Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:04
Travis Sawchik: Happy Monday, folks

12:04
Travis Sawchik: I’m no longer a Yinzer. First chat live from Bay Village, Ohio …

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Let’s get to it …

12:05
Moonlight Graham: Happy moving, Travis!  Pittsburgh misses you.  Have you found a replacement for Mineo’s yet?

12:05
Travis Sawchik: There are many things I will miss about Pittsburgh, incuding Mineo’s. Working on it!

12:05
Zonk: Bryant is not really in the NL MVP conversation, despite being in the top group of players by fWAR.  Is it possible the reigning MVP is underrated?

12:07
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, kind of weird that there hasn’t been much conversation about Bryant … But . working against him has been his lack of clutch production for a second straight year

12:07
J: Aaron Judge has a far higher xWOBA than Altuve.  Pitching candidates aside isn’t that enough to be the frontrunner for MVP?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: xWOBA is a useful tool … but shouldn’t MVP voting be about what happened?  (Not something of a predicative award about who will be better going forward/or who might have been unlucky?)

12:08
Zonk: Will Votto age much better than Miguel Cabrera, and if so, why?

12:09
Travis Sawchik: I have a feeling he will because of the batting eye, the approach and his willingness to experiment … he’s also done a better job of staying on the field lately

12:09
JDX: Crazy Stat: Votto has 52 more BB than K.  There are 82 (of 149) qualified batters with fewer than 52 BB.

12:10
Travis Sawchik: Votto is a monster. Too bad we don’t get to see him in October

12:10
Travis Sawchik: In this age of strikeouts I believe his 11.2 K% is a career low and he’s posted the second best iso of his career

12:11
Dirty dan and juicy john: Ever play stratomatic baseball? It’s a dark secret of mine

12:11
Travis Sawchik: I did as a kid … And as I nerdy adult, Hardball Dynasty  has replaced it

12:12
Travis Sawchik: I know some real-life GMs have played Start, too. It’s a great way to learn to manage and team build

12:12
Kyle: JD Martinez man…40 bombs hes on a tear.

12:13
Travis Sawchik: I know a lot of contenders didn’t have a void for a bat, but Martinez would have upgraded every team’s lineup somewhere. I’ll be curious to see how well he does in FA

12:13
Jon: How is the move going?

12:13
Travis Sawchik: It’s done!

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Thanks for asking. Still plenty to unpack, but we are in the new place so hopefully some normalcy returns to the Sawchiks’ routines

12:14
StreakingIsFun: Often overlooked aspect of the Tribe’s season even after 22 in a row: They are still -6 in the win column when looking at their expected W/L based on Pythagorean and BaseRuns. How crazy is it that they are STILL under-performing by that much as a whole this season?

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Cleveland was 48-45 at one point as my dad reminded me yesterday …. So they really have underperformed but not recently

12:15
Dookie Howser, MD: Kluber or Sale?

12:17
Travis Sawchik: What’s interesting about the Cy Young debate is do you value actual run prevention on the field (Kluber is leading in ERA), or just focus on what the pitcher controls (Sale is leading in FIP)?

12:18
Travis Sawchik: Sale is leading Kluber in fWAR, Kluber is leading Sale in bWAR (by 2.3 wins?!) https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2017-pitching-leaders.s…

12:18
Travis Sawchik: fWAR is FIP based, bWAR is more runs-allowed based

12:20
Travis Sawchik: Again, to understand future value, and in decision making,  I like tools like xwOBA and FIP over what actually happened in the box score ….but in award voting I think we should actually care about
what happened on the field. An award is looking back, decision-making is looking forward

12:20
Travis Sawchik: Both are great. But If I had a vote, I’d go Kluber

12:21
Dookie Howser, MD: Which Indian has the best baseball face, and when can we expect Cistulli to create some ridiculous metric based on an obscure 17th century French philosopher that weighs their merits?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Mr. Smile (Francisco Lindor), right? … And I would hope so

12:21
E: Greetings from Twinsburg! Welcome (back?) to Cleveland

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Thanks! I grew up on the east side (Mentor) …. So after 17 years away I’ve returned to the metro area

12:21
Joe: Theo epstein needs to arrange  a sit down between Kris Bryant and Big Papi.

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Ha. It’s weird because we don’t think clutch hitting is a skill … but this is two years in a row

12:22
Moltar: Are the Mets closer to a World Series or a full rebuild? Should they be aggressive in one way or another this offseason?

