The Yankees Now Have a Second Ace

The free-agent market includes names like Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel. There’s been chatter the Mets might be willing to trade Noah Syndergaard. There’s been chatter the Indians might be willing to trade Carlos Carrasco or Corey Kluber. But when the Mariners signaled their intent to take a step back this offseason, James Paxton became an obvious trade candidate, and quite possibly the best pitcher available. At least, the best pitcher available under realistic circumstances, since I don’t even know what it would take to pry Kluber away. Paxton rumors circulated for a couple of weeks, and now we’ve arrived at a conclusion, since Jerry Dipoto is hardly opposed to making moves in November. Paxton will be on his way to New York, where he’ll share a rotation with Luis Severino.

Yankees get:

  • James Paxton

Mariners get:

Before too long, Paxton’s presence will be taken for granted, and attention will turn to the Yankees’ pursuit of still another starter in free agency. We’re seemingly always focused on what’s just in front of us, and what might be in front of Yankees fans soon is Corbin, or Keuchel, or somebody else. They seem likely to make another impact move to bolster the starting rotation. But for this moment, getting Paxton is a move to be celebrated. For a variety of reasons, Paxton has flown somewhat under the radar, but he’s a No. 1 starter, added to a team with a No. 1 starter.

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FanGraphs Book Club – The Shift

Russell Carleton’s book earned wide praise within the industry, including from Sam Miller, Keith Law and Travis Sawchik.

Hi everyone! Welcome to the third live chat of the FanGraphs Book Club! We’ll get started talking Russell Carleton’s book, The Shift, at 9 pm ET, and Russell will join us at 9:30. That’ll give us all 30 minutes to talk about the book amongst ourselves, and line up some really great questions for him. So, I would say, don’t put questions in for Russell now, let’s save those until he logs on to the chat.

I hope you all are as excited as I am to talk baseball books! As a reminder, if you want to join our Facebook Group you can do so here.

Chat Transcript:

Paul Swydan: Hi everybody!

Paul Swydan: Doing some polls. How is everybody doing tonight?

Paul Swydan:

I finished ___% of the book.

0-19 (0% | 0 votes)
20-39 (12.5% | 1 vote)
40-59 (12.5% | 1 vote)
60-79 (0% | 0 votes)
80-99 (25.0% | 2 votes)
100!!! (50.0% | 4 votes)
What’s a book? (0% | 0 votes)

Total Votes: 8
Paul Swydan:

How will you be spending Thanksgiving?

Eating and drinking too much. (40.0% | 2 votes)
Avoiding family members. (0% | 0 votes)
Reading baseball books. (0% | 0 votes)
All of the above? (60.0% | 3 votes)

Total Votes: 5
Paul Swydan: So, OK, we’re talking about Russell’s book tonight. This is the first of the three books we’ve done for the Book Club that I didn’t review for THT. But I loved this book. My favorite part was how Russell weaved in personal stories.

Paul Swydan: I thought it kept the book grounded. It also had the trademark touches, sharp wit about what people get wrong about the book without being acidic or bitter.

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The Nationals Are Signing a New Kurt Suzuki

The Nationals have signed free-agent catcher Kurt Suzuki for two years and $10 million. The Nationals have had Kurt Suzuki before. In August 2012, they got him from the A’s. In August 2013, they sent him back to the A’s. In between, he batted 445 times, with a backup catcher’s slash line. Suzuki is now 35 years old, and he spent a long time as a relatively unremarkable catcher, by major-league standards. Never good enough or bad enough to stand out. I still don’t think Suzuki stands out in any way in the public consciousness, but when you look at the numbers, his career has taken a turn.

Over the past two seasons, out of all regular and semi-regular catchers, Suzuki the hitter ranks fourth in wRC+. First place is only four points away. His wRC+ ranks above that of Gary Sanchez. It ranks above that of J.T. Realmuto. It ranks above that of Willson Contreras. I don’t mean to suggest that Suzuki and Realmuto are one and the same or anything, but statistics reflect performance, and for the most part, performance reflects ability. Suzuki has had the ability to be this productive, over 661 plate appearances.

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Nathan Eovaldi Is a Unicorn

From everything I’ve read, and from everyone I’ve talked to, just about every single baseball team is interested in free-agent Nathan Eovaldi. Very good teams are interested in Eovaldi. Very mediocre teams are interested in Eovaldi. Very bad teams are interested in Eovaldi. There are degrees of interest, sure, and before too long, certain would-be suitors are going to be removed from the hunt. As always, it’ll come down to a limited pool of finalists. But, why is Eovaldi so popular? I guess you don’t have to think back very far.

Eovaldi pitched six times for the Red Sox in the playoffs. He started, he relieved, and one time he relieved with a starter’s workload. Eovaldi wound up getting tagged with the loss in that game, but I want to quickly revisit the final out Eovaldi recorded. With two down in the bottom of the 17th inning of Game 3 of the World Series, Eovaldi struck out Justin Turner on three pitches. They were his 88th, 89th, and 90th pitches of the evening. He had already pitched in Game 1 and Game 2.

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Cleveland Swaps Teenage Athlete for Pitching Depth in Hu

The Cleveland Indians have once again traded away a malleable, athletic member of their talented group of AZL players in exchange for a player who can help them in 2019.

Cleveland gets:

RHP Chih-Wei Hu

Tampa Bay gets:

INF Gionti Turner

Turner was a 27th rounder in the 2018 draft and has already been flipped for a big leaguer. He wasn’t a Division-I commit, and was instead headed from Watson Chapel High School in Pine Bluff, Arkansas to Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Missouri (different tree, still lyin’). But Cleveland signed him and he came to Arizona instead, where he managed to stand out amid many talented Cleveland teenagers. He hit .296/.348/.396 as a 17-year-old in the AZL while playing second base, shortstop, and center field.

Indeed, a multi-positional utility role is the most likely positive outcome for Turner. Lean and long-limbed, he struggles to swing the bat with any authority right now and may never have an offensive profile that fits in a lineup every day. Like many Cleveland high school draftees, Turner is extremely young for his graduating class; he didn’t turn 18 until mid-August. It’s possible that he’ll grow into relevant strength, but he’s already quite behind in that regard.

But Turner has plus speed, and a gritty, max-effort style of play, and he’s a plus-plus athlete. A lack of arm strength may limit him to the outfield and second base, but this is exactly the kind of athlete who can become an above-average defender all over the field.

