Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:03
Travis Sawchik: Greetings, folks

12:03
Travis Sawchik: Please let me know one thing you are thankful for before submitting your next question! Tis the season

12:03
Travis Sawchik: Let

12:03
Travis Sawchik: ‘s get started …

12:04
dominik: regarding context neutral: would you like to go fully context neutral and use xWOBA for WAR (and possibly also awards)? I can somehow understand james argument, if you consider other luck based factors on award votings (BABIP and HR/FB …) why not go fully context dependent and use leveraged stats? you would need to normalize for team strength but that shouldn’t be hard to do.

12:05
Travis Sawchik: I think award voting and player skill are two different things

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Award voting is a look at history, so what happened  — and in the context it happened — can and should matter in voting

12:07
Travis Sawchik: But in looking at a player’s future value, his true skill, leverage-performance shouldn’t matter

12:07
Travis Sawchik: So, yeah, I could see WAR improved with xwOBA

12:08
Travis Sawchik: And I could see voters incorporating context into award voting moreso going forward. In fact, I think we might have seen that with Altuve over Judge

12:08
Peter Brand: What’s your take on the Bill James/WAR debate?

12:09
Travis Sawchik: Related to the above answers, but I’m not with Bill on this. While I think context should matter in voting, to a degree, I don’t think you can work backward from team wins to produce value

12:09
LegallyEagle: I’m thankful for Statcast.

12:10
Travis Sawchik: Aren’t we all!

12:10
Travis Sawchik: Now, if only we had more public data from Statcast…we could be really thankful

12:10
Travis Sawchik: But it is an amazing tool

12:11
Birddog: Which team is in a better position to succeed in 2020, the Phillies or the White Sox?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: I’m curious what the Phillies do with their cash available next offseason. I kind of like the Phillies’ position, if they can attract a star to add to their core

12:14
stever20: I’m thankful for this site and the great writers on this site….  And the fun debates…  For the folks that said that voters are looking less at tradtional stuff- can you explain why Kershaw routed Strasburg for 2nd, despite them having the same innings number- and the fact that advanced metrics wise- Strasburg was significantly ahead of Kershaw?  Doesn’t that fly in the face of not looking at traditional stats?

12:14
Travis Sawchik: We’re thankful for the smart and engaged audience!

12:16
Travis Sawchik: There are some sabermetric arguments to be made for Strasburg, but beyond that specific argument, I do think the voting has improved and the electorate is changing and evolving

12:16
LegallyEagle: What’s the baseball equivalent to society’s annoying need to play Christmas music even before Thanksgiving has concluded?

12:17
Travis Sawchik: Hmmm. That’s basically designed to stoke the coals of commercialism and sales, right? I would say it is alternate jerseys

12:17
Robin Rubio: How important is WAR when determing if a team should or shouldn’t acquire a free agent?

12:18
Travis Sawchik: Pretty important base from which to begin the research … more important than high-leverage performance

12:18
Bo: I’m grateful for fangraphs.

12:18
Eric CT: I am thankful for you taking time to chat with us.

12:18
Rubio: Thankful for FanGraphs

12:18
Travis Sawchik: I am grateful for Bo, Eric CT and Rubio

12:18
Jordan: San Francisco’s home park is a downgrade for most any hitter. Is it for Giancarlo Stanton? Or is his power just so prolific that were he to hit there, it would just make his displays that much more impressive?

12:19
Travis Sawchik: It would hurt Stanton, too, but less than most hitters

12:19
Brandon M: I don’t understand what is holding the posting agreement up. MLBPA has consistently agreed to terms that screw over international and amateur players, and now they’re threatening to disrupt one of the most exciting baseball players in the world coming to MLB because of policies they’ve agreed to? Am I missing something here?

