Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:04
Travis Sawchik: Happy World Series week …

12:04
Travis Sawchik: Let’s get started, folks

12:04
Batflips for BBs: In regards to league expansion, what are your thoughts on Mexico City? Seems like it would open up an entirely new market.

12:05
Travis Sawchik: I really like the idea of Mexico City as an expansion candidate

12:06
Travis Sawchik: I think MLB would do well to place a team there. It would be a national team for Mexico and the average income in Mexico City is not far off from major US cities

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Now the logistics and other matters might delay Mexico City … but I do think there will eventually be a team there. But will it be this round or 2045? I don’t know

12:07
Dub: What % does Corey Seager need to be healthy for you to start him over Culberson/Hernandez? 75% 90%?

12:07
Travis Sawchik: 55%

12:07
v2micca: In the eyes of the BBWAA, whose hall of fame credentials gets the bigger bump from a dominant performance and a World Series ring, Verlander or Kershaw?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Kershaw. Postseason performance has been the one knock against him

12:08
v2micca: In game seven, it seemed like McCullers was throwing mainly breaking balls to the Yankees with great success.  Is this something HOU should look to replicate against LA, or was it a one off deal taking advantage of a specific weekness in the NY lineup?

12:09
Travis Sawchik: I’m not sure throwing 75% breaking balls is viable, and you have to have a great curve and command of it like McCullers to do what he did against the Yankees  …but I do think McCullers and Morton should continue to lean on their big-breaking curves

12:10
Jeff: I bristle at the notion that increased intra-divisional play is a good thing. Look at the NHL – they have done themselves a great disservice wither their most recent divisional realignment and subsequent change to the playoff format. Disappointing and boring to watch, say, the Penguins and Capitals play twice as many time sin the regular season as they used to and then be forced to play each other before the conference finals. Better to see a larger variety of interesting players than the same ones more frequently while an artificial “rivalry” is being thrust upon us.

12:13
Travis Sawchik: The problem with the current unbalanced schedule is there isn’t much intraleague schedule diversity. Teams play their division opponents 19 times, and play just a home-and-away series versus the rest of the league. What benefit is there in having the Orioles play the Rockies? Yankees play the Marlins? Etc. I’d rather see more intraleague play particularly when wild cards are involved. With all games televised, fans can see every team and player in every market as often as they want to so I think intraleague is pretty unnecessary, particularly if combined with some geography-based realingment

12:13
Moltar: Mickey Callaway seems to be a good hire, and I applaud the Mets for going off script for once. Am i wrong to think they seem to view him as a rebuilding hire? Difficult to see a contender in Queens in the near future.

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Well,  he was  a pitching  coach (and a good one) and if the Mets are going to turn it around in 2018 it’s going to be led by their starting pitching …  So i don’t think it’s a ‘rebuild’ hire. I think it is an inspired one

12:14
Jay: 2 part question – Is Mickey Callaway a bigger loss to the Cleveland than a gain for the Mets, or vice versa? Also what are the chances John Farrell does NOT become Cleveland’s pitching coach?

12:15
Travis Sawchik: A lot of people are connecting the Farrell-to-Cleveland dots … I could see it. Farrell was  in Cleveland before, and the relationships are there.  Callaway is a loss, but Kluber/Carrasco/Bauer/Miller are essentially finished products, so maybe it’s a greater gain for the Mets than a loss for the Indians

12:16
Matty P: If you had to take an educated guess, what year does the MLB expand to 32?

12:16
Travis Sawchik: 2021

12:17
Travis Sawchik: I can’t wait for the expansion draft (seriously)

12:17
Dex: Should met fans be happy about callaway?

12:18
Travis Sawchik: I think so. The Indians raved about him … particularly his ability to put a gameplan together, integrating player insight/strengths, analytics … I prefer going younger versus a retread veteran manager

12:18
Sharp: Are there any good ways to quantitatively measure managers?