25-year-old Taiwanese righty Chih-Wei Hu was a 2016 Futures Game participant and his stuff that day was as nasty as any pitcher at the event, as he sat 94-97 with a plus-plus, mid-80s changeup that seemed to disappear entirely as it approached the plate.

Hu’s five-pitch repertoire hasn’t truly been on display in his limited big league appearances, all of which have come out of the bullpen. His stuff has ticked down a bit; his fastball now sits in the 91-94 range and will touch 95, and his goofy, upper-80s palmball changeup has screwball action and is his best shot at missing big league bats. Hu also has an upper-80s slider/cutter and a low-80s knuckle curve, both of which he needs to locate in order to be effective because they’re very hittable if left in the strike zone.

Essentially, Hu has backend starter stuff but it’s possible a full-time move to the bullpen will enable his fastball to play up. If armed with a plus fastball and that weirdo changeup, Hu could be a high-leverage reliever. He still has an option year left and will likely open 2019 as a starter at Triple-A.

The Big Questions About the 2019 BBWAA Hall of Fame Ballot

On Monday, the Baseball Writers Association of America released its 2019 Hall of Fame ballot, with 15 holdovers — led by Edgar Martinez, who received 70.4% of the vote last year — joined by 20 newcomers including the late Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera. In all likelihood, this will be the sixth year in a row the writers elect multiple candidates, something that hasn’t happened since their run of six straight years from 1951-1956. Already, the 16 players elected from the past five cycles exceeds the record of 13 elected in either of the two overlapping five-year spans within that earlier stretch. And once again, this will be a fairly top-heavy ballot; the five holdovers who have received at least 50% of the vote could prevent some of the candidates further down the ballot from gaining momentum.

Over the next six weeks, I’ll profile all 35 candidates, either at length or more in brief, examining their cases in light of my Jaffe WAR Score (JAWS) system, which I’ll be using to break down Hall of Fame ballots in an annual tradition that’s on the verge of earning its drivers’ license. The series debuted at Baseball Prospectus (2004-2012), then moved to (2013-2018), and now I’m excited to bring it here to FanGraphs. The candidate profiles will begin next week; today I’ll offer a quick look at the biggest questions attached to this year’s election cycle.

First, it’s worth reviewing the basics. To be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame via the BBWAA ballot, a candidate must have played in the majors for parts of 10 years (one game is sufficient to be counted as a year in this context), have been out of the majors for five years (the minors or foreign leagues don’t count), and then be nominated by two members of the BBWAA’s six-member screening committee. Since the balloting is titled with respect to induction year, not the year of release, the current slate of players will have last appeared in the majors in 2013. Each new candidate has 10 years of eligibility on the ballot, a reduction from the 15-year period that was in effect for several decades; the 2017 ballot marked the final one for Lee Smith, the last candidate grandfathered into a longer run. To be elected, a candidate must receive at least 75% of the ballots cast, and in this case, they don’t round up; 74.9% won’t cut it. Likewise, candidates who don’t receive at leasts 5% of the vote fall off the ballot and can then only be considered for election by the Today’s Game Committee, an entirely separate process — but not until what would have been their 10-year run of eligibility expires.

The voters, each of whom has been an active BBWAA member for 10 years and is no more than 10 years removed from active coverage, can list as many as 10 candidates on their ballots, a number that’s become a point of contention in recent years given the high volume of qualified candidates. In 2015, the Hall tabled a BBWAA proposal to expand to 12 slots (I was on the committee that recommended the change). Last year, the third since the Hall purged the rolls of voters more than 10 years removed from coverage, 422 ballots were cast, 20 fewer than the year before and 127 fewer than in 2015.

Last year, acting on a motion its membership voted to accept in December 2016 by an overwhelming 80-to-9 margin, the BBWAA planned to begin publishing every voter’s ballot, similar to what the organization does with its annual awards. Only when the ballots were mailed did voters and the general public discover that the Hall’s board of directors had rejected the proposal. Voters may still reveal their ballots prior the announcement, as 57.6% did last year; you can track the reported ballots via Ryan Thibodaux’s Ballot Tracker if you want. Voters can also check a box on the ballot to authorize the publication of their choices via the BBWAA’s website two weeks after the election results are revealed. Ballots must be postmarked by December 31, with the results to be announced on MLB Network on January 22, and inductions to take place next July 21 in Cooperstown, New York.

The 35 candidates, with the newcomers in italics:

Rick Ankiel, Jason Bay, Lance Berkman, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Freddy Garcia, Jon Garland, Travis Hafner, Roy Halladay, Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Ted Lilly, Derek Lowe, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Darren Oliver, Roy Oswalt, Andy Pettitte, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco, Manny Ramirez, Mariano Rivera, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling. Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker, Vernon Wells, Kevin Youkilis, Michael Young

In a cool new feature we’ve added, you can see the career statistics of the candidates in sortable tables, one apiece for hitters and pitchers. And yes, Ankiel — who spent as an outfielder after wildness ended his pitching career — is in both. He’s the most surprising inclusion on the ballot, particularly as he’s been reportedly mulling a comeback. That’s a story for another day, though.

Now, on to the big questions…

Will Rivera be the first unanimously-elected candidate?

Probably not. Even outside of our current, ultra-polarized political scene, getting hundreds of baseball scribes of all shapes and sizes to agree on any player has proven to be an impossible task. In the 71 times the BBWAA has voted (excluding special elections, more on which momentarily), there’s never been a unanimous selection — not for Babe Ruth (95.1% in 1936), Willie Mays (94.7% in 1979), Hank Aaron (97.8% in 1982), or Greg Maddux (97.2% 2015). The highest share of the vote came in 2016, when Ken Griffey Jr. received 99.3%; all but three of the 440 voters included him on their ballots.

None of those three voters published their ballots or came forward to explain their reasoning, likely because they didn’t want to face the resultant firestorm of criticism. To understand why, one need only go back a few years to see the blistering responses received by Dodgers beat writer Ken Gurnick of in 2014 for only voting for Jack Morris, and refusing to vote for Maddux or any candidate “who played during the period of PED use,” or by Twins beat writer Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press in 2015 for leaving Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez off — both were locks anyway — to find room for Walker and Alan Trammell. As in so much else in life, the public doesn’t reward nonconformity, even or especially when it’s a matter of conscience.

