Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:01
Travis Sawchik: Howdy

12:01
Travis Sawchik: Let’s chat …

12:01
Mariner Moose: Any chance the WBC will be broadcast on network TV in the future?

12:03
Travis Sawchik: The chances have perhaps increased with the ratings increase this go-around. I think if nothing else the WBC has shown us it deserves to continue to exist. Lots of compelling stuff happening on the field. And apparently its something like a national holiday/festival in Japan. … I still think the WBC deserves a new place on the calendar as conflicting with the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament isn’t a great place to reside as a sporting event

12:04
Sravis Tawchik: Bullish or bearish on Strasburg this season?

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Lots of people seem down on Strasburg. Part of that is he’s not a good bet to reach 200 innings. Part of it is the expectations he will always have to deal with given his prospect pedigree. But few pitchers are better bets to give 150 ace-quality innings. For me, I’d value him like a right-handed Rich Hill. So what I’m saying is, I like him quite a bit.

12:07
Wayne: Do you think 270/340/420 with 12 HR 15 SB and good defense is too optimistic for Swanson’s rookie year?

12:07
Travis Sawchik: That seems somewhat reasonable.

12:08
Frank Castle: Hey Sawman! Do you think my Red Sox might throw a bone Atlanta’s way to try to acquire one of their vet starters ?(Colon, Dickey, or Garcia)

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Hey neighbor, I think it’s certainly plausible. I have to think part of the reason Atlanta signed Colon and Dickey was to flip them for something

12:08
Paul: Do you think Atlanta has a chance to pick up a few more mid-tier prospects at the deadline? They have some short term veterans.

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I think that

12:08
Travis Sawchik: ‘s probably part of their plan

12:09
JRuby: Travis, which player has the biggest discrepancy between good defensive tools and actual defensive performance? In other words, who looks like he should be a great defender but can’t put it together?

12:10
Travis Sawchik: Great question. Sadly, I cannot give you an answer at this very moment. Dave’s piece on Miguel Sano last week was fascinating. Sano is a poor outfielder, but Statcast suggests his tools should player better at third base. So another use for new data is finding optimum defensive homes for skill-sets

12:10
Chuck Berry: Is it way too early to classify someone like Stanton as injury prone?

12:11
Travis Sawchik: I think with Stanton it’s actually a bit earlier since some of the injuries have been freak-ish in nature. I still think he can put together some seasons of 150-plus games. He doesn’t have a chronic injury, so that’s working in his favor

12:12
Craig: Really interesting article on Sean Burnett. Have you heard of anyone else taking things to this extreme? link for anyone who missed it! http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/sean-burnett-tried-to-break-ucl-is-trying-now-to-blaze-trail/

12:13
Travis Sawchik: Thanks! I have not. And it shows us the lengths to which players will try to stay on the field. But important to add this: Kids, don’t try that at home

12:13
Matt: I think hitter streaming is far more effective than pitcher streaming, especially when the rest of your league only goes for pitchers. Thoughts?

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Congratulations, you’ve identified a market inefficiency!

12:15
Travis Sawchik: I do think there is value to be gained from more aggressive hitter streaming through splits matchups vs. L/R and home/road

12:16
Billy: take out your magic ball in 10 years the best baseball player is…….. Trout, someone else, or someone not playing yet

12:17
Travis Sawchik: Since peaks are usually mid to late 20s, I suspect it is someone who is not yet playing

12:17
Travis Sawchik: But maybe Trout will keep being Trout. We haven’t seen Corre

12:17
Travis Sawchik: a’s best days …

12:17
Hank: It appears that Gerrit Cole’s spring has been encouraging. Touched 97 on the gun according to reports. I feel like Cole is kind of a “forgotten ace” due to his injury plagued down year. In your opinion, can Gerrit Cole regain his ace form and be the true #1 the Pirates thought they were getting when they drafted him?