12:20
Travis Sawchik: There are ways, particularly regarding pitcher usage, platoon advantage, etc. … But it is a hard position to completely quantify, particularly the communication and relationship side of things

12:20
ThatsNotMyMonster: Does the LA heat give either team a slight edge?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think so … But it’s going to be unusual weather

12:21
Travis Sawchik:

Since 1975, no World Series game has been played at a temperature north of 81. Tuesday’s predicted high temp: 102. f1.weather.gov/MapClick.php?l…
20 Oct 2017
12:21
Mike: Yesterday, the Playoff Odds page showed the Astros with a 56% chance of winning the WS.  Today, it’s down to 52.6%.  Any idea what changed?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Sorry. I don’t

12:21
Oddball Herrera: Given the current state of football, to what degree do you think a compelling 6 or 7 game series is a real (and rare) opportunity to make up some ground on the NFL in the popular consciousness this year?

12:24
Travis Sawchik: It certainly wouldn’t hurt … but I think the impact from one series can be overstated. I think the NFL, and football in general, has existential problems so it’s a good time for baseball to thinking about how to make its game as attractive as possible (See: pace).  I have been thinking about a post related to this: youth football participation is down, baseball is up slight (soccer is way up for girls and boys)

12:24
Silly Beane: Not having Verlander v. Kershaw is a travesty.  We should all boycott the World Series in Protest

12:24
Travis Sawchik: That would have been a great way to open the series, for sure

12:25
Travis Sawchik: Keuchel-Kershaw isn’t too shabby, though

12:25
Dub: Do Dodgers find at-bats for Utley since he is a World Series superstar?

12:26
Travis Sawchik: He’ll find some at-bats because Houston will probably only carry two lefties on their roster (I think)

12:26
Travis Sawchik: Keuchel and Liriano, I suspect

12:27
Matt : Theo acknowledged in his end-of-season presser that he’ll likely have to trade a young bat this offseason. I suspect I Know who you think they *should* trade (Schwarber) but who do you think they *will* move? How would you stack rank trade values of Schwarber, Baez, Russell, and Happ?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: If they move Schwarber they would be selling a bit low, but he’s the obvious guy without a position

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Happ has the most control but he lacks SS ability and Schwarber’s offensive potential

12:31
Travis Sawchik: I think Russell and Baez each have another level in them

12:31
Travis Sawchik: I’d probably move Happ, personally

12:31
Mijo: If travel is a concern why not do away with AL/NL and go East/West? It makes way more sense for the west coast teams. Houston to Seattle is a bit much

12:32
Travis Sawchik: I think radical geographic realignment makes a lot of sense

12:32
Travis Sawchik: Better travel conditions for players … and a chance for some more regional rivalries to be created

12:32
Mookie Cookie: Is charlotte an realistic expansion location? How likely they get a team when expansion rolls around?

12:33
Travis Sawchik: I think it’s in the top 10 … It’s a massive banking center and the Carolinas love their amateur and minor league baseball …. Also, the Carolinas are one of the fastest growing regions in the country

12:34
Travis Sawchik: And it would give the Braves a potential I-85 rival

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Though it would further erode the Braves’ Belt across the southeast

12:35
He Hate Me: How to fix baseball (particularly the slow pace and 3 true outcomes):  1. limit catcher visits to the mound = more sign stealing = more solid contact, more balls in play, quicker pace; 2. lower the mound slightly = 100-mph pitches slightly less dominant; 3. deaden the ball slightly (it has been well-documented that quality control of baseball manufacture has resulted in better, more uniform balls – this can make juicing or deadening the balls much more precise) = keep HRs to a historically normal amount. What say you Travis?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Baseball might have to do intervene eventually about the lack of balls in play … Pace is a real problem. Keeping batters in the box. and pitcher’s pitching within 20 seconds of last pitch, are two pretty easy fixes

12:36
Michelle: As the proud parent of a toddler, do you think soccer is up because it’s more likely to tire out kids than baseball is? I know it’s something I’d think about!

12:37
Travis Sawchik: Haha. Yes, that might be a significant consideration. I am guilty of suggesting soccer to tire my toddler out … Also, there’s not much equipment cost involved and it’s pretty straightforward: kick the ball into the net

12:37
Matt : Who would you prefer in FA: Darvish or Arrieta? Chatwood have a chance of being a nice FA sleeper?

