Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:02
Travis Sawchik: Happy Monday, folks

12:02
Travis Sawchik: Let’s get started, shall we?

12:03
Zock Jr.: I don’t know what’s better: Mookie’s performance or the fact that xwOBA thinks he’s actually deserved better results.

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Trout is still the best player in the world but Mookie is making it an interesting conversation. He’s always had elite eye-hand skills and now he’s learned to produce game power

12:05
westcoaster: Travis! Mookie is on pace for like a 50/40 season. No question really, just wanted to point that out.

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Not bad

12:05
Zock Jr.: Also Mookie already has exactly 2 fewer barrels than he had in his entire 2016 (2nd place MVP) season.

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Mookie for president

12:06
Chapultepec Audiorama: Is Josh Hader a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate, and should he be?

12:06
Travis Sawchik: If he can strike out two batters per inning for an entire season, and often in high-leverage spots, that’s pretty special

12:08
B. Ryce Hammer’s Luscious Locks: Travis! Long time, no chat! Had to stay home sick today. I love the 21st century and it’s expected job benefits like sick time.

12:08
B. Ryce Hammer’s Luscious Locks: Is there any way to make my voice heard to the BlueJays FO about calling up the new and improved Vladdy? I just need a protest sign and a location, my man!

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Your voice has been heard!

12:09
Travis Sawchik: Vlad could hit right now but it’s matter of maximizing the service time, etc

12:10
v2micca: I was talking with a friend about Mike Trout the other day and we began speculating on how low his wRC+ would have to get before we started wondering what was wrong with him.  The number we came up with was 155.  We then realized the absurdity of that statement, but still maintained it applied in the case of Trout.

12:10
Travis Sawchik: I’d set the mark at like 135 but far enough

12:12
Chuck: Do the red sox have the package needed to get Realmuto?  and how could they get rid of the necessary salary to add him?

12:13
Travis Sawchik: Red Sox have had a below-replacement catching situation to date so the need is there in a tight AL East race

12:13
Travis Sawchik: I think the Red Sox have the assets to get it done and could probably get creative with cash

12:14
Pip: I’m curious about what your thoughts on Manfred are. Fans are consistently blasting him, but we rarely hear opinions from people with close ties to the industry. Just would like to hear your thoughts on how hes handled things like juiced balls, the Marlins, dress code, and pace of play.

12:15
Travis Sawchik: On the big things, like appealing to future generation of fans, etc, I think he has been right and smart to focus there and pace is part of it

12:15
LosDoyers: I understand that Jordan Hicks throws a very hard sinker – but has anyone pitching that hard have such a low K-Rate and still be effective like  him? I still don’t understand

12:15
Travis Sawchik: Jordan Hicks throws 105 mph sinkers with like 60 inches of fade. Really. I have proof.

12:16
Travis Sawchik:

Jordan Hicks, 105mph Fastball movement. ???
20 May 2018
12:16
Travis Sawchik: It’s an unusual skill set for sure. I’m more worried about the command that swing-and-miss

12:17
yojiveself: is what the Rays are doing (RP to start the game) going to be the new norm?

12:17
Travis Sawchik: In 10 years, I think pitching labels are going to be thought of differently

12:18
Travis Sawchik: Love that the Rays did that. Makes sense to get Romo in key  right-on-right situations regardless of inning

12:19
Travis Sawchik: Amazing how Romo didn’t melt when he went out there. Rather, he struck out the side

12:19
Davoink Showerhandel: When are we getting the article about the Rays starting Sergio Romo two days in a row?  I love this; it’s the most fangraphs-y of fangraphs thing to ever happen.  Is Dave Cameron begging AJ Preller to make this happen as we speak?

12:19
Travis Sawchik: Soon 😉

12:19
Ted: Do you think Dahl gets any consistent playing time in the near future?

12:20
Travis Sawchik: He should. Rockies’ LF/RF/1B situations are horrendous. He’s been an above-average bat when he’s played

12:20
Pip: On that same Manfred note, isn’t his entire goal slightly contradictory? He wants to increase offense in the game to make it more “interesting”, while also making games shorter to help acheive that. But there is a direct correlation between game time and offense. If you increase offense, arnt you also inevitably increasing game time?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: I don’t know that increasingly offense is a major started goal (home runs, yeah, I guess) but the big thing is getting more balls in play. I’m not sure shrinking the strike zone helps that. I think it just creates more balls, more pitches, longer games

12:22
Friar’s Fading Faith: With diminishing returns on players like Austin Hedges, Hunter Renfroe, Manuel Margot, Wil Myers, and even some high-end prospects like Gore, Baez, Urias, Quantrill, and Tatis, is the Padres “core” going to be good enough? Personally, I can’t see half these guys contributing on a World Series-caliber team. Would it be better if they traded some of their depth for superstar talent (in a year or two)?

