Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 9/23/16

8:59
Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends

9:00
Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat

9:00
Jeff Sullivan: Beginning on time for the second week in a row, for the *first* time in probably history?

9:00
Spooks: This has been said in the past, but since I’m still holding on to a sliver of hope for the Mariners wild card, does Felix get the ball?

9:01
Jeff Sullivan: This is actually a really interesting question. Felix almost certainly isn’t the best starter on the team, not at this point. So you have to try to figure out the value of sentimentality, of trying to tell a story. Is there any sort of greater meaning to giving Felix the ball? Does it matter? How close is the balance between rooting for players and rooting for teams?

9:02
Dustin: Who farted more in the car, you or Cameron?

9:02
Jeff Sullivan: I recall not a single fart in the car

9:02
Jeff Sullivan: I think we both have too much professional respect for one another

9:02
Jeff Sullivan: Now, we didn’t spend the entire trip in the car

9:02
Goethe: What kind of hitting line would you expect of 2017 Hanley?

9:03
Jeff Sullivan: Presuming he comes back healthy, and stays mostly healthy, I see him somewhere around .290/.360/.500

9:03
Jeff Sullivan: Amazing how fast a contract can be salvaged

9:04
SirDongiestDong: Why isn’t Kluber getting more Cy Young consideration? On a division winning team and has great stats (even has great traditional stats)

9:04
Jeff Sullivan: I think he is getting a fair amount. It’s just a complicated race and so many people get distracted by the shiny Britton statistics. When it comes time to vote, Kluber isn’t going to be left out of the pack

9:05
Zonk: The 2016 Reds are the worst pitching staff, ever, according to fWAR. bWAR says they are merely terrible. What do you think, are they truly historic?

9:06
Jeff Sullivan: We at least know they’re legitimately historic in terms of giving up home runs. It’s too late to take any of that back, so while I’m not comfortable declaring them the worst pitching staff ever, they might very well be in the bottom…10? Does that sound all right?

9:06
Jeff Sullivan: I mean, they have really sucked

9:07
Sirras: Most surprising player driving a team towards/into the playoffs in your opinion is…?

9:07
Jeff Sullivan: I’ve been shocked by Jose Ramirez

9:08
Jeff Sullivan: And even though he’s finally slowed down lately, Sandy Leon’s numbers are amazing. He’s really been critical for a team with so many catching problems

9:08
Steve: The Orioles’ gift to Ortiz – do you approve?

9:08
Jeff Sullivan: Seems like they handled the whole thing perfectly

9:08
Jeff Sullivan: I actually laughed out loud. I never laugh out loud when I’m alone!

9:09
mtsw: What do you suspect Mark Trumbo’s offseason deal looks like? Does he get paid more like a guy who led the league in HR or a guy with 2 WAR?

9:12
Jeff Sullivan: Trumbo’s been lousy in the second half, in a familiar way, and last offseason his value really *was* so low around the league that he got dealt for a backup catcher. So I don’t think anyone’s opinion on him has totally flipped, but that being said, he is a proven power hitter, so I could see something like 2/$24m

9:13
Zonk: Obviously Sanchez this year, but who do you like better long term….Sanchez or Contreras?

9:13
Jeff Sullivan: Sanchez. Does a ton of things right behind the plate, and beside it, he hits the ball harder than almost anyone

9:13
Jeff Sullivan: Clearly he can be exploited and I’m not convinced by his swing balance but his stock has skyrocketed

9:14
Zonk: First Royals, now Cubs. Is defense more valued than ever? In terms of both quality, and versatility?

9:15
Jeff Sullivan: Versatility is definitely prized. This has been interesting — the Royals defense drew attention because of the insanely good outfield. The Cubs defense for some reason gets less attention, even though it’s better, and I suspect it’s because they’re just good everywhere. There’s nowhere to focus; it’s the entire roster that plays well in the field

9:16
Jeff Sullivan: When people tell the story of the 2016 Cubs — no matter how they finish — they’ll talk of Bryant, and Rizzo, and Hendricks, and so on. The defensive impact has been enormous. There’s something to learn from here

9:17
Brandon: Does Matheny have the stones to start Reyes in the wild card game

9:18
Jeff Sullivan: I think he doesn’t *not* have the stones, but I don’t think it’s what he would do if he had a choice

9:18
Tanner: Hey Jeff, thanks for the chat. I thought of this watching the Brewers last night–Hernan Perez started in CF, making that 7 positions he started at this year. To what extent does WAR, or some other metric, capture the value of a player’s defensive versatility?

