Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 9/6/17

12:01
Dave Cameron: Happy Wednesday, everyone.

12:02
Dave Cameron: Let’s talk September baseball.

12:02
Dave Cameron: Or maybe October baseball!

12:02
Gary: A lot of Acuna talk this season. What’s the best way for Atlanta to get him in the lineup? Dumping Kemp or Markakis makes sense, but could they use Inciarte as a trade chip and play Acuna in center?

12:03
Dave Cameron: Atlanta needs more good players, not to swap out the few they have for others. Neither Kemp nor Markakis should have a starting job next year.

12:03
Mel: What degree of moral turpitude do you assign the Red Sox for their electronic sign stealing?  Do you believe that Farrell did not know it was happening?

12:04
Dave Cameron: No way Farrell didn’t know. In terms of moral turpitude, they broke the rules, they knew they were breaking the rules, and they did it anyway, so there’s some guilt here, but as far as infractions go, this isn’t that big a deal. Sign stealing isn’t even against the rules. It’s just the method they used that is problematic.

12:05
Bork: Heyman thinks the Red Sox should forfeit all their wins against the Yankees this year. What’s your hot take on punishment for the Red Sox?

12:05
Dave Cameron: They should be forced to connect to an internet that only has Jon Heyman columns on it.

12:06
PF: Do you subscribe to The Athletic?

12:06
Dave Cameron: I do. They have a lot of good people there that I enjoy reading, and I think we should support good sportswriting when we can.

12:07
adam: At what point in September should playoff bound teams be worried about how they are trending.  IE The Dodgers are trending down/D’Backs are trending up, but we still have a month.  Playoffs are affected by hot/cold streaks, what’s the September cut off?

12:07
Dave Cameron: There’s no correlation between September performance and October performance. None.

12:08
Dave Cameron: The only thing that matters this month is whether you make it or not, and whether your guys are healthy or not.

12:08
Josiah: As a dodger fan, what should my panic level be for team to hold on and win west, and panic level for team in general?

12:09
Dave Cameron: 0% on the division. It’s as close to in the bag as things get. Think about how crazy these last few weeks are, and now think that it has to happen again for the next two weeks for the D’Backs to make up the rest of the gap.

12:09
Dave Cameron: In terms of the postseason, the team getting beaten right now isn’t the one LA will roll out in October. Unless Seager’s injury lingers, they’ll be fine.

12:10
Bill: Did the Tigers do very well? I’m sad to see JV in another uniform, but it seems like we got a lot.

12:10
Dave Cameron: Yeah, I love that trade for Detroit. To get three very interesting prospects and shed $20M per year for a mid-30s guy with consistency issues is a big win, even if that mid-30s guy is a franchise icon.

12:11
Jaime: Is Vlad Jr. bat so special that he could be a 1B with no baserunning value and still be the best prospect?

12:11
Dave Cameron: Yes.

12:12
Zock Jr.: As an ethical Red Sox fan, I’m bummed, Dave. Bummed.

12:14
Dave Cameron: Were you bummed when the team was signing international players to “package deals” to get around the signing bonuses?

12:14
Dave Cameron: It’s not like it’s really news that teams will do whatever they can to get an advantage if they think they can get away with it.

12:15
PF: Is there a Fangraphs central office, or is all the article writing done remotely?

12:15
Dave Cameron: We’re all spread out. Jeff and I both live in Oregon, so I guess this is the closest thing we have to a home base now. If we had an office between us, it would probably be in the middle of a forest fire right now.

12:16
Jonesing: If the Yankees were to hold onto the 1st Wild Card, who do you think they would like to start in the playoff game, assuming the luxury of lining up their starters?

12:16
Dave Cameron: The safe choice is throw Severino.

12:18
Dave Cameron: I’d probably go with match-ups. Facing a team with good LHBs? Start CC, have Green warming up from pitch one.

12:18
Ronald Acuna: Would I crack your top 50 if you recalculated your Trade Value list today?

