FanGraphs Chat – 9/11/13

12:00
Comment From JEB
Did you know Ernie Shore’s house is in Winston Salem? This has been your fun NC trivia fact for the day.
12:00
Dave Cameron: Well, the old stadium used to be called Ernie Shore Field, so while I didn’t know that his house was here, that’s not a huge surprise.
12:00
Comment From Daniel
What would your headline be the morning after the Royals sneak up and take the 2nd wildcard spot?
12:00
Dave Cameron: “It’s 2043, and the Royals finally did it.” Hint: they aren’t making the playoffs this year.
12:01
Comment From JEB
Puppy update?
12:01
Dave Cameron: Biting has gotten a lot better, now fully house broken, and she’s up to 30 pounds. Still adorable, still a lot of work.

12:02
Comment From Bkgeneral
Who is your pick for the AL 2nd Wildcard?
12:02
Dave Cameron: Tampa.
12:02
Comment From Roger
Any word on who the PTBNL is in the Brendan Ryan deal?
12:02
Dave Cameron: It’s going to be cash. Ryan isn’t eligible for the postseason roster, so they really just rented him for the last few weeks of the season. You don’t get anything for that kind of loan.
12:02
Comment From Steve, Pitt
Should we expect the Pirates to go into ‘win now mode’ in 2014? Would it not be better for the organization to continue to build from within?
12:03
Dave Cameron: You can improve your roster to maximize your chances in the present without giving up on building from within. Doing both at the same time is not impossible.
12:03
Comment From Ben
In terms of using relievers, why are managers more concerned with the number of innings rather than the number of pitches? If a reliever only throws 10 or 15 pitches why not have him go back out to record another out or two?
12:04
Dave Cameron: Well, they also throw warm up pitches between innings, and there is some thought that sitting around for a while between throwing isn’t that great for your arm.
12:04
Comment From JEB
Is there any evidence behind certain pitchers being bad after once or twice through the lineup? Macallister has recently been pitching bad during this third time through and the announcers always talk about it. Is that something that is made up, or something people pay attention to? (I don’t trust Manning/Underwood)
12:05
Dave Cameron: Pretty much every pitcher is worse when they have to face a batter multiple times. Some may be worse than others due to not having the stamina to hold their stuff beyond 60-70 pitches, so the third time through the order, the hitters could be seeing meatballs.
12:05
Comment From Matt
What year do you think the Twins could realistically compete for a division title again?
12:06
Dave Cameron: 2015 if they do everything right.
12:06
Comment From Greg
How are baserunning RAR determined?
12:07
Dave Cameron: It’s more RAA than RAR, since there’s no such thing as replacement level baserunning. But, basically, it’s a combination of the run values of successful stolen bases minus the negative of being caught stealing, plus credit for all the bases advanced on hits/sacrifices/etc… minus the cost of the outs made trying to advance.
12:08
Comment From RF
What’s with the playoff odds? As a Red Sox fan I’m not complaining, but I think that a 30% chance to win the World Series is implausibly high. Any idea what is driving this and if anything needs to be adjusted?
12:08
Dave Cameron: What’s driving it is that they are a very good team with nearly a 100% chance of avoiding the wild card game.
12:09
Comment From Bkgeneral
Do you see teams tanking to get into the bottom 10 for free agent purposes?
12:09
Dave Cameron: No.
12:09
Comment From CMR
Do you think Trout and the Angels will actually sign an extension before he gets to free agency? If so, when?
12:10
Dave Cameron: Yeah, i imagine that they’ll eventually just pony up and buy out a few free agent years. My guess is that they do it this winter, and he gets something like 7/130 so he still hits free agency at age 29.
12:10
Comment From _David_
Considering factors such as Tom McNamara and uncertainty over who they would hire, would you want them to fire Jack Z?
12:11
Dave Cameron: I like Mac, but it’s not like he’s the only guy on earth who can scout. There’s no reason to keep a bad front office in place just because you think they draft well.
12:11
Comment From Yasiel Puig Roast
Biggest international signing: Jose Abreu for $50+ million or Wladimir Balentien for 1-year $4-6 million?
12:11
Dave Cameron: Balentien is under contract for two more years and doesn’t have an out clause.
12:11
Comment From Ricky
Hey Dave, can you explain how the positional adjustments in WAR are calculated? Thanks!
12:12
