Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 9/9/14

9:05
Jeff Sullivan: Let’s baseball chat!

9:05
Jeff Sullivan: On today’s menu: baseball, of the real kind!

9:06
Jeff Sullivan: Is there even still fantasy baseball at this point in the season?

9:06
Jeff Sullivan: I might never know!

9:07
Comment From Sam
Since Marcus Stroman has developed his new sinker and is getting an impressive amount of groundballs is he a legit number 2 starter?

9:08
Jeff Sullivan: There’s the usual stuff about having to prove yourself for longer before you can be a legit anything, but I remember being surprised when I found that Stroman’s breaking ball compares well to that of Jose Fernandez/Yu Darvish/Corey Kluber. So that made me particularly curious, and while Stroman doesn’t throw that pitch very much, I like his overall profile quite a bit. Remember the height questions? I always hate the height questions.

9:09
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think Stroman is outstanding quite yet, but I buy him as a No. 3 and a No. 2 on his good days

9:09
Comment From Ringtone Composer
Cespedes means “lawns” (or maybe “grasses”) in Spanish.

9:10
Jeff Sullivan: I recognize this as something that I used to know earlier in my life, like details about quicksand and the battleship Bismarck

9:10
Comment From STiVo
Is there a prediction market for volcano eruptions?

9:11
Jeff Sullivan: No one lives long enough to get paid

9:11
Comment From Section 34
Hey Jeff, it’s been at least two weeks since FanGraphs ran an article about how the Orioles aren’t really that good. What’s wrong with you guys?

9:11
Jeff Sullivan: Someone did take offense to something I didn’t say yesterday about Nelson Cruz, so at least there’s that

9:12
Jeff Sullivan: This is truly the year of the what?! in the American League, so, sure, go O’s, go crazy

9:12
Comment From Hamilton Porter
Would you rather have a Sano, who hasn’t played in a year, or a Gallo who can’t stop striking out?

9:12
Jeff Sullivan: Sano, while barely even thinking about it

9:13
Jeff Sullivan: Now, that’s specific Sano over specific Gallo. If you were to ask a more general question about players with different profiles, I might take longer

9:14
Comment From Ryan
Can the Blue Jays be a serious contender next year with a payroll of $140 million?

9:15
Jeff Sullivan: They can be a lot like this year’s team, and this year’s team has hung around the fringes while being overall unclutch. I think they’re going to give it another go and it’s in large part going to come down to how the cheaper younger guys produce because the more expensive guys are mostly known assets

9:17
Jeff Sullivan: You can debate whether they should’ve done something massive around the deadline, but now that that’s come and passed, at least they remain in decent shape going forward, and I don’t think they need to make a big splash in order to challenge. Everyone in the division’s going to be decent, but we don’t know the future that precisely and the Blue Jays will be more of a contender than a non-contender

9:17
Comment From J6taKish
I know you don’t have fantasy baseball….but do you have baseball fantasies? If so, elaborate

9:17
Jeff Sullivan: Carlos Peguero figuring it out

9:17
Comment From Dewey
So what do the Reds do now? Would trading Votto be a reload or rebuild?

9:18
Jeff Sullivan: They can’t really trade Votto for anything, not with his contract and issues. Instead they’re going to trade one or two starting pitchers, and people will see that as a rebuild, but they’ll be trying to reload at presumably a lower payroll. I don’t have high hopes for them over the next 3-4 years

9:20
Comment From Melky
Jeff – Am I in line for a 4/$53M like some scout apparently told Jeff Blair of sportsnet?

9:20
Jeff Sullivan: I could buy about three-quarters of that

9:20
Comment From Ernie
Will the A’s make the playoffs?

9:20
Jeff Sullivan: This reminds me, give me a minute to whip up a chat poll…

9:22
Jeff Sullivan: So we’ll see how that goes. I’m not going to issue my answer, because I don’t want to bias the voting

9:22
Comment From Chris
Chris Carter’s power numbers are crazy, projections for next year?

9:23
Jeff Sullivan: Here’s a fun fact for you: second-half Chris Carter has hit 20% groundballs

9:23
Jeff Sullivan: His career mark is 29%. He’s talked about swing adjustments and it certainly looks like he’s getting more consistent loft

9:24
Jeff Sullivan: What’s also happening is that his walk rate is decreasing, so his OBP is slipping, but I could see something like a .320 OBP and a .540 SLG

9:24
Jeff Sullivan: To be honest that’s probably a little bit high, but I’m in a good mood

9:25
Comment From Matt
Who’s the comparable for what you think James Paxton will end up being?