12:23
Travis Sawchik: They are in a weird spot because if their pitching is right, and healthy, they could have one of the best rotations in the game and Cespedes, and hopefully a healthy Conforto ….

12:23
Travis Sawchik: But pitching is a risky thing to build around, too, especially if the rest of the roster is shaky.

12:23
Travis Sawchik: I wouldn’t punt, yet. Things can’t be worse for the Mets in 2018, but they have holes to fill

12:23
GK: Thoughts on Dominic Smith? 155 wRC+ this month

12:24
Travis Sawchik: Well, not everything has gone badly for the Mets  recently

12:24
StreakingIsFun: Re: underperfoming- of course they haven’t recently. I just thought it spoke to the shear dominance of the streak. You’d expect a 22 game win streak to contain enough positive sequencing/luck to nudge they’re real life W/L closer to the expected

12:25
Travis Sawchik: That is surprising considering the dominance of The Streak

12:26
Kyle: SOUTH HILLS – So the Pirates gave everyone in  Western Pennsylvania an early Christmas gift by agreeing to a three-year, $26 million deal with Ivan Nova today.

This appears to be an excellent contract for the Pirates.

nOvaRain
If Nova is just Nova. It’s not a bad deal. If he’s Happ 2.0 it’s the steal of the offseason (Horner photo)

At $8.7 million per annum, the dollars are well less than what many predicted Nova would receive in a weak free agent market for pitching, where Nova was regarded as one of the better arms available.

MLB Trade Rumors predicted a four-year, $52 million deal for Nova earlier this offseason.

The FanGraphs crowd-sourced  prediction averaged three years, $43 million pact.

The Pirates’ deal with Nova, of course, comes in well below that.

With a Win Above Replacement thought to be valued somewhere around $8M on the open market, the Pirates are basically paying Nova to be what he’s been during his a career: a back-of-the rotation starter.

In his six full MLB s

12:26
Travis Sawchik: Hey, who wrote that? 😉

12:26
Travis Sawchik: But at 1.8 fWAR, 2017 has produced surplus value for the Pirates … but it has been a lopsided campaign

12:27
Travis Sawchik: Nova is owed $17 million combined over the next two years, still a reasonable deal

12:28
HoskinsSmash: Say things about Rhys Hoskins, please.

12:28
Travis Sawchik: If you’d like to be closer to Hoskins, the Phillies are advertising front office positions at FanGraphs dot com

12:29
Travis Sawchik: 2.2 fWAR in 37 games isn’t bad

12:29
Anthony: Who would you consider to be baseball’s most underrated player?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: Is Jose Ramirez still underrated?

12:30
Otani Danza: I can almost smell the freshly cut grass of Arizona in early 2018.  I hope I own an Otani jersey in my favorite colors by then.

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Good luck!

12:30
JDM: Which NL team would I have more impact for in 2018? The Giants (because they have a weak offense) or the Nationals (because they have a great offense this maximizing the value of my hrs and getting me more at bats)?

12:31
Travis Sawchik: In the grand scheme of things, the Nats, because they are the better team and overwhelming firepower might help them push late into October in Bryce Harper’s likely final Beltway season

12:32
Q-Ball: Cubs owe Jon Lester 3/75 after this year, with a 10/25 team option.  Would Lester command that as a FA, in your opinion, or is that underwater at this point?

12:32
Travis Sawchik: I think we are nearing water level …. with a strong chance of going under. Those are his age 34-36 + 37 seasons

12:33
Matt: I don’t disagree with your logic of “what happened” for awards voting. But, devil’s advocate – are you saying that of two hypothetical pitchers that executed at equal levels, but with differing defensive abilities behind them (assuming the difference isn’t in errors, but fringe plays), the one with the better defense should get the award? And thus by extension, that if the one with the worse defense executed at a slightly better level, but not such that it cancelled out the defense, that he should lose out as well?

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Great question, and I had a Cy Young vote in 2015 when it was a close race between Greinke/Kershaw/Arrieta …. and I considered elements like catcher framing when voting for Arrieta. In a close race, more context is required

12:35
Q-Ball: What do you do if you are the Giants this offseason?  Posey and MadBum are a great start, but many holes to fill, and not much young talent…

12:36
Travis Sawchik: I like Belt and Crawford, too …. but there’s work to be done. Giants could try to spend their way back into contention but that division is pretty tough

12:36
Dipoto Interiors: If you had a house, and Jerry Dipoto was your interior decorator, and you went away for the winter and said it would be okay if Jerry tried to “fix it up a little” for Spring, do you have any confidence you will be able to find the toilet in the dark?

