Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:03
Travis Sawchik: Greetings!

12:03
Travis Sawchik: Let’s get started …

12:03
David: I loved your article detailing the Billy Hamilton idea (and reading the clubhouse reactions to it were priceless), but one issue I have with the idea is basically the incentive for a player NOT to be the first to get on base (and therefore stay in the game).  I wonder if this could actually backfire and hurt the team in the long run

12:04
v2micca: Ouch.  Was that conversation with Billy Hamilton as painfully awkward as the article made it feel?

12:04
Travis Sawchik: Thanks … And it was a bit awkward, but also kinda fun to get other players to feel compelled to participate

12:05
Travis Sawchik: I guess there would be great incentive to be the second Reds player to reach base

12:05
Travis Sawchik: It would require some selflessness, for sure

12:05
12:06
David: What’s your go-to sunflower seed flavor?  BBQ?  Ranch?  Original?

12:06
Travis Sawchik: I cannot de-shell sunflower seeds to save my life … but I’d be an original guy

12:07
Travis Sawchik: Any time I’ve attempted to do the whole sunflower seed thing, I end up with a mouth full of shell fragments/splinters

12:07
Tony Womack: Considering that Gregorius is a free agent after next season it seems plausible that the Yankees will not need him if their Torres and Andujar pan out. Would they dare trade him for a pitcher mid-season?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: I think such an trade would be more likely to happen after the season

12:10
Erik: Are you following any reported swing changers this offseason? The only one I’ve seen so far is Juan Lagares, which is…weird.

12:11
Travis Sawchik: I haven’t seen a ton of media reports on swing changers but I’m sure they are going to be growing in number

12:11
Travis Sawchik: Sorry for the delay, had to get a new Paw Patrol episode loaded for a demanding 3-year-old

12:11
Matty P: How many Indians games do you plan on attending this year?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: As a media member? I will be there for quite a few pre-game media availabilities … and I will probably go as a “fan” with friends/family several times

12:12
Sircharles: What is your favorite thing to look at when grading/ranking/projecting starting pitchers?

12:13
Travis Sawchik: I like to start with K-BB% … pretty simple but pretty telling

12:13
Andy: At first, I saw DeJong?!  6 years?!  Then I saw it’s like 4M a year.  I still ask… WHY?  but as with Wong’s 5/25M, it’s not like he won’t be worth 4M+ a year…. can’t decide if frustrated or happy.  How should I feel as a STL fan?

12:13
burts_beads: Thoughts on the Dejong deal?

12:13
David: Surprised about the DeJong extension?  Seems like a regression candidate with the high BABIP and high K rate, plus low avg exit velocity last year.  Although the Cardinals probably know way more than me 🙂

12:16
Travis Sawchik: The K rate is a concern, but he’s a fly-balling SS … so he should be a long-term fixture.  What’s kind of weird is the Cardinals are not buying out any free agency years (Unless I am missing reported club options)

12:17
Travis Sawchik: So it’s really just a cost-control deal through arb? Maybe it speaks to the increasing difficulty of buying out FA years?

12:17
Travis Sawchik: I think it’s fine for Cards

12:17
montani: True or false:  The Pirates are going to sign Neil Walker to a one year deal.

12:19
Travis Sawchik: That story about Walker getting a NRI from the Royals is wild. He would have made more sense for Pirates before they added Moran

12:20
Travis Sawchik: But there might be a point where he becomes a value play. They could use his LHH power

12:20
Lawrence: Shouldn’t pitchers just attack the top of the zone with the launch angle revolution? The way guys like Cody Bellinger and Kyle Tucker swing it seems obvious that’s how you beat them

12:20
Travis Sawchik: That was the idea going into last year for a lot of folks, and some batters are weak in the upper third and above  but ….

12:22
Travis Sawchik: It didn’t really work last season

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Pitchers are still more likely to be hurt up than down in the zone

12:22
Sloth: I think Heyman reported two club options bringing total for Dejong to over 50 million if exercised

12:22
Travis Sawchik:

UPDATED STORY: DeJong’s new deal includes two option years and total value, with those years would be slightly more… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…
5 Mar 2018
12:23
Travis Sawchik: This makes more sense

12:23
Travis Sawchik: It’s not too big of a risk for the Cards, really

12:24
Zonk: Has anyone seen DeJong and Trevor Story in the same place at the same time?  Wondering if they are actually the same player

12:25
Travis Sawchik: They are kind of similar but Story has even more swing and miss in his game

12:25
JG: Can Lincecum be successful out of the pen throwing 93?  It’s harder than he has been throwing, but not close to what he was doing out of the rotation when he was winning Cy Youngs

12:26
Travis Sawchik: I think he can be effective if he can maintain 93 … The changeup is what made Lincecum, Lincecum and that should be enough velo to allow it to play

12:26
Travis Sawchik: Hi Travis, this is your future you.  Don’t post this in public, but the Mike Trout-led Phillies win the 2020 World Series.   Does that information blow you away?

