Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 4/21/17

9:06
Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:06
Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

9:06
Bork: Hello, friend!

9:07
Jeff Sullivan: Hello friend

9:07
Sterling Mallory Chris Archer: How do you envision Marte playing when he comes back?

9:07
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t imagine much of anything is going to change

9:08
Jeff Sullivan: History suggests that when these players come back, they’re more or less the same. You can interpret that in one of two ways. Either the PEDs didn’t help performance much, or they just take a long time before the positive effects wear off

9:09
Ozzie Guillen: Your thoughts on Quintana? Walks are up, unlucky on HRs…any concerns?

9:10
Jeff Sullivan: His stuff seems to be the same, he’s throwing just as many pitches in the strike zone, and his contact rate hasn’t meaningfully budged. Given those factors, and given his track record, I think this is a minor slump that some statistics are exaggerating. I’m not concerned about anything yet, and I’m sure he’s somewhat preoccupied. I’ll be more worried if his ERA is still way up in a month

9:11
Jeff Sullivan: Also willing to give him a little bit more time to get comfortable with Narvaez behind the plate

9:12
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Tampa Bay is shifting something like 37% against RHH to a league average of 10%. Do they know something we don’t?

9:12
Jeff Sullivan: Righties are pull hitters too

9:12
Jeff Sullivan: No reason not to shift, if you’re predisposed to shift

9:12
Chaps: Since the Mariners and Brewers don’t play each other this season, it seems like Keon Broxton won’t have a chance to face off against James Paxton. Which do you think is most likely: 1) They face off in the all star game, 2) One of them gets traded, and they face off after that trade, or 3) They face off in the World Series?

9:13
Jeff Sullivan: The most likely would be the first one, but that damned Broxton is making me look like a fool

9:13
Jeff Sullivan: He’s just all kinds of messed up 🙁

9:14
Andrew: Anything to take away from Nola’s velocity last night? He was sitting around 89-90, instead of his previous starts at 93-94

9:14
Jeff Sullivan: Although his velocity was technically down, it was right in line with where he was all of last season http://www.brooksbaseball.net/velo.php?player=605400&b_hand=-1&gFilt=r…SI|FC|CU|SL|CS|KN|CH|FS|SB&time=game&minmax=ci&var=mph&s_type=16&startDate=03/30/2007&endDate=04/21/2017

9:16
Jeff Sullivan: He also still topped out at 93, so that’s encouraging. Given the four walks and given last year’s injury, I get the heightened concern, but maybe yesterday he simply didn’t have it

9:17
Steven Souza Jr.: Not bad, huh? Sure, my BABIP might come down a bit, but is my start intriguing you at all now that I’m making a reasonable amount of contact?

9:18
Jeff Sullivan: Here’s the weird thing about Souza: his strikeout rate is down like 10 percentage points, but his contact rate is up just two percentage points. It’s right in line with his career mark. So I don’t think there’s been a forward leap

9:18
Jeff Sullivan: But Souza has been more selective, and he’s hit more balls in the air. Given that Statcast has shown he’s a pretty good defensive outfielder, any offensive progress would be big. We know he can hit the ball hard. A few years ago lots of baseball people suggested they’d take Souza over Wil Myers. There’s a foundation to build on

9:19
Billy Boy: The Phillies have been 6-9 the past two seasons on 4/20. Just spreading the word.

9:19
Jeff Sullivan: That’s not nice

9:19
Jeff Sullivan: That’s bad

9:20
2-D: Is there a way to find out how many times an intentional walk to make the bases loaded backfires? It feels like the pitchers’ walk rate goes up in these situations.

9:20
Jeff Sullivan: There is not, unfortunately, an easy way. But there is a way. It would probably require a lot of Play Indexing

9:20
Jeff Sullivan: Or, failing that, going nuts with Retrosheet queries

9:20
Frank: Do you see Dansby Swanson getting on track soon, or could he end up a failed top prospect similar to Gordan Beckham?

9:21
Jeff Sullivan: Let’s calm down before we go too far with our Gordon Beckham comparisons

9:22
Jeff Sullivan: Swanson does not actually have that much professional experience. This slump isn’t a *good* thing, but he has plenty of time. There was bound to be a dip after last summer’s strong debut

9:22
lakes: You buying Addison Russell’s changes? Looks to be swinging less at outside pitches, fewer strikeouts. Could be .260, 25 HR batter?

9:22
Jeff Sullivan: He changes all the time

9:22
Jeff Sullivan: So far none of the changes have actually unlocked him

9:24
Jeff Sullivan: The improved discipline so far has been greatly encouraging, and Russell remains potentially exciting, but I want to see him face more good pitchers

9:25
Jeff Sullivan: He’s had these low O-Swing% spurts before, and I want to see him do this for at least another month

9:26
Josh R: An overlooked part of the Dodgers failure to hit lefty pitching is that their Righty bats can’t get the job done. In 2016 .224/.313/.354 and so far even a little worse this year. .210/.309/.364. This doesn’t even seem possible. Should they worry about it and what can they do ?

