Author Archive

FanGraphs Audio: Eric Longenhagen Briefly Considers Yoko Ono

Episode 847

Lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen makes his triumphant return to FanGraphs Audio to discuss the offseason’s early action, including a bevy of Mariners deals, the Cardinals trade for Paul Goldschmidt, and the signing of Nathan Eovaldi. We then turn our attention to such varied topics as former University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker, the potential banning of the shift, and what we think the rest of the winter might hold.

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 1 hr 2 min play time.)

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 12/4/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello all!

2:00
Meg Rowley: And welcome to the chat.

2:01
ChiSox2020: Trade proposal – Carlos Rodon for Nick Senzel.

2:01
Meg Rowley: But not like, a serious one, right?

2:01
CamdenWarehouse: Meg, I’ve been waiting all day to ask you: What did Jerry Dipoto do?

2:01
CamdenWarehouse: Also every time Seattle makes a big trade, that song bounces around my head for a couple days. I am quite unhappy with Baumann.

Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Audio: In Which Sam Miller Likens Baseball to a Pool

Episode 846

ESPN writer and former Effectively Wild co-host Sam Miller joins the program for discussion of baseball aesthetics, what we watch for when we watch a game, and various matters of an editing nature.

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 52 min play time.)

Read the rest of this entry »


FanGraphs Audio: Emma Baccellieri on Matters of Political Influence

Episode 845

Sports Illustrated writer Emma Baccellieri joins the program for a wide-ranging discussion, including MLB’s recent brush with campaign finance, the issues Emma is most curious to see play out this offseason, and the upcoming Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Also, host Meg Rowley tells an Embarrassing Story.

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 55 min play time.)

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 11/27/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Good morning (afternoon) and welcome to the chat!

2:01
Sad Mariners Fan: If Dipoto does the right thing and trades Diaz, what would a reasonable return be? I saw an article recently in the atheltic saying they wouldn’t be able to net two top 100 prospects and I initially dismissed it as wrong. Is it?

2:02
Meg Rowley: Two top 100 guys feels like too much. A top 100 guy and a guy with promise feels closer. Diaz is amazing and has a bunch of team control left, but he’s also a reliever (albeit a really good one!) who throws hard with a delivery that isn’t exactly relaxing.

2:02
And Now, This: If you were one of the other 29 GMs, would you ever trade for one of Van Wagenen’s former clients on the Mets roster? If it was me I think I’d always be wondering: “What does he know about the player that I don’t?”

2:03
Meg Rowley: I think it’s an underreported concern in all of this. As Sheryl wrote this morning, the Mets and Van Wagenen’s answers to questions surrounding his potential conflicts of interests don’t fully address the issue.

2:04
Meg Rowley: It’s quite surprising to me that this hasn’t been a bigger issue just generally, particularly with the union.

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 11/20/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello, and welcome to the chat! A moment while I communicate with a writer of FanGraphs dot com.

2:02
Meg Rowley: Ok, hello, here I am. A Meg ready to chat!

2:02
John : How worried should teams be about harper’s defense?

2:04
Meg Rowley: I think anytime you’re going to give potentially $300 million to a free agent, you worry about everything. It has been identified as a weaker part of his game, and defense declines over time, but I don’t think it will alter the eventual value a tremendous amount.

2:05
Meg Rowley: The evaluation of defense is one of the places where the gap between public side analysis and team’s internal stuff is the biggest. Which isn’t to say that the assessment of Harper is wrong. But it is a place where they know a lot more than we do.

2:05
Nate: Are you on record with where you think Harper winds up?

Read the rest of this entry »


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.)

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.


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 11/13/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hi all– allow me one moment to respond to a Very Pressing Email.

2:01
Meg Rowley: Ok, all set! Welcome to the chat. Let’s see what nonsense we can get up to today.

2:02
Lunar verLander: …you’re not REALLY out of coffee, are you? That’d be some kind of nightmare-ish hellscape…

2:02
Meg Rowley: No, thank goodness. I made more.

2:02
Billy: Any chance Paxton rumors / action heats up again soon? Or does all the “dust” need to settle for Ms FO makes any more moves (assuming they’re still around)?