12:26
Travis Sawchik: !!!!

12:26
Travis Sawchik: That would be a helluva story

12:27
Rollie’s Mustache: When strength of schedule gets factored into the FG projected standings, how do you see the AL wild card hopefuls’ records changing? Jays at 87 now, Angels 84 and Twins at 82. Gotta think they all converge around 84-85, no?

12:28
Travis Sawchik: Twins have a huge edge in playing nearly 60 games against DET/KC/CHA

12:28
Travis Sawchik: So, yeah, I see that group pretty log-jammed

12:29
CamdenWarehouse: The helluva story is that Jotcast has found away to communicate through time?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: We always thought it was possible

12:29
Wilhelm: Is it conceivable for a team to sign both Harper and Machado next year? Could the Phillies with a young core and payroll flexibility be that team?

12:30
Travis Sawchik: The Philles should give 50 percent of the franchise to Harper, 50 percent to Machado and have those two players pay the owners

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Or the former ownership group, that is

12:30
Travis Sawchik: I’m guessing that’s going to be about $750 million in future salary guarantees. I can’t see a team likely doing that

12:31
Michael: Paw patrol…sooooo much better than peppa pig.  That pig makes me want to start eating ham, bacon, and pork chops.

12:31
Travis Sawchik: Ha. That’s so twisted but I get it

12:31
Jack Murphy: Just read the Billy Hamilton article — great read! Makes me think though: will we ever see another Ricky Henderson and if not, who in today’s game has the best chance (prospect or MLBer)? The guy’s numbers are just insane to think about in today’s game. 1400 stolen bases, .400 OBP, and 300 home runs.

12:32
Travis Sawchik: Insane numbers

12:32
Travis Sawchik: Henderson had two 10-win seasons, which, just looking, I guess i didn’t know

12:33
Travis Sawchik: What would his roto $ be in 1982 and 1985?

12:33
glt4dc: What are the odds that at least one of the following FA — Moustakas, Arrieta, Cobb, Lynn — will still lack a job by Opening Day?

12:33
Travis Sawchik: Just one? Hmmm. 20%

12:34
Travis Sawchik: The pitchers are in danger of losing further value by not being game ready

12:34
Blank Check: 750 million for Harper and Machado? That seems like A LOT

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Maybe a little high, but Harper spec has been around $400m, I think

12:35
SoS: The strength of schedule adjustment has the Twins winning 100

12:36
Travis Sawchik: There’s a case to be made it makes the Twins the WC1 favorite , though I like the Blue Jays and Twins better from pure talent standpoint

12:36
tb.25: to add to swing changers – Mac Williamson on the Giants changed his hand position and added a leg kick. SSS alert, he’s 9 for 21 with 3 homers and 2 doubles to 6 k’s (compared to his playing time competitor Jarret Parker, who’s got 14k’s in 20 AB)

12:36
Travis Sawchik: !!!! ALERT !!!

12:37
montani: If you could hit up like two grapefruit league parks next week, which two are at the top of your list?

12:38
Travis Sawchik: I haven’t been to many of the Atlantic-based parks …

12:38
Travis Sawchik: Red Sox’ park is pretty cool … and I actually like McKenchie because it’s like a 100-year old stadium that gives you an even more intimate feel

12:39
Lee: Franchy Cordero. What do you think? Plate appearances in majors this year? Stats Forecast?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: As Jeff noted, he is the club’s most interesting player https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-most-exciting-player-on-the-padres…

12:40
Travis Sawchik: I could see him having a 20-20 season but with pretty low efficiency

12:41
Blank Check: Will we ever see a Sub 0.50 Whip? It seems like we are trending towards it

12:41
Travis Sawchik: From an insane reliever skillset, yeah

12:41
JDX: Were you able to talk with Votto during your time in Goodyear? If so, is there a pending article? Votto articles rock!

12:41
Travis Sawchik: I was! And there will be

12:42
Travis Sawchik: It’s like getting to speak with this gen’s Ted Williams so it’s worth trying to gain an audience when you can as a writer/reporter

12:42
Sterling Malory Chris Archer: Isn’t all the changes in baseball philosophy over the past decade (fly ball revolution, bullpen usage, etc) the reason why the game is the greatest? It’s constantly evolving but still the same basic game.

