Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 2/10/2021

4:01
Meg Rowley: Hi everyone and welcome to the chat. Let’s get started.

4:01
JJ: Not a question but I feel super elite browsing FG in dark mode. Would recommend membership to anyone reading this who isn’t currently one.

4:02
Meg Rowley: It is so cool! I’m glad you’re enjoying it. I’ll remind our chatters that it is benefit for all of our Members, regular and ad-free.

4:03
Meg Rowley: Our writers are rad and because they do work that has their name obviously attached every day, they get their due praise, but Sean Dolinar is really FanGraphs’ unsung hero. The dev work that he and David do is so great.

4:03
Anthony: Who do you think takes the A.L West?

4:05
Meg Rowley: Despite their departures and some concern about the rotation, I think Houston emerges but if some of the upside plays in the rotation pan out, LA isn’t a wild guess.

4:06
Meg Rowley: How much of that is me wanting Trout in the playoffs? I mean, it is some, but when your roster has Trout and Rendon, you’re starting in a good spot, and I think they have real upside in the rotation (what’s that, a football for me to kick, Lucy) and the best bullpen they’ve had in a while.

4:06
Nick: Do you think there’s going to be a league wide innings shortage this year, what with the shortened 2020 season? Prospect people talk about inning jumps all the time and I’m wondering how much even veteran workhorses will fare trying to ramp back up after having pitched a third as many innings as they normally do. I personally would set the o/u for 200 IP starters league wide  at like… 2. Am I crazy?

4:09
Meg Rowley: Every team person I talk to is worried about how guys are going to be able to ramp up, though several have noted that a more normal spring training should hopefully alleviate some of that, and at the very least, will tell us a lot about where guys are. I’m not sure how to balance the benefit of less wear/tear vs. not having innings on the arm. Two 200 inning guys feels light, but I think we’ll set a new low relative to recent years.

4:10
Aaron: On a couple of recent EW episodes you mentioned that the Tigers are doing some interesting things with pitch development.  I was wondering if you wold elaborate on that.  I’d love to have something to get my hopes up about.  Thanks!

4:11
Meg Rowley: The sense I’ve gotten is that they’ve gotten much more adept at helping their guys refine and alter their arsenals to play in complementary ways, better sequence their pitches, and more cleanly delineate pitches from one another in a beneficial way. Mize is a guy who comes to mind here.

4:11
Asinwreck: What effect does deadening the ball have on Nick Madrigal’s MVP chances?

4:13
Meg Rowley: Very little? While it seems like a slightly deadened ball is likely to lead to fewer home runs for some guys, the boppers are probably going to be just fine. Mike Trout’s home runs aren’t wall scrapers. Does a more contact-oriented offensive environment help raise the profile of a guy like Madrigal? Sure! But I don’t think the lack of home runs was really what was holding him back.

4:14
Guest: It should happen regardless, but do you think if Kim Ng wins a world series in Miami it would spur other teams to broaden their candidate pool for GM?

4:16
Meg Rowley: No? I don’t think anyone doubted Kim’s ability to positively affect a team’s chances of winning before now. I mean, maybe some people did, her resume was pretty damn august. I don’t think if Miami wins the World Series, the institutional barriers that impeded her hiring fall away.

4:16
Ben: Hi Meg, do you know why there is still no Kohei Arihara player page and when we can expect him to be added to the Rangers’ depth chart? Thanks!

4:17
Meg Rowley: Generally these gaps are the result of the guy not having game stats in affiliated ball yet but he has a roster spot and MLB page, so I think we should have it by now. I’ll follow up!

4:17
Tom: To what extent do you think we see fans in the stands on opening day?

4:19
Meg Rowley: To an extent that makes me pretty uncomfortable given persistent community spread and where our vaccination numbers are? I think there will definitely be teams that allow reduced capacity using pod seating. I hope that’s enough to keep everyone safe, but I continue to worry about what happens when folks get up to get a beer or go to the bathroom or just leave when the game is done.

4:19
Guest: Why do you seem to think that every free agent gets paid less than he’s “worth”? By definition isn’t he worth what the market will pay him? Unless you want to define worth as the additional revenue he will bring to his team? But I don’t actually think that definition helps your point, because I would guess that all players are paid more than they generate in marginal revenue, given the economic structure of MLB and how owners can make money without winning.

