Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 5/10/18

12:02
Jay Jaffe: Good morning or afternoon, folks, and welcome to another edition of my Thursday chat. If you saw the subtitle of this week’s chat, you’ll understand that I’m in mourning for the impending loss of my favorite neighborhood restaurant — the default place where my wife and I take family and friends who trek to our corner of Brooklyn for a casual night out. https://ny.eater.com/2018/5/9/17336048/ganso-ramen-closing-downtown-br…

The moral of the story is, hug your favorite neighborhood restaurant, because one day it won’t be there no matter how often you go.

12:03
THE Average Sports Fan: What is your take on the Harvey-Mesoraco swap?

12:05
Jay Jaffe: 1. “Be careful what you wish for, Matt Harvey.” While he was within his rights to reject the Triple A assignment, he’s now about to toil in a place that’s much rougher for pitchers, particularly ones with gopher problems, and he won’t be anywhere close to the postseason.

2. A fair trade of damaged goods for both sides.

12:05
Mike: My yankees are on a tear right now, and most of that relates to what I thought was our greatest need. Pitching. What does German look like as a starter going forward? and how sustainable is CC’s FIP defying heroics?

12:08
Jay Jaffe: Travis Sawchik took a good look at German a couple days ago. https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/domingo-german-demands-our-attention/ Obviously, Sunday’s six no-hit innings was a promising development, and he does seem to have a mix that should help him survive as a starter. As for CC, he’s not gonna keep up a sub-2.00 ERA but he’s still a very useful starter. After this chat I’m heading up to Yankee Stadium for tonight’s outing against the Red Sox and planning to write about him unless something bigger happens.

12:09
Hard hit rate: It seems like a number of players who are sporting career-best or near career-best hard hit rates are struggling. Marcell Ozuna, and the Santanas, Carlos and Domingo, come to mind. Do you have any ideas for why that is the case?

12:11
Jay Jaffe: Honestly, until I joined the FanGraphs staff, I hadn’t taken much of a look at hard hit rates, and so far, I’m not tremendously convinced that they do a better job of describing the type of contact a pitcher is generating than Statcast. Hard hit can mean scorching groundballs that turn into outs instead of fly balls that are rattling off outfield walls.

12:11
Funkhouser: Hi Jay! Do you think Gleyber will ever see starts at 3rd base? Also, what’s your favorite sandwich in NYC?

12:15
Jay Jaffe: As of last year it seemed like Gleyber’s path to the majors was at the hot corner, but Miguel Andujar’s subsequent breakout while Torres was hurt seems to have changed the Yankees’ plans, as has the revelation that Brandon Drury’s preferred position is third base instead of second, where he played more in Arizona. So I don’t see him getting a lot of time at third in the near future.

As for favorite sandwiches, i’ve lost some dear ones, including just about every great fried chicken sandwich within walking distance (the one at the late, lamented Van Horn Sandwich Shop on Court St. in Brooklyn still hurts). One of my go-tos lately has been the grilled chicken banh mi from Hanco’s, spicy with sliced raw jalapeños. I’d kill to have a better Italian combo sandwich easily available, but then again, it might kill me sooner rather than later.

12:16
Tommy: Does anyone like Dayn Perry?

12:17
Jay Jaffe: Anyone who likes beer and tacos likes Dayn. Be wary of anyone who doesn’t like beer and tacos.

12:17
Steve: Nomar Mazara appears to be breaking out.  But looking under the hood, he’s only got a 23% FB rate thus far with an absurd 38.5% HR/FB rate.  He hits so many GB (52%), but when he hits a FB he apparently crushes it.  I can’t figure this guy out.  What do you make of this?  Is he an early season mirage?

12:18
Jay Jaffe: Wrote about Mazara for today (publication pending) and looked past the high GB rate in favor of focusing on two areas of improvement: damage against breaking balls and against lefties. It’s all small sample squinting, admittedly, but it does seem like there’s hope. Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe.

12:18
Phil: So bizarre for Ganso to close… they seemed to be doing well, and had gotten the Bib Gourmand! Surely Jay Jaffe can get the inside scoop?