12:19
Travis Sawchik: I think just about everyone wants Ohtani here so it will happen eventually this offseason

12:20
Birddog: If your Dan Duquette, what are the realistic options for the SP market for them?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Craig’s analysis has BAL with some money to spend …

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Alex Cobb, CC Sabathia, Tyler Chatwood could be in play

12:21
Eric CT: If Kevin Maitan’s contract is voided, would any team prioritize him over Ohtani??  I am curious how Maitan is valued by the industry..

12:22
Travis Sawchik: No team would value him over Ohtani, but some team might focus on him figuring they have no shot at Ohtani

12:24
PTBNL: Will Hosmer or JD get contracts anywhere near what Boras says they’re worth?

12:25
Travis Sawchik: I think JD gets closer than Hosmer but neither hits the $200 million mark

12:25
Travis Sawchik: I think Dave had JD at 6y/$155 million

12:25
Travis Sawchik: I

12:25
Travis Sawchik: ‘ll be fascinated to see what Hosmer gets

12:25
Raindog: I’ve read a lot about how the Orioles shouldn’t commit resources beyond 2018 because they’re obviously going to need to rebuild after this year.  But how does it harm the rebuild if they’re paying, say, Lance Lynn $15M?  He certainly wouldn’t be blocking anyone, and could potentially be traded.

12:26
Travis Sawchik: Orioles are facing a rebuild, but I could also see them justifying taking one more run at the playoffs this year. I’m not sure Machado returns a ton at this point

12:26
Travis Sawchik: So, yeah, I’d be open to one adding one of those second-tier arms. They could also become trade chips beyond 2018

12:27
CamdenWarehouse: LegallyEagle, it was all of the MVP talk about Judge vs. Altuve…in JUNE!

12:27
Travis Sawchik: At least that debate held through the entire  season and I think voters got it right

12:28
Travis Sawchik: Context-dependent stats should play a role in voting, after all, it is history

12:28
James: They say the Marlins are asking too much for Stanton. Do you see the price coming down, someone overpaying, or the Marlins keeping him?

12:28
Travis Sawchik: I don’t see an overpay, so I think price comes down and he’s eventually moved

12:29
Legeisc: Thankful for a great 2017 season with a great World Series.  Is the offseason outside of Dipoto basically on hold until Ohtani and Stanton situations are settled? when will that likely happend?

12:32
Travis Sawchik: Those situations might be holding up some teams … but since Ohtani is subject to intl bonus pools, I wouldn’t imagine it has the industry on hold … (unless all teams have their extension offers on the table under the table)

12:32
Fair line: Hm. I’ll go non-ironic and say I am thankful for having a brilliant & supportive wife and a young, curious, and immensely gratifying 2 year old who still, weeks into November, asks to watch baseball with me…. My question is about the MLBPA. It seems like the more time that passes from the most recent CBA, the more it seems like they picked the wrong fights and fought them poorly. How long before they are less incentivized to protect aging vets and instead support ownership paying closer to market value for draftees, minor leaguers and pre-arb talent?

12:33
Travis Sawchik: I agree. The MLBPA has picked some of the wrong battles to fight and as a result owners’ share of revenue continues to increase.

12:33
Travis Sawchik: It’s somewhat baffling to me there is a soft cap (a luxury tax) but there is no soft floor requiring owners to spend XX on payroll

12:34
Brad: Where do you think JD Martinez lands?

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Red Sox have the glaring need

12:35
Travis Sawchik: If Martinez could play first, maybe he can?, I’d love to see him in Colorado

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Rockies managed to finish last in 1B and RF WAR last year

12:36
Mike: Is it possible that MLBPA is just dragging their feet on the posting agreement because every team is going to want Ohtani anyway so it is better for their free agents if they sign prior to Ohtani posting?   Some teams may no longer be interested in some of the higher-end free agents if they were to land Ohtani, and those players are better off if the posting happens in January and teams are forced to make decisions about them in advance of knowing if they’ll sign Shohei.

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Hmmm. But is MLBPA gonna make us all wait until late January? I hope not

12:37
LegallyEagle: It’d likely never happen, but I’d rather see the (prioritization of) wages of minor league ball players rise to a livable wage before the institution of a minimum spending floor.