12:23
Travis Sawchik: Not all of these guys are going to plan out but I still like their U25 talent collection quite a bit

12:23
Comedy Central: What would you say are the odds the entire AL Central ends the season with losing records?

12:23
Travis Sawchik: There’s like a 6 percent chance or something. I think the Indians will finish around 90 wins but as for the rest of the division …

12:23
Travis Sawchik: AL Central is an argument for 8-team divisions once MLB arrives at 32 teams

12:25
AC: Speaking of that Hicks video, I feel like there have a been a lot more clips of pitches with crazy movement this season. Is this due to focus on spin rate, pitchers using substances, or another unintentional consequence of the ball changing?

12:25
Travis Sawchik: Velo keeps going up and spin is up, too. They are related. … But there are some that believe the game has a major pine tar/substance problem

12:26
Roman Numeral Three: Would mandating larger minimum field size requirements increase balls in play? I’d think that if each foul pole was at 350 feet, fewer guys would go all out for homers.

12:27
Travis Sawchik: Every stadium that has created larger dimensions (Comerica, Citi) has eventually brought in the fences. Citi has done it like three times

12:27
Travis Sawchik: People dig the long ball

12:27
Travis Sawchik: So while in theory it might help achieve some goals, I’m not sure fans want the power tradeoff

12:27
Michael: Who are the options for the Rockies to replace Desmond? Bour?

12:28
Travis Sawchik: He’d be on the list along with like every corner on a non-contender

12:28
Michael: Speaking of pitchers and substances, what would your guess be? Do you think Bauer is right?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: I think Bauer is onto something. Check out his first inning spin rate on May 1 (I think it was May 1)

12:29
CapnZippers: DeGrom and Syndergaard: 4.0 WAR combined
Everyone else to start a game for the Mets: -0.9 WAR combined

No question, just… damn

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Do you build around those guys and Conforto/Nimmo/Cespedes etc or blow it up? Tough spot

12:30
Travis Sawchik: I’d be exploring what returns deGrom and Thor could fetch

12:31
Dan: How about those Braves! Sure it was the Marlins, but…6 runs in the 9th is still a pretty epic comeback. Are they a serious wildcard or…gasp…division contender?

12:31
Travis Sawchik: Braves look pretty legit. I still like the Nats but the Braves have an incredible amount of young talent and more on the way

12:32
Rick Souddress: Regardless of how good Hader has been, I just don’t see how Scherzer isn’t the favorite at this point. Max is too dominant. He’s putting up a K% that is unprecedented in like double the innings. Hader will be the unfortunate victim of doing crazy things during the Verlander-Scherzer-led 2018 season.

12:33
Travis Sawchik: Max is the overwhelming favorite I just think Hader should be on the list

12:34
Roman Numeral Three: Alright. So, what would be *your* plan to keep homers up, yet also increase pace and balls in play? Fix baseball for the next generation!

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Keep batters in the box at all times, basically … and maybe lower the mound

12:34
Sravis Tawchik: World series prediciton?

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Astros over some team from the NL

12:35
Sonny Slayhern: Yankees have more quality players than roster spots. In the next week or 2, Kahnle, Warren, and Bird will have to be added to the roster. Off the top of my head, Gallegos (recently promoted for Clint), AJ Cole, are 2 of the easier options. What do you do with Bird? Release Walker outright? Option Torreyes or Austin who both have had great starts to the season. An Austin/Bird platoon at 1B sounds great in theory.

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Good problem to have. I suspect Neil Walker is in trouble

12:37
RE: Friar’s Fading Faith: Probably should look at Tatis’ numbers in May Before you say diminishing returns.  Quite an overreaction to include him there or any of the prospects. Renfroe-Hedges-Margot? Sure okay.

12:37
Travis Sawchik: Have faith, San Diego … Dave Cameron is there!

12:37
Chapultepec Audiorama: Would you support an NHL/NBA scheduling model of every team having a home and home against every other team? It makes me

12:38
Travis Sawchik: I’m not a fan of the unbalanced MLB schedule. I’d like to see a greater schedule diversity … and it put some teams at disadvantages in the Wild Card race

12:38
Brandon Belt: Will I be in the MVP conversation at the end of the year?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: Not sure but I don’t think you’ll be one of the game’s most underrated players any longer

12:39
Aj: Ohtani in the belongs in the HR derby.

