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FanGraphs Chat – 5/15/13

Posted By Dave Cameron On May 15, 2013 @ 11:33 am In Chat | 19 Comments

11:43
Dave Cameron: It’s chat day again, so we’ll spend an hour or so talking about baseball related things. Not fantasy baseball related things, though, because I don’t know anything about fantasy baseball.
11:43
Dave Cameron: The queue is now open, so go ahead and get your questions in.
11:59
Comment From zack
Do you have any concerns about Strasburg other than the fact that he is a pitcher and could get hurt at any time for no reason?
11:59
Dave Cameron: No, I don’t think there’s any reason to be any more concerned than usual.
11:59
Comment From Benzedrine
Does Derek Dietrich get the starting nod the rest of the season?
12:00
Dave Cameron: Seems like a good use of playing time. When you’re not trying to win, giving chances to fringe prospects to see what they can do makes sense.

12:00
Comment From Mike
Hi Dave, it’s been awhile since I’ve had a chance to get a question in at the beginning of the queue. Sorry if you answered this before, but what happened to the organizational rankings this year? It was a column I enjoyed reading for the individual team breakdowns, even if the numerical ranking seemed arbitrary.
12:01
Dave Cameron: We decided to not do them in the spring, since we already were running the Positional Power Rankings, which served as somewhat of a season preview for each team. We have discussed reworking them to run at some other point, but that isn’t certain.
12:02
Comment From zack
Could you see a smaller market contender like Baltimore or Pittsburgh going all in and trying to deal for Cliff Lee?
12:03
Dave Cameron: The Cliff Lee story might be the most interesting one of the summer. No one really knows if the Phillies will trade him or not, and his contract is certainly not cheap, so it might be tough to get a team to take on the money and give up premium talent. If the Orioles want to acquire an ace without giving up Bundy/Gausman, though, that seems like the way to do it.
12:03
Comment From Scott
Would you demote Dustin Ackley at this point?
12:04
Dave Cameron: Maybe. He’s tinkering so much that he’s lost what he was good at, and it might be useful to just send him back to the minors, tell him to go back to square one, and bring him back when he takes control of the strike zone again.
12:04
Comment From JEB
Indians are doing fairly decent so far this year, and not good like beginning of 2011/2012 good, but actually good. Odds of a WC spot?
12:05
Dave Cameron: They’re in the mix, as that offense is very good, and the rotation is showing signs of life. I wouldn’t necessarily bet on them to make it to October, but they should be in the mix all year.
12:05
Comment From Pat G
Any concern about Miller’s two pitch approach holding up as he tours the league a second time?
12:06
Dave Cameron: I think the minimum number of pitches needed is somewhat of a myth. What a starter really needs is at least one pitch that works against same-handed hitters and one pitch that works against opposite handed hitters. In his case, both the fastball and curveball work against both.
12:07
Comment From Casey
Where in the world is Erasmo Ramirez?
12:07
Dave Cameron: Peoria. The Mariners have said he’s started throwing again, but any time a pitcher gets two months off because of arm soreness, you can go ahead and assume surgery is in his future.
12:08
Comment From Guest
Thoughts on the Pirates, Dave?
12:08
Dave Cameron: A solid average team. The pitching is good. They could use another hitter or three.
12:08
Comment From Guest
“Cervelli and Stewart can do more to help the Yankees win with a subtle shift of the glove than Mariano Rivera can with his cutter, than Brett Gardner can in the outfield, than Ichiro can with his arm and his base-running ability combined.”
12:09
Dave Cameron: This quote is from Ben Lindbergh’s article on Grantland today about catcher framing. I like Ben, but I think we’re going to look back in a few years and reassess the amount of runs saved that framing actually results in, and realize that the current estimates are way too high.
12:10
Comment From Scott
Jerry DiPoto: mediocre GM or bad GM? Many of his decisions (trading Segura and Ervin Santana, signing mediocre pitchers, and generally not giving Scioscia a team that plays to his style of management) seem pretty iffy at this point.
12:11
Dave Cameron: It’s impossible to know how much of the Pujols/Hamilton decisions were his and how much were ownership. You shouldn’t care about Scioscia’s style of play. That said, there have been a lot of mistakes down in Anaheim, and they took some big risks that were clearly big risks when they made them.