Dave Cameron: They’re derived from the difference in performance relative to the positional average from players who move between positions or change positions from one year to the next. Sean Smith had a really long post a few years back on the positional adjustments through the decades, which you can find in our archives by clicking on his name from the author list.
12:12
Comment From Emmett
How much change is there year to year in framing data? Is it a learnable skill? Do we know how it ages?
12:13
Dave Cameron: It seems to be pretty consistent from year to year, but yes, it also seems to be a thing that can be taught. It’s not a coincidence that the Brewers have two very good framers.
12:13
Comment From Izzy
How much does Hunter Pence get this offseason? Bit less than Swisher did?
12:13
Dave Cameron: More, I’d say. 5/65.
12:13
Dave Cameron: Two minute puppy break.
12:15
Dave Cameron: We were hanging out on our deck, as she usually loves the sunshine. For once, she started whining to go inside. It’s actually kind of nice outside, for once, but now she wants the AC. I don’t understand women even in non-human form.
12:15
Dave Cameron: Oh, she wants to take a nap on her blanket.
12:16
Dave Cameron: And that concludes the play by play portion of today’s chat.
12:16
Comment From _David_
Obviously it depends on the deal, but if you ran the Mariners, which position players would you look towards keeping and seeing if they can contribute/improve?
12:16
Dave Cameron: Keep Seager/Miller/Ackley, get rid of everyone else.
12:16
Dave Cameron: Seager/Miller/Zunino/Ackley, I mean.
12:17
Comment From NL MVP
Kershaw or Cutch for MVP? Why?
12:17
Dave Cameron: Both are good picks. So is Yadier Molina.
12:17
Comment From Prich
What would an Ian Desmond extension look like 5/55?
12:17
Dave Cameron: Two years from free agency, he’ll get a lot more than that.
12:17
Comment From Phipps
Rany has recently made some blog posts blaming the Royals hitting woes on the firing of Kevin Seitzer. He cites a Baseball Prospectus study by Carleton that shows a great hitting coach can be worth 58 runs a year. This seems like an insanely high number to me. Are you familiar with the study? How many runs a year do you think a hitting coach can create?
12:18
Dave Cameron: I like Russell, but some of his conclusions are nutty. That one is nutty.
12:18
Comment From Dewey
Choose between Arroyo or Lincecum on a 3 year deal. Which one gets the higher $$?
12:18
Dave Cameron: Lincecum.
12:18
Comment From Hank
Is Carpenter going to 3B next year to make room for Wong, or is Freese staying put?
12:18
Dave Cameron: Can keep them all, rotate him between spots.
12:19
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
Is Billy Hamilton on the Reds playoff roster?
12:19
Dave Cameron: Absolutely.
12:19
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
How many steals would Billy Hamilton have if he had a league average OBP over a season.
12:19
Dave Cameron: 100+.
12:19
Comment From fungus
Mariners targets include Cano, Ellsbury, and a trade?
12:20
Dave Cameron: Ellsbury, Lincecum, and probably a few more Ibanez-style leaders who suck.
12:20
Comment From Yasiel Puig Roast
Luke Hochevar and Will Smith have reinvented themselves in relief roles. Any struggling starters you’d recommend for the same type of change? Carlos Carrasco in Cleveland? Phil Hughes in free agency?
12:20
Dave Cameron: Trevor Bauer maybe.
12:21
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
Can you guys start listing RA9WAR in the default pitcher leaderboards?
12:21
Dave Cameron: It’s possible. We’re going to make a few changes to the dashboard this off-season.
12:22
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
Has there been any attempt to develop a version of WAR that includes both ERA and FIP? It seems like finding that magic number is the next step in pitcher evaluation.
12:23
Dave Cameron: I don’t think you really want to “include ERA” as an improvement to FIP. The key is to assign some value to the pitchers for batted ball results and the order in which the events he was responsible for incurred. Yes, we’re working on this.
12:23
Comment From Pete
What’s the best way the Reds can utilize Chapman in a one game playoff?
12:23
Dave Cameron: Three very high leverage innings.
12:24
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
Can’t Balentien just pull a Soriano and retire? Are you still allowed to do that?
12:24
Dave Cameron: No, MLB and NPB honor each others contracts.
12:25
Comment From Dave
True or False: The 2014 Pirates will be a better team than the 2013 Pirates but will have a worse record.
12:25
Dave Cameron: True.
12:25
Comment From Izzy
