Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 5/29/18

12:00
Meg Rowley: Good morning! I hope everyone had a good long weekend, and isn’t too sad about going back to work.

12:00
Meg Rowley: And hey if you are, well you’re reading a baseball chat, so hopefully that helps.

12:01
Dane: Vlad Jr. When will he be up and what do you expect from him this year?

12:03
Meg Rowley: It’ll be interesting to see how, if at all, Donaldson’s injury shifts things for them. I know he described it as minor, but the Blue Jays’ hold on contention is verrrry tenuous.

12:03
Meg Rowley: I still think the service time stuff holds him down because I am cynical and bit mistrusting by nature, but there is an opening.

12:04
Meg Rowley: And I expect him to just hit the crap out of the ball. All the way to Jupiter a lot of the time. There will likely be defensive silliness, but you won’t mind because he will just hit the crap out of the ball, in my considered opinion.

12:04
Dane: Is Joey Lucchesi as good as his numbers say he is or will his deception factor ware off?

12:05
Meg Rowley: Think we have to see him back healthy, and for longer than this to say. His FIP is a full run worse than his ERA and the walks make me nervous, but I think we need to see more to know.

12:06
Meg Rowley: Is that a cheap answer? I mean, perhaps, but it is also true. True and cheap.

12:06
Doug: Do you expect the Angels to be active in the Machado/Donaldson/Moustakas talks this summer? With Kinsler struggling, could move Cozart to 2B

12:07
Meg Rowley: I expect that they will try. I think they might be a bit more competitive in that space than you’d expect given their system (at least for Machado and Donaldson). They should try to make a move, though reinforcements on the pitching side might be more pressing.

12:07
Meg Rowley: They’re a weird team.

12:08
frankthetank: Is the combination of absolute joy from this success and yet unrelenting expectation of it all to crash down at any moment the quintessential Mariners fan experience?

12:08
Meg Rowley: I will only speak for my own quintessential fan experience, and say that having this much joy (even as I expect it to get worse) is pretty foreign to me.

12:09
Meg Rowley: This team is absolutely winning more than I think they should. This team is absolutely very fun. I thought they would be a boring bummer, and they aren’t that.

12:10
Meg Rowley: Apart from anything else, Edwin Diaz picked the absolute perfect time to be really, really, really good at his job, and now he’ll get to rest occasionally.

12:10
Dave: Well, what’s your opinion on the Rizzo situation?

12:11
Meg Rowley: I think it was a bad slide, and that there should be consequences for that bad slide because you can end guys’ careers doing junk like that. He’s not allowed to deviate from the base path to initiate contact with the catcher.

12:11
Meg Rowley: Diaz gave him a clear path to home. He was several steps into fair territory!

12:12
Miami Blues: Read that Nats made offer for Realmuto a while back. Do you know what that offer was?

12:13
Meg Rowley: I do not know specifically, but I would think that it was reasonably rich (though apparently not rich enough). Realmuto is having a very good year at a position that is very shallow once you weed out the guys who aren’t going anywhere.

12:14
Meg Rowley: I still expect that he’ll move.

12:14
Meg Rowley: It’s also not yet June, and Jerry Dipoto aside, it’s early for this sort of thing.

12:14
James: Justin Verlander

12:15
Meg Rowley: What a pitcher, huh?

12:15
Meg Rowley: If Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web were going to write “Some Pitcher” in her web, I bet it would be for Justin Verlander.

12:16
Meg Rowley: And while he has shown a tendency on twitter to be a bit, shall we say, fussy, the hat tip to Yankee Stadium was pretty amazing. I realize your individual milage on that may vary.

12:17
Meg Rowley: But truly, I think about where we thought his career was going in 2014/2015, and where it is now, and I still don’t know if we talk enough about this run.

12:17
Zonk: Brewers now have a 4.5 game lead, and the 2nd best record in baseball.  Are you a believer?  Because the Fangraphs projected standings has them going 51-56 the rest of the way.

12:18
Meg Rowley: I like them a whole lot.

12:21
Meg Rowley: They are outperforming their pythag and BaseRuns by a few games, while the Cubs are underperforming, which is where some of this disconnect comes from, but I think (I think) I had them as a wild card team in our pre-season projections and I see no reason to think they won’t play in October.

12:21
Meg Rowley: I’m more open to the idea of them winning the division now than I was a few weeks ago.

12:21
Meg Rowley: Weathering that stretch of bad health was huge.

12:21
Bobbo: Is Willie Calhoun ever going to get called up?

12:21
Meg Rowley: Yes!

12:21
Meg Rowley: When?

12:21
Meg Rowley: Ehhhhhh.