12:18
Dave Cameron: Yes

12:19
Kris in Seattle: Was this version of the Verlander deal the only version Detroit was going to do? The one where the buy real prospects? A little miffed why Houston sold real prospects for salary relief on JV, but then that’s the only way Detroit could sell that deal to the fans right? No way Houston just takes his salary in return for Preston Tucker right?

12:20
Dave Cameron: Well, given the price they paid, I’m not sure why HOU didn’t claim him on waivers. That would have at least forced DET to consider the “let him go for cash savings only” option, and taken away the Cubs as another bidder.

12:20
Dave Cameron: But yeah, I bet in the end, they were only going to trade him for a real return.

12:21
Mike: According to Fangraphs’ Playoff Odds, the Nats are a lock (100%) to make the Divisional Series while the Cubs are at 91.9%. And given the standings, that seems plausible. But the Cubs’ chance of winning a Divisional Series is 51.2% while the Nats’ are at 45.8%. For those #s to be right, it seems that your algorithm must like the Cubs quite a lot more than the Nats. Or am I missing something?

12:21
Dave Cameron: That looks like a bug. We’ll investigate.

12:22
Guest: It’s very disingenuous to say that sign stealing “isn’t against the rules”.  It’s only not against the rules if you do it legally, which they did not.  Therefore what they did is clearly against the rules, also known as cheating.

12:22
Dave Cameron: The method they used to steal signs is against the rules.

12:23
Dave Cameron: The actual act of sign stealing is not.

12:23
Dave Cameron: Yes, they broke the rules.

12:25
Dave Cameron: But the outrage to impact ratio on this one is disproportional.

12:25
CamdenWarehouse: (Don’t forget to mention that your subscription to the Athletic is a write off)

12:26
Dave Cameron: Well, yeah, I guess it is, but the taxes saved on not having that discount my income by $50 is about the most negligible savings I could think of.

12:27
Dave Cameron: I subscribe to The Athletic because I want to read people like Ken Rosenthal, and I want there to be businesses around who pay them to write.

12:27
Jenna Haze: Off the top of your head which names come to mind as among the most overrated position players or starting pitchers since the strike in 1994? My buddy is convinced it is Jeter, and while I think Jeter is a little overrated, that still seems like a very wrong choice to me considering that Jeter is a worthy HOF caliber player and Ryan Howard exists.

12:28
Dave Cameron: Juan Gonzalez

12:28
Justin: Is it reasonable to look at the Arizona diamondbacks and believe they are representing the NL come October?

12:28
Dave Cameron: They have a chance, of course, but any calculation that has them as anything but the 4th most likely NL pennant winner is doing it wrong.

12:29
Lulio Jugo: If MLB is juicing the ball, shouldn’t they owe teams an apology for not being open about it?  Juicing the ball makes low-contact/high-power guys more valuable, so it completely affects roster construction and value of nearly every player.  By juicing the ball, MLB is basically penalizing some teams and helping others based on roster decisions that were made without the knowledge of the juicing

12:29
Dave Cameron: You’re assuming MLB did it on purpose.

12:29
Dave Cameron: I think the most likely scenario is that it happened without anyone planning on it happening.

12:29
PF: When evaluating prospects, do you favor upside or closeness to to the majors?

12:30
Dave Cameron: Both matter, but I think in general, there’s far too much confidence in our ability to actually identify a player’s upside. Half of the stars in baseball right now were “low ceiling” guys.

12:30
Dave Cameron: Jose Altuve leads the Majors in wRC+. Every players upside is basically “best player in baseball”

12:31
HugoZ: If you’re an AL team in need of a dh next season, how much would Atlanta have to eat of Kemp’s salary to make it worthwhile to acquire him?

12:31
Dave Cameron: Almost all of it. He’s not that much better than Chris Carter at this point, and Carter got 1/$2.5M as a free agent.

12:31
EbenezerBatflip: How big will Otani-mania get in the offseason? Will it be the biggest international signing story ever?

12:32
Dave Cameron: I’ll still believe he’ll come over and accept whatever a team can give him of their bonus pool when I see it.

12:33
Dave Cameron: That said, if he does sign with someone for $8 million or whatever, the story of whether there’s some other agreement in place is going to immediately surface.