9:27
Jeff Sullivan: Forsythe will help. Gutierrez will help when he’s able to play. Their lineup shouldn’t struggle against lefties like this, and I don’t think it’s going to keep up

9:28
Jeff Sullivan: The team’s wRC+ against lefties so far is nearly average. This is a narrative I have trouble buying into

9:29
Jack: If a foul pop-up is coming down right where the on-deck hitter is standing, does he have to get out of the fielder’s way? I assume he’s not allowed to go out of his way to interfere with the catch on a play near him, but in a situation where it’s coming down right at him, is he allowed to continue to stand there and make things more difficult for the fielder? Could Aaron Judge just take the ball off the top of his helmet so Jose Ramirez wouldn’t be able to reach over him to catch it?

9:29
Jeff Sullivan: Reddit to the rescue!

9:30
Jeff Sullivan: Rule 6.01(b) Fielder Right of Way The players, coaches or any member of a team at bat shall vacate any space (including both dugouts or bullpens) needed by a fielder who is attempting to field a batted or thrown ball. If a member of the team at bat (other than a runner) hinders a fielder’s attempt to catch or field a batted ball, the ball is dead, the batter is declared out and all runners return to the bases occupied at the time of the pitch. If a member of the team at bat (other than a runner) hinders a fielder’s attempt to field a thrown ball, the ball is dead, the runner on whom the play is being made shall be declared out and all runners return to the last legally occupied base at the time of the interference.

9:30
5 Run Homer: I haven’t watched much baseball because my favourite hockey team is in the playoffs and the Jays are awful. Im

9:30
5 Run Homer: I WASNT DONE TYPING THAT

9:31
Jeff Sullivan: I know the feeling. My own baseball consumption is being limited right now on account of the Senators. Which, hey, that’s great! But baseball season for me won’t *truly* begin until the Sens are eliminated

9:31
Jeff Sullivan: This usually isn’t a problem. 😐

9:31
Angry FG Reader: I invested heavily in Keon Broxton because of you and your ilk. Please give me hope that everything will be OK.

9:31
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know man

9:32
Jeff Sullivan: I mean, he started last year like this, and then he had that crazy second half. But this is messy

9:33
Jeff Sullivan: The only optimism I have is that his contact rate hasn’t changed that much. He strikes out looking *so often*.

9:34
Robin: At what sample size can we feel confident that Haniger won’t go all Ackley on us? What type of modifier should our expectations for him be due to him not being forced to develop within the M’s organization?

9:35
Jeff Sullivan: Rookie Ackley had a 117 wRC+ over 376 plate appearances

9:36
Jeff Sullivan: So, bad news!

9:36
Jeff Sullivan: Dustin Ackley and Jeremy Reed ruin everything

9:36
Jeff Sullivan: But Haniger really does seem like the real deal. Contact’s good. Discipline’s good. Doesn’t swing and miss too much. He’ll slump, but I love the overall skillset

9:38
Big Tuna: What is up with Carlos Martinez?

9:39
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think anything is really up with Carlos Martinez, in terms of something being horribly wrong

9:40
Jeff Sullivan: He continues to struggle to avoid walks against lefties, and I don’t know how much longer that’s going to hound him

9:40
Jeff Sullivan: He’s made himself even more difficult to hit, just getting the bat on the ball, but that results in deeper counts, and Martinez doesn’t have pinpoint command. Deep counts mean more strikeouts and more walks

9:41
Jeff Sullivan: With a few more first-pitch strikes, Martinez will be on track. I’m not too worried

9:41
Big Tuna: What do you make of Votto’s slow start? I know he experiments a lot.

9:41
Jeff Sullivan: And here I thought everyone loved what Votto was doing!

9:41
Jeff Sullivan: He has a 123 wRC+, and that goes with a .170 BABIP

9:42
Jeff Sullivan: The man hates striking out. He might be sacrificing some contact quality to keep the strikeouts down. But just as with Clayton Kershaw a week ago — my answer is that I worry about Votto less than I worry about literally any other hitter

9:43
Jeff Sullivan: *Literally* literally. I have more confidence in Votto than anyone

9:43
Jeff Sullivan: And, by the way, his O-Swing% is back to normal. It’s his Z-Swing% that remains up by 10 points

9:43
Rain: Jon Lester someone who can survive with diminished velo given his control, pitch tunneling, pitch pairs?

9:44
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think we know enough about tunneling or pairs or anything to be declarative. Just, Lester throws a bunch of pitches within a narrow velo range, and his command is super good. When you can locate, your margin of error is large

9:45
Greg: If the Braves crash and burn could you see them flipping Freeman for a monster package?

