Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 9/2/14

9:05
Jeff Sullivan: here is a video of a volcano https://www.youtube.com/wat…

9:05
Jeff Sullivan: Let’s chat about baseball! Let’s not chat about fantasy baseball.

9:06
Jeff Sullivan: As a word of warning, I was completely out of touch over the weekend, so good luck getting an insightful answer on anything that’s happened extremely recently. One can catch up only so much

9:06
Comment From Alex
Favorites from the NL, AL?

9:06
Jeff Sullivan: A’s and Nationals

9:07
Jeff Sullivan: Still think of the A’s as the best team in the AL, but now I highly doubt they’re catching the Angels in the division, so that makes things complicated

9:07
Comment From Dave
So Justin Verlander………

9:07
Jeff Sullivan: Is this about his pitching or his butt

9:08
Comment From Guest
Did you know you can drink lava?…but you can only do it once

9:08
Jeff Sullivan: You can cook in lava http://www.dolphinbayhilo.c…

9:08
Comment From Mark
Can we chat about fantasies about baseball?

9:08
Jeff Sullivan: Like the fantasy that we can predict it?

9:09
Comment From Hamilton Porter
Am I just overly excited or with equal playing time would Joc put up better numbers next year than Oscar Taveras?

9:10
Jeff Sullivan: I’d call that one a coin flip. Taveras has questions about his discipline and power at this point, but Pederson has put up the numbers he’s put up in an extremely hitter-friendly environment so we don’t really know what he is yet outside of his observable tools

9:11
Jeff Sullivan: I know people have been coming down on Taveras over the last few months but even if you don’t think he’s a future superstar, let’s not be too hasty to write him off as an elite-level prospect

9:11
Comment From Robert
% chance Matt Shoemaker is real? COBBLE COBBLE COBBLE

9:11
Jeff Sullivan: Think I wrote about that last week. I think he’s for real as an above-average starting pitcher; obviously, takes more time to prove he’s a borderline ace. I love a starting pitcher with a good splitter

9:12
Comment From Guest
Kluber hasn’t looked too hot his last few starts. Good competition or something to worry about?

9:12
Jeff Sullivan: He’s allowed 11 runs his last three starts, and Felix has allowed 10. Two pitchers who might be trying to back into the Cy Young award

9:13
Jeff Sullivan: My presumption is that Kluber is mostly fine, but no one is working at 100% at this point and he’s real close to 200 innings. There’s going to be some fatigue in there, certainly

9:14
Comment From Tony G.
How many starts left for Drew Smyly this season? Based on his stellar numbers since being traded to the Rays, any chance he could be a top-10 American League pitcher next season?

9:14
Jeff Sullivan: He is not a top-ten pitcher

9:15
Comment From Awake in Seattle
Chris Taylor vs. Brad Miller; who would you go with ROS, as well as in 2015?

9:16
Jeff Sullivan: Still prefer Miller, by a small amount. Not in love with either of them. Helps that Miller has actual power

9:17
Comment From Vic Romano
Will Wainwright get right down the stretch? Seems hard to picture them making the playoffs without him being who he normally is….

9:18
Jeff Sullivan: While I know what you’re getting at, the Cardinals have recently taken the lead in the NL Central with Wainwright still not being his normal self, so it’s not like this is an inarguable barrier to their success

9:19
Jeff Sullivan: A few days ago he said he’d been going through a dead-arm phase, which I’m willing to believe. I’m also willing to believe Wainwright knows his own body and limits, given what he’s been through before, so while there’s no guarantee that he’ll just up and get better — he is a pitcher, after all — I’m moderately encouraged and I think he’s been showing signs lately. I think he’ll be solid the rest of the way

9:21
Comment From GSon
One of Joc Pederson’s stated strongest attributes in the minors was his pitch selection ‘discipline.. but still struck out waaaay too often.. Would a Baez Joc Pederson comp be far off?

9:21
Jeff Sullivan: Way off!

9:21
Jeff Sullivan: Baez swung half the time in Triple-A, and made 63% contact. Pederson swung 41% of the time in Triple-A, and made 70% contact

9:22
Jeff Sullivan: Or if you prefer, Pederson has doubled Baez’s walk rate while striking out less often

9:22
Jeff Sullivan: And Baez has the superior bat speed/power ceiling because he’s a freak

9:22
Comment From Guest
How predictive is K-BB%? Is it still useful if the other advanced stats don’t point towards a solid pitcher?

9:22
Jeff Sullivan: Starting point-y, like FIP or xFIP are. Start with the most important thing and then work your way down. If a guy isn’t good despite a strong K-BB%, figure out why. Like with Joe Blanton!

9:23
Comment From Erik
Lots of anticipation, some false starts, finally an eruption but not nearly what many people had hoped … yet still impressive if you gave it some time. Icelandic eruption is what current ballplayer?

9:24
Jeff Sullivan: Lonnie Chisenhall?

