FanGraphs Chat – 5/14/14

11:43
Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday. No one has blown out their elbows yet, so get your questions in now before the Tommy John scourge hits you.
12:01
Dave Cameron: And because I see that the queue is full of fantasy questions, here’s your weekly reminder that I’m not a fantasy guy, and I’m the wrong person to ask. Eno will be here tomorrow, and Collette chats on Fridays. Ask them.
12:02
Comment From Chris A
Which stat do you like better, OBPA or WHIP?
12:02
Dave Cameron: I don’t know what OBPA, but I don’t like WHIP, so probably OBPA, assuming it doesn’t have something to do with number of orphanages pillaged.
12:02
Comment From Brad
Is Shelby Miller going to be ok? It sounds like it’s a mechanical issue, but he seems so far off from the beginning of last year.
12:03
Dave Cameron: He had a rough stretch in Triple-A a few years ago that he worked through, so I wouldn’t say there’s no chance for a recovery. That said, this isn’t a minor problem. He’s terrible right now.

12:04
Comment From Jon Sullivan
You have talked before about looking at Team wOBA – Team wOBA Allowed to measure a team’s skill. Would looking at Team wRC+ – Team wRC+ Allowed produce results that were any more accuate?
12:04
Dave Cameron: Nope. When you’re looking at the performance of a team on both sides of the ball, the park effects cancel out.
12:05
Comment From Indy
So if this was the old days, would all of these TJ victims just be out of the league? Would their best case scenario be scuffling along at replacement level or worse until their arms fall off or they decide to pack it in?
12:05
Dave Cameron: Yeah, arm problems used to be career ending. One of the reasons we have so many more guys needing surgery now is because we have guys who have come back to pitch who never would have before.
12:06
Comment From DC
Jose Fernandez :(
12:07
Dave Cameron: A month ago, I was debating with a friend over which pitcher would end up highest on the summer’s trade value series: Fernandez or Chris Sale. This month is a reminder why pitchers don’t rank very highly on that list.
12:07
Comment From STiVo
Are certain player-types more prone to streakiness than others… Maybe high-K–high-HR hitters?
12:08
Dave Cameron: Depends on how you define streakiness. High K/HR guys will have most of their value tied up in fewer events, so their value will be more variable simply due to the distribution of when they create their runs. Is that streakiness, or just an artifact of how they add value?
12:08
Comment From toot toot
would it make sense for the red sox to try to trade for Ethier, given their performance against righties has so poor?
12:08
Dave Cameron: His isn’t great either.
12:08
Comment From PJ
What possible moves do you see the Red Sox making by the trade deadline?
12:09
Dave Cameron: I think they make a blockbuster. Cliff Lee, Giancarlo Stanton, Jeff Samardzija… someone notable ends the year in Beantown.
12:10
Comment From Graham
When will the trend of ever-expanding bullpens crest? When will teams forgo their seventh and eighth relievers in favor of an extra bat/glove off of the bench?
12:10
Dave Cameron: Not any time soon. Teams aren’t able to find enough decent hitters to fill the DH spot at the moment; it’s not like there are good hitters sitting in the minors with nothing to do.
12:11
Comment From Guest
5 yrs ago, Big Papi seemed about done. Now, he has a chance at 500 HRs. What happened?
12:11
Dave Cameron: He had a bad month and everyone flipped out.
12:11
Dave Cameron: He’s a reminder of why you shouldn’t do that.
12:11
Comment From The Oriole Bird
It seems like lots of baseball misunderstanding occurs because people don’t realize that certain facts are merely statistical facts, such as when regression or small sample size is the answer to why something particular is happening. How can we communicate this better–other than simply repeating “regression to the mean”?
12:12
Dave Cameron: This isn’t a baseball problem, it’s a life problem. People hate to accept that events do not have an attributable cause that can be altered by simply doing something differently.
12:12
Comment From Devin
Think Pomeranz can resurrect his career in Oakland? I know he’s probably due for some regression, but he looks good right now.
12:13
Dave Cameron: If they can turn Jesse Chavez into something, they can certainly get value out of a former top pick.
12:14
Comment From Jays Fan II
Hi Dave. Thanks for doing the chat today. What does it take for you to see before you become a believer of certain players? Take for example, Juan Francisco. Virtually every single writer expects him to fall off a cliff soon enough, and while he likely will, I’m just curious as to what it would take for him to change all your minds? I remember hearing similar negativity years back when Jose Bautista first started mashing, and now he’s considered one of the top power bats in the game…
12:15
Dave Cameron: More than 88 plate appearances. It’s not impossible for a guy to make wholesale substantial changes and improve later in his career, but you shouldn’t assume every guy who has a good month has done just that. Time bears these things out.
12:15
Comment From Moop
Although I’d like to see him BB a little more, Erick Aybar is a pretty good SS right?
12:15
Dave Cameron: Yep.
12:16
Comment From Francisco Liriano
