Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 8/13/19 by Meg Rowley August 13, 2019 2:00 Meg Rowley: Morning all, and welcome to the chat. 2:01 Meg Rowley: I have returned from Boston, and most of my summer head cold. 2:01 Meg Rowley: Pro-tip: don’t get sick and then have to fly to a conference across the country. It is not fun. 2:01 Reminder!!: Meg doesn’t answer fantasy baseball questions! 2:01 Meg Rowley: Promise. 2:01 Lunar verLander: Everyone should strive to find someone who loves them as much as Gleyber Torres hates the Orioles. 2:03 Meg Rowley: See, I don’t read those home runs as expressions of hate vs. the Orioles. I think he hates baseballs. Not baseball as a sport, baseballs as a piece of athletic equipment. Hates ’em. Thinks they stink. So he actually loves the Orioles, because they allow him, a person with preferences, to rid himself of a thing he hates, namely the baseball. 2:03 Seth Lugo: How many mlb players do you think look at their xwoba regularly? 2:03 Meg Rowley: I would imagine very few, but that the few who do, like, reallllly dig in. 2:04 jkim: Now that we’re than 2/3 into the season, what are your current awards picks for MVP/CYA/ROY? 2:05 Meg Rowley: will refrain from doing the AL ROY because I have a vote this year, and would like to maintain an air of MYSTERY, but 2:08 Meg Rowley: At the moment, am inclined to Bellinger, Scherzer, Tatis in the NL, and Trout and Lance (excuse I’m going to do a swear, I apologize for the swear, but this requires a swear because truly, what in the good heck?) fucking Lynn on the AL side. 2:08 Outta my way, Gyorkass: Ben’s article from this morning about the Pirates’ recent run of crapitude had a side effect of illustrating just how much the Cardinals benefited from playing ten games against them during this stretch. Between the 3 STL/PIT series, the Cards added a grand total of +30.1% to their playoff odds (currently 39.2%). Are they able to break through and make it, now that they’ve exhausted those games and only have one more series left (@PIT)? 2:10 Meg Rowley: That the Cubs have an easier way the rest of the way can’t be comforting to them. The Cards have a .505 remaining SOS, while the Cubs have .497. It’s not a lot but that race is tight. Suppose it depends on your opinion of Goldy’s breakthrough, to name one significant factor. 2:11 Outta my way, Gyorkass: If you would have posited that the Brewers would mount a potentially season saving 5 game winning streak in early August, you would have totally predicted their starting rotation as Lyles/Anderson/J. Wholestaff/Gio/Houser, right? 2:12 Meg Rowley: I would have predicted *a* group of “really, that guy?” but perhaps not this specific groups of “really, that guy”s. 2:13 Tyler: Meg, what Phoebe Bridgers song would make the best walk-up song? 2:13 Meg Rowley: Motion Sickness 2:13 Chris: Kelenic is 3-8 in double A. That is all 2:14 Meg Rowley: He’s good! Not because of that itty bitty sample, but he’s good! 2:15 Chris: Brodie for executive of the year!! 2:16 Meg Rowley: I promise this is not anti-Mets trolling (the comments on my last chat suggest that a anthropological investigation of modern Mets fandom would make for fascinating reading) but please, Chris, calm down. 2:16 Jobu: I haven’t heard a whole lot about Jason Kipnis this season, even though Cleveland has to make a big decision on him this offseason. Since July 1, he has slashed .285/.359/.472, good for a 111 wRC+, and has been worth 1.4 WAR this season. What are the odds Cleveland picks up the $16.5 million option on him next year? They’re on the hook for a $2.5 million buyout, so it’s essentially a 1-year $14 million deal if they choose to retain him. Does it entirely depend on if he keeps up the recent production, or are they cutting ties no matter what? 2:17 Meg Rowley: I say this without inside knowledge, but I would be very, very surprised if they brought him back. The production is just too inconsistent, the injuries are worrying, he’s 32, and they are “budget conscious.” 2:18 Outta my way, Gyorkass: The negative WAR leader this season is…not Chris Davis? He’s improved to 4th worst! 2:18 Meg Rowley: I don’t really keep track of that end of our leader boards because it feels… mean. I am not saying you are mean. I am saying writing 1500 words about it would feel mean. But good for Chris! 