9:25
Comment From Travis
Fredi Gonzalez pinch hit Jose Constanze for a healthy Justin Upton yesterday. Fredi’s gone next year, right? Please tell me he’s gone…

9:25
Jeff Sullivan: It was the bottom of the ninth of a 7-0 baseball game

9:25
Jeff Sullivan: I can’t imagine actually caring about what happens in that half-inning

9:25
Comment From David
Felix has looked … dare I say … HUMAN in his last couple of starts. Can the M’s afford this?

9:25
Jeff Sullivan: They sure can’t!

9:26
Comment From fanjeff
hey jeff huge fan. which player is the best at dancing

9:26
Jeff Sullivan: Munenori Kawasaki

9:27
Comment From Dr. Met
Is it just me, or has this year been one for the ages in terms of non “closers” having astronomical K rates and being as good or better than their 9th inning counterparts?

9:28
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know the exact history, but of course strikeout rates keep rising and so the league-average reliever at this point basically whiffs a batter a frame

9:28
Jeff Sullivan: Are you including Wade Davis over Greg Holland? Because they’re basically equal

9:29
Jeff Sullivan: I think baseball also generally has the best understanding of leverage that it’s ever had, so there’s more of an emphasis on having a really good reliever for the 7th and 8th as well, but I think it’s mostly just that strikeouts are everywhere today

9:30
Comment From Guest
What do you think of Brandon McCarthy? Closer to Yankees, Diamondbacks, or his xFIP?

9:30
Jeff Sullivan: I buy him as an 85-90 FIP- sort as long as he sustains this velocity hike

9:30
Jeff Sullivan: He’s been super good, and it’s fairly easy to explain. He hasn’t even been hurt yet!

9:30
Comment From Kevin
But how well do you think the A’s can survive a one-game playoff with, say, Felix and the Mariners?

9:31
Jeff Sullivan: The A’s have Lester or Gray and the A’s

9:32
Comment From Daniel
The Royals, Tigers, and Mariners are fighting for two playoff spots. FG says the Tigers are at 80%, Royals are at 65%, and Mariners are at 35% to get one spot. Do you concur?

9:33
Jeff Sullivan: I’d put the Tigers a little lower and the Mariners a little higher, sort of like in between the current FG odds and the season-to-date current FG odds

9:33
Comment From Guest
How many more seasons is Adam Jones a solid CF? He’s been amazingly consistent the last few years

9:34
Jeff Sullivan: His track record is actually amazing, in how little it’s varied year to year. Guy’s only recently turned 29 so he could have another 4-5 seasons of being average or better in the middle

9:35
Jeff Sullivan: This is the first year the numbers have really loved his defense, but the Orioles have lived with him this long and he shouldn’t lose his athleticism that quickly

9:35
Comment From Dingos
Which player, positively or negatively, has produced runs at a rate farthest from his true talent level?

9:35
Jeff Sullivan: hmmmmm

9:35
Jeff Sullivan: Let’s try both ends!

9:36
Jeff Sullivan: I won’t use the obvious Justin Turner

9:37
Jeff Sullivan: Steve Pearce and Jean Segura?

9:37
Jeff Sullivan: Maybe Gyorko instead of Segura

9:38
Comment From Sandy
What’s wrong with Corey Kluber? Is this regression to mean, or is he hurt, or have batters begun to figure him out?

9:38
Jeff Sullivan: Does something always have to be seriously wrong?

9:39
Jeff Sullivan: A quick look at some numbers:

9:40
Jeff Sullivan: First 26 starts: 75% contact
Last 3 starts: 63% contact

9:41
Jeff Sullivan: His velocity’s been fine. Some issues finding the zone, and while that *could* be indicative of something, it’s encouraging that he’s been so hard to hit on a per-swing basis. I assume he is an ace who is in a minor results slump, just like Felix

9:43
Comment From Spencer
How do you see Alex Wood’s future playing out? His age-22 and 23 seasons are very similar to Sale’s 22 and 23 seasons. Sale is better on the K/BB side, while Wood gets more ground balls and limits homers a bit better. All told, they seem pretty similar. Your thoughts?

9:43
Jeff Sullivan: I give Sale a pretty substantial edge for doing what he’s done in Chicago in the American League. There are obvious similarities between the two but I’d put Wood a level below, which isn’t an insult considering how awesome Sale has been this whole time. Good starting pitcher, who’ll never make people feel entirely comfortable about his health

9:44
Comment From Dr. Met
Hey… if you were out of touch over the weekend how’d you find out about JV and KUpton’s photogenic-ness?

9:44
Jeff Sullivan: The worst part of going off the grid is subsequently having to play catch-up for a few hours

9:44
Jeff Sullivan: Sometimes Twitter is just the worst thing

9:44
Comment From Brian
Break it to us gently Jeff, are the M’s going to make the playoffs or not? (my long time M’s fandom thinks I know the answer already)

9:44
Jeff Sullivan: More often than not the answer would be no

9:45
Comment From Guest
O/U 83.5 wins for the Cubs next year?

