Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:00
Travis Sawchik: Hello, everyone

12:00
Travis Sawchik: We need to talk

12:00
Travis Sawchik: So let’s get started, shall we?

12:01
Robert : Before the season, Jay Bruce said he was going to make a conscious effort to hit more fly balls. So far, his FB rate is up about 10% and conversely, his GB rate down about 10%. Does this make his hot start more buyable?

12:01
Travis Sawchik: I believe it does. And I wrote a bit about it earlier this spring … http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/jay-bruce-tries-to-improve-q-rating-in-…

12:02
Travis Sawchik: Any time a player expresses an intention to make a change, makes the change, and performance improves … I buy in

12:02
Travis Sawchik: Dave Cameron wrote about Yonder Alonso today, which is a similar story. Alonso articulated a desire to hit more fly balls this spring and he’s doing just that to date

12:03
mtsw: How do you square the two trendy ideas: “use your best reliever in the highest leverage situation possible?” and “don’t repeatedly warm up relievers without using them?” Them seem like mutually exclusive concepts to a large degree.

12:04
Travis Sawchik: This can get a little tricky. Ideally you are starting off an inning as a reliever, to hopefully avoid some of that … but it doesn’t always play out so cleanly. I know A.J. Hinch has been upset with himself on occasion for getting Devenski up in the ‘pen and not using him.

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Good point/question

12:05
Evil Goatee Travis: Ignoring the economics of feasible markets, how many expansion teams does the level of talent support before a noticeable drop-off in product? The White Sox and Reds, for instance, are showing us that a team does not have to be infinitely better than a Triple-A club since rebuilding is more acceptable and losing can be chic as well.

12:08
Travis Sawchik: There will be a watering-down effect after any expansion period, but you could probably also cobble together a decent team from the FAs that were available on March 1 of the last two offseasons. So to what I think is your point, maybe there would be less of an expansion effect in the next round of expansion since there are a number of teams not really trying to compete and that’s become more acceptable

12:08
Travis Sawchik: So in sum, don’t be afraid to expand MLB. Especially to Montreal

12:09
yojiveself: Justin Wilson, right?

12:09
Travis Sawchik: I would think so. I would pick him up in your league if you have not done so already

12:09
Travis Sawchik: Planning something on K-Rod for later today

12:09
GM: How many teams have offered you positions like August?

12:11
Travis Sawchik: In case you missed it everyone, August is no longer a man of mystery and is officially a member of the Milwaukee Brewers front office

12:11
Travis Sawchik: Pretty cool, right?

12:11
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Why don’t we include foul balls in batted ball data? Surely the 380 foot liner that just hooks foul is an informative data point.

12:11
Travis Sawchik: Market inefficiency! I bet some teams do in regard to exit velocity

12:11
yojiveself: if grandal doesn’t get an hr this week at Colorado, ok to cut for Bandy, McCann or Avila?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: I wouldn’t. He’s been a very streaky hitter and you want to be around for the hot stretch

12:12
Theo : Would I have success in a small market? I’ve never had a payroll out of the top 5…

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Interesting question, depends on how you define success. While the ‘curse breaking’ narrative helps the legacy, Boston and Chicago should be two of the places set up more favorably to win. Winning a title is not easy anywhere, of course, and Theo and his team deserve a ton of credit. But much harder to win in Pittsburgh, Tampa, Cleveland (Colorado!!!!), obviously

12:14
Ronnie: The Rays relievers are currently sporting an MLB low 16.1 K%, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the 2011 Twins bullpen. Are they doing this on purpose?

12:14
Travis Sawchik: I wouldn’t think this is part of any plan

12:14
Conforto: Am I not only an excellent hitter, but also an underrated Outfielder?

12:16
Travis Sawchik: I think so. I wonder if the Mets would consider sneaking Conforto into CF more often, like the Indians have done with Chisenhall

12:16
Travis Sawchik: FWIW, Conforto has posted +1 DRS for his career over 85 innings in center

12:17
Brad: Could you please explain the Super 2 deadline. I read today from Dan Hayes that Moncada is about a week away from team having a 7th year of control, but I recall Dave Cameron saying super 2 deadline may be in mid-June? Are there two types deadlines? One for arbitration and one for free agency? Thank you!

