Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Happy Monday!

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Happy Spring?

12:07
Travis Sawchik:

Today is the 18th day of the baseball season.

We’ve only had 3 days where all 30 teams have gotten a game in.

It… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…

15 Apr 2018
12:07
Travis Sawchik:

Everyone in this sport knows the solution is to shorten the season — to 154 G or even 144.

The odds of that happe… twitter.com/i/web/status/9…

15 Apr 2018
12:07
Travis Sawchik: Who thought starting a season in March (including games in Detroit) was a good idea?

12:07
Travis Sawchik: Let’s get started …

12:08
Jeff P: Is Brandon Nimmo good enough to be the headliner for Realmuto? Low key career 120 wrc+ and seemingly getting better

12:08
Travis Sawchik: The Mets, of course, lost two starting catchers last week and seemingly had nowhere to play Nimmo when they demoted him and later recalled him ….

12:09
Travis Sawchik: But I love Nimmo

12:10
Travis Sawchik: I’d rather have Nimmo’s next seven years than Realmuto’s, I think

12:10
Travis Sawchik: But in the short term and with the Mets apparently contenders it could make some sense

12:10
billsaints: No matter how bad your team, Bartolo is your comfort blanket that makes everything in the dark times seen a bit better.  He’s like the Littlest Hobo of baseball.

12:11
Travis Sawchik: Bartolo is amazing

12:12
Travis Sawchik: We are blessed to have a number of young stars in the game … and Bartolo at the other end of the spectrum

12:12
Rivervillian: Eric [T-ae-mz] or Eric [Th-ay-ms]?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: I wish it was the former, I believe it’s the latter

12:12
Dylan: For real, Free Brandon Nimmo

12:12
Travis Sawchik: Yes!

12:13
Travis Sawchik: Nimmo obviously had a nice day Sunday but entering the day he had swung at only one out-of-zone pitch (67 total pitches seen) and swing and missed once

12:13
Travis Sawchik: The elite discipline appears to be real, carrying over from last season

12:13
BuccoBill: Are the Pirates for real? Are they actually better off without McCutchen?

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Pirates have improved their postseason odds, for sure. We still don’t project them as a playoff team

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Taillon is for real, though

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Polacno was breaking out in 2016 before he was injured … so this shouldn’t be a total surprise

12:15
Travis Sawchik: Everything went wrong for the Pirates in 2017, everything is going right thus far in 2018 (including the schedule)

12:16
Travis Sawchik: My guess is they are a .500 team but if enough breaks right they have a WC shot

12:16
ATL: Atlanta beat writers seem to be on board with the organization keeping Acuña down for now. Where do you stand Travis? I disagree w/ prioritizing a small sample size over his book of prior performance and I’m concerned that this will create a longer-term rift between the Braves and Acuña who is fully aware he would’ve started w/ the big league team had it not been for contract reasons

12:17
Travis Sawchik: I think, in general, writers side with team perspective on this sort of thing … or at least view decisions through that lens

12:17
Travis Sawchik: And keeping Acuna down makes sense from team perspective

12:18
Travis Sawchik: I’d have liked to have seen Acuna get the Kingery treatment

12:18
Dj: Who has more value Brandon Nimmo or Clint Frazier

12:19
Travis Sawchik: Nimmo, for me

12:19
backfields: who are you more concerned about thus far? Joey Votto (41wRC+) or Corey Seager (52wRC+)?

12:19
Travis Sawchik: Neither

12:19
Breezy: Is Kimbrel’s velocity decline concerning enough to sell, or can he still remain productive?

12:20
Travis Sawchik: It’s still a 96.5 mph fastball, but it’s a 2 mph drop … so it’s something to keep an eye on. He’s also had some command issues so it’s a bit of a concern

12:21
Outta my way, Gyorkass: With the Brewers starting pitching woes, do you think we see Burnes get a callup and a meaningful role this summer? Or, will they just try to ride it out with what they have until Jimmy Nelson returns?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Hader’s been awesome … What could he do as a starter, I wonder?

