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

9:08

Rock Kickass: Would you trust Snell v Boston or Godley v Washington tonight?

9:08

Jeff Sullivan: I know that this is a fantasy question, but regardless, Snell and Godley are good pitchers, and so I would trust them both

9:08

Jeff Sullivan: Probably Godley more given how the Nationals are presently shorthanded

9:09

(not that) James: When you’re looking for new topics to write Acuña, how do generate ideas? Like, do you just read through Acuña to get an idea of what happened that day, Acuña do you think more long- Acuña? I’m just Acuña in your Acuña-making Acuña. Acuña.

9:09

Jeff Sullivan: Sometimes I know exactly what to do off the top of my Albies, but other times — and this is when it gets desperate — I just spent Albies upon Albies scrolling through various Albies, until I find Albies vaguely worthy of 1000 Albies

9:10

Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: I was looking at hot players so far and dismissing them all as unsustainably lucky, but Daniel Robertson stood out. H’s been worth 1.1 WAR in 67 PAs. He has a 195 wRC+. Walks are up, Ks are down. Of course he’s been lucky (.457 BABIP) but he still has a .413 xwOBA so far. Are we witnessing the birth of a plus infielder?

9:10

Jeff Sullivan: Kind of related to this: right now, the Rays have a 104 team wRC+. That ranks them 9th in baseball!

9:11

Jeff Sullivan: They also have the highest team BABIP, so, you know, there’s that, but this isn’t a bad baseball team. I’m delighted to see them string together a bunch of wins

9:12

Jeff Sullivan: As for Robertson, his approach kind of reminds me of Logan Forsythe, who had some success with Tampa. He doesn’t have plus power, but he seems to be reasonable across the board

9:14

Jeff Sullivan: It’s hard for me to take Robertson too seriously when Joey Wendle and Mallex Smith also have high batting lines, but this is exactly what the Rays have been trying to do — mix and match and build around flexibility so that everyone on the roster is put in as good a position as possible to succeed

9:15

42: Good morning, Jeff. Is something wrong with Anthony Rizzo?

9:16

Jeff Sullivan: He’s already been on and off the DL with a back problem. Wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s just struggling to regain his normal flexibility

9:17

Jeff Sullivan: While back problems aren’t the most encouraging thing for a player to experience, I would assume that Rizzo will shortly put this behind him

9:17

James: Do teams use analytics on umpires? Seems like this could be exploited if umpires have clear tendencies.

9:17

Jeff Sullivan: Some do

9:17

Jeff Sullivan: And some private player consultants do

9:18

Jeff Sullivan: But I don’t think it’s particularly widespread, because it’s a tremendously difficult thing to successfully exploit

9:19

Rock Kickass: Should the Phillies try and get Kelly from the Cards? Alfaro and Knapp aren’t the answer.

9:19

Jeff Sullivan: They’re not giving up on Alfaro that fast

9:19

Jeff Sullivan: Nor are the Cardinals looking to move Kelly away, probably

9:19

Keefths: You prefer owning Candelario or Teoscar ?

9:20

Jeff Sullivan: It’s 2018. We don’t own people

9:20

Jeff Sullivan: But, boy, is Teoscar Hernandez ever exciting

9:20

Garrett: Not a question but: This weekend we get to watch Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge vs. Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. And yet the best player is Didi Gregorius.

9:21

Jeff Sullivan: 2017 Gregorius: 42% chase rate
2018 Gregorius: 28% chase rate

9:21

Jeff Sullivan: Hitting is easy!

9:22

Vegan Man!: Should I be overly concerned with Archer’s slow start? Any indications he’s not in line for some regression towards the mean? Thank you!

9:23

Jeff Sullivan: I don’t see anything too terribly worrisome. I know these stretches are frustrating and they can be some cause for concern, but Archer is good enough to figure this out. He’s still missing plenty of bats, throwing basically his normal arrangement of stuff

9:23

Jacob deGrom: Am I going to win the Cy Young this year?