what do you think about me and my elevated walk rate compared to last year? It seems like i’m getting back to my days before I became a Pirate. Will I figure it out?! Or I should say, will Ray Searage finally figure it out…??? How do you think I’ll fare tonight against the Brewers??
12:16
Dave Cameron: You generally pitch well when you can throw 95. This year you’ve been throwing 92-93. Figure out how to get your velocity back.
12:17
Comment From Eminor3rd
Do you ever get to NYC for baseball games?
12:17
Dave Cameron: I was in NYC over the weekend, but Mets-Phillies didn’t really scream out to me as a game I had to get to.
12:17
Comment From Dewey
You tweeted with Balder the other day about somewhat believing in the “limited bullets” theory for pitchers. I posed the question to Jeff yesterday about a possible 6 man rotation, 26 man roster change, as it could add up saving roughly 5 starts a year. Granted quality of pitching may be diminished.
12:18
Dave Cameron: Teams want to win. They’re not going to shift five starts from their ace to a Triple-A scrub unless they have to.
12:18
Comment From Karl Popper
In which kinds of situations could a decision that doesn’t maximize run expectancy nonetheless maximize win expectancy?
12:19
Dave Cameron: When you only need one run to win, and the potential for a big rally is meaningless.
12:19
Comment From Van Down by the River
True or false: in low run-scoring environments, players should be more risk averse in attempting stolen bases?
12:19
Dave Cameron: False.
12:19
Comment From Jacoby
Dallas Keuchel the real deal?
12:19
Dave Cameron: Don’t think he’s this good, but groundballs and strikeouts are a nice combination.
12:20
Comment From Ethan
Many elite relievers tend to run HR/FB ratios, which in many cases turns an xFIP in the 3s into an ERA in the 2s. However, even over a few seasons a reliever still has a relatively small number of innings. Is a low HR/FB more of a skill for relievers or is most of the difference we think about between great and elite relievers just luck on fly balls?
12:20
Dave Cameron: It’s more of a skill for relievers because they tend to face more same-handed batters. Both HR/FB and BABIP are lower for R-R and L-L match-ups.
12:21
Comment From Bret
What would you tell an MLB team about drafting someone who will be coming off Tommy John before he can pitch for them?
12:21
Dave Cameron: “Are there no hitters available?”
12:22
Comment From Earl
Is Brian Dozier legit?
12:22
Dave Cameron: It’s hard to fluke your way into doubling your walk rate, especially given the whole team’s change in approach. I think there’s legitimacy to some of his breakout, for sure.
12:23
Comment From LouSeal
What are some companies doing meaningful work in Sports/Stats analytics and how do you see these solutions changing the game of baseball?
12:23
Dave Cameron: FanGraphs. Yes.
12:23
Dave Cameron: (that was tongue in cheek, in case it doesn’t come off that way.)
12:24
Comment From IWASONCEYOU
What’s wrong with WHIP?
12:24
Dave Cameron: You don’t want to evaluate pitchers on the number of hits allowed and pretend like it’s just measuring the pitcher.
12:25
Comment From TJ
If pitchers come back stronger after Tommy John because of the rehab, why aren’t more pitchers going through the same “rehab” before they actually get injured?
12:25
Dave Cameron: Pitchers don’t come back stronger.
12:25
Comment From Clive
Is Derek Norris this year’s Josh Donaldson?
12:25
Dave Cameron: No, that’s Jesse Chavez.
12:26
Comment From Pete
Gabe Kapler on Saberclips said FIP Is a better predictor of pitcher success than ERA. My question is, what exactly does FIP o xFIP predict? What is the dependent variable?
12:26
Dave Cameron: FIP predicts ERA better than ERA predicts ERA in smaller samples.
12:26
Comment From Cicero
What is more likely that Park Factors and therefor the + in wRC+/OPS+ is an inexact science or that guys like Matt Holliday and Adrian Beltre are much better hitters in their mid 30s than their mid 20s?
12:26
Dave Cameron: They’re better hitters.
12:27
Comment From JAC
Still don’t understand how advanced front offices put up with retrograde in-game tactics. Does is it really not matter (much), or are FOs unable to control what the field personnel do?
12:28
Dave Cameron: The primary responsibilities of a manager are not tactical in nature, so you’re hiring from a pool of people who need to possess leadership skills first. Finding leaders of men with baseball acumen and statistical chops is hard.
12:28
Comment From Cicero
Will Arenado make the Trade value list?
12:28
Dave Cameron: Probably not.
12:28
Comment From Not Jim Palmer
Jim Palmer said he “hates the shift” when pitchers throw down-and-away to lefties when third base has been vacated defensively. But game theory would easily show this to be dumb, right? If a batter being shifted against knew this zone were off limits, he’d be in a much better position to hit the ball hard?
12:29
Dave Cameron: Blake Murphy looked at this a few weeks back, and found that hitters pull even away pitches when they hit ground balls. It’s just very hard to hit an opposite field ground ball, no matter where you’re pitched.
12:29
Comment From GSon
In addition to the Chris Sale & Jose Fernandez arm issues, Jeff Hoffman, a top five SP prospect on most boards, has been slated to undergo TJ surgery. Should teams consider a post TJ surgery prospect higher than one who hasn’t had the procedure? Do the stats say this has merit?
12:30