2:03
Meg Rowley: I would imagine that it might delay for a day or two, but MLB has announced an investigation, and it seems almost certain their trade activity won’t wait for that to conclude.

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 11/6/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello!

2:00
Meg Rowley: Welcome to the chat. Apologies for my very brief lateness. I was on the phone with one Carson Cistulli.

2:01
Meg Rowley: If you will allow a moment of earnestness and also sincerity: Please go vote if you have not and your state has not made it impossible for you to do so.

2:01
Meg Rowley: If your state has, shame on them. If your state hasn’t, think of all those having a hard time voting today, and go do your voting.

2:02
Guest: When does “2019” begin for the purpose of no-trade clauses? Jason Heyward has full no trade rights in 2018, but not 2019. I started wondering about coupling one or more surplus value guys in order to try to move his contract but then ran into: when does ‘2019’ begin?

2:02
Meg Rowley: I believe the league year or championship season is defined in the CBA, so a moment.

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 10/30/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello and welcome to the offseason chat! Boy oh boy, it sure is the offseason.

2:00
Nick: What do you see the Cubs doing with Addison Russell? What do *you* think they should do?

2:01
Meg Rowley: I think they’ll probably cut and I think that makes good sense.

2:01
Meg Rowley: I was never that hype on him as a player, and now I’m even less in on the guy as a person.

2:01
Meg Rowley: I’m sure he’ll resurface somewhere, but I don’t expect him to play another game for the Cubs.

2:01
Tom in SD: Any chance the Yankees trade Stanton to the Dodgers and sign Harper?

Read the rest of this entry »


Who We Are When We’re Being Watched

Who we choose to be when we know someone else is watching is very revealing. It isn’t necessarily who we actually are; researchers have long fretted over the corrupting influence of observed observation. People pick their noses in their cars alone; they remember Kleenex when Grandma is near. But who we decide to be when we can feel another person’s gaze does tell us something about who we think we should be, or perhaps who we wish we were. Someone who sat up straighter, or who knew the right, snappy thing to say. Someone who was kinder. Someone like ourselves, only different. A not-a-nose-picker.

Most people go through life without inspiring much sustained notice, save for the odd grocery-store lurker. But a funny thing happens during October baseball, when the stakes are high and we all find ourselves watching the same games. The drama in front of us serves to make us aware of strangers’ keen notice.

And so I thought we might look back on a few moments from the playoffs thus far, when we saw people seeing us, so as to learn who it is they are when they know we’re watching.

Ryan Braun Enters the Panopticon

It’s a small moment. With Travis Shaw up to bat in the third inning of Game One of the NLDS, the broadcast pans over the Brewers dugout. Ryan Braun is putting away his batting helmet and gloves (he has just struck out), and makes ever-so-brief eye contact with the camera. He notices us noticing him and shouts, “GO TRAV!”

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 10/17/18

12:00
Meg Rowley: Good morning, and welcome to a special Wednesday edition of chats with Meg!

12:00
Meg Rowley: Who else is tired? I feel tired!

12:00
machado: Do you think Machado’s actions the last two nights will impact his free agency value?

12:01
Meg Rowley: I do not.

12:02
Meg Rowley: I think he should stop being a bonehead, especially if his preferred method of being a bonehead puts him the neighborhood of potentially injuring other players on the field, but in the end he’s very good at baseball.

12:02
Meg Rowley: Lot of dudes who get up to boneheaded stuff end up with big contracts.

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 10/9/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello, and welcome to the chat!

2:00
Meg Rowley: It feels strange to chat without the help and humor of my colleagues but I guess we must soldier on.

2:00
Nate: Angel Hernandez’s performance last definitely hurts his lawsuit, does it not?

2:02
Meg Rowley: Obviously, I don’t know anything more about his case or claim than what has been reported, but I think it is important to remember that his poor performance does not mean that he couldn’t have faced discrimination. I would hope (and imagine) that whatever judge or arbiter is hearing his case will approach it more dispassionately than sports fans watching a playoff game.

2:02
CamdenWarehouse: As we sit here watching Osuna pitch, do you get any sense that MLB has heard people about DV suspensions and post season play? Any chance of a change coming?

