Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 4/7/2021 by Meg Rowley April 7, 2021 4:00 Dave: Are you available to hit for the Cubs? 4:00 Meg Rowley: I have to chat! 4:00 Meg Rowley: Sorry, Cubs! Also, hello all, and welcome to the chat. Let’s get going here. 4:00 Saul: 6 games in, what are your way-too-early takes for the season 4:02 Meg Rowley: That it’s very cool to see Yermín Mercedes doing this, and that despite the risk and it perhaps not being the totally optimal way to use him, I hope Shohei Ohtani is healthy enough to justify him doing the two-way thing all season. 4:02 Meg Rowley: Really groundbreaking stuff, I know. 4:02 Guest: what do you think is a realistic outcome for Jonathan India’s rookie season? he’s raking and playing a solid 2B after 6 games (small sample size, obv) 4:05 Meg Rowley: From reports/data that came out of the alt sites, it sounds like there was renewed confidence in his bat after he had a couple of injuries, and that while he’s unlikely to be a defensive standout, being tried at a few different spots means he has some useful versatility. And clearly the team is bought in given the way they’ve reconfigured their infield to make room for him. Will he perform like this? I mean, probably not, but it’s looking better than it did a year ago. 4:05 schmoo: How did the past week or so go for memberships? Hoping you all didn’t have too many lapsed renewals! 4:06 Meg Rowley: Pretty well! There was some attrition but that’s to be expected and we’re excited about how the membership drive might go. We remain very grateful for the support, and hope that the new features and voices we’ve been able to add of late make it an easy choice for folks. Membership support allows us to give you a better FanGraphs. 4:06 Chris: James paxton and jake fraley getting hurt really bums me out 4:06 Meg Rowley: It’s a bummer! 4:07 Meg Rowley: Getting to see Ljay Newsome is good, but it’s a big bummer, and really underscore how little big-league depth they added this offseason. 4:07 Meg Rowley: Also, just, poor Paxton. Dude can’t catch a break. 4:07 Not Jake Cronenworth: Hi Meg, is it too wild to say that I am intrigued to see Kim play more regularly while Tatis is recovering from Injury – oh and more Jake Cronenworth too. Could this actually be a blessing to the padres in getting Kim’s acclimated to MLB with regular playing time 4:11 Meg Rowley: It is too wild, but I appreciate the impulse to try to find something positive in this. Time to adjust to big league pitching is absolutely useful for Kim, but I’d rather it came at a far less grave cost to SD, like days off to keep guys fresh. 4:11 Jacob: Why don’t the ZiPS ROS projections include players like Dinelson Lamet/Sonny Gray who haven’t pitched yet this year? 4:11 Meg Rowley: Because they haven’t pitched yet – once they have innings, they should show up. 4:12 Jacob: Do you and Ben hang out outside of the podcast? And if so, were you friends before you started doing the podcast or only once you began working together? 4:13 Meg Rowley: Since we live in different parts of the country, our ability to hang out, even pre-pandemic was pretty limited, but it’s always great to see him at industry events and such. We were definitely friendly pre-EW, but there’s nothing like recording an emergency Ohtani pod at 9:30 PM on a Sunday to get to know a person. 4:14 LLW: It’s hard to say the Rangers are the bellwether for this trend, given it has always been atrociously hot in south Texas, but how many years will it be until we see teams explicitly cite climate change as a reason why cities need to build them new closed roof stadiums, lest they relocate to the newly balmy climes of the upper Midwest? 4:18 Meg Rowley: That’s a really good question – it certainly seems like an argument in favor of retractable roofs, though how explicitly it will be used to justify abandoning existing structures… I’d be surprised given how that issue sits within the broader politics a lot of owners subscribe to, but I guess I shouldn’t underestimate how willing they might be to use it if it can secure new public funding. 4:21 Chris: Not a question, just letting you know there is a typo in the Buxton piece from yesterday, though I like to imagine “Byron Buton” as a Frenchman swinging a giant baguette and watching his home run dissapear over the fence with a subdued, “mon dieu”. 4:21 Meg Rowley: Ah drat – thank you, updated. 4:21 Meg Rowley: Or should I say, merci. 4:21 Jacob: Which team has been the biggest surprise so far? And which team has been the biggest disappointment? 4:23 Meg Rowley: Really don’t think there are any disappointments – it’s too early for that! The A’s haven’t looked great, but they’ve also played two good teams. 4:25 Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: It’s hard to be pessimistic about a team with so much depth in the minors, but woof, the Rays’ pitching staff right now. Will this be the year they finally got too cute with roster construction? Their top three players by salary this year are Kiermaier, Tsutsugo, and Archer, which is…interesting right about now. 4:25 Meg Rowley: Could well be but also, I don’t know that this stretch tells us that. 4:25 Meg Rowley: Basically all of baseball right now is, does this matter? and us saying, maybe? 