12:39
Travis Sawchik: Yes!

12:39
F-Rome: Why are we so sure that starters need 4 days rest? Imagine Scherzer making 40 starts a year.

12:40
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think any team has figured out a way to optimize pitcher rest. We can look at history of starters on regular, short and extra rest but we also need to know pitch counts, high-stress innings, etc. Max is a freak. Bauer is a guy who could seemingly throw forever, too

12:42
JoMama: So if Trout is on pace to have the best season ever, and Mookie Betts is ahead in WAR, isn’t it Mookie Betts who’s on pace for the best season ever? Just want to make sure I’m analyzing things correctly.

12:43
Travis Sawchik: Yep. You have it right

12:43
cole: Imagine Hader in a 7 game series. Dude could start, or pitch from the 6th to the 9th

12:43
Travis Sawchik: He’d be an Andrew Miller Plus postseason model

12:43
Charles: Is this Astros rotation on pace to potentially be the greatest ever statistically?  All five starters in the top 50 WAR wise.

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, they are a threat

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Record for starting pitching WAR for a season (26.0), is held by the 1970 Cubs and 2011 Phillies … Astros already at 8.9

12:46
Travis Sawchik: But WAR isn’t the best measure because it’s accumulative, etc

12:47
Travis Sawchik: But ERA- … Astros (54) are No. 1 ahead of the 1906 Cubs (66) https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=all&qual=0…

12:47
Confortobly numb: Andrelton Simmons: now also incredibly in ways we can measure.  Can we get a piece on that 5% K rate??

12:48
Travis Sawchik: You do worse than a Simmons-Trout, SS-CF combo

12:49
Alex F: At this point, Goldy’s struggles have to be mental, right? A lot of peripherals match last year but his F-Strike is way up. Last year he hit .450 of 96+ and this year he’s hitting .063. Can bat speed just go away?

12:49
Travis Sawchik: That number vs. velo is a bit concerning but I can’t believe he’d lose a dramatic amount of bat-speed overnight

12:50
HappyFunBall: MIL should follow TB’s lead, and have Josh Hader start once every series just to blast throw the batting order that first time.

12:51
Travis Sawchik: If if could get him to matchup with , say, Bryce Harper twice in the early innings it could make some sense

12:51
cole: Correa or Lindor?

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Lindor

12:51
GERB: At this current pace, Jose Ramirez could have the best 3rd baseman season in the history of the game, and get no 1st place MVP votes. Wild

12:52
Travis Sawchik: Not a great time to be Lindor or Ramirez if you want to win an AL MVP

12:52
Rockie Dangerfield: Are pitchers with steeper downhill plane getting hit harder by hitters that are swinging for higher launch angles?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: It’s still most difficult to elevate a ball down in the zone, but there are more and more swings geared to take advantage of such pitchers

12:52
Ronnie: Jesus Aguilar has a 127 wRC+ in 430 MLB plate appearances over 2017-18. He has about a 130 wRC+ in over 1,500 AAA plate appearances. Steamer/ZIPS don’t buy it projecting 90/98 wRC+ ROS. How large does a sample need to be before the projections take it into account?

12:53
Travis Sawchik: When Aguliar retires with a 127 wRC+ 10 years from now, Steamer will still refuse to accept that it happened …  In all seriousness, I think we need to see a little more but he’s exceeding expectations

12:53
Fred: 6×6 OPS league. No middle infield. Would you trade Carrasco for Baez? Pitching… Porcello, Maeda, Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez, Cole Hamels, Pivetta, Freeland, Hellickson, Matz, Vazquez Treinen

12:55
Travis Sawchik: No. I have more confidence in Carrasco being a near ace than Baez being a plus bat. That .299 OBP is ugly

12:55
ohioastrosfan: What’s the date that allows TOR to maximize Vlads service time?

12:55
Travis Sawchik: Given where TOR is in the standings, probably June of 2019

12:56
River: The Jays should sign Vlad to a 6 year deal worth $60M. Call him up!

