Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 9/11/18 by Meg Rowley September 11, 2018 2:00 Meg Rowley: Hello, and welcome to the chat. What a fun bit of baseball we’ve had, and likely will continue to have, and… 2:00 tb.25: Sad King Felix is sad to think about 🙁 2:00 Meg Rowley: Well, drat. 2:00 stever20: Rockies next 2 weeks get 3 with Arizona, 3 with San Francisco, and then after 3 with LA get 3 more with Arizona. are we going to see them finally pick up their 1st division title ever? 2:01 Meg Rowley: I… I don’t really think so. 2:02 Meg Rowley: I still think the Dodgers will manage this somehow, and for reasons that might not be especially smart, I believe in that D-backs team more. How is the Rockies offense like this? Just, how? 2:03 Meg Rowley: That said, my grandparents are Rockies fans and so I have no personal issue with the Rockies winning, because it will make my grandparents happy. 2:03 Meg Rowley: They’re nice folks. 2:03 v2micca: Is Acuña putting some distance between himself and other candidates for the NL ROY award? Or do you see them as still pretty close? 2:03 Meg Rowley: I think so, though goodness, we probably need to talk about Harrison Bader more, don’t we? 2:04 v2micca: Do you think the White Sox regret promoting Kopech this year as it resulted in them effectively losing 1+ years of pre-arb control? 2:04 Meg Rowley: I think their biggest regret is probably that his elbow is busted and he won’t be able to pitch for a while. 2:04 Meg Rowley: At some point, guys have to take the next developmental step and meet the next challenge. I’m not sure how much more there was for Kopech to do in the minors. 2:05 tedthrilliams: the rays are going to win 90 games without ever being in the playoff race. crazy 2:05 Meg Rowley: Same record as the once feels-like-a-sure-thing-wait-that’s-confusing Mariners! 2:05 Meg Rowley: nuts 2:05 stever20: how many innings do you think Sale needs to finish with to have a realistic shot at the AL Cy Young award? 2:06 Meg Rowley: From a WAR perspective it is likely to get verrry close between him and Verlander. You remember Justin Verlander? 2:06 Meg Rowley: It’s a real funky mess of a race. Craig wrote about it at length and quite well this morning: https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/using-contact-quality-to-sort-out-the-… 2:08 Meg Rowley: If the season ended today, it’s his, and I think barring something dumb, I’d still vote for him but with 10-15 more innings to pitch (as it sounds like he’ll be limited), he might lose out. 2:08 Meg Rowley: It’ll be ok. He gets to pitch in the postseason. That’s neat. 2:08 Airport Banana: Which team’s 2018 is more surprising to you: Nats or Dodgers? 2:08 Meg Rowley: Nats, I think. 2:09 Meg Rowley: The Dodgers got hurt early, so it was easy to see things coming apart a little. 2:09 Meg Rowley: The Nats. You know, I still don’t the 2018 Nats. 2:09 Bork: Mookie Betts might be good at baseball 2:09 Meg Rowley: Could be true. Could be. 2:09 Morbo: Hello Meg, how was your weekend? 2:09 Meg Rowley: Lovely, thank you. It feels like fall here. It is almost time for sad music and heartier drinks. 2:10 v2micca: While not set in stone, we have decent picture of what the post-season will look like. Which league’s potential playoff matches do you find more compelling overall, NL or AL? 2:10 Meg Rowley: Earlier stages of the NL, late stages of the AL? 2:11 Meg Rowley: Weirdly more excited, at least in theory, for the ALCS than the World Series. Which, why am I trying to predict what will be exciting? 2:11 TKDC: What position or positions do you see Ohtani playing in three years? 2:11 Meg Rowley: I think they’ll try a similar set up to the one they had this year once he’s had TJ and come back. You have to at least try that once the elbow is healthy. The combo if managed right is so potent. 2:12 Meg Rowley: Beyond that, if forced to choose, I’d have him pitch. Pitching is awful and no one should do it, but Ohtani should do that awful thing so we can fawn over him doing it. 2:12 krob: Meg we would like to formally extend an invitation for you to make the Brewers your rooting interest for the remainder of the season. We’ve reviewed your credentials and given your brief residence in the state we would happily have you on the bandwagon. We will ask you to check your Mariners fandom before boarding, however, as we cannot risk that kind of disappointment. You may pick up your Mariners fandom at the conclusion of the world series. 2:13 Meg Rowley: The one good thing about my favorite team being awful is that I get to just enjoy things in the postseason. Every good thing is good. Why would I give that up, even for a team I like watching? 2:13 Francisco de Miranda`: Of the 10 qualified hitters with a sub-replacement fWAR in 2018, who is most likely to have an above average season in 2019? 2:13 Meg Rowley: A moment to examine the list, please. 