9:25
Jeff Sullivan: I’ve long suggested a healthier and friendlier Erik Bedard, and I’m going to stay with that

9:26
Jeff Sullivan: Paxton’s having some strike issues right now, and that’s something a lot of people have seen coming, but he’s really solidified his groundball tendencies, and he’s been difficult to pull the ball in the air against

9:26
Comment From Andy
What do you make of the A’s recent run of poor results?

9:27
Jeff Sullivan: The boring answer is I don’t have any analytical insight. Not right now. I have to believe they’re a lot better than this and I have to believe this is mostly poorly-timed randomness, but I love that baseball presents these questions every season, and I can’t believe the magnitude of Oakland’s team collapse. Stuff like this makes me feel like a complete idiot for trying to analyze trade-deadline transactions

9:28
Comment From Hamilton Porter
Are Sano and Gallo comparable in terms of power and a lack of contact? Who debuts first?

9:29
Jeff Sullivan: Gallo is a caricature of Sano’s power and contact issues. Gallo in AA: 40% strikeouts. Sano in AA: 29% strikeouts. I feel like we’re going to see Gallo first, but I feel like we’re going to see Sano establish himself first

9:30
Comment From Guest
Do you think Mchugh keeps rolling tonight vs the Mariners?

9:31
Jeff Sullivan: Last eight starts: 7 walks, 47 strikeouts, 13 runs. The Mariners have a decent offense now but I don’t see any reason to expect McHugh to struggle

9:32
Comment From Steve
Is writing about baseball 2X a day as a job harder than you thought it’d be? Will you burn yourself out and have to find a new vocation in a few years?

9:34
Jeff Sullivan: I can say it gets harder and harder. The stuff that would’ve worked a couple years ago doesn’t have so much of a place now, and you have to constantly try to find new ways to talk about things that have mostly happened before. It’s always a challenge, and it’s probably good for the brain with regard to staving off Alzheimer’s, but there are deep slumps and there’s an ever-present struggle to find new subjects. I also don’t know where this goes. None of us do. What’s the shelf life of an Internet baseball analyst who doesn’t want to work for a team? Ten years from now I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m working in the woods

9:34
Comment From gson
Paul Washington at SB Nation seems to believe a Stanton trade to the Cardinals would be a good deal both ways..I don’t see the Marlins accepting any trade that doesn’t start with Wacha and/or Tavarez. What would be your thoughts on a fair deal headlined by Stanton?

9:36
Jeff Sullivan: The Cardinals have the assets to trade for Stanton — the Cardinals have the assets to trade for almost anybody. But I don’t think they’re going to do it, because I think the Cardinals prefer diversification and keeping up that rolling competitive window. You deal for Stanton and you’re out four young guys who could contribute cheaply for a combined couple of decades, and the Cardinals just don’t strike me as a big-splash kind of organization

9:37
Comment From Ember
Who’s playing SS for the Yankees next year?

9:38
Jeff Sullivan: JJ Hardy?

9:38
Comment From THE average sports fan
I went to the Reds game last night. It was of course awful. All the energy of a Hospice. Will the Reds have enough payroll flexibility to be a playoff contender in 2015?

9:38
Jeff Sullivan: Doubt it

9:39
Comment From Double Simcoe
When an umpire is, for example, consistently calling a wide strike zone and calling similar non-strike pitches strikes — what’s going on there? Is he actually seeing a different zone? Or just trying to amuse himself and mess with the game a little bit?

9:40
Jeff Sullivan: If that does actually happen, I imagine it’s in large part due to the pitchers and catchers. Some umpires just have bigger zones than others do, but if a catcher is consistently calling for pitches in wide spots, and if a pitcher is consistently around those spots, the calls will start to come, and it’ll look like the umpire’s being generous

9:40
Jeff Sullivan: Or cruel, from a hitter’s perspective

9:40
Comment From Braves Fans
No questions to ask. There are no answers out there. Just sadness.

9:40
Jeff Sullivan: You don’t even have it the roughest right now

9:40
Comment From Mike of Mike and the Mechanics Fame
So.. the team that is underperforming its BaseRuns current record is… the Cubs? (They are -7.) Interesting!

9:41
Jeff Sullivan: Yeah, they’ve been better than their record, but then they’ve also had plenty of roster turnover. They shouldn’t truly be that far away from contention, although curiously they have an organizational pattern of recent unclutch performance. I don’t know what to do with that

9:42
Comment From Matt
How much of the three good AL West teams’ run differentials are their being actually good, and how much is a result of just playing the Texas teams a bunch?

