Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:00
Travis Sawchik: Greetings from the Pirates media work room in Bradenton, Fla….

12:00
Travis Sawchik: The FanGraphs spring training tour bus has made its way to Florida

12:01
Travis Sawchik: Still, there’s always time to talk. We have an open-door policy. Let’s get started …

12:01
Acuna Matata: Acuna is basically the love child of Mike Trout and Hank Aaron, right?! RIGHT?!

12:01
Travis Sawchik: Obviously, right?

12:02
Travis Sawchik: If you believed Acuna was a better prospect than Ohtani, that’s looking pretty good as of March 19

12:02
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Now, I support the pitch clock and look forward to its inevitable MLB implementation. And the current minor league clock has been a success. But the proposed 15 second clock seems really aggressive compared to the amount of time pitchers currently take. How concerned should we be about increased injuries? I have no sense of what that extra five seconds between pitches means for an arm’s health. Nor how many strains we should accept to get game times down to 2:45 or so based on back-of-the-napkin math.

12:03
Travis Sawchik: Increased injury rates for pitchers are going to be an unintended consequence of a clock, I suspect

12:04
Travis Sawchik: I wonder if it might also reduce velocity

12:04
Travis Sawchik: I do think pace is a real issue, but i’d start by keeping batters in the box

12:04
Travis Sawchik: They put those chalk lines on the dirt for a reason, right?

12:04
Mr. Fister: Does Mike Clevenger hold a rotation spot all year long in Cleveland?

12:04
Travis Sawchik: He has the talent to do it, for sure

12:05
Travis Sawchik: He added the curveball last year which gives him two plus breaking pitches

12:05
CamdenWarehouse: If Cobb signed today, do you think he’d be ready for the start of the season?

12:06
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think so … but perhaps reducing some innings wouldn’t be the worst thing for Cobb

12:06
John S: I’m not sure what to gather from the Hosmer article/quotes. His swing looks the same to me this spring as in the past.

12:07
Travis Sawchik: I wouldn’t take from them that Hosmer has made a full buy-in. I don’t think that has happened … what I took was that he has started to explore this. Listening to JDM’s hitting coach seems like a first step

12:07
Mr. Fister: Do you think it is possible that Greinke is just trolling everybody at this point with regards to his diminished velocity?

12:07
Travis Sawchik: Greinke wants to draft himself in the 7th round of fantasy drafts

12:08
Jenny From the Block: Probably a question for Dan, but i noticed that Zips is projecting Beltre for only 104 games this year. You have concerns about him this year?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Better question for Dan but he is 38

12:08
Travis Sawchik: A 38-year-old playing 104 MLB games is an outlier

12:10
Nicole: Thoughts on Francisco Mejia possibly moving to the outfield?

12:11
Travis Sawchik: I think he’s a long-term catcher but the club is probably just exploring additional flexibility

12:11
Billy Beane: Hey Travis, I just wanted to say that your Spring Training articles have been 10/10. Obviously you do way more analysis during the course of the year, but your skills as a reporter are still very, very good.

12:12
Travis Sawchik: That’s very kind of you, Billy. Spring training is for reporting skills, too

12:12
Mary: Will the Indians ever trade Gomes/Perez to make room for Mejia/Haase?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: I think eventually, yes

12:12
Travis Sawchik: I’m a big Haase, fan, too

12:12
Justin: If Ohtani doesn’t turn out to be great (reports say it’s his command that’s the issue), how much does that hurt the Angels’ chances?

12:13
Travis Sawchik: Angels need Ohtani to be great right away. He might not be!

12:13
Travis Sawchik: Ohtani might require some patience. I know no one is interested in hearing that. He’s also coming off an injury-shortened season

12:14
Ronnie: Chase Anderson was 25th in FIP based WAR & 16th in RA9 WAR in only 141 innings last year, yet the projections barely have him scraping 2 WAR. Do you buy the changes he made in 2017 carrying over into 2018?

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Anderson made some real skills gains. I’d bet on the over

12:15
Mr. Fister: Taco cat spelled backwards is Taco cat.  You’re welcome.

12:15
Travis Sawchik:

Mind blown.
14 Mar 2018
12:16
Travis Sawchik: Re-raise

12:16
Jenny From the Block: Having trouble deciding between Freeman vs Votto vs Rizzo. Is there any real difference between the 3? Feels like you cant go wrong though Votto has the age cliff concern

12:16
Travis Sawchik: Votto, Freeman, Rizzo for me

12:16
The Balking Dead: Hey Travis, Iā€™m not sure if this is under your jurisdiction but would it be possible to switch the chat orders and not have two prospect chats in a row? (Like have Eric or Kiley swap with Jay or something?)