12:18
Travis Sawchik: Cole was derailed before spring training last year (rib injury) and never seemed to be able to get on track or stay healthy (three DL trips). He was so good in 2015 in large part because he was healthy. I still think he needs a pitch to better combat LHH, he doesn’t seem to trust his changeup, but he should be closer to 2015 form than 2016.

12:19
davels: assuming optimal health for both… who do you prefer long term, Benintendi or Mazara?

12:19
Travis Sawchik: Benintendi. That hit tool is going to play for a long time

12:21
mtsw: So it’s totally weird that Brady Anderson, a member of the O’s front office, has a locker in the clubhouse and dresses in uniform sometimes right? Am I overrating how strange this is because it seems very strange.

12:23
Jack: Is Marcus Stroman a CY young contender if everything goes right?

12:23
Travis Sawchik: There just are not a lot of 5-foot-8 Cy Young contenders….so I’m hesitant to buy in to that degree

12:23
Eric: Do you think there is any circumstances that could arise where Atlanta would explore trading Teheran, Freeman, or Ender? Could a horrible year derail plans, maybe make it a longer rebuild?

12:24
Travis Sawchik: Sure. There’s always a price. I suspect Teheran would be the most likely to be dealt with Braves’ collection of young arms and demand for pitching

12:24
Late round SP’s: Tell me I’ll hit on a couple of the following in being productive this year – McCullers, Nola, Cobb, J.Ross, & Shoemaker

12:25
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I like most of those guys. Nola might have been the most unlucky pitcher in baseball last season. Let’s not forget how good Cobb was pre-injury

12:26
Phantastic: i’ve had a hard time identifying a good comp for M Moniak. does Benintendi make sense if all goes well for Moniak?

12:26
Travis Sawchik: He is a tough guy to comp. That makes some sense … maybe a little less bat, more glove?

12:27
Jim: The Braves should and will trade anyone for the right price. Every team should.

12:28
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, in theory. But if a team became a high-volume trader then it might become more difficult to sign FA among other considerations

12:28
not fast fastballs: Any reasons to be optimistic on these former aces that now can’t throw more than 90 (felix, greinke, etc) and have shown sharp declines over the last year?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: Greinke was hurt by poor OF and C defense last season. Both should be improved in Arizona. I’d be more concerned about Felix, but the best day for each are in the rear view

12:29
American League boyz: Kipnis out for 5-6 weeks. how bad does that hurt the Tribe?

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Not too much if that turns out to be his timetable for return to normal performance. But after Brantley last season, I understand if Tribe fans are freaking out

12:30
Craig: If Lucroy can regain his elite framing numbers what kind of contract would he be looking at in FA this coming off-season?

12:32
Travis Sawchik: No one’s framing numbers will have ever been followed so closely as Lucroy’s in 2017. http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/what-can-a-full-season-of-lucroy-do-for-the-rangers/ It will be interesting to see if he was just really hurt by an erratic and poor Brewers staff. Framing is supposed to age well not drop off a cliff, but maybe it’s less of an independent skill than we realize

12:32
Hank: How would you set up the Astros lineup? I feel like Springer is somewhat miscast as a leadoff guy, because of the high K rate, although the OBP is really good. I feel like an Altuve/Bregman/Correa/Springer top of the lineup would be more advantageous.

12:33
Travis Sawchik: I actually like Altuve in a position where has more opportunity to drive in runs…but probably not a ton of value to extract regardless of placement

12:33
fresh basil: Love having a Bucs guy on FG! But I have a dumb fantasy question. I’m torn between keeping Jose Ramirez or Piscotty. Both same $. Love them both can only keep one.

12:34
Travis Sawchik: I prefer Ramirez due to the infield glove … and he might become 2B eligible this season

12:34
Kristen: How unique is TEX’s total inability to develop starting pitching, and is there something inherently wrong with the franchise’s philosophy/scouting/coaching that their SP prospects only excel once they’ve moved onto other teams, e. g., Tanner Roark, Eickhoff, Hendricks, etc.? They gave up on Dillon Tate so quickly due to a drop in velocity, yet once the Yanks got him his velocity jumped back up to pre-draft levels.