9:45
Jeff Sullivan: It would have to be a total, utter catastrophe

9:45
Jeff Sullivan: Otherwise they just can’t do it

9:45
Jeff Sullivan: And they’d have to look out for the Brewers potentially shopping Eric Thames

9:47
OC: Why don’t we see more 2-3 arbitration extensions with elite relievers? Relievers can be volatile, but it seems both parties should be mutually interested, especially as more teams prevent their best young relievers from closing due to increasing arbitration costs. These extensions would give teams would get a cost-controlled closer, while the player would get the chance to earn the “proven closer” label, valuable for free agency.

9:48
Jeff Sullivan: It doesn’t not happen. Doolittle, Kimbrel, Herrera, Jones, Ottavino, Harris, and Strop have signed deals while still in the team-control years

9:49
CaptainPeanutbutter: Dansby Swanson and Byron Buxton are tied for worst position player’s at this point with -0.6. How surprising is this? Which surprised you more? And which do you think will end the season higher?

9:50
Jeff Sullivan: Swanson is definitely the bigger surprise. We’ve seen Buxton do this before. Because of that, I think Swanson has the better chance of finishing higher. Buxton just seems lost. Swanson seems like he’s struggling for the first time

9:50
Relsh: Thanks for all the great articles, Jeff. Love sharing them as the writing makes the topics super accessible to the more casual fans

9:50
Jeff Sullivan: Thank you for reading them, because I can’t believe this is an actual job

9:51
Mark Shapiro: What can I get for Josh Donaldson?

9:51
Jeff Sullivan: Right now probably ibuprofen and a heating pad

9:52
Brandon: What’s up with Paul Goldschmidt? Is this a temporary power dip or a longer term downward continuation trend that started last year? Have we seen peak Goldschmidt already? He seems too young for that.

9:53
Jeff Sullivan: Recent Padres games aside, I’ll give Goldschmidt a break because he’s faced a bunch of tough pitching. His contact rate is down, which isn’t great, but his batted-ball quality is basically fine. This feels like a minor blip, not a longer-term concern

9:53
Jeff Sullivan: Still very dangerous

9:54
2-D: Should Jose Berrios be in the Twins’ rotation right now?

9:55
Jeff Sullivan: That depends entirely on their internal evaluation — they have their reasons for his being in Triple-A, and they have things they’re looking for. If and when they’re satisfied, it shouldn’t be hard for him to step in for Mejia

9:55
Lord of the Infield Flies: Do you think Maikel Franco ever settles in as an above-average 3B? The tools are there, but the results are frustrating.

9:56
Jeff Sullivan: I think with his above-average power and above-average contact, it’ll be hard for him to be too terrible for too long. He does chase often enough that he limits his own ceiling, and his defense isn’t extraordinary, but he should end up with triple-digit wRC+ marks

9:58
Big Tuna: With Mancini having a start at lead off this week, is he actually somebody we should take seriously?

9:59
Jeff Sullivan: According to Statcast, since 2015, just 29 players have hit a ball in the air at least 115 miles per hour. Mancini is one of them, on a home run from a week and a half ago

9:59
Jeff Sullivan: Now, this is a list of players that goes from Giancarlo Stanton to Will Venable, so it’s no guarantee of success, but that hints at Mancini’s peak power. Maybe he’s Mark Trumbo!

10:00
Erik: What’s more likely: Eric Thames finishes top 5 in WAR, or Eric Thames finishes with negative WAR from this date to the end of the season?

10:00
Jeff Sullivan: Last year’s cutoff, for position players, was 7.5 WAR (Corey Seager)

10:01
Jeff Sullivan: Thames’ WAR right now is 1.6

10:02
Jeff Sullivan: Over the past decade, just eight 1B seasons have reached the 7 WAR threshold — looking at Pujols, Berkman, Votto, Goldschmidt, and Davis

10:02
Jeff Sullivan: This is actually hard. This is a hard question!

10:03
Jeff Sullivan: I think the right answer is the negative-WAR one, but I don’t think it’s the right answer by much

10:03
Jeff Sullivan: If Thames’ discipline is for real, he’s an elite hitter

10:04
Guest: Say something nice about Wade Miley. He clearly didn’t like the weather in the northwest, and his move back to the east coast has rejuvenated his career. I know it was only the Reds, but my god man, he was dealing last night!

10:04
Jeff Sullivan: Here’s the funny thing. Miley last year: 19% strikeouts. Miley this year: 33% strikeouts

10:04
Jeff Sullivan: Miley last year: 8.8% swinging strikes. Miley this year: 8.9% swinging strikes

10:05
Jeff Sullivan: He’s had two outstanding starts in a row. At one point last year he dominated the Cubs. He is very much hit-and-miss

10:05
Jeff Sullivan: I do see that he’s virtually eliminating his changeup. Something to watch

10:06
Hobbs: Saw some of the Nats vs Braves game last night. Strasburg was pitching from the stretch when nobody is on base. Did he just start this? Do you have any idea why, or if it seems to be helping with anything?

