Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Howdy, folks

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Let’s get started …

12:05
E_LBJ: Am I crazy to think that the DBacks have a good shot at winning the NL pennant?

12:06
Travis Sawchik: You’re not! One of the game’s better pitching staffs and JD Martinez and Paul Goldschmidt can carry teams

12:06
Ned Yost: 2017 Astros are all time leaders in RE24 since World War 2. Just thought that was cool.

12:07
Travis Sawchik: Oh? That is pretty cool. Some great teams in this post season. Indians just posted best pitching staff WAR of all time

12:08
John: Which wild card team has the best chance of winning the World Series?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Yankees, I think. Love that bullpen and Severino … and they are second in baseball in run differential

12:08
Nelson: I havent watched a ton of regular season games this year, but I assume players getting tagged out after stealing second and getting off the base for a split second is happening about once per game as per last years playoffs?

12:09
Travis Sawchik: Probably the great unintended consequence of replay …. but it is what it is

12:09
Stevil: Hi Travis. Do you believe McCutchen should be moved in the offseason, or is the Pirates’ outfield situation too dire for them to let him go immediately?

12:10
Travis Sawchik: With a 122 wRC+, McCutchen was by far the club’s best offensive positional regular …and at $14.5m he should provide surplus value in 2018

12:10
Travis Sawchik: I think they have to hang on to him

12:12
Kyle: Your colleague TJ Zuppe at the Athletic speculated this morning re: the Indians rotation and game 1 starter. Do you think they go the conventional route and throw Kluber, or do they go with Bauer game 1 knowing that Kluber/Carrasco in games 2/3 would presumably require less bullpen innings and Kluber could go game 5 on regular rest?

12:13
Travis Sawchik: I wouldn’t overthink this: throw your ace in Game 1

12:13
Travis Sawchik: A best-of-five is a really short series, want to give yourself the best chance to be up 1-0 in a series

12:13
Prince S. Leia Fielder: Understanding that there is no definitive data one can use as a criteria, please rank the managers of each playoff team from best to worst

12:13
Travis Sawchik: ESPN Insider asked me to do this last month … and it’s a really difficult task

12:13
Travis Sawchik: Impossible really

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Francona has a great postseason track record, I love what Bud Black has done in Colorado with that young staff, Joe Maddon is really, really good. Hinch and Roberts, too

12:15
Super Utility: How many players are in MLB right now who could be effective starters but are in danger of being pigeon-holed as bench players? As a Cubs fan, Tommy La Stella comes to mind (may he be a pinch-hit hero this October). He’s got a great contact bat and solid zone control but no pop, no speed, and below average defense at 2B. It’s not clear that he either would or wouldn’t be an average-ish starter given the opportunity. How hard is it for guys in that sort of situation to get a shot? Would a team with a real need, say the Blue Jays, give an opportunity to a guy like La Stella? Would that only happen if he hit the waiver wires or got non-tendered?

12:15
Travis Sawchik: If you’re not clearly an above-average player a lot of playing time depends on environment

12:17
Scherzer? I hardly know her : Best position player in baseball not named Mike Trout or Bryce Harper?

12:19
Travis Sawchik: At this very moment? (I’m not considering this from a trade value perspective). Probably Stanton or Votto for me … but there are so many great players: Altuve, Judge, Ramirez, Lindor, Rendon, Blackmon, Bryant etc…  There’s really three upper level tiers: Trout/Harper/The rest of the superstars

12:19
Big Joe Mufferaw: When is MLB going to get rid of this JOKE that is the 1 game playoff? Why not do a best of 3 with a double header? That way they save on time and still get there hook.

12:20
Travis Sawchik: Hey, I’m trying my best. https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/lets-improve-the-wild-card-round/

12:20
Travis Sawchik: I do know that that post intrigued at least on MLB GM

12:20
Mark: Stanton speaking with alot of uncertainty, very nervous Marlins fan right here. ( I know for baseball it makes sense)

12:21
Travis Sawchik: I’d be pretty nervous as a Marlins fan regarding this new leadership group

12:21
Dres: Which of the juggernauts (CLE, LAD, HOU, WAS) is most vulnerable in the DS? Corollary: Would it be a good thing if they all advanced—or would a “cinderella” team (Twins or D-Backs/Rockies) make for more drama?