9:42
Jeff Sullivan: Oakland’s at +97 without Houston/Texas

9:42
Jeff Sullivan: Anaheim’s at +93

9:42
Jeff Sullivan: Seattle’s at +82. The Mariners actually lost the season series to the Rangers, 10-9

9:43
Comment From erghammer
Could Mookie Betts be the new Joe Morgan? Mookie is quietly having a good first year in MLB and sits at .288/.359/.466. Joe’s first full year in MLB was .271/.373/.418.

9:44
Jeff Sullivan: I’ll wait some time before I start comparing Mookie Betts to an awesome Hall-of-Famer

9:44
Jeff Sullivan: But I will say that this is interesting: Betts has a swing rate of 34%. Out-of-zone 16%. His discipline is no mirage, although he has yet to be forced into an adjustment period

9:45
Comment From Mike of Mike and the Mechanics Fame
Oops.. I just misrepresented the truth. The Rockies are most underperforming their BaseRuns wins (-9), not the Cubs.

9:45
Jeff Sullivan: Hadn’t seen this. The Rockies are a disaster!

9:46
Comment From Igor
How many more seasons will Ichiro play?

9:46
Jeff Sullivan: He might get one more, but to be honest he probably shouldn’t

9:47
Comment From Section 34
Seriously, I’m surprised smart baseball writers haven’t noticed this trend. The Angels are the best team in baseball, and they have all mediocre starters now; they’ve gotten even better since losing their ace. The Orioles are the second-best team in baseball (10th best on Fangraphs?) and have all mediocre starters with no ace.

9:47
Jeff Sullivan: Is there a trend somewhere in there I’ve missed?

9:47
Jeff Sullivan: The Angels are #1 in position-player WAR. The Orioles are #2.

9:48
Comment From Steve
You wrote that Lucroy could be MVP based on his defensive contribution, he wasn’t mentioned, but do you think Heyward should be in the discussion as well?

9:48
Jeff Sullivan: Heyward has hit worse than Lucroy, his team also isn’t in playoff position, and while Heyward is a really good defender, Lucroy gets at least a fraction of that massive framing edge. To me, Lucroy’s the far superior candidate

9:49
Jeff Sullivan: Heyward should be acknowledged as an awesome player, but not as a league MVP in 2014

9:50
Comment From The Oriole Bird
The O’s have the 5th-highest BaseRuns win% in MLB. So that’s interesting, right? They’re outperforming for sure–but they’re good!

9:51
Jeff Sullivan: The Orioles have baseball’s highest second-half WAR, at 15.4. The Nationals are second, the Royals are third

9:51
Jeff Sullivan: (The Reds are last)

9:52
Jeff Sullivan: The Orioles now are earning their success. They’re probably a little lucky to have their overall win total, but they’re a legitimate team, and there’s nothing wrong with identifying them as both good and fortunate. Most teams with excellent W/L records are both good and a little fortunate

9:52
Comment From Section 34
To finish that question: Is this a new trend in team construction? In an era of diminished offense, are ace starters overrated, and sluggers underrated?

9:53
Jeff Sullivan: If anything I think that sluggers are overrated, because more and more teams are on the lookout for power. The Orioles and Angels are just succeeding in a way that some teams succeed sometimes. Lots of different ways to be good

9:53
Comment From Nick
Your gut pick for this year’s two World Series teams – GO!

9:53
Jeff Sullivan: Nats and Tigers?

9:53
Jeff Sullivan: My gut doesn’t have a very strong feeling

9:54
Comment From Will
What do you expect next year from Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey?

9:54
Jeff Sullivan: Really good pitching, delayed

9:54
Jeff Sullivan: Will be interesting to see if Fernandez continues to so heavily favor his breaking ball

9:54
Comment From STiVo
The Cubs are fun to watch, aren’t they?

9:54
Jeff Sullivan: More fun than the Reds

9:55
Comment From Ringtone Composer
Does Baez’s power rank 80 on the 20-80 scale?

9:55
Jeff Sullivan: Kiley would give you a better answer, but I’m going to guess he’s 70-75

9:55
Comment From Pale Hose
Are the Royals and Orioles examples of why it makes sense for a projected 78-ish win team to add talent?

9:56
Jeff Sullivan: Most simply, I think if you project to be even ~average, you should try to contend, while of course not giving away too much. If you’re, say, this yea’rs White Sox, you don’t want to pay out the nose to bring in a Giancarlo Stanton, but the error bars are so massive around the team projections that you should try to be good unless you really really think that you will not be good. It doesn’t take a lot for a mediocre team to challenge for a playoff spot in September

9:57
Comment From Rob W
Has the A’s collapse been a fluke? Are they looking at serious problems next year?