9:19
Jeff Sullivan: All WAR does is acknowledge the positions a guy has played, and how he’s performed there statistically. If there’s additional value in versatility, that’s left un-addressed. I don’t know how much it ought to be worth, so I’d probably just give a guy like that a small mental boost. I don’t think it’s a game-changing skill, but it’s clearly something desirable

9:21
jwblue: What has been the key to Aaron Sanchez’s success this season?

9:23
Jeff Sullivan: Part of it is just turning the curveball into a more reliable secondary pitch, but the general and boring answer is that Sanchez has been able to just stay more composed in his delivery. He’s pretty big, which can make it a challenge to maintain a consistent throwing motion, but he was able to find his, and his sinker is so good that when you can throw it more often for strikes, you’re most of the way already to being a No. 1 or No. 2

9:23
TJ: really enjoyed the Abreu strikeout post. is there a way to discover who is winning the strikeout looking bingo? i.e. which players has gotten jobbed the worst and struck out looking on the furthest pitch outside, high, etc.

9:23
Jeff Sullivan: I can’t give you a name off the top of my head but I bet it would take only a few minutes to try to pull that up on Baseball Savant! Hooray!

9:26
Jim Lonborg: Thoughts on the Red Sox’ third base situation? Should Holt get time there during the playoffs? For what it’s worth, the metrics seem to like Shaw defensively, at least.

9:27
Jeff Sullivan: I really don’t have that much of a problem with Shaw starting against righties. Sure, he’s slumped some, and sure, he’s uninspiring, but the rest of the offense just makes Shaw look like he sucks a lot more than he does by comparison. He’s fine, and though this might be the Red Sox weak spot, it’s really not that weak. Holt is perfectly useful but I think mostly off the bench

9:27
Dr. Frank Jobe: Where does Asdrubal Cabrera’s bat flip rank in this year’s list of bat flips? Also, isnt he basically having this offensive surge on one leg?

9:27
Jeff Sullivan: Top five bat flip

9:29
Jeff Sullivan: He’s at a 153 wRC+ in the second half. Even better in just August and September since returning from the DL. It would seem he’s just trying to let it fly, and without doubt it has been working

9:30
Dan: how do hitters with a small platoon split do against same handed pitchers with huge platoon splits. how do hitters with large platoon splits do against same handed pitchers with a small platoon split

9:30
Jeff Sullivan: If I recall I’m pretty sure the research says they achieve an almost balanced compromise

9:30
Sirras: What (baseball) award do you think will be hardest to cast your vote for over the course of your voting career?

9:30
Jeff Sullivan: Any Manager of the Year Award

9:31
Jeff Sullivan: You can overthink that one to death but I feel like it’s always going to end up with a shrug

9:31
TF Fredrik: With all the data we have and will have for statcast in the near future, Do teams already have a fully stocked tech staff to sort thru all this data? A lot seems like it will have to come down to computers and programs breaking down this data. Even more so than all the programs/algorithms they already use.

9:32
Jeff Sullivan: Not every team, of course, is equally staffed, but everyone is looking at Statcast, and everyone anticipated they’d need some help to handle the treasure trove.

9:33
Jeff Sullivan: If you want a job in baseball, there might be no easier way than by demonstrating that you know how to do computer-y stuff with massive data files. I say “computer-y stuff” because I, personally, am a complete idiot

9:34
Brandon: Who wins the AL ROTY? made the case for naquin the other day, but i think fulmer takes it

9:34
Jeff Sullivan: I *still* think it’s Fulmer — I think he best fits the established mold. But Sanchez just ripped off another five homers in four games. Used to be I thought the race was like 90/10 in Fulmer’s favor. Now I’m thinking it’s 60/40

9:36
Jim Lonborg: Do you believe in the Buchholz Renaissance, at least temporarily? Right now he seems like a safer choice than Pomeranz.

9:37
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think he’s suddenly become good — the last three starts, he has eight walks and nine strikeouts. He had a good start on September 6, but that was on the road against the Padres, so that was basically like a rehab game

9:38
Jim Lonborg: So, the Red Sox have won their last five games while scoring five runs in each game. Can you think of an efficient way to figure out whether that’s ever happened? Perhaps this is already out there on the internet and I just haven’t seen it.

9:38
Jeff Sullivan: Let’s see what I can get from the Play Index streak finder

9:39
Jeff Sullivan: Confirmed, this is a first!