12:35
Travis Sawchik: We know Texas is generally thought to be a tough place to pitch, but maybe there is something to drill down into here. Certain clubs due have superior or lesser development plans and philosophies

12:35
Jim: Mitch Keller. What can you tell us? The BB and HR supression looked real last year and he’s not without his Ks. What’s not to like?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Top pitching prospect in the system and one of the club’s most valuable overall assets. I prefer him to Glasnow

12:36
Wes: Do you read anything into Duffy’s velocity being down 1.5 mph from last year? Do you believe in Duffy this season even if his velocity is down?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Guys are still working arms into shape at this point, but that’s a little concerning. More velo is always good. But Duffy does have two other quality pitches in his curveball and change to navigate through a lineup

12:37
Boston Jones: Can you further explain the Red Sox catching situation? Is Swihart really not good enough/ better than these other options that he’s not going to make opening day roster

12:37
Travis Sawchik: Could be a case of Swihart has milb options and club just wants to maintain flexibility. But I’m a little baffled why he doesn’t seem to have more trust of the FO (assuming those throwing issues are behind him)

12:38
Steve: There’s always talk about shortening the regular season. Why not just make spring training shorter. Everyone seems to agree it doesn’t need to be this long.

12:38
Travis Sawchik: I think you’d find a lot of players on board with this. While clubs don’t make a ton of cash off spring training games, the local economies in Fla and Zona would not be in favor of fewer games

12:39
CamdenWarehouse: Kristen, the Orioles starting pitcher development woes say hello

12:39
Travis Sawchik: True … But let’s see Dylan Bundy’s next chapter, which hopefully will include more pitching up in the zone

12:39
Marc: Hey Trav, I’m in a 14 team dynasty league that uses DRS as a category, and I’m thinking of offering up Kevin Kiermaier in exchange for passes to the premier of the Emoji Movie, in theaters August 4. Should I go for it?

12:40
Travis Sawchik: Man, if you’re that hard up for a ticket I will buy you one

12:40
Joe: Shouldn’t a higher strikeout rate be an argument in favor of Springer hitting leadoff? Leadoff hitters probably hit with runners on base less often than any other spot in the lineup, so it seems like excessive strikeouts would have the least impact from that spot.

12:40
Travis Sawchik: Agreed

12:40
Phantastic: I saw the post about Smyly’s velocity in the WBC. Do you believe in that sample and his ability to translate that to the regular season (possibly 30+ starts) or am i wise to stay away

12:41
Travis Sawchik: I think it’s an interesting data point … but I would make huge changes in your opinion based up that alone. Smyly might have been pumped up to pitch in that game. I’d more excited about his willingness to pitch up in the zone and playing in the AL West

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Excuse me while I warm-up my coffee …

12:44
Travis Sawchik: OK, I’m back. (Grind your own beans, and employ the french press, folks)

12:44
Spicy Felix!: Looking at the auction calculator, all the elite closers are near the most expensive pitchers in my league. Chapman is the 4th hiighest valued pitcher for example. Standard 5×5 plus K/9 and OPS with only “P” slots instead of SP and RP. Does this seem right? Should I really be targeting top relievers that early? Sort of makes sense that I could heavily stream starters, but it seems strange they are all valued so high

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, but hasn’t this always been a thing? Think about 1990s LABR auction prices for closers. I do think there’s something to be said about paying an extra dollar or two for a closer in a stable situation … but I can also see the strategy of not wanting to pay for saves. I think we should all just agree to kill the save in fantasy

12:46
Sim: Would you take Paxton over Hill?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Not for 2017

12:46
CamdenWarehouse: Don’t SPs usually say they need the full spring to get ready? Hitters, on the other hand, don’t.