9:45
Jeff Sullivan: That feels like a really good line. I’ll be bold! Over!

9:45
Comment From Mike
Has Jorge Soler peaked?

9:45
Jeff Sullivan: well there’s no higher level than the major leagues, so in that sense

9:46
Comment From Jheff
So Aaron Sanchez has looked good. Maybe he doesnt suck?

9:46
Jeff Sullivan: He’s been a reliever. Pretty easy for a guy with a big arm to be a fine reliever. Those who ranked Sanchez with the best young pitchers didn’t see him as a reliever

9:47
Comment From AA
Hector Rondon a top tier closer next year?

9:47
Jeff Sullivan: Not top-tier, no, but fine

9:48
Comment From Wobatus
If you were Mariners GM, would you trade Miller this off-season for pitching, say a Rafael Montero type, or hold him and hope he can become super-utility depth.

9:48
Jeff Sullivan: I’d sooner try to capitalize on Chris Taylor’s BABIP

9:48
Comment From Guest
Do you think Joc will get work in center field, or will the crazy Dodgers OF logjam put him in the corner spots?

9:49
Jeff Sullivan: Puig’s actually been a pretty adequate defensive CF, it seems, so I doubt Pederson works his way in there regularly

9:49
Jeff Sullivan: Down the stretch in 2014, I mean

9:49
Comment From BobbyS
Is MLB headed down the same path as the NBA when it comes to tanking for the draft? There’s tremendous value in higher picks; draft pool money, playing potential draft picks against each other, protected picks, etc. The Rangers seem to be embracing this idea…

9:50
Jeff Sullivan: Not at all. In the NBA, a high draft pick can yield immediate rewards, and one player can all but make a team if he’s good enough. The baseball draft will forever be too risky and unpredictable. I don’t believe that baseball teams tank. I do believe that they act a lot more conservatively down the stretch if there’s no reason to push things. Like, if a pitcher is a little bit hurt in September, you might as well shut him down if you’re just playing for a 63rd win

9:51
Comment From Guest
Where do you see Chris Davis’ slash line being next year after some regression to the mean?

9:51
Jeff Sullivan: I imagine he’ll slug about .475, which I guess would give him a line close to his career averages. What a coincidence!

9:51
Comment From HR
What do you make of bo porter’s firing?

9:53
Jeff Sullivan: Not hard to see coming. Seems like there was very poor communication between him and the front office, and that’s just never going to work. Now, of course, Porter wasn’t the problem, but he’s been *a* problem in terms of building discontent, and it’s going to be hard for the Astros to find an awesome and willing candidate. But given how few managerial positions are open at a time, applicants will still be there and now the Astros have a better idea of what they’re looking for than they did when Porter first came aboard

9:54
Jeff Sullivan: And the manager they want now will be different from the manager they wanted then. Then, the Astros were years and years away. Now, they’re transitioning from terrible to okay, and the stage after that should be borderline-competitive. So it shouldn’t really be about playing Double-A players much longer

9:56
Comment From Guest
what 3 players will have started the most games in the OF for the red sox at this point next year

9:56
Jeff Sullivan: Cespedes, Betts, Victorino?

9:57
Comment From Jheff
What do you think of the Jays calling up Daniel Norris and Dalton Pompey?

9:58
Jeff Sullivan: Why wouldn’t they? Norris has been strong so far and he’s had his innings limited, so this’ll be good exposure for him. And Pompey will just get his eyes opened. He’s risen very quickly and I don’t think he’s big-league ready or anything, but every little experience he gains now is an experience he doesn’t have to gain in 2015 or 2016

9:59
Comment From Jack
I quit my high school baseball team because the thinking was so ancient; the coach took to Twitter and called me “ignorant” for saying Mike Trout is having a better season than his MVP choice Jose Altuve. I’m not crazy, right? Because all my friends agree with him that Altuve>Trout.

9:59
Jeff Sullivan: Yeah, they’re wrong

9:59
Jeff Sullivan: Extremely wrong!

9:59
Comment From Wobatus
How common is it for a hitter to solve a major K problem like Baez’s?

10:00
Jeff Sullivan: Strikeout-prone hitters tend to always be strikeout-prone hitters; it’s just a feature of their swings. But it’s not uncommon for players with questionable discipline in their very early 20s to develop stronger eyes as they get older, so whiffs can be limited just from laying off an extra pitch per 25 or so. If you accept that the whiffs will always be there, then it becomes a matter of refining the pitch selection as much as is possible

10:01
Comment From Kimball
Given the mounting evidence that framing, and other receiving skills, are very valuable, would it make sense for teams to use their #2 catcher as something like a relief catcher when the game isn’t close, to reduce the wear on their #1 guy? Or should teams basically never voluntarily pull their starting catcher, even in the 8th, in case of injury?