12:16
Travis Sawchik: Would there be wide-spread support for this?

12:17
James: Which division winner pick do you feel most confident in?

12:17
Travis Sawchik: Astros

12:17
Vern: re: Rays 4 man
If (when) they abandon the 4 man rotation, who gets the 5th start? Banda? Yonny Chironos? How do those two young intriguing arms (and their service time) factor into the situation in Ybor City?

12:18
Travis Sawchik: They are each candidates … With Honeywell and De Leon going down this plan is already being tested. I’m really interested to see how it plays out

12:19
Mr. Fister: How many back related trips to the DL this year for Clayton Kershaw if the over/under is set at 1.5?

12:19
Travis Sawchik: Since the Dodgers were the most aggressive team to manipulate the 10-day DL last year, I’ll say over

12:19
Sonny: Really enjoyed the Archer piece today. Do you find that level of buy-in on new approaches common in MLB clubhouses?

12:19
Travis Sawchik: Thanks! Well, thank, Mr. Archer, really … I don’t know if it’s common but it’s becoming more common

12:20
Bork: Have the pirates tried recruiting you for the team yet? Gotta cut that payroll.

12:20
Travis Sawchik: I have a 60 mph fastball, if you’re into that sort of thing

12:21
CamdenWarehouse: yes to moving the chats

12:21
Babe Lincoln: Yes, widespread support for spreading out the 2 prospect chats

12:21
Travis Sawchik: !!!

12:21
Travis Sawchik: I can be a messenger

12:21
LegallyEagle: Re: Motion to Spread prospect chats – Seconded

12:21
jp: Who pitches more innings this year Paxton or McCullers?  Thanks.

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Depth Charts says Paxton 175, McCullers 139

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Astros have more depth so that might also play a role

12:22
Travis Sawchik: So, Paxton, I say

12:23
Hans Gruber: 1. All the scouts that saw Ohtani are wrong  2.  he hasn’t played in over a year and is adjusting to MLB differences                                Which is the most likely? What is your take on Ohtani so far?

12:23
Travis Sawchik: My take is, it’s way too early, and Ohtani didn’t play much last season … and he’s 23 facing MLBers for the first time

12:23
Travis Sawchik: The hype machine was on overdrive so that set an absurd expectation level and FG is in part to blame for that

12:24
Morris Buttermaker: Who is the best baseball family by on feild achievement? The Bonds, the Boones, the Gwynns, the Griffeys? Probably not the Roses.

12:24
Travis Sawchik: The Bondses accounted for like 230 career fWAR. That’s insane

12:25
Guest: I’m sure you’ve heard this plenty, but please please please can “Travis suggests odd ideas to MLB clubhouses” be a regular feature?  They might be my favorite baseball writing in existence. You’re asking them questions that are unique from their perspective, and drawing discussion that the ‘regular’ reporters don’t usually get.

12:26
Travis Sawchik: We can make this a thing. Or one step further … Travis takes ‘YOUR’ weird ideas into the clubhouse, FanGraphs nation

12:26
Travis Sawchik: It’s gonna be fun until my credential is revoked šŸ˜‰

12:26
Truman: Chances that Arrieta regains some velocity this year? He alluded to this possibility in his press conference

12:27
Travis Sawchik: Aging/velocity curves are against him

12:27
Jack Murphy: Is Lance McCuller’s a candidate for a 2-times-through-the-order limit? If so, he would be dominate for time pitched. 1st and 2nd time through order in 2017 – 2.64 ERA and  .268 wOBA. 3rd time through the order in 2017? 10.03 ERA and a .422 wOBA. Pretty startling.

12:28
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I think this was a topic back during the postseason … He might be the modern, two-times-through starter

12:28
El Guapo: Jose Martinez’s bat is too good not to play. .275/.350/.470 seems pretty reachable right?  Does he get 450 at bats this year?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: I’d find ABs for Martinez. These are the hitters that had a better barrel/BBE rate last season: Aaron Judge, JD Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo and Khris Davis

12:29
Sean: I was just looking at the PECOTA projections and something seems off with them.  Arenado projected for 29 hr, 94 RBI and and 0.852 OPS.  Any insight on how the PECOTA projections work?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: Better question for Nate Silver

12:30
Rick Grimes: Whit Merrifield is a poor man’s Altuve. True or false

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Very poor. A destitute Altuve

12:30
LetsGoBucs: Who produces the bigger WAR number this year: Cutch or Corey Dickerson?