9:23

Jeff Sullivan: No

9:23

Jeff Sullivan: But congratulations on being good anyway

9:24

Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: What are the three “easiest wins” that MLB or individual teams can do to increase fan experience? I have to think that changing MLB.TV blackout rules would be the easiest win, right?

9:24

Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know if that’s actually so easy given the existing TV contracts

9:25

Jeff Sullivan: I’m sure, on background, pretty much everyone would agree it’s a problem, but it’s tricky to change when you’ve got these TV companies pouring in billions of dollars

9:26

Jeff Sullivan: From just a plain old social-media perspective, MLB needs to loosen up and allow people to freely share GIFs and video clips

9:26

Jeff Sullivan: That’s a niche interest, but it’s simple. All they’d have to do is literally nothing!

9:27

Jeff Sullivan: I love that the A’s had a free game, and that the Orioles are offering kids free tickets in the upper deck. Want to see a lot more of those kinds of promotions, especially on weekdays with horribly low projected attendance

9:29

Jeff Sullivan: And maybe every so often a team could offer half-price concessions or something. I know implementation can be hard and maybe the team would operate at a loss, but there need to be more chances for families to afford to go to the ballpark. It’s the in-park experience that sells people on the sport in the first place

9:30

Jeff Sullivan: And it’s not just families, of course. Also just regular fans who aren’t in the upper middle class

9:32

Edward: Have any thoughts on Vince Velasquez? Seems like it’s a lot of bad luck so far, but I’ve also never been as enamored with him as most.

9:33

Jeff Sullivan: Whenever Velasquez comes up, my instinct is always to be skeptical. But it’s not grounded in the numbers, because his numbers are fine. Maybe even better than that. You can’t strike out that many batters and be a bad pitcher

9:34

Jeff Sullivan: My skepticism is all about his ability to remain a healthy starting pitcher, and that’s based on his own history. But the Phillies are aware of the history, and they’ll treat him with caution. Let’s just say he’s a good starting pitcher to have in the Gabe Kapler era

9:36

Pablo: Why can’t Lucas Giolito strike anybody out? What has changed since spring training?

9:37

Jeff Sullivan: It’s probably time for me to revisit this subject, since he looked so damn good a month or whenever ago

9:37

Jeff Sullivan: In the regular season he’s been one of the very worst starting pitchers around

9:37

Jeff Sullivan: His arm slot is still lowered, although it’s gotten a little higher. I think he just had his best velocity of the season, yesterday, against the Royals

9:38

Jeff Sullivan: But the arm action doesn’t seem right. I kind of hate what Giolito does with his front leg. These are just strange mechanics, and it sure looks to my eye like Giolito is consistently overthrowing

9:39

Dokken: Trevor Story is now a top 3 SS? 250/350/520 5/5 SB and great in defense. Walking more, striking out less and hitting bombs. Will you finally admit he is elite? Oh… And he is as fast as BillyH.

9:39

Jeff Sullivan: Even in this season, Trevor Story is ninth among shortstops in WAR

9:40

Jeff Sullivan: And I don’t care what his sprint speed is relative to Billy Hamilton, considering Hamilton is a proven elite baserunner, and Story is not

9:40

Jeff Sullivan: Sprint speed is only one aspect of running the bases

9:41

Jeff Sullivan: Story looks like his normal self. Maybe a hair or two better. He’s fine

9:41

Jeff Sullivan: He is elite, in the way that every starter in the major leagues is elite

9:42

Fred Pants: Your take on Ian Happ’s outlook this season?  Slow start or cause for concern?

9:43

Jeff Sullivan: Happ is being attacked more often up in the zone, and those aren’t pitches he’s easily able to handle. It’s not a problem that’s unique to him, but it’s something he’ll have to learn to lay off. I think he’ll end up an above-average hitter, again, but the strikeouts are going to be there

9:44

Edward: Is Kurt Suzuki a top-ten catcher?

9:44

Jeff Sullivan: Probably not, but you couldn’t ask for a better backup

9:44

Jeff Sullivan: Well, you could, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one

9:44

Jeff Sullivan: You could ask for anything

9:45

Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: Next Tuesday is 1 May. What storylines from this season will we be talking about on 31 May?