12:23
Travis Sawchik: I think a Cinderella is always good up to a point, like through Sweet 16 in March, through Division Series play in baseball….but we want to see best-on-best at some point…. Since Scherzer left his last start due to injury, and we don’t where Harper’s timing is, I’d say the Nats are most vulnerable

12:23
Ruby: IIIII don’t wanna work, I just wanna chat on Fangraphs all day

12:23
Travis Sawchik: Ruby, we depend on good folks like yourself

12:24
Pip: The Nationals the last four games or so chose to bat Harper 2nd, (Turner-Harper-Murphy-Rendon-Zimmerman) much to the delight of “sabermetric types” who argue that your best hitter should be 2nd to maximize at bats. While I agree in principal, I think with a healthy Adam Eaton, the best lineup becomes Eaton-Turner-Harper-Murphy-Rendon-Zimmerman. That lineup is designed to score runs. Would you put Eaton leadoff or would you send him back to the 6th-7th spot?

12:24
Travis Sawchik: It’s not just about ABs, it’s also about opportunities with men on base. No position bats more often with two outs and no runners on than the No. 3 spot in a lineup

12:24
Ben: Just how bad of a decision did Girardi make last Thursday by allowing the game to slip away without using his best relievers?

12:25
Travis Sawchik: Girardi has a chance to be really creative as a manager this October … and I’m concerned he’s going to play it pretty conventionally

12:25
Ruby: Lot of chatter last winter (here at least) about expansion to 32 teams, with eight 4-team divisions. Would an NFL-style playoff structure (4 division winners, 2 WCs, top 2 seeds get byes) be more fair than the current WC?

12:26
Travis Sawchik: I think we’re headed to something like that and I think it will be more fair to the teams with the best records

12:27
Nelson: Aside from MJ and Tebow, do you know of any other athletes in the past 20 years to have played 2 professional sports (of the big 4 team sports)

12:27
Travis Sawchik: Sanders actually played at the ML level … and wasn

12:27
Travis Sawchik: t  a poor player

12:28
Travis Sawchik: this is back in 1992….but a 136 wRC+ and the NFL’s best corner

12:28
Alby: Is it just me, or are enormous bullpens and short benches making the game less interesting from a strategy standpoint?

12:28
Travis Sawchik: Shouldn’t it make it more?

12:29
Snap into a Slim Jim: Idea of who will be starting games for Chicago against Washington? While I can’t understand why you’d allow Lackey to start a single game against Washington, does it seem like Arrieta is the odd man out here? Maddon certainly has some tough decisions here.

12:29
Travis Sawchik: I have to think Arrieta is in that rotation

12:30
Matt: Hey Travis – any idea if MLB tests for…extracurricular activities prior to employment? Asking for a friend…

12:30
Travis Sawchik: I would think they would. Sorry, dude

12:34
EricAngyale: J.D. Martinez a DBack in 2018?

12:35
Travis Sawchik: There should be more of a market than there was at the trade deadline

12:35
Britt: Is it possible that both Chisenhall and Brantley are on the ALDS roster?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: If the Indians carry 14 position players, I could see it. Brantley has a luxury pinch-hitter

12:36
Moonlight Graham: Who was the GM intrigued by your Wild Card idea?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: I cannot say!

12:37
stever20: So what do you think of these award winners.  AL Cy Young- Kluber.  AL MVP- Judge.  NL MVP- Stanton.  NL Cy Young- Sherzer

12:37
Travis Sawchik: I think that’s probably how it is going to work out. In a close race, HRs stand out

12:37
CamdenWarehouse: Man, i would hate a 12 out of 32 teams in the playoffs approach.  I already don’t like that 1/3 of teams make it.