10:01
Jeff Sullivan: Well, of course, teams are extremely risk-averse in terms of playing all their catchers in the same game. Been like that forever

10:02
Jeff Sullivan: A bolder manager could slightly reduce the wear on his starter, but it probably wouldn’t yield much of a benefit. You’re talking about a few percentage points, as blowouts are rare and the regular catcher would have already caught several dozens of pitches

10:03
Comment From Eric
Do you attribute Justin Masterson’s last 6 starts to randomness, brokenness or suckiness (sp?).

10:04
Jeff Sullivan: Somewhat encouraging, he actually found the strike zone again! But you’re talking about a guy who’s down 2-3 miles per hour from a year ago, and that’s indicative of something being wrong in the process. His mechanics are presumably futzed up, and for all I know there’s something wrong in his arm. I think he’s troubled; I don’t think this has been luck. He might be the sort to benefit from extended rest

10:05
Comment From Guest
How much of Lucas Duda’s breakout is sustainable? Is this something he can take into next year?

10:06
Jeff Sullivan: Well, for the record, he’s gone from a 120 wRC+ to a 133 wRC+. So it’s not really that dramatic. But he does seem to have gotten more aggressive within the strike zone and he’s lifted his power while reducing his strikeouts, so I think he’s something like a 125-130 sort

10:06
Jeff Sullivan: With a big platoon split

10:07
Comment From Scott M.
Would a playoff team ever shift their rotation around based on park factors?

10:07
Jeff Sullivan: I actually think we’ve already seen this, although I can’t think of the example off the top of my head

10:07
Jeff Sullivan: Back in 2 minutes!

10:10
Comment From frfr
Trout had a pretty poor August by Trout standards — any chance the MVP gets sniped? Josh Donaldson could have a chance if he gets he breaks 30 dingers and gets his batting average up.

10:10
Jeff Sullivan: Felix was the best bet and Felix has hit a speed bump

10:10
Jeff Sullivan: Alex Gordon might get some votes, but because of how much of that is defense, it ought to be Trout by a landslide

10:11
Comment From Travis
There’s been a lot of talk that the Braves think Gattis is best suited for the DH spot going forward so they’ll be looking to trade him after the season. What kind of return do you think the Braves could get for him?

10:13
Jeff Sullivan: A pretty good return that isn’t a blockbuster. There’s a lot of skepticism out there about Gattis’ position and discipline, but he’s got that established right-handed power and he isn’t old. Mark Trumbo brought Tyler Skaggs and Hector Santiago and Trumbo had less team control

10:13
Jeff Sullivan: Trumbo was a little younger at the time than Gattis will be, but you could think along those lines

10:14
Comment From Jim
Ryu an ace level guy? FIP is 8th in the bigs this year.

10:15
Jeff Sullivan: I set a high ace bar but Ryu’s been fun to watch progress. Last year, 8% walks in the first half, 3% in the second half. This year, he’s settled at 4.5%.

10:15
Comment From Kennys G
On a 1-10, with 10 being avg. MLB team, how much proprietary data does Fangraphs have access to? The general public?

10:16
Jeff Sullivan: uhhh. 8? And then 6 or 7? We get an awful lot, with the extra stuff that teams get being mostly on the margins

10:17
Comment From Vic Romano
There’s no competition for the NL Cy Young, Kershaw run away with it a while ago….but will the relative lack of a strong contender for the NL MVP lead to Kershaw winning both?

10:18
Jeff Sullivan: Issues with most of the strong NL contenders. Kershaw will be nicked for being a pitcher. Stanton will be nicked for missing the playoffs. Lucroy will be nicked for having his defensive work underrated. McCutchen will be nicked for his injury. I think the NL ends up split a handful of ways

10:18
Comment From Nick C
What does the future hold for Allen Craig, in your view?

10:18
Jeff Sullivan: A lot less playing time

10:19
Comment From ELAR
What’s so bad about pitching helmets? People always take the argument to the extreme, imagining pitchers in full-body-armor, but realistically, there are already functional pitching helmets being used in other sports (softball, for example). It’s easy to say it’ll mess up the game because change is hard, but hockey, football, catchers, umpires, etc. have all benefited long-term from protection and the game(s) have progressed.

10:20
Jeff Sullivan: Pitchers can’t pitch the way they normally do wearing the helmets that currently exist. Big-leaguers just can’t consistently sustain their mechanics. But this will be a part of the future, after helmets are made mandatory at low levels. PItchers will then just grow up with them, and they’ll be fine with them. After, of course, the protection is improved and reduced in size

10:20
Comment From Samantha
Next FO shakeup will be _____ ?

10:20
Jeff Sullivan: Colorado

10:21
Comment From Fish
RE: Fatigue. Should we move from thinking about pitchers in terms of pitches thrown, not innings? It’s not like we don’t have that data readily available.