12:19
Travis Sawchik: Super 2 is tied to arbitration eligibility not free agency. (There is a hard number for what constitutes a year of service time regarding free agency). Super 2 players are those with the most experience of players with less than two years of service time and more than three. The top 22 percent of those players — players with most service time — are eligible for an extra year of arbitration, meaning they get to arbitration a year earlier

12:19
Travis Sawchik: The Super 2 date is a projection, but it usually falls in mid June

12:20
Travis Sawchik: Seriously, who arrives at a rule like that?

12:20
Ally: You’re a GM with your choice between Judge or Conforto– who do you take?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: That’s so tough. I’d probably take Conforto … i trust the bat-to-ball skills more. But I’d be happy with either

12:21
joe: Are these Yankees legit?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: I had them as a wild-card team before the year, and I think they were the FG staff’s favorite pick for the second wild card in the AL. So, yeah, I think they are a legit playoff-caliber team

12:22
Laroo: Is G Polanco ever going to hit another home run? How many does he end up with this year?

12:22
Sterling Mallory Chris Archer: I’m assuming you still have inside info from Pittsburgh. How’s Gregory Polanco doing? Is his shoulder that bad where he’s going to be bad all year?

12:22
Max Power: Is Gregory Polanco broken? Was the power gain last year a mirage or sapped by the shoulder this year?

12:22
Travis Sawchik: A lot of Polanco inquiries

12:23
Travis Sawchik: It’s shocking he has zero home runs through 111 plate appearances

12:23
Travis Sawchik: He’s going to be better … He showed in the first half last year before the shoulder injury that he can be a quality hitter

12:24
Travis Sawchik: But the injuries, the inconsistency, have perhaps lowered the ceiling. He seemed like a player, to me, who really presses and gets in his own way when he’s struggling

12:24
Lord of the Infield Flies: Who would win a bare-knuckled fist-fighting tourney among the FG staffers?

12:25
Travis Sawchik: I feel like Eno would have the reach advantage

12:25
Phoenix: Is Conforto a better ballplayer than Schwarber? Do you think the majority (at least 16) of teams would take Conforto over Schwarber straight up?

12:27
Travis Sawchik: Conforto is the better all-around player thanks to his glove …. And he might be a comparable (better? *gasp*) offensive player. Schwarber did miss all of last season, and he’s going to be really good, I think, but Conforto looks like a star who is not a threat to become a DH.

12:27
Travis Sawchik: It’s not like Conforto did not come with pedigree. He was the 10th overall pick in 2014, Schwarber was 4th

12:27
Sam: Hold on to Bautista or drop him?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: I thought he was going to be better this year as he had some poor luck on balls in play. His expected batting average was much higher than his actual BA, etc

12:30
Travis Sawchik: What concerns me now is the K rate is way up, the zone contact rate way down

12:31
Travis Sawchik: Humans start losing visual acuity at Age 29 which means it might harder for baseball players to beat age curves no matter how well they take care of themselves like Bautista

12:31
Anonymous: How many people does Fangraphs have on the backend writing queries and maintaining all the data on the site? How much coding do you and other writes do?

12:33
Travis Sawchik: I believe this is proprietary! Haha. But there are FG staffers on the back-end helping with queries and data and a few writers can code

12:33
AFan: Outside of ASG, video games, and fantasy baseball, what would it take to get Trout, Harper, and Machado on the same team?

12:33
Travis Sawchik: The Yankees

12:33
Travis Sawchik: Machado and Harper could both be Yankees in 2019

12:34
Zimmerman: given I somehow stay healthy, what do you see for my end of season line? Moreover, is my health a bigger threat to my current campaign than my skills?

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Health would be my foremost concern. I don’t think you will ISO .450 the rest of the way, but if you stay health I think there’s at least 20 more homers …

12:35
Twoseamers: Any thoughts on Rosario in a points league? Will he be an above average contributor sometime this year?

12:35
Schmets: What happens to Amed Rosario? Worth a stash, or will the Mets refuse to bring him up until September?

12:35
Dexter: True or False: once the time finally arises when Amed Rosario gets called up, he will be so good that Met fans will be saying “wtf was this guy doing in the minors all season??”