12:37
Travis Sawchik: I’ve never known a playoff system that has contracted

12:38
Matt: Let me preface this by saying I’m not sure Joe is going to come close to my ideal WC game roster. I think Hicks should be starting in CF over Ellsbury (and Bird at DH). Hicks is the better defender, better arm, and switch hitter. Ellsbury would be very valueable off the bench as a PR that you can be confident leaving in the lineup. Thoughts?

12:38
Travis Sawchik: Hicks would be in my lineup over Ellsbury, for sure

12:38
Nicole: Are the Mets the most dysfunctional team in baseball?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: I’m not privy to the activities of all 30 teams … but this was a rough year

12:39
Ruby: ‘Member when Lidge came into playoff games in the 7th back in ’04-’05? Phil Garner, man ahead of his time…

12:39
Travis Sawchik: Garner!

12:39
toki: Cubs going hard for Darvish in the offseason?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: I could see it, yeah. They need a top-of-rotation arm

12:40
Travis Sawchik: And the Cubs have the resources to get it done. Plus, some other clubs might be saving bullets for 2018-19 class

12:40
DTH: I’ve seen a lot of people downplaying Bryant’s lack of RBI for an MVP argument, and while they may not be predictive of future value, isn’t it fair to use them as an indicator of past value contributed? in this example, Rendon and Bryant have nearly identical batting lines overall, but Rendon has a 180 wRC+ with RISP and Bryant is around 110, leading to the 27 extra RBI

12:41
Travis Sawchik: I might be run out of town for saying this, but there are circumstances when RBIs could matter in award voting … because this is rewarding history, not a predictive exercise. Of course, we need to take into account for context and teammates and environment, etc

12:42
stever20: Is Sale losing the AL Cy Young in the final 2 months the biggest award surprise that you can remember?  He was seemingly a lock in late July.

12:42
Travis Sawchik: It’s up there. Have to think Kluber is going to win it

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Sale had a poor closing argument

12:43
Jackson C: So how is it that the Red Sox can be 13th in the AL in wRC+ but 6th in run scoring? Surely they’re not that good at baserunning? Is it just good sequencing luck?

12:44
Travis Sawchik: Gotta consider the ballpark

12:44
Nick S: Brian Jordan

12:44
Travis Sawchik: another one

12:44
Brian: Tell me why the Cubs are not the NL favorites.  Just try

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Starting pitching question marks, for starters….Fourth in NL in run differential

12:46
CamdenWarehouse: Wouldn’t RBIs just be an imperfect method of measuring said context, teammates, and environment when there are better measures available?

12:47
Travis Sawchik: True. Maybe I’ve run myself in a circle.

12:47
Dave T: If he Ohtani comes over this off season, can he request/get a no-trade clause?  Would a team risk the ire of the MLBPA by signing Ohtani, playing him for a year, then trading him for a boatload of prospects?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: I can’t seeing a team that signs Ohtani trading him

12:48
Lee: Is it just me or is John Farrell a bit under rated?   The Red Sox just won the AL East with a team that finished 29th in the league in Home Runs and didn’t have a regular hitter with an OPS over .800.  Yes they have a good pitching staff but not the best.  So how were they able to win 93 games this year?  The manager should probably get some credit, no?

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Red Sox were overwhelming division favorite and have a ton of talent … hard to say how much value Farrell added or subtracted. I find these managerial ranking questions pretty difficult

12:49
Guest: Ugh, there was a guy named Bo Jackson too.  Although, he may have been done by 1997 (I can’t believe that was 20 years ago).

12:49
Travis Sawchik: I didn’t think Bo fell within the last twenty years

12:49
D.B. Sweeney as Shoeless Joe: Tanaka opting out?

12:49
Travis Sawchik: I would think so

12:50
Brett: Should the Brewers try to move Josh Hader into a starting role after Nelson’s injury, or does his work in the second half make him more valuable as a bullpen ace?

12:50
Travis Sawchik: I’d like to see Hader in the rotation

12:51
ATCQ: Screw that, how about 4 div winners and that’s it?  Shouldn’t be 2 WCs in NFL, shouldn’t be in baseball.  Playoffs should be HARD to reach.