12:38
Travis Sawchik: Milb players deserve better, no doubt … but I don’t think it’s atop the agenda

12:39
Steve O: Would you rather trade a few prospects and take on Stanton’s contract or just sign Bryce Harper for money next offseason. Let’s assume signing Harper is a foregone conclusion.

12:39
Travis Sawchik: Depends on the prospects … but if I’m, say, the Cardinals I doubt I’m landing Bryce Harper so my focus would be on Stanton

12:40
TumbleWeed: Travis, do you think MLB owners and MLBPA would go for a 50/50 split on upping minor league farm-hand minimum salaries 2x/3x? I haven’t run numbers on it, but the minor league pay just feels like such a black eye on an otherwise great system.

12:40
Travis Sawchik: There’s gotta be a solution out there. It’s only going to become more of an issue as it likely gains more attention

12:41
Rupert Giles: From Oakland’s perspective, is there a case for trading Sean Manaea? Especially considering the high cost right now of young controllable starters versus the A’s contention window still being  a year or 2 out.

12:41
Travis Sawchik: There’s perhaps a case, but it feels a little early

12:41
Travis Sawchik: What if they land Ohtani!

12:41
He Hate Me: I’m thankful that for a reasonable sum, I have a FanGraphs membership. That said, do you think that we should pump the breaks on the Ohtani-two-way-player hype or are you on board? Great, he’s doing it in Japan. Guys do it in college too. But the last real 2-way in MLB was Babe Ruth, probably the best player ever, and he only did it for a few years in Boston before shifting to full-time OF in NY. Are we really expecting Ohtani to be the next Ruth? N.B. Longenhagen put a 40/45 hit tool on him with 60 raw. Not exactly Ruthian. Probably not even starting-DHian. Can we speak realistically please?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: The statistical translations like him a lot better as a hitter … I think there probably should be a few more two-way players. While the exception, there shouldn’t be a hard-and-fast rule agianst them especially as 25-man rosters are stretched nowadays

12:44
KW: Who says no? Chris Archer to the Cubs for Ian Happ, Victor Caratini, Adbert Alzolay and a low level pitcher.

12:44
Travis Sawchik: That’s pretty intriguing, KW

12:44
Travis Sawchik: Cubs gotta add an impact arm and I think I’d be willing to pay a price like that for Archer or something similar. Rays ought to consdier moving Archer now

12:45
Dominik: Isn’t the problem with the mlbpa that they always sold the young players so that the veterans could keep their privileges but now the new smart GMs break that old agreement between owners and mlbpa  by targeting young players so much and thus screwing the veterans? How can that be solved? Force the gms to use more veterans? Raise salary or shorten team control of young guys? Or just players accepting that their share continues to go down?

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Smarting GMing has hurt players. The one thing that can force spending is a cap-and-floor system … every other major pro sport in US has it

12:47
Babe Lincoln: As a Mets fan, should I hope Ohtani comes over now so NYY?LAD/BOS/etc can’t blow us out of the water on contract offers?  Or hope he waits because we don’t have any realistic chance now?

12:47
Travis Sawchik: I think you’d be better of waiting and hope every large-market team spends $937 billion in FA next offseason

12:47
Babe Lincoln: Who signs the most expensive 1-year (guaranteed) contract?  For how much $$?

12:47
Travis Sawchik: Eric Hosmer!

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Good question … I could see Jon Lucroy signing a 1y/$12-14 million deal

12:49
Stan: Bradley Zimmer had a mixed rookie season.  Nearly a 30% K rate, matching what he did in the minors.  What do you see as a future for him?  A 240/310/400 hitter with a 28% K rate?