Dave Cameron: No. Guys who have one TJ in the books are more likely to have a second.
12:30
Comment From Tim
Apart from just getting healthy, where do you see the Reds attempting to add this summer? Jocketty is going to do something to help that offense.
12:30
Dave Cameron: They need a better LF, SS, and maybe CF.
12:31
Comment From benj
“it’s not like there are good hitters sitting in the minors with nothing to do.” Awkward glance at St. Louis
12:31
Dave Cameron: Well, sure, there are some good prospects in the minors who could probably hit big league pitching today, but I was referring more to the types of players that a team would want to use off the bench. You don’t want Oscar Taveras as a pinch-hitter.
12:32
Comment From Reddickulous
Are you excited at all for the World Cup? Or are you a unilateral American baseball supremacist?!
12:32
Dave Cameron: I pay attention to soccer once every four years. The World Cup is awesome.
12:32
Comment From Flimsy Jimbo
Do most meaningful MLB stats demonstrate normal distributions? Any notable ones that don’t?
12:33
Dave Cameron: Most of them don’t. There is a much larger pool of below average players than above average players.
12:34
Comment From Guest
Any chance Lindor sees the big leagues this year
12:34
Dave Cameron: Sure. I could easily see Cabrera getting flipped at the deadline.
12:34
Comment From Cool Disco Dan (DC)
Why is it not clicking for the Nats? Injuries have been tough, sure, but that doesn’t excuse poor fundamentals, no defense, etc. Span is a black hole at the top of the order. Were they better with Harper in CF and Morse butchering LF but providing power in the lineup? What’s wrong?
12:35
Dave Cameron: Injuries. Harper, Zimmerman, Fister, missing Ramos for most of the year… no team would be good if you took that kind of talent level away.
12:35
Comment From Domino
Give me one legitimate, analytically based reason why Yasiel Puig won’t become the best all-around player in baseball within the next 3 years, if not this year?
12:35
Dave Cameron: Because Mike Trout is alive.
12:36
Comment From Moop
Moustakas also had a bad month and everybody is flipping out… probably appropriately.
12:36
Dave Cameron: More fair to say that Moustakas has only ever had a good month, and people flipped out over that, ignoring that most of his pro career, he hasn’t hit.
12:38
Comment From GSon
Which camp are you in: Keep limites on pitchers for both innings and pithces thrown or the THROW A LOT MORE on the side, especially long toss and flat ground work?
12:38
Dave Cameron: No one has the answer. Everyone is guessing.
12:38
Comment From Dan
What kind of yrs/$ do you see Victor Martinez getting this offseason? And is it going to be from the Tigers?
12:38
Dave Cameron: If they make him a qualifying offer, he’ll have to take it.
12:38
Comment From Frank
Do you see the abundance of Defensive Shifts being controlled by bunting anytime soon? Or are managers/sluggers too proud to do it? Even bad football coaches know to run a reverse ~once a game to keep the defense honest.
12:39
Dave Cameron: Handing the ball to a fast guy is not the same thing as aiming a 95 mph pitch to a particular spot on the field.
12:39
Comment From Ryan
Thanks for chatting Dave. It seems everyone knows that Polanco is being held down in the minors for financial reasons despite Huntington’s claims to the contrary. Assuming that is the case (financial purposes), is there a reason why he won’t/can’t come right out and admit it?
12:39
Dave Cameron: The MLBPA would file a grievance.
12:40
Comment From Evil Nose
Is there an easy fix for the Super 2 silliness? Seems like a lot of MLB-ready prospects are just waiting for an arbitrary deadline.
12:40
Dave Cameron: I think the next CBA will make some changes to the service time issues. Both sides will find a compromise that turns a service year into something like 45 days instead of 120.
12:41
Dave Cameron: Sorry, a service year is 172 days. Not sure why I typed 120…
12:42
Comment From Doug
Is there a way to measure how much torque, or pressure, a pitcher puts on his arm? Maybe then they could determine how much is too much, and then say, advise a pitcher to take a few miles off his fastball or it’ll be Tommy John time…
12:43
Dave Cameron: Yes, but the systems that do it are mostly in labs like the ones at ASMI. There are companies selling systems that purport to measure this stuff in-game and could be installed in MLB stadiums, but the costs are extremely prohibitive.
12:43
Comment From Pod listener
Will your cousin’s documentary be released online at some point? I was intrigued when I heard you discuss it on the podcast.
12:44
Dave Cameron: At some point, probably. I think they’re looking to do the film festival circuit first, though. You can follow them on twitter @baltimoredoc if you want to be kept in the loop.
12:45
Comment From Brian
Is someone publicly tracking challenges/overturns per individual umpire? If yes, where?
12:45
Dave Cameron: Baseball Savant.
12:45
Comment From Evil Nose
Has there been any notable work in the stats community on hot streaks? I mean beyond the standard “hot streaks are not predictive?” It seems like there has to be something there, but maybe too hard to find among so much noise.
12:45
Dave Cameron: So, basically, you want to ignore all the work that has been done that doesn’t agree with your opinion? Because there’s been a TON of work done on this, and it all comes to the same conclusion.