2:03
Meg Rowley: I don’t have a sense of how the league office is viewing this, or how much of the discourse online has gotten to them or the union.

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 9/25/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello and welcome to the chat!

2:00
Gerald: Do you like prospects? Baseball prospects to be clear.

2:00
Meg Rowley: Gerald, we’ve already talked about this.

2:00
Omar Linares: Can we please take a second to laugh at Mike Rizzo for trading away Blake Treinen and Jesus Luzardo for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle?

2:01
Meg Rowley: That seems like too big a reaction, and an unkind one.

2:02
Meg Rowley: Doolittle has been hurt for stretches but still managed a two win season this year, and I don’t think most people thought Treinen would be quite this good.

Read the rest of this entry »


An Investigation into Sandy Leon’s Current State of Worry

I hope you will, in the service of a brief investigation into human worry, allow me to engage in some baseless speculation.

We tend to think of player decline as a gradual business. Guys get good, peak, turn 30, and then start to be less good. They lose a step on the basepaths, a tick on their fastball. The idea of making new friends wears them out. Their doctors tell them they just have to live with some uncomfortable stuff now. Any given player’s career might buck those trends, of course. Some failure to develop entirely, nary a peak to be found. Pitchers hurt their elbows and retire young; a designated hitter or two keeps trundling along past age-40. But most players have time to get used to the idea of being at home more.

Except, what if they didn’t? What if for a hitter, it weren’t an issue of injury, or being hit by a car, but the gift deciding, quite suddenly, to leave you? Poof! Gone! We know that isn’t how this stuff generally works. Players age or get hurt or someone better comes along; yips are a throwing dysfunction. But I have often wondered how much of a player’s reaction to any given strikeout is a concern that they will never get a hit again. That this is the first in a series of whiffs and groundouts and balls caught at the track that concludes with them no longer being baseball players. They could hit, and now, quite simply, they can’t.

To wit, Sandy Leon hasn’t had a hit since August 23. In 13 games and 30 plate appearances, he has walked just once and been hit by a pitch twice. He has a -73 wRC+ over that stretch. I watched the at-bats. It wasn’t screaming liners and vindictive BABIP. He has just been quite bad at baseball. He looks resigned. And I wonder how worried he is. I mean, of course he is worried, and probably a lot. He hasn’t played since Saturday. The Red Sox are in a great dream and he is trapped in a small nightmare. But I wonder when he has felt the most worried about this, this idea that he can’t hit anymore, this secret concern, and how much worried he was.

You might think the low point was this past Saturday, when he struck out looking against the Mets’ Daniel Zamora, and his own broadcast spent much of the at-bat talking about the Cy Young chances of a pitcher who wasn’t pitching that day, or in the American League.

This was his last at-bat before being benched. He is probably 13 percent worried here. It has been a while. He’s in a bad way.

Or perhaps in the moment after he pointed to his hand so as to assert, yeah, Lucas Giolito had hit him with a pitch, such an obvious plea for and acceptance of charity. Here, 4%. Yes, he’s worried, but also, that hurt. He’s thinking mostly about how much it hurt. And feeling indignant that he was doubted. But also feeling that it hurt. Ouch.

Or perhaps on September 4, when he twice came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs and twice failed to capitalize. Maybe 10%? That’s a lot of suck in a three hour span, but also, his team won. He was probably high-fived by his teammates at the end of it, though likely in a perfunctory way.

But I think the real answer is September 7, at home against Gerrit Cole. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Sandy struck out swinging, but reached base when the pitch skittered away from Martin Maldonado. This is 18% at least, and probably as high as 25.

He wants to be on first, needs it badly, but not like this. All that erased his failure was someone else’s worse stumble. Maybe there isn’t work as we understand it in a hit-by-pitch, but there is some sacrifice. There’s a dignity in it. Sandy was wounded in a trivial service. But a ball that gets away, a bit of luck that necessitates such a hard run down the line, telegraphing so strongly all his pent-up desperation, his concern he won’t speak of?