Some observers, including this scribe, thought that if the Hall allowed the BBWAA to follow through with its plan to publish every ballot, it might increase the chances of a player running the table, with Rivera a strong possibility given his accomplishments as the all-time saves leader, as an incredible postseason performer who closed out four World Series, and as a public figure with a sterling reputation. But with naysayers still able to cloak themselves in anonymity, unanimity seems less likely, and that’s on top of the fact that some voters may be philosophically opposed to including relievers in the Hall — even the best in baseball history.

Will Halladay’s death lead to his election?

Before his tragic death in a plane crash in November 2017, Halladay appeared to have a solid but not overwhelming case for Cooperstown. Perhaps not a player who would be elected on the first ballot, but one with a very good chance of getting there eventually. On the one hand are the modest wins (203), strikeouts (2,117), and innings (2,749.1) totals, and on the other the eight All-Star selections and two Cy Youngs, a perfect game, and the second postseason no-hitter in history. From a JAWS standpoint, his 64.3 career WAR (the Baseball-Reference version, which I’ll use throughout this series) is a bit short of the standard for pitchers (73.4), but his 50.6 peak WAR is bit above (50.1) — and higher than holdovers Mussina (44.6) and Schilling (48.7), both of whom had longer careers (with higher JAWS), topped 50% last year, and appear to be on the pathway to eventual election.

As anyone who has studied the history of the Hall of Fame in depth can tell you, one uncomfortable reality about the collision between human mortality and baseball immortality is that death may work in a candidate’s favor. Apart from Roberto Clemente, who was elected when the BBWAA took a special vote in March 1973, just two months after he died in a plane crash, several other players have been elected in the short period after their demise, including Roger Bresnahan and Jimmy Collins (both elected in 1945), Herb Pennock (1948), Three-Finger Brown (1949), Harry Heilmann (1952) and Ron Santo (2012). My educated guess — and really, this is still just a guess — is that on a ballot that already has enough darkness, voters will focus on the positives surrounding Halladay and elect him in short order.

Is this finally the year for Martinez and Mussina?

Back in 2015, Martinez (27.0% in his sixth year) and Mussina (24.6% in his second year) were both a far cry from election, but with five holdovers elected in that timespan since (along with four newcomers), the pair are now the top returnees. Martinez, who has posted double-digit gains in each of the past three cycles, fell just 20 votes short of election last year. Mussina, with two years of double-digit gains out of three, received 63.5%.

The situation is rather urgent for Martinez, who’s in his 10th and final year of eligibility, but does appear to have a good chance to join Red Ruffing (1967), Ralph Kiner (1975), Jim Rice (2009), and Tim Raines (2017) as candidates elected in their last go-round; in fact, he’s 0.6% ahead of Raines’ “pace.” Since the voters returned to annual balloting in 1966, 19 out of 20 candidates who received at least 70% of the vote and had eligibility remaining were elected the following year, with Jim Bunning the exception; he received 70.0% in 1987 (his 11th year of eligibility), then 74.2% in 1988 before slipping to 63.3% in 1989. He couldn’t get back to 75.0% via the writers, but the Veterans Committee elected him. For what it’s worth, the VC also came to the rescue of two other candidates who made bigger jumps into the 70-something range but fell short in their final year, namely Nellie Fox (74.7% in 1985) and Orlando Cepeda (73.5% in 1994). Still, it would be a great thing to see Martinez, the most potent DH in history (and an adequate third baseman before that) gain entry via the writers, particularly as the Hall’s 2015 rule change unilaterally reduced his remaining eligibility from nine years to four.

As for Mussina, in the big picture, he’s clearly trending towards election, but historically speaking, it might not be imminent. Since 1966, just one of the three previous candidates with a percentage within five points of Mussina’s in year five, Luis Aparicio (67.4% in 1983), was elected the following year; both Andre Dawson (61.0% in 2006) and Tony Perez (65.7% in 1996) needed four more years. What’s more, of the 19 times a candidate received somewhere between 58.5% and 68.5% — again, within five points of the Moose — at any point from year three to year seven, just four times was that candidate elected in the next year, with Aparicio, Eddie Mathews (from 62.4% in 1977 to 79.4% in 1978) and 300-game winners Early Wynn (from 66.7% in 1971 to 76.0% in 1972) and Phil Niekro (from 68.3% in 1996 to 80.3% in 1997) the only ones getting in. The average gain of those 19 was just 4.2 percentage points; six actually lost ground. That said, all of this took place during the period when candidates had 15 years on the ballot and voters were generally filling in far fewer names, so progress was slower. Still, it seems more likely that Mussina falls short of 75.0% this time around.

And how about those ultra-polarizing candidates, Bonds, Clemens, and Schilling?

Speaking of darkness on the ballot, I wrote over 400 words about this trio, all of whom are in their seventh year of eligibility. But you know what? The debates surrounding them — which concern connections to performance-enhancing drugs for Bonds and Clemens, and the post-career conduct of Schilling — will suck up much of the oxygen in the coming weeks while making everybody surly. So while I promise that I’ll fully explain what’s happening with this trio down the road, today, I’m going to skip the tea leaves and instead mention a few other noteworthy newcomers. You’re welcome.

And those newcomers?

From a traditional standpoint, the one who stands out is Pettitte, with his 256 wins, five World Series rings and several postseason records. With last year’s Modern Baseball Era Committee election of Jack Morris, owner of a career 3.90 ERA, Pettitte’s 3.85 mark would no longer be the Hall’s highest, though of course he stands up much better relative to his league’s averages, with a 117 ERA+ to Morris’ 105. That said, Pettitte ranks just 91st in JAWS (47.2), well below the standard for pitchers (61.8), not to mention the aforementioned trio of Schilling (64.1), Mussina (63.8) or Halladay (57.5), and he’s got the additional burden of having been mentioned in the Mitchell Report for using HGH. No candidate has overcome that yet.

From an advanced statistical standpoint, the newcomer who stands out the most is Helton, who’s ranked 15th at first base in JAWS (61.2 career WAR/46.5 peak WAR/53.7 JAWS, versus the average Hall first baseman’s 66.8/42.7/53.9). While WAR contains adjustments for park and league that bring his Coors Field-inflated numbers back down to earth, that hasn’t been enough for Walker, who’s 10th among right fielders. And where Walker won three batting titles and an MVP award, Helton won just one batting title and was never MVP.

Who stands out further down the ballot?