12:21
Meg Rowley: Soonish?

12:21
kyle: what is wrong with bryce harper?

12:22
Meg Rowley: I wonder if he’s pressing a bit. Part of this is what he is being thrown obviously, but the K% is way up.

12:23
Meg Rowley: He’s still an above average hitter– he’s running a 112 wRC+ in May– driven largely by the power, but yeah, it’s less otherworldly than it was in April.

12:23
Meg Rowley: I also expect it to smooth out and be fine.

12:23
Q-Ball: Kyle Schwarber has acumulated very positive defensive stats so far.  SSS and all, but are you buying real improvement?

12:23
Meg Rowley: I think that arm makes up for a lot of other goofiness.

12:24
Meg Rowley: He’s never going to sell me as an amazing outfielder, but really, he just needs to be serviceable.

12:24
Meg Rowley: He needs to avoid those plays where you worry that he’s embarrassed his mom saw. And he’s mostly doing that.

12:24
Bork: Will Russell Martin end up playing all 9 positions this year?

12:25
Meg Rowley: As a writer of baseball words, dear god, I hope so.

12:25
Meg Rowley: Weird that a team claiming defensive issues as a reason to keep a top prospect down is then doing this, but…

12:25
AC: Do the Tigers DFA Victor Martinez at some point this year to give someone else reps at the big league level? Or am I doomed to watch V-Mart singles off the wall through September?

12:26
Meg Rowley: I doubt it. I don’t know that the Tigers are really at the “let’s get guys some seasoning” point of their process yet.

12:26
The Decadent Moose: Dodgers are going to win 100 games, aren’t they?

12:27
Meg Rowley: No, but someone has to win that division and their awful start looks a lot less insurmountable than it did a few weeks ago.

12:27
Trixie: Do you think MLB teams should be allowed to trade draft picks?

12:28
Meg Rowley: I think baseball players should be able to sign with teams without an amateur draft at all, but I’m a rebel.

12:28
Justin: Somehow the Yankees found and developed 3 5-WAR (or more) level players without ever being truly bad. Judge isn’t Betts or Trout, but Judge/Severino/Sanchez (and Torres, though that was a trade) is… it’s a good group.

12:29
Meg Rowley: A very good group. We should all be ashamed of ourselves for letting them get such a good group and then developing them well. We have an entire legal system at our disposal and we did nothing!

12:30
Meg Rowley: So I’m realizing that not sleeping well did in fact make me a little punchy.

12:30
Big D: Boo on your Rizzo take.  That was a good baseball play.  He was on the line his entire time down the basepath.  Don’t just watch the slide, watch the whole play.

12:31
Meg Rowley: I did. He’s basically lined up to slide into the left handed batter’s box, and put his leg up.

12:32
Jeff Sullivan: How do you feel about Seattle ROS?

12:32
Meg Rowley: Fake-Jeff, I don’t feel great about it! June is going to be one heck of a crucible for them.

12:33
Meg Rowley: On our handy playoff odds page (https://www.fangraphs.com/standings/playoff-odds/fg/lg) you can look at remaining strength of schedule. The Mariners have the third toughest remaining SOS.

12:34
Meg Rowley: Harder than the Angels! That’s not great.

12:34
Meg Rowley: That said, they can’t take the wins they have away.

12:35
Meg Rowley: That’s banked cushion. If they can do decently in June, it will help a tremendous amount. I mean, obviously, but we’ll be able to say a lot more about what this team is then.

12:35
Guest: You guys ever talk to Dave Cameron anymore?

12:36
Meg Rowley: Others on staff who know Dave better than I do (I think) chat some. He’s obviously very busy, but you don’t stop being friends with people when they switch jobs.

12:37
Dave: Please rank these catchers ROS for 12-team Roto: Hicks, Barnhart, Stassi, Maile. Thanks, Meg.

12:37
Meg Rowley: I would encourage you to hop over to Justin Mason’s chat because he will actually be able to answer this question, and I care about you.

12:38
Justin: “So I’m realizing that not sleeping well did in fact make me a little punchy.” so….. you growley?

12:38
Meg Rowley: gdi

12:38
Josh: Is there any research suggesting that pitchers who throw more pitches age better? Intuition being that multi-pitch pitchers have more weapons with which to attack hitters, even as their velocity starts to decline with age

12:39
Meg Rowley: I’m sure there is and I’m not thinking of it, but it would make sense that if you have well developed secondaries that you would be able to weather a velocity decline better. Now, you have to be able to mix them and execute them well in light of reduced velo for it to work.

12:40
Meg Rowley: Felix has some very good non-fastball pitches. Felix isn’t especially good right now.