12:11
Comment From Jean Segura
Am I legit?
12:11
Dave Cameron: You were a legit prospect for a reason. You’re not this good, but a high contact gap power shortstop who can run is a nice thing.
12:12
Comment From Atlanta Braves
What’s wrong with us?
12:13
Dave Cameron: Teams slump.
12:13
Comment From Chris_FB
When will you guys have a fulltime fantasy baseball writer do a weekly chat, so that the fans of fantasy baseball have somewhere to go? There’s an obvious interest and demand given the number of times multiple different chat hosts have to say “I don’t know anything about fantasy baseball”. Wouldn’t it be handier to say “go ask so-and-so on Thursday” or something?
12:13
Dave Cameron: There’s a guy named Eno Sarris. You may have heard of him. He chats on Thursdays and is the manager of RotoGraphs.
12:13
Comment From jeff
Has Mitch Moreland’s early season success made Jurickson Profar’s path to Arlington this season more complicated?
12:13
Dave Cameron: Yep.
12:14
Comment From nwdave
Ibanez homered last night, so the ends justify the means right??
12:14
Dave Cameron: That is what my twitter mentions would have you believe, yes.
12:14
Comment From Wobatus
Ibanez’s homer after your piece reminded me of when I was in a casino with my mother-in-law. I said if you are going to gamble you shouldn’t play slots, but something where the odds are at least a little more favorable, even if still favoring the house, like craps. She proceeded to win $200 playing slots.
12:14
Dave Cameron: Bad process/good results are all around us.
12:15
Comment From DTSS
Is there any possibility of bat speed statistics becoming publically available? And will Fangraphs be expanding its data to include things like batted ball distance? I’ve noticed that’s been written about recently on Rotographs.
12:16
Dave Cameron: Bat speed is tracked by HITF/x, but that’s not publicly available, and probably won’t be any time soon. Sportvision is a for profit company, and there is far more profit to be made in selling the data to MLB teams than in selling it to FG.
12:16
Comment From fantasy
What do you make of Didi Gregorious. Easy to write him off, but is there any chance his power is for real?
12:16
Dave Cameron: I doubt he’s going to hit for a lot of power, but the bat has been underrated, I think.
12:17
Comment From zack
Dusty loves his veterans so I assume he will take Leake over Cingrani. Should he?
12:17
Dave Cameron: Leake is a decent MLB pitcher, and Cingrani won’t be harmed by hanging out in the minors until someone else gets hurt.
12:18
Comment From Anon21
Brian McCann’s free agent contract: over/under on 5 years/$60 million?
12:18
Dave Cameron: Under. Big catcher with health problems. He won’t get more than three years.
12:18
Comment From Ryan Howard
How do you think I’ll do for the rest of the season?
12:18
Dave Cameron: Poorly.
12:19
Comment From Will
Has your opinion that Kansas City’s trade of Will Myers was shortsighted changed at all?
12:19
Dave Cameron: Nope. They’re still, what, the 8th or 9th best team in the AL?
12:20
Comment From JH
Is there a reason teams don’t try to lock their good but not elite guys up the same way they do with their stars? It seems like there’s a lot of value to be had in locking up 2-3 WAR guys at lower than market prices and buying out a few FA years while you’re at it. The Twins did this with Denard Span and the Royals with Salvador Perez, but it doesn’t seem to happen too often. Off the top of my head, Michael Saunders, Todd Frazier, and Gerardo Parra stick out as guys who are good but not elite and either arbitration-eligible or near it whose teams could benefit by giving them guaranteed deals right now. Is there too much downside for teams to do this regularly?
12:21
Dave Cameron: The idea is that those guys are more replaceable, so if you go year to year with one and he ends up getting too pricey, you can swap him out with another player of similar value, which is easier to find than trying to swap out your star player for another star player.
12:21
Comment From zack
What are the odds Miguel Cabrera has a slightly better year and finishes outside the top three in MVP voting?
12:22
Dave Cameron: He’s basically a lock to finish in the top three. Detroit’s going to win that division and he’s going to lead the league in RBIs.
12:22
Comment From Eminor3rd
MLBTR says the Orioles seek a frontline starter but won’t part with Bundy/Gausman. Is Jake Peavy a good fit? Seems like he might be about the best you can get without parting with those two guys.