2:19 Tommy L: Did fangraphs alter the playoff odds formula to toy with Mets fans emotions? From July 25th to now their odds have jumped 40% and they are now the favorite for the 2nd wild card spot. 2:20 Meg Rowley: We do not. I find that fans, regardless of affiliation, are quite good are whipping themselves into a state of frenzy without us compromising the math. 2:20 (not that) James: I would like to humbly request you add a new section to the site to go along with FanGraphs, RotoGraphs, and NotGraphs (RIP). This new section will be dedicated to the adorable and oft hilarious bromantic/brotherly relationship between Acuña and Albies, and will consist entirely of gifs of said relationship along with cutting edge analysis. You can call it FunGraphs. Thank you in advance. 2:20 Meg Rowley: I’ll take it to management. 2:20 Jnitz: Why doesn’t Mike Soroka get more fan fair for rookie of the year in the NL? He is one of the best pitchers in baseball and with the changes in the ball, isn’t his season more impressive than most hitters? 2:21 Meg Rowley: I imagine he’ll get some down ballot consideration, but with Alonso and Tatis’ seasons, I think it’s tricky. 2:22 Squid Vicious: Man, the opener strategy has really taken off, huh? I’m seeing so many 2-, 3-, or 4-inning relief appearances these days. Seems like there’s serious value in bulk relief. Do you think more relievers will be prepped to go multiple innings? 2:23 Meg Rowley: I think you’ll def see more pitching prospects with limited repertoires find themselves in longer relief rolls. 2:23 Angels: Is Brads seat getting hot? Team has no identity and they are losing badly to bad teams. They had a real shot at a WC if they would have played well against DET, BAL and PIT 2:24 Meg Rowley: I guess there’s always a chance that falls to the manager, and they can make for easy scapegoats, but I don’t think anyone looking at the 2019 Angels thinks this is Ausmus’ fault. 2:24 Em Pathy: Best of 7 Series: Pirates or Mariners? 2:24 Meg Rowley: good god, the poor fans 2:25 Meg Rowley: Pirates 2:25 some jerk: You sounded so very sick on the last couple EW episodes so I am just glad to hear you’re feeling better!! 2:25 Meg Rowley: You don’t seem like a jerk at all 2:27 Meg Rowley: And thank you — the timing could have been worse. I could have been sick over the deadline! 2:28 Fredo: Would you fire any FanGraph staffers who talked about unionizing? 2:28 Meg Rowley: No. 2:28 Cholly: Phillies fans have been wanting their hitting coach out for most of the season because hitters have been underperforming. How important do you think Hitting and Pitching coaches are at the major league level? Do you think their importance is in actual coaching or in organizational philosophy? 2:31 Meg Rowley: I think it really, really depends. That none of these guys seem to be able to maintain a reputation as gurus is interesting, and suggests that a lot of this has to do with the players they coach, their receptiveness to instruction, and the kind of tweaks they need. And of course, the coaches aren’t the ones in the org who are giving players suggestions for improvement. 2:31 Meg Rowley: sussing out what bit of improvement or decline belongs to whom isn’t something we’re super well equipped for 2:31 BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: On a scale of one to poopy pants, how scared should the Twins feel? 2:33 Meg Rowley: They have an easier road ahead schedule wise than Cleveland does, so that has to be reassuring, and it sounds like the Cruz injury news is good, but that Cleveland team is better and still has good pitching coming back. So Nervous. Not that you’ll miss the playoffs entirely, but that it might be as a Wild Card. 2:34 question: is it generally a good idea for teams with disappointing records but solid differentials like the diamondbacks and reds to run it back with the same group of guys for another season? 