12:37
Travis Sawchik: It depends how deep your league is … Rosario is going to be a very good player, but he does not have the power (yet) to be on that Lindor/Seager/Correa tier

12:38
Moltar: Isn’t it kinda premature to make sweeping judgements about young players’ careers after only five weeks of the season? At some point Conforto and Judge are gonna hit cold streaks and Schwarber is gonna hit a hot streak, and the questions around those players will reverse.

12:38
Travis Sawchik: As I said, Schwarber missed about all of last season. I still think he’s going to hit. But given his glove, he’s going to have to hit a lot more than Conforto to be better than Conforto

12:39
captainpeanutbutter: Dansby Swanson has looked absolutely awful. Is this just bad luck/sss, or was he less ready for success than many thought after his performance last year?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: It’s surprising how bad he’s been. It’s been a real tough stretch. I think most baseball folks still very much believe in the player. But he was always viewed as being a notch or two below the elite young SS tier

12:40
YoOoOOo: In defense of Theo, I think plenty of GMs would make costly mistakes if they had the same money to work with. Can’t spend it blindly.

12:41
Travis Sawchik: True. It’s not easy to win anywhere. You can make bad decisions anywhere.

12:41
Ralph: on the subject of super 2, what players are currently being held in AAA strictly because of super 2 factors?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Amed! I don’t have an exact number in mind

12:42
CubFan: Ref Justin Wilson….a number of articles mention he may be better used in the high leverage situations he’s been used for and that there is no one to take that spot. So, who else could be used to close?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: This situation will be interesting to follow. He’s a former starter, like Andrew Miller, and I’d be curious to see him used in a similar fashion

12:43
Erik: Do you think Theo will eventually take on a small market team just to challenge himself?

12:43
George: I’m sure if Theo was given the opportunity to tank for 3 decades like the Royals did, he could win a WS in a small market!! I bet he could turn it around in less!

12:43
Travis Sawchik: I’ve said before, if a GM really wants to make a legacy statement he should go to Colorado

12:43
Anon: Aaron Judge: great RF or greatest RF?

12:45
Travis Sawchik: The common ceiling cited was that of Giancarlo Stanton. Maybe it was closer than almost everyone thought.

12:45
Bellinger: Crazy

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Yep

12:45
Dan: So, theoretical question going off last night’s game. Is it really worth totally exhausting your team for the chance at a single win? Why burn through all those guys for a 50% chance at one win when it will likely reduce your odds of winning at least the next one or two games?

12:45
Travis Sawchik: This is why I am for ties in baseball

12:45
Tim: You buying what JC Ramirez is doing?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: To a degree. There’s a real change in pitch mix and approach. He’s another arm going away from the fastball as a primary pitch like Devenski, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller

12:46
A. Reitz: Gregory Polanco…if his shoulder is bothering him why not rest? BB/K rates are good but woof…he looks like a 4th OF right now.

12:47
Travis Sawchik: Polanco’s swing can get really long as he’s a long-limbed 6-4, 6-5 guy. When he had success last year, the Pirates said it was from shortening the bat path

12:47
Jim-Bob: Re: Yonder Alonso. The pundits are split about 50/50 on the sell high / buy now options. Where do you land?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: He won’t keep this up…. but he’s made real improvements. Not sure I’d want him as my starting 1B in 12-team h2h, but CI option, sure

12:48
Dan: You think Pujols/Vargas for Pollock/Manaea is relatively even? Or am I the only person left in the world who thinks Pujols has some juice left in him?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: I

12:48
Travis Sawchik: ‘d hang onto Pollock and Manaea

12:48
Dancing Dan Mcgraw: i know people think harper and machado will get 400-500 mil contracts but the ceiling doesn’t seem to get pushed that high that fast. We are still climbing out of the 20 millions right now

12:49
Travis Sawchik: These are much different cases, though. Not just he talent, but superstars entering FA in their mid 20s. We haven’t seen it often. And we also see clubs, like the Yankees, ostensibly keeping payroll down right now to make that major splash

12:51
Cee Jay: Does Clevinger have a spot in the rotation now? I would think Bauer ends up in the bullpen sooner rather than later.

12:52
Travis Sawchik: I think Bauer gets some more time, he is striking out 25% of batters faced, but Clevinger looked like a man who wants a job on Sunday

12:52
Ties????: Please expand on your pro-ties feeling.