10:08
Jeff Sullivan: I think it’s something he’s started to do this year. He’s not the first. Carlos Carrasco comes to mind as a guy who took off around the same time he adopted the full-time stretch. It’s a way to simplify, to try to achieve greater mechanical consistency. Strasburg’s strike rate this year is very high. He’s actually at 70%, which is nuts. So that’s an early positive

10:09
Jeff Sullivan: Strikes up, grounders way up. Historically, Strasburg hasn’t been so great with runners on base. Maybe getting more familiar with the stretch will aid with that

10:10
Baloo: Hi Jeff, I’m going to Greece on my honeymoon in June. We’ll be visiting Athens, Santorini, and Crete. There is a volcano on the island of Santorini, but we’ve heard from multiple sources that it’s not all that interesting to visit, so we might skip it. Convince me otherwise?

10:11
Jeff Sullivan: Just to be clear, Santorini technically *is* a volcano. Or, part of one

10:12
Jeff Sullivan: But maybe the most interesting aspect is the potential link between Santorini and the tale of the lost city of Atlantis http://www.decadevolcano.net/santorini/atlantis.htm

10:12
Jeff Sullivan: Whether you’re interested in that is up to you!

10:15
The Dark Knight: Have I returned?

10:15
Jeff Sullivan: Well that depends

10:15
Jeff Sullivan: Harvey looks effective again, and he’s pounding the strike zone

10:15
Jeff Sullivan: But his stuff isn’t all the way back and his contact rate is higher than the league-average

10:15
Jeff Sullivan: So Harvey might be more of a low-walks guy than a high-strikeouts guy

10:16
Davy: Does Mike Rizzo just enjoy shattering the confidence of his relievers? It is starting to seem like his specialty.

10:16
Jeff Sullivan: Not his fault Blake Treinen has been walking everybody

10:18
Charlie: Is the Mets’ staff not as good as we thought. We know Thor’s awesome and deGrom’s great, but the rest seem like they may be below average. Still would be a good rotation, but not as we imagined. Do you agree?

10:19
Jeff Sullivan: I know that Gsellman, Harvey, and Wheeler have combined for a 118 ERA- in nine starts, but they also have a 95 FIP- and 80 xFIP-. They have nearly four strikeouts for every walk. They’re fine

10:19
Jeff Sullivan: They’re not dominant, but they’re fine

10:19
Josh: If Eric Thames continues to mash, what do you think the odds are that the Brewers would entertain trading him? Would the sample size be large enough to warrant a return that would make a trade worthwhile? His contract looks like a steal, but he isn’t exactly young.

10:20
Jeff Sullivan: This is going to be one of the most interesting questions leading up to the deadline, and it’s also going to depend on how the rest of the Brewers develop. If they feel like they’re getting close, Thames will stick. But if the younger players are taking their time, Thames could be a massive trade asset, given how little he costs

10:20
bosoxforlife: Have you seen Nate Silver’s “Goose Egg” concept for valuing relief pitchers?

10:20
Jeff Sullivan: Heard about it, read a synopsis, decided it wasn’t going to mean anything to me

10:21
Lars: Bird still the word?

10:21
Jeff Sullivan: One of the words

10:21
Jeff Sullivan: one of several words, actually

10:21
Robin: Now that the season has started, are we allowed to know where August went?

10:21
Jeff Sullivan: I actually thought there would be a formal announcement around opening day. Color me surprised!

10:22
Beisbol : So… Jason Vargas is an ace now I guess?

10:22
Jeff Sullivan: I like how he has one of baseball’s very lowest Z-Contact rates.

10:22
Jeff Sullivan: I mean, whatever

10:23
Jeff Sullivan: There’s a real conflict here. It pits the substantial lack of interest in writing about Jason Vargas against the substantial amount of interest in writing about surprising performances

10:24
Erik: At the end of the season, what will be a higher number: Clayton Kershaw’s WAR, or James Paxton’s WAR plus 2?

10:24
Jeff Sullivan: Let’s see. Paxton already has a 0.5-WAR edge

10:24
Jeff Sullivan: Kershaw’s projected to end up at 7.5. Paxton, 4.5

10:25
Jeff Sullivan: But I’m the high guy on Paxton. So, dammit, I’ll take Paxton!

10:25
Wil Myers: How come Strasburg doesn’t get attention for being a top-20 pitcher by rate stats?