9:45

Jeff Sullivan: Trading Manny Machado

9:45

Jeff Sullivan: How the Phillies should balance the present against the future

9:45

Jeff Sullivan: Shohei Ohtani

9:46

Jeff Sullivan: Whether Aaron Judge is seriously almost as valuable as Mike Trout

9:46

42: Are there any long term solutions for the Reds that do not involve multiple top-5 draft picks?

9:46

Jeff Sullivan: Pitching development. They need to be able to develop their pitchers. Their track record to this point is awful

9:47

Jeff Sullivan: They have young talent in the majors. They have young talent in the minors. The ingredients, for the most part, are there. They seem to be clueless when it comes to putting them together

9:48

45Blows Billygoats: Didi is having quite the start to the season, but if you look at the splits, he’s below average on the road.  Can we now put an asterisk behind Yankee like we do Coors Field?

9:48

Jeff Sullivan: I know you’re just trolling, but, 2017 Gregorius: 81 wRC+ at home, 133 wRC+ on the road

9:49

Kiner’s Disembodied Hands: If he’s able to get back into game shape, how do you see Kang being utilized by the Pirates?

9:50

Jeff Sullivan: This one is actually kind of a mystery to me. I don’t think the Pirates expected this, and they’re already so deep in half-decent 2B/3B types

9:50

Jeff Sullivan: I’m sure it’s too much to ask for Kang to be able to play much shortstop

9:51

Jeff Sullivan: And Kang is only under contract through the end of this season, with a 2019 club option

9:52

Jeff Sullivan: He’s not a priority. The team wants to play Moran. The team wants to play Harrison (when healthy) and Freese. Maybe Harrison gets dealt but as long as the Pirates are over .500 that won’t be happening

9:52

Jeff Sullivan: Long story short: no idea! Not an easy fit

9:52

Palardelphia: If I told you before the season started, “At the end of April, Rhys Hoskins will be the second best hitter in baseball behind a Yankee”, how many guesses would it take before you brought up Didi Gregorius?

9:52

Jeff Sullivan: Six?

9:52

Turgid: How are historical defensive values calculated? How accurate should we consider them to be?

9:53

Jeff Sullivan: Not particularly accurate for individual players in individual seasons, but accurate enough over large samples

9:53

Jeff Sullivan: It’s based on play-by-play data, without modern-day granular details

9:53

Jeff Sullivan: The further back you go, obviously, the less reliable the information

9:54

Willie Calhoun: FREE WILLIE!

9:54

Jeff Sullivan: Willie Calhoun is slugging .413 in Triple-A

9:55

Nicky: Do you think any outside companies can set some sort of statcast/trackman at every stadium, and make all the raw data available for public (I guess not for free) in the  future?

9:55

Jeff Sullivan: What’s the incentive? Where’s the money? There aren’t enough people in the public sphere who would pay much for this

9:56

Jeff Sullivan: Plus, the raw data on its own is super hard to interpret, and the existing structure wouldn’t welcome a threat

9:57

stever20: how much of a thing is starting for the first time at Coors Field?  I know Darvish struggled some there last weekend.  Thinking Ohtani may start there in a couple of weeks so just was wondering- may be a fun topic for an article coinciding with Ohtani’s 1st start there….

9:57

Jeff Sullivan: Even worse than ending up in Coors Field for the first time — Eric Lauer was just asked to make his *major-league debut* in Coors Field

9:57

Jeff Sullivan: It did not go well

9:58

Jeff Sullivan: I’m not sure how easily this could be researched. And honestly, I bet the first time isn’t too different from the second time. Between times, you probably forget what it’s like to pitch in thin air

9:59

Marc: Each season there are players that overperform and underperform according to woba and xwoba- this season as of the end of April we have star players underperforming (Santana, Lindor) and overperforming (Albies, Gregious).  Is there any statistic out there that shows a correlation between early season and end-of-season stats- that is, whether a player’s slump/hot streak “sticks”?