After it is clear that Leon is safe, first base coach Tom Goodwin puts out his hand for a fist bump, and there is just the smallest pause from Sandy, a pause in which I assume he looked his worry square on, wondered if he would ever reach base by a hit again, and considered not accepting Goodwin’s gesture. Fist bumps are for ballplayers, and what if suddenly he isn’t one of those anymore, only he doesn’t quite know it yet? Most of him probably moved on to running the bases. But I bet 18-25% didn’t.

The other day, my DVD player stopped working in the middle of a movie. I got it a year ago. Sandy Leon will almost certainly hit again. He might tonight! He’s a professional baseball player. He’ll get at least a few more chances. But I bet he is worried, at least 4% of him and maybe as much as 25. Sometimes things just crap out and take your copy of Tombstone with them.


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 9/18/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello, and welcome to the chat! There are a lot of Mariners and Mets questions in this here queue, but I’ll try to mix it up as much as possible.

2:00
Mr. Dobolina: Who is your favorite Cubs player

2:01
Meg Rowley: Hey look at that! Baez is hard not to like, and why try hard to enjoy an enjoyable thing less. I was pretty wrong about his ability to take a step forward. He has been great, great fun.

2:01
Jedidiah: The Mariners could save $14 million next year by installing Vogey as their DH. They’re not going to do that, are they?

2:02
Meg Rowley: I think it is a toss up whether or not they bring Cruz back. They’ve expressed public interest in that, but teams fib sometimes, and he’ll be sure to test the market anyhow.

2:02
Meg Rowley: I would like to see Vogelbach get something approaching anything like regular playing time, and I would very much not like to see him playing first so…

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 9/11/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Hello, and welcome to the chat. What a fun bit of baseball we’ve had, and likely will continue to have, and…

2:00
tb.25: Sad King Felix is sad to think about :(

2:00
Meg Rowley: Well, drat.

2:00
stever20: Rockies next 2 weeks get 3 with Arizona, 3 with San Francisco, and then after 3 with LA get 3 more with Arizona.  are we going to see them finally pick up their 1st division title ever?

2:01
Meg Rowley: I… I don’t really think so.

2:02
Meg Rowley: I still think the Dodgers will manage this somehow, and for reasons that might not be especially smart, I believe in that D-backs team more. How is the Rockies offense like this? Just, how?

Read the rest of this entry »


An Incomplete Study of Pitchers in Blowout Games

On Tuesday, the Brewers beat the Cubs 11-1. It was the 71st game this season decided by 10 or more runs, and the 183rd decided by eight or more, and it got me thinking about failure. Baseball has an awful lot of failure. So much, in fact, that it feels sort of trite to mention it. It’s mostly failure of the small, survivable variety. We learn a lot from those sorts of tumbles. It makes our moms worry, but life’s lessons generally come after we’ve strung a bunch of snafus together. The how and why of a pitcher getting lit up, or a defensive alignment not working, enhances our understanding of the game, even if just to say, “Well, don’t do that again.”

But baseball also does big failure, extreme failure. Baseball does blowouts. Some of them come early, while others develop late. Sometimes they’re the result of a series of foul-ups; other times it’s one big inning. But in their extremity, we learn something about the everyday. So I took a look at blowouts, adopting pitchers as our guides through this land of suck, to see what we might discover. I present a not-brief, incomplete study.

The Reliever Whose Boss Only Cares About Him a Little

One of the crueler things about blowouts, and baseball more generally I suppose, is that no matter the score, someone has to pitch. The game doesn’t believe in mercy; the game believes in wearing one. We’re used to feeling the cruelty of a starter who has to stay in down seven runs to save the bullpen. It’s natural to feel sympathy for someone having a bad day. But cruelty isn’t the exclusive province of losers; there’s a smaller meanness reserved for victors, too.

Read the rest of this entry »


Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 9/4/18

2:00
Meg Rowley: Happy first day back at work after the long weekend!

2:00
Meg Rowley: I hope this chat eases everyone back in to their ho-hum day time responsibilities.

2:00
Morbo: Good afternoon!

2:01
Meg Rowley: It’s still technically morning here.

2:01
Shaun A.: Hey Meg, do you think Ohtani will still be pitching 2 years down the road?

2:01
Meg Rowley: I’m trying to decide how to deal with “still” in this question.

Read the rest of this entry »