10:25
Jeff Sullivan: ERA hasn’t matched his peripherals

10:25
Jeff Sullivan: That, plus the burden of unfair expectations

10:25
Guest: Who do you see as buyers and sellers in the relief market at the deadline and some arms on the move?

10:25
Jeff Sullivan: Pretty much every competitive team will have a need for a reliever of some kind. That’s how it always goes

10:26
Jeff Sullivan: The Padres will sell. The Brewers will sell. The A’s will sell if they’re out of it. The White Sox, of course, will sell

10:27
RMR: What’s your read on Kenta Maeda? Eno sounded lukewarm on him yesterday (basically saying he’s been just ok since the first month last year), but I look at his player page and I see more velocity across the board and more whiffs this year. Are you expecting a turnaround here?

10:27
Jeff Sullivan: It does interest me that his stuff is up a little, and he’s still generating plenty of bad swings. I don’t know if Maeda will ever be considered reliable, given his health-related red flags, but while he can pitch, I buy him as more good than bad

10:27
Michael P: Scale of 1-10 how intrigued are you by Oakland’s pitching staff, especially considering Sonny’s return is coming up?

10:28
Jeff Sullivan: Considering the rotation and the bullpen combined, I’d say 7 or 8. They’re undersold as a group, and the pitchers are why I think the A’s will surprise some people

10:28
Robert the Bruce Banner: 1-100%, how much do you believe that the Cubs as a whole are intentially doing something that results in a lower velocity? If so, is it being too cute?

10:29
Jeff Sullivan: 60-70%. I haven’t seen something like this before, so I can’t pass judgment on it yet. To this point the results have been okay, Hendricks aside

10:29
Jeff Sullivan: Hendricks might not be able to sacrifice speed and still remain effective

10:29
Kris in Seattle: With the success of the Cubs teardown, and Astros to a lesser degree, has the volume of chat questions surrounding “What could X team get for X asset?” increased on the site?

10:29
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think so. I think people have always been interested in thinking about blockbusters

10:30
Scott: So far I have found that Taylor Motter and Brad Peacock have already reached their Steamer projections for this year. What are some other guys that weren’t suppose to contribute much this year that have done this?

10:30
Jeff Sullivan: I think Avisail Garcia has already been worth more WAR than the projections thought

10:31
Jeff Sullivan: Jose Leclerc comes to mind

10:31
daro: blue jays offense has being a disaster. any hope?

10:31
Jeff Sullivan: Some hope

10:31
Jeff Sullivan: Long track records of success in there

10:31
Robert the Bruce Banner: Does Schwarber catch at all this year?

10:31
Jeff Sullivan: Not more than rarely. Not worth it

10:32
Naveen: I went to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and wished you could have had the experience the whole time I was there!

10:32
Jeff Sullivan: It’s on the list. I was never real interested in going to Hawaii until I realized I wouldn’t *have* to go to the beach

10:33
Luck Dragons: Why use Gio Gonzalez over Joe Ross?

10:33
Jeff Sullivan: Stronger belief in Gio Gonzalez being able to pitch consistently

10:34
Jeff Sullivan: Ross needs to prove his own health and mechanical repeatability

10:34
Relsh: Is Headley Deadly again?

10:34
Jeff Sullivan: Probably not

10:34
DN: 80 xFIP- isn’t dominant? Last year only 5 qualified pitchers had an xFIP- 80 or better.

10:34
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think that 80 xFIP- reflects their true talent

10:34
Jeff Sullivan: (referring to Harvey/Wheeler/Gsellman)

10:35
Jeff Sullivan: All they’ve faced are the Braves, Marlins, and Phillies

10:35
Robin: Recent articles (including the residency piece on FG) have mentioned how players are bigger, stronger, etc. That said, what is your average player? Would a 0 WAR today be >0 25 years ago? Would Spezio be actually decent with pitchers throwing slower? Does it make comparing WAR between time periods a bit deceiving?

10:36
Jeff Sullivan: It depends what you’re trying to do. A bad player today is way better than a bad player 40 years ago. But you can’t really hold that against the bad player from 40 years ago — he didn’t have access to contemporary…everything. When we compare across eras, we’re just trying to put numbers within league-specific contexts. Just because Mike Trout is better than Babe Ruth doesn’t mean Ruth wasn’t similarly exceptional, relative to his peers at the time

10:37
Put me in coach: In last night’s Mets game, Conforto and Granderson both started in the OF and Conforto started in CF. Is that an acknowledgment by the Mets that Conforto is the better CF?

10:38
Jeff Sullivan: Going to guess Granderson the veteran gets to just stay in one spot since that’s less hectic, and it’s Conforto who has to bounce around. Players don’t really like to bounce around if they don’t have to, and the difference between Granderson and Conforto in center isn’t big. Neither one of them should play it

10:39
The Jolly Roger: Thoughts on Amir Garrett? The SwStr % on his curveball and change are pretty impressive. I know the fastball velo isn’t crazy, but if his secondary stuff is this good, can he continue to put up good numbers?