2:36 Meg Rowley: I think you still angle to improve, but the avenue and the degree of improvement might be more modest than if your internal assessment is that you have a genuinely bad team. 2:36 Meg Rowley: It’s too early for a definitive opinion on any of this of course, but I really liked this draft and this deadline period for AZ. 2:37 Meg Rowley: Cinci’s farm has a ways to go yet, but I liked their deadline, and honestly, this team has just had the most rotten sequencing luck. 2:37 Jake: Do the Red Sox have any chance of making the playoffs 2:38 Meg Rowley: Any? Sure! But I have a hard time seeing them jumping ahead of the teams in front of them for the Wild Card, and the margins just seem to be growing. 2:39 What: The highest OPS on the Yankees: Urshela, Tauchman, Maybin, LeMahieu. SSS for some, but still, WHAT. (And they’re going to win their division that way…) 2:39 Meg Rowley: It is truly very strange. 2:40 Meg Rowley: Not all of those things are equally strange, mind you, but they are very strange. 2:40 jkim: No love for Ryu and his 1.45 ERA? I get that his fWAR is behind Scherzer but that kind of run prevention is just.. absurd. I mean the Dodger defense, especially for someone who induces a lot of grounders hasn’t actually been that great for the past couple months especially when Joc was at 1B for Ryu. 2:43 Meg Rowley: Not no love, but were I voting for the Cy Young, I’d still go with Scherzer — who, I’d note, has a better FIP, too. His K% leads the NL; his BB% rate is fifth (Ryu’s walk rate remains one of my fave stats of the year). Could always shift around if the injury really jams things up, but he’d be my vote right now. 2:44 (not that) James: IMPORTANT UPDATE! The Angels are playing in Atlanta next July and I might actually get to see Trout play in person. This has been an important update. 2:44 Meg Rowley: It is a great good time. 2:45 mamsk: lynn and minor gotta go down as two of the best FA signings of the last decade at this point, unreal the value they’ve each brought at 3/$30m 2:46 Meg Rowley: Not sure about the last decade but they certainly have a case this year — Brantley and Grandal look great, too. 2:46 Meg Rowley: Also, the other very good ones. Those ones. That you’re about to name! What guys! 2:47 Wheelie: Do you think Julio should be promoted? 2:48 Meg Rowley: Think the assignment was appropriately aggressive and they don’t have to rush him or anything. 2:48 Scherzer DeGrom: That’s gonna be a hell of a WC matchup. 2:48 Meg Rowley: I would not be remotely mad about it. 2:48 Meg Rowley: I would, in fact, be very happy. 2:49 Cove Dweller: If you’re taking requests for site additions, might I suggest PunGraphs where all puns from commentators, players, coaches, et al. are curated? 2:49 Meg Rowley: If I do more puns, Appelman might fire me. Also, I have a friend whose wedding I might get disinvited from. And I already bought a dress, so. 2:50 Aquino! : How have we not had an article on Aquino yet!? 2:50 Meg Rowley: Literally on deck for this week! 2:51 Ryan: The Red Sox only significant loss to free agency this off-season will be Rick Porcello (and even he is not a terrible loss, given the way he’s pitched this year). With that in mind, should they spend this off-season retooling for 2020? Or do you foresee a rebuild of some degree, in which they might trade Betts and/or Bradley? 2:51 Meg Rowley: They will have some really interesting payroll decisions to make and I can’t imagine one single one of them resulting in them trading Mookie. 2:52 Meg Rowley: Like, not a-one of ’em. 2:52 Angels: If you don’t think it’s Brad’s fault, you aren’t watching Angel games. twice he has used his challenge in the first inning on the first batter. Once to challenge a HR (which was clearly fair), and to challenge a hit by pitch (which was literally the first batter of the game). The team has speed but doesn’t steal bases. They don’t strike out much, but never hit and run which in turn causes them to lead the league in GIDP. 2:53 Meg Rowley: I do not necessarily think that Ausmus is a good manager. I do think that the issues on that team, some of which we were able to anticipate going into the season, and some of which we couldn’t, are his sole responsibility. 2:53 Ryan: If you’re Theo Epstien and you can magically guarantee that one player will play the rest of their careers with the Cubs, who do you choose? I think my heart says Rizzo, but my brain says Bryant. 2:53 Meg Rowley: Bryant. 