Theoretically, couldn’t a player like Mike Trout sign a deal with an insurance company where if for whatever reason (injury or random decline), he doesn’t get a $200 million dollar contract when he hits FA, they give him the difference. In return, if he does get more than $200 million dollar contract, they get a certain percentage of the contract’s value over $200 million. Something like that allows Trout to not risk everything but still hit FA. If the insurance company gets enough, it makes sense.
12:25
Dave Cameron: Yeah, college athletes do this.
12:26
Dave Cameron: I think the premium would be pretty darn high, though, so the players generally choose to self ensure by just taking a long term deal.
12:26
Comment From Tom
My question is about the relationship between positional adjustments and zone ratings. Say an OFer is average in CF based on poor UZR but with the bump for playing CF. Could that same OFer be rated as an above average LFer, because they’d have a better UZR, even with the adjustment down for LF? Or is part of it that the OFer was judged against other CFers before, making him average (as they are generally good defenders), and is now judged against other LFers, making him above average (as they are generally poorer defenders)?
12:27
Dave Cameron: A combination of the two. A bad CF will look better in LF/RF both because he’s being compared to worse players and because he’ll have fewer balls to catch, so his deficiencies won’t be on display as often.
12:28
Comment From dog
late to the party… what kind of puppy?
12:28
Dave Cameron: Yellow lab mixed with random unknown father. But she basically looks exactly like a yellow lab.
12:29
Comment From Andrew
Are the arguments over awards progressing/evolving in a positive direction? (Better general understanding of how to value/rate players) Would 2 WAR 2008 Ryan Howard still garner so many 1st votes today? Or is the inertia to changing thinking too strong?
12:29
Dave Cameron: I think that analytics has done a good job of helping voters pick from a more deserving pool of players. I don’t think the voters are great at picking players from within that pool, but we probably won’t see too many totally awful selections again in the future.
12:30
Comment From Mike
Other teams are very good and will avoid the play-in game and don’t have anything close to the Red Sox’s 30%. It seems wrong.
12:30
Dave Cameron: Other teams aren’t as good as the Red Sox.
12:31
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
The worst (but all too common argument) against WAR: WAR says player X is as good or better than Player Y, even though we clearly know (perhaps through intuition) Player Y is better therefore WAR can’t be right.
12:32
Dave Cameron: Yep. It’s funny how people never do this with other stats. “Bruce Chen has a better ERA than Justin Verlander, and we know Verlander is better than Bruce Chen, so ERA is stupid.”
12:32
Comment From Dan
Iglesias at 303/345/413 with the Tigers. No need to reference sample size considering his full year’s body of work, it’s clear that he is more talented with the bat than Brendan Ryan so you should stop treating him as such.
12:33
Dave Cameron: This is a fun comment. “Don’t give me sample size, we’re dealing with 400 at-bats now!!!”
12:33
Dave Cameron: Jose Iglesias can’t hit. I’m sorry.
12:34
Comment From Physics
ESPN Cy Predictor has Kimbrel leading narrowly over Kershaw, if Kimbrel couldn’t win it last year with the historic season he had, there’s no way he wins it this year right?
12:34
Dave Cameron: Yeah, that’s a sign that their Cy Predictor is broken.
12:34
Comment From Krog
You’ve stated that you would not be interested in working for an MLB team, but what about working for the players in some capacity (MLBPA or Scott Boras, etc.)?
12:34
Dave Cameron: Depends on the situation, same as working for a team. If someone wants to offer me $250K per year to work 40-50 hours per week from my house, I’ll be happy to accept.
12:35
Comment From Matt
Do you think that Phil Hughes could be a decent pitcher if you put him in Target Field?
12:35
Dave Cameron: A decent back-end innings eater, sure. Nothing more than that, though.
12:35
Comment From zack
Why is your RA9 WAR and Baseball references different?
12:38
Dave Cameron: They take a team’s in-season defensive runs saved, then divide that up between the pitchers based on how many innings they’ve thrown, and assume that each pitcher got exactly the same defensive support and adjust based on that assumption. So, even if one pitcher has a .250 BABIP and the other has a .350 BABIP, they’re assumed to have gotten equal defensive support, so the .250 pitcher either gets a bump for having to overcome a bad defense (like Max Scherzer this year) or the .350 pitcher gets blame for struggling despite having a good defense (like James Shields a few years back). It’s not a very good way of doing things.
12:39
Comment From Prich