10:00

Jeff Sullivan: It’s always going to end up a case-by-case basis. Is someone just getting better batted-ball results, or are there also signs of an adjusted approach? Like, with Gregorius, he just looks like a different, more mature hitter

10:00

Jeff Sullivan: And then there’s the matter of pitcher adjustments, or future batter slumps. For last year’s first half, Manny Machado dramatically underperformed his xwOBA. Then he just plain got worse

10:01

Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think any analysis is very clean here. My advice would be to just look at the updated player projections, and then bump or subtract from there based on your own gut feeling

10:02

Jeff Sullivan: Before the year, Gregorius was projected for a .316 wOBA. Now that’s up to .331, the rest of the way

10:02

Guest: Do you ever wonder what happened

10:02

Jeff Sullivan: Every night, the instant I close my eyes

10:05

Turgid: Does statcast actually measure the spin of pitches? Or is spin inferred from movement?

10:06

Jeff Sullivan: Just had to take a few minutes for Googling

10:07

Jeff Sullivan: Almost certain it is direct measurement

10:07

Jeff Sullivan: As opposed to the old PITCHf/x system, where spin rate was inferred

10:09

Marcus Stroman: What’s my deal? Fundamentals look OK but I’m getting lit up. Should I be worried?

10:10

Jeff Sullivan: Not all that much is different about Stroman in the early going

10:10

Jeff Sullivan: But his slider seems to be giving him fits

10:11

Jeff Sullivan: Last year, batters swung at the slider 52% of the time. This year, that rate is down to a paltry 35%

10:13

Jeff Sullivan: Since Stroman is mostly a sinker/slider pitcher, he needs the slider to be more tempting if he’s going to get by. Otherwise batters can just look for sinkers and that isn’t very hard to do

10:13

Jeff Sullivan: I figure Stroman will pull himself out of this, but either he needs the slider to improve, or he needs to broaden his repertoire

10:13

Vegan Man!: Think Jesus Aguilar can be a decent fill in for Thames? Seems like he’s dropped his k% substantially, albeit in a SSS. Thanks!

10:14

Jeff Sullivan: I like Aguilar just fine. Before the year, I wasn’t sure he’d get a job, which was too bad, because he’s good enough. Now the Brewers’ misfortune will also get to show off their depth

10:14

Jeff Sullivan: They also have Ji-Man Choi in the system. I like Ji-Man Choi!

10:15

Pine Needles: Andrelton Simmons has maintained his power “surge” from last year while flipping his walk and strikeout rates, which seems to be supported by his plate discipline numbers. Is a legitimate good hitter now?

10:15

Jeff Sullivan: I think he is. 110-120 wRC+ territory

10:15

Jeff Sullivan: Ben Lindbergh has an article up today about Gregorius and Simmons. There are so many good shortstops

10:15

Jack: Why haven’t you written about Daniel Robertson yet?

10:16

Jeff Sullivan: Because there are several more interesting players and a man can write only so much

10:16

Dunt: Yoan Moncada is going to be scary once he irons things out from the right side

10:16

Jeff Sullivan: Yoan Moncada is already scary

10:16

Jeff Sullivan: He’s a 23-year-old with a 152 wRC+

10:17

Jeff Sullivan: It’s possible he just won’t become a good hitter from both sides. But his lefty swing is already so productive

10:17

Ross: Have you accepted Joey Wendle as your lord and savior?

10:18

Jeff Sullivan: Weird chat today

10:18

Weird Obsession: Is Miguel Rojas this year’s Chris Taylor?

10:18

Jeff Sullivan: See what I mean

10:18

Jeff Sullivan: Miguel Rojas hit a homer against Clayton Kershaw, which is great. Miguel Rojas is also slugging .380, after slugging .375 last season

10:19

sayward: Hey Jeff, we have team and pitcher home runs rates with HR/9 but is there a a way to get the number of runs given up by a pitcher or team from HRs either in total or as a percentage of total runs? Or for that matter driven in by a team or batter?