12:46
Comment From Oberyn Martell
A few weeks ago you mentioned that all WAR in 1 season adds up to 1000. Is this arbitrary or is there a good reason for it?
12:47
Dave Cameron: The exact number is arbitrary to a degree, but there’s plenty of historical evidence that shows that the range of replacement level we’re using is correct.
12:48
Comment From scatterbrian
RE Norris: He’s always had a great eye coming up, but he’s dropped hi s K% significantly so far this season….it’s early, but it’s nearly cut in half. Is this sustainable?
12:48
Dave Cameron: If this was sustainable, he’d be the greatest catcher of all time.
12:48
Dave Cameron: So no.
12:49
Comment From chuckb
How do you think, if at all, teams will change their drafting, signing, or player development as a result of all the pitchers having TJ surgery this season?
12:50
Dave Cameron: I think eventually teams are going to reduce the value they put on pre-draft velocity. If 1/3 pitchers are going to have TJ surgery and won’t throw that hard afterwards anyway, then it shouldn’t be the primary emphasis.
12:51
Comment From Mark
Isn’t it common sense to connect the increase in arm injuries to increased velocity? If MLB were to place limits on max velo (say, anything above 93 mph is an automatic ball), wouldn’t TJ surgeries plummet?
12:51
Dave Cameron: No, because every game would be 10-9 and these guys would have to throw 150 pitches per start just to get through the game.
12:52
Comment From Dan
Is Scherzer’s price this offseason going to be utterly ridiculous? Boston and NYY will be in for sure. Maybe the Cubs even. We’ve seen one team bidding against itself pay a huge price, I can’t imagine what this is going to look like.
12:52
Dave Cameron: He’s almost certainly going to get the largest FA contract for a pitcher ever.
12:52
Comment From Zac
Should the Cubs trade Samardzija?
12:52
Dave Cameron: Yes.
12:53
Comment From James
During a recent podcast, you expressed some apprehension towards research coming from the academic community regarding baseball, specifically compared to the sabremetric community. Two questions: (1) do you see the divide closing, and (2) do you think front offices feel the same way?
12:54
Dave Cameron: It’s not that I’m apprehensive about research coming from academia; it’s that academic research on baseball hasn’t been very good previously. I hope that changes.
12:54
Comment From Ben
Do you prefer to use xFIP or FIP when predicting/analyzing a pitcher?
12:54
Dave Cameron: xFIP. HR/FB fluctuations can move FIP around a good deal.
12:55
Comment From JS
How many more wins do the Brewers need to admit they are a better team than the Cardinals?
12:55
Dave Cameron: They aren’t.
12:56
Comment From Brad
I have read Jeff and Jason say they don’t like using ld% in analyzing a hitter. Why? Isn’t hitting line drives good?
12:56
Dave Cameron: Because most of what we do is trying to predict the future, and LD% isn’t particularly predictive.
12:56
Comment From Gila Monster
Why is baseball not investing tens of millions into researching tissue engineering and printed UCL that is more durable and won’t break?
12:56
Dave Cameron: MLB is organizationally cheap.
12:56
Dave Cameron: There are a lot of things I think the league should be doing that they aren’t doing.
12:57
Comment From Lewie
Do you think teams will start piggybacking starters? Seems like it might work for the Mets.
12:57
Dave Cameron: Not at the major league level. The sport’s financial structure would cause players to push back heavily against a system that denied them the kinds of numbers that help them get paid.
12:58
Comment From Zac
Follow up to Samardzija question. Why?
12:58
Dave Cameron: Why should the Cubs trade him? They aren’t good and he’s more valuable to their future as a trade chip.
12:59
Comment From Jord Windy
Why do people think that printing a UCL and replacing it, is less performance enhancing than traditional PEDs? BTW can we get PEDs back?
1:00
Dave Cameron: If someone could prove that some PEDs could prevent TJ surgeries, then it would be a fascinating question about whether the league should make them legal substances, just as cortizone shots are legal.
1:01
Comment From Tom
I understand that hot and cold streaks don’t exist, but do you believe hitters are full of it when they are “seeing the ball better”? I know some days when I shoot hoops my form feels great and more balls rip the net. Can’t this happen for hitting?
1:01
Dave Cameron: The question isn’t whether or not one can repeat perform form/mechanics/whatever on multiple attempts. Clearly, that can and does happen. The question is whether or not that kind of instance has any predictive value going forward. The answer has basically always been proven to be no.
1:02
Comment From Mark
re: Max velo limit — doesn’t that prove my point? In the past, pitchers had higher pitch counts — with 4-man rotations — and there wasn’t an arm injury epidemic. Plus, with 7-8 relievers per team, managers have more options than ever before.
1:02
Dave Cameron: You don’t know that there wasn’t an arm injury epidemic. No one has injury data from back then.
1:03
Comment From Mike
What is something you would like MLB to change?
1:03
Dave Cameron: The treatment and development of players in Latin America, for one. The entire international scouting system is corrupt and shameful.
1:04
Dave Cameron: Okay, off to get some lunch. Thanks for chatting.