12:33
Dave Cameron: And will be fascinating.

12:33
groucho: Obviously can’t compare what the red sox did to the cardinals hacking scandal, but which of the two do you think their respective teams benefited most from?

12:33
Dave Cameron: Cardinals, easily.

12:34
Shaqalier: Is Jose Ramirez going to get some 2nd and 3rd place votes for AL MVP?

12:34
Dave Cameron: Probably not.

12:34
Dave Cameron: I mean, maybe he’ll get one from the Cleveland writers or something.

12:34
Dave Cameron: But I don’t think he’ll mount a serious campaign.

12:35
Timmay: Thoughts on the CC Sabathia bunt controversy?

12:35
Dave Cameron: What CC said was beyond dumb.

12:35
Dave Cameron: Fielding your position is part of the game.

12:36
Dave Cameron: I’d order every decent bunter on my team to bunt on CC every time.

12:36
CubFan: Do you see Willie Calhoun starting 2018 in the majors even though TX didn’t bring him up in Sep?

12:36
Dave Cameron: Would guess that it means they’ll keep him down for a few weeks next year to get the extra year of control.

12:37
Reginald Denton III: Dave, hope you’re safe from the fires that have spread up there.  How close are you to the nearest one?

12:38
Dave Cameron: The Milli fire is about 40 miles west of us. That one is mostly contained and is just a smoke producer now. The Nash fire is the one that the area is worried about now. It’s burning towards Elk Lake and the Cascade Lakes Highway and hasn’t been contained at all yet, so if the winds whip up, it could start burning down some very popular hiking trails and resorts around here.

12:38
Dave Cameron: And obviously, the fire in the Columbia River Gorge is awful. We’re not that close to it, but still, having that part of the country on fire is very sad.

12:39
Al: If you’re the Tigers, do you retire Verlander’s number after he retires?

12:39
Dave Cameron: For sure.

12:39
Anthony: So, follow-up to the residency piece, if a team did find a way to, say, prevent TJS with 90% effectiveness, would they then have an ethical obligation to share that info with other teams? That would be a massive competitive advantage, but withholding injury prevention info would seem morally objectionable

12:39
Dave Cameron: It’s a super interesting question.

12:40
Dave Cameron: I think you can make a pretty good case that anyone who discovers a magic bullet for preventing arm injuries owes it to the game to make that knowledge public.

12:41
Dave Cameron: But, of course, if you remove the incentive to be the one to find it, finding that magic bullet makes it less likely.

12:41
Anthony: Over/ under on Arrieta (assuming he comes back healthy as expected): 5/$100M

12:41
Dave Cameron: Under on 5 years

12:41
Dave Cameron: I’d guess 3-4, probably at a higher AAV.

12:42
Billy: Seems unlikely the red sox are the only ones doing this right?

12:42
Dave Cameron: Right

12:43
Ray: Isn’t that kind of like saying distracting a player trying to make a catch is allowed but shining a laser pointer in his eyes is not? It’s still a pretty big difference…

12:43
Dave Cameron: It’s very clear that shining a laser pointer in someone’s eyes will have a negative impact on their performance. it is not at all clear that stealing signs has any real impact on anyone.

12:45
Stevil: Who may have been affected the worst by the possibility of juiced baseballs? The Mariners?

12:45
Dave Cameron: Guys with actual power.

12:45
Dave Cameron: Now everyone can hit 25 homers and their one skill has been massively devalued.

12:48
Dave Cameron: A few minute break.

12:48
Dave Cameron: Phone call.

12:57
Dave Cameron: Sorry, my dad’s doctors really like to call during chats.

12:57
Dave Cameron: We’ll go a little later to make up for that break.

12:58
Bat: Dave, thanks for chatting. Do you think that at some point in the future we would see an adjustment to the OPS calculation where OBP is weighed slightly more heavily than SP? I see guys like Wilmer Flores with high SP and low OBP and wonder if they aren’t less valuable than guys with reverse splits OBP/SP?