9:39
Jeff Sullivan: The Red Sox are the first team in recorded history to win five straight games with exactly five runs. The 2011 Yankees did it in four straight games

9:40
Fire Kevin Cash: Noticed that Alex Colome has been getting a few 4+ out save opportunities, and he’s not the only one. How is this as a compromise between the sabermetric case for using your best reliever at the highest leverage times and the psychological benefits of having a guy know that he’s the 9th inning man (e.g. Mo’s consistent warmup routine and prep)?

9:41
Jeff Sullivan: If I had to guess at the compromise, it’s a way to expand your closer’s role while still not actually taking any saves away from him. I feel like you open the door to a potential letdown if a guy goes from a bananas eighth to a quiet and clean ninth, but I’d call this progress. It’s something that eats away at the norm, and it’s a good thing to see, as long as relievers are able to handle it

9:45
Nick: Yesterday, in the bottom of the 5th in a 2-2 game between the Indians and Royals, Francona called for a sacrifice bunt with runners on 1st and 2nd and no outs. Of course Perez bunted into a double play, but even before the bad outcome, that’s a silly decision, right?

9:46
Jeff Sullivan: Going over some win-expectancy stuff, generally speaking even a successful sac bunt there would not have increased the Indians’ chances of winning. That being said, Perez is a bad hitter, and he was already behind in the count 0-and-1, so that changes the math of what you’d expect if Perez were to swing away. I never love bunts, but I don’t think that’s a terrible one, as bunts go

9:46
Matt: To whom would you give the Cookie of the Year award?

9:46
Jeff Sullivan: Any pitch thrown by Alfredo Simon

9:47
MegaMaid: has the reds pitching staff gone from suck to blow?

9:48
Jeff Sullivan: Give the Reds some credit — their first-half pitching WAR was a seemingly impossible -3.7. In the second half, they’re up to 2.5, which is good for 26th place. That’s not last!

9:48
Jeff Sullivan: The second-half Reds have pitched better, by this measure, than the Angels, Braves, Twins, and Diamondbacks

9:49
Jim Lonborg: Isn’t it hard to compare terribleness in pitching staffs across eras, because of the difference in rotation size? Safe to say the Reds have the most bad pitchers ever, even if they don’t have the worst pitching staff cumulatively?

9:49
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think you have to worry about the eras if you’re just comparing overall pitching-staff performance

9:49
Steve Clevenger : How valuable of a trade piece am I right now? Any chance the Dbacks trade for me. I’m from the streets, real gritty.

9:49
Jeff Sullivan: You suck

9:50
Dominik: have the Phillies really made a step forward? record is better but their run differential is near worst the league and they are 10 over their Pythagoran. will FO make a foolish attempt to compete? fans seem to think one or two free agents and they are good

9:52
Jeff Sullivan: No, they’re not going to push a bunch of chips forward this offseason. They know better than that. They can feel reasonably good about Nola, Velasquez, and Eickhoff. And as a team they’ll be better in 2017, but there’s still a long way to go. It doesn’t help that Maikel Franco is not good

9:52
Bork: La Russa has said he would leave the D’Backs if Stewart gets fired. Is there even any world where they would get rid of Stewart but keep La Russa?

9:52
Jeff Sullivan: La Russa’s right! If Stewart goes away, La Russa won’t be occupying an organizational role in 2017

9:53
Jeff Sullivan: Doesn’t really matter how or why

9:53
Dan: Jorge Soler has the 18th highest OPS+ in the 2nd half (>100 PA)

9:53
Jeff Sullivan: With a higher strikeout rate, and a higher ground-ball rate. Dude’s weird

9:54
Jimbo: ESPN Cy Young Predictor has Jon Lester winning. Do you think he has an actual shot at it or have people typically been looking at Jose, Thor, and Kershaw?

9:54
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t see a world where Lester even gets more support than Kyle Hendricks

9:55
Dan: Is there anywhere that has extensive injury info for each player? Games off / times missed / even for non-DL stints?

9:55
Jeff Sullivan: It’s not exactly what you’re looking for but this is kind of useful http://prosportstransactions.com/

9:56
Matt: Tyler Glasnow’s role and numbers in 2017?

9:56
Jeff Sullivan: I bet he’ll end up starting at least 15 times for the Pirates but speaking for myself, I’m not convinced he’s going to look like anything special

9:57
Jeff Sullivan: I’m way more of a Taillon guy

9:58
Ben: If a player has a 3 fWAR and a 5 rWAR, is it fair to just assume he’s probably a 4 WAR player? When there’s a big difference in the two, it’s probably some where in the middle?