It will be very interesting to see which direction the support of Vizquel goes. The 11-time Gold Glove winner, whose comparisons to Ozzie Smith simply aren’t supported by the advanced stats on either side of the ball, received 37.0% in his debut. Of the 10 modern (post-1966) candidates within five points of him on either side, four are still on the ballot (Bonds, Clemens, Martinez, and Schilling), while five were elected (Jeff Bagwell, Hoyt Wilhelm, Gossage, and Mathews by the writers, Bunning by the VC). Only Steve Garvey, who received 41.6% in his 1993 debut, remains outside, as does the just-out-of-range Smith (42.3% in 2003), to these eyes the top candidate on the Today’s Game ballot.

Two other 2018 debutantes, the JAWS-supported Andrew Jones (7.3%) and Scott Rolen (10.2%), need to get out of no-man’s land quickly lest they become afterthoughts or worse, slide off the ballot. And at this point, the returns for Walker (34.1% in his eighth year) and Fred McGriff (23.2% in his ninth) are more about setting themselves up for a better outcome via the Today’s Game committee down the road, as Trammell — who didn’t top 37% until his 15th year on the ballot (40.9%) — did before being elected by the Modern Baseball committee last year.

Do you get to vote yet?

Alas, no. I’m about to begin my ninth year of BBWAA membership, which means that I’m two years away from getting an official ballot. As with previous years, after cycling through profiles of all of the candidates, I’ll fill out my virtual ballot to illustrate the hard choices voters must make. And, in a new wrinkle at FanGraphs, so will you, via a cool, crowd-sourced feature we’re cooking up behind the scenes.

Obviously, there’s a whole lot more to be said about all of these candidates, the burning questions that surround them, and the ones I’ve dodged. We’ll get to those all in due time, I swear.

Dan Szymborski FanGraphs Chat – 11/19/18

Dan Szymborski: GOBBLE GOBBLE

ChiSox2020: If White Sox don’t get Machado or Harper, should they pursue Grandal? How much should the loss of a 2nd round pick factor into any FA signings?

Dan Szymborski: Honestly, I think the White Sox should be in a go big or go home mindset. Unless they get players who are build-arounds that will be around for the rest of the rebuilding process, I think they should mostly chase deals. Those mid-market FAs are better fits for the actually competitive teams.

Tony Kemp is religion: Would you ever make your long-term forecasts available? I’m sure a lot of people (including myself!) would pay a small sum to access them. Free is also OK! I really want to see Soto’s long-term forecasts with “really really big numbers!”

Dan Szymborski: I’m a bit of a data hoarder. You’ll start to see more things come out at FG, but still figuring out what’s best to make public and what’s best to greedily save for articles and such.

Jackson C.: Mondays start to get a bit depressing for me as winter approaches. Any tips for remaining sane in this cold, baseball-less time?

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Astros and Jays Both Win Diaz/Thornton Deal

Tuesday is the deadline to add Rule 5-eligible players to the 40-man roster, and teams with an excess of candidates for addition often find trade partners, especially if doing so enables them to fill holes on other parts of their own roster.

The Toronto Blue Jays have scavenged the overflow of talented rosters several times over the last few years. Billy McKinney, Brandon Drury, David Paulino and Teoscar Hernandez were all upper-level performers who were blocked by more dynamic talents. Toronto also has to contend a potential infield surplus of their own, especially with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki hoping to return to the field in 2019. Saturday’s trade with Houston helped both clubs inch closer to 40-man equilibrium.

Astros get:

INF Aledmys Diaz

Blue Jays get:

RHP Trent Thornton

The 28-year-old Diaz is coming off a 1.6 WAR season during which he slashed .260/.303/.453 and hit 18 homers. He instantly becomes the most versatile bench infielder on a roster that’s heavy on big-bodied 1B/3B/DH types, a fact which likely puts him first in line for reps should Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve continue to have injury problems.

Though he’s a below-average defender at short, Diaz’s lackluster lateral quickness can be hidden somewhat by modern defensive positioning. On days when he is at short, his relative inability to get to balls in the hole to his right should be more manageable if he’s playing next to Alex Bregman. With Marwin Gonzalez leaving via free agency, Diaz is also probably second in line for reps behind Altuve at second base even though he has barely played there (five games in 2017, six in the 2015 Fall League) because he’s likely better than Tony Kemp and Yuli Gurriel.

Source: FanGraphs

Diaz’s 2.7 WAR rookie season seems to have been a caricature of his skills, drawn by some BABIP luck and a walk rate that was twice what he has averaged during the last two combined seasons. His flat bat path made it difficult for him to lift the baseball early in his career despite his ability to hit the ball hard. This improved slightly in 2018 when his groundball and dribbler rates combined to make up 40% of his balls in play, down from 49% in 2017, according to xStats. Steamer is expecting him to SLG .438 next year, but that’s probably based on some regression instead of extrapolating improvement, and Houston is good at fixing swings. Because Diaz is so aggressive in the box, he’ll probably always be a low-OBP hitter, but he’s a versatile infielder with some pop and is under team control for another four years. He’ll play a valuable role for the Astros.

Trent Thornton is also likely to make a big league splash in 2019. The 25-year-old righty spent 2018 at Triple-A Fresno and just wrapped up an eye-opening stint in the Arizona Fall League. He has bat-missing big league stuff, sitting 92-95 and touching 96 in my multi-inning looks at him this fall, and sitting comfortably in the 95-96 range when he was asked to air it out for a single inning.

Thornton also has elite breaking ball spin rates. His 12-6 curveball spins in excess of 3,000 rpm and his firm, upper-80s slider often approaches that mark, which is rare for a breaking ball that hard. He also has a unique delivery that disorients hitters. His arm action is ugly but, short of a 7-day DL stint this year after he was hit with a comebacker, Thornton hasn’t been hurt as a pro. His usage has been atypical, however. Thornton’s starts were often spaced out by seven or eight days in 2018, and it’s unrealistic to expect him to have that kind of recovery time between turns on a big league pitching staff. If asked to throw every fifth day, his stuff may not be as nasty as it was this year. I have Thornton projected as a 120-130 inning starter with a FIP near 4.00, which puts him in the 1.5 to 2.0 WAR range annually, assuming his stuff holds on a normal schedule. He needs to be added to the Jays 40-man to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. I expect he will be, and that we’ll see him in the Majors next year.