The puppy: Is she a fetcher, or does she look at you like you’re an idiot if you throw something?
12:40
Dave Cameron: She’s a fetcher, but not a giver backer. She will go get whatever we throw (within reason), then come sprinting back to us, and then turn it into a game of keep away.
12:40
Comment From LarryA
Do you ever bounce an idea of a MLB player just as a sounding board or just to make sure that your article/idea isnt missing some forgotten element that only an actual player or coach would know about?
12:41
Dave Cameron: Yeah, there’s one player I send stuff to occasionally to ask him what he thinks about stuff. Mostly about things he’d see that we can’t pick up from the data.
12:41
Comment From Andrew
Another WAR question, do you see pitch framing being included in catcher defensive WAR in the future, if so how soon? Or too many issues yet?
12:42
Dave Cameron: Eventually yes. How soon, I’m not sure. I personally don’t trust the range of values being put out there by the calculations at the moment, and I think there are parts of the pitcher/catcher relationship that framing is missing which would explain why some of the best framers are often on teams with terrible pitching staffs.
12:43
Comment From Prich
Omar Infante- Should he be the Royals #1 offseason priority?
12:43
Dave Cameron: Making a specific player your “#1 priority” is a great way to end up with a terrible contract.
12:43
Comment From Andrew
Am I the only one who doesn’t really understand why the Sox offense has been so good? Pedroia/Ellsbury are great players, but merely very good offensively. Papi, yes. Rest of lineup looks good, but not elite like they have been.
12:43
Dave Cameron: They have no holes.
12:44
Comment From Spence
Adam Jones won a Gold Glove with -4 UZR over Michael Bourn with +23 UZR. I think analytics has a long way to go with voters…. though I’m sure defense will be the last to go.
12:44
Dave Cameron: The managers pick the GG, not the BBWAA.
12:44
Comment From Renan
Is there any concern about building a lineup that is bereft of power. In other words, is there some kind of structural disadvantage to having a bunch of guys who hit between .280-.300 with a .360+ OBP where everyone hits between 10-16 HRs without a true 25-30 HR threat mixed in or is that just giving in to old school prejudices about lineup construction?
12:44
Dave Cameron: The latter.
12:45
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
I’ve always found Fangraphs writers are way more likely to respond to questions on Twitter. My question is how do you manage to hire such awesome people?
12:45
Dave Cameron: It’s kind of a prerequisite that people who work for us have to be awesome.
12:45
Comment From Guest
Do you know why the A’s are 60/40 to beat Texas for the division, yet 3x less likely to win the world series than the Rangers. Vexing. I’m vexed!
12:45
Dave Cameron: Our projections think the Rangers are a better team.
12:46
Dave Cameron: But the A’s have a much easier schedule the rest of the way, so they’re more likely to win the division.
12:46
Comment From Jeff
Dave – sorry if this comes across as a back-handed compliment, but are you ever surprised at how many questions you get about working for a front office? You clearly have some analytic skills, but it seems like your biggest skill is raising interesting questions and offering consistent, engaging writing, neither of which would be likely to make you any better in a front office than other analytically (word?) skilled folks.
12:47
Dave Cameron: I see it the same way. I identify as a writer who writes about baseball, not an analyst who writes to communicate my ideas.
12:47
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
What do you think is more likely: You guys and BR battle over methodology until one side wins and their WAR becomes the standard, or you get together and eventually just agree on the same one?
12:48
Dave Cameron: Neither. There will never be one WAR. If we came up with a unified WAR with BR, some other site would just raise up to provide an alternative based on some other reasonable way of calculating things. There are juts way too many judgment calls that have to be made to have one definitive version.
12:48
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
Its Brandon McCarthy isn’t it?
12:49
Dave Cameron: Nope.
12:49
Comment From Henry
You wrote an article talking about the impact of the second wild card game on the trading around the deadline. Now that we’re into September, would you classify the second wild card as a net-negative or -positive move in terms of excitement? Not that it couldn’t be done better, but is it better than it was when there was one?
12:49
Dave Cameron: The biggest positive from the second wild card is making the division races interesting again.
