Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 5/19/2021

Meg Rowley: Hi all and welcome to the chat!

Chris: I don’t understand how the mariners have the worst offense in the game let alone baseball history. They have averagish players at a lot of positions, understandably they have no depth and a few holes, but lots of teams have had those two things before. They are going to start hitting right? Right?

Meg Rowley: (hi sorry, minor internet hiccup, am returned)

Meg Rowley: I mean, I think that the odds that they hit below .200 as a team going forward are pretty small but this lineup beyond Seager and Haniger has been very bad so far. Evan White has a 28 wRC+. He famously is a first baseman.

Meg Rowley: I think it is likely to improve if only because I don’t think Dylan Moore is actually this bad and they have Kelenic now but there is a real lack of depth here that is concerning, and was fairly easy to see coming before the season started.

Sad Rockes Fan: The Rockies are 2-16 on the road. Feel like we should marvel at that.

Meg Rowley: I mean this in the kindest way possible but this offense’s issues extend beyond Coors.

Meg Rowley: By which I mean, the offense has issues. Those issues are likely to manifest everywhere. Their numbers aren’t that much better at home.

Sam: Were you at all surprised by TLR throwing his own player under the bus for violating the almighty “unwritten rules”? Isn’t this the exact kind of culture clash people predicted when he was hired?

Meg Rowley: Yes. The most frustrating thing about this whole dumb mess is how easy it was to predict coming!

Meg Rowley: I thought Brendan’s piece on the subject was very good:

Fritz Peterson: What’s the floor for a Shohei Ohtani MVP season? What is the minimum amount of production from both sides he would need to reach in order to let the overwhelming narrative in his favor win out?

Meg Rowley: I think if he’s about where he sits on the AL combined WAR leaderboard come the end of the season now he’ll be in a really good spot.

Meg Rowley: The story is just so compelling. He’s amazing, and I think amazing in a way that will fill whatever small gaps might exist in his WAR vs. a guy who is solely a position player.

Meg Rowley: (sorry, my internet is being twitchy, not sure what is up)

Grant: This while Tony La Russa thing has made me wonder about the financial side of the unwritten rules. It seems like some of these rules help teams in arbitration and hurt players. Do you think that kind of economic incentive is on the minds of owners? Also, doesn’t the marketing upside of fun performances outweigh whatever cost there might be here? I’m not sure that I have a take on this, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about and wanted to hear your thoughts.

Meg Rowley: I don’t know that it’s as calculated as that, but I think the economic impact is clear. It’s not as if the arbitrator goes through an assesses whether home runs were hit against good competition.

CoryMC: Are you as surprised as I am that the base-running metric has Vladdy as a positive contributor?

Meg Rowley: It is surprising in so far as he has come a long way. It is not surprising in that his reworking of his body has clearly improved his mobility elsewhere in the field.

Seeforman: Your thoughts on managers arguing with umpires? Is there ever a time and place?

Meg Rowley: Yes – I think the TLR episode is a good reminder that a not-small part of a manager’s job is  managing people and having your players’ backs.

Meg Rowley: We’ve gotten plenty of reminders this season of the fallibility of umpires. I think that arguing can help ensure a good vibe in the clubhouse. Doesn’t mean flying off the handle every time but there’s some value in it.

Armadillofury: Was baseball better with off with the juiced ball? Now we are treated to random 4th & 5th starters throwing a no hitter every week

Meg Rowley: I think you’re underselling the talent of some of the guys who have thrown no-hitters, but I do think there is something to be said for the idea that this offensive environment isn’t the optimal level.

Meg Rowley: Now, I’m not sure where we were was optimal either. When we learned that the ball would be dejuiced, the concern was that fewer home runs would mean the bottom falling out of offense because so many of the runs that were being scored were coming off the long ball. I think a broader conversation about how we create the offensive environment we want that acknowledges the league’s ability to alter the ball, is backed by careful testing, and factors in other solutions to leveling the playing field between pitchers and hitters is likely a more useful approach than simply goofing around with the ball on its own.

Lunar verLander: Have we reached “3 perfect games in 2012” levels of pitching weirdness with “5 no-hitters before June”, or do we have a ways to go?

Chris: How long until the twins start selling? Players like nelson Cruz seem like obvious trade candidates but are there any sneaky under the radar players you’d speculate could be moved?

Meg Rowley: Gah sorry – this was meant to send first: Think there’s a ways to go yet, though I think those concerned with them losing their shine and what they have to say about the offensive environment are right to worry.

Meg Rowley: Sorry pals, not sure if it is my internet or the chat platform we use but this is being very glitchy for me today.

Meg Rowley: As for the Twins, it’s an odd spot to be in because while their troubles certainly extend beyond bad luck and sequencing, my perception of the underlying talent of the roster isn’t wildly different than it was when the season started, plus there are the injuries. But if this continues, yes, guys on shorter term deals might makes sense to move. Send Nellie back to Seattle. Two birds, one stone, etc etc.

Matt V: I’d agree that this isn’t the optimal offensive level for the sport, but isn’t part of this the result of an increasingly monolithic offensive approach to the game? I think it goes deeper than “the ball’s too flat” or “everybody throws 95+ mph now”…

Meg Rowley: Yeah, the velo certainly doesn’t help. That’s why I think looking at all of this holistically is important, and why it’s good to consider other interventions (like moving the mound back).

Meg Rowley: Folks, I know I didn’t get to much of the queue today, but I do need to split to prep for a pod. I’m sorry for what I didn’t answer. Hopefully next week goes a little better in terms of either my internet or JotCast.

Meg Rowley: Until then, be well and thanks for chatting.

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. You can follow her on twitter @megrowler.

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