10:22
Jeff Sullivan: Well sure, but innings work as a fine proxy when you’re talking fast. It’s like how wRC+ is better than OPS, but OPS gets you most of the way there. You really care about things like appearances and high-leverage pitches thrown, etc

10:22
Comment From Ed
Did Lloyd McClendon make a mistake by giving his starters extra rest? It seems like Seattle’s rotation is really out of sorts after having an amazing run in July and August. Does sticking to a five day schedule really make that big a difference?

10:22
Jeff Sullivan: The extra rest worked great before. Now they’re slumping. It happens. They’re not a true-talent sub-3 ERA baseball team

10:23
Comment From John
Many of my fellow Braves fans seem to think the Upton bros (especially BJ) are lazy. How much of this smoke is fire and how much is bias for various reasons?

10:23
Jeff Sullivan: BJ drew such critiques in Tampa Bay as well and it’s pretty much all horseshit

10:23
Comment From Matt T.
Is there anyone barring creating a program that measures where the catcher’s glove is/ball ends up to measure command?

10:24
Jeff Sullivan: That already exists and baseball teams have access to it. But the glove isn’t always the actual target and from what I understand the data that’s come out of that program hasn’t been particularly helpful in the early going

10:25
Comment From MIB
Does Fangraphs or other providers have any way of seeing how many starts a given pitcher has remaining and who their up against?

10:25
Jeff Sullivan: No, because that information isn’t known to anybody

10:26
Comment From George is Curious
Any early favourites you see for 2015 American League ROY?

10:26
Jeff Sullivan: Rusney Castillo?

10:26
Jeff Sullivan: Who I realize I forgot about way earlier when discussing the 2015 Red Sox outfield

10:27
Jeff Sullivan: See, drawbacks of a weekend in the woods.

10:27
Comment From Guest
Cody Allen or Jake McGee, who is the better closer?

10:27
Jeff Sullivan: McGee

10:28
Comment From Johnny Johnson
So the Giants now sit at a 94.1% chance of making the playoffs. You buy that? How dangerous are they if they get in? Could we see ’12 again?

10:29
Jeff Sullivan: Don’t see any reason not to buy that. They’re average-dangerous — there’s nothing special about them that makes them October-friendly. Yes, they could win the World Series! Probably they will not.

10:29
Jeff Sullivan: We have their WS odds at 6-8%. so

10:29
Comment From Dom
I find the downward trend in offense troubling, do you see any reason to think hitting will make a comeback in the next few years?

10:30
Jeff Sullivan: I think we could see it stabilize, but I don’t think we’re going to see it reverse direction sharply. Making a change that causes that would be too dramatic for baseball to pull off in the next five years

10:30
Comment From Nick C
How do you feel about Josh Harrison potentially winning the NL batting title?

10:30
Jeff Sullivan: I would feel happy for Josh Harrison

10:31
Comment From Guest
On TV last night the anchor compared Dalton Pompey to Vernon Wells and Shannon Stewart. Pretty lazy that a prospect’s comparison are almost always the same ethnic group, but it sure seems to happen a lot

10:32
Jeff Sullivan: There are fine reasons that happens and there are bad reasons that happens. Certain ethnic groups overall tend to perform differently from certain other ethnic groups, generally because of their backgrounds, but then every so often you really can get a reasonable comp of like, Masahiro Tanaka to peak Dan Haren

10:32
Comment From bob
Jeff, over/under .350 batting avg for Soler at season’s end?

10:32
Jeff Sullivan: um under

10:33
Comment From Guest
If you take the top 25 pitchers this year in terms of Fangraphs WAR- only one has an ERA above 3.50. And he’s in the top-10. Thoughts on Phil Hughes?

10:33
Jeff Sullivan: He’s having Cliff Lee’s 2010. I love the new Hughes who just pounds the zone relentlessly

10:33
Comment From Guest
The Nationals are 14-10 against current playoff teams. The Dodgers, by comparison, are 4 games under .500 against playoff teams. Yet the Nats have the narrative that they can’t beat good teams. Please explain.

10:33
Jeff Sullivan: The Nationals haven’t won the World Series before and people need something to talk about

10:34
Comment From Robert
How worried should the Angels be about overusing their bullpen? Over July and August, they have been dominant by both ERA/FIP, but also have by far the most IP. And if they actually start using Richards’ spot as a bullpen game, they’ll really need to bulk up on arms for roster expansion

10:34
Jeff Sullivan: Thankfully, roster expansion!

10:34
Jeff Sullivan: Don’t think it’s a major thing to worry about. I’ll trust Scioscia to know a pitcher’s limits

10:34
Comment From jocephus
do you have a favorite ice cream?

10:34
Jeff Sullivan: everything at Salt & Straw

10:35
Comment From Diehard Cubs Fan
Is Stanton now the best position player in the NL?