4:22
Meg Rowley: Dollars per WAR isn’t the be-all, end-all, and there’s more even to that than simply multiplying this stuff out, but in the cases where I think a contract is light, when you look at the on-field value they generate and compare it to what that production should fetch in the open market, there’s often a gap

4:22
Justin Turner: What exactly am I doing? Spring training starts next week and I still don’t have a team.

4:23
Meg Rowley: Likely trying to get as much as you can by entertaining a market that is more than just the Dodgers?

4:23
Meg Rowley: I expect you end up back there.

4:24
Bocephus: Hello Meg, quick question. Nelson Cruz has a negative defense war in 2020 but didn’t play defense. Can you help me understand. I appreciate the work you and your team do.

4:25
Meg Rowley: We apply a positional adjustment there https://library.fangraphs.com/misc/war/

4:27
Curtis: Who will lead the Mariners in WAR in 2021?

4:27
Meg Rowley: Marco Gonzales

4:27
JN: Corbin Burnes and Randy Arozarena are both available to draft in my dynasty league (we skipped the 2020 season). Who would you take between those two?

4:28
Meg Rowley: Allow this to be my once-a-chat reminder to ask fantasy questions to our Roto staff as they know a lot about fantasy baseball and I know how to forget to set your lineup so many weeks in a row that one of your grad school best friends asks you, very nicely, if you wouldn’t rather not play.

4:28
Samwise: Jay’s article on Ozuna included a fact meant to denigrate Bauer that was way overqualified and misleading, not too mention factually wrong. A commenter pointed this out, and you corrected the factually wrong part of it, but left in the intentionally misleading statement. It’s one thing to say “On one hand, Bauer is an asshole, but on the other hand this is why he’s valued the way he is”, with the latter part being a necessary part of any transaction analysis. But if your (and Jay’s) dislike for a player is so great that you can no longer provide your readers with accurate information (both factually and in spirit), that is a real problem. Readers shouldn’t need to fact check every article knowing they could be getting mislead. It’s insulting to your readers, some of us who are paying members (at least until my subscription runs out), and since it seems you no longer/never cared about that, at least consider how insulting it is to your fellow journalists who are out of work that would never make such a mistake

4:28
Samwise: More on Jay’s intentionally misleading Bauer comment: Also, you are actively turning away people who would otherwise agree with you (I agree! I think Bauer’s a jerk!) but have a strong distaste for misinformation

4:30
Meg Rowley: Jay didn’t say anything about Bauer’s personality or off-field behavior in that piece. You are correct to say that he made a small factual error with regards to Bauer’s FIP, which he then corrected, but the comparison was meant to serve as something of a thought experiment on turning one dynamite pandemic-shortened season into a big contract.

4:31
Meg Rowley: We have discussed Bauer’s behavior within the context of his signing because it’s a relevant aspect of his public persona (and clearly one he’s comfortable putting on record as all of this stuff occurs on a public forum), but didn’t in this case.

4:32
Meg Rowley: We try very hard to get these details right, and to update them when someone points out an error. I’m sorry I didn’t catch that in editing the piece, and hope that clarifies things.

4:32
Shohei The Money: What do you think of Ohtani’s chances of becoming a simultaneous star in pitching and hitting?  Both given his injury history and also given the general difficulty in doing so, what do you think are the chances that he’ll have to give it up and just focus on one instead?

4:35
Appa Yip Yip: Are you excited to be reminded of how quickly spring training gets boring? I am.

4:35
Meg Rowley: Wildly excited!

4:36
Meg Rowley: I don’t know how advisable it is to be doing any of this from a public health perspective, but selfishly having more predictability in my professional life is a thing I am very much looking forward to.

4:37
Mad Joe-Don: What if, instead of making the ball less bouncy they made the pitcher’s mound more bouncy?

4:37
Meg Rowley: See now we’re cooking with gas.

4:37
Guest: Great song reference in the subhead! Sometimes how I feel when a chat ends before I can think of a question…what were the words I meant to say before she left?

4:37
Meg Rowley: I am so glad to learn the target audience for that was not in fact zero!

4:39
Isolated Thinker: Besides the fact that the players want it (spite), is there any other reason the owners wouldn’t want the universal DH?  I would think pitchers’ health/less chance of injury would outweigh any money-related reason.