12:49
Comment From Guest
It sounds like the mysterious puppy father could be a pit bull with that fetch-then-tug-of-war style.
12:50
Dave Cameron: We think maybe a boxer or a golden. Pit seems very unlikely given her temperament.
12:50
Comment From Tom
Is Carlos Beltran a HOFer? Think he gets in? And if so, does that open the door to Andruw Jones? Jim Edmonds?
12:50
Dave Cameron: Yes, no, no, no.
12:50
Comment From Joe
What kind of contract does Salty get this offseason?
12:50
Dave Cameron: 3/24.
12:50
Comment From Dave
Regarding framing, teams with bad pitching staffs are more likely to throw more balls, so more opportunities to frame it as a strike? Or are umps more sympathetic towards bad pitchers?
12:51
Dave Cameron: Or maybe pitchers try to take advantage of their good framers by pitching consistently on the edges, which leads to more batters getting ahead in counts than if they were challenged for strike one, and the hitter’s counts lead to worse results. Lots of interaction going on here.
12:52
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
Yankees said Cano is not a “resign at all costs” player. Is that just a trick to try to get Cano to tamper his contract expectations, in light of the fact that the Yanks might be his only potential buyer?
12:52
Dave Cameron: No, they’re right, he’s not.
12:52
Dave Cameron: No one is.
12:52
Comment From Kenny
Speaking of awesome people, I just wanted to mention how great Jeff Sullivan is. He hasn’t been at FG for terribly long but he has contributed tremendously to your site. Thank you for hiring him.
12:53
Dave Cameron: He’s the best. We’ve actually had him for just over a year, but yeah, I don’t remember life here without him. He makes FG so much better.
12:53
Comment From Todd
Are front office type jobs so relatively low-paying just due to supply and hard to quantify positive effects? I feel like teams like the Twins (who would never do this) who left a ton of payroll on the table this year, and probably will next year as well, would have a lot to gain by putting a percentage of that into overpaying for scouts and analytics guys from teams like the Rays, A’s, Cards, Rangers etc. Would loyalty issues be at play here?
12:53
Dave Cameron: 1. Figuring out which scouts to throw a lot of money at isn’t easy.
12:54
Dave Cameron: 2. No need to throw a ton of money at analytics guy when 99% of the kids graduating from Harvard will work for free.
12:54
Comment From Transient Gadfly
What is Nick Franklin lacking that you’d leave him off the M’s roster of the future? If the answer is OBP, what makes you think he won’t ever improve it?
12:55
Dave Cameron: Can’t hit lefties, bad defender. His upside is Kelly Johnson.
12:55
Comment From Harjit
An odd question you may scoff at, but would every pitcher be better as a reliever? Like, in theory, would every single pitcher be better (in ratio, not bulk) if you had the ability to basically trot out 9 1-2 IP relievers
12:55
Dave Cameron: Yep.
12:55
Comment From Dave Cameron Follow-Up Question Bot
Why do you think teams wouldn’t tank in order “to get into the bottom 10 for free agent purposes”?
12:55
Dave Cameron: Because the players and field staff don’t care about draft picks.
12:56
Comment From Henry
pit bulls have very little inherited temper/bad behavior! Will you start DogGraphs so we can start using statistical analysis instead of anecdotal evidence for breed traits?
12:56
Dave Cameron: Well, I’m clearly not the right guy to start DogGraphs since the queue is full of people lecturing me for spreading stereotypes.
12:57
Comment From Erik
AL Cy Young: Three man race? Scherzer, Darvish, and the sudden surge of Sale?
12:57
Dave Cameron: Let’s be honest, Scherzer’s winning this thing in a rout.
12:57
Comment From Dave Cameron Follow-Up Question Bot
What’s an example of something you asked your player contact? What did he say? Who is this player?
12:59
Dave Cameron: Sullivan wrote a piece either last year or earlier this year about ballpark K factors. I asked Mr. Player if there was any parks he felt were notorious for increasing K rate, and he said absolutely, and named a place where he felt strikeouts were way higher than everywhere else. Sullivan looked into the data and that park had the highest K park factor.
12:59
Comment From Joe
Any guesses on the AAV of Choo’s next contract?
12:59
Dave Cameron: $17M.
1:00
Comment From Erik
Why aren’t the Mariners in on Choo?
1:00
Dave Cameron: Because he’s currently playing center field for the Reds.
1:00
Comment From Sgt. Pepper
Is it Delmon Young?
1:00
Dave Cameron: Man, and I promised him it would be our secret…
1:00
Dave Cameron: Okay, off to get some lunch. Thanks for hanging out today.