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Gotta have wild card with 3-plus divisions

12:51
Dookie Howser, MD: If the league were to expand to 32 teams, what cities would be chosen (please don’t say Montreal again)?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: Montreal and somewhere else

12:52
Travis Sawchik: Montreal has a history of drawing 2 million plus to an awful venue for baseball and it’s not a transient place …. Quebec would support the team, I suspect

12:53
CamdenWarehouse: From my daily box score browsing, it seems like this year we saw a change in how playoff teams rested their regulars.  Instead of bench players starting a lot near the end, it was the regulars starting and being pulled a lot sooner in games than is normal.  Is there something to this or am I imagining it?

12:53
Travis Sawchik: I cannot say for certain but it did seem like teams were playing regulars up until the final day. Francona told reporters that baseball is a ‘rhythm’ game …. and Indians have three off days until they play next

12:54
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: How about Blake Snell yesterday?

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Pretty great … but he probably should have picked a better time for it

12:54
Batflips for BB: Do you think Fangraphs need to revamp its WAR model to include Statcast data?

12:54
Travis Sawchik: A lot of statcast data isn’t public

12:55
stever20: Is David Price going to be this year’s Andrew Miller?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: He’s looked really good in the relief role. I’m intrigued

12:56
Dookie Howser, MD: Thoughts on Pablo Sandoval’s walk-off homer losing the Giants the #1 pick?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: That was a must-lose game

12:57
Mel: Do you think Domingo Santana continues to improve, or has he reached his peak? Is 35 homers in 2018 feasible?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: He’s, what, 25? If he can cut K rate there’s more here

12:58
toki: Does Honeywell start next season in the rotation for Tampa Bay?  what kind of line do you see from him?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Love Honeywell. But I don’t think he’ll start the season in the rotation. Can’t wait to see the screwball

12:58
ATCQ: Given that the Yankees are set to emerge as a force again and the Red Sox are their typically strong selves, wouldn’t it make extra good sense to take a year, sell, and rebuild for Baltimore and Toronto?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Those two teams are probably a year too late in making that decision

12:59
stever20: who in your opinion are the biggest x factors going into the playoffs?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: David Price, JD Martinez, Yankees bullpen, Bryce Harper

1:00
Jay Gibbons’ Biceps: Give me, an O’s fan, one beacon of light to hold onto until March

1:00
Travis Sawchik: Ugh. I’m sorry, dude

1:00
Travis Sawchik: OK. Two words: Austin Hays

1:01
Matt: Who you got advancing past each WC?

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Yankees and Rockies

1:02
Travis Sawchik: And I really like the Dbacks

1:02
Travis Sawchik: I like they way Gray has been pitching, who doesnt’?

1:02
Leefoo: Tyler Glasnow is out of options after 2018. Do you think that this is a make or break year for him, or is he probably going to be another AAAA pitcher? Supposedly pitching out of the stretch helped his consistency (at least at AAA) but he seemed even worse this time around when he was recalled.

1:03
Travis Sawchik: Next year is pretty crucial for Glasnow. I do think he made some progress at 3A, but he’s gotta figure it out at ML level eventually. Clock is ticking

1:03
Big Joey: When do you predict Vlad jr. makes his MLB debut?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: June 2019

1:04
Bryan: Given that DC is a cursed sports town.  How will the Nationals lose this one?  Max doesn’t pitch?  Harper goes 0-16?  Stras gets dehydrated?  Bad Gio shows up?

I’m ready for the bad news….

1:04
Travis Sawchik: I got the Nats in the NLCS

1:04
Travis Sawchik: Harper looked pretty good yesterday. Timing looked better. And he stole a base! I’m assuming Scherzer’s hammy was more precautionary than anything

1:05
Big Joe Mufferaw: Should Mariano Rivera come out of retirement and Close for the yankees? I bet you he could still saw bats with an 88 mph cutter with pin point command

1:05
Travis Sawchik: What would Rivera’s top velo be right now? I’m gonna say like 84

1:05
Batflips for BB: After how many PA in the majors do you think teams should give up on a prospect? I’m guessing it would depend on his perceived ceiling?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: 1500?