12:23
Dave Cameron: Peavy’s going to be in pretty serious demand, and the O’s farm system after those two isn’t very good. I doubt they could win the bidding for him without giving up one of those two or someone off their big league roster.
12:23
Comment From person hscer
Could a pitcher with a good changeup and good slider survive with a straight 86 fastball?
12:23
Dave Cameron: Yep. There are a bunch of lefties in the bigs who do just that.
12:24
Comment From Will
The projected rest of the season standings has the nationals barely over .500. What’s changed since the start of the season to make this projection so low?
12:24
Dave Cameron: The ZIPS/Steamer forecasts weren’t that high on them before the season started either.
12:24
Comment From person hscer
Do you schedule these tweets or take a second to post them: “Me, chatting now. RT …”
12:25
Dave Cameron: I don’t do scheduled tweets. I forgot to tweet the link before I started, so I jumped over to Tweetdeck (RIP, Tweetdeck) to send that out in between questions.
12:25
Comment From Archer
I believe you had mentioned Josh Johnson as a possible trade target for the Braves. Do you feel that’s a spot the Braves need to improve? Seems like a decent deep rotation that can get them to the playoffs, but not fair so well in a short series.
12:25
Dave Cameron: I think they could use a rotation upgrade for the playoffs, yes.
12:25
Comment From Richard Ankiel
Thoughts on the Mets signing and platooning me in CF?
12:26
Dave Cameron: Congratulations, you’re proving replacement level.
12:26
Comment From Mike
Is there anything that you think is specifically wrong with the catcher framing calculations? I know it seems high, but just that alone doesn’t seem like enough to dismiss it outright.
12:28
Dave Cameron: I think the calculation is just too simple, and is likely missing out on some of the side effects of having a “framer” behind the plate. For instance, if a pitcher knows his catcher can get more marginal pitches called strikes, he might adjust his locations to pitch more on the borders, and throw fewer actual strikes than he would have otherwise. By just measuring the balls-turned-into-strikes and then blaming the pitcher for the balls-called-balls, we might be missing a negative effect of having a framer behind the plate.
12:28
Comment From Jeff
Dave, as you mentioned above, if these estimates are correct, we would have to observe significant differences in catcher ERA (or catcher FIP or xFIP or SIERA or whatever one’s preferred measure). It just seems that 50 runs or whatever have to be observable in other facets of the game.
12:30
Dave Cameron: Right, that’s the elephant in the room right now. If a catcher is really +50 runs per season in framing, there’s not enough outside variance to wash that away over a decent sample size. We would see catcher/pitcher tandems who consistently and regularly post better run prevention numbers than when that guy isn’t catching. Most of the work that’s been done on catcher ERA has not been able to find those kinds of pairs. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or that there’s no value in framing, but it’s hard to argue for +50 runs for catcher framing and then not be able to find it in actual results.
12:31
Comment From Mariners Fan
What did you think of Raul Ibanez 2 run bomb last night after you ripped him on Twitter?
12:32
Dave Cameron: If you think I “ripped Raul Ibanez”, you should perhaps consider that you’re reading comprehension skills could use improvement.
12:33
Comment From Django
Are we seeing Paul Konerko’s first bad year in his decline?
12:33
Dave Cameron: He was pretty lousy for most of the second half of last year too.
12:33
Comment From Guest
Do you think advanced stats folks sometimes fall a little too out of love with guys that don’t walk? My example is Ian Desmond. While I realize there are disastrous cases like Middlebrooks right now, some guys can just rake. They might decline earlier due to approach, but as long as they are in their prime years… a guy who can hit can hit.
12:34
Dave Cameron: We have Desmond as the best SS in baseball over the last year. I’m not sure what stat guys you talk to who think he isn’t very good, but we’re certainly not down on him.
12:34
Comment From Zorba
Is James Loney finally turning into the player the Dodgers thought he’d be?
12:35
Dave Cameron: No, he’s not going to keep this up. The Rays only have so much juju to go around.
12:36
Comment From Scott
Who is a bigger problem Hosmer or Moustakas?
12:36
Dave Cameron: Hosmer, because he doesn’t offer defensive value and he’s not hitting.
12:36
Comment From Anon21
Scuffling offseason free agent signee most likely to return to form and be an asset to his team this year: Hamilton, Upton, LaRoche?