12:37
Travis Sawchik: No. But that mean I won’t like what he has done with the place

12:38
KW: How in the world will an NL team convince Otani to play for them? Would team really risk playing an ace-caliber pitcher in LF in order to get his bat into the lineup?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: NL would seem to be at a disadvantage in bidding. (Maybe Otani is like a Gold Glove OF, too). If his bat is good enough, teams would find a place it

12:39
StreakingIsFun: What are the chances you are still in Bay Village when the Browns win their 22nd game (from today)? Also- have you been to Great Lakes Brewing’s brewpub in Ohio City yet? They have a wonderful local menu (and great beer, of course)!

12:40
Travis Sawchik: Maybe I’m misguided but I actually like what the Browns are doing, I think they have double draft picks in every round next year …. just gotta find a one position (QB) in the NFL. … Thanks for the rec. It’s on the list

12:40
Dirty Birds: Devil’s advocate to Matt’s devil’s advocate: FIP likely isnt a perfect formula. Run prevention is at least defensible because it requires zero guesswork?

12:40
Travis Sawchik: There are certainly defensible aspects of pure run prevention

12:40
McRatSandwich: Any reason why most home-team dugouts are on the 3rd-base side?

12:41
Travis Sawchik: To not be in the afternoon sunlight during day games? I’m not sure. I think that might be why

12:41
Slapshot: Speaking of underwater deals, the Cubs have to be regretting the Jason Heyward deal now, right?  Wouldn’t they much rather have that money stashed aside to chase Harper?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: In retrospect, yes, of course. …. Spending big in FA is dangerous markets of all sizes

12:43
Greg Allen: Am I in uniform for the Tribe in October?

12:44
Travis Sawchik: I think so, for the speed … and maybe the defense in CF. Although there seem to be differing opinions on how effective he is in center

12:44
bk: Re: Cubs Underwater deals – They regret nothing.  They did what they needed to do.  Won a WS

12:44
Travis Sawchik: Flags Fly Forever … but teams want to win as many flags as possible, right?

12:44
SadSadMetsSadSad…sad?: What’s the absolute highest ceiling for Otani in the Majors?  With his two way play could he literally have a 12 win season if he hits his 90th percentile outcomes in all aspects of his game?

12:45
Travis Sawchik: An ace pitcher who is a part-time, above-average hitter could get into double-digit WAR numbers, 12 is probably pushing the max

12:45
Gus: Welcome to The Land

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Thanks! Happy to be back

12:46
Jay: So, I know the theory that clutch hitting doesnt exist and that if you’re a good hitter in general, you’re likely to be a good hitter most times in “clutch” situations. So, explain Roberto Perez – .202/.290/.348 in “low leverage” situations but in high leverage – 1.029 OPS. Obviously there’s some fluke to it but if the theory says if youre a good hitter in general, you’ll be a good hitter in clutch situations…so what is Perez?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: Interesting. It’s a small sample of 60 plate appearances , though . http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=2900&position=C&seas…

12:48
Keith Hernandez: I think the best part of a successful Browns rebuild will be the fact that a baseball analytics guy led the way.

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Ha. Yep. NFL is way behind MLB in many ares relating how to think about value and creating competitive advantages  … but NFL is ahead of MLB in some areas, too

12:49
Alex Cobb: Am I Tanakas replacement in the Bronx this offseason?

12:50
Travis Sawchik: I love that 2.2 GB/FB ratio in the second half, looks like you’re getting back to being you

12:51
I am the walrus: What do you think Darvish gets – 5/$150? over or under?

12:51
Travis Sawchik: I think that’s in the ballpark, north on the dollars

12:51
Oscar: Who do you like more as a FA this offseason, Lynn or Cobb?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: When Cobb is at his best, I love the change, curve, and two-seam combo

12:52
stever20: will what Kluber has done since June 1 make teams think about starting pitchers later in the season.

12:53
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think he was right to begin the year, but perhaps have us thinking more and more about more rest perhaps equalling more efficient performances

12:54
2-D: Rockies or Twins, which do you like better to pull an upset in their respective division series if they make it in and get past the wild card game?