10:19

Jeff Sullivan: This refers to something called the Guillen Number, which pops up every now and again

10:20

Jeff Sullivan: Baseball Prospectus tracks it for team hitting https://legacy.baseballprospectus.com/sortable/index.php?cid=1819118

10:21

Jeff Sullivan: The Giants have scored 55% of their runs on homers. The Rays are at just 27%

10:22

Jeff Sullivan: But if you want more than this, you have to take the time to plow through the Baseball Reference Play Index –> Event Finder. You have to isolate home runs, and then see how many runs have scored on those

10:22

Jeff Sullivan: Takes a while. But, unsurprisingly, league-wide Guillen Numbers have been on the rise

10:23

Ben Aflac: Is Jason Heyward back?  The peripherals generally back up his line so far.

10:23

Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think Jason Heyward is *back*, but I do think he’s had a very promising start to his season, and it wouldn’t surprise me very much at all if he were a, say, 105-110 wRC+ kind of hitter at this point

10:24

Jeff Sullivan: Heyward’s xwOBA marks:

2015: .319
2016: .303
2017: .321
2018: .389!

10:24

Jeff Sullivan: Gotta give him more time, but this looks good for now

10:25

Morning Phase: When judging if a player has 5 tools, is a tool considered a 50 on the 20-80 scale? 55, 60?

10:25

Jeff Sullivan: Generally speaking, I don’t think you’re looking for a guy who has five average tools. You’re looking for someone with five above-average tools, so, yeah, that would be a 55 or 60, at least

10:26

Davy: Why do teams immediately minimize injuries in the press?Every time someone gets hurt, it’s, “Well, he might’ve bruised his hand. He’ll be back tomorrow.” And then after a few days on the bench they’ll admit that it’s really a broken wrist. I’m a Nats fan, and I was talking to a Mets fan who had the same complaint. Both teams recently replaced their entire training staffs, so it seems to be the team, not the doctors, who are misleading us. Don’t they realize that constantly having to admit that they were either wrong or dishonest makes them look bad?

10:26

Jeff Sullivan: I have a note written down here to research how Tommy John cases are initially reported. So many times, I feel like the early word is “no structural damage” and “day to day” or whatever

10:27

Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think anyone has any sinister intentions and I think, a lot of the time, teams will say what’s going on. But players don’t love to own up to injuries, because those can be perceived as excuses. And if teams kind of gloss over injury significance, then in theory that same injury can’t be so easily exploited by a current or future opponent

10:28

Jeff Sullivan: It’s complicated, but at least we still get more information about injuries in baseball than they do in hockey

10:28

Davy: I refuse to have great days, Jeff. I refuse on general principle.

10:28

Jeff Sullivan: It’s not up to you. It is an instruction

10:28

A different Matt: So where are the articles on our current WAR leader?

10:28

Jeff Sullivan: The Ringer

10:29

The Man With No Name: Is your boy Wilmer Font gonna right the ship in Oakland?

10:29

Jeff Sullivan: If nothing else he’ll sure as shit stop giving up a home run every other inning

10:30

Jeff Sullivan: I’m glad to see him get what should be a better chance than he got in LA. Might even end up starting at some point, depending on how the A’s rotation fares. Kendall Graveman is down in Triple-A now, after all

10:30

Jeff Sullivan: Font hasn’t made it easy to keep supporting him, but there’s no sense dumping on a guy after only ten innings

10:31

Vegan Man!: Any thoughts on Trevor Cahill? Underlying numbers look pretty promising… Thanks!

10:31

Jeff Sullivan: He was really interesting last season too. I think he’s a good pitcher until or unless his shoulder starts barking

10:31

Jeff Sullivan: But, his shoulder has this nasty tendency to bark

10:31

Shawn: Mac Williamson=the next JD Martinez with his swing transformation?

10:32

Jeff Sullivan: Justin Turner is the more obvious comparison, given the swing coach

10:32

Jeff Sullivan: Too early to say that Williamson *is* good. Not too early to say that Williamson *looks* good. All the early signs are outstanding

10:33

Limmy: You buying Ring’s Baez argument?  Or is this just SSS peak performance by a boom or bust guy that wouldn’t move the needle if it was happening in mid-June.