If you’re tracking long-term transaction outcomes, you’ll likely already consider this deal a win for both clubs. The Astros took a 5th round college arm who was throwing 89-92 and touching 93 or 94, helped him turn into a guy sitting 92-96, then flipped him for four years of a power-hitting infielder who fills an immediate need. The Jays traded J.B. Woodman, who turns 24 in three weeks and struck out in 41% of his PA’s at Hi-A this year, to St. Louis for Diaz (himself a roster overflow guy who was expendable after Paul DeJong’s breakout) and then flipped him a year later to fill an immediate need.

Elegy for ’18 – St. Louis Cardinals

Matt Carpenter was often a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre Cardinals offense.
(Photo: Keith Allison)

For all the ups and downs of St. Louis’ 2018 season, the team finished with an 88-74 record, fully in that 85-90 win-window that forms the team’s bog-standard result. The Cardinals made it interesting over the summer after the merciful guillotining of manager Mike Matheny, but a bleak September left them a distant third in the NL Central.

The Setup

Some teams are wild gamblers, throwing caution and giant wads of money to the wind, hoping to end up as either spectacular successes or failures that are quickly forgotten as attentions shift to the next crazy scheme. The St. Louis Cardinals stand in opposition to that. They are the safe, sensible team that reminds you on nickel-shots night that you have work tomorrow and really should stop for the evening because the chair you’re talking to isn’t actually W.C. Fields.

St. Louis builds from within, signs reasonable players to reasonable contracts, and when a beloved franchise player hits free agency, won’t spend exorbitantly to chase crazy bids. Even Albert Pujols, the team’s soul for a decade, was allowed to move on when the numbers got too uncomfortably high.

That’s not to say the Cardinals don’t make moves, but rather, that they make reasonable ones. Marcell Ozuna, coming off a .312/.376/.548 breakout campaign with the Marlins, was the team’s big offseason pickup, one that didn’t demand the team’s crown jewels. And with Ozuna in tow, giving the Cardinals an easy Ozuna-Tommy PhamDexter Fowler outfield rather than the juggling act of recent years, the team felt comfortable enough to trade Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk to claw back some of the value given to the Marlins.

Another quiet move was the signing of former Padres relief prospect Miles Mikolas to a two-year, $15.5 million contract after he was reinvented as a harder-throwing Bob Tewksbury for the Yomiuri Giants. It was another sensible move compared to the prospect of overpaying for one of the multitude of third-tier starters otherwise found in a weak free agent market.

For a smart, well-run team with a knack for punching above their market size, there was always a worry on the horizon stemming from the team’s longtime rival, the Chicago Cubs. Being safe and sensible was a better playbook when the Cubs were in their Jim Hendry years or during the long rebuilding phase; there was no heavy in the division that could use cash to suffocate St. Louis’s measured approach.

But the Cubs happened, a team with the unfortunate tendency of being rich while also not being completely insane with their money. A Jason Heyward-size error would have really hurt St. Louis’s flexibility but the Cubs could seemingly say “Nah, it’s cool, bro, that wasn’t even our favorite Scrooge McDuck vault of gold coins.”

Even in a 2017 season when everything went wrong, the Cubs still won 92 games, enough to win the NL Central by six games. Could a high-floor, low-ceiling St. Louis team full of three-win players really provide a consistent threat to the Cubs? Or would the Cardinals be better served by taking a little more risk, given their division? That was the key uncertainty as the team entered 2018.

The Projection

This question was precisely what worried ZiPS going into the season. With a 94-win projection for the Cubs, ZiPS only gave the Cardinals and Brewers about a combined one-in-three shot of catching Chicago. St. Louis’ 87 forecasted wins looked a lot like the typical Cardinals season; that aforementioned 85-90 wins that has led the team to consistent contend for a playoff spot while never really being spoken of as an elite team.

The Results

The team started the season with Adam Wainwright on the disabled list with a hamstring pull, but St. Louis had already moved on from the days when they counted on Wainwright being in the rotation. Jack Flaherty, the eventual fifth-place Rookie of the Year finisher, filled in. Wainwright struggled upon his return, but the rest of the starters pitched as well as could have been expected, combining for a 3.00 ERA through the end of May, the third-best in baseball behind the Astros and Nationals.

Until the final month of the season, when St. Louis struggled in a variety of interesting ways, the rotation held up admirably, with little fault attached during the year’s doldrums. Wainwright was back on the DL by the end of April with elbow problems and Michael Wacha’s oblique strain ended his season in June, though he was set to return in September before a setback. But Flaherty was already a superior option to Wainwright and John Gant and Austin Gomber picked up most of the rest of the missing starts; the starting pitching was never really a serious problem.

The offense, on the other hand, was a regular problem. Matt Carpenter started out heat-death-of-the-universe cold, but while he heated up to a blazing MVP-like level for the middle months of the season, other pieces who were expected to contribute, like Ozuna and Fowler, largely didn’t.

Except for a brief period at the top of the division in May, after a fun week in which they swept both Chicago teams, the team hovered around the .500 mark for most of the first half. Milwaukee was the team to take advantage of Chicago not putting away the division early, which resulted in a great deal of tension surrounding St. Louis, something that’s fairly unusual for a Cardinals team.

Pham had already expressed displeasure with his contract situation before the season — the unfortunate result of being a late bloomer scheduled to hit free agency right before his age-34 season. Fowler and John Mozeliak publicly traded barbs and while the latter clarified his comments in the press, there were indications bubbling to the surface that manager Mike Matheny had lost the team.

Matheny was always kind of an oddball fit for the Cardinals; an old-school style manager they hoped would embrace at least some analytics and handle the team, and especially the pitching staff, well. The latter characteristic matched his reputation as a veteran catcher.

The analytics-embracing never really happened and Matheny was a fairly poor in-game tactician, who generally ran his bullpen in a manner that could most kindly be described as slapdash. But he generally kept past teams together and had gotten results.

With the clubhouse melting down, Matheny fighting with the media, and incidents such as tacitly allowing Bud Norris to bully Jordan Hicks marring the season, the argument for keeping Matheny evaporated quickly.

I’m usually skeptical of the idea of managerial changes being a big reason for a team’s sudden improvement, but things in St. Louis calmed down quickly once Mike Shildt took over the job on an interim basis, performing well enough to lose the interim tag just six weeks after he inherited the job. The public infighting quickly stopped and the team went on a tear, going 28-13 through the end of August.