12:38
Travis Sawchik: Darvish. The Dodgers have gotten a bit more out of him with some adjustments, and there is no question about the stuff … I think all Rockies are sleepers once they leave Denver

12:39
A.: Javy Baez’ next level is the single season strikeout record

12:39
Travis Sawchik: Well, that’s somewhere on the list of probable outcomes

12:40
Moltar: Why not just do away with divisions altogether?

12:40
Travis Sawchik: Gotta have some made-for-TV division races …. and I think you don’t want too many fanbases feeling like the season is irrelevant in June

12:40
Derek: Which cities are your picks for expansion ?

12:40
Travis Sawchik: Montreal as a solid first choice

12:41
Travis Sawchik: And I’d also like to see Mexico City

12:41
Travis Sawchik: Assuming Mexico City doesn’t happen this round, Portland or Charlotte would be my domestic preferences

12:41
East vs West: Are you worried about an NBA-style split where the NBA’s West is so much stronger than the East?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: I don’t really see that happening, it’s tough to create super teams like the super teams that exist in the NBA just due to the nature of the sport … Baseball is more democratic on the field where one player cannot dominant action

12:43
Dub: whats your prediction for the series? who wins in how many games?

12:43
Travis Sawchik: I like the Dodgers in 6

12:43
Travis Sawchik: Dodgers have a significant bullpen edge

12:44
Dub: who will Dodgers use as DH in Houston? Houston will leave Gattis and Beltran on bench in LA?

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Dodgers have quite a few LHH bench bat options like Utley and Ethier to combat some of Houston RHP … I don’t think the DH thing is a huge issue this series

12:45
Travis Sawchik: It gives Houston a slight edge in Games 3-5

12:46
Miami Fred : Yelich, Stanton, and Ozuna. Who would you rather trade for and why?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Yelich due to the contract

12:47
Travis Sawchik: And he’s also a heckuva player….who could benefit from some more launch

12:47
Dooduh: Mex City?!  It’s higher than Denver for goodness sakes!

12:47
Travis Sawchik: Mexico City is at 7,000 feet … but that’s not really a concern I would have

12:48
Travis Sawchik: Weird baseball isn’t necessarily bad baseball

12:48
Three Lindors Down: You have just inherited a franchise. Money is no object. You can have any baseball executive run it. Who are you choosing?

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Probably Nick Piecoro who runs the Mexico City franchise in the HBD BBWAA simulation league

12:50
Travis Sawchik: And he’s a fantastic writer, too, so we’d have a great Web site coverage

12:51
Travis Sawchik: As for the current real-life executives, I’m really impressed about how the Dodgers have extracted a lot of value out of players already in-house or they’ve acquired

12:51
He Hate Me: The problem with your 8-team divisions is that it reduces, rather than intensifies intra-division rivalry. With 7 other teams in your division, you have to play them all the same number of times, so that waters down how many series you can have. Four-team, geographically-aligned divisions with 20-22 games vs each rival per season would stoke the rivalries right up. As a fan, you really get to know your close rivals almost as well as your own team when divisions are smaller.

12:52
Travis Sawchik: With a balanced scheduled without interleague play, you’d still have a lot more intraleague diversity

12:53
Jeff: What you say makes more sense in theory than in practice – sure, “rivalries” are good. But as an NHL fan seeing the same matchup over and over and over again devalues each meeting, and that’s when you have a good teams to begin with. Seeing the same game between bottom-feeders over and over is even worse. That’s not growing any interest whatsoever. Additionally, just watching games on TV between teams in a far-off division isn’t the same as being in South Florida and getting to see, say, Aaron Judge up close and personal. Give me more schedule diversity, not less.