12:21
Eric: Still a small sample, but Bryant has continued his trend of Contact% gains, going from 66% to 73% to 78%, and now he’s up to almost 84% so far this year.  How high can he realistically go, and how good will he be if he can maintain this level of contact?

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Really impressive skill growth. He’ll be an annual MVP candidate at that level

12:22
One Sad Giant: How much is Encarnacion’s bad start attributable to Indians bats being generally cold to start the year? Or is the answer April or time to start worrying?

12:22
Travis Sawchik: The age is a concern, but he’s always been a slow starter and the weather has been horrendous

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Let’s wait on EE

12:22
Cody: Are you buying or selling Todd Frazier’s improvements at the plate and the results they’re bearing. Swing% down 14 points to career average, BB% two times higher, and Hard% up 10; just to name a few stats that have caught the eye.

12:24
Travis Sawchik: Frazier spiked his BB% last year, which was interesting. Is he consolidating the growth? If so, the Mets might have some surplus value here

12:24
Eric: Any thoughts on Olson so far?  Not much power and he’s really struggled to make contact.

12:25
Travis Sawchik: We were expecting Babe Ruth 2.0, so, yeah, a little discouraging … Again, it’s tough to evaluate a lot of baseball in April

12:25
Grigg The Goat: Swansbies is a top 5 middle infield in baseball, true or false?

12:25
Travis Sawchik: I’m here for Swansbies

12:26
Travis Sawchik: Swanson’s adjustment appears to be working. Top 5? That’s rare air. I’d say it has top 10 potential for sure

12:26
Travis Sawchik: Gotta like what Braves have going on, though

12:27
Q-Ball: I hate to ask this question, but is King Felix toast?  Or should we consider him just an innings-eater at this point?

12:28
Travis Sawchik: Sadly, yes. Lotta mileage on that right arm

12:28
Matt: Odds the Mets know that Nimmo is better than Bruce?

12:28
Travis Sawchik: Bruce is a fine player but those $39m could have been spent elsewhere

12:28
Travis Sawchik: Not sure why you wouldn’t believe in Nimmo entering 2018

12:29
v2micca: Bartolo Colon, he of age and waist size 44, armed with a fastball that hasn’t topped 87 mph since the Bush administration, was perfect through 8 innings against arguable baseball’s best line-up.  What does it all mean?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: Baseball, man

12:29
Concrete fan: Sean Manaea’s velocity is down but is compensating with better command and a good mix of secondaries, do you think he can be a #2/#3 with a 88-90 MPH fastball?

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Those secondaries would have to be really good … 1.63 ERA/4.03 FIP early

12:31
Travis Sawchik: It’s not that you cannot succeed at 88 mph (see Rich Hill) but the spin has to be special

12:31
Travis Sawchik: Manaea might have two plus secondary offerings when they’re right but I mostly worry about what this means for his health

12:32
Belted: How many more productive years does Buster Posey have to have to be a lock for the HoF?

12:32
Travis Sawchik: Better question for Jay Jaffe

12:32
Travis Sawchik: But Posey has the multi-year peak you’re looking for (which ought to be most important)

12:33
Scott Boyer: Travis did you create another updates positional power ranking article for bullpens yet?

12:33
Travis Sawchik: !!!

12:33
Travis Sawchik: Some of the top bullpens are off to rocky starts …

12:33
Zach: What aspects of the Pirates early success should I be most excited about?

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Taillon, Polanco, Marte, Vazquez … Those guys have to be stars, they have the skills to be stars, and thus far they have been stars

12:34
Travis Sawchik: I wonder could Gerrit Cole be doing this in Pittsburgh?

12:34
Erik: It would be stupid to overreact to Ronald Acuna’s slow start in the minors. But he’s only had one season of success above the very low minors. What are the chances that he’s way overhyped?

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Very small

12:34
Guest: How underrated is JA Happ?

