FanGraphs Chat – 8/21/13

11:42
Dave Cameron: It’s Wednesday, so let’s spend an hour or so talking baseball.

11:43
Dave Cameron: The queue is now open, and we’ll start up around noon.

12:01
Comment From Patrick
Have you ever seen a worse defensive OF than what the Phillies have fielded this month?

12:02
Dave Cameron: A few years back, the Twins had Cuddyer in center, flanked by Delmon Young and someone else who was just as bad. The Mariners OF defense this year is also horrendous.

12:02
Comment From T
X * RA9-WAR + Y * FIP-WAR = “True WAR”

What is your best guess for X and Y?

12:03
Dave Cameron: Probably something like 30/70. This is a question we’ve pondered a lot, and whenever someone figures out how to fill in the missing variables, pitcher WAR will take a significant step forward.

12:03
Comment From Ryan
You mentioned in the context of the NL Cy Young debate that WAR isn’t an ideal stat for evaluating pitchers. Are there any changes to the stat you’d like to see or that Fangraphs is contemplating for calculating pitcher WAR?

12:04
Dave Cameron: The reality is that we just don’t know how much of hit prevention is the pitcher or the defense. It varies for each pitcher, and some pitchers have more control over their hit rates than others. FIP assumes that they have 0% control, while RA9 assumes 100% control. The reality is somewhere in between. Unfortunately, right now, any number we picked would be a guess.

12:05
Comment From Patrick
If you were the GM (and yes, I understand you aren’t a GM nor do you consider yourself qualified) of the Phillies (okay, now I’m sure you’re thinking “if Amaro is qualified, anyone is”) what would be your first course of action in the rebuilding process? Institute a complete overhaul of the scouting department?

12:06
Dave Cameron: They actually seem to be pretty decent at scouting, no? I’d probably just try and figure out who was on board with a culture change and begin to bring in folks with analytical approaches to decision making, and then call the Dodgers every day telling them I had salary to shed.

12:07
Comment From JEB
Could the Angels be buyers in Stanton this off season? Would they be able to get him with some prospects and Pujols (eating most of Pujols contract)?

12:08
Dave Cameron: This is the funniest question of the day. What would the Marlins want with Pujols? And no, the Angels don’t have enough prospects to make that happen.

12:08
Comment From Eminor3rd
What are your thoughts on Jose Abreu?

12:09
Dave Cameron: Haven’t seen him, so this isn’t about Abreu, more about his player types: I’m wary of making huge investments on bat-only players when we don’t really have much of a performance track record to bet on. Forecasting hitting ability is the hardest part of scouting, and I’d be less confident in my scouts telling me “give this guy $100 million because he’s definitely going to hit” than I would about almost any other tool.

12:10
Comment From Glen Perkins
Glen Perkins Glen Perkins Glen Perkins Glen Perkins. Glen Perkins Glen Perkins?

12:10
Dave Cameron: He’s good.

12:10
Comment From Shawn
Dave, hope all is well. I have read a lot on how teams may be going back to having relievers work more than one inning, and thus less roster spots will go toward bullpen specialists and be filled with position players, thus leading to more platoons. What is your take on this? Would it lead to different thinking on how teams draft and approach offseasons?

12:10
Dave Cameron: I don’t think teams are going to do this. Managers don’t really seem to like platooning too much, and bullpen specialization provides for more options in late-and-close situations.

12:11
Comment From Bernard Gilkey
So the power advantage that Cano has is going to make him nearly 100 million dollars more valuable?

12:11
Dave Cameron: Basically, yes.

12:11
Comment From Guest
Has Yu Darvish met expectations?

12:11
Dave Cameron: I would say he’s exceeded them.

12:12
Comment From Truth
WAR is a measure of value as I understand it. When voting for MVP, CY, etc, in which scenarios would you not vote for the player with the highest WAR?

12:13
Dave Cameron: In any situation where I thought WAR was incomplete (pitcher WAR, catcher WAR), and in any situation where I thought the differences were so marginal that factors not included in WAR (distribution of when hits/runs occurred, for instance) would tip the scales.

12:13
Comment From Roger
Any chance Ellsbury lands in Cincinnati this winter? The Reds have money coming off the books in Arroyo and Choo, and Billy Hamilton’s bat doesn’t seem ready for the majors yet.

12:14
Dave Cameron: Don’t think they can afford another $100M+ guy.