12:53
Travis Sawchik: www.fangraphs.com/blogs/baseball-and-the-tie-game-a-logical-match/

12:54
Travis Sawchik: If you were drawing baseball up from scratch, it doesn’t make much sense NOT to have ties in a 162-game season when MLB decision makers are always worried about bullpen depth

12:55
VV: Eugenio Suarez has looked incredibly good in the early going. Are his changes legitimate?

12:55
Travis Sawchik: I think Jeff is digging into this this week

12:55
Headbreak: I think Hosmer should try to adjust his mechanics to increase flyballs like Alonso did recently. And I saw several FG articles that deal with Hoz’s groundball rate problem. Your thoughts?

12:55
Travis Sawchik: Hosmer is an obvious candidate to lift, Yelich, too

12:55
Travis Sawchik: Hosmer has not been a very good first baseman with his current approach

12:55
Danny: Is there a max amount of times a team can end a series with a night game and have to travel to a different city for a game the next night? Cubs have been on Sunday Night Baseball last 2 weeks then traveled to a different time zone for Monday games

12:56
Travis Sawchik: That’s brutal

12:56
Travis Sawchik: Players certainly are not huge fans of Sunday night games. I’m not sure if there are limits

12:56
WhoAmI?: Who you got, Sano or Judge?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: Sano. Similar raw power, Sano has done it longer, has been around the league, etc.

12:57
YoOoOOo: Would you consider trading Lamb and/or Pollock given the humidor coming into effect soon at Chase?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think so. Coors hitters are still pretty valuable

12:57
Horace: Again I see mention of Harper on the Yankees in the future. He is not cutting that glorious beard off for the Yankees, and he won’t suffer financially for it, either.

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Or maybe the Yankees have a change of heart regarding employee dress/appearance code

12:58
Phoenix: When more guys get healthy for the Dodgers, do they send Bellinger back down, even if he’s still raking?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: I’d try and be creative

12:59
Moonlight Graham: Seriously, how many Mets fans are here today? All we are hearing about is Conforto and not the cold hard fact that your team is a dumpster fire.

1:00
Travis Sawchik: This was not a good week for Mets baseball. Re: Harvey. I haven’t heard of a player being suspended for a violation of team rules since I was covering Clemson athletics. There’s apparently a stunning lack of maturity there

1:00
Wright: Cargo at a -.8 WAR so far this season, worst in the league. Are you worried?

1:00
Travis Sawchik: I feel like he’s another one of these streaky guys. I’d hate to miss the hot stretch

1:01
Ben: Of Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and Corey Seager, which one do you think is most likely to reach 60 career WAR? Which one is most likely to fall short of 20 WAR?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Lindor and none

1:02
Quinn: Does Bennintendi have one of the sweetest swings in baseball. It is Beautiful to watch

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Yes

1:02
Grape: Any reason to be concerned with Kluber going forward?

1:02
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think so…but he did log 250 total innings last year so Indians should exercise caution

1:02
Quinn: What you you say is the biggest inefficiency in baseball stats right now

1:03
Travis Sawchik: I suspect it’s changes to batted-ball profiles … if Zimmerman and Alonso, etc. can really transform themselves there’s many more hitter that could tap into this still

1:04
Colinbaseball: How high of an average could someone have in today’s environment? Like if you took the best hitters (by avg) in baseball and gave them the best BABIP they could hope for over the course of the season, what would their average be?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: Let’s have some fun with a traditional stat

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Best three qualified BAs since 2007: Joe Mauer, remember him? (.365 in 2009), Chipper Jones (.364 in 2008), Magglio Ordonez (.363 in 2007)

1:07
Travis Sawchik: But those were all produced pre-shift-age

1:08
Travis Sawchik: LeMahieu has the best average post 2013, .348, last season

1:09
Travis Sawchik: In today’s game, probably tough to get above that .350 mark for anyone. Maybe, say, Altuve could get to .360-.370 with some luck

1:09
Sean: When you mentioned Machado and Harper on the same team in 2019 I thought of the current state of the NBA. Thank god for the parity in the MLB.

1:10
Travis Sawchik: MLB, by nature, will always have more parity. If LeBron could only handle the ball once every nine possessions he’d be a much less valuable player

1:10
Travis Sawchik: There are no 25- to 30-win players in MLB

1:10
Marc: Seriously, whats wrong with Cutch? Has there ever been a player that good, fall off that fast, seemingly out of nowhere?