10:40
Jeff Sullivan: Last year in the minors, Garrett threw 62% strikes. So far in three starts in the majors, he’s thrown 68% strikes. I haven’t looked at him closely enough to know whether this reflects improvement, but he’s pounded the zone and gotten whiffs within it, which is promising. Command and secondary stuff can definitely carry a big-league starter

10:40
Jeff Sullivan: It’s nice to see the Reds have a young starter have something good happen

10:41
Luck Dragons: Is Lance McCullers legit?

10:41
Jeff Sullivan: He’s been good for a while

10:41
ted the friend of all children : Headley got 1 war in 12 games. Are we looking at an all star?

10:41
Jeff Sullivan: No

10:41
Jeff Sullivan: Too many good third basemen, and the Yankees have more visible representatives

10:42
Steve Zissou: Hey Jeff, Big Sens fan here. Thoughts on the renaissance of Bobby Ryan in the playoffs? Most of Ottawa had been ready to kill him a month ago.

10:42
Jeff Sullivan: I find listening to Guy Boucher to be very reassuring

10:42
Jeff Sullivan: I am a deliberately stupid hockey fan, and so I love the bounceback story being told. Playoffs!

10:42
Nats Fan: How much stock should I put in the hot starts by Harper and Zimmerman?

10:42
Jeff Sullivan: More in Harper, I guess, but I think Zimmerman is a genuinely good hitter for as long as he’s healthy. That, of course, is the issue

10:43
Dahl Makhani: Archaeologists peddle the Atlantis thing as a way to drum up public interest, when there’s really little evidence it wasn’t just a place Plato made up to make a point

10:43
Jeff Sullivan: Nevertheless, it’s interesting to evaluate the damage wrought by the massive eruption

10:44
Steve: Any reasons to believe Duvall will bat higher than .240 this year?

10:44
Jeff Sullivan: Last year he batted .241

10:45
Joey Hacks: There’s nothing that looks good on Bautista’s 2017 lines. However, looking back at 2016 and his career, I thought he could bounce back based off of his Hard% data last year versus being higher than his career average. Statcast though showed his Brls/BBE being down in 2016 versus the previous year. I weighted the Hard% over the later due to more data. Was I wrong to do so, and how can we accept why these two similar metrics are suggesting radically different things?

10:45
Jeff Sullivan: It’s possible to make hard contact without making nearly perfect contact, which is what barrels essentially measure

10:45
Jeff Sullivan: It’s also worth noting that Hard% baselines have shifted over the years, so it’s best to consider Hard% against average

10:46
humble : When Smyly gets back, does Miranda kick Gallardo out of the rotation?

10:46
Jeff Sullivan: Can’t take that for granted. Can’t actually take any part of that for granted

10:46
kdallas: When do you expect to see Meadows? Right around July/whenever Super 2 is?

10:46
Jeff Sullivan: I doubt they’ll promote him just to sit behind three guys when Marte returns. Also, right now Meadows is slugging .286

10:47
Jeff Sullivan: The Pirates said that Meadows isn’t ready. Often, when teams say that about top prospects, they’re using it as a cover because of what are truly service-time concerns. In this case, I think the Pirates were being honest

10:47
humble : The Mariners offense is currently being propped up by a rookie and a utility bench player. How much of Motter is sustainable? Surely the power is coming as at least something of a surprise?

10:48
Jeff Sullivan: Last year, Motter generated terrible exit velocities. I haven’t written about him yet because I’m conscious of doing too much Mariners stuff, but I’ve had my eye on him since spring training. My hunch is he’s another swing-change dude

10:48
Jeff: Is Taylor Motter for real?

10:48
Jeff Sullivan: If you touch him, he will say “what”

10:48
Jeff Sullivan: He is not a hologram

10:49
Babe Lincoln: The Dodgers traded Mike Piazza because there was acrimony btwn the player and the FO. Feels like we’re seeing that less and less, no?

10:49
Jeff Sullivan: Teams are too strongly incentivized to not act irrationally

10:49
Jeff Sullivan: There was speculation that Josh Donaldson was traded because of a feud with Billy Beane, but I don’t buy into that

10:50
Peanut Butter: What’s up with Aaron Hicks? Is the breakout coming?

10:50
Jeff Sullivan: I truly doubt it, but I’m open-minded. Super small sample, but I love a guy with more home runs than strikeouts

10:51
Kakie Bryan: Should I be worried about Anthony Rendon? He’s not hitting line drives and his hard hit % is way down.