12:35
Travis Sawchik: He’s perhaps become underrated. Sold arm who gets it done in a unique way with the separation in movement on his 4- and 2-seamers

12:35
Zonk: I am holding out hope that Jason Heyward returns to offensive relevance.  Am I an idiot for doing so?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: One of the great mystery’s in the game is what happened to that above-average bat. Swing has just looked broken for so long

12:37
Oden: Everyone complaining about the schedule, but who could have known that the Tigers not leaving MI, IL, OH and PA until April 27 was a bad idea?!?!?

12:37
Travis Sawchik: Really bad idea

12:37
Travis Sawchik: Northeast and Midwest clubs ought to spend the first 10 days of the season on extended trips West, South and in domes

12:37
Travis Sawchik: Of course, a 154-game schedule would help

12:37
Travis Sawchik: But that seems like a nonstarter

12:38
Depressed Orioles Fan: are we really this bad:(

12:38
Travis Sawchik: Sorry, man. Not a lot of reason for optimism. Gotta have more out of Gausman

12:39
Rockie Dangerfield: How about Adam Ottavino and that sweet negative FIP he’s rocking?  He’s faced 31 batters so far and K’d 20 of them.

12:40
Travis Sawchik: I believe he designed a new slider this offseason and it’s working

12:40
normie daniels: any opinion on colin moran’s start to the season? do you see him as a long term option for the pirates?

12:40
Travis Sawchik: He’s a 2017 swing changer and he can be an above-average MLer, I think. At least as part of the strong side of a platoon

12:40
Ben Aflac Duck: Re: Seager.  Going back to last August when elbow issues first got on the radar, dude’s got an 83 wrc+ over 259 PA.  The BB/K rate is about the same, but the depressed BABIP lines up with lower Hard% with more Soft% and Med%.  Maybe fair to call these simple early season sss struggles, but maybe not.

12:41
Travis Sawchik: If he’s not healthy, yeah, that’s a problem

12:42
Drocker: Guy is trying to get Torres, Kopech, Beuhler and he has Taillon, Tucker, Glasnow, Eloy Jimenez, Meadows, Swanson, Brendan Rodgers, Gore and Yelich that excite me most….any tips on what I should do to add to this core or get appropriate value? I also have Keuchel who I sort of want to offload. Thanks!

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Eloy Jimenez for me

12:42
Eric: Rich Hill and Quintana going to rebound?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: I think so, but Quintana’s velo is down. Is he OK?

12:43
Padres Relievers: What’s up with the Padres reliever usage? They have four guys in the top 20 for Relief IP year-to-date.

12:43
Travis Sawchik: Better question for Dave Cameron’s chat

12:44
Q: Quintana has 2 out of 3 bad starts including a little velo concern.  He’s had to pitch in a couple of brutal weather games this year already, although didn’t look great in Miami.  Any reason for concern or just April baseball?

12:44
Travis Sawchik: I wouldn’t be too worried yet … unless  we don’t know about an injury

12:45
HankLloydWright: Thoughts on Clint Hurdle saying Baez doesn’t respect the game? (respect the game is maybe my single least favourite baseball-related phrase)

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Didn’t seem to be a big hit in Chicago … and the Pirates are having their own post-game dance parties

12:46
ES: Not really a numbers question, but when will the standard for the HoF be lowered from 300 wins for pitchers, considering Verlander is 35 and hasn’t broken the 200 mark yet?

12:47
Travis Sawchik: Wins won’t be a standard at all in about 20 years

12:47
Travis Sawchik: Well, they shouldn’t be

12:47
Travis Sawchik: The electorate will be changing

12:47
Jack Glasscock’s Cup: Are you back in Cleveland?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: I am!

12:48
FailSon: say something nice about THE Philadelphia Phillies before it all goes horribly wrong, and they come crashing back down to earth.

12:48
Travis Sawchik: I generally like what the Phillies have going on. Big on the Phillies in 2019

12:48
Ozzie’s Hair: At what point should a switch-hitter consider giving up switch-hitting?  I know it is still a small sample size, but career now Albies is .258/.316/.437 left-handed, pretty mediocre, and an absurd .397/.453/.750 right-handed.