12:58
Dave Cameron: This is literally what wOBA was designed for.

12:58
Bink: I appreciate your recognition of the fact that half the stars in baseball were “low-ceiling” guys, and that the degree of success a player is likely to have is one of the least likely things you will have certainty about outside of a few fairly obvious choices at the top of every prospect list.  If we look at stars who were not recognized as uberprospects, are there commonalities, or is “they work harder than everyone else” uninformative?

12:58
Dave Cameron: Lots of guys who didn’t look like power hitters who figured out how to hit for power.

12:59
Dave Cameron: Not that you want to assume every Ben Revere is going to figure it out, but power ceilings is one of the areas you want to be most skeptical about, especially if the guy has anything close to average exit velocity. There are just so many Jose Ramirez/Justin Turner types that there should be a lot less certainty about power ceilings than is usually described.

1:01
Zwak: Is there any september to october performance correlation for individual players? Like if Player X is struggling during the final month of the season, there is a Y% increase that he will continue to struggle relative to if he were providing his average offense?

1:01
Dave Cameron: If it’s health related, yes. Alex Wood and Lance McCullers should be expected to underperform their projections in October, probably. Just a guy in a slump, though? I’ve seen zero evidence of it being predictive.

1:02
YKnotDisco?!: What unconventional punishment would you assign to the 15 year old responsible for the fire?

1:02
Dave Cameron: An internet with only Jon Heyman columns.

1:03
RMR: If you discovered how to prevent TJS personally, wouldn’t you just quit your job with whatever team you were working for and try to market that technology/solution to as many as possible?  Or would that IP be considered property of the team since you discovered it in your capacity as their employee?

1:03
Dave Cameron: Right, you wouldn’t own the rights to that information. It would be the team’s property.

1:03
LegallyEagle: Re: beneficiaries of juiced balls; wouldn’t a previous 25 HR person see a steady increase in his HRs anyways, thus meaning he still hits more than average?

1:04
Dave Cameron: It hasn’t worked out that way. The benefits of the HR changes have overwhelmingly gone to prior low power guys.

1:05
Jazzflute: How early can we possibly expect Vlad Jr to hit the majors?

1:05
Dave Cameron: Next summer.

1:06
Dave Cameron: He’s starting next year in Double-A. No reason he can’t do something like what Devers did this year and finish the year with Toronto.

1:06
EbenezerBatflip: So big power guys aren’t hitting balls for 500-600 feet, just low power guys can hit for 350-400 feet now

1:06
Dave Cameron: Basically, yes.

1:07
Dave Cameron: Or perhaps said a little more accurately, the extra distance that power guys get don’t matter as much in terms of HR quantity.

1:07
Dave Cameron: There are diminishing returns on extra distance for guys who already hit bombs.

1:09
Ginacarlo Stanton: What about me?

1:09
Dave Cameron: I’m not saying that power guys have gotten 0 benefit from the livelier ball.

1:09
Dave Cameron: I’m saying that the benefit they’ve gotten is smaller than the benefit guys like Marwin Gonzalez have gotten.

1:09
Dave Cameron: If you look at the distribution of HRs, it’s far flatter now than it used to be.

1:10
Dave Cameron: Okay, off to do some writing and podcasting

1:10
Dave Cameron: Thanks for hanging out today, everyone.

1:10
Dave Cameron: We’ll do it again next week.

We hoped you liked reading Dave Cameron FanGraphs Chat – 9/6/17 by Dave Cameron!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs




Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

newest oldest most voted
rosen380
Member

I grabbed all of the playoff teams 2012-2016 and got their September and full year performances.

Of the 50 team-seasons, 12 teams were over .500 in the post-season. They averaged .587 in September and .573 overall, so a small factor there.

The rest of the teams were .586 and .573 respectively, so almost exactly the same as the group that excelled.

sabrtooth
Member
Member
sabrtooth

Interesting line of questioning!

Two things that would be hard to control for in the
1) injuries, both in September and in October might make a team underperform in either period but not both
2) caliber of opponent. Playoff teams aren’t evenly matched, and a crappy draw could influence winning percentage.