9:59
Jeff Sullivan: Typically, yeah, that’s not a bad guess. If it’s a position player, then that’s mostly a difference between UZR and DRS, and you should just compromise. If it’s a pitcher, you can do a little more — was it BABIP? Was it sequencing? Is he really a soft-contact guy?

9:59
Marc: Why Yoan Moncada doesn’t get at bats over Travis Shaw ?

9:59
Jeff Sullivan: Because Moncada’s at-bats have been worse

10:00
Dan: How can I find info on how well a team (Cubs) has done vs particular pitchers? I want to combine some NL aces and see how they’ve done versus #1s

10:00
Jeff Sullivan: I think that probably just calls for an hour or two spent going through Baseball-Reference game logs

10:00
Andy: I was lucky enough to be in attendance of last night’s Pitch Talks! Got the chance to speak with Dave briefly and it was a delight. I was thinking, it would be amazing if FanGraphs did their own type of tour like this! I’m not sure how feasible that is, but I find all of you entertaining, believe it or not. Carson can host!

10:01
Jeff Sullivan: I mean, FanGraphs tends to be well represented already at these events, and the guy in charge is way more familiar with issues like event-planning or venue-booking. So there’s a good thing going. I bet we’ll see some developments over the winter in terms of getting more out there

10:02
Sean P : Has Theo Epstein become more or less valuable today compared to earlier in his career? On the one hand, front office personnel accross the league has become more intelligent so that it is more difficult for Epstein to exploit market inefficiencies. On the other hand, Theo is largely responsible for constructing two teams that may match up in the world series. Clearly he’s extremely valuable, but how valuable?

10:03
Jeff Sullivan: I think you’re right that the baseline has come way up, closing the gap between Epstein and some replacement-level executive. But I think we can also say that Epstein possesses an unusual blend of analytical and personal skills, and his ability to spot talent and communicate still sets him apart

10:04
Julio Pepper: A heretofore undiscovered 5yr old Seager brother emerges. You are a wealthy investor, and you know nothing else about him; how much would you be willing to pay for his future MLB earnings?

10:04
Jeff Sullivan: So am I negotiating directly with the five-year-old, or am I speaking with his agent?

10:05
Jeff Sullivan: The dismissive non-answer is that I could make a better bet just applying my money to the normal market. But I wouldn’t *not* be intrigued by the Seager potential so I’d probably throw him a few hundred thousand dollars.

10:06
Jeff Sullivan: You know, enough to give him every advantage as he develops…

10:07
Erik: How many wins could a bad team improve by if they signed the top 3 pitchers and top 3 hitters in free agency this offseason? Could a team with the budget space like the Phillies theoretically become a playoff favorite without giving up a single prospect if they were willing to spend the money? Or are there just not that many wins available to buy this year?

10:09
Jeff Sullivan: Maybe you’re getting Hill, Chapman, Jansen…Cespedes…Bautista? Reddick? Desmond? Let’s say you expect 20-25 WAR combined. That’s great! Now, they’re not replacing 0-WAR players. So that eats into it. You still couldn’t make a bad team a good team. You could make a bad team a decent team, so you’d have a wild-card shot, but then you’d have to deal with the longer-term consequences of signing so many major free agents at once

10:09
Jeff Sullivan: Hill by himself is going to be fascinating, though. Literally everyone should be interested, but no one is going to want to go beyond like two guaranteed years

10:10
mtsw: Thoughts on the new Statcast “barrels” statistic? Seems good to me

10:10
Jeff Sullivan: I like it. I don’t know if it teaches us much of anything new, but I love the simplicity and the marketability

10:11
Jeff Sullivan: It’s the kind of thing that should help Statcast try to tap into the mainstream. It does less for us, the FG types, since we are already comfortable getting dirty in the spreadsheets, but Statcast isn’t just for nerds

10:13
Zach: Can we talk about the incredibly out of nowhere age 31 season that Sean Rodriguez is having? He’s quietly posted an OPS just south of .900, which is almost 200 points higher than his previous career high. Is it because he’s swinging the bat with more authority? That would probably explain his career high (by about 10%) hard contact rate, but also his career high K%. Is that what’s going on, because otherwise, I’m stumped on how he’s transformed from a light hitting ace utility defender to a slugging wizard. I know it’s not a full season sample size, but it’s still over 300 PAs.