9:57
Jeff Sullivan: If there’s something major going on, it’s beyond what we can identify from the outside. Like, in the hypothetical where they really DO just miss Cespedes in the middle of the order, we can’t prove that. Probably, it’s awful timing, but they’ll be good again in 2015. We’ll then see about 2016

9:58
Jeff Sullivan: The A’s don’t operate with a window that expands beyond the current season. Can’t afford to

9:58
Comment From IndianaMike
Who should Mariners fans want to face in a one game WC game, the Athletics or Tigers?

9:58
Jeff Sullivan: The Royals

9:59
Comment From Ed
Would a collapse out of the playoff picture by the Oakland A’s be considered worse than the Red Sox collapse of 2013? One of the worst ever, considering where they stood in July and the availability of two wild card spots?

9:59
Jeff Sullivan: I assume you mean the 2011 Red Sox, and not the 2013 Red Sox who won the World Series

10:00
Jeff Sullivan: At the start of the collapse, the Red Sox were 1.5 up in the division, and 9 up on the wild card

10:01
Jeff Sullivan: The A”s, on August 9, were 4 up in the division, and 9.5 up on the second wild card

10:02
Jeff Sullivan: They’re somewhat similar collapses, to this point, but what made the Red Sox’s collapse extra bad is that it happened as soon as the calendar flipped to September. The A’s started a few weeks earlier, so they’ve allowed themselves some time to try to recover

10:03
Jeff Sullivan: Objectively, Oakland’s collapse would probably look a little worse, given the extra potential playoff spot, but Boston’s timing was legendary

10:03
Comment From Bergs
Which franchise has the most distinct team-building/player-development culture, top to bottom?

10:03
Jeff Sullivan: Right now, probably the Astros?

10:03
Comment From Vslyke
Where do the Braves go from here? Even if they back into the playoffs, they don’t look like a strong contender.

10:04
Jeff Sullivan: I know you’re looking for a broader answer, but I’ll indicate that past research has shown that teams that back into the playoffs don’t suffer from a performance disadvantage. Once you get there, who knows who could do what?

10:04
Comment From Guest
Do you see the Mariners making an offseason move to acquire a league average baseman cause Smoak and Lomo kinda suck

10:04
Jeff Sullivan: Definitely wouldn’t surprise me

10:04
Comment From Dave
I’m heading to Citi Field tonight. What form of rotten fruit should I bring in case I see a Wilpon?

10:05
Jeff Sullivan: If you buy fresh raspberries now they probably will have spoiled by game time

10:05
Comment From Rated Rookie
What is your take on McLendon sticking with Young as a starter? And could it be that pitching out of the bullpen offers Taijuan Walker some developmental benefit?

10:06
Jeff Sullivan: At this point it’s practically a tandem thing. Young goes as long as he can, and if that isn’t very long, then it falls to Walker. It’s an opportunity to give Young the benefit of the doubt while also giving Walker exposure without over-exposing him since he’s probably not ready to be a good big-league SP

10:06
Comment From 4-Dimensional Space-Time Enthusiast
How long do you think Giancarlo Stanton’s May 21, 2012 HR off of Jamie Moyer can hold the record for fastest “speed off bat” (122.4 MPH)?

10:06
Jeff Sullivan: I’ll say it’s broken within…five years? Maybe by Stanton himself. Or maybe by Baez or Gallo

10:06
Jeff Sullivan: I think about that home run probably every other day.

10:07
Comment From Dave
Isn’t WAR more a measurement of what should have happened? Its largely context neutral. And sure, for projections and predictions that’s great. But shouldn’t season awards be more aligned with what actually happened?

10:08
Jeff Sullivan: Then you get into issues of, how much credit should a player get for ending up in situations that weren’t of his own building? If this guy hits a handful of walk-offs, how responsible was he for being up in those situations in the first place?

10:09
Jeff Sullivan: We do have other numbers like RE24 and WPA and so on. WAR should always be considered nothing but a starting point, and I think clutch numbers can function perfectly well as tiebreakers

10:09
Jeff Sullivan: Current voting on Oakland’s playoff odds:

43% a little high
34% right
23% a lot high

10:10
Jeff Sullivan: I’m not sure what I was expecting. That’s basically one out of four who think Oakland is in significantly worse shape, though

10:10
Comment From Hamilton Porter
Why Sano over Gallo that quickly? He’s talented, but also hasn’t been playing.