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


14 Responses to “FanGraphs Chat – 9/11/13”

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  1. David says:

    Is there solace to be had in the late season run that’s likely to make the Nationals the best in the NL not to make the playoffs?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • suicide squeeze says:

      There is, but it’s not enough to offset the despair from knowing that you posted your question in the wrong place.

      +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Frost/Nixon says:

    This week in Dave’s one-on-one conversation with Sgt. Pepper…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Monty says:

    If I had to guess i’d say fangraphs player-contact is Joey Votto. It’s just a random guess of course, but he seems like the kind of guy who would befriend Fangraphs

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. CJ says:

    I don’t understand the question about Adam Jones winning the Gold Glove over Michael Bourn. Neither have played in the same league before this year. Maybe he is confusing last season when McCutchen won the the Gold Glove over a much more deserving Bourn. Of course Adam Jones winning the Gold Glove over anyone last year was a joke.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Bookbook says:

    Not to dwell on the Pit comment, but I am now nostalgic for my Pit Bull. Throughout her life, “puppyish enthusiasm” was probably her dominant trait.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. scraps says:

    The Kingdome was a very high strikeout park. I recall people positing the grayness was a factor (white baseball very hard to pick up).

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. http://www.fangraphs.com/coolstandings.aspx

    Those WS and LCS odds seem interesting. After the WC playoffs we’ll have 8 teams left. If all things were even (team quality, HFA), etc) each team would be 1/8= 12.5% of winning the WS. Yet Bos are 21.8% and Det are 25.1%. In fact the chance of an NL winning the WS is only 34.9%. Even accounting for WS HFA to the AL and the AL being better league 34.9% seems low. These odds seem to imply that the playoffs are not a crapshoot at all.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • deadpool says:

      The odds may imply that the playoffs are not a crapshoot, but what you have to remember is what happens if some of those odds don’t vest. Lets say Bos goes out in the 1st round, which without looking in guessing there’s at least a 40% chance of. Immediately all the predictions go off the rails. One or two upsets can quickly leave a playoffs were everybody’s odds are close to equal, and given that the odds even the best team loses in any given series are pretty significant, the odds we reach that “crapshoot” playoff scenario are pretty good every year.

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