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Rockies with CarGo finding his swing and Blackmon and Arenado being two of the best 5-7 players in the league

12:55
Travis Sawchik: And is Sano ever going to get back on the field?

12:55
StreakingIsFun: How many of Roberto Perez’s 60 high-leverage PAs were during the streak? The Indians were creating more of those than usual during that stretch. Perhaps he just got hot at the right time after being dreadfully cold for most of the year?

12:55
Travis Sawchik: Those were career PAs in high leverage

12:56
Rich: Watched Scherzer get taken out (rightfully so) with the bases loaded no outs his last start and the reliever promptly served up a grand slam. Are there any adjusted ERA stats that weight the runs allowed more in line with the probability of the runs scoring. For example likely hood of those runs scoring based on situation would be charged to relieved pitcher and the rest to reliever?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: Good question. I’m not sure

12:56
McRatSandwich: More rest meaning a 6-man rotation? Yikes!!

12:56
Travis Sawchik: We’re eventually going to have 6-man rotations, or piggy-back style rotations right?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: The game has always evolved toward more specialization and fewer innings for arms

12:57
Dookie Howser, MD: Does price get any starts in October?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: Isn’t he going to the bullpen?

12:57
Fangraphs Juggalo: With the Marlins and Reds out of contention, how is Blackmon not the run away favorite for NL MVP?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: He has a strong case

12:58
Brad: RE: The Cubs spending all that money on Heyward, other than his defense, which will start to decline, they were spending on potential hitting of a 6 yr veteran with no proven track record.  I know it was a gamble they took to win the WS, so in retrospect, isn’t it worth it even though he didn’t do much to help them win it?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Heyward was also a younger, potential star FA …. so I think we all understand the attraction. Perhaps there was too much buy in on defensive metics and not enough concern about that swing

12:59
Travis Sawchik: See, we still need scouts!

12:59
Edgar: Clutch hitting is a frame of mind.

1:00
Travis Sawchik: I know the numbers tell me not to think this way but I feel there has to be something to performing in high-stress environments, even if a relatively small performance change

1:00
capconstrained: It seem w/ all the Cleveland love, folks have forgotten how well the Yanks are built for the playoffs.

1:01
Travis Sawchik: If I’m Cleveland — assuming they capture the No. 1 seed – I don’t want to face NYY in the ALDS

1:01
StreakingIsFun: Re: Kluber vs. Sale. How much do you take into account Kluber’s April vs. June-Present split? Kluber was awful in April before going on the DL to let his back heal up. It’s amazing he’s even close in WAR given that he a)missed a month and b)pitched terribly prior to missing that month

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Kluber has had the best, best period … I’m not sure how much that should factor in.  I do think there is recency bias in voting

1:02
Kevin: What world do you play in HBD? Gleeman’s? I’m in a couple worlds, but find it’s much easier to focus on one team with work, life, and kids.

1:02
Travis Sawchik: I play in the BBWAA world. Yeah, I prefer to have one team for sanity purposes and to kind of live and die with it. No mulligans

1:02
David Brooks: Over/Under the 10.4% chance given for the Yankees to take the division?

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Over

1:03
Kyle: Hey Travis! I’m a big fan. I was wondering you is your surprise team that will maybe slip into the playoffs?

1:04
Travis Sawchik: Thanks for reading!

1:05
Travis Sawchik: It looks like most of the races are pretty well set … of the teams not in playoff position it looks like Angels have best shot

1:05
Big Joe Mufferaw: Kluber has a 0.85 Whip, that’s absurd

1:05
Travis Sawchik: Kluber’s second half has just been insane

1:05
Turkle: I grew up in Bay Village!  Huntington Beach is a treasure.  Go Indians!  That’s all.  Cheers

1:05
Travis Sawchik: I walked over there this morning. It really is lovely. Thanks for the note!

1:05
Nelson: Kenny Lofton was traded for David Justice, who was traded for Jake Westbrook, who was traded for … Cory Kluber. Amazing

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Six degrees of Kenny Lofton

1:06
Travis Sawchik: I wonder what the longest successful chain of trades is for a team? Someone get on that!

1:07
AJ Hinch: Who do I throw in game 1? Verlander or Keuchel?

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Looks like good Verlander is back

1:08
Matt: Yanks have MIN, TOR, KC/TB, TOR left, and Sox have BAL, TOR, CIN, HOU. Assuming we knock out a common TOR series (under the assumption they result similarly), i’ts certainly reasonable to think that the Yanks can make up at least 1 or 2 of the 3 they’re back, right? Obviously, not the most likely scenario, but this leaves the door open for baseball randomness to take over, no?