10:13
Jeff Sullivan: Rodriguez is another one of those guys who’s boosted both his exit velocity and his launch angle. You probably haven’t seen him written up because ultimately he’s just a role player on a fringe contender, but this is something, along with the Matt Joyce resurgence

10:14
Jeff Sullivan: Now, Rodriguez has hit for power before — as recently as 2014. Power was supposed to be a part of his game. Now he’s showing more of it, along with a little more discipline. It’s a good step forward, if a quiet one

10:15
Erik: Do any sub .500 teams have a >25% chance of making the playoffs next year?

10:15
Jeff Sullivan: No

10:15
Jeff Sullivan: But keep an eye on the Rockies anyway

10:15
Ed in Iowa: If we actually cared about the ‘value’ part of Most Valuable Player then wouldn’t we want to include the player’s compensation in our assessment? Most GMs would rather have a 7.5 win player earning $0.5M than a 9.0 win player earning $16M because you can generate more than 1.5 WAR with the $15.5M saved right? Doesn’t that make Betts ‘more valuable’ (this year at least) than Trout?

10:16
Jeff Sullivan: You’re not wrong — if you’re going to talk about value, you might as well talk about EVERYTHING. Now, voters would tell you they don’t care about salary — it’s supposed to be just a reward for performance. So the consensus would be that salary considerations would be off-limits. But in a sense it’s a weird line to draw, and, just where exactly do you draw it?

10:17
Darius: Adam Frazier appears to have an excellent hit tool, but with zero power. Any chance he can stick at an everyday player or is his ceiling a solid utility guy, if that?

10:18
Jeff Sullivan: He’s not going to start if he doesn’t hit for more power. But, you know, in this day and age, we’re seeing a lot more non-power types take powerful steps forward, so you don’t want to totally writer Frazier off

10:18
Sean: The M’s are 1.5 games back… How many of the final 10 games do the M’s need to win to make it in?

10:19
Jeff Sullivan: They’re actually 2 back. The Tigers just passed the Orioles

10:20
Jeff Sullivan: I think the M’s are screwed if they do any worse than 8-2

10:20
T: Most surprising player driving to post season…Asdrubal. Nuts

10:20
Jeff Sullivan: I mean, sure, his second half is crazy, but he’s been a pretty decent player before

10:21
T: thanks for the extra long chats and impeccably correct posts

10:21
Jeff Sullivan: I usually chat long to make up for how I’m always late. Now I’m chatting long without having been late. I have forgotten who I am

10:21
Erik: What team will improve by the most wins from 2016 to 2017? Which team will fall the furthest?

10:24
Jeff Sullivan: I’ll probably hear about this but I have to say the Rangers might line up to drop the most. Meanwhile the Rays should end up around .500 and the Rockies could challenge for the wild card

10:25
Tom A.: I’m OK giving the Cy Young to someone who gave up lasers all year and got lucky. I feel strange saying “I’m going to give the Cy Young to a worse run-prevention pitcher, because he got more strike-outs.” I don’t think a guy who had way better defense behind him deserves the Cy young more than a guy with bad defense behind him. Help me reconcile…

10:26
Jeff Sullivan: Essentially, you should want to give the Cy Young to the pitcher who did the best job of pitching, as determined by the factors over which he has the most control

10:26
Jeff Sullivan: So we know pitchers have a ton of control over strikeouts and walks. Those are extremely valuable indicators

10:27
Jeff Sullivan: To make things more complicated, let’s imagine a guy who knows he pitches in front of a good defense. Isn’t it intuitive that it’s more likely the pitcher might then trust his defense more, so he might pitch more to contact?

10:27
Jeff Sullivan: That’s a tricky element; if you have a pitcher and defense working together, I don’t know how you separate them out

10:27
Jeff Sullivan: It’s kind of funny that the more we learn about baseball, the tougher and tougher it gets to vote with conviction

10:28
joey: how weird is it that chris sale missing a start for cutting up uniforms could actually have an impact on the cy young voting

10:28
Jeff Sullivan: Hey look, he’s being indirectly disciplined!

10:29
Matt: One thing I notice about Sanchez is that, it seems whenever he hits a HR, he always has the same follow through. He’s one handed, completely open to the pull side, and his weight is all leaning way out over the plate (drop line from his chin might be in other batter’s box). Does this indicate that he’s throwign his entire self into the power swing, and is that somehting that might be worrisome?