10:10
Jeff Sullivan: Gallo has been playing, with a huge huge problem

10:11
Jeff Sullivan: I’m not worried about Sano’s Tommy John surgery. It’s a setback, but it’s not performance-related

10:11
Comment From Bill
When Votto doesn’t return to his pre-knee injury self, will his contract be the worst in baseball?

10:11
Jeff Sullivan: The guy was worth 6 WAR last season. There are some other really terrible contracts

10:12
Comment From Daniel
Are “bullpen days” going to become more common? – see Angels rotation

10:12
Jeff Sullivan: They definitely should in September

10:12
Jeff Sullivan: Not so much before that, although it is possible to shuffle players back and forth between the majors and Triple-A

10:12
Comment From Jheff
Marcus Stroman as a starter is currently playing at a 6 WAR pace over 215 innings. is he this good?

10:12
Jeff Sullivan: 6 WAR starter good? No.

10:12
Jeff Sullivan: Like almost nobody is 6 WAR starter good.

10:13
Comment From Joey
If Cueto wins his last four starts and pitches 7+ of shutdown baseball in each of them, will he be the first Reds Cy Young winner?

10:13
Jeff Sullivan: I think Kershaw’s got him overpowered. Impossible to ignore what Kershaw’s doing, despite the DL stint.

10:15
Comment From John
What teams future looks the brightest compared to 1 year ago?

10:15
Jeff Sullivan: This is really not easy. Marlins? White Sox?

10:16
Comment From Woods
Terrance Gore has been called up. Terrance Gore has more than 1,100 plate appearances over 3+ minor league seasons. Terrance Gore has (according to multiple sites) never hit a professional home run. Is this maybe a thing that has never happened before? What if we throw in the fact that he is an outfielder (though comically listed on Fangraphs as a DH)?

10:16
Jeff Sullivan: I’m going to guess that other players have gone this long in the minors without a dinger, but today I learned that Reggie Willits has 15 career minor-league dingers

10:17
Comment From John
What teams future looks the dullest compare to one year ago?

10:17
Jeff Sullivan: Reds or Rangers?

10:18
Comment From Pablo
Does Ben Revere’s high GB% paired with his speed mean he will always have a high BABIP and thus BA?

10:18
Jeff Sullivan: For as long as he remains this fast

10:18
Comment From Steve
Most overrated prospect?

10:19
Jeff Sullivan: I’m like Dave in this regard — pick a hard-throwing pitching prospect with command issues and underwhelming secondary stuff

10:19
Jeff Sullivan: Bradley, Sanchez, Walker…

10:20
Comment From Guest
If the A’s miss the playoffs would that be the biggest collapse all time?

10:20
Jeff Sullivan: In the middle of August 1995, the Angels were up 10.5 in the division and on the wild card

10:21
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know how the math all works out, but a few people have examined the biggest collapses ever before. I think the Hardball Times had something

10:21
Comment From Steve
Aaron Sanchez has looked good in the bullpen, you cant deny that, and the supposed command problems have not popped up.

10:21
Jeff Sullivan: Yes, there’s little doubt in my mind that Aaron Sanchez could be an effective relief pitcher

10:22
Jeff Sullivan: 85% of his pitches have been fastballs. He’s thrown a below-average rate of strikes and he’s allowed a worse-than-average rate of contact

10:26
Comment From Reptar
Let’s pretend the Ray Rice situation was perpetrated by an MLB star. Do you think Selig/MLB handles things the same way? Should players be fired for off-field transgressions (even horrible, terrible, despicable ones) that don’t affect the game itself?

10:26
Jeff Sullivan: I’m probably going to regret trying to address this, since I haven’t read much about the Rice situation, since I don’t really pay attention to football. But let’s proceed anyhow!

10:27
Jeff Sullivan: First thing first, baseball hasn’t really endured anything quite like the Rice situation that I can remember. Nothing that brutal, nothing also captured on video released to the public

10:27
Jeff Sullivan: Baseball, ultimately, eventually will have to deal with something like this

10:28
Jeff Sullivan: The precedent within the game is one of very little discipline. Brett Myers pitched the day after he was seen striking his partner. I don’t think that’s what would happen today

10:29
Jeff Sullivan: I understand the perspective that players shouldn’t be disciplined too harshly for off-the-field transgressions, but at the same time, I think the founding principle ought to be that sports are entertainment for the fans, and leagues have to operate with PR in the forefront of their minds. A baseball player who did what Rice did should definitely face discipline, and he should be extended fewer opportunities from other teams down the road. And we see this — teams are less willing to take chances on troubled players, although that willingness also isn’t 0%

10:30
Jeff Sullivan: Nor should it be, in many cases, but in cases of particular brutality, there’s no place in the game for a player like that, at least not for…what, a year?