2:14 Meg Rowley: This list makes me sad for strangers. 2:15 Meg Rowley: The list includes: 2:16 Meg Rowley: Name wRC+ WARChris Davis 51 -2.6Victor Martinez 71 -1.7Yangervis Solarte 83 -0.7Ian Desmond 79 -0.7Alcides Escobar 53 -0.6Trey Mancini 91 -0.5Eduardo Nunez 75 -0.5Ryon Healy 98 -0.3Eric Hosmer 94 -0.2Albert Pujols 90 -0.2 2:16 Meg Rowley: Man, weirdly maybe Mancini and Nunez? 2:16 Meg Rowley: First base is so weird and gross sometimes. 2:17 Southi: If you were Atlanta this off season would you be more inclined to 1) go in house with your rotation plans, 2) sign a free agent starter like Keuchel or 3) seriously pursue a trade for deGrom? 2:17 Meg Rowley: If those are my options, I would go two, one, three, just because I don’t think deGrom will be on the table in any sort of real way. 2:17 Liar Liar Michael Cuddyer: Got any thoughts on Sunday’s Braun-Bumgarner tiff? It seemed like a) Tom Jackpot Hallion completely lost control of the game and b) MadBum can be kind of a butt. 2:18 Meg Rowley: Having admittedly not watched it I have very little trouble believing it was MadBum being a bit of a butt. 2:18 Hello: Just read your awesome piece on pitchers in blowouts. One suggestion for the future: all references to what the Game of baseball (or just the Game) wants, requires, demands, etc. should be spelled with a capital G. Show some respect. 2:18 Meg Rowley: In a piece that featured a screenshot of two butts, this was your issue? 2:19 Meg Rowley: The SABR style guide doesn’t require the capitalization of Game when referencing the generalization game of baseball, and I don’t write in sepia tone. 2:19 Butt Looker: FanGraphs made me a Butt Looker 2:19 Meg Rowley: Hello, welcome to being alive. You’ll see animal faces everywhere. It is truly wild. 2:19 Liar Liar Michael Cuddyer: If you were tasked with explaining baseball to someone who had no prior knowledge about the sport, what would be your introductory sentence? 2:20 Meg Rowley: This is a marvelous question that probably needs a few hundred words to answer properly, but I think honestly, I might lead with, “This is impossibly hard, and they do it anyway.” 2:21 FanGraph’s Lurker: was looking at the standings last night. The dodgers and the mariners have the same record, how different would their records look if they swapped divisions? Mariners in the NL west, Dodgers in the AL west. Only for this season. 2:22 Meg Rowley: This is a good question. 2:25 Meg Rowley: I don’t know that it would be that different. The Mariners are worse as a team, and so you’d expect they might actually look it. The Dodgers are underperforming their baseruns, and would still have two playoff teams in division, but wouldn’t have a much better break than they do with Padres and Giants. 2:26 James: The Astros are playing Detroit this week while Oakland plays Baltimore. Does it take away from the race a little when both teams are basically playing against minor leaguers? 2:26 Meg Rowley: You can only play the schedule you have. 2:26 Meg Rowley: Oakland also recently played the Yankees. The Astros played the Red Sox. Not every match up is marquee and that’s ok. 2:27 Bo: Sean Newcomb has been struggling in the “dog days” of summer, but was back on his A-game last night in 60-degree SF. Is there reason to believe higher heat/humidity is a real problem for him? 2:27 Meg Rowley: I’d expect that the effect is mostly just noise. Uncomfortable noise to be sure, but largely that. 2:28 Meg Rowley: Now, we know that heat and humidity affect the way pitches travel and break. So there may be some effect there. 2:28 Meg Rowley: But I don’t imagine it is having a meaningful physical impact on him. 2:29 stever20: How much does teams doing what Detroit did last night for Verlander help a teams perception with free agents? Verlander was clearly moved by it. 2:30 Meg Rowley: It never hurts to be thought of as nice rather than a jerk, but I also can’t think of team being an obvious jerk to a beloved former player. 2:30 Bullpen: How many wins would the Mets have if they had the As bullpen? 2:30 Meg Rowley: Trick question: if they were on the Mets, they’d all be ghosts now. 2:30 Brian: Have you seen anyone attempt to re-write the balk rule in a way that is, like, understandable? Baseball seems mostly fine even with this glaring inconsistency in enforcement, but its just so odd when you think about it. 2:31 Meg Rowley: I wonder if every offseason the rules committee meets dreading a discussion of the rule, and then they just don’t do anything with it. 2:31 Meg Rowley: It is complicated, so they aren’t crazy to have a bunch of text but it is also too complicated. 