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Let’s see the sample grow

12:49
Zvazda: What ended up happening with Dustin Ackley? Was it just a case of prospects not panning out sometimes?

12:50
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, scouting and development is still not a science and may never be

12:51
Avery: Whats Ozzies ceiling looking like now? Could he be a 20/30 guy?

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I mean I feel like just about every ML hitter has 20-HR potential nowadays

12:51
BSun: Why is no one talking about Kurt Suzuki? He has struck out only once in 37ABs this year. Hitting everything in the air with that 0.43 GB/FB ratio. Altho small sample size, he seems to be improving from last season with better walk rate, decreased K Rate, and hitting more balls in the air? Not impossible to have a late breakout for a catcher at age 33-34 right? I’m very bullish on him

12:52
Travis Sawchik: !!!Fly-Ball Revolution Alert!!!

12:52
Juan Fernando: If you could only use one utensil for the rest of your life, which would you choose?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: The fork is the Trout of utensils

12:53
The Toddfather: If you were to combine Bartolo’s pitching know-how and experience with Syndergaard’s stuff, would you have the greatest pitcher of all time?

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Quite possibly

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Sadly, velo and wisdom have opposite arcs

12:55
Momus: You can’t get mad at teams for keeping young potential stars down in the minors longer, it would be irresponsible for management not to do that.  Get mad at the league (and MLBPA) for creating the massive incentive that causes this annual charade.

12:55
Travis Sawchik: Teams are operating rationally and within the rules, no doubt. MLBPA has some work to do

12:55
Mac: Is Robert Gsellman chad green?

12:55
Travis Sawchik: I’m a believer

12:56
ceasar: if senzel comes up, what happens when suarez returns? Do one of them take over ss?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: I really want to see what Senzel can do at SS

12:56
LenFuego: MLB batting average is down from .255 last year to .239 this year, HRs per team down from 1.26/gm to 1.06/gm, Ks per team up from 8.25 to 8.87.  This cannot all be cold weather.  Has MLB done something to the ball to squelch the HR revolution, and in the process brought on 1968 all over again?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: I think the weather is part of it, but Rob Arthur reported the ball might have changed (again), too

12:57
Wockenfuss: Would Mets have interest in James McCann?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: Meh

12:57
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think so

12:58
20longyears: Fun April fact: as of this morning, Corey Dickinson has offered the most defensive value in all of baseball.  It’s been a nice honeymoon in PNC Park’s left field.

12:58
Travis Sawchik: And his glove was supposed to be suspect … Dickerson has been one of the best offseason pickups to date, obviously

12:58
3 Ben Sheets to the Wind: Jose Martinez is raking.  If he stops hurting himself, is he a top 10 1B?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Yes

12:58
Wade boggs’ head: What’s that SD outfield look like in a month?  Seems crowded at the moment.

12:59
Travis Sawchik: We could really use semi-regular Dave Cameron chats

12:59
Rick: Personally, I am not a fan of shortening the season…think baseball is a game of history and we don’t want asterisks next to everyone’s statistics going forward…plus i’m selfish and I want as much baseball as possible…what’s the problem with starting the season later and having it extend further into October + do a WS dome or warm city venue the way the NFL does it?  Homefield advantage be damned!  Snow + baseball doesn’t mix.

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, going to 154 would make some milestones more difficult to reach … but it feels like too much is trying to be packed into seven months

1:01
Matt: Is there any pressure from the players’ union to reschedule postponed games late in the season and then not play them if they won’t effect playoff positioning? I can’t imagine the players are happy losing so many off days in the summer.