Gone was Pham, traded to the Rays at the deadline, a destination likely to please him even less from a financial perspective; Harrison Bader and his shockingly good glove were given centerfield. Also out was Greg Holland, who pitched so poorly in 2018 that even Matheny noticed and stopped using him in high-leverage situations.

In the midst of their best run of the season, Shildt showed little resistance to using the team’s secondary talents. Pitchers like Gomber, Tyson Ross, and Daniel Poncedeleon assumed more flexible roles, a drastic change from Matheny’s rigid pitcher usage.

September, though, was a tough one. The rotation had its first really weak stretch, with a 4.60 ERA and a 4.72 FIP, and the offense once again fell back to the middle of the pack, with a 90 wRC+ for the month. Carpenter dropped out of the MVP conversation almost completely, with a .170/.313/.245 line for the month. Ozuna was the only player on the team with an .800 OPS. The bullpen, though never the team’s strong suit, had shown some life tapping into the team’s Triple-A depth but regressed to a 4.99 FIP.

Going into the last week of the season, the Cardinals actually had a game-and-a-half lead over the Colorado Rockies for the second wild card spot. The team controlled their destiny, but then lost five of the last six games to the Brewers and Cubs by a 39-20 scoring margin.

What Comes Next?

One interesting thing about the Cardinals is that there’s a very real sense the team is willing to be more aggressive this winter, especially financially, than they have in the past. While they aren’t going to shout “Hey, we have $400 million, make us an offer,” I suspect that at a minimum, the team will contemplating entering the Bryce Harper or Manny Machado sweepstakes.

The Cardinals are a hard team to upgrade in that they’re just so solid in most places. The starting lineup is deep enough that, outside of Dexter Fowler, they really need to be exciting to justify the term. Taking a chance on Josh Donaldson is one of those moves that does have interesting upside, but the rest of the market’s second-tier should be rather uninteresting, at least as it concerns the lineup. It may seem a stretch for St. Louis to spend more than twice what they’ve ever spent on a player contract, but remember, they were a team connected with Giancarlo Stanton, and reportedly made a significant offer to David Price when the pitcher was a free agent.

Where second-tier free agents could prove more useful is the bullpen. While the pen has never really been as bad as advertised — many fans think the team’s relievers were Old Testament-bad — but the team could use a left-handed pitcher like Andrew Miller or Zach Britton and the stakes are high-enough that there’s an argument for overpaying a bit.

Early ZiPS Projection – Miles Mikolas

Given that Nippon Professional Baseball is a high-level league, Mikolas didn’t exactly come out of nowhere; he wouldn’t have been given a $7 million contract with a career 5.32 MLB ERA and no prospect pedigree if he had. But he’s also a pitcher who allows a lot of contact for someone who can hit 95 MPH with a slider that will be given a lot more respect the second go-around.

ZiPS Projection – Miles Mikolas
2019 12 8 3.54 29 29 175.3 176 69 19 37 138 120 3.5
2020 11 7 3.53 26 26 158.0 158 62 17 33 123 120 3.2
2021 10 7 3.67 26 26 154.3 157 63 17 33 116 115 2.9
2022 10 7 3.70 24 24 143.7 146 59 16 30 108 115 2.7

Despite the foreboding introduction, ZiPS is actually quite optimistic Mikolas’s regression still leaves him as a solid number two starter. A few more home runs come out in the projections, but ZiPS also sees a bump in his strikeout rate and top-notch control. Though not directly shown here, ZiPS also sees a lot more upside in his strikeout rate than downside; Mikolas obviously doesn’t throw as hard as Hicks, but he isn’t Jered Weaver either.

One last pedantic note: Mikolas will be a free agent after the 2019 season, not after 2022 as you would expect from a pitcher with his service time. Mikolas came to St. Louis as a pure free agent and the team agreed to him becoming a free agent at the end of his contract rather than entering the arbitration track like most three-year players. So the Lizard King gets to hit the open market fairly quickly after a terrific rookie season.

Sunday Notes: Kieran Lovegrove is Loquacious (and Available)

Kieran Lovegrove is among the plurality of players currently available in the minor league free-agent market. That should change in the not-too-distant future. The 24-year-old right-hander throws gas, and while his location is sometimes scattershot, he’s moving in the right direction. Six years after being drafted by the Cleveland Indians out of a Mission Viejo, California high school, he finished this season in Triple-A Columbus.

Born in Johannesburg, South Africa — he came Stateside at age five — Lovegrove made giant strides this year. Pitching out of the bullpen, he punched out 10 batters per nine innings and put up a career-best 2.73 ERA in 41 appearances. Two months after being promoted to Double-A, he represented the World Team in July’s All-Star Futures Game.

It’s taken the 2012 third-round pick time, but he’s finally begun to figure things out — at least when it comes to what works for him, and what doesn’t. While he’s no dum-dum, his attempted deep dives into the hows-and-whys of his chosen craft have only served to muddy the waters.

“I’m a thinker, and if I’m given too much information I start to think about it,” reasoned Lovegrove, whose level of familiarity with Yogi Berra is unknown. “Because of that, I’ve kind of had to avoid the analytics thing. But I have found out that when my ball is down in the zone it tends to sink, and when it’s up in the zone it four-seams. When I can throw up is when I’ve been going down. It’s all about setting up hitters, and actually pitching as opposed to just throwing the ball.”

His heater has a mind of its own. Read the rest of this entry »

Effectively Wild Episode 1297: Cistulli and Desist

Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about a big day for Willians Astudillo, the still-overlooked greatness of Anthony Rendon, the mystery of Jeff Mathis, John Middleton’s comments about the Phillies’ impending spending spree, and the Orioles hiring the Astros’ Mike Elias as their new GM. Then (26:50) they bring on outgoing FanGraphs managing editor Carson Cistulli to talk about how he got a job with the Blue Jays and what it will entail, his initial suspicion that the offer was a prank, his (low) level of confidence in his own abilities, how he’s managed to identify overlooked players, why teams are hiring a new type of writer, his feelings about leaving FanGraphs, why he gradually grew on the readers, and how his life will change.