10:33

Jeff Sullivan: It’s very, very hard for me to believe in a guy with that blend of whiffs and aggressiveness

10:33

Play Ball: Sean Newcomb showed both his potential and the problems, with two of the four runs he allowed getting on to base with 4 pitch walks. If he can get himself to average (or slightly below average) command, how good of a pitcher can he be?

10:34

Jeff Sullivan: That would be a No. 2 starter. He is not, of course, a No. 2 starter right now

10:34

Stuafoo: Would you be in favor of the Ms shipping out guys like Cruz and Diaz if they’re hovering around .500 at the break? Seems like their path to the playoffs is so narrow that they should jump on moving their best assets if given the chance to give a boost to the farm.

10:35

Jeff Sullivan: You saw how little J.D. Martinez got around the deadline last year. Nelson Cruz is a free agent in November and even if he were made available, he wouldn’t bring back that much

10:35

Jeff Sullivan: With Diaz, there’s more of an argument, but that depends on how close the team is to the second wild card. Might be better to instead think about trading him in December, if the second half brings some chance of making the postseason

10:37

Turgid: Can Tim Anderson sustain his improved plate discipline?

10:37

Jeff Sullivan: Probably not, but I hope so

10:37

Jeff Sullivan: And for him, even a modest improvement would be useful

10:38

zach: think the astros could feasibly make their “5th starter” McCullers twice through the order and Peacock twice through the order? with lenience on either side depending on how the outing is going, of course

10:38

Jeff Sullivan: The option is there, but I don’t think the Astros would want to limit Peacock’s versatility like that

10:39

Jeff Sullivan: He’s too good to make unavailable for that many days

10:39

Vegan Man!: Which metric do you prefer for predicting future performance – xfip or SIERA? Thank you!

10:39

Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think I have ever once used SIERA

10:40

manny: are you concerned about Ohtani’s recent struggles?

10:41

Jeff Sullivan: “Concerned” is too strong a word. I’ll forgive him for the blister start. And then he went up against the Astros, who are outstanding. His slider was better but his splitter was worse. He hasn’t yet had a start where he had a good feel for all three of his pitches

10:41

Jeff Sullivan: Healthy Ohtani *will* be a good starting pitcher

10:42

Jeff Sullivan: And on the batting side, he just hasn’t had a chance to do much lately

10:42

Jeff Sullivan: 3 for his last 8, I guess

10:43

Fowl Balls: Still think Ketel Marte breaks out this year?

10:43

Jeff Sullivan: His contact rate has surged…too much. He’s making too much contact out of the zone, and it’s costing him production

10:43

Jeff Sullivan: Not the start I was looking for, but the skills are still there

10:44

Fred Pants: Which rookie starting pitcher excites you the most for 2018?

10:44

Jeff Sullivan: I assume you don’t want me to say Ohtani

10:44

Jeff Sullivan: Because the obvious answer would be Ohtani

10:44

Jeff Sullivan: The answer I want to give you is Ohtani

10:45

Jeff Sullivan: But now you’re forcing me to say Tyler Mahle

10:45

Jeff Sullivan: I’m saying Tyler Mahle, but what I want to say is Shohei Ohtani

10:45

Turgid: Is there any indication yet if the humidor is having an effect in Arizona?

10:45

Jeff Sullivan: Let me find out!

10:48

Jeff Sullivan: Yes!

10:48

Jeff Sullivan: Last season, Diamondbacks home games had average exit velocities about 1.5mph higher than Diamondbacks road games

10:49

Jeff Sullivan: This season — very early going — Diamondbacks home games have average exit velocities about 1.3mph *lower* than Diamondbacks road games

10:49

Jeff Sullivan: That’s more or less exactly what we’d be looking for

10:50

Jeff Sullivan: Diamondbacks hitters have twice as many homers on the road

10:50

Jeff Sullivan: Early samples aren’t conclusive, but they are suggestive

10:51

Red Sox fan: Is it possible to get information on individual defensive plays for fielders? Trying to figure out how Jackie Bradley Jr. has a -2.3 defensive WAR for the year, as I haven’t watched anything out of the norm in regards to his range.