1:10
Travis Sawchik: He’s a historic outlier

1:11
Travis Sawchik: And he hasn’t shown much signs of turning it around early this season

1:11
Yoenis’ Farm: How concerned should owners be about Danny Duffy’s diminished velocity and lack of Ks? He survived 6.2ip yesterday but not withut some hard contact…

1:11
Travis Sawchik: There should be some level of concern

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Stuff is down from the end of last season

1:13
Phoenix: If you created a fictional player with the best BABIP last year (LeMahieu with .388), lowest K rate last year (Panik with 8.9%) and highest ISO (Ortiz with .305), would all those extra hits, extra homers, and fewer strike outs get you to a .400 average?

1:13
Travis Sawchik: Ted Williams ’41: .329 (ISO) .378 (BABIP) .406 (BA)

1:13
Travis Sawchik: To get to .400 today, you’d have to hit with power given the improvements to defensive alignment

1:14
Rich O: Can Luis Severino be a legit top of the rotation option going forward?

1:16
Travis Sawchik: The stuff is electric and the command is much improved, so, yes

1:16
Colin: Why would the Twins hold back Berrios any longer? His clock is running and it doesn’t look like he has anything left to prove…

1:17
Travis Sawchik: Twins could use an arm

1:17
marichal: Who takes the Cubs open rotation spot – Montgomery or Butler? And how good might he be?

1:17
Travis Sawchik: Entering the season, I was more intrigued with Montgomery … but any pitcher away from Coors is automatically interesting

1:17
Dancing Dan Mcgraw: do you think there is a day/night split for guys with blue eyes like Kiermair?

1:18
Travis Sawchik: Hmmmm

1:18
Travis Sawchik: I suppose there could be. But how do Kris Bryant’s stunning blue eyes hold up through all those day games at Wrigley?

1:18
CamdenWarehouse: What was the record contract before A-Rod’s deal?

1:21
GERB: There have been a few 390ish BABIPS over decade, so you need to find someone who can have more HRs than Ks and get really lucky. I could see a non-0 chance for Mookie Betts?

1:21
Travis Sawchik: Betts is one of those few who could make it happen … and his home park wouldn’t hurt his chances

1:21
Justino: Bryant’s OPS is 60 points higher in night games.

1:22
Travis Sawchik: I don’t have the right emoji available with which to respond

1:22
Travis Sawchik: But interesting!

1:22
Travis Sawchik: Bryant should consider wearing brown contact lenses, no?

1:23
Moltar: Here’s the real question baseball fans should be asking. Why are there so few games today???

1:23
Travis Sawchik: No idea!

1:23
Dakota McKee : Are the Mets and Harvey on the fritz? What can they get for him in a trade, ie who are other change of scenery guys? Harvey for mccutchen? Sonny gray?

1:24
Travis Sawchik: Harvey’s value is really down, but someone would obviously take a chance and give up a decent return, I think

1:24
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: KIERMAIER HAS GREEN EYES NOT BLUE EYES

1:24
Phoenix: I know that Josh Hamilton a few years ago talked candidly about how he hated day games because of the sun, and even sunglasses didn’t do enough to help. And he has dramatically worse numbers in day games.

1:25
Travis Sawchik: I hear a research project beginning …

1:25
Lawrence : What do you make of Conforto’s batted ball profile. Is that sustainable?

1:25
Travis Sawchik: Exit velocity, launch angle, support his production

1:25
Devers: Call me up!!

1:25
Travis Sawchik: My powers are limited

1:25
Travis Sawchik: Alright, folks. Thanks for all the great questions, sorry I could not get to them all.

1:26
Travis Sawchik: I have to be on my way to go produce content for your favorite Website

1:26
Travis Sawchik: Same place/time next week. Be good, do good.

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A Cleveland native, FanGraphs writer Travis Sawchik is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Big Data Baseball. He also contributes to The Athletic Cleveland, and has written for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Sawchik.

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Trent
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Trent

Would you trade Manuel Margot for either joc pederson or Jose Bautista in an obp league? I’m punting sb. Worried about playing time for joc and spike in K’s for Joey bats