10:30
Jeff Sullivan: He definitely doesn’t have the classic beautiful slugger follow-through. Like, if you look at Giancarlo Stanton, his homer swings are almost perfect. I think you can tell from certain Sanchez homers that he could stand to be more polished. He *does* end up sort of off balance and I do think it’s going to prove to be something exploitable

10:30
Jeff Sullivan: But that being said, he’s thriving now, and there’s no question that he murders the ball when he hits it. Throw in all the defensive skills and you have a near-certain star

10:31
Jeff Sullivan: Just, he’s probably not going to have an awesome K/BB in a year

10:31
Frank: Why does the Braves Rebuild write-up say the Braves need starting pitching cause Julio Teheran is their best starter? That dreadful thinking… All of the prospects given a chance so far haven’t given the Org much confidence. Julio isn’t the problem

10:31
Jeff Sullivan: I haven’t read it yet, on account of I’m in here chatting, but the fact of the matter is that the Braves do need lots more pitching no matter what. I don’t know where Teheran comes into this

10:32
Jack: Do the Mets make the playoffs?

10:32
Jeff Sullivan: They should, given their opponents

10:32
Erik: Are there $/WAR figures out there for different ways of acquiring WAR? I.E. do we know quantitatively how much power is overvalued in free agency, or how much defense is undervalued?

10:32
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think there’s anything easy out there. At this point it’s probably something you just try to adjust for in your own head

10:33
GoMs: Felix Hernandez, Edwin Diaz, and Ketel Marte for Bumgarner and Crawford. How fast do the Giants say no?

10:33
Jeff Sullivan: They might put Bumgarner on the phone so he can say it himself

10:34
Jack: Any thoughts on who wins the Gold Glove awards this year? Any obscure players win it?

10:34
Jeff Sullivan: I honestly haven’t yet thought about them at all, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Inciarte just won himself his first Gold Glove the other night

10:35
Jeff Sullivan: It would be so much fun if Colon got a Gold Glove for NL pitching

10:36
Jeff Sullivan: Cesar Hernandez has a shot to quietly win at NL 2B

10:36
Jeff Sullivan: Did you know Cesar Hernandez has been worth 4.0 WAR? I sure as shit didn’t

10:36
Jeff: Why can’t we all just get along??

10:37
Jeff Sullivan: Most of us can

10:37
Jeff Sullivan: But one rotten egg can stink up a kitchen

10:39
Can’t You Snell That Snell: Is there a good comp to Blake Snell? Meaning someone who had ridiculously bad command but low ERA, high K’s, etc.

10:39
Jeff Sullivan: Some shades of a much younger Oliver Perez

10:40
Jeff Sullivan: Or you could point to “prime” Jonathan Sanchez?

10:40
Tom A.: Does Rick Ankiel incident affect Cardinals pitching choice?

10:40
Jeff Sullivan: Furthest thing from their minds

10:41
Jeff Sullivan: Well, maybe that’s not true. Something like the recent vandalism on the Racetrack Playa is probably the actual furthest thing from their minds. But I doubt they care about what happened to Ankiel

10:41
Jeb not bush: Do you think the JZ regime’s downfall was all-around incompetency? He had a great scouting record with the Brewers and seemed to have a good eye for players even with the Mariners, but his player development was absolutely atrocious. Thoughts? I don’t know why I’m still thinking about this.

10:42
Jeff Sullivan: The whole player-development system sucked. Way too many different people saying different things instead of being on the same page. We really don’t know how good or bad the organization was at identifying talent — it just couldn’t make anything *of* the talent. The Dipoto front office is better at keeping everybody on the same page

10:43
Tanaka: So you often here about guys who profile as a one through five starter. When it comes to #1’s I know who those guys are in the majors, but the farther you go down the rotation, the cloudier it gets because really no team has a prototype guys in each slot. Could you maybe give an example of one guy who best represents a 2, 3, 4 and 5? I’m talking from a pure scouting standpoint, not by WAR.