12:47
Travis Sawchik: True. But I

12:47
Travis Sawchik: ‘m not sure teams really best know how to get pitchers ready for a season

12:47
Travis Sawchik: All 30 teams seem to adopt the same practice, but is it really the best approach?

12:48
Turd Ferguson: Who’s the best SP on the Mariners this year? I’m big on the Smyly rebound train

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I like Smyly. And if the velo spike is real then … look out. But I’d probably lean Paxton right now

12:49
Reginald Denton III: H2H points league…would you keep Stanton or Bregman? Projections seem pretty low on Stanton…

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Stanton. He’s going to stay healthy one of these years

12:50
Sam: I know Nova has pitched well for the Bucs, but it is cool that I’m still thrilled we got Steven Tarpley and Tito Polo for him? Polo looked fun in the WBC and I’ll take a lefty that hits 95 any day.

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Brian Cashman had a nice deadline

12:51
davels: Why down on Glasnow? I get that the walks are too high… but he’s been dominant in the MiLB, and gotta think he’ll figure out his body mechanics at some point, no?

12:51
Travis Sawchik: I still think he might end up in the bullpen. Just not a lot of successful 6-7, 6-8 starting pitchers

12:52
Pappy: Yoan Moncada is smashing! Any chance of breaking camp with the big club? if not, when do you see him getting the call?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: No reason to rush him or start his clock … Be patient, White Sox

12:52
Chuck: Thoughts on Thames. Can he compete in MLB?

12:53
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I actually liked Thames’ swing and approach before he went over to the KBO. Now, apparently he’s in a better place. I think he’s going to be a solid 1b option for Brewers

12:53
Sim: But Hill has only pitched well for one season and Paxton has always showed flashes of greatness!

12:54
Travis Sawchik: 1.2 seasons for Hill, Sim

12:54
Steve: Do you think I could get a Pirates Baseball Ops internship with a BIS video scouting job under the belt?

12:55
Travis Sawchik: Don’t let the fear of striking out prevent you from playing the game – Abraham Lincoln

12:55
Reginald Denton III: Re: Maddon’s suggestion that the WBC champ play the WS champ. Would this be in March or after the season ends?

12:55
Travis Sawchik: That would be kind of cool…. or a Euro-style champions league

12:56
Runaway Jim: Besides money obligations, is there any reason to keep Matt Cain in the starting rotation? Both Blach and Beede look like better options for SF….

12:56
Travis Sawchik: The innings look to have caught up to Matt Cain

12:57
Phantastic: i’ve asked about possible devices/sleeves/additives that could help pitchers stay away from UCL injuries before and never got a great response. What’s your opinion? If a proven and effective device rolls out that keeps pitchers healthier in game situations, is it reasonable to allow them to wear it?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I don’t see why not. It’s not going to affect spin or velo

12:58
David Phelps’s Mom: Travis, are there any pitchers that you can see making the Danny Duffy-type jump from the bullpen to the rotation this year?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: How about David Phelps? I guess Bundy doesn’t count …. but I do think Bundy is going to be really good this year

12:59
E: I hate that managers wear jerseys, especially the pants. They look ridiculous. I don’t really know what else they would wear, polos seem kinda boring, suits aren’t really realistic being outdoors.

1:00
Travis Sawchik: Maybe a trainer-like fashion? Khakis and some sort of team apparel (light jacket pullover)

1:01
Paul: Who do you think will have a better 2019 starting rotation: The Phillies or the Braves?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Phillies have higher floor, Braves have higher ceiling … I guess I’d pick Phillies since Nola and VV have arrived and are already good

1:01
Terry: Austin Hedges continues to crush the ball this spring, any chance he is an allstar type catcher in the future? .260 with 20 home runs and his defense makes arguably the best catcher in baseball.