4:26 Sanford: Luis Rojas is sitting Jeff McNeil today so that Jonathan Villar can “get a start early in the season” or some reasoning along those lines. As it’s seemingly not a platoon or a rest thing, do you think there’s much value in playing your bench/utility guys early in the season like this just for the sake of getting them in, or do you think managers should generally just play the best players every day (as long as those players are feeling/playing well)? Unlike a situation with Kim in SD that you and NJC just talked about, feels like the expectation with a vet like Villar should just be that they’re ready to go if/when called upon 4:28 Meg Rowley: I think there’s something to the idea that going too long without real game action can make dude’s rusty, but I don’t know where that point is and imagine it varies depending on the guy. I’m also not convinced a start is the only way to do that, but who knows if there’s something going on that we don’t know about. Not saying there is, but maybe! Managers don’t always tell us everything. 4:28 WalterBishop: HOLY COW! The Cubs actually got a hit! 4:28 Meg Rowley: Wow, glad I didn’t skip my chat. 4:29 Sanford: Meg, I believe you were the first person I heard call for the elimination of the final “S” in “SSS”–I’ve been fully on board ever since and want to spread the word again, given it is April and such 4:29 Meg Rowley: Not eliminate, just be discerning. Sometimes you need to say small sample size, but not every time! 4:30 James: 12 of Machado’s 18 batted balls have an EV over 100 mph. I think he’s gonna pop off this season. 4:32 Meg Rowley: That’s potentially exciting, though it appears a lot of guys are posting very high EV numbers in the early going, so I think we should learn a little more about the new ball before we start saying it means anything about a given player having taken a leap ability-wise. 4:32 Meg Rowley: Which I don’t say as a knock on Machado, tbc. 4:33 Go Yankees!!!!!!: What if you want to say Statistically Significant Sample Size? Is there any way to add more S’s to the abbreviation? 4:34 Meg Rowley: Super Small Sample Size Snafus 4:34 Highway61: What are your thoughts on the All-Star game being moved and why were comments closed on the post that discussed this? 4:38 Meg Rowley: I think it was the right decision, and the only one the league really had after the positions it advanced last summer. I don’t think a broader boycott is advisable given who that hurts, but to move a one-time event sends a message. I’m glad they picked a state that has much better voting access (this is a good explainer on Colorado vs. Georgia, since some superficial similarities are making the rounds: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/04/06/colorado-voting-law…), though I would have liked to see that articulated as part of their reasoning in addition to Denver’s existing readiness to serve as a host. 4:42 Meg Rowley: As for why we closed the comments, given how the comment sections have gone in the past year on other pieces that deal with where baseball and social issues intersect (including a few that have surprised us with their force and nastiness), we thought it best to be proactive about it, particularly since we’ve gotten feedback from some regular commenters that the comments on these kinds of pieces are mess and that we should probably do something different with them. So we gave it a try here. 4:42 J: What aspect are you most excited to have back once you get to go to a game? 4:42 Meg Rowley: The sound of the park, especially when there is a lull in the action. 4:43 Meg Rowley: I did an empty ballpark game last year in the press box and it was weird in a lot of ways but the sound was what really jumped out. 4:45 Joe: BTW, just wanted to mention that, as insane as that No-Masks-In-Sight Rangers home opener was to see as a resident of Ontario, I’m extremely jealous of how increased access to vaccines + increased access to vitamin D, relative to us, have made your recent weeks very significantly better than ours. It’s possible to do worse, as Ontario’s inept premier has proven again and again! 4:46 Meg Rowley: Ugh, Joe, I’m so sorry to hear that. I hope the distribution rollout improves soon. 4:46 Meg Rowley: It really does make things feel better to have one or the other, and both is great. 4:46 Meg Rowley: So I hope that at the very least the sun comes out soon! 4:46 Joe: On the pod, your go-to food item that players need to be able to buy is salad. I guess what I’m asking is, why do you hate plants so much? You mash them up WITH YOUR TEETH??? 4:47 Meg Rowley: I think the plucked lettuce’s worst day is behind it. 4:48 v2micca: Braves finally got the monkey off their back by recording their first win today. Still, the team’s lineup has felt punchless to open the season. Any chance the negative press surrounding them has had a detrimental effect? 