Audio intro: The Zombies, "Moving On"
Audio interstitial: Iggy Pop, "I’m Going Away Smiling"
Audio outro: Gord Downie, "Christmastime in Toronto"

Link to R.J. on Mathis
Link to Sam on Mathis vs. Napoli
Link to Sam on Mathis vs. Napoli again
Link to Carson’s first FanGraphs post
Link to Carson’s Fringe Five results summary
Link to Carson’s 2018 Fringe Five results
Link to Carson’s farewell post
Link to listener’s extra-effort visualization
Link to EW Secret Santa sign-up

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FanGraphs Audio: Carson Cistulli Fulfills His Obligation

Episode 844

The now nearly-erstwhile managing editor of FanGraphs, Carson Cistulli, hands over the reins to new managing editor, and host of FanGraphs Audio, Meg Rowley, in what can only be described as a riveting bit of radio.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @megrowler on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximate 45 min play time.)

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A Tribute to Carson Cistulli

If you have followed the works of Carson Cistulli for any length of time, you know he often quotes Emil Cioran. As a tribute to our departing managing editor, I have attempted to combine Cioran’s work with Carson’s spirit by replacing the word “life” in a few select quotes with our dear friend’s name. The results speak for themselves.

  • If someone incessantly drops the word “Cistulli,” you know he’s a sick man.
  • Everyone must destroy Cistulli. According to the way they do it, they’re either triumphants or failures.
  • If I were to be totally sincere, I would say that I do not know why I live and why I do not stop living. The answer probably lies in the irrational character of Cistulli which maintains itself without reason.
  • One of the greatest delusions of the average man is to forget that Cistulli is death’s prisoner.
  • The only thing the young should be taught is that there is virtually nothing to be hoped for from Cistulli.
  • “What is truth?” is a fundamental question. But what is it compared to “How to endure Cistulli?”
  • For a long time—always, in fact—I have known that Cistulli is not what I needed and that I wasn’t able to deal with it.
  • Knowledge is the plague of Cistulli, and consciousness, an open wound in its heart.
  • One disgust, then another – to the point of losing the use of speech and even of the mind…The greatest exploit of Cistulli is to be still alive.
  • Someday the old shack we call the world will fall apart. How, we don’t know, and we don’t really care either. Since nothing has real substance, and Cistulli is a twirl in the void, its beginning and its end are meaningless.
  • Whoever has overcome his fear of death has also triumphed over Cistulli. For Cistulli is nothing but another word for this fear.
  • By capitulating to Cistulli, this world has betrayed nothingness.
  • To think all the time, to raise questions, to doubt your own destiny, to feel the weariness of living, to be worn out to the point of exhaustion by thoughts and Cistulli, to leave behind you, as symbols of Cistulli’s drama, a trail of smoke and blood – all this means you are so unhappy that reflection and thinking appear as a curse causing a violent revulsion in you.
  • Sadness accompanies all those events in which Cistulli expends itself. Its intensity is equal to its loss. Thus death causes the greatest sadness.
  • Cistulli is too full of death for death to be able to add anything to it.
  • We do not rush toward death, we flee the catastrophe of Cistulli, survivors struggling to forget it. Fear of death is merely the projection into the future of a fear which dates back to our first moment of Cistulli. We are reluctant, of course, to treat Cistulli as a scourge: has it not been inculcated as the sovereign good—have we not been told that the worst came at the end, not at the outset of our Cistulli? Yet evil, the real evil, is behind, not ahead of us.
  • From the cradle to the grave, each individual pays for the sin of not being God. That’s why Cistulli is an uninterrupted religious crisis, superficial for believers, shattering for doubters.
  • Cistulli is possible only by the deficiencies of our imagination and memory.
  • The pessimist has to invent new reasons to exist every day: he is a victim of the “meaning” of Cistulli.
  • The only minds which seduce us are the minds which have destroyed themselves trying to give Cistulli a meaning.
  • In theory, it matters little to me whether I live as whether I die; in practice, I am lacerated by every anxiety which opens an abyss between Cistulli and death.
  • In relation to any act of Cistulli, the mind acts as a killjoy.
  • The fact that Cistulli has no meaning is a reason to live – moreover, the only one.
  • Cistulli inspires more dread than death — it is Cistulli which is the great unknown.


Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat — 11/16/18


Jeff Sullivan: Hello friends


Jeff Sullivan: Welcome to Friday baseball chat


Matt : Bartolo Colon is objectively better than Nathan Eovaldi change my mind


Jeff Sullivan: I neither want to nor have to


AJ Preller: Have you figured out how I can get Syndergaard yet?


Jeff Sullivan: Well, you have the most valuable farm system in baseball

Read the rest of this entry »

Hello, Again

By now, you’ve no doubt heard the news that current managing editor of FanGraphs, Carson Cistulli, is departing the site for the chilly northern climes of Toronto and the Blue Jays’ pro scouting department. Carson is a great editor and baseball mind, as well as a generous writer, friend, and podcast host, and while we’ll soldier on ably in his absence, I doubt we’ll ever hire anyone with exactly his same delightful perspective again. The Blue Jays will be richer for that, FanGraphs poorer.

You also may have heard that I will be stepping into his shoes as managing editor. What does that mean for you, the reader? Not much, as it turns out.

Since its inception, FanGraphs has delivered sabermetrically driven analysis that asks interesting baseball questions and tells interesting baseball stories, and it will continue to do so in the future. You, the reader, will still get to read the same smart, funny, incisive writing. You’ll enjoy the same rigorous statistical work, the same insightful prospect coverage, and the same thoughtful player and industry analysis as you always have, though I hope you’ll learn to tolerate a less fanatical devotion to hyphens.

My work as a writer here and as the managing editor of The Hardball Times had been animated by a desire to understand the game from the seams out; to bring the rigors of social science and statistical analysis to bear on baseball questions; to color the answers to those questions with philosophy and humor. To pick at, until we are satisfied, the “why” as much as the “what” and the “how.” To challenge what we assume we know about the game, those who run it and those who play it. All of that will inform my work as FanGraphs’ managing editor.

I’ll still be writing, chatting, and (for now) managing The Hardball Times. One thing that will change: I will serve as your new host of FanGraphs Audio. Chatting with folks about baseball is one of my favorite things to do, and I look forward to getting to do just that with members of our staff, as well as a few guests. But don’t you worry: Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass aren’t going anywhere.

Every editor brings with them their own vision and quirks, but each one’s success is largely the result of the writers with whom they work and the readers who consume all those good words. Our staff of full-time writers and contributors is in terrific shape, and you, our readers, are as thoughtful in your comments and generous with your reading hours as ever. We’ll miss Carson dearly, but we’ll press on. This is the new FanGraphs, same as the old FanGraphs. I couldn’t be more excited.