12:56
Travis Sawchik: Jays would want some free agency years and Vlad would probably want some more cash (a lot more)

12:57
ChiSox2020: How do you foresee the trade market for Jose Abreu shaping up this deadline?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: I’d move him, and I’d love to see Abreu and his power and high contact in Coors Field

12:58
jimmy: Sign Vlad for a 12 year 500M dollar deal tbh

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Vlad would do that, I’m pretty sure

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Or just give Vlad the franchise and have him pay the club

12:58
HappyFunBall: So the Nats are a SS shy of being able to field an entire lineup worth of MLB caliber players from their DL:

C – Weiters
1 – Zimmerman
2 – Murphy
3 – Kendrick
SS – ??
L – Eaton
C – Robles
R – Goodwin

P – J. Ross
RP – Madson
RP – Grace
RP – Gott
RP – Benoit
RP – Glover

12:58
Travis Sawchik: That’s pretty wild

12:59
Jeremy: At what point does a Vlad Jr. contract make sense? 10/120?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Seems in the right ballpark

12:59
Tom: Is Josh Donaldson done as an elite player?

1:00
Travis Sawchik: This was not the year he wanted to have entering free agency , that’s for sure

1:00
Travis Sawchik: He’s going to be 33 next season, the shoulder looks concerning … I think we’ve certainly seen Peak Donaldson now the question is can he rebound to what degree

1:00
Alex F: Do you think the Cards will employ a 6 man once Reyes is ready. So silly to demote Flaherty or put him in pen.

1:00
Travis Sawchik: Cards gotta keep Flaherty in the rotation

1:01
Alex F: Which SP has surprised you the most so far in terms of results?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Gerrit Cole

1:01
Travis Sawchik: I mean everyone thought he would benefit in going to Houston … but who saw him becoming Peak Pedro Martinez?

1:01
cole: Jack Flaherty has to stay in the majors now, right?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Yeah

1:02
Bo: What’s the biggest need for the Braves? They upgraded at 3B just by dumping Joey Bats.

1:02
Travis Sawchik: For me it’s a front-line starter but you could say that about 90 percent of teams

1:03
Travis Sawchik: Michael Fulmer could be interesting

1:05
LFC YNWA: Expectations for Jaun Soto?…Unless he really struggles  he is up to stay I think because the Nat’s outfield cupboard is bare to the bones due to injuries and poor performances.

1:05
Travis Sawchik: Performance will dictate his stay. He was in Low-A ball last month, so this is an amazing climb.

1:06
Travis Sawchik: I have no idea what to expect

1:06
Trading Places: How much sense does a deGrom to Braves trade make?  They can give back a couple of high ceiling arms (Wright/Allard seems like a great starting place) and have plenty of complimentary pieces, no?

1:06
Travis Sawchik: I know intradivision trades aren’t popular but if Mets fall further out they could be logical partners

1:08
Cube Jockey: Does the players’ union have any input on changes made to the baseball?  At some point a pitcher is going to be severely injured due to the increase in exit velocity.

1:09
Travis Sawchik: They have a voice to make concerns heard but I don’t think ball properties are part of the CBA, for instance (though I could be wrong)

1:09
Marc: I feel like the AL Central should be the main argument against an unbalanced schedule-if the Indians are doing this poorly there’s no way they should get a break from having three tanking/terrible teams in their division.  They should win the division by multiple digits, but if they’re not that good then they have about as much a right to avoid the wild card game as the Tigers.

1:11
Travis Sawchik: I’m in favor of two divisions in each league for this reason and for more schedule diversity  … although I do have some sympathy for smaller-market fans, and without a salary cap, the three-division format sort of levels the market-size playing field

1:11
ChiSox2020: Follow up: Agree that Abreu to Rockies makes sense. Does Brendan Rodgers for Abreu make sense for both sides?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Rockies aren’t trading Rodgers for a Age 31 corner. Sorry!

1:11
ohioastrosfan: Do you buy Daniel Robertson’s new swing changes making him a 25~ HR hitter

1:11
Travis Sawchik: I do

1:12
Stormy Trumpleskin: Kyle Wright, Austin Riley and Christian Pache for Michael Fulmer – who says no?

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Pache for The Tigers

1:12
Scott: A’s have a chance at the WC if their SP’s get healthy?

1:12
Travis Sawchik: There’s a chance, not a great one

1:14
Heathcliff Slocumb: How wild is it that the Red Sox, Yanks, and Astros all have the same projected record now?  To think one of the AL East teams will have to win a play-in game is just bonkers.

1:15
Travis Sawchik: Top three run differential teams in baseball: Astros +98, Yankees +76, Red Sox +75 and one of them is going to get screwed facing Ohtani in the Wild Card game

1:15
Travis Sawchik: Alright folks, I have to go. Thanks for stopping by!

1:15
Travis Sawchik: Until next week, 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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IAmColonelReb
Member
IAmColonelReb

“Kyle Wright, Austin Riley and Christian Pache for Michael Fulmer – who says no?”

I say no

vslyke
Member
Member

As a Braves fan, I recoiled in horror at the thought.