1:06
Ruby: Feels so weird to go from 35+ rosters back down to 25 for the playoffs. It’s a whole different ballgame! Should MLB limit September roster expansion to, say, 30?

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, something needs to be done to reduce Sept rosters. I’d like to see rosters expanded to 26 year round with a Sept limit of 30 or so

1:06
CamdenWarehouse: Loria officially no longer an MLB owner!

1:06
Travis Sawchik: There is that …

1:06
Chaps: First 2 Astros / Red Sox ALDS games are in the early afternoon; why not make at least ONE of them prime time? Seems a bit harsh to me…

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Boston not in prime time? Interesting

1:06
Harvey: What is going to happen to me this offseason?  Will I be on the Mets opening day 2018?

1:06
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think Mets will sell low or non-tender

1:07
Babe Lincoln: PREDICTION TIME: Where does Arrieta land?

1:07
Travis Sawchik: That’s a great question. I think it will not be in Chicago

1:07
Lou: Dodgers looking to go with Hill over Darvish in Game 2, good move?

1:07
Travis Sawchik: There’s not a bad option there. Hill has been pitching really well

1:07
CamdenWarehouse: The resources available for the Orioles to sell are so much less than a year ago.  It’s going to be bad.

1:08
Travis Sawchik: Better to be a year too early than a year too late when selling

1:09
Andrew: Instant react to Coppelella resignation?

BREAKING: #Braves GM John Coppolella expected to resign today, sources tell The Athletic.
2 Oct 2017
1:09
Travis Sawchik: Looks like it’s tied to this …

1:10
Travis Sawchik:

Resignation of Coppolella believed to stem in part from issues with #Braves’ talent acquisition in Latin America.
2 Oct 2017
1:10
Alex: Just announced that Coppy is resigning and that he was being investigated by the MLB, whats your impulse reaction?

1:10
Travis Sawchik: I don’t have one … Need to learn more about what happened

1:10
ATCQ: If there are 4 divisions, why a WC?  4 divs of 4, 1 seed faces 4 seed, 2 v 3, winners play for pennant.

1:11
Travis Sawchik: What about the 102-win team that finishes in second place?

1:11
Geoff: Thoughts on Yankees build? Feel like they should get past Twins, but that Cleveland buzzsaw. How well do they match up?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: That’s going to be a great series. Think the Indians have an edge, but could be a seven-game ALCS

1:11
Sebastian Z.: Say Severino has to leave early in the game due to injury or performance but Yanks have 1 run lead. In what order do you use each Yankees reliever? And for how long?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: I’d bullpen the Wild Card game if I were the Yankees

1:12
Dookie Howser, MD: Love your Cincinnati piece. Nats stadium is also walk able from my home in Virginia!

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Thanks! … Oh cool. Sounds like you have a great spot

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Any other stadiums within walking distance of two states?

1:12
Karamat: Judge or Altuve for MVP?

1:13
Travis Sawchik: Altuve for me but I think Judge will win

1:13
JD: Cubs end up with 92 wins. All things considered is this still a disappointing season, or just one in which they slightly underperformed?

1:13
Travis Sawchik: Slightly underperformed

1:14
Brett: Does Otani belong in the NL where he bats on his scheduled starts or does he really belong in the AL where he can DH on non-pitching days?

1:14
Travis Sawchik: More two-way impact in AL

1:14
Travis Sawchik: Alright folks, I have to run and create more written content for you

1:15
Travis Sawchik: Be good, do good, and help Las Vegas victims if you can





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.

4 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
BrockWasOverrated
5 years ago

“There’s really three upper level tiers: Trout/Harper/The rest of the superstars”

Trout is from another planet. Whether Bryce Harper has the potential to be in the next level all by himself is an interesting talking point, but potential aside, he’s clearly not there yet. For example, Harper has one season with at least 5 WAR. In all three of his seasons, Kris Bryant has had at least 6.5 WAR.

Actually staying on the field is part of the equation for superstar status.