10:51
Jeff Sullivan: He’ll be fine

10:51
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t see much of anything troubling yet

10:52
Rick: So tell me if I’m wrong here, but wouldn’t the humidors going in at Chase Field hurt the Dbacks more than help them considering their offense is basically what propels this team

10:52
Jeff Sullivan: Offense is always relative to opposing offense. If the D-Backs lose 20 home runs, and their opponents also lose 20 home runs, then it’s a wash

10:52
Jeff Sullivan: And if anything, given all their electric young pitchers, they could use a few more flies dying at the track to give a boost of confidence

10:53
Brian: Since the start of last year the Cubs active roster is 4th in wRC+ vs left handed pitching but last in hard hit rate. Is that weird?

10:53
Jeff Sullivan: I guess so

10:53
Brian: McCullers is getting ahead and throwing in the zone at a higher rate than in the past. Small sample noise or a step forward?

10:53
Jeff Sullivan: McCullers last year: 63% strikes. McCullers this year: 63% strikes

10:54
Luck Dragons: Why can’t a team move their catcher to be an extra infielder with less than two strikes and bases empty?

10:54
Jeff Sullivan: The rules

10:54
Kelly: Anything unlucky about Kyle Seager’s slow start?

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: This seems like an annual thing. Not worried

10:55
seattlecougar: I’ve really missed the NERD game scores this year. Who do I have to bribe with sexual favors to get those back?

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think Carson is particularly sexually motivated

10:55
Christian: I’m pretty sure Danny Duffy also started having some success when he went to the stretch full-time.

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: Yeah, good number of guys who’ve done that. Actually makes me wonder why there’s a wind-up at all

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: A pitcher has to achieve release-point consistency with his delivery. So why have two deliveries instead of one?

10:56
JB : I want to be you. Can you get me a job?

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: I can! If you have demonstrated a track record of writing about baseball consistently and insightfully.

10:57
kevinthecomic: wrt your comment of “I can’t believe this is an actual job”, how are you guys paid? By the article? word? salary? something else? I’m not looking to know rates, obviously, just how things are structured.

10:57
Jeff Sullivan: Full-timers are salaried. I think there are 9 or 10 of us

10:57
Jeff Sullivan: It’s a regular job, except for the part where it’s a silly job for a person to have

10:58
Jeff Sullivan: My girlfriend comes home talking about deep, dramatic student crises at the campus where she works. I spend my days writing about Tommy Milone drawing a walk

10:59
Jay: Anthony Castrovince just tweeted this “Jason Vargas, Dallas Keuchel, CC Sabathia, Jeremy Hellickson, Mike Leake all rank in top 20 in ERA and bottom 20 in average fastball velo.”

10:59
Jeff Sullivan: It is going to be interesting to me to see if there’s a sort of velocity push-back. Everyone’s trying to throw harder and harder. Can you *actually* command the ball better if you’re throwing at 95%? If so, that seems like a thing to target

11:00
Anthony: How far into extra-innings does a good game have to go for you to turn it off out of boredom?

11:00
Jeff Sullivan: I think I’m more likely to be interested the *longer* it goes

11:00
Thin Balor: With the uptick in velocity is Shelby Miller back to being a solid #2-3 SP?

11:00
Jeff Sullivan: Should be

11:01
Lemmiwinks: You worry about Votto less than you do Trout???

11:01
Jeff Sullivan: I actually do. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s ageism

11:01
A Duffy: Out of all the Duffy’s now in the show, which do you think will prove most valuable to their team this year?

11:01
Jeff Sullivan: Danny is the good one

11:01
david: Where can I find rolling average data? For instance, the game-by-game OBP or Z-Contact% for a player?

11:02
Jeff Sullivan: Click on “Graphs” on a guy’s player page

11:02
Jeff Sullivan: Such an outstanding tool that Sean Dolinar put together for us

11:02
Jeff Sullivan: Sean Dolinar does so much amazing and underappreciated work

11:02
CaptainPeanutbutter: Why is there secrecy around where August went?

11:03
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think the team has anything to gain from it being public knowledge

11:03
joe: August is still where it usually is, after July and before September. You’re welcome

11:03
It’s only April: I know spring training is spring training but Arismendy Alcantara put up great stats for the Reds. Do you think he deserves more playing time as a super utility guy?

11:04
Jeff Sullivan: Probably not. But he is practically half of their entire bench, and Scott Schebler is unproven

11:04
Marcus Banks: Is Aaron Judge going to be a star?

11:05
Jeff Sullivan: Depends where your cutoff is, but even if he ends up a 3-WAR player, I think he’ll be more loved by fans than the average 3-WAR player

11:05
Jeff Sullivan: People love massive ding-dongers

11:05
Luck Dragons: Whats more likely, Paxton Cy Young or Thames MVP?

11:05
Jeff Sullivan: Paxton Cy Young

11:05
Jeff Sullivan: You saw how last year’s AL field was, and Thames will have to go up against great players on better teams

11:05
Jim: I have a ton of vacation time saved up and a generous budget, where should i go?