10:43
Jeff Sullivan: Welllllll let’s try this

10:43
Jeff Sullivan: No. 1: Chris Sale

10:43
Jeff Sullivan: No. 2: Rick Porcello

10:44
Jeff Sullivan: No. 3: Drew Pomeranz

10:44
Jeff Sullivan: No. 4: Jeremy Hellickson

10:45
Jeff Sullivan: No. 5: Josh Tomlin

10:46
Sean: Say baseball made a change so that only active players could be managers and make front office decisions. There is no set leader; it’s up to the players on each team to figure it out. Baseball turns tribal. How entertaining would this be>

10:46
Jeff Sullivan: Less entertaining than you’d hope, because a lot of the drama would be taking place off camera behind closed doors, but I bet Zack Greinke would get the Diamondbacks turned around virtually overnight

10:47
Logan: Assuming he finishes the year with his rookie eligibility intact, I feel like Josh Bell enters next year as one of the favorites for NL ROY, right? It seems like the only other strong contenders who are currently playing at this moment are guys like Dansby Swanson and Alex Reyes (who might not have eligibility).

10:47
Jeff Sullivan: One of the favorites, sure, but you also have to look out for a guy like JP Crawford, who will be up shortly after the start of 2017

10:49
Billy: In regards to the 2016 Cubs, it seems that they’re not only an elite defensive team (especially infield) but they’re also elite at drawing soft contact. Clearly this recipe is the key to suppressing hits. Two part question, are there other teams that you can think of that have done something like this? Also, do you think this was done on purpose by Theo and his advanced scouts or on accident?

10:50
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think the Cubs got here by accident — they’ve prioritized good pitchers and strong all-around position players and this is one consequence. Everything has worked well together — they have a good defender at every position. It’s incredible

10:51
Jeff Sullivan: Now, the magnitude of their success indicates there’s almost certainly some element of luck. But if you go back over the last 20 years, the Cubs have the lowest BABIP at .251, but the 2001 Mariners were at .260. That was thanks to fly balls and Mike Cameron. A few years later the Mariners came in at .269, so they somewhat repeated

10:51
Jeff Sullivan: I bet the Cubs’ “true-talent” BABIP is like .265 or .270. And that’s fantastic. Even that would easily lead the league in 2016

10:52
Tim: Two Ariel Miranda questions: how has he only been worth 0.1 WAR, and what do you see for him moving forward? Not saying he’s been a stud, but I would have expected him to be worth more WAR.

10:53
Jeff Sullivan: His FIP sucks, and he doesn’t have a good breaking ball. That’s why he’s more like a No. 4 or 5 profile. But he’s useful now and he should make for a 2017 sixth starter on a potentially contending team

10:54
Erik: With nearly all key players returning next season and on the right side of 30, and with a still-full stable of prospects to call on for reinforcements, have the Cubs even hit their peak? Are we at the beginning of one of baseball’s once-in-a-generation dynasties? Or far too soon to tell?

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: It only takes an injury or two to knock a team down toward the pack, and the Cubs will also stand to lose some wins as teams like the Reds and Brewers improve, but just generally speaking, this window is definitely wide open. They’re not going anywhere for a while

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: Well I guess there are two ways to take that last sentence. Don’t take it in the wrong way

10:55
Beni Ficent: Price or Porcello for ALDS game 1?

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: Price

10:55
Sean: Better career WAR?: James Paxton or Taijuan Walker?

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: Paxton

10:55
Kristen: Before the season, seemingly every “expert” picked either HOU or SEA to finish ahead of the Rangers in the division, so how big of a bust of a season will it be for both teams if neither even make the playoffs?

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: Bigger bust for the Astros; they’re supposed to be on the rise. Even Jerry Dipoto said his goal was to build a roster that could win ~85 games and then they’d see how things would shake out

10:58
Matt: The 2016 Cubs are the best baseball team since ___ ?

10:58
Jeff Sullivan: It would be easy to say 2001, but it kind of depends on what you make of the difference between leagues. If you penalize the Cubs for playing in the NL and dominating, then maybe they’re not really any better than, say, the 2013 Red Sox?

11:00
Mike_C: Is it just me, or are we seeing a shift in 1B? Seems like a few years ago the 1st basemen in the league would generate more of their value from their ISO. Now, it feels like we have a lot more 1B in the Votto mold that balance a ISO in the mid to lower .200 range with high OBP.

11:00
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t see any identifiable trend league-wide over the past like five years

11:01
Jeff Sullivan: But relative to the rest of the league, it’s worth noting that this is the worst offensive year for combined first basemen of the millennium

11:01
Jeff Sullivan: So you might be seeing a little more emphasis on 1B defense

11:01
mtsw: In games where both teams have been eliminated from playoff contention, the players should be forced to run the bases clockwise to keep things interesting. Change my view.