12:54
Travis Sawchik: I think the value of having an other-league star come to a city every four years is overstated, and there’s just as many poor interleague draws and interesting ones

12:55
Travis Sawchik: And with the playoff field likely to expand, we ought to want to see those races decided against common opponents in-league with a more balanced schedule

12:55
Travis Sawchik: And as a side benefit, the World Series and All-Star Game become much more interesting if there is no interleague history

12:56
Bob: Bigger accomplishment? Winning a WS in real life or in Hardball Dynasty?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: It depends on the Hardball Dynasty world in which you are competing

12:57
Greg: What’s the biggest thing holding the Yankees back from making the next step? One more starting pitcher, or the lack of contact hitting, or something else

12:58
Travis Sawchik: The Yankees are in great shape. The might need to replace Tanaka, but the next ‘big’ step should be some of their top prospects arriving, and the 2018-19 FA class

12:58
Braves Belt: If they expand to Charlotte, will we see an Orioles-Nationals style endless lawsuit about revenue splits between the Braves and Charlottes?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: I don’t know enough about TV territory rights to answer that … But seems pretty unfair to have an MLB club in another state have rights over your own commonwealth

1:00
Jeff: “more regional rivalries to be created” – I think this is our fundamental disagreement. I don’t believe you can just create a rivalry, and I don’t think teams are automatic rivals just because of proximity. Rivalries are organic, born out of circumstance. Trying to create them just feels inauthentic, the kind of corporate drivel that plays well in a press release but not in a stadium.

1:01
Travis Sawchik: College football is exhibit A on why geography matters in creating rivalries, moreover, with 8-team divisions, there’s automatically an increase in potential division rivalries (I don’t know much about the NHL dynamic that was previously mentioned)

1:02
Jordan: Travis, it looks like Betances will likely be moved this offseason and Castro may also be expendable given the Yankees’ young IF prospects (Andujar, Torres). If you’re the Pirates, would you consider a Cole for Betances and Castro swap? Maybe the Bucs include another lesser piece as well.

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Betances had no idea where his stuff was going at the end of the season, so he would be a secondary consideration. I’d want some controllable assets for Cole

1:02
D.B. Sweeney as Shoeless Joe: What’s for lunch?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: Hmmm. Leftover Mellow Mushroom *house* pizza and perhaps a salad

1:03
Travis Sawchik: The salad’s purpose is solely to erode guilt re: the entree selection

1:04
Nic: Help me Travis? As a Yankees fan, I don’t know whether to be excited for the future, or bummed out that they were 1 game away from the world series and lost.

1:04
Travis Sawchik: It’s possible to be both but I’d be more excited about the future than bummed about 2017

1:04
Colt Holt: In an expansion draft, what teams face the most risk? Recent rebuilders (Braves, White Sox)?  Young core (Chicago Cubs)? This is assuming the draft were this winter, not where they will be in ~3 years

1:05
Travis Sawchik: I’m looking forward to FanGraphs expansion draft content

1:05
D.B. Sweeney as Shoeless Joe: If I’m a player there’s no way in heck I want to travel deep into Mexico for games.

1:05
Travis Sawchik: I haven’t been, but isn’t Mexico City proper a pretty great city?

1:06
Sleepy: If Montreal gets an expansion team, I really hope they don’t simply recycle “Expos,” since the Expos (and their franchise history) are currently in DC.  Kinda like how Cleveland recycled “Browns” even tho the Browns (and their franchise history) are currently in Baltimore.

1:06
Travis Sawchik: I disagree and the ballcap/logo remain a major seller

1:06
TommyLasordid: How big of a factor is the lack of Astro southpaws?

1:06
Travis Sawchik: It’s not insignificant, imo

1:07
Paccus: If you’d be okay with swapping Col/Hou between NL/AL, and adding a team in Charlotte, you’d end up with pretty ideal 4 team divisions.

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Colorado should want to be in the AL, right? Get that DH into Coors?

1:07
Todd Boss: Why do people think Montreal would actually work as an expansion city??  They were dead last in attendance for their last 7 years in Montreal, and routinely drew 13th out of 14th in every year from the early 80s, even when they were winning.  They couldn’t get private financing for a stadium 20 years ago when stadiums were “just” $200M … now they’re 5x that.  Who is going to build a new stadium there?   Then you have currency/tax issues, RSN issues, and cultural issues.

1:08
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think the last seven years in Montreal is a good test of whether baseball would succeed…. They drew 2 million fans multiple times in their history and had an awful stadium situation. It’s also not a transient place, which I suspect would allow it to support the name on the front of the (road) jersey

1:09
Batflips for BBs: This is asking you to look VERY deep into your crystal ball. Could you POSSIBLY see, in some distant future, for the MLB to expand to either Europe or to encompass the NPB? You’d have to be VERY careful with traveling in this scenario, barring the development of faster traveling in this distant future.