12:14
Comment From Guest
Nats trouble with RISP, is it just luck or a poor approach thing?

12:14
Dave Cameron: Basically same roster didn’t have RISP problems last year.

12:14
Comment From Tone
do you see Bogaerts in the Harper/Stanton/Trout/Machado class or a tier below? Or are we just splitting hairs?

12:14
Dave Cameron: That isn’t a class. There’s Trout, then there’s Harper/Stanton, then there’s Machado. Bogaerts is probably in Machado’s class.

12:15
Comment From Erik
What is Goldschmidt’s ceiling? Does he have more years like this in his bat?

12:15
Dave Cameron: He’s what, 25? Seems like he shouldn’t be expected to fall apart tomorrow.

12:15
Comment From Mike
The rumors of the Royals being contenders have been slightly exaggerated.

12:15
Dave Cameron: They were never contenders. They were a mediocre team that got hot for a few weeks.

12:16
Comment From Ed
Kubel was the RF in that horrible Twins outfield.

12:16
Dave Cameron: There you go.

12:16
Comment From Ben
How do you think Cabrera’s recent injury will affect the AL MVP Race?

12:16
Dave Cameron: Depends on how long he’s out for. There’s a bit of room for Chris Davis to sneak in and steal this thing with a big September.

12:17
Comment From That One Guy
Dave, can you comment on Jose Iglesias’ upside as a hitter? Its obviously not .315 or whatever he’s at now, but can we hope for more than .220 in Detroit?

12:17
Dave Cameron: Best case scenario, he’s Brendan Ryan.

12:17
Comment From Guest
Looking at the Guts! page, the penalty for a caught stealing is the lowest (so not as bad) since 1992. Any reason for that?

12:18
Dave Cameron: Run environment is down, so an out is less likely to cost you runs.

12:18
Comment From Guest
Any thoughts on the D. Dejesus waiver claim?

12:18
Dave Cameron: It was odd.

12:18
Comment From Guest
Why did the Mariners get rid of Shawn Kelley? Ridiculous stikeout numbers and only 2/35 inherited runners scored.

12:18
Dave Cameron: He tweeted too much and they don’t understand how to use relievers with reverse platoon splits.

12:19
Comment From Eastern NC
Winston-Salem, eh? You want an experience, come visit me east of Greenville! You’ll never look at NC the same again…….

12:19
Dave Cameron: Took my honeymoon in the Outer Banks, and on the way to the ferry, blew a tire and had to spend night one of married life in a Holiday Inn in the middle of eastern NC. So, yeah.

12:19
Comment From Doobie
Why do relievers who have had lots of success suddenly “lose” it? Is there an actual reason? Are relievers different than starters in this regard?

12:20
Dave Cameron: “Lots of success” for a reliever is ~200 innings. We have a different threshold for starters.

12:20
Comment From Scoja
The Angels actually technically do have the prospects for Stanton, they just don’t have any true grade A prospects and thus would have to offer their ten or twelve best prospects, none of whom are more than a B/B-. But I’m fairly certainly that if the Angels told the Marlins, “Take any ten of our minor leaguers for Stanton” the Marlins couldn’t resist.

12:20
Dave Cameron: Sure they could, because every team in baseball would put together a better offer.

12:21
Comment From Spencer
If it was possible, has FanGraphs explored having a gamecast of their own? An interface with FanGraphs stats on the go, using pitch f/x and BIS classifications. Basically, a saber-friendly place to catch games. I know I’d be compelled to watch games not even involving my team.

12:21
Dave Cameron: MLBAM would cease-and-desist us faster than an Aroldis Chapman fastball.

12:22
Comment From Kevin
I still don’t understand your rationale for favoring Kershaw by such a wide margin. Harvey is outperforming Kershaw in a number of significant metrics beyond FIP, including GB% and LD%, whereas Kershaw has a higher LOB%.

12:22
Dave Cameron: GB% and LD% have nothing to do with value, really. The Cy Young is a backwards looking award.

12:22
Comment From Kris
Did you use RA9-WAR rather than FIP-WAR because it supported your choice of Kershaw (where FIP-WAR dings Kershaw) while also supporting your case against Scherzer (whereas FIP-WAR would have helped Max’s case)?

12:23
Dave Cameron: Or, you know, it could be because I was projecting how the votes would actually turn out, and voters use RA far more than they use FIP. Notice I also quoted RBI totals in the piece? Maybe put your conspiracy hat away now.