12:50
Travis Sawchik: I think he’s going to be a high-K guy, but he’s going to hit with more power than expected … along with elite-level defense

12:50
James: A brief look at stats shows that most players lose about .150-.200 OPS when moving from Japan, and typically go down significantly in power numbers. I can see Otani being a productive hitter but aren’t a lot of people exaggerating his abilities?

12:51
Travis Sawchik: The thing about Ohtani is he was named the NPB’s best DH at … 21. He’s still developin g

12:51
TumbleWeed: Travis, piggy-backing on your repeated talk of a soft floor.. could you provide an estimate as to what you think the floor line would be, and potential (particularly draft pick) penalties for going under it?

12:53
Travis Sawchik: I looked at this back in 2016, following the NBA model, and the floor was around $100 million … and the NBA penalty is that if you don’t meet the floor you have to make up the differeent through paying your own players more to meet the floor

12:53
John: Always was under the impression that the team control for young players was a means to maintain some form of parity, allowing small-market teams to remain competitive. Only reason teams like the Royals have been able to compete is drafting well & utilizing players under their cost-controlled years.  Increasing rookie/pre free agent pay will hurt small market clubs

12:54
Travis Sawchik: It is MLB’s best parity driver … disrupting that system would be a literal game-changer r

12:54
Babe Lincoln: Any guess what Ohtani would sign for now if he were an honest to god FA without any limits or caps?

12:55
Travis Sawchik: Just a guess, but top-of-the-market rates: something like 8y/$210

12:55
Andy: Thankful for a healthy family and a son due around opening day.

The Rockies have a situation with a couple key guys entering their last year or two and a fair amount of money to spend this offseason along with a couple key weak spots (and a rotation full of cheap dudes). Any chance they make a big splash of some sort?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: Congrats! … I think it would make a lot of sense for Rockies to address first base in free agency (Carlos Santana?) and perhaps RF. Man, I’d love to see what JDM would do there

12:57
Matt: Are we all somehow both over- and under-valuing Ohtani?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: No and Yes?

12:58
Fair line: Prediction: Harper to Philly, Machado to NYY, Donaldson to St Louis (I don’t know, whatever), McCutchen to… re-sign with wherever he’s traded this year, Blackmon to the Nationals. But really the story is the reliever class. Poor Brach, Britton, Cody Allen, all of whom would make reliever bank but are going to get undersold with how much money will be thrown around.

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Phillies are a legit darkhorse, I think but I still think it’s Harper to NYY

12:58
sabrtooth: I’m grateful for fantasy baseball keeping me in daily contact with friends who don’t live in my city any more.

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Fantasy baseball is like a light-gambling version of Facebook

12:59
Steve O: Shouldn’t the Rays get more for Archer than what the Sox got for Quintana?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I think so. The contract is so great and he’s a better talent, I think

1:00
Matt: In an economic sense, isn’t the purpose of a labor union to leverage the strong to protect the weak? In this scenario, aren’t the “strong” the veterans, and the “weak” the minor leaguers? And if that’s true, hasn’t the MLBPA done the exact opposite of the reason for which it exists?

1:00
Travis Sawchik: The MLBPA has looked out too much for its own top 1 percent

1:00
Travis Sawchik: Too much focus on protecting maximum contract potential, imo

1:00
Papa Juan: I’m thankful for pineapple on pizza.

1:01
Travis Sawchik: This is where we’re going to have to agree to disagree

1:01
Matt: Since we’re back to all teams playing on opening day – if Andy’s son is born *on* opening day, he should have to name him something baseball related. And we as a FG community should start a GoFundMe to buy his wife’s opinion on the matter out.

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Andy?

1:01
KW: Should some team take a low-level flier on converting Tyson Ross into a high-leverage bullpen arm? Even though his velo was down at a starter in 2017, he still sports one of the highest rotation 4-seamers in the league (2546 rpms, ninth highest according to BaseballSavant).

1:02
Travis Sawchik: I like the idea. I also want to see Liriano in a full-time bullpen role

1:02
E: We are having a “Winter Meeting” in January for our fantasy baseball league this year (mostly just meeting at a bar and drinking). My wife is making fun of me but I don’t care, I will have fun hanging with my fellow nerds.