10:35
Jeff Sullivan: Not hands down. There’s a group of them, and he’s in the group, but he doesn’t stand out

10:35
Comment From Galen
Why doesn’t Adam Dunn make a go at 500 HRs? He only needs 39 more, you’d think he could get there in 2 seasons–at which point he’d only be 36. Weird.

10:36
Jeff Sullivan: I think it’s pretty obvious that Adam Dunn doesn’t really care about reaching 500 home runs. If he did, he wouldn’t be retiring. He has money and health and youth and I applaud his decision

10:38
Comment From Chris
Why exactly is Rick Porcello not a free agent until after the 2015 season? Wouldn’t that be seven years of team control?

10:38
Jeff Sullivan: He’s two days shy of a full other year of service, because he was very briefly demoted to the minors in 2010

10:39
Jeff Sullivan: At that point, he had a 6.14 ERA, so it was justifiable

10:39
Comment From bob
who’s the cubs ace and best hitter next year?

10:39
Jeff Sullivan: Arrieta and Rizzo

10:39
Comment From Risky Business
So are the Royals better than the Mariners?

10:39
Jeff Sullivan: No

10:40
Comment From Robert
Are there any type of prospects you don’t really care for? Like a guy without a true plus tool who doesn’t play C/SS/CF?

10:40
Jeff Sullivan: I personally don’t really start paying attention to any prospect until he reaches Double-A, no matter how much talent he’s said to have

10:40
Jeff Sullivan: And then I don’t much care for pitchers with big arms but modest results

10:41
Comment From Nate
Are the Astros ever going to generate a heart warming headline again? I’ve tried so hard to be excited about the future of the team, but my gosh…enough is enough with the off the field drama

10:42
Jeff Sullivan: In two years they’ll win 80+ games and everything that’s happened will be shaded differently. Things get ugly when a team is so bad for so long. Frustration builds and people act out. This is the course of things; the Astros just might not have realized how bad it could get

10:43
Comment From LaLoosh
Disagree. There is a huge effect of falling to the 11th worst record…. unless of course you’re just decided not to partake in the free agent market, then it may not matter much. But teams are loath to give up a very valuable 11th or 12th or 13th pick in the draft.

10:44
Jeff Sullivan: How many compensation free agents are there, really?

10:44
Jeff Sullivan: For how many of those free agents do teams much care about the pick they’d be losing?

10:45
Jeff Sullivan: Obviously there’s some incentive to get a high draft pick but baseball teams know it’s so unpredictable that they aren’t going to meaningfully shift their late-season courses of action. More than anything else, bad teams want to see the young players they already have succeed, and if that success pushes a team from the 10th to the 11th pick, they’ll be fine with it

10:47
Comment From Reginald Denton III
Which of the Cubs’ prospects that have gotten the call this season is your favorite?

10:47
Jeff Sullivan: Baez is my favorite but part of that is subjective and emotional

10:48
Comment From Matt
Conceptually, does it make sense for the Cubs to try and move the top prospect who they, privately, think is most likely to bust? At this point, MLB exposure is likely to hurt trade value, going forward.

10:48
Jeff Sullivan: On the contrary, it seems like MLB experience is very highly valued on the market. Like, a prospect who has played in the majors will be considered a good deal more valuable than an equivalent prospect who’s only been in the minors

10:48
Comment From Guest
Len Kasper, the Cubs tv play-by play guy, called Arismendy Alcantara the “Altoid,” because he is “curiously strong.”

10:48
Jeff Sullivan: love

10:49
Comment From Sadwick
Can the Braves even afford to trade Gattis? They need more offense now, imagine if they lost Gattis’ power.

10:49
Jeff Sullivan: Thankfully they wouldn’t be trading Gattis for nothing!

10:49
Comment From Chris Davis Arms
Jeff, projecting future baseball (and improving said projections) is an enormous part of your job, but, theoretically, would you like to live in a world where the projections are *always* right?

10:49
Jeff Sullivan: Heavens no

10:49
Jeff Sullivan: Then what would be the point?

10:50
Jeff Sullivan: Who wants to watch predetermined baseball? Isn’t that like watching a DVR’d game where you already know the final score?

10:50
Comment From Po Borter
Are the Astros better or worse off as an entire franchise on September 2, 2014 than they were on September 2, 2013?

10:51
Jeff Sullivan: That’s actually a good question. I’m always inclined to say better, because there’s more talent and there’s more developed talent, but they’ve sustained a lot of blows. Still, I’ll go with better

10:51
Comment From Guest
What is your opinion about an MLB franchise in Mexico, in particular Mexico City or Monterrey?

10:51
Jeff Sullivan: Unworkable now, distinct possibility in 20 years

10:52
Comment From Guest
Now that you’ve remembered about Castillo, what happens to Mookie Betts?

10:52
Jeff Sullivan: He’ll be talked about in blockbuster trades, but even if he sticks around it’s not hard to find regular playing time for four outfielders

10:53
Comment From Guest
Jake McGee was a really highly regarded prospect coming up and was thought to have top of the rotation upside. Now he’s an elite reliever. On a scale of 1-10, how happy should the Rays be with this outcome?