12:23
Comment From Tim
Couldn’t WPA be used instead of WAR when determining MVP?

12:24
Dave Cameron: WPA doesn’t account for defense or position, so no, substituting them 1-for-1 is a bad idea. There’s also the question of whether or not you should want to give a hitter credit for something he had nothing to do with.

12:25
Comment From Logan
Could the Royals trade for David Price this winter to justify their “all-in” strategy?

12:25
Dave Cameron: Throwing good money after bad is not a way to justify anything.

12:25
Comment From Dougie
Ellsbury is going to get 100 million for one great season 3 years ago? Glad it won’t be from the Brewers.

12:25
Dave Cameron: Have you paid attention to what he’s doing this year?

12:26
Comment From Joe
Does Granderson get a qualifying offer, and if so, does he accept it?

12:26
Dave Cameron: Yes, yes.

12:27
Comment From Bo Jackson
Why wasn’t I a better ballplayer?

12:27
Dave Cameron: Because hitting a baseball is hard.

12:27
Comment From zack
How much of Hiroki Kuroda’s DIPS destruction do you think is skill?

12:27
Dave Cameron: Not much.

12:28
Comment From Brian
Wouldn’t a caught stealing be more harmful in a low run scoring environment?

12:28
Dave Cameron: No, because the inning in which the out was created was less likely to lead to a significant rally. Making outs hurts more when runs are plentiful.

12:29
Comment From Kevin
I get what you’re saying, but doesn’t the fact that Harvey has better numbers for those two metrics indicate that he’s allowed less “hard contact” and that really any added value Kershaw has in run prevention is just randomness or luck this year?

12:29
Dave Cameron: Not really, and you shouldn’t try to strip out “luck” from a pitcher’s performance when deciding on awards. You want to strip out defense, but that’s a different argument.

12:30
Comment From Gila Monster
Votto has stated he judges a player on WAR over 2-3 years. He also blasted the people who yell at him for walking to much calling himself a “selfish ****er” and “not a good hitter”. Is he the awesome chosen one?

12:30
Dave Cameron: He is pretty awesome.

12:30
Comment From Trout
Chances I have a third 10+ WAR season in my career (assuming I get there this year)

12:30
Dave Cameron: It’s really hard to do, but I’m not betting against you anymore.

12:31
Comment From Derek Zumsteg Lookalike Winner
Jokes aside, what realistic moves could the Royals make in the offseason to become a legitimate playoff contender?

12:31
Dave Cameron: Get better hitters.

12:31
Comment From Forsyth
Who wins the AL East?

12:31
Dave Cameron: I’ll guess Boston.

12:31
Comment From Ryan
In reference to determining player value but not relying on WAR to the letter, would you add versatility to something like catcher defense? While Martin Prado wasn’t much of a defensive asset at 2B when Aaron Hill was hurt this year, it’s got to be a help to a team to be able to move guys around.

12:31
Dave Cameron: That would be a small factor, but sure.

12:32
Comment From Alex
How do the Rockies have a higher team pitching WAR than the Braves even though they collectively strike out fewer hitters, walk more, give up more HR, have a worse ERA and a worse FIP? Is it all park adjustments?

12:32
Dave Cameron: Park adjustments are a big deal.

12:32
Comment From Guest
WPA for pitchers or WPA+BsR+Fld+Pos for hitters is reasonable for single-season awards, but it will make the guys with fewer IP or PA look better.

12:33
Dave Cameron: Actually, WPA for starting pitchers is basically useless. And there’s already credit for baserunning in WPA for position players.

12:33
Comment From The Ghost of Win Shares
Is WAR here to stay and will just evolve incrementally over the years, or do you think it will be replaced by something else entirely?

12:33
Dave Cameron: The model of WAR is sound, but the inputs will likely be refined/upgraded over the years.

12:34
Comment From Sammy Sambone Sammerson
Speaking of Martin Prado, has anyone turned their season around more in the 2nd half than him? Heyward has been pretty great, but Prado has pulled a serious Jeckyll and Hyde act.

12:34
Dave Cameron: It’s mostly BABIP regression, but yeah, he’s been pretty good lately.

12:34
Comment From Drooling Trout Family
Let’s say Trout continues at a 9+ WAR pace for the next few years, gets sick of the Angels and rides it out to become a free agent in 2018 at age 26, wanting to go back east. What do you think the bidding war would be like between the Yankees and Phillies for his services? 10 years, $350 million? Or more?