10:30
Comment From Kevin
% chance the Cubs make the playoffs next year?

10:30
Jeff Sullivan: 30%?

10:30
Comment From Dom
Your early AL East favorite in 2015?

10:31
Jeff Sullivan: Rays

10:32
Comment From Joe
If there was a three way tie for the the two wildcard spots, how is that sorted out?

10:32
Jeff Sullivan: Here’s last year’s solution: http://m.mlb.com/news/artic…

10:33
Jeff Sullivan: More generally: http://m.mlb.com/news/artic…

10:34
Jeff Sullivan: After Clubs have been assigned their A, B and C designations, Club A would host Club B on Monday, Sept. 30 (tentatively). The winner of the game would be declared one Wild Card winner. Club C would then host the loser of the game between Club A and Club B on Tuesday, Oct. 1 (tentatively) to determine the second Wild Card Club.

10:35
Comment From Bill Self
Big Royals fan, do we have a shot at signing James Shields?

10:35
Jeff Sullivan: No

10:35
Comment From Steve
Why dont you want to work for a team>

10:35
Jeff Sullivan: Not good/smart enough, plus terrible hours and security.

10:35
Jeff Sullivan: It’s a great dream, for a 20-year-old

10:36
Comment From Brian
does Lance Lynn’s improvement against lefties make him a legit #2 now?

10:36
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t see great evidence he’s really changed against lefties

10:37
Jeff Sullivan: K-BB% of 6%, against a career average of 6%. 44% grounders, against a career average of 42%. Maybe he knows how to allow fewer dingers now, but that’ll take a while to prove

10:37
Comment From CS
Is A. Russell Starting for the Cubs next season? Or are we waiting until later in season?

10:37
Jeff Sullivan: He’s not starting out of the gate

10:38
Comment From Guest
Is the increased parity this season an anomaly or a symptom of the decreased run environment?

10:39
Jeff Sullivan: Every team has similar ideas of how to build, and the gap between the smartest and the dumbest organizations is probably smaller than ever. Cherington was saying the other week that it’s a lot harder to build a great time than it used to be, because every team is on the lookout for a lot of the same stuff. I think we’re just approaching a point at which teams think the same things. Every team, of course, will be in different positions on the win curve, but the philosophies will be similar

10:40
Comment From Matt
Do you see the Cubs tilting more toward high-end FAs or a trade of one of their young bats to address SP issues?

10:40
Jeff Sullivan: I think they try hard to sign an SP this winter

10:40
Comment From Matt
Everyone should lay off panic button on Javy Baez, right?

10:41
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know what people were expecting. Through his first 34 games in Triple-A, he hit .178/.252/.341 with 11 walks and 50 strikeouts. There’s always been the risk that he’s just too volatile, but he deserves plenty of patience

10:42
Comment From Shawn
Where would you place Cueto in the best starting pitchers discussion?

10:42
Jeff Sullivan: Off the top of my head, somewhere toward the bottom of the top 15?

10:43
Comment From Rollie
Stroman as a starter: 18 GS, 108.1 innings, 75 ERA-, 70 FIP-, 3.13 xFIP. Very, very likely not his true talent, obviously, but you’d have to regress his numbers very hard to make him a #3 as opposed to a #2 starter right now.

10:44
Jeff Sullivan: He has the numbers of a borderline ace, but it’s a question of, how well do those numbers reflect his actual talent? His strike rate is basically average. He’s allowed more contact than the average AL starter. He’s performed around the upper boundary of his talent

10:44
Comment From Big Joe Mufferaw
Who is the best hitter with the most unorthodox approach (other than Ichiro)?

10:44
Jeff Sullivan: Sandoval doesn’t make sense

10:44
Comment From Big Joe Mufferaw
Is it easier to scout hitters or pitchers? It seems like talent is most obvious on the mound (movement, velocity and such), but with the injury risk they are more volatile.

10:44
Jeff Sullivan: Easier to scout pitching ability, in that you can get a better idea in less time

10:45
Comment From Bryce Harpers Mom
Wouldn’t the Dodgers have the edge over the Nationals in an NLCS? Better high-end pitching? I’m hearing much more talk about the Nationals in the WS than the Dodgers.

10:45
Jeff Sullivan: Neither team, probably, would have an edge over the other. A series would be almost a total, genuine coin flip

10:46
Comment From Big Joe Mufferaw
Your favorite current pitcher vs batter match up would be who? (if you had to watch 1 hitter vs 1 pitcher for 27 outs)

10:46
Jeff Sullivan: Currently addicted to Chapman vs. Baez

10:46
Jeff Sullivan: But I’d have fun with Kershaw vs. Stanton, or, Kershaw vs. Colon

10:47
Comment From Jef
Does Bill Hamilton ever post an OBP in the .330-.340 area?