12:43
Travis Sawchik: Fascinating changes … but it’s never changed so quickly, so fast, and I do think the lack of balls in play is a problem

12:43
Funkhouser: If the Mets fall out of it will Jason deGrom be the most sought after commodity?

12:43
Travis Sawchik: In that scenario, I’d be taking offers if I’m the Mets

12:44
Roger Sterling: Who you got for first pick in the Montreal/Portland expansion draft?

12:44
Travis Sawchik: I really want to see another expansion draft

12:44
John Stamos: The trick to the sunflower seeds – store a small handful (like 10-12) in one side of your mouth. Transfer one seed to the empty side of your mouth and crack it with the teeth on that side. Extract the seed from the shell with your tongue, spit the seed into an empty paper cup and then repeat! Work on the small things and then you can work up to a whole mouthful! Good luck!

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Where have you been all my life,  John?

12:45
pinstripe: I loved that story about your Billy hamilton idea! Do those types of conversations happen between players and media often?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Thanks! … Not often, but on occasion. I know Eno had some similar experiences

12:46
Billy Beane: MR. Sawchik, are you more excited for the season to start or more mildly disappointed that you now have to leave your house for work, where in the offseason it can pretty much be 100% working from the comfort of your idyllic midwestern home?

12:47
Travis Sawchik: I’m very in favor of the season starting. I like to get out of the house and mix up work environments (It also helps I don’t have to be at the park until 1 am like the beat scribes )

12:47
Michael Westen: Joey Votto is the Messiah

12:47
Travis Sawchik: I cannot say for sure that he’s not. After all, he’s not aging

12:47
Sonny: Wouldn’t the Hamilton experiment work best in a playoff scenario?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: It could definitely work with WC rosters

12:48
Banya: When is baseball gonna shorten the season to 154 and create a tournament for non-playoff teams to play for draft position?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: If tanking continues, this would be fun

12:48
Townsville: When is Roger Cormier going to get a chat? Dude needs a chat.

12:48
Travis Sawchik: That would be lit, as the kids say

12:48
Jack Murphy: Is it reasonable to expect Greg Bird to hit 35-40 Home Runs this year if he’s hitting behind Judge and Stanton? I look at him and see the next Aaron Judge. I know, it’s a lazy comparison b/c they are both in NY but respectively, Judge and Bird both crushed the ball in relatively small sample sizes in 2016 and 2017. Example: 2016 Judge had an average exit velo of 95.5 with a launch angle of 19.4 over 42 events. 2017 Bird had a lower exit velo but it was still top 30 at 90.8, with a launch angle of 19.0 in 95 events. If I’m a Yankees fan (which I’m not), I am really excited about Bird.

12:48
Travis Sawchik: I’m all in on Greg Bird

12:49
Travis Sawchik: If he stays healthy he’s going to hit 35 HRs

12:49
K2: How much longer will/can the Orioles wait for the cost of Cobb or Lynn to drop even more?  Or, do they really believe that some combination of Tillman, Cortes, Wright, and Castro can fill the last two spots in their rotation?

12:49
Travis Sawchik: If the Orioles really want to having a puncher’s chance in the last year of Machado, they should be signing all available arms

12:50
John: Am i wrong to think Bellinger is capable of taking a big step forward? Think people are sleeping on him a bit, could see him making legit strides to knock down that K rate considering his elite athleticism.

12:51
Travis Sawchik: It would be interesting if he knocked his K rate down like Kris Bryant did

12:51
Craig: I know we’re not supposed to care about ST stats but Fernando Tatis has a 1.000+ OPS right now and he just turned 19.

12:52
Travis Sawchik: This is why Dave left us

12:52
Travis Sawchik: I LOVE the top 10 prospect class this year, overall, in the game

12:52
Travis Sawchik: Lot of unique talent

12:53
DTH: how do you feel about Lester’s new plan of practicing the “Jordan/Pippen bounce pass” strategy for throws to first? at that point, aren’t you running a higher risk of error and advance to scoring position than actually picking the guy off?

12:53
Travis Sawchik: Wait, what?

12:53
Travis Sawchik: Is this a thing?

12:53
John Oleruds Helmet: Were the total moves by Cashman of buying low on Chapman, selling high and then resigning him up there with one of the best GM moves ever?

12:53
Travis Sawchik: I love what Cashman has done in NYY over the last couple of seasons

12:53
Mat: What can we expect from Conforto this year? Over/Under 450 PA?