12:40
James: Can Cleveland succeed with that bullpen? Or are they expecting the starters to finish every game in October?

12:41
Meg Rowley: Can we take a moment to appreciate how quickly things can change?

12:41
Meg Rowley: Just, remark on the weirdness of that.

12:41
Meg Rowley: It’s clearly an issue for them. Allow me to look something up quickly.

12:43
Meg Rowley: They’re 28th in bullpen WAR, and have the second worst FIP. I imagine they’ll try to address it come the deadline.

12:44
Meg Rowley: It hasn’t mattered because the central is terrible but as you noted, it doesn’t seem sustainable in the postseason. Though I suppose some starters will be available to then to pitch in relief.

12:45
Billy Beane: I like basketball very much, but a good thing about baseball is that before the season you can’t say the Warriors will beat Houston in the Western Conference Finals and the Finals will be Warriors/Cavs for the 4th year in a row. I don’t even know who will win half the divisions in baseball and we’re 1/3 of the way in!

12:46
Meg Rowley: We all went into the season thinking we knew exactly what would happen and then baseball decided to be all 2015 on us. I think there will be fewer surprises when it is all said and done than it looks like there will be now, but it’s nice that we’re less sure than we were.

12:46
Hall a’ll’ day: I feel like i get little work done when a Fangraphs chat is happening, with you and Justin chatting at the same time i get no work done….should this bother me?

12:46
Meg Rowley: How closely are you observed at work?

12:46
Austin: Will Houston’s bullpen be an issue for them? For a team like the Yankees, who take a lot of pitches per at bat (although this did not happen yesterday), they could keep the game close, knock out their starter after 6+ innings and get to their bullpen

12:48
Meg Rowley: Is the Astros bullpen thought to be an issue? I know there has been shakiness with Giles, but they have the 4th ranked bullpen in the AL by WAR, and the best bullpen FIP.

12:49
Meg Rowley: The Astros are terrifying. They should terrify all of us who don’t root for them. They are great fun, but they are terrifying.

12:49
Hall a’ll’ day: Occasionally asked what im doing from afar

12:49
Meg Rowley: Then as long as you’re not not doing your job overall, I think it is probably fine.

12:50
Meg Rowley: Now if you read all the chats, which you absolutely should, well…

12:50
Vince: I think everybody agrees we can never have enough Ohtani. Is there any chance the AL could revisit the archaic DH/P rules so that a DHing pitcher can remain in the game even after he’s done pitching for the day?

12:51
Meg Rowley: Seems like a big change to make for an edge case (even a very enjoyable one), but given how careful the Angels are being with him, I wonder if they’d even take advantage of it.

12:51
Christian: So, an MLB sanctioned committee has confirmed the balls are juiced. What is the incentive for MLB to “fix” the “problem?” Aren’t more home runs kind of better for baseball?

12:52
Meg Rowley: I guess it depends where you place the desire for home runs in the conversation about general trends toward the three true outcomes.

12:53
Meg Rowley: I don’t think they have a huge incentive, no.

12:53
Meg Rowley: Most people like home runs.

12:53
Bernie: why you always lying Meg?

12:53
Meg Rowley: Drat!

12:53
Meg Rowley: Well

12:53
Meg Rowley: I LIKE THEM A LOT

12:54
Harristotle: Any starters available that move the needle for the Yankees?

12:55
Meg Rowley: Forgive an obvious point, but depends who is willing to sell and how much. Do the Mets collapse fully? What do the Blue Jays do? Do the Mariners… no, you leave Paxton alone.

12:55
Dann: Think Mike Montgomery is intentionally bad as a reliever so that he can scream SEE?! SEE?! at Maddon, while holding a box score printed off the office printer, whenever he gets a spot start?

12:56
Meg Rowley: I doubt that very, very strongly. I think he’s an inconsistent guy. Even inconsistent guys run into good starts.

12:56
Austin: I guess I’ve mainly just seen Ken Giles in a few precarious positions this year, but I think once you get past their starters, if the game is close enough, their bullpen can be beaten

12:57
Meg Rowley: Sure, though it isn’t an easy task, and if it is a weakness it’s a relative one.

12:57
Loge: If you’re a manager, would you rather get a home plate ump with a wildly inconsistent strike zone who also respects players and managers OR one who calls a perfect game but belligerently antagonizes everyone on the field who dares question him?

12:57
Meg Rowley: The second one.

12:57
Meg Rowley: Your behavior is likely the same in either case, but you get a good zone.

12:57
Babe Lincoln: What did the Mets do wrong in their Alderson-era (re)build?  The 2015 team seems like a flash in the pan, there isn’t a lot on the farm, and the MLB roster has lots of ‘meh’ players.