10:47
Jeff Sullivan: probably a couple times

10:47
Comment From Jimmers
Chose 1 (contract doesnt matter) to start a franchise with.. King Felix or Kershaw

10:47
Jeff Sullivan: Kershaw

10:47
Comment From JT91
How is Colin McHugh having this much success? Is it sustainable?

10:48
Jeff Sullivan: The Astros loved his curveball before, and they identified something different he could do with his fastball. I don’t see why not to buy him as a quality starter now, although probably not quite this good

10:48
Comment From Team of Destiny
What’s been the saddest thing to watch happen this season?

10:48
Jeff Sullivan: Jose Fernandez getting hurt, or the Rangers getting hurt

10:49
Comment From Rob W
Would you rather have a healthy Dustin Ackley or Michael Saunders starting every day?

10:49
Jeff Sullivan: The Mariners can start both, in opposite corners

10:49
Comment From Prich
Do you believe Taijuan Walker still has enough value to be the centerpiece of a large trade?

10:49
Jeff Sullivan: Sure, although not for like a Stanton or anything

10:49
Comment From Team of Destiny
With the Brewers sliding, is Lucroy likewise falling out of the MVP race?

10:49
Jeff Sullivan: He probably didn’t have a great shot to begin with, given how much his defense matters in the argument

10:50
Comment From Robert
I think what people don’t get about the Angels is that they have a bunch of really good players, so even with the injury to Richards, they always have a few guys producing every night offensively. And the bullpen is so very much better.

10:50
Jeff Sullivan: With Richards, the Angels would probably be the WS favorites

10:50
Comment From Gila Monster
What are your thoughts on error bars for WAR? WAR is very precise, but not entirely accurate. I get the fact that we could make it more accurate, but doing so would make it less precise?

10:50
Jeff Sullivan: Depends on the player, but it can probably get up to a couple wins. Sometimes I wish it weren’t reported beyond the decimal

10:51
Comment From Guest
Hey Jeff, how do I convince my friends and family that the A’s aren’t losing because of the Cespedes/Lester trade?

10:51
Jeff Sullivan: How do you convince people that there is or isn’t a god?

10:51
Comment From Pablo
Historically, how have pitchers bounced back from knee injuries similar to Richard’s?

10:51
Jeff Sullivan: Little reason to think he shouldn’t be fine

10:51
Comment From JT91
Doug Fister has been amazing, yet his WAR is surprisingly low despite his peripherals being in line with his Tigers days. Why is this

10:51
10:52
Comment From bryce
is rendon on your NL MVP watchlist?

10:52
Jeff Sullivan: yeah

10:52
Comment From Guest
Where did you go to college?

10:52
Jeff Sullivan: Trinity College

10:52
Comment From hscer
whoa, I remember Willits

10:52
Jeff Sullivan: Who could forget!

10:52
Comment From Sadwick
Not Arizona for the dull future question? They probably would be tied with the Rangers in my mind.

10:53
Jeff Sullivan: They’re on there too, but to be completely honest with you I’ve kind of ignored the Diamondbacks since they started horribly

10:53
Comment From Graham
Does UZR or DRS consider defensive positioning/shifting advantages? Does it matter?

10:53
Jeff Sullivan: They do not, and it’s increasingly a problem

10:53
Comment From Snarfle
While I’m a randomness proponent, and that’s still my default answer for the A’s, I do notice that the players who hit near Cespedes, mostly Moss, but also Vogt, have been really awful in collapse-mode.

10:54
Jeff Sullivan: Additional fun fact: when Cespedes was on the DL in 2012 and in 2013, the offense was similarly miserable

10:54
Jeff Sullivan: I still don’t believe it, but I don’t know if I want to believe it. Wouldn’t that be fascinating? Wouldn’t that also kind of upend everything?

10:55
Comment From Dustin
Is F-strike% based on location or result?

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: Result

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: It would be handy to have location

10:55
Comment From Josh
Are the Mariners good next year, or one year fluke?

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: Contender

10:55
Comment From Team of Destiny
How good will Drew Smyly be next season?

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: Reasonably!

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: I’m interested to see how he does with his Rays-influenced adjustments

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: (like pitching differently with two strikes, and pitching up in the zone more often)

10:56
Comment From Pablo
Brett Gardner’s HR/FB is nearly double his career avg. Has he made an adjustment or is he getting lucky?