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Nice!

1:02
Poptart Salad: If you have a hole/weakness in your roster at 1B, SP, and CF, who has the most value for you in free agency this offseason (non-Ohtani division)?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: I could see LoCain getting a lost a bit this winter

1:03
Bored college student: Thank you for doing this chat during my UCOR class

1:03
Travis Sawchik: Enjoy your break!

1:04
Ghost of Killebrew: I’m thankful for Falvey and Levine giving Twins fans hope!  BUT is it false hope to put much stock in the Darvish/Ohtani rumors?  Are they better off using the money to lock up the young core that’s starting to emerge?

1:04
Travis Sawchik: If they COULD get Darvish/Ohtani they should do it

1:04
Ben: I am thankful for having access to such amazing writers with these chats!

1:04
Travis Sawchik: Thanks, Ben. We’re lucky to write for the best baseball audience on the Web.

1:05
Pumpsie Green: What would Ohtani realistically expect to make over the next two years if he stayed in Japan? I still think there’s a chance he will be on another team in Japan next year.

1:05
Travis Sawchik: I am not sure. Good question

1:06
John: Why do the Cubs need to add an impact arm?  Arrieta and Lackey have big reputations, but in reality they combined for 2.9 WAR in 2017.  The Cubs will replace most of that value just by having Quintana for a full season.  Add someone like Cobb and a 1.5 win 5th starter, and they have a significantly better rotation than the team that just went to the NLCS.

1:06
Travis Sawchik: I’m not so much worried about regular season as postseason matchups. That rotation is clearly behind LAD, WAS, ARZ in NL

1:06
Pd: How much would you pay for a pitcher who walked every batter when your team is ahead but strikes out every hitter when you’re behind?

1:07
Travis Sawchik: [Thinking emoji face]

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Walking every batter when ahead doesn’t sound very appealing

1:07
a different matt: Once we start looking at context for the MVP, we need to look at the pitchers Altuve was facing as well.  The only above average pitching staff in the AL West he didn’t have to face because they were on his team.  This would seem more relevant to individual Value than how well the players after him hit.

1:08
Travis Sawchik: That should . definitely be taken into account and it is measured in some corners of the internet

1:08
Travis Sawchik: I know BP measures quality of pitchers faced

1:08
Sleepy: Dudes with Stanton’s power are kinda/sorta park-independent.  Khris Davis went from Milwaukee (arguably the best offensive non-Coors park in baseball) to Oakland (death) and didn’t miss a beat.

1:09
Travis Sawchik: Those dudes are still going to get their homers, for sure. But Stanton is going to lose a few HRs in SF compared to about every other park

1:09
Jay: Who is on your HOF ballot?

1:09
Travis Sawchik: I don’t have one! You need to have been a BBWAA for 10 years. I have five.

1:10
Richie: Pure speculation on my part…but could the Braves investigation and MLBPA concerns on Ohtani be linked? It was said early on in the Braves investigation that Coppy was approaching players agents prior to the end of the season. Perhaps Coppy was trying to land a Darvish/Ohtani combo and now all of baseball is suffering? No one likes speculative rumors, but this seems like an awful coincidence.

1:10
Travis Sawchik: I have no knowledge on this other than Ohtani is the biggest fish out there, of course

1:10
Travis Sawchik: That sound you are hearing is Christmas music doubling as a signal that this chat is ending

1:10
Travis Sawchik: Thanks for stopping by!

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Have a great holiday and I’ll be back next week

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Until then, 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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Bob Davidson
Member
Bob Davidson

I’m thankful I did not have to read the entirety of this garbage; not sure if the pandering or self-fellating was more nauseating.

I’m thankful the war on business is finally over after 8 excruciating years.

I am thankful we don’t have the most crooked and miserable candidate of my long lifetime as POTUS.