1:01
Travis Sawchik: I cannot imagine players love losing their off days

1:01
Travis Sawchik: But that’s probably down the list of concerns for the next CBA

1:02
Avery: Will Lance McCullers ever make it 6+ innings on a consistent basis? I feel like that’s the main thing keeping him from being a top 15 pitcher

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Lot of deep counts, right? I am full testing conventional wisdom with pitch usage but it might reduce your innings

1:03
bob cobb: do you think the defensive spectrum is in need of re-evaluation in the era of the shift?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: It probably needs to be examined but SS-C-CF are still the most important positions, imo

1:04
john: Thoughts on Joey Lucchesi?

1:04
Sean: Can Lucchesi sustain this?

1:04
Travis Sawchik: He has an encouraging milb track record … Padres bullpen is super interesting

1:05
Sean: Holy plate discipline gains! Are you buying Matt Chapman’s early improvements?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: He’s been like one of two people on the planet better at baseball than Ohtani

1:06
Travis Sawchik: I believe to a degree. He’s posted 4.1 fWAR in his first 100 games/393 plate appearances and appears to be getting better

1:06
Llewelyn: I don’t understand why people seemed so surprised by the Red Sox hot start. Roster-wise they’re up there with just about any other team. Is it just people forgot they have good pitching, hitting and defense because the Yankees are going to hit 1000 home runs

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Somehow the Red Sox got overlooked

1:07
Travis Sawchik: A lot of it has to do with the Yankees

1:07
bob cobb: how seriously do you think teams take “the fringe five” and do you think it has played into Max Schrock being traded twice already?

1:08
Travis Sawchik: I would think the Fringe Five has caught the attention of a team or two

1:08
Travis Sawchik: Padres better not steal Carson from us

1:08
Alan: brandon Nimmo 29.8 ft/sec yesterday !!!

1:08
Travis Sawchik: !!!!

1:08
Travis Sawchik: Who says ‘no’ to Nimmo for Mejia?

1:08
Travis Sawchik: Just throwing it out there

1:09
Moltar: I know the season wasn’t always this long, but was the schedule always so wonky to start the season? Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t the schedule made by like one old couple for decades until they retired not that long ago? I wonder what the lack of a human touch has to do with the bad scheduling lately.

1:09
Travis Sawchik: That is true. It’s cpu-generated now and I’m not sure how much human oversight there is

1:10
Jack Glasscock’s Cup: How about Mejia’s legal troubles?  10% of his future earnings!!!

1:10
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, that’s not a great deal — but it sounds like he was in a tough spot. Interesting to see how it plays out,

1:10
Trashman: Have we ever seen a pitcher reinvent/upgrade his stuff more than Charlie Morton?

1:10
Travis Sawchik: Gerrit Cole?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Cole’s spin rate increase is curious

1:11
Paul Strelow: What are your thoughts on McCullers ROS?

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Hi Paul! … I’d be buying but maybe he’s become a bit oo extreme in approach

1:12
Mountie Votto: So, uhh, the Reds are pretty bad, huh

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Sorry, Joey

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Really want to see Votto in October while he’s still very good

1:12
Sean: With so many things on MLB’s agenda to address, is climate change another issue!?! I mean, they’re the only one of the big-four sports that plays outdoors and is weather-dependent.

1:13
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, MLB has gotta get more green friendly

1:13
Travis Sawchik: Does every park have the compost bins like at AT&T yet?

1:13
North Bill: Marlins have already had multiple 6,000ish attendance home games. What will their smallest crowd be?

1:13
Travis Sawchik: When you sue your own season-ticket holders and trade away the NL MVP …

1:13
DEF: Baseball’s 162 game season is a marathon, and a big part of the attraction. Want to shorten the overall season? fewer rest days during the playoffs, forcing teams to rely on the 25 man roster the same way they do during the regular season.

1:14
Travis Sawchik: Interesting idea. The game is too warped in the postseason. That really doesn’t happen to the same degree in other sports

1:14
Chuck: Can you call up Nick Senzel please and thank you.

1:14
Travis Sawchik: I got Nimmo back. I’ll see what I can do 😉

1:14
Travis Sawchik: Alright folks, thanks for all the great questions

1:15
Travis Sawchik: Same time next week

1:15
Travis Sawchik: 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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