12:36
Dave Cameron: Upton.
12:37
Comment From Mike
When something like the Ibanez homer happens, you can’t help but smile, right? No matter how sound your analysis, baseball is baseball and critics are critics.
12:37
Dave Cameron: Yeah, when I checked the box score, I laughed.
12:38
Comment From Mark
Sorry if this is more of a question for Dan, but what factors go into forecasting a hitter’s BABIP? On the surface, it seems like there are too many variables (positioning, personnel, weather) to get a solid read on it. Thanks for the chat.
12:38
Dave Cameron: For ZIPS, it’s just a regressed calculation based off his own personal BABIP history.
12:39
Comment From Tim
Is there a place on fangraphs where you can overlay a players batted ball profile from the season onto a different ballpark? I.e. J Donaldson would have x more HR then doubles in that little league park Texas plays in.
12:39
Dave Cameron: No, because that kind of analysis doesn’t really work very well. There are more to park factors than dimensions.
12:40
Comment From Nick Franklin, SEA
Why am I not playing Shortstop, everyday, for the Seattle Mariners yet? Their Shortstops are hitting .118/.197/.118
12:40
Dave Cameron: You don’t have the range to play shortstop.
12:40
Comment From Ben
Think the Mets are within 3 years of being competitive in the NL East?
12:40
Dave Cameron: Sure.
12:41
Comment From Scott
Do you think Vegas has smarter numbers/baseball guys working the spreads than some teams have working their front offices?
12:41
Dave Cameron: Probably.
12:41
Comment From Shark Mapiro
So did everyone win the Choo/Bauer/Gregorius trade?
12:42
Dave Cameron: I don’t love that deal for the Reds long term, but if they make a deep playoff run this year, I’m sure they’ll be okay with it.
12:43
Comment From Matt
Thoughts on the Rays waiting so long to call up Myers? Is the extra year of team control really worth costing them a few wins that may make or break their playoff chances?
12:43
Dave Cameron: Why would you assume that Myers is worth “a few wins” over the course of a month or two?
12:44
Comment From Patrick
Even with Cashner doing well, the Rizzo trade for the Cubs was a big win right?
12:44
Dave Cameron: Absolutely.
12:44
Comment From Tom
I see that Fangraphs is only projecting one NL team to finish with 90+ wins–does that seem right? If that happened, how unusual would it be?
12:45
Dave Cameron: That’s not really how forecasts work. The projections are saying that no single team is likely to win 90+ games this year, but that’s not the same thing as saying no team is likely to finish with 90+ wins.
12:46
Dave Cameron: It seems like semantics, but think of it like a weighted coin. If you have a coin that’s 60/40 in favor of heads, you would always take it to land on heads. You would not expect 10 weighted coins to end up on heads 10 times, though.
12:46
Comment From Queries from the Clown, bro
does McCain’s bill give legit hope to a la carte TV and possibly even our local teams not being blacked out on MLB.tv in the semi-near future?
12:47
Dave Cameron: No. For one, even if a la carte TV became a reality, it wouldn’t save you any money. ESPN would charge $75 per month for just that one channel.
12:47
Comment From Monty
Why is a left handed pitcher with “average stuff” more valuable and likely to have a longer career than a right handed pitcher with “average stuff?”
12:48
Dave Cameron: Because of how “stuff” is defined. Usually, people talk about stuff as velocity and breaking balls, but left-handed pitchers face 80% right-handed hitters, so the most important pitch for a lefty is the change-up. A lefty with a great change-up can mow through RHBs, but that great change-up is not usually regarded as being part of “good stuff”. It’s a little silly.
12:49
Comment From Ed
Is there an inefficiency to be exploited in MLB managers and coaches? Will we ever see a point where teams hire for smarts instead of MLB experience, much like we did with GMs a few years ago (Beane, Theo, etc)? Or would players be slow to respond to advice from managers who never “played the game”?
12:49
Dave Cameron: False dichotomy. There are smart guys who can also establish managerial credibility. Joe Maddon is a great example.
12:50
Comment From JH
Follow-up to earlier question: do you agree that teams shouldn’t bother looking for cost savings by locking up their merely good players? I’m not sure 2-3 win guys grow on trees to the extent your earlier answer suggests, but maybe I’m just jaded from years of following teams with horrible position players.