12:58
Meg Rowley: I can’t say with certainty that their commitment to playing aging veterans who aren’t very good anymore is unparalleled, but doesn’t it *feel* like it is? That’s part of it.

12:59
Meg Rowley: And also, while $150 mm in payroll isn’t nothing, you’d expect them to spend more.

12:59
Meg Rowley: And then there is the bit that is just being really injured sometimes.

1:00
Kevin: Finally got a chance to see Mike Trout live last week, and was not disappointed. Another benefit was seeing Andrelton working in the outfield, and seeing him make an amazing diving grab on a line drive. Are there any less heralded players that you love to see live?

1:01
Meg Rowley: Not even less heralded but I’d like another peak at this Brewers team live.

1:01
Babe Lincoln: Any way to spin the Colome deal as bad for the M’s?  Doesn’t seem like they gave up much.

1:02
Meg Rowley: I liked this deal so much. Now, there is always a way to if not spin, but fret about deals like this, which is you’re giving up young dudes, and sometimes young dudes turn around and get great on you.

1:02
Meg Rowley: No disrespect to Andrew Moore, but I don’t expect him to fall into that category.

1:02
Meg Rowley: He could become a reliable back of the rotation guy, but the Mariners will probably be bad by then.

1:03
GERB: Heard anything on Danny Salazar’s health? Trying him in the bullpen might be just what Cleveland needs

1:04
Meg Rowley: You know, I haven’t but if he’s healthy it isn’t a terrible idea. Also just get to the postseason and sort out your not great starters into bullpen roles and maybe it is fine?

1:04
Arlos Orrea: What’s up with Correa?

1:06
Meg Rowley: You know, I think some of this is just getting BABIP’ed a bit. He doesn’t look hurt or anythng. He’s not striking out a bunch more, or walking that much less. The ISO being down isn’t awesome but I imagine this is just one of those weird little stretches where he looks sorta mortal and then it won’t matter.

1:07
CamdenWarehouse: I’d rather an ump who sings while ejecting players

1:07
Meg Rowley: Now we’re talking.

1:07
Doctor Parrot: Thoughts on early withdrawal from a 401k? Obviously I don’t want to do it but shit happens

1:08
Meg Rowley: Uhhh you should consult a financial adviser but there is a reason early withdrawals are heavily penalized. Also, I think if it is for medical stuff you can get the penalties waived? Also, I hope things improve soon.

1:08
Keith Hernandez: Ohtani is hitting and pitching well, but given how careful he is being managed to accommodate both, wouldn’t he be more valuable just pitching?

1:09
Meg Rowley: I expect that he would be managed carefully regardless. And he’s pretty dang valuable now.

1:09
ThatsNotMyMonster: Would you like to see two WC teams make the WS? Angels-Brewers? Mariners-Mets? Fun, I guess, but also blargh.

1:10
Meg Rowley: I want to see good, fun baseball. Lot of different ways for that to happen.

1:10
Ozuna’s Alarm Clock: Has Nimmo shown he should be an everyday player? His OBP in this day and age of swing hard, swing harder, swing hardest is fantastic.

1:12
Meg Rowley: It’s a baseball aesthetic that I personally enjoy a lot. As for whether he has shown himself to be an everyday guy, I think so. I will admit to not watching every Mets game, so I’m not sure how the defense looks, but the bat is good.

1:12
Ginny: Through 54 games, Mike Trout is on the brink of 5.0 bRef WAR (fangraphs has him at a comparatively low 4.4). It seems like a lot of the gains over last year’s pre-injury pace are in his defense. Has he made sustainable gains there?

1:14
Meg Rowley: I always get nervous about answering definitively about defense gains because the numbers can shift so much year to year and need a big sample to really mean anything.

1:14
Meg Rowley: But also it is Mike Trout so, maybe just yes?

1:14
The Old Buccaneer: We knew Marcel Ozuna probably wasn’t as good as his numbers from last year but, holy carp, how do you reconcile the difference to this year?

1:16
Meg Rowley: He’s hitting the ball hard more but also putting the ball on the ground more, walking less and not hitting for power.

1:17
Meg Rowley: I need to look more carefully at the approach, but it also just seems like he isn’t in a great place.

1:17
John: Given his poor plate discipline, is Baez’s production sustainable?

1:18
Meg Rowley: I am not swayed personally. I admit I might need to update my understanding of him at some point, but am not feeling the need to do so at this point.

1:19
Babe Lincoln: The volatility of defensive metrics is almost certainly due to a combination of 2 factors: (1) defensive metrics aren’t very good yet; (2) defensive performance is itself very volatile.  How would you apportion credit/blame here?