2:32 Alan: The Red Sox and Angels both have 18 games remaining… Betts at 9.1 WAR, Trout at 8.6 WAR. Who ends up with the higher WAR? Who gets the MVP? 2:34 Meg Rowley: I wonder if they end up with the same WAR at the end, having both missed time, if, in the back of voters’ minds there will be some impulse to favor Betts because he hasn’t won before. Which, if they are at the same point at the end of the year, really the same, I’m not sure I mind. They’ve both had incredible seasons, and variety is nice. 2:35 Meg Rowley: If it is really close, like tenths of wins of WAR, I could see some of the more traditional stats, the defense, and the playoff team making the difference for Betts, too. 2:35 WAR: So. Early this year we were all talking about how we were going to have a bunch of people with like 12, 13 WAR and then none of that happened because it never does. Do you think it’s more interesting when a lot of people start well or when a lot of people come on stronger later? 2:36 Meg Rowley: I think late, close races are fun, though I’ll admit that I don’t get incredibly worked up over awards one way or the other. 2:36 Meg Rowley: The most fun? The most fun would be this year with Betts and Trout being healthy and whole the whole time. 2:36 Slew: If you’re given the choice between 2018 Chris Sale for 24 starts or 2018 Justin Verlander for 33 starts don’t you take Verlander? Feels like an easy choice to me. 2:37 Meg Rowley: And yet it isn’t so clear cut. 2:37 The Old Buccaneer: Better nautical-themed name, Pirates or Mariners? 2:37 Meg Rowley: I don’t want to reward thievery in open waters here, but 2:37 Pat G: Kluber torched my ratios yesterday. Do I just run everyone out there to get W/K/QS, or do I try and manage my way back in. In that thread, do you pitch both Chacin and Quintana today? 2:38 Meg Rowley: Today, I ask a fantasy writer. 2:38 stever20: LA 12-8 in interleague play, Seattle 6-12 in interleague play 2:39 Meg Rowley: Sure. One of those teams is pretty good and one of those teams isn’t and had to play the Dodgers. 2:39 Archimedes: Can we get an article that ranks all of the weird minor league player names that Jon Bois and Jeff have compiled on Twitter? 2:39 Meg Rowley: But why? It works so well as it is. As it is, it is practically perfect. 2:40 Deacon Don: The Brewers added a bunch of hitters with little regard to defense. It seems to be working. Is offense the new market inefficiency? 2:41 Meg Rowley: Obviously small sample, etc etc and there is almost certainly a point at which it would swing too far the other way, and I would expect some the pitchers don’t love it, but it makes intuitive sense to me that the thing you do a lot more on an individual basis would matter more. But there is certainly a point where the pieces add up to an unworkable whole. 2:41 George: On a scale of 1 to 10 how worried should I be the Cubs will miss the playoffs? 2:42 Meg Rowley: Entirely? Not very. 2:42 lasordid: how do you feel about starting ballgames earlier? 2:43 Meg Rowley: I work from home and watching games is part of my job, so I wouldn’t mind at all. I also am based on the West Coast and so have a time advantage already. I might be the worst possible person to ask. 2:43 Southi: Regarding Newcomb, there has been some discussion that he sweats more than many people and sometimes has issues with his grip because of that issue. I have no proof of the validity of the “excess sweat claim” but I could see the logic behind the statement if true 2:44 Meg Rowley: You will not trick me into writing another piece about ballplayers’ bodily secretions. You will not do it. No. NO. 2:44 v2micca: Not saying it is time to panic, but we need to acknowledge that Freddie Freeman is slumping. 2:46 Meg Rowley: A “slumping” Freddie Freeman still has a 112 wRC+ in September. He had a 115 in August. He is down relative to himself, but also, I think we need to be better at remember how streaky most everyone is. 2:48 Meg Rowley: He does have fewer hard hit balls the last few months, but I wouldn’t be super alarmed yet. 2:49 Plate-o: If your family was starving, would you steal a base to feed them? 2:49 Meg Rowley: Sure– you see how much those things go for? 2:49 Scott: What’s the easiest award to predict? 2:49 Meg Rowley: I am going to say NL Cy Young because I have faith in people being reasonably smart. 2:49 John : As a fan, would you rather your team try to be a 90-win team for a decade and hope to get lucky once or twice, or sell the farm system for a couple of ULTRATEAM® years? Seems like the Braves are at this crossroads now. 2:49 Meg Rowley: The first one I think. 2:50 Meg Rowley: As a Mariners fan, I can tell you that feeling like the team you like best is contending is amazing. 