1:02
Travis Sawchik: This new swing seems like it’s a thing. That’s huge for Padres. Few players have potentially increased their value more than Hedgers over the last year if it sticks

1:03
Travis Sawchik: Shameless plug: Our positional power ratings series began today with catchers — http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/2017-positional-power-rankings-catcher/

1:04
Wes: If you had to choose one to give $400 million to in 2018, which do you choose, Harper or Machado?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: Yankees might give it to both … Harper has more upside with bat, but I do like that Machado has three 155-game seasons under his belt

1:05
OnTilt: Benintendi ranks as #1 prospects on some lists(Moncada as well). If Bregman still retained his rookie status, where would he fit? #1, #2 or #3?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: I think he’d rank third on most lists

1:06
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Should the rule 5 draft’s restrictions on time on the roster be tightened to prevent teams from putting picks on the DL and subsequently rehabbing them until injuries make space for them and/or using September as part of the required time on the 25 man roster? The incentives seem perverse, especially since the players themselves should be happy to make big league money while “injured.”

1:06
Travis Sawchik: Not sure on Rule V … but i do think DL should be better policed. It’s essentially become a roster-manipulation tool in many cases. And that’s only going to increase with 10-day DL

1:07
Ham: Do you really see Heyward’s swing adjustment bringing back 2012 numbers for him?

1:08
Travis Sawchik: No. That seems like a tough rebuild project

1:08
Bryan Harvey: I’ve seen conflicting reports on Matt Harvey’s velocity. People in New York said he hit 96 in his last start. ESPN said he was at 92/93. Was he averaging 92/93 with a high of 96? More importantly, is there any word on his command? I’m not in New York, and obviously we don’y know how he’s going to pitch this year, but it’s been hard to get even a scouting report. Is he worth a shot?

1:09
Travis Sawchik: My understanding is that the velocity has been down, and unless it returns we are probably never again going to see pre-TJ Harvey

1:10
Vic: I’m starting to develop a dislike for drafting prospects in a 4 year keeper….That being said, Rosario and Brinson are available this year and they are worth the risk in my opinion. Do you think Tristen McKenzie is also worth the risk? Or 2017-2020 won’t give him enough time to provide 5 x 5 benefit?

1:10
Travis Sawchik: McKenzie seems like he’s pretty far away, probably not worth a pick this year

1:10
IsIt2017Yet?: Willing to take a guess at who has the best career: Cole, Taillon, Glasnow or Keller?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Cole, and he’s had a big head start. But I’d probably place Keller at No. 2 on the list

1:11
Keith Hernandez: What can a pitcher do to combat all of these hitters trying to improve their launch angle? Does a hitter trying to gain launch angle open up another gaping hole in their swing?

1:12
Travis Sawchik: If you have the rpms on your four-seamer, go up in the zone! There’s always going to be another adjustment, this cat-and-mouse game, but certain pitchers should be able to combat this new swing plane

1:12
Sterling Mallory Chris Archer: A name I haven’t seen in any FG chats all off-season. Mike Moustakas looked like the star he was supposed to be before getting injured in the early part of last year. He hit a bomb HR off a lefty last night. Think he can be a top 10 3B this year?

1:13
Travis Sawchik: If only he could cure that IFFB% problem

1:13
Travis Sawchik: Third base is pretty deep

1:14
Chet Steadman: Worse decision: Astros passing on Kris Bryant for Mark Appel, or Tom Selleck passing on Indiana Jones for Magnum P.I.?

1:14
Travis Sawchik: Wow. Those things really happened?

1:15
Moonlight Graham: Is Primanti’s overrated?

1:15
Travis Sawchik: That sandwiches are. But the environment/bar at the Mt. Lebo location are excellent

1:15
Tom: Does Dombrowski survive the offseason if the Red Sox miss the playoffs? He’s already depleted the farm system too.

1:16
Travis Sawchik: Not sure. I do know the Red Sox might regret depleting that farm system

1:16
Evil Goatee Jeff: In five years, do the Yankees have a top-five infield?