1:20
Meg Rowley: Hmmm let me put it another way. I think defensive metrics are the place where we will see the greatest improvement in precision in the coming years. I do think a defense itself is also volatile. So it’s a tricky combo.

1:20
A Boy Named YU: Are the Cardinals the biggest zero fun team in the league?  I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone in their uniform smile.  Even Fowler (aka Mr. Smiles) always seems to have a frown these days.

1:20
Meg Rowley: We all have days when we are sad.

1:20
Meg Rowley: Also, the Marlins and Reds exist?

1:20
Babe Lincoln: How was your personal baseball/softball career?

1:21
Meg Rowley: Nonexistent. I wasn’t allowed to play little league (I’m just old enough when that wasn’t reliably a thing) and softball wasn’t baseball, so I didn’t want to play it.

1:21
Meg Rowley: Which isn’t a dig at softball, which is a great sport.

1:22
Meg Rowley: So I played several years of basketball, very poorly.

1:22
roadrider: Does the DH have to hit only for the pitcher? Couldn’t Ohtani pitch and bat in the same game while the DH is used for someone else say to get a platoon advantage?

1:23
Meg Rowley: No, the rule requires it be for the starting pitcher.

1:23
Meg Rowley: And then any subsequent pitchers.

1:24
Meg Rowley: From 5.11 Designated Hitter Rule: A hitter may be designated to bat for the starting pitcher and all subsequent pitchers in any game without otherwise affecting the status of the pitcher(s) in the game. A Designated Hitter for the pitcher, if any, must be selected prior to the game and must be included in the lineup cards presented to the Umpire-in-Chief.

1:24
CamdenWarehouse: little league wasn’t reliably a thing?  Was that just in your area?

1:24
Meg Rowley: Little League for girls wasn’t reliably a thing

1:24
A Boy Named YU: Andrelton Simmons to the HOF?  Better hitter than Ozzie and many others, better fielder than basically every SS.

1:26
Meg Rowley: Sorry was looking something up

1:26
Meg Rowley: I mean, why are we talking about this yet?

1:27
Meg Rowley: Looks like, per JAWS, the average shortstop HOF number is 67 WAR, and Simmons has 31.8.

1:27
Meg Rowley: Ways to go, but also, he has a ways to go as a human person.

1:28
CamdenWarehouse: Is it a thing now or mixed little league more common?  Would one or the other be better?

1:28
Meg Rowley: I think it depends a lot. I know there a lot of all-girl travel teams now. I suspect they would be mixed leagues because any given town might struggle to field a full league.

1:29
Meg Rowley: Mostly because the girls with the best bat to ball skills get funneled into softball.

1:30
Meg Rowley: And I think it depends what the goal is. Just to play baseball and have fun? I think you structure it like any other youth league. To get a woman in MLB? I think she needs to play with boys and later men.

1:30
The Old Buccaneer: Does it bother you the Cardinals logo has a yellow beak for the bird? It bothers me. Cardinals don’t have yellow beaks.

1:30
Meg Rowley: Well it bothers me now.

1:30
A Boy Named Yu: Rizzo is my favorite player.  That being said, it may have been a legal slide but I sure didn’t like watching it.

1:31
Meg Rowley: Folks are focused on the double play part, but it reads to me as a “hey the rule says you can’t blow up the catcher at home part.”

1:31
Meg Rowley: I’ll be very curious to see how MLB handles it.

1:31
Meg Rowley: Also, we’re going to get a fight in that series, aren’t we?

1:32
Meg Rowley: Oh boy, it’s 10:32 (here).

1:32
Meg Rowley: Alright folks, I need to get going. Thanks for hanging out and I’m sorry for what I didn’t get to.

1:33
Meg Rowley: Be sure to check out all of Eric and Kiley’s upcoming draft stuff. They have good things to read. They’re smart.

We hoped you liked reading Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 5/29/18 by Meg Rowley!

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Meg is the managing editor of FanGraphs, the host of FanGraphs Audio, and the co-co-host of Effectively Wild. Her work has previously appeared at Baseball Prospectus, Lookout Landing, and Just A Bit Outside.

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trevise-en
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trevise-en

On the Rizzo slide, just think:
What would the ruling have been if it was at second base rather than home plate?

On both rules, MLB has made players modify their execution in order to keep players from being injured. On this particular play, although he has a clean, clear line to slide into home plate, Rizzo slides into fair territory deviating from the direct line, apparently with an attempt to interfere with the catcher’s continuing execution of play.

MLB has two choices
1) Discipline the miscreant, or
2) Pay lip service and be thought hypocritical.