12:50
Dave Cameron: I don’t think 2-3 win players grow on trees either, but I think that’s the argument for why these extensions don’t happen.
12:50
Comment From Nick
If you think the Braves need to trade for a rotation upgrade, I take it you are not enthused by Beachy’s return in July.
12:51
Dave Cameron: I’d always err towards the conservative when it comes to a guy returning from injury.
12:51
Comment From Not_Good
Dave, what would you be doing professionally if baseball didn’t exist?
12:52
Dave Cameron: I was an accountant for five years and I have a B.S. in economics, so probably something in the corporate math/forecasting/analytics field.
12:53
Comment From Mister P
Does the Cardinals’ pitching this year (and to some extent, last year) diminish the legacy of Dave Duncan at all? Or perhaps enhance it?
12:53
Dave Cameron: I’d say it should make us think that some of what was credited to Dave Duncan is really Yadier Molina.
12:54
Comment From Ehhhhs
Saw your tweet re: Josh Donaldson this morning. Believing what you’re seeing? He’s just completely changed his approach…pretty exciting if you ask me.
12:54
Dave Cameron: I don’t think he’s going to keep hitting this well, but he’s a nice player.
12:55
Comment From Andrew
If you could pick one play-by-play guy and one color guy to make a dream broadcast crew, who would you pick?
12:55
Dave Cameron: Vin Scully and a mute person.
12:56
Comment From ar
what do you think teams’ biggest advantage over guys like FG is in terms of analysis? HitF/X? and what is that advantage?
12:57
Dave Cameron: They have access to a lot of information we don’t have. Probably the most valuable would be things about his off-the-field activities. There are players who threw their talent away because of drug and alcohol addictions, and people close to them could see that coming, while the outside forecasts never could.
12:57
Comment From Dustin Ackley
Please send something tasty from Dewey’s. I miss home.
12:58
Dave Cameron: Is there anything tasty at Dewey’s? I’ve never been a fan.
12:58
Comment From Sportsbook junkie
Assuming general economic health and an ~6-8% stock market return over the next few decades, how confident are you that you could beat the market betting over/unders on team wins in vegas?
12:58
Dave Cameron: Not that confident. Betting on baseball is hard.
12:59
Comment From jono
late in, so catching up re: catcher framing. you are downplaying the importance of the skill, but the difference in batter performance 0-1 versus 1-0, is significant. same all the way up the count when you swing between possible outcomes. maybe the ability to frame 5 or so pitches a game does make a big impact.
1:00
Dave Cameron: I like how we’ve gotten to the point where not just accepting a +/- 50 range of defensive value from one particular skill is now “downplaying the importance”. The conclusions that a +/-50 run spread force upon us is that major league teams have been extremely stupid for a very long time.
1:00
Comment From Ryguy
What happened to Clubhouse Confidential?
1:00
Dave Cameron: It’s an offseason show.
1:02
Comment From Michael
Would you rather have Harper or Trout on your team right now, including considerations of contract and age?
1:02
Dave Cameron: Harper.
1:02
Comment From Guest
Dave, I haven’t heard anything on your health. Is it safe to assume that no news is good news?
1:03
Dave Cameron: 21 months in remission. My next check-up is next Friday, but yes, unless you hear otherwise, assume I’m cancer free.
1:03
Comment From Nate
You checked the box score? You didn’t tune in for Felix vs. CC?
1:04
Dave Cameron: I spend time with my wife and my friends during the evenings. I usually don’t watch 7 pm games.
1:04
Comment From chuckb
Re: Yadi, is there any way for you or others to describe how good he is defensively? What does he do (I know pitch framing is part of it along w/ throwing out runners) to make him so good? How does analytics attempt to capture that?
1:05
Dave Cameron: I think there’s something to be said for giving pitchers the ability to throw anything they want in any location and know that he’s going to block it. Want to throw a 0-2 curve in the dirt with a runner on third? Go ahead, because it’s not going to be a wild pitch.
1:05
Comment From Cynical Bastard
So does that make stalking players the next frontier of sabermetric analysis? Zips including drone robot nightclub reports?
1:06
Dave Cameron: If we actually had the data, I bet that “bed time” would be a significant factor in forecasting.
1:07
Dave Cameron: Alright, lunch time. Thanks for hanging out, everyone.

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