10:53
Jeff Sullivan: 9

10:54
Comment From Teej
I’m trying to recall the last white baseball player whose struggles were attributed to laziness.

10:54
Jeff Sullivan: Colby Rasmus has gotten that from time to time

10:54
Jeff Sullivan: Adam Dunn, I think

10:54
Jeff Sullivan: And JD Drew, of course!

10:55
Comment From Guest
Which historical batter do you think would’ve benefitted most from modern “technology” (batting helmets, shin protectors, elbow armor, etc.)? Ted Williams maybe?

10:55
Jeff Sullivan: Ray Chapman

10:56
Comment From Chris Davis Arms
Piggybacking off of that pitching fatigue idea… Why don’t teams track pickoff attempts, warm-up pitches, defensive plays for pitchers? Seems like there are many fatiguing events that take place for pitchers that aren’t being thought of… Instead managers view ‘Triple Digits’ as the magic point of fatigue.

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: They do track those things. It’s just that we don’t

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: Now, whether they act on those things…

10:56
Jeff Sullivan: But it’s always such a case-by-case thing. Sometimes a pitcher feels stronger some days, sometimes he feels weaker. Oftentimes we don’t have enough information. This is why it’s so important for pitchers to be honest with their managers when they come out for chats

10:57
Comment From Dr. Met
Re: Roster expansion, even the MLB network debated this but when do you think (if at all) the MLB adjusts this

10:57
Jeff Sullivan: Next CBA? CBA after that?

10:58
Comment From Yo-Yo
So the Cardinals have a bottom of the league offense, and their farm system is devoid of any positional impact talent. Is their window closing with an aging Holliday/Molina/Waino? How can they upgrade the offense in the near term?

10:58
Jeff Sullivan: They’re tied for fifth in NL wRC+

10:59
Jeff Sullivan: Adams is young, Wong is young, Carpenter’s youngish, Taveras is young, Grichuk is young…

11:00
Jeff Sullivan: I mean, it’s clear that some of their best players are approaching the ends of their peaks, but I trust the Cardinals to be able to sustain an extended run of success

11:00
Jeff Sullivan: Probably no better organization when it comes to player development. They’ll manage. They have arms, too. Arms are important.

11:00
Comment From BassmanUW
Let’s try something not insane: over/under .350 OBP for Soler next season?

11:00
Jeff Sullivan: under

11:01
Comment From SimonSays
Do you think there’s any way to quantify the value of a mound visit?

11:01
Jeff Sullivan: Not really

11:01
Comment From Kimball
Have all the Bet-the-As-Regret-Trading-Cespedes banter, especially by game announcers, made you feel like maybe understanding hasn’t progressed even a little bit in the last 10 years?

11:02
Jeff Sullivan: It’s something to talk about, and people need something to talk about. It definitely highlights how people still confuse correlation and causation, but before getting too critical, I”d want to ask those people privately how much they actually believe in the theory. It’s fine to talk about it, because, whatever, psychology is mysterious. But to *believe* in it is a bit too much

11:02
Comment From Kimball
I am not smart/number-y enough to really understand Blengino’s posts. Can you summarize it for me: reason to believe that Ackley will continue to justify everyday playing time?

11:02
Jeff Sullivan: He’s hitting the ball harder

11:03
Comment From Caleb Joseph
Why do you hate me?

11:03
Jeff Sullivan: I like you fine

11:03
Comment From Chris Davis Arms
re: predetermined baseball, I would have guessed that would be your answer. Projecting baseball is just strange in the sense, that, if you ultimately succeed in the aim of getting as good as possible, then you ruin the enjoyment. It’s interesting is all.

11:03
Jeff Sullivan: Why do we plan anything in life when so much of our lives are out of our control?

11:04
Jeff Sullivan: We can have the best ideas possible, but at the end of the day, baseball and life allows for a sample size of 1

11:04
Comment From Guest
Who do you like as a breakout pitcher for 2015 (ala Richards and Keuchel)

11:04
Jeff Sullivan: Smyly?

11:05
Comment From bob
which player currently in the cubs franchise (majors/minors) has the most upside?

11:05
Jeff Sullivan: Russell?

11:05
Jeff Sullivan: Whoa, I’m actually caught up on questions!

11:06
Comment From Sadwick
I don’t believe that….

11:06
Jeff Sullivan: Me neither

11:06
Jeff Sullivan: This has never happened

11:06
Comment From zmiko
Should Blackmon keep playing everyday next year?

11:07
Jeff Sullivan: I’d like him as part of a four-outfielder rotation

11:07
Comment From bird
justin upton getting any mvp votes?