2:53 cavebird: Why not engage in anti-Mets trolling? It is so fun! And baseball is supposed to be fun. 2:54 Meg Rowley: I don’t think anyone enjoys a thing they love being made fun of, except perhaps me with the Mariners, but I use the Mariners as a low stakes way to feel sad, so. 2:55 Morris Buttermaker : Is Alonso’s season really that impressive. He does one thing. He hits home runs in the most homer friendly environment in history. I get it 38 is a big number. But… Take away the juiced ball and what does his HR total look like at the end of the year? 30? Is that ROY numbers? Both Tatis and Soroka have been far better. And you could make the case that Tatis is as good of a power hitter as Alonso. 2:57 Meg Rowley: I mean, I said I would vote for Tatis, but I think you’re underselling Alonso’s contributions here, and overlooking some similarly “hey, is this really an indication of true talent?” bits with Tatis. 2:57 Dave: Would you ever go appear on The Ringer MLB show? 2:57 Meg Rowley: I have, and had a very nice time. 2:57 Meg Rowley: They do a good show over there imo. 2:57 John: How much of outperforming your Pythagorean W-L record is based on RP strength? 2:58 Meg Rowley: Certainly helps. When the Mariners were over their skis last season, it was due in no small part of Díaz being so extraordinary in close games. 2:58 Jnitz: I see the offensive seasons that Alonso and Tatis are having, but Soroka might have the lowest ERA for a rookie in the modern era and a WHIP under 1. How is that not considered just as historic seasons as Tatis (injured part of it) and Alonso (rookie HR recorded with changed ball)? 3:00 Meg Rowley: He’s very good, and I think worthy of down-ballot consideration, but in terms of total production, I think this case is gonna be fairly obvious. 3:01 J: Didn’t the mariners start like 13-2? What went wrong? 3:01 Meg Rowley: They aren’t a very good baseball team. 3:02 J: Is this your first end of season award ballot? 3:02 Meg Rowley: Yup. 3:03 Chat Mapman: My friend sold me on wearing turf shoes for our slow pitch league. Just enough grip and sooo much better on the joints. 3:03 Meg Rowley: I’m happy for your knees. 3:03 Kervin: The Rays have the third best BaseRuns in MLB and would have a 6 game lead on the Yankees by BaseRuns record. The Rays are underperforming their BaseRuns by 5 games and the Yankees over performing by 10 games (!). Is the universe just against the Rays being successful? 3:04 Meg Rowley: That’s still successful! They’re in a playoff position. 3:04 Goldman Sachs is Evil: Do you have any shame in working for an investment bank that steals from the poor around the world? 3:05 Meg Rowley: Well I don’t work there anymore, so, that might answer your question. 3:05 Voice: Random q, but I’m starting a podcast soon, and as a man with a fairly high pitched voice, have long been less than confident in my speaking voice (unless I’m teaching and thus visible). How do you feel comfortable with yours? (That could read as an insult! Please do not, asking because you are a kind person who might have a useful thing to say.) 3:07 Meg Rowley: Just know that absolutely no one likes their own voice. I mean, maybe like, Meryl Streep loves her voice or James Earl Jones. But hardly anyone likes their voice. I think the easiest way to numb yourself to it is to listen to your episodes. You’ll be less actively bothered by it, and you’ll see spots where you need improve. 3:07 Rusty: Could a team demote someone – like Freddy Galvis to triple A, then trade them after the deadline? 3:09 Meg Rowley: No — he’s been on a major league contract this year 3:09 Meg Rowley: https://www.mlb.com/news/mlb-august-trade-rules-explained 3:09 Meg Rowley: this explainer is pretty useful 3:09 Them again: So now we’re sensitive about making fun of teams, though some fan bases deserve to be anthropologically studied? Interesting. Also, bull[swear]. 3:11 Meg Rowley: I think the particular behaviors of each fanbase are really interesting? Some Mets fans have disliked criticism of the team’s decision, but are vocally critical themselves. I think that’s interesting. 3:11 Meg Rowley: Mets fans happen to be the ones in the comments, but we Mariners fans are an interesting bunch, too. 3:13 Meg Rowley: Alright everyone, I need to get rolling. Thanks for the questions, and sorry for what I didn’t get to. Have good days and weeks!