4:40
Meg Rowley: I don’t know if I would characterize it as spite, but it clearly being thought of as an economic question (which honestly, it made more sense as last year, too but) and so is not going to be given away for free, even if teams want it and it isn’t as valuable as expanded playoffs.

4:41
Marc: Just a heads up, I love dark mode, but it’s basically impossible  to read prospect write-ups on THE BOARD. Thanks for all the work to make Fangraphs more user-friendly!

4:41
Meg Rowley: Oh interesting – what browser are you using? They look good to me in Chrome.

4:43
F**k12: How do you feel about the mets keeping Nimmo in center? Clearly he’s terrible but his bat is so good  he’s a top 10 Center fielder according to war, is there’s poo t where it doesn’t matter how bad your bar is of you can hit enough?

4:45
Meg Rowley: I think he’s still a valuable player but it’s prettttttty tough to have such a huge liability at a premium position and it has downstream effects on the rest of the roster, so they should probably upgrade there, and more than Almora. Think Jay’s piece on this is good reading: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/greener-pastures-for-albert-almora-jr-and-…

4:45
Mark: Can there be any defense of the bottom of 3 payrolls? Sub-NHL payroll figures from a 2021 MLB club doesn’t seem right.

4:46
Meg Rowley: I think there are times when a club truly isn’t going to compete and dipping down for a bit while it rebuilds the farm and gets its ducks in a row is defensible but only if that money eventually gets reinvested in the team.

4:48
Samwise: More on Jay’s Bauer piece: I know he didn’t say anything about his personality. That’s the point. If he had said Bauer’s a jerk but this is the case for him getting this contract, that’s fine. The ‘factual’ error also isn’t the point. Go read the quote again, and the comment again, if you forget. It was misleading in spirit, because of the way he sliced and diced the data. You know that citing batter vs. pitcher matchups are stupid, or someone’s performance in 3 PM games. You know the way he sliced the data was deliberately obtuse. And you’re being deliberately obtuse in the way you’ve responded.

4:49
Meg Rowley: I promise I’m not. If you don’t find the thought experiment compelling, or thought it could have been more clearly stated, that’s a totally reasonable view but I think you’re reading more into a minor error that was corrected than is really warranted. The truth is that Bauer has had a few good years punctuate by his best coming in a pandemic shortened campaign and got a lot of money, where Ozuna got comparatively less. That’s interesting.

4:50
Ohtani: Hey Meg, you published a question about Ohtani, but then didn’t answer it and published/answered another question immediately afterward.  Might have been a mis-click but thought I’d mention it!

4:51
Meg Rowley: It was not! Thank you! I think it is going to be difficult at this point even if I really, really would like him to. It’s already an extremely difficult thing to pull off with good health and he hasn’t been able to maintain that.

4:52
jsolid: Im wondering about the likelihood of a strike/lockout with the looming CBA negotiations. there have been so many contentious areas – service time manipulation, de facto salary cap, the seeming squeeze on player salaries [even before the pandemic, which exacerbated it]. thoughts?

4:53
Meg Rowley: That I’m pretty concerned we’ll have some sort of stoppage, though I also wonder how two years of potentially diminished revenues will affect either side, but particularly the players’, ability to sustain such a stoppage.

4:54
LLW: Do you have a better MLB themed valentine’s day pun than “I Shin-Soo Choo-Choo-Choose You”?

4:54
Meg Rowley: Ugh no but now I’m going to be thinking about this for the rest of the day.

4:57
JN: Any chance the Dodgers would trade Kenley’s 20 mil or so to counteract the Bauer signing and being over the luxury tax limit?

4:58
Meg Rowley: I’m guessing no only because I don’t think they’re done adding – the number they’re likely concerned with now is not going $40 million (I think it’s $40 million) over and triggering draft pick penalties.

4:58
Ohtani: Less than whether Ohtani can be a two-way star, can he even be good one-way? He’s been fine as a hitter. Just fine. And as a pitcher, he looks like you could count on him for about 20 IP. Is he closer to being a two-way stud or out of the league altogether?

4:58
Meg Rowley: I think the bat will improve with good health and (I’m sorry, I’m trying to delete it, I’m sorry) a settled role.