12:30
Travis Sawchik: McCutchen

12:31
Travis Sawchik: Dickerson had a big problem with the elevated fastball last season. Are opponents going to exploit that further?

12:31
Will: Took Acuna 15th in a start up dynasty … too early?

12:31
Travis Sawchik: Nope. I like that.

12:31
Guest: Thanks for confirming you want to continue your weird question series!  My first idea, players willingness to rotate between pitching/OF based on batter handedness!

12:31
Travis Sawchik: Not bad! It’s in the queue

12:32
DBRuns: I would guess MLB conducts drug testing during spring training, but does it test players who haven’t signed? I doubt MLBs testers are coming to the IMG camp

12:32
Travis Sawchik: I’m about three miles from the IMG camp, should I check?

12:32
Travis Sawchik: I think you have to actually be signed to be tested

12:33
Rockie Dangerfield: If managing times-through-the-order is the new strategy, then it would seem the consequence of that would be a staff full of nothing but long relievers that can each go once through and tag-team their way through 2-3 innings apiece.  Hitters would never get a clean look.

12:33
Travis Sawchik: I think in the year 2035 baseball could look something like that, especially if we have 27-man rosters or something like that

12:33
Travis Sawchik: Bullpen innings keep inching up

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Relievers accounted for a record 38.1% of innings in the regular season last year and 46.4% in the postseason!

12:34
tb.25: Do we overrate the perils of predictability from a pitcher (re: Kershaw’s predictability with pitch types and counts), or do we underrate execution (re: Kershaw’s execution with predictable pitch types and counts)?

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Good questions. I think we underrate execution

12:35
Travis Sawchik: I mean everyone knows Sergio Romo is throwing a slider and it still works most of the time

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Until that one time when he froze Cabrera looking on a fastball in the Series. Long con

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Ultimate long con

12:36
Walter Sobchak: continuing with the Pittsburgh theme, is there a Primani Bros in Bradenton?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: I think so? Not sure. I know there are some in Florida

12:37
Alastar: There is a lot about Arrieta and his diminished velocity. What can he do to be more effective at 92? Obviously that is a drop from 94 but plenty of pitchers can be effective at that velocity.

12:37
Travis Sawchik: A trade of velocity for movement would be a good place to start

12:37
Wes: Not in support of moving Eric and Kiley chats. If Eric doesn’t get to my question, I can ask Kiley. If you spread them out, I’ll forget my question.

12:37
Travis Sawchik: We have an opposition party!

12:38
3 Ben Sheets to the Wind: Which current position player would you like to see converter to a multi inning reliever? My vote is Heyward.

12:38
Travis Sawchik: That’s one expensive reliever

12:39
Travis Sawchik: But I’m starting to have my doubts that Heyward ever fixes his swing

12:39
Jim: Thoughts on Sean Manaea this year? Which version of him do you think we will see?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: I heart the healthy version. Plus slider, changeup and velo. Just stay healthy, Sean

12:39
Travis Sawchik: Deception and funk, too

12:39
Mike Rizzo: how will Pac Bell impact McCutchen from a fantasy POV? Power drop below 20 HRs?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: It’s not great, for sure. But at least he’s not a LHH

12:40
Travis Sawchik: PNC Park wasn’t great for RHH power, either

12:40
Travis Sawchik: I think he can still reach 20+ HRs

12:40
AC: Who hits more doubles this year: VMart or Pujols?

12:41
Travis Sawchik: I want to see Pujols triple. It’s happened once since 2010

12:42
Rockie Dangerfield: According to the Washington Post, it looks like our worthless congresscritters are about to exempt minor league players from federal wage laws altogether at the behest of MLB.  Will that be the final straw that finally sees a MiLBPA get organized?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Oh?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Link?

12:42
chet: Felix is a wily enough pitcher to have a verlander like rebound right? i feel like he’s being sold short

12:43
Travis Sawchik: Verlander regained elite velocity

12:44
Alex Wood: Will I be able to get through a whole season of quality innings without burning out like in 2017?

12:45
Travis Sawchik: I wouldn’t push you

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Thanks!