4:49 Meg Rowley: I don’t think the coverage of the decision to move the game has pretty clearly been about the state of Georgia and then the PR statement the team released, and not the players, so I’d be surprised. 4:50 Jacques Pederson: Meg are you on the Baddoo Bus? 4:53 Meg Rowley: Sitting in the thoroughly delighted section. Will he be this good? A league-average hitter? Bad soon?! Dunno honestly, but this is great fun, and he’s exactly the kind of player a team like Detroit should try out. 4:53 Meg Rowley: What if he’s a less good than this but still useful outfielder who’s 22 and was a Rule % guy? What a score! 4:54 Bob: I wonder when or if MLB ever begins to take their marketing of players seriously. I still can’t get over the Angels-White Sox ESPN broadcast that wouldn’t stop talking about the managers. I’m no expert on marketing, but surely there’s a way to hype up Luis Robert, Shohei Ohtani and friends. I mean, they do about 90% of the legwork themselves, why do broadcasts continue to cater to the very old demographic. 4:57 Meg Rowley: Well here it is probably useful to distinguish between the league and the broadcast. Certainly related, but the ESPN booth isn’t employed by the league. But yeah, I think more could have been said about the players and less about the managers. I do think baseball’s regionality makes A Face of Baseball tricky, though not impossible. Certainly Tatis is on his way! But I also wouldn’t be surprised if the SNB demo skews older, which might mean a bigger part of the audience that wants to hear about TLR. 4:58 Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Justin Choi’s piece on Jack Leiter was outstanding. I skip most of the content on non-pro ball, but that was utterly engrossing. (Also, the link to his Twitter next to his byline is malformed.) 4:58 Meg Rowley: He did a really excellent job, and I’ll let him know that link needs updating! 4:59 Trey: I have a question about how the playoff odds are calculated. I noticed after the Braves got swept to start the season their odds of making the playoffs dropped by 15-ish%, but when the Orioles started hot they only increased to like 0.1% lol. Why is the sensitivity different between those teams? 5:00 Meg Rowley: The Orioles are still projected to be really bad is the thing. 5:01 Meg Rowley: Going 3-0 moved them up 1.7 wins, and put them at… 66.5 wins. The Braves went from 88 to 86.5 wins, which had much larger playoff implications. 5:01 Todd: Meg, you are giving the Pirates too much credit…they are totally inept. Word here is they are playing for another No 1 pick…we will catch the A’s in a week or two 5:02 Meg Rowley: If this is in response to the disappointments piece unfortunately, and I say this without snark, I swear, them being pretty bad is what I expected. 5:03 Tel: Hi Meg, thanks for chatting. I have to ask about the decision making process that got you to approve the all star game article, which was clearly very politically biased. (Among other things, it implied that the correct thing for MLB to do in response was to stop donating to the Republican party.) Given that the site is struggling financially, is it wise to alienate half of your readers? And you clearly knew it would do this since you did not allow comments (which probably only further serves to anger people when they can’t even respond to it.) 5:05 Meg Rowley: The piece rightly noted that the league donates to politicians of both parties, and suggested it not give money to politicians who support curtailing voting rights (the specific phrasing was that the league should take a “pointed, public and permanent stance on positions like “no longer donating money to politicians who support this kind of thing”). 5:06 Meg Rowley: As I said, given how some of the comment threads on pieces like this have gone, and the feedback we’ve gotten around their utility, we closed them here. There have been some bits of counter feedback. 5:08 Meg Rowley: The piece was in response to baseball news and the rationale the league laid out for its decision. 5:11 Evan: Hi Meg! The Jays just put in Tellez to PH in a key spot to bat in the ninth, despite the fact he’s still hitless to start the season (it didn’t work and they lost). I think this is probably a fine decision, but is there ever something to the “hot bat” argument or is it just small sample sizes. 5:13 Meg Rowley: I know Rob Arthur and Greg Matthews did some research on this to suggest it might be real (though I’m not sure if that has been followed up on) but I think that 17 PAs is enough for the hand to be any sort of temp but average. 5:14 Meg Rowley: Ok pals, I have to get rolling. Thanks for chatting. We’ll have more debuts from our new writers, so keep an eye out for those. Thank you to everyone who has become a Member, or renewed. I hope that you’ll consider purchasing one if you haven’t, or gifting one if you have! Until next chat, be well!