11:07
Jeff Sullivan: He’ll get a little support but it won’t be much, especially should they go on to miss the playoffs

11:08
Comment From okobojicat
Why are Mariners fans such terrible fair weather fans? (yourself excluded)

11:08
Jeff Sullivan: Most fans are fairweather fans. It’s awful to root for a bad team. It’s entirely reasonable and rational to distance yourself from a lousy product

11:09
Comment From SimonSays
Ignoring the super elite prospects you’ve been talking about all day, how do you think Cory Spangenberg plays out for the Padres long term?

11:09
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t see much that’s special about him. Not sure he gets to 2,000 big-league plate appearances

11:10
Comment From Richie
OK, quick one. Comment re Bo Porter: in allowing a whining environment to emerge in the Astro clubhouse, he merited firing. Don’t want to poison the atmosphere for Springer/Singleton/all yet to come, and what in the world does the typical Astro player have to whine about??

11:10
Jeff Sullivan: I think they’re just frustrated from all the losing and from feeling like they’re not being treated like people. Some of it’s merited, some of it’s not. Fresh start in March

11:11
Comment From Condor
Ackley declining walk rates: what is different between Ackley out of college and 2nd half 2014 Ackley that he can’t or doesn’t take walks any more?

11:11
Jeff Sullivan: You can’t draw walks if pitchers don’t throw you balls, and Ackley gets challenged in the zone

11:12
Jeff Sullivan: If he hits, he’ll force pitchers out of the zone more often, and then the walks would follow the success

11:12
Comment From Daniel Descalso
Hey Jeff, I was just wondering if there is any value in someone who is replacement level at variety of positions? Doesn’t freeing up roster spots allow for extra wins to make the roster? Asking for a friend.

11:12
Jeff Sullivan: Flexible replacement-level is better than position-specific replacement-level, but I think you’ll find most benches include utility replacement-level sorts and teh guys who are replacement-level at one position simply don’t make it up the ladder

11:13
Comment From okobojicat
I haven’t seen the worst swings/pitches special lately? Am I missing it or are you not doing it anymore?

11:13
Jeff Sullivan: I do it monthly instead of weekly. I still need to do it for August, but that’ll be later in the week. Didn’t have time to prepare for today and don’t have time today to prepare for tomorrow

11:13
Comment From Guest
Which peak-age breakout outfielder do you believe in more: Dickerson or Martinez?

11:13
Jeff Sullivan: Dickerson

11:14
Comment From Guest
Thoughts on Gregory Polanco?

11:15
Jeff Sullivan: I like him quite a bit and you should never count on a rookie to make a sustained instant impact

11:15
Comment From Sadwick
Does Bethancourt really turn into a long term catcher for the Braves, or just a backup? I know he’s been ranked highly in their syatem, and the defense rates spectacularly, but his offensive production looks awful.

11:15
Jeff Sullivan: Oddly his framing numbers aren’t good yet either

11:16
Jeff Sullivan: Jose Molina would be the working example of a bad-hitting catcher who’s good enough defensively to play often, but Bethancourt presumably shouldn’t be the No. 1 guy in 2015

11:16
Comment From Richie
So Luhnow is that bad with people? (GM doesn’t even interact all THAT much with players) Thought such skills were an important thing for GMs.

11:16
Jeff Sullivan: Luhnow isn’t the only guy who works in the front ofice

11:16
Comment From Ryan
How do the playoff odds handle Kansas City’s suspended 4-2 game?

11:16
Jeff Sullivan: They don’t know about it yet

11:17
Comment From SimonSays
Which is the real Mark Appel: A or AA?

11:17
Jeff Sullivan: more like Double-A

11:17
Comment From lunch
which team is your least favorite? be brutal.

11:18
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t know anymore. Used to be the Angels for years, but I’ve let hate leave my life

11:18
Jeff Sullivan: That should be enough chatting for today

11:19
Jeff Sullivan: Lots more to do. So thank you everybody for hanging out, and I’m sorry for what I didn’t or couldn’t address. We’ll do it again next week at the same time, and until then, be well and have great days




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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.


8 Responses to “Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 9/2/14”

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  1. elman says:

    Please rank offensive upside of Steven Moya, Dalton Pompey, Rusney Castillo, Yorman Rodriguez.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. ben says:

    Jeff, over/under .350 batting avg for Soler at season’s end?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Suds says:

    With Matt Garza back does Milwaulkee:
    1) Go with 6-man rotation for final 3 weeks to save arms?
    2) Move Jimmy Nelson to bullpen (162 IP in 2013, 169 IP so far in 2014)
    3) Move Wily Peralta to bullpen (awful in last 2 starts)
    4) Move Mike Fiers to bullpen
    Thank you

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Jeff Sullivan's Sister says:

    Ruben Amaro, Jr., is *such* a bad GM that my brother won’t take *any* questions or comments about the Phillies no-hitter yesterday. That’s how important sabrmetrics is.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Colonel Obvious says:

    Not that I don’t enjoy your writing anymore (I do), but it was more emotionally captivating before hate left your life. Why do tradeoffs like this have to exist?!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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