4:59
Some Guy: What are your expectations of Kyle Lewis going forward? Is he a 120+ wRC+ guy like he has been in his limited major league career or a ~90 wRC+ like ZIPs/Steamer projects?

4:59
Meg Rowley: I think he likely settles in around 115? Now, it’s possible he’s just a dude who runs unusually high BABIPs, but even then, probably not this unusually high.

5:00
Rob K: Another day, another projection system that thinks the Mets could win the east. As a Mets fan, it just doesn’t feel right. I guess I don’t have a question

5:00
Meg Rowley: There is (probably) going to be a time when the Mariners are projected to, if not win the division, be good again, and when that moment comes, I imagine I’ll find your experience to be very relatable.

5:01
TKDC: What is the more likely settled role for Ohtani? Supposedly he would be a plus right fielder (obviously a great arm) if that were his full time role and it just seems unlikely he can do the two-way thing as well.

5:01
Meg Rowley: Sorry, just meant that the two-way question had been settled.

5:02
Dee Arby: Be My Bobby Valentine

5:02
Meg Rowley: This is pretty good!

5:02
Marc: Thanks for answering Meg- I’m using Edge, but I’ll check out the BOARD on Chrome to see if it’s any better

5:02
Meg Rowley: Interesting – I know one of our staff members does too and he says it loads fine for him.

5:03
Meg Rowley: Can you describe the problem further and I’ll follow up with Sean? I appreciate the heads up!

5:04
TKDC: MLB was pretty lucky in the playoffs that only one truly mediocre team won the first round (Marlins) and they got trounced in the second round. Do you believe in “playoffs are a crapshoot” and if they keep 16 team playoffs a World Series between ~.500 teams is inevitable?

5:05
Meg Rowley: I suppose it depends on just how many just-ok teams make it in – I still think the arch of a multi-round playoff bends toward better teams advancing on average, but upping the risk at all seems bad

5:06
Dee Arby: what would you recommend to improve the entertainment between innings during games? There are some classics like The Freeze, the Phanatic, Hot Dog races, but if you ever been to a Marlins game, there is quite literally nothing basebally done between innings, just fan cams which is too silly.  Why is anyone excited to be on a giant tv?

5:07
Meg Rowley: I find the human instinct to be reallllllly pumped at a 40 foot version of yourself to be weirdly charming. It seems to be so universal! Is this part of our DNA? HI MOM! People have no plan other than waving! It’s the best.

5:07
Meg Rowley: But in answer to your question, I think it is totally fine for the time between innings to just be punctuated by good music and a pitcher warming up.

5:08
Meg Rowley: And so I suppose my response is: hire good DJs?

5:08
George: Hey Meg! I was wondering if you have any good *non-baseball* writers who you love to read and would recommend specifically. You retweeted Kelsey Mckinney awhile ago and I’ve discovered I really like her work so I was hoping you had some other writers you could point me in the direction of.

5:11
Meg Rowley: This list is very much not exhaustive, but from folks I read regularly whose work I read today: still in the sports realm, and because his piece earlier on the mess that is NFL coaching hires is still on my mind, I’ve really enjoyed Tyler Tynes’ work at The Ringer. In the non-sports realm, I finally got around to reading Amanda Mull’s piece on how the pandemic has affected our relationships, particularly more casual friendships and felt it very deeply.

5:11
Marc: Apologies for the mixup- this was an issue that I had been experiencing yesterday and earlier this afternoon, but is gone now? I restarted Edge, which might have fixed the problem. Either way thanks for listening

5:11
Meg Rowley: Oh excellent!

5:11
Meg Rowley: Well I appreciate the feedback nonetheless – we do a lot of user testing before we roll out new features but there are always cases that we don’t catch.

5:11
Meg Rowley: Glad you’re enjoying dark mode!

5:12
Meg Rowley: Ok all, I have to get rolling. Thanks for the questions and sorry for what I didn’t get to.

5:13
Meg Rowley: A brief note that next week, I likely won’t chat because of the hustle and bustle that is prospect week.

5:13
Meg Rowley: Until we chat again, be well!





Meg is the managing editor of FanGraphs and the co-host of Effectively Wild. Prior to joining FanGraphs, her work appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing, and Just A Bit Outside.

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My favorite tweets are writers responding “Meg” or “meg…..” to Meg’s puns.