10:52

Jeff Sullivan: It’s not easy at all. You’d probably have to send some emails to people you’ve never emailed. For whatever it’s worth, Statcast doesn’t think Bradley has been bad. And I wouldn’t much care about one month of UZR or DRS

10:52

barves: If you have a kid who’s a promising ball player, would you put any limits in place in their development?  No curve balls till X age?  No year round ball? No long toss in the off season? Ect.

10:53

Jeff Sullivan: I am not a parent or a coach, so I don’t have many strong opinions here, but I definitely wouldn’t want to make a kid play baseball all year round

10:53

Jeff Sullivan: I don’t care if it would give him more reps or exposure. Give the kid a damn break

10:53

Duffy: What are reasonable expectations for Didi going forward? Would you say his true talent level has changed?

10:54

Jeff Sullivan: I think he’s definitely better. Starting to wonder now if he’s basically become a left-handed Brian Dozier

10:54

Guest: What’s your current position on JaCoby Jones? Has he figured out something

10:55

Jeff Sullivan: I’m very interested in any young player who can so suddenly learn to make more contact. Jones needs more time, and he needs to face more good pitching, but he’s one player on the Tigers worth keeping an eye on, for sure

10:55

Dookie Howser MD: Its almost May, so almost just barely too early for early predictions: who wins the NL East?

10:55

Jeff Sullivan: I’ll still take the Nationals, but it’ll be close

10:56

Baseball Yeti: How many eyebrows do you have raised while looking at the current Leonys Martin ‘breakout?’ Looks like launch angle is up.

10:56

Jeff Sullivan: He’s done this before, and then it all fell apart

10:57

Jeff Sullivan: In early 2016, Martin was lifting and lifting with power, but then he got exposed. I don’t think he’s good enough to fend off a repeat of said exposure

10:58

Jeff Sullivan: He might’ve matured, though, since then. In 2016, he had continuing disagreements with the coaching staff about his swing and approach

10:58

Justin: Can you tell my fellow Yankee fans who jumped off the bridge a few weeks ago they can come back now? April.

10:58

Jeff Sullivan: They can’t come back. They jumped off a bridge

10:59

Jeff Sullivan: Jumping off a bridge is a one-way street

10:59

Crouching Tigers: Am I wrong thinking the Tigers only have a handful of true major league talent currently on the roster; Fulmer, Castellanos, Miggy, Candelario, and VMart? They are a bunch of marginal guys after the 5 I just mentioned, do you see any of the guys listed above being around when the Tigers get good again?

11:00

Jeff Sullivan: To me, it’s going to be a long, long time before the Tigers are good again. I’m not sure the current roster has a single core player to build around

11:00

Jeff Sullivan: I know they love Fulmer, for example, but that one would require a contract extension

11:01

Jeff Sullivan: Well, I’ll take that back. He’s under control through 2022. Anything could happen in 2022. But at the same time, anything could happen with a young pitcher who throws a bunch of sliders

11:01

Pat: Oh boy my Rangers are in trouble. Do you think they try to package Hamels, Beltre and a controllable RP at the deadline for better prospects? Can’t imagine them getting much of value if they sell the parts individually

11:02

Jeff Sullivan: That’s going to depend on various team needs. Can’t really project those now. But I can imagine Beltre kind of getting the Ray Bourque treatment here, with the Rangers trying hard to trade him to a World Series favorite

11:03

Thornton29: How concerned are you about the Indians’ offense?

11:03

Jeff Sullivan: Not concerned

11:03

Jeff Sullivan: They have baseball’s lowest BABIP, by 16 points

11:04

Jeff Sullivan: Yet they’re tenth in baseball in expected wOBA

11:04

Jeff Sullivan: Doesn’t mean they can’t get better — Manny Machado would look good! — but the lineup is strong

11:04

Len: As a Braves fan, how do I approach this season? Cautious optimism and rooting for young players to develop?

11:04

Jeff Sullivan: Root for wins!