11:06
Jeff Sullivan: I know literally nothing about you or the things that you like

11:06
Jeff Sullivan: Southern Chile

11:06
Luck Dragons: If you could have one hitter for the rest of 2017, would you have Hanley Ramirez or Eric Thames?

11:06
Jeff Sullivan: Thames

11:07
Tony: Interesting answer re: Vargas… I’ve asked about him in a few chats and haven’t gotten answers. I’ve looked all over his PFX numbers and can’t find any reason he’s missing so many more bats with his change-up… he’s actually getting LESS movement.

11:07
Jeff Sullivan: At some point soon if this does keep up, there will be a post. I think we’re all just waiting for more evidence because there’s so little appetite for this content

11:07
Luck Dragons: Are you a fantasy baseball guy?

11:07
Jeff Sullivan: I am not

11:07
Brewm: Should the Dodgers go get Ryan Braun and Neftali Feliz right now and kill 2 birds with one stone?

11:07
Jeff Sullivan: No one is selling players in the middle of April

11:08
Pablo: Do you think the face-saving chin guard part of Broxton’s helmet (new this year) might affect his ability to see the ball?

11:08
Jeff Sullivan: As much as I’d love to explain his struggles so simply, I doubt it. If that were true, he’d never wear the helmet in the first place

11:08
Grover: Can you say something about Conforto? I crave Confortoisms…

11:08
Jeff Sullivan: Pretty good

11:08
Brian: 4 of the Mets starters are in the top 25 in FIP- and Wheeler is 36th…that is only fine and not dominant?

11:08
Jeff Sullivan: They haven’t pitched against a good team

11:09
Jeff Sullivan: Good teams have good hitters on them

11:09
there goes the pizza: Looking at Ryan Zimmerman’s production this year, the one thing that’s super interesting is that his z-contact % is a fair amount lower than it was in his best seasons, and even compared to last year, when he was a total dud, but he’s compensated for it so far by dramatically increasing his contact outside the zone to a career high of 80 percent (per pitch f/x). My question is: Is that sustainable? Launch angle seems to be the explanation for Zimmerman’s resurgence, but other players who had breakouts thanks to swing changes (e.g. Donaldson, Murphy) don’t seem to have the same increase in contact outside the strike zone.

11:10
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t buy the launch-angle thing. His launch angle has barely changed. He had a swing that worked for him for almost a decade. I think it’s just health. I actually filed a post about Zimmerman and Zack Wheeler for ESPN for this Sunday

11:10
Thorne: I noticed the Free Hyun Soo Kim article on the site this afternoon. Considering his limited usage by the O’s, lack of time in MLB, but solid performance when he did play last year, what kind of return would be realistic from a competing team (Giants?) if they did sell him? FA at end of year

11:10
Jeff Sullivan: The problem is his defense is bad

11:11
Jeff Sullivan: So while I like him as a hitter, he’s not that much of an all-around contributor

11:11
Anthony: Will the Sens close out the series tonight against Boston?

11:11
Jeff Sullivan: Trying very desperately to not get ahead of myself

11:11
Andrew: I’m interested in thinking about Blockbusters, but they all seem to be out of business…

11:12
Jeff Sullivan: There is or has recently been a Blockbuster in Sandy, Oregon!

11:12
Jim: How many save opps will Devenski see this season?

11:12
Jeff Sullivan: Not many. Such a deep bullpen, and that’s not his role

11:12
Marcus Banks: When do you guys see a peak in chat volume? Opening day? Playoffs? Trade deadline?

11:13
Jeff Sullivan: Opening day, winter meetings, trade deadline. Especially the latter two

11:13
Jeff Sullivan: Playoffs aren’t actually that big for us as a site, barring deep series or crazy games with popular teams (like, say, the Cubs)

11:13
Jose: Quick! Without looking, can you name the all-time leader in holds and the active leader? Both names were surprising to me

11:13
Jeff Sullivan: Of course not

11:13
Jon: Do you think A’s can improve fielding at all or will it be a huge problem like past few years?

11:13
Jeff Sullivan: Their defense is bad. I think they know it is bad

11:14
Pikup Androppov: Is it possible we’re seeing Chris Sale take another step forward in how good he is? I know he’s already been an elite pitcher for years but it seems to me like he might have reached another level by combing the strategy the white sox wanted him to shift towards last year (fill strike zone) with his old pitch mix (strike out everyone). Thoughts?

11:14
Jeff Sullivan: I think he’s exactly what he was in 2015. In 2015, he was one of the best starting pitchers in the world

11:15
Jeff Sullivan: All right, I need to get rolling

11:15
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 — 4/21/17 by Jeff Sullivan!

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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.

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