12:35
Dave Cameron: If he’s a true talent +9 WAR player heading into his age-26 season, I’m not sure there’s a limit. $400M might be in play.

12:35
Comment From Gregory
If there’s one area where professional front offices are farthest ahead of the statistical community, which is it?

12:35
Dave Cameron: Injuries.

12:36
Comment From zack
Are you enjoying the fact that AROD is hitting well right now just to piss of MLB?

12:37
Dave Cameron: I was at the Sunday Night game in Fenway and did crack a smile when he homered. It’s going to be kind of amazing to watch people lose their minds when he ties Willie Mays in HRs.

12:37
Comment From Guest
Angels have to offer Trout an extension this offseason, right? What would they have to spend on a 5 year extension?

12:38
Dave Cameron: A five year deal would buy out one free agent season, so I’d guess something in the $100 million range.

12:38
Comment From Kal Daniels, Mark Prior, and Tim Harden Want to Know
Your favorite “What Could Have Been” Players – players who showed a ton of talent at the major league level, even were very good for a short time, but fizzled out or got hurt before actualizing their potential

12:38
Dave Cameron: Mark Prior seems like the most recent “What If” guy, right?

12:39
Comment From Dougie
Re: Ellsbury; he has had 3 notable seasons in his 6 arbitration years. 2008 (fueled by a 21 UZR, won’t see that again), 2011 (fueled by 32 home runs, won’t see that again) and this year (which seems like an outlier by virtue of its relative normalcy).

12:39
Dave Cameron: The thing about players who are good across the board is that they can have spikes in individual performance markers, which doesn’t mean you should ignore those seasons.

12:40
Comment From Nuff Said
The triple is the most exciting hit in baseball

12:40
Dave Cameron: Inside the park HR.

12:41
Comment From Ben
What team in the entire MLB would you most want not to be a fan of right now?

12:41
Dave Cameron: Probably the Marlins.

12:42
Comment From Just Imagine
If the Angels aren’t able to turn the ship around and are instead left with 3-5 years of rebuilding while Hamilton and others go off the books, does it make sense for them to consider trading Trout in a couple years for the Greatest Prospect Package In The History of Sports?

12:42
Dave Cameron: Probably makes more sense to sign him to the Greatest Extension in the History of Sports.

12:42
Comment From Tim
But as good of a stat as WAR is, it’s a lot more theoretical. Saying a player is worth 5 more wins than a replacement level player has much larger error bars, right? A 5 WAR player could easily have been worth 3 wins instead of 5, whereas with WPA, it’s a lot easier to see how a player directly contributed to the win. I agree that “being clutch” can’t be predicted going forward because it’s random, but that doesn’t mean that a player couldn’t have been clutch in the past and that’s what matters with MVP because it’s backward looking.

12:43
Dave Cameron: The error bars are smaller than you claim, and WPA is just as theoretical. If a guy gets a walkoff hit and then gets a huge WPA boost for it, who’s to say that the guy replacing him wouldn’t have gotten that hit too? WPA is very heavily skewed by inequal opportunities, which have little or nothing to do with the players themselves.

12:44
Comment From Human
Since Peter Angelos has All Of The Money, what’s to stop him from offering Trout a 15 year 25M yr extension. Would the Angels accept that? Would Trout?

12:44
Dave Cameron: Mike Trout isn’t a free agent.

12:45
Comment From Jay
Dave – If I recall correctly in previous writing you said you would take Harper over Trout long term because of a number of factors including that Trout’s value is already peaking (defense and speed) and Harper’s will only get better. Yet you now put Trout in his own class above Harper. This year’s results change you opinion?

12:45
Dave Cameron: Harper’s knee problems also a concern, but yes.

12:45
Comment From Dan
$400 million would be 1/3, 1/2, or more of the value of an entire team. Who the HELL would agree to that kind of contract?

12:45
Dave Cameron: The Yankees are worth a lot more than $1.2 billion.

12:46
Comment From Paul
Eric Davis, an all-timer “What If” guy. His numbers, in the abbreviated number of games he was able to play, are pretty ridiculous. Unfortunately he seems to have slipped through the cracks of history from that era.

12:46
Dave Cameron: Yeah.

12:46
Comment From Guest
Consider players A & B. They have equal wOBA and wRC+, however, player A has a higher OBP% than B,
and B a higher SLG% than A. Is there any advantage to batting player A before B, or should it
theoretically not matter because offensive metrics rate them identically?