2:50 PD: What’s the WAR value in MVP voting for being on a winning team? I’m guessing it’s at least 1 WAR so Betts probably has the edge right now. 2:51 Meg Rowley: It shouldn’t matter imo. That isn’t what the award is for. You know what you get for being on a winning team? The postseason! We already have a means of rewarding guys for that. BUT I think it does matter to a lot of voters, even if I wish it didn’t. 2:52 Strelok: with extreme weather appearing to increase in occurrence, should the number of games in a season be shortened and teams be given more off days? 2:52 Meg Rowley: I think the season could stand to lose a few games anyway, and more off days would be good. 2:53 Meg Rowley: The smoke in Seattle in August did make me wonder what the league’s business continuity plan is when it comes to extreme weather. Seems like they’ll need one. 2:53 martyvan: Meg, I love your work, and I thought your Susan Waldman comment was a little harsh. It’s not as if she’s a horrific person, has played an awful female stereotypical role or as if she’s completely void of baseball knowledge. I mean she and John are basically dated 80s versions of Phil Rizzuto and Ralph Kiner. But it’s home team baseball and is supposed to be not great. But I believe she was a pioneer for females. JMO. 2:55 Meg Rowley: She was a pioneer for women (proper style is for female to modify a noun), and as I recall, I said I didn’t have a strong opinion on her because of her role. I don’t listen to Yankees radio broadcasts. That’s not a knock on her, it’s just an acknowledgement I don’t engage her broadcasts. 2:55 99 problems but a trolley aint 1: You see a runaway trolley moving toward five people tied up on the tracks. You are standing next to a lever by the tracks that controls a switch. By pulling the lever, you will save the five people but send the trolley toward one clueless soul standing on the tracks, meaning your intervention has caused their death. Twist: that person is James Paxton. Question: What do you do? 2:55 Meg Rowley: My job is so weird and wonderful. 2:56 Meg Rowley: Further twist: I don’t know James Paxton personally but he seems like a kind person and he is Canadian, so he likely would want to be killed by a trolley. 2:56 Archimedes: This is likely the last month we’ll get to watch Victor Martinez hit hard liners straight into the shift and the occasional single off the wall. Get your viewings in while you still can! 2:56 Meg Rowley: We could be kinder about this. Think about how he feels. Think about how he must feel every. single. day. 2:57 Southi: While I haven’t checked the actual numbers it seems that overall compared to 2017 that homerun numbers are down. Is that true? And if so what would you think is the biggest factor behind it? 2:57 Meg Rowley: A moment, if you’ll allow. 2:58 Meg Rowley: According to Baseball Reference, there have been 4979 home runs so far this year. 2:58 Meg Rowley: Last year, there were 6105. 2:59 Meg Rowley: There was speculation earlier in the year that the ball was different again, but maybe not super different. 2:59 Rockie Dangerfield: What would be the best and/or most funny sporting implement to replace baseball bats with? Cricket bats are cheating. 2:59 Meg Rowley: I’d like to see someone try to hit with a golf club. 2:59 Matt: “I also can’t think of team being an obvious jerk to a beloved former player” – Do you consider David Wright a former player? 2:59 Meg Rowley: No, which is why they are such jerks. 3:00 Gallo’s humor: Hypothetical world where you can choose to live as one of these two MLB player archetypes, which do you choose? 3:01 Meg Rowley: I can’t imagine how cool it is to be tall. I am an average sized woman but I would love to be tall. I would be a Judge-Stanton-Gallo type because god damn, it must be so awesome to be tall. 3:01 Derek: It’s crazy that Betts and Trout are so (relatively) comfortably atop the WAR leaderboard while having both played almost 20 games fewer than the other top players. Those guys are good. 3:01 Meg Rowley: We should appreciate our era of baseball very much imo. 3:01 bighen: your quick fix for the Mets? outside of June they really weren’t a terrible team (over .500 maybe?) and still dealt with a lot of injuries. Could they be competitive next year adding any helpful (2?) bats? 3:02 Meg Rowley: Literally stop playing bad veterans. 3:02 Meg Rowley: My quick fix is that they play the probably better players on their roster and stop playing Jose Reyes. They play him so much. 3:02 Dexy’s Midnight Fowlers: Why can’t the Dodgers find more playing time for Max Muncy? Sure, he went through a brief slump, but in no universe does that justify starting David Freese (0.2 WAR) over Muncy (3.5, tied for team lead). Not starting your best players isn’t a great strategy in a pennant race. 3:03 Meg Rowley: I don’t disagree. Also, does anyone else worry they are going to forever screw up the 2018 Dodgers sporcle quiz? I worry about that every day. I might screw it up now, and we are literally talking about David Freese. 3:03 Meg Rowley: Ok friends, I have to cut this one short to do some editing. 3:03 Meg Rowley: Thanks for your questions and sorry for what I didn’t get to. 3:04 Meg Rowley: Same time next week, but likely for longer!