12:45
Jose Martinez: Will I get regular PT and, if so, what do you see as my ceiling?  Am I the next JD Martinez as Fangraphs has suggested?

12:45
Travis Sawchik: I’m very intrigued to see what you could do with 500 ABs. The batted-ball quality was plus-plus last year

12:46
Johnny5: Whose lineup do you like better – Houston or NYY?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: I still like Houston

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Yankees have more question marks in infield

12:46
Finnegan: with the Rockies bringing back Cargo, does Ian Desmond provide more value as a 4th outfielder, or a utility player at OF/1B/SS/2B?

12:47
Travis Sawchik: I’d like Desmond in a super utility role where he rotates around and is giving guys regular off days without losing much run production prowess in lineup. There’s value in that that’s difficult to quantify

12:48
Francisco Mejia: How likely do you think it is for me to be the next Buster Posey in term of batting?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: Unlikely. That’s the highest of bars. But there’s a plus bat there, for sure

12:48
Charles: David Dahl over/under 300 ABs

12:48
Travis Sawchik: Over

12:48
Finnegan: Will the Yankees or Dodgers be able to be buyers at the trade deadline this year? If not does that seriously effect their World Series chances compared to a team with some flexibility?

12:49
Travis Sawchik: We’re so far out … Those teams don’t need to be aggressive buyers on paper, right now.

12:50
99: You think Giolito’s arm slot change can lead to real success?

12:50
Travis Sawchik: This is a pretty intriguing storyline. Add Giolito to your April watch list. I want to believe

12:50
John Dorian Martinez: Is there any actual reason to have Spring Training be this long?

12:51
Travis Sawchik: ST is an exercise to stretch out pitcher’s arms. Batters could probably be fine showing up this week but that might create clubhouse tension

12:51
Finnegan: When scouting a catching prospect, are you more concerned with the defensive value because if the bat is there you can make the transition to first?

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Defense first, for sure

12:52
Dan: In order to give more ABs to Jose Martinez, who do you take them away from? Risk Carpenter’s health and poor D at 3rd? Risk Jose’s poor D in corner OF?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: I’m all for moving players up the defensive spectrum in this batted-ball/strikeout environment

12:53
Travis Sawchik: Remember, we’re seeing about 20% fewer balls in play compared to just a decade ago. That’s pretty crazy

12:53
Jim: Do you think Sean Newcomb can take the next step in 2018? Limit the walks and become top of the rotation caliber?

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Few pitchers would benefit from tightened command

12:55
Jim: Who ya got for NL and AL Cy Young?

12:55
Travis Sawchik: We’ll have our predictions out soon….

12:56
Preston: Range of outcomes for Dinelson Lamet this year

12:56
Travis Sawchik: Pretty sizeable error bars, I would think

12:56
Travis Sawchik: But in this day and age at least his slider usage will probably not be discouraged

12:57
PRW: Draft strategy , best position to wait on later in draft and best stat (s) to punt and still have a chance to compete ??

12:57
Travis Sawchik: Pitchers, generally, of course … but target some high-skill RPs who are next in line to close

12:58
mike sixel: Polanco suspended for half the year, Santana hurt, and Sano maybe suspended….how much are the Twins’ chances hurt by this suspension? Or, why can’t MN fans have nice things?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Keep signing those free agents, Twins

12:58
Guest: i need some real finely tuned danny salazar expectations! use your voodoo!

12:58
Travis Sawchik: I want to see Salazar turned into Chris Devinski

12:58
Jason: Your thoughts on this TB 4-man rotation? Like it?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: I like it in theory but the injuries are going to make it harder harder to put in place for 162

12:59
James: The astros seem to be considering starting the year without a lefty in the bullpen. Is that a bad idea?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Not typical but we still have them projected to win 101 games

1:00
John Oleruds Helmet: I have the 4th pick in our AL minor league draft? Should I go with one of the best available like McKenzie or McKay or someone more ready like Fowler or Andujar?

1:00
Travis Sawchik: Andujar is kind of interesting there

1:00
jp: Are you buying in on Buxton’s gains at the plate in the second half?  You taking the over or under on 15hr/40sb?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Over and over

1:01
Carson Cistullia Sabathia: Grandal/Barnes playing time?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: 40/60

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Those two together are like a hidden Mike Trout with 8-plus bWARP

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Alright, folks, thanks for stopping by

1:02
Travis Sawchik: I’m going to get back to spring training tour 2018

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Until next week, 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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