12:46
Dave Cameron: No, you’d definitely want the higher OBP guy ahead of the higher SLG guy.

12:47
Comment From JayT
If Miguel Cabrera were at first base his WAR would probably be a bit higher since he was just a below average first baseman, not terrible like he is at third. If that’s the case, is it really fair to dock him on MVP votes for his bad defense when it’s something that is more or less out of his hands? I guess what I’m asking is, if pitchers shouldn’t be penalized for the bad play of their fielders, should any player be penalized for the bad choices of their managers?

12:47
Dave Cameron: Actually, his WAR would be nearly identical, since his UZR is very close to the position adjustment.

12:48
Comment From Matt
How does Fangraphs generate revenue? Your ads are minimal(except that Fox Sports One ad) and Fangraphs+ is cheap and very optional. I almost feel guilty not paying more for such a great site

12:48
Dave Cameron: Ads are our primary source of revenue, but we’ll probably be adding other things in the future that will allow you to feel less guilty and be more poor.

12:48
Comment From Carson Cistullis hairline
Why so few pieces recently?

12:48
Dave Cameron: I was in Boston from Thursday through Monday.

12:49
Comment From Brayan
Long term, what type of player is Wil Myers?

12:49
Dave Cameron: Right-handed Jay Bruce.

12:49
Comment From Joe
Do we see contracts in the future that include a small ownership percentage in the team in place of some money?

12:49
Dave Cameron: I believe MLB has a rule against that.

12:49
Comment From Guest
In the interest in having him for his age 22-31 seasons and not having to commit beyond, that the Angels should make a 10/250 offer now? Wouldn’t that be really hard to turn down?

12:50
Dave Cameron: Yeah, that’s the kind of deal he’d have to seriously think about taking.

12:50
Comment From Guest
Basically a follow up to the “A & B” question then: Lineup construction has some value then?

12:50
Dave Cameron: Yes, definitely. It’s not huge, but it’s there.

12:50
Comment From Alec
For lineup construction (I know it’s not very important but it’s really interesting to me), would the best strategy be something like 1) rank by OBP, 2) Adjust close OBP/high SLG guys so that higher SLG bat with more chances to drive guys in, 3) Adjust for handedness?

12:51
Dave Cameron: That’s a little simplistic, but sure. It’s basically high OBP/low HR in #1 spot, then your best hitters stacked in some order #2-#5, then descending by talent/handedness.

12:51
Comment From Boston Phan
If the run environment is down, then isn’t each run more scarce and hence more valuable? Therfore anything that prevents you from scoring runs (i.e. outs) is worse in a low run environment than in a normal environment?

12:53
Dave Cameron: You’re coming at it from the wrong angle. In a low run scoring environment, the runner on base is less likely to score anyway than if everyone behind him is a 50+ HR guy. So, you’re taking more potential runs off the board by getting thrown out stealing in a high run environment than if the next three hitters are just going to ground out to third.

12:54
Comment From Guest
How the hell is WPA for SP useless for a single-season award? The value of average innings is around .011 WAR/inning, and the top contenders run fairly close in innings, so that’s only a tiny amount of skew even when you’e dealing with 2011-12 Verlander IP.

12:55
Dave Cameron: WPA for starters basically penalizes good pitchers on good teams, since their innings because less useful as their offenses build leads. A starter who throws a complete game shutout but was given six or seven runs of support gets little or no credit for the last ~6 innings because the game was basically already decided.

12:55
Comment From Dan
From a team perspective, I can’t see anyone signing a $400M deal for Trout. Are there ANY long-term $200M+ contracts that have panned out?

12:56
Dave Cameron: A-Rod was worth his first contract.

12:56
Dave Cameron: And most of the $200M+ deals are too recent to judge.

12:56
Comment From Ryan
What kind of software/math skills would you recommend working on for a person who was trying to get a lot more hardcore about baseball statistics?

12:57
Dave Cameron: Learn SQL and R.

12:57
Comment From Prich
Eric Bedard would seem to make sense for a potential playoff team: Won’t cost much, good for 5 or so innings which is about how long starters go in the playoffs anyway… thoughts?

12:57
Dave Cameron: He hasn’t pitched an inning in September since something like 2006. I don’t think teams are going to count on him pitching well in the postseason.

12:58
Dave Cameron: Okay, the puppy wants to go outside now. Thanks for hanging out this week, everyone.



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