12:54
Travis Sawchik: It’s such an unusual hitter injury I think we need to see him first

12:54
Travis Sawchik: It’s a shame because I loved the swing pre-injury

12:54
DeeGee: What do you expect from Zack Greinke this year? Does regression overpower the effect of the humidor? Or is it reasonable to expect 2017 numbers?

12:54
Travis Sawchik: The humidor is going to be a great friend. I’d expect a similar net line

12:55
Mick: Between Tatis, Urias, Cordero and Villanueva, the Padres have been one of the most exciting teams this spring. There’s no question, just wanted to say that.

12:55
Travis Sawchik: This is why Dave left us

12:55
CamdenWarehouse: how do in season days off work for beat reporters if they exist?  Did you get an away series every 2-3 weeks that you didn’t cover, etc?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: Typically there is a “backup” beat writer who helps out on with road trips, etc

12:56
Travis Sawchik: Most No. 1 writers probably do 60-65 percent of travel

12:56
Travis Sawchik: There are some old-school dudes that would love to do all of it

12:56
Billy Beane: I think the idea of an article whose premise is, “Talk to baseball players about weird ideas that nerds have.” Is a great one and you should write more of them.

12:56
Travis Sawchik: I know a guy who can make this happen

12:57
Neil Walker: No one is even willing to give me…. say… 1 year, 7 million? For a player who has been consistently above average throughout his career and has no off the field/clubhouse issues? The brewers could use me, no?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: I’m with you, Neil. Kind of crazy. What day is it? March 5?

12:57
Babe Lincoln: Was Billy Hamilton kinda joking around about your proposal, or was he being kinda a dick?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: I think he was mostly caught off guard and joking. I don’t think he was being a dick.

12:58
Rollie’s Mustache: At what point does an unsigned free agent pitcher start worrying about a lack of prep time with his eventual new team, catcher, etc.? And are we approaching that point yet?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: That has to be a real concern at this point. Now inning’ projections are going to be affected and further reduce value

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Especially on a short-term deal

12:59
Q-Ball: What 2018 team is the least interesting?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Royals?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Tigers?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Twins have to be so happy

1:00
Travis Sawchik: AL Central is a reason to have a more balanced schedule

1:00
Big Joey: Please rank for the 2018 season: Quintana, Tanaka, Cole…. is there a decent margin in between?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Really Curious to see what Cole does in Houston. I think he has some upside there. I’d be tempted to rank him 1 amongst those names

1:01
Michael Westen: Was it inevitable with the game trending younger that a bunch of older FA would get iced like this?  Are we going to start seeing more guys retiring at 34-36 than 37-40?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Yep and yep

1:01
Chuck: Mariners. The Mariners are boring, unfortunately.

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Big Maple, tho

1:02
Dan: Tell me something about the Braves

1:02
Travis Sawchik: They’re in a great spot and have a ton of cash available going forward

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Braves-Phillies could become quite the NL East rivalry

1:03
Karl Marx: Is it not better for the player pool if the guys who have made $30 million retire earlier to make room for someone who has made far, far less?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: The Workers really need to unite for the next cba

1:03
CamdenWarehouse: does Fangraphs have a new ME or is it Carson by default?

1:04
Travis Sawchik: There is no new managing editor. It’s now become something of an oligarchy with Carson probably planning a bloody palace coup

1:04
Carson Cistulli Sabathia: I’m going to Arizona this week for to see some spring training action, what do you recommend? Just have fun watching baseball?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: The teams are much closer together and centrally located in Arizona so I would just focus on watching baseball and maybe do a day trip to Sedona

1:05
Jeff: Expectations for Schwarber? I keep drawing parralels between him leaning out and Conforto last year, though with zero expectations on defense

1:05
Travis Sawchik: I’m still a believer

1:06
Lunar verLander: Who would have thought that the reason Dave left is just because he REALLY likes Spring Training games…

1:06
Travis Sawchik: I didn’t have that either

1:06
Jonny: which Matt, Chapman or Olson?

1:07
Travis Sawchik: I want to see where Olson picks up

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Alright folks, thanks for stopping by!

1:07
Travis Sawchik: I will be back next Monday. Until then, 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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Jongro
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Jongro

Re: beat reporters and days off in-season. As Travis said, it’s common to have backups to give the beat guys relief from the daily grind, but even some of that time “off” is spent developing features, columns, analyses, networking with other beat guys. The assumption is that the extra time will be made up in the offseason. Some papers build extra vacation time into the beat writer position — I know of one that specified in its Newspaper Guild contract that vacation time maxed out at four weeks for most, but seven weeks for reporters of major sports.