1:10
Travis Sawchik: In the very distant future, who knows what anything will look like, so, sure. But I don’t see anything like that happening in the next several decades. I could see more of a true World Series, a sort of Baseball Champions League being a thing

1:10
Sterling Mallory Chris Archer: Correct answer re: owning a team and picking the exec – Jeff Sullivan.

1:11
Travis Sawchik: I’d offer Jeff a high-profile job, for sure. Jeff can be GM, Nick president of baseball operations

1:11
Colt Holt: Isn’t there a pretty compelling case that another LA and/or New York team could benefit MLB most? Help further decrease the market inequality to small teams (versus creating more) and push even further the local rivalries?

1:12
Travis Sawchik: A team in Brooklyn would be cool. … But I don’t see this happening with a number of attractive, vacant cities

1:12
Mr. Woods: Isn’t baseball more republican (small “r”) then democratic (small “d”) because the middle 6-25 players have a much greater impact on teams then the top 5?

1:12
Travis Sawchik: I’ll give you the point

1:12
Bryce Harper: Thoughts on Mickey Callaway? Is he more new school or old school?

1:12
Travis Sawchik: I think he’s a blend

1:13
I am the walrus: I miss the intrigue of when you only saw NL vs. AL players square off when in the playoff and ASG.

1:13
Travis Sawchik: I do, too. There is something to keeping a little bit of mystery

1:13
Michael: Do you think all the recent talk of expansion and “radical realignment” might be a bit overblown? I know it’s interesting to think about and is definitely on the commissioner’s mind, but I haven’t seen any concrete evidence that it might be imminent. Ringolsby’s article didn’t cite any sources regarding the “concensus” on moving to 32 teams, so I don’t know what to think of it.

1:14
Travis Sawchik: I’m not sure about radical realignment, I think that was more speculative. But I think 32 is going to happen relatively soon

1:14
Mike: I suspect the Dodgers will DH Turner or Seager and play someone else in the outfield, especially with Seager recovering from an injury

1:14
Travis Sawchik: The DH spot could help the Dodgers with Turner

1:14
Travis Sawchik: Should be a fun series

1:14
CamdenWarehouse: Is there anything more Carson than naming your team the Disappointments?

1:15
Travis Sawchik: I love it. I’d hire Carson, too.

1:15
Travis Sawchik: Alright, folks, I have to go prepare lunch for a hangry toddler

1:15
Travis Sawchik: Even the first five games of the series …. I’m going to be traveling back from Houston on Monday so next week’s chat might have to change time slots

1:16
Travis Sawchik: Until we chat again, be good and 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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Dave T
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Member
Dave T

“Yesterday, the Playoff Odds page showed the Astros with a 56% chance of winning the WS. Today, it’s down to 52.6%. Any idea what changed?”

Speculation on my part, but that could be the impact of updating Playoff Odds to put Seager back on the Dodgers’ roster.

mikejunt
Member
Member
mikejunt

Also the probable starters weren’t entered until yesterday.

Even so, I think its a stretch to favor the Astros without home field, the teams are too closely matched for that.

Dave T
Member
Member
Dave T

I agree with you. Maybe I’m buying too much into recency bias of bullpen performance, but I see the Dodgers as a relatively narrow favorite.

I’m curious if the Playoff Odds have any factor for recent usage and potential fatigue for pitchers. As an example, do these odds try to provide any adjustment for “Kenley Jansen has had four days off since the NLCS and has only thrown a total of 100 pitches so far in the playoffs” or do they just use full season performance projections independent of recent workload?

mikejunt
Member
Member
mikejunt

It looks like the depth charts are configured with playing time estimates that reflect postseason usage (eg Justin Turner at 3b 100%).

I think Fangraphs either puts too much stock in the league difference (it exists, but I don’t think its that large between the best teams in each league) and/or too little in the home field advantage.

538 has the Dodgers 55/45 and that sounds about right based on 4 home games vs 3.