1:08
Travis Sawchik: Guess who holds the No. 2 run differential mark in MLB? Hint: it’s not the Dodgers

1:09
Travis Sawchik: Yankees at +174

1:09
Travis Sawchik: I think the Yankees can get there

1:09
Travis Sawchik: Unlikely, perhaps, but plausible. Better than there 10.4 percent odds suggest

1:09
Corey: Do you still believe Bird can fly?

1:10
Travis Sawchik: Showed some signs of life this last week …

1:10
Travis Sawchik: I am a fan

1:10
Nelson: There was a FG article a few years back about the longest running trades, seom going back 50 years, but I cant find it anymore

1:10
Travis Sawchik: Anyone?

1:10
Tom: I’ve seen a few FG writers says they prefer the Yankees to the Red Sox as post-season contenders.  Where do you stand?  And if you agree, is the Red Sox pitching or offense that is more concerning?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: I think the Yankees are the better club and better built for postseason … but both are very good

1:11
Britt: Better matchup for the Tribe in ALDS Red Sox or Yankees? Both teams give them fits IMO.

1:11
Travis Sawchik: I’d rather play Red Sox

1:11
Travis Sawchik: But unless you get to play the Twins in the ALDS as the Indians, it’s not like there is an easy out

1:12
PF: If there was a FA on the market, and your the GM, and a genie comes and tells you that he will only except a really long expensive contract, BUT will be super productive next season and basically win the World Series for your team, do you do it? In other words, would you accept a Pujols x2 bad contract in “exchange” for a guaranteed World Series championship?

1:12
Travis Sawchik: For a guaranteed, title? yes. But it would be anti-climatic to watch that play out

1:12
Trent: The Reds have a great third basemen under team control in Eugenio Suarez, but they also have probably the best third base prospect in baseball in Nick Senzel.  How does that situation resolve itself?  Does one of them get traded?  (E.g., trade Suarez if the Reds think the rebuild will continue for a while, or retain Suarez for his prime years and trade Senzel for more immediate help if they think they are close to contention?)

1:13
Travis Sawchik: trade or someone moves to an outfield corner

1:13
Slapshot: Back to the Kluber/Sale talk, and the specialization/rest argument, would you give any weight to Kluber having 5 complete games this year over Sale only having 1?

1:13
Travis Sawchik: What’s amazing to me is how consistently efficient Kluber has been… I mean he’s not far off Sale’s innings mark and he missed a month

1:15
Colt Holt: in re: 2015 CY, Greinke/Kershaw was evidence of why FIP should be secondary…you can’t say Greinke and Kershaw, who pitched in basically the same parks in front of the same defense, that Greinke was very lucky and Kershaw was very unlucky…1 run gap in ERA, 1 run the other way in FIP…that was Greinke all day

1:15
Travis Sawchik: We all need to all get together — we’d need a big resort and conference center — and come up with some common ground voting criteria .

1:15
Travis Sawchik: That was a tough decision in 2015 … the Kluber-Sale vote is tough, too

1:16
Yoo: Do the Dodgers consider starting AGon at 1B during the playoffs and send Bellinger to LF? Left field has been atrocious for them recently…

1:16
Travis Sawchik: What’s interesting about the Dodgers is they do have quite a bit of position battles to consider … including C and my boy Grandal (Barnes has been great)

1:16
stever20: How about this….  The Kluber chain goes back to 1977…. Jerry Dybzinski ? Pat Tabler ? Bud Black ? Alex Sanchez ? Willie Blair ? Kenny Lofton ? David Justice ? Jake Westbrook ? Corey Kluber

1:16
Travis Sawchik: If this is true, this is wonderful

1:17
Dylan: Am I the only one who thinks the Reds are in an ok spot? 2 promising starters in Castillo/Stephenson, a good young 3rd baseman, another top 3B prospect, some OF power, and the best hitter in baseball

1:17
Travis Sawchik: Much better outlook than a year ago … still an uphill climb

1:18
Travis Sawchik: Thanks for the questions everyone. I have to go unpack some boxes and tend to a 2 1/2 year old …until next time

1:18
Travis Sawchik: Be good and do good





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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Heres the longest trade chain article: https://grantland.com/features/mlb-transaction-trees