1:16
Travis Sawchik: If we are penciling in Machado

1:17
Tom A.: Supposedly Selleck was preliminary 1st choice for Indy, but they went a different direction. FWIW.

1:17
Travis Sawchik: Interesting decision by Mr. Selleck

1:18
Chip Hilton: Yelich or Polanco in an NL 5×5 league?

1:18
Travis Sawchik: Yelich. He’s a better hitter. Just wish he would incorporate some more lift

1:18
Phil: For the Brady Anderson wearing a jersey thing … as you say, he is a bit of a hybrid and works with the guys on their fitness, conditioning, etc… so probably makes sense for him to have a clubhouse presence and a locker for his gear. That said, apparently his influence is not liked by all: http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/brady-andersons-role-with-orioles-a-topic-of-debate-032017

1:18
Travis Sawchik: Good piece by Rosenthal

1:18
Walter: Chances that Carlos Gonzalez stays in the NL all year AND puts up big numbers? Is he worth a big price in an NL only 5×5 league?

1:19
Travis Sawchik: CarGo seems to be shedding his injury issues. As long as he isn’t traded, he should put up numbers

1:19
Sonny: I have Otani stashed in a 10 team H2H dynasty. Worth holding to see if he posts early?

1:20
Travis Sawchik: Heck yeah

1:21
Erik: Take a minor league hitter who is completely average for his level in every way except for his walk rate, which easily leads the league. At what level of the minors does that guy become a prospect, if ever?

1:21
Travis Sawchik: Sounds like a prospect to me

1:21
First Man on the Sun: Do you think in 50 years we’ll see new pitching archetypes that we’ve yet to witness? Care to speculate what might cause those changes and what they might be?

1:22
Travis Sawchik: Yep. The game is always evolving. Fewer and fewer arms are reaching 200 innings. Velo continues to go up. I think we’ll see more of a bullpen-ing concept and larger regular season rosters

1:23
Tom A.: How do big market teams now flex their muscles? Soft cap means can’t overspend for FA. Draft and international limits mean can’t overspend there. Did Yankees and Red Sox agree to a new system where they win less games, but maybe make more money?

1:23
Travis Sawchik: If the slowing of pre-arb extensions continues, free agency market place is going to hold more value. Plenty of flexing there

1:24
Hank: The worst trade Dombrowski made was the Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz. No one thought Pomeranz was anything more than a 4/5 starter, whereas Espinoza was a consensus top 20 pitching prospect. What was he thinking?!?

1:24
Travis Sawchik: I like that deal for the Padres, for sure

1:24
Tom A.: When you put Keller’s career ahead of Tailon, how much was health a factor? Assuming good health for both, do you still take Keller?

1:24
Travis Sawchik: I like Taillon. But there is the health history and lack of a third pitch at the moment. Smart kid, though, He will get the best out of himself

1:25
Will: I have read your book Big Data Baseball and looked at the data showing the dramatic increase in shift over the last 5 years, do you think this number will continue to rise year to year or eventually reach point where teams are shifting almost too much and that number goes down? and also do you think teams who are typically worse defensively or offensively are more inclined to use the shift to save runs?

1:26
Travis Sawchik: Thanks! We might be nearing peak shifting …. And there is research that suggests it’s not helping all that much at the moment. I do think teams with less talented infielders benefit more. For instance, the Cubs didn’t shift much (by definition) last season but had a historically great infield because of defenders like Russell and Baez

1:26
Travis Sawchik: Alright folks, thanks for all the great questions. Sorry I didn’t get to them all but I have to go write for you. Same place/time next week





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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CM52
5 years ago

I like Rich Hill quite a bit too, but he just signed a 48 million dollar contract in free agency with the ability to negotiate with 30 teams. I have to think a lot of people in the DC area are hoping that’s a pretty bearish comparison.