11:04

Jeff Sullivan: Root, I guess, more specifically for wins driven by young potential members of the long-term core

11:05

Jeff Sullivan: But if the Braves end up going like 21-6 in games started by Anibal Sanchez, because Ryan Flaherty bats .433, who cares? Winning is winning

11:05

The Man With No Name: You wrote an article on Cingrani last September after some changes you noticed after he got to the Dodgers.  I haven’t looked to see if the new pitch selection/location has carried over into this year, but the results sure have!

11:06

Jeff Sullivan: They fixed him. He’s very good

11:07

Jeff Sullivan: Since last August, when Cingrani was acquired by the Dodgers, he’s second among all pitchers in xFIP, behind only Chad Green

11:07

Jeff Sullivan: He’s fourth in regular FIP

11:07

Jeff Sullivan: He’s fourth in K-BB%

11:07

Jeff Sullivan: You know the top five in K-BB% over that span? Hader, Green, Kimbrel, Cingrani, and Jansen

11:08

Jeff Sullivan: My goodness

11:08

Vegan Man!: Matt Olson is hitting the ball extremely hard (15th in average exit velo), but his power numbers are suffering. Obviously he wasn’t repeating a 41% hr/fb rate, but he’s bound to increase his current 14.1% rate, yes? Thanks!

11:08

Jeff Sullivan: Yes; he is good

11:08

Jeff Sullivan: Someone with this skillset is better than a .132 ISO

11:09

Kevin: Is Didi finally a top 5 shortstop?

11:09

Jeff Sullivan: I’d put him…fifth. So, yeah, sure

11:09

Jeff Sullivan: Correa, Lindor, Seager, Simmons, Gregorius

11:09

Jeff Sullivan: And then Bogaerts in sixth

11:10

Guest: At what point does a trade go from a “heist” to just unexpectedly working out years later?  Didi was a passable (if slightly better than expected) SS for years before this run; did the Yanks steal this from the Dbacks, or is it so attenuated that we can’t say what would have happened in the alternate timeline

11:10

Jeff Sullivan: I think a “heist” is a trade that is almost immediately lopsided

11:10

Jeff Sullivan: One team takes advantage of another team just not properly valuing its own player

11:10

Jeff Sullivan: With Gregorius, even the Yankees wouldn’t have figured he could turn into something this good

11:11

Mike: You guys talked on EW about Kyle Schwarber not being faster despite the weight loss. Is there data about the difference in his acceleration or first step?

11:11

Jeff Sullivan: Not that we have access to

11:11

Jeff Sullivan: But I wouldn’t get my hopes up

11:11

Twins Slumps: Twins hitters are down across the board (Sano, Rosario, Buxton, etc.). Do you contribute that to the weather/schedule? Which of these guys do you think will get the wheels back on?

11:11

Jeff Sullivan: I wouldn’t worry much at all about how the Twins have looked through the first month of the season. They’ve had the strangest first month of any team in either league

11:13

Ubaldo Jimenez: Man, is that Alex Cobb deal ever looking bad for Baltimore, huh?

11:13

Jeff Sullivan: Cobb is obviously much better than this, but at some point the Orioles need to learn a lesson about bidding against themselves

11:13

Jeff Sullivan: That point was a few years ago

11:13

Finland’s #1 fangraphs reader: Do you think Tyler Austin could hold off a healthy Greg Bird?

11:13

Jeff Sullivan: No

11:13

YKnotDisco?!: Was Ottavino hurt last year? Or is he just an (extreme) example of the year-to-year variance of being a reliever?

11:14

Jeff Sullivan: His mechanics were out of whack

11:14

Jeff Sullivan: And I think hitters started to approach him differently, so he needed to change his own profile

11:14

Jeff Sullivan: All right, I need to get rolling

11:14

Jeff Sullivan: So thank you everybody for hanging out, and I’m sorry for what I didn’t or couldn’t address. We’ll do it again next week at the same time, and until then, be well and have great days

We hoped you liked reading Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 4/27/18 by Jeff Sullivan!

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




Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

newest oldest most voted
John Autin
Member
John Autin

I hate to nitpick Jeff, but it’s poor form to say that D-backs batters have twice as many homers on the road without adding that their pitchers have yielded twice as many HRs at home.