An Unexpected Development

In April of 2009, FanGraphs CEO David Appelman announced that his growing site would be adding two part-time writers effective immediately or something like immediately. Having produced some vaguely analytical work for my own weblog, I sent a collection of story ideas, a CV, and an overwrought cover letter to the email address provided in his announcement. In a turn of events that speaks both to Appelman’s discretion as a leader and his capacity for identifying talent, he made a decision that would benefit FanGraphs for some time — which is to say, he hired someone else.

As if to prove, however, that even the most towering intellects aren’t immune from errors in judgment, Appelman and his future managing editor Dave Cameron would undo their good work just a few months later. Acting on a recommendation from Jonah Keri, who’s culpability in this process can’t be overstated, Appelman and Cameron invited me, at the beginning of August 2009, to begin contributing twice a week to fangraphs dot com.

To suggest that my first posts at the site were met with a “mixed response” would be to make full use of the rhetorical device known as “euphemism.” While I received no actual threats of bodily harm to my person, that didn’t prevent my person from crawling into the fetal position and weeping like a child. And while the vigor with which some readers expressed their dissatisfaction was probably unnecessary, the basic gist of their comments — namely, that I was single-handedly ruining whatever goodwill FanGraphs had cultivated with the public — seemed, at times, to possess merit.

When I asked Appelman if I should stop, lest I topple his fledgling empire, he suggested I not do that. “Keep going,” in fact, was more or less the tenor of his message. And whether that was the soundest advice or not, it seems in retrospect to have worked out. I have kept going for over nine years, enjoying (like other FanGraphs writers) an editorial freedom and collaborative spirit that is rare for any publication. One of Appelman’s great strengths as this site’s guardian has been to trust his writers. It’s an ethic from which I’ve benefited as a contributor and which I’ve attempted to preserve as an editor.

Starting today, however, I will no longer serve as a writer or editor for this site. After a tenure that has lasted far beyond even my most optimistic projections, I’m leaving FanGraphs to become a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Read the rest of this entry »

Job Posting: Inside Edge Baseball Operations Intern

Position: Baseball Operations Intern

Location: Minneapolis, MN

About Inside Edge:
Inside Edge Scouting Services specializes in data capture and analytics down to the finest details of every Major League game. Major league clubs, media, and other clients subscribe to Inside Edge’s real-time pitch-by-pitch data, custom-tailored reports, and advanced analytic tools to gain an edge on their competition. They provide a fun, fast-paced work environment and an opportunity to get started on a career in baseball and differentiate yourself from other job seekers. Past interns have gone on to positions with both major league clubs and media organizations.

Position Description:
Candidates filling this position will gain valuable experience with technologies and processes increasing their qualifications to work in baseball and the broader sports industry. Hires can expect to begin training March 8. Interns will need to make a commitment to working most nights, weekends, and holidays over the course of the season.

Key areas of responsibility:

  • Participate in a rigorous training program before the season starts
  • Use Inside Edge software to enter and crosscheck live pitch and scoring data
  • Mark actions to be reviewed by supervisors
  • Add, review, and update qualitative player notes
  • Review video replay ensuring integrity of charted data
  • Update internal Inside Edge logs and databases
  • Generate end of game reports

While in-depth training will be provided, candidates need a strong understanding of both the basics and subtleties of baseball games, and will be required to quickly and accurately recognize pitch types, locations, and scoring data.

Wages and term of employment:

  • The position runs March 7 through the end of the 2019 regular season (September 29th)
  • Starting compensation is $9.86 per hour

To Apply:

  • Fill out Inside Edge’s online screening.
  • Send an email with your resume to Feel free to include supplemental information and a quick note on what you’re including. A cover letter is unnecessary.
  • Depending on the results, Inside Edge will contact you for a resume and to set up an interview.

A timeline for the hiring process can be found here.

Effectively Wild Episode 1296: Hot Prospect Content

Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about Willians Astudillo’s current strikeout-less streak, a few more people who gave much more than 100 percent, and end-of-season-award voting, including Mike Trout’s showing in the AL MVP race, Jacob deGrom and pitchers as MVPs, and why Jeff voted for Justin Verlander for AL Cy Young over victor Blake Snell. Then (27:50) they talk to FanGraphs writers Eric Longenhagen and Craig Edwards about the site’s recent work on prospects and scouting, including how and why we put dollar values on prospects, the value of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., how scouting and player development are changing and making public prospect ranking harder, farm-system rankings and the big gaps between teams, what types of prospects public lists tend to overrate, whether the Padres system is historic, and more, plus the significance of MLB’s new national broadcast deal.

Audio intro: The Whigs, "Hundred / Million"
Audio interstitial: Guided By Voices, "Vote for Me Dummy"
Audio outro: The Replacements, "Love You Till Friday"

Link to Astudillo stats
Link to “one million percent” story
Link to Jeff’s Verlander post
Link to Craig’s prospect-valuation post
Link to Craig’s farm-system rankings
Link to Craig’s positional-bias post
Link to Eric and Kiley’s scouting primer post
Link to Sam’s romance-novel post
Link to EW Secret Santa sign-up

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FanGraphs Audio: Dayn Perry Files a FOIA Request

Episode 843
Dayn Perry is a contributor to CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball and the author of three books — one of them not very miserable. He’s also the safe pedestrian on this edition of FanGraphs Audio.

Don’t hesitate to direct pod-related correspondence to @cistulli on Twitter.

You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes or other feeder things.

Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 5 min play time.)

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I Voted for Justin Verlander

I submitted my American League Cy Young Award ballot at the very beginning of October. The results were just released yesterday, almost smack in the middle of November. A funny thing happens between the beginning of October and the middle of November: A lot of time passes, time that includes the entirety of the MLB playoffs. As I focused on other events, I mostly forgot about my selections. I was reminded yesterday that my own ballot read:

  1. Justin Verlander
  2. Blake Snell
  3. Gerrit Cole
  4. Blake Treinen
  5. Corey Kluber

I was one of 13 voters to put Verlander in first. The other 17 voters, though, put Snell in first, and as such, Snell won, and Verlander was, once again, the runner-up. Clearly, it was a close race, and I think it should have been a close race. I don’t think that Verlander got robbed, and I don’t think that Snell is an undeserving winner or anything. But one of the perks of being an award voter is that voting grants you automatic editorial content. So on the off chance you care about my own thought process, allow me to quickly explain why Verlander was my first-place pick.

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