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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


14 Responses to “FanGraphs Chat – 5/14/14”

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  1. Carson says:

    Thoughts on Posey staying away ffrom home plate collisions? I say it’s not worth it for him to risk any injury to save 1 run unless it’s playoffs time.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Urbanman says:

    Let me guess, is this the week the moron answers questions about his claim that Miller was the best SS in the league with Reyes out? I think not? I think the moron is too scared!

    -35 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. tvators says:

    Looks like someone forgot to take their meds again

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Urbanman says:

      Keep trying to defend your hero

      -22 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • tvators says:

        Nah, I was not defending anyone, just pointing out that the crazy, irrational, name calling ______, (others can fill in the blank) is back again and still hasn’t gotten the help he needs,

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • bookbook says:

        I suspect there are interesting questions to ask around Miller. (And I’ve read Cameron state that he’s often wrong, so him being wrong about a prediction isn’t–in itself–interesting to anyone, other than as a “Gotcha.”)

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Frank says:

    Oberyn Martell: (Average Number of Wins (81) – Replacement Level Number of Wins (47.7)) x 30 teams = 999 WAR

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Kevin says:

    Denver Post Columnist suggested Rockies should part with Gray to get Samardzija from Cubs? Horrible idea right?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. tvators says:

    Denver Post should part with their columnist for a college intern

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Pennsy says:

    The league ought to be ashamed of perverting the dream of Roberto Clemente’s Ciudad Deportiva. The league owes a debt to Latin players and baseball writers are complicit in their lack of coverage for the issue.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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