11:02
Jeff Sullivan: People would die

11:02
Tom A.: Are there recent examples of 4th & 5th starters becoming bullpen weapons in the postseason? I remember Sid Fernandez in ’86. As teams are more willing to go to the pen early, do you think we see a return to 3-man rotations, with starter being pulled after 5ish innings?

11:03
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know why this just came to mind but I remember Jon Niese made a few good outings last year in the playoffs

11:04
Jeff Sullivan: I think teams will remain a little wary of starting guys on short rest for the foreseeable future, but we’re definitely seeing shorter and shorter playoff outings, especially with the back-of-the-rotation starters

11:04
Jeff Sullivan: I’m reminded of Game 7 in 2014. Tim Hudson faced 10 batters. Jeremy Guthrie faced 15

11:05
Graves: With a runner on 2nd, the catcher giving signs takes 4ever. Why can’t both Pitcher and Catcher have an earpiece and get the pitch from the Dugout, or maybe one of those armbands like QB’s have?

11:05
Jeff Sullivan: They don’t want to introduce technology onto the field, and signs have forever been a part of the game and I don’t think anyone’s in a hurry to usher them away

11:06
Kristen: After a hot start, Desmond has hit exactly 2 HR’s since July 27. How much will his 2nd-half swoon impact how attractive he’ll be as a FA this offseason?

11:06
Jeff Sullivan: This is why I don’t think he’ll necessarily break the bank — he hasn’t done anything to really help his reputation of being streaky or inconsistent. But he’s still going to do well overall, given his resurgence and his ability to adapt to a new position almost overnight

11:07
Jeff Sullivan: Great teammate. Inconsistent hitter, but he’ll find a good job

11:07
Brett W: The presidential candidate you least like will win the election, and the most boring playoff team will win the World Series in the most boring way possible. What is more disappointing to you, Jeff Sullivan?

11:07
Jeff Sullivan: The one that actually matters

11:08
OC: Any idea what to expect from hyun-Jin Ryu next year?

11:08
Jeff Sullivan: Not one. Nobody knows

11:08
Erik: Which potential world series matchup are most compelling to you as a neutral?

11:08
Jeff Sullivan: I would badly love to see Blue Jays/Cubs

11:08
Jeff Sullivan: Or I guess Red Sox/Cubs but I’m kind of over the Red Sox in the World Series

11:08
Elton: As a fan of the Indians and Cubs, there’s a high chance I’ll have my heart broken twice in the playoffs this year.

11:08
Jeff Sullivan: Turns out you can break a broken heart!

11:11
Interested baseball fan: Any idea what the most WAR for an unqualified player ever is? Have to imagine Sanchez on the leaderboard at least right?

11:11
Jeff Sullivan: In 1955, Ted Williams batted 417 times. He was worth 7.1 WAR!

11:12
J: If K rates were lower in the past, why wasn’t the run scoring environment consistently higher?

11:12
Jeff Sullivan: Vastly inferior contact

11:12
Ronnie: Bryce Harper’s career wRC+ is 139. Over or under for 2017?

11:12
Jeff Sullivan: Slightly over

11:13
Jake: So, recent events have made me wonder — which Mariners off-season trade was worse, Brad Miller for Nate Karns or Mark Trumbo for Steve Clevenger?

11:13
Jeff Sullivan: I will say that Trumbo is sitting at only 1.3 WAR. So, if you believe that, that trade still wasn’t a disaster

11:13
Jeff Sullivan: It’s funny that Brad Miller might be the better first baseman

11:14
Sid Monge: Jeff – I don’t want to get too carried away, but is it possible the Tigers no longer have a wretched bullpen? Sure, they don’t have an Andrew Miller type, but there are some interesting pieces in there, right?

11:15
Jeff Sullivan: The Tigers are 5th in reliever WAR, 9th in reliever WPA, and now Bruce Rondon throws strikes. It’s not a tire fire!

11:15
J: Would you rather have a hitter with a low O-swing or a low zone%? What about for a pitcher?

11:15
Jeff Sullivan: I’d rather have a hitter with a low O-Swing because that better reflects his talent. Odubel Herrera had a low Zone% earlier this year but that went away when pitchers realized, hey, wait a second

11:16
Jeff Sullivan: For a pitcher, I want a high O-Swing, because that shows me he has a broad repertoire and some element of deception

11:16
Jeff Sullivan: All right, I need to get rolling

11:16
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 — 9/23/16 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
some guy
Member
some guy

Paying hypothetical 5-year old Seager sibling several hundred thousand dollars is akin to paying the Sunday family oil prices instead of quail prices.