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: He’s being deliberately more aggressive

10:56
Comment From Guest
Legal/Crimes problems should be handled by the legal system. It shouldn’t be up to professional sports organizations to address the failing of a legal system. Say a player was accused of a crime, was suspended by the league, and found not guilty. Is that not a bigger issue?

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: That would be a problem! Ray Rice was observed on video.

10:57
Comment From Guest
is it true that working in baseball is seen as a privilege? seems like it would be, and people would be asked to sacrifice a lot for that “right”

10:58
Jeff Sullivan: Baseball has a vested interest in building up that perception, so that people don’t enter the industry expecting things like security or money. As long as you think it’s a privilege every day, then you’ll be more willing to settle for less. That willingness deteriorates as one ages.

10:58
Comment From Matt
Kevin Goldstein once said it best: If you want a entry level baseball position: Get used to martial problems,never being home,and crapping in a McDonalds. And if you are willing to do those things, you could make a lot of money elsewhere.

10:59
Comment From Robert
How many years does Trout need to play like this before he would have a legit chance at the HoF? The minimum is obviously 10, but could he do this for 8 years, have 2 replacement level years, and then make it?

11:00
Jeff Sullivan: If he did that, he’d have a real chance. Less of a chance were he being voted on now, but 10-15 years from now, the voting pool will be different and more understanding of the advanced numbers that love Trout so much.

11:01
Comment From Joe
Miguel Gonzalez has consistently outperformed his peripheral stats for 3 years, and in particular has an amazing strand rate this year. Is it possible this is an actual skill, or what?

11:01
Jeff Sullivan: I can buy him as a lower-than-average BABIP type; I’m less willing to buy him as a high-strand type

11:02
Comment From Reginald Denton III
Where do you place Kluber in the best starting pitchers discussion?

11:02
Jeff Sullivan: Probably something like 5th

11:02
Comment From Steve
Is Daniel Norris the #1/2 the Jays need?

11:02
Jeff Sullivan: Presumably not

11:02
Comment From Steve
Trinity College… Toronto?

11:02
Jeff Sullivan: Hartford, Connecticut — New England’s rising star!

11:03
Comment From Prich
How did it feel last week to get all caught up in questions? Were you worried we’d run out of baseball to talk about? Did you consider answering fantasy questions!?

11:03
Jeff Sullivan: I’ve done it again!

11:03
Jeff Sullivan: Except I’ve saved a couple from the very beginning

11:03
Comment From Guest
So, when (if) MLBAM starts giving us fielding data like route efficiencies and throw velocities/arcs, etc., how long before you think we have enough to make meaningful observations? 1 season? 3? A few months? I feel like that data would pile up quickly.

11:04
Jeff Sullivan: We’d have some really interesting data after a few months and after a full season, but it would take a few seasons to get a strong idea of sustainability of skill and whatnot. So, like, advanced fielding metrics wouldn’t be changed a ton for the better for a handful of years, I bet

11:06
Comment From Kinbote
Can you articulate your philosophy on projections. We can’t (and wouldn’t want) 100% accuracy, so what is the point? Does it lead to a deeper enjoyment of the game for you?

11:07
Jeff Sullivan: It does lead to a deeper enjoyment, and if it weren’t for the projections, we wouldn’t have any idea of what to expect. Much of the time, the projections provide a good-enough idea, and that informs our thoughts on players and transactions. But the projections are also off often enough to keep baseball mysterious, and that unpredictability gives us something to keep working toward. It’s the carrot that drives us forward — how can we get incrementally better? If you always have something you’re working for, you’ll have fewer issues feeling motivated.

11:09
Jeff Sullivan: On a deeper level it’s scientific or philosophical. How much can we know? How much do we know? How much do we want to know? It exercises a lot of the parts of the brain, and that’s fulfilling, even if, at the end of the day, the A’s trade for an ace and immediately collapse. And now we have a new question: why did that happen? Projections lead to questions. Questions lead to tests. Tests are productivity. Projections keep us busy, which is what we want baseball for, the most.

11:10
Comment From Steve
If Aaron Sanchez continues to be a reliever as good as he is, would it be fair to say he is a success and not a bust?

11:10
Jeff Sullivan: It would be more fair to offer a more nuanced perspective

11:10
Comment From Mike
Does the NHL possibly coming to Seattle do anything for you?

11:10
Jeff Sullivan: I would like having more friends who are hockey fans, so that aspect would be super

11:10
Jeff Sullivan: All done now! And no questions remaining in the queue.

11:11
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, and until then, be well and have great days.

We hoped you liked reading Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 9/9/14 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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