12:20
Jay Jaffe: The place seems to be bustling on weekends, and does a decent early-evening weeknight business too — when you have a toddler, as we do, you learn these things. That they’re a very kid-friendly place is part of the heartache, honestly, because watching my daughter play with noodles in front of my parents or other family that’s traveled to see her is a joy. And of course the restaurant is a critical hit. But restaurant economics are brutal, and I’m sure that goes doubly in NYC.

12:21
Alec Asher Wojciechowski: What are the odds an Astros pitcher throws a no-no this year?

12:22
Jay Jaffe: I give them a 127% chance of throwing a no-hitter. I know that seems low, but that’s what the helper monkey with the calculator tells me, and I don’t have time to check his math while I keep this chat going.

12:24
Bobby Cox: Give us your thought on Acuna Jr. after 2 weeks?

12:25
Jay Jaffe: The kid can f’ing play, and if the Braves continue to play well but miss a playoff spot by a game or two, the time he spent in Triple A will provide a welcome lesson for teams that place the gaming of service time as a higher priority than fielding their best nine.

Also, I may have underestimated his Hall of Fame chances https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/instagraphs/acunas-hall-of-fame-chance…

12:26
Pulled Apart Like Soft Bread: Matt Harvey seemed, anecdotally and from a great distance, to be more concerned with being a famous NY baseball player than being a great baseball player. Is this off base?

12:32
Jay Jaffe: 1. Matt Harvey threw very, very hard and was very good. And came off as very cocky.

2. Matt Harvey tore his UCL, then came back and threw more innings in his first post-TJ surgery than any pitcher ever has. His manager went against his own better judgment and allowed him to piss away a 9th inning World Series lead that resulted in the team’s elimination that year.

3. Matt Harvey struggled in 2016, was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, and underwent sugery. Like all too many pitchers with TOS, he’s no longer nearly as effective as he once was. He has to figure out how to pitch with diminished stuff, a transition that happens to most power pitchers eventually.

Everything else is noise relative to those three points. In the hypercompetitive NY media, it sells papers and clicks, but it’s mostly irrelevant to the above.

12:32
grapes: Is David Price done? What’s going on?

12:34
Jay Jaffe: He was just diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, which probably isn’t fatal or even season-threatening. Let’s hold off on the burials, and as with Harvey, it’s a good idea to overlook the noise coming out of the Hot Take Machine.

12:34
Mac: Is there any way to get Diaz onto the Indians to see if a Machado trade would even be necessary without somebody getting hurt? There’s been talk of possibly trading for Machado to replace the struggling Kipnis, but I’d like to see what Diaz could do before we give up prospects. To be clear I’m not saying that Diaz might be as good as Machado, just that he could potentially be an average player.

12:38
Jay Jaffe: I mentioned the possibility of replacing Kipnis with Diaz (with Jose Ramirez sliding to second) yesterday http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/does-any-team-want-to-win-the-al-centra…. As I understand it, Diaz has been sidelined by an ankle injury, so that won’t be happening anytime very soon. Once he gets healthy, it’s certainly worth seeing if he can be an upgrade, particularly before they try to meet the Orioles’ asking price for Machado.

IMO the more pressing need for the Indians is replacing Josh Tomlin, whose FIP is above 9.50. I mean, anything would be an improvement on that.

12:39
Smikal: Any High School first rounders out of the North East this year? Siana/Decker/Torres/Vasil? Rank and projections on them 4?

12:40
Jay Jaffe: Just as surely as I’m not the guy at whom you should direct fantasy questions, so too am I out of my depth with draft stuff like this. Kiley or Eric represent the trees up which you should be barking.

12:40
Pine Needles: Robinson Cano: will he make the HOF?

12:42
Jay Jaffe: Yes. He’s already got 2,400+ hits and 300+ homers, with a chance at 3,000 and 400, respectively, and he’s currently seventh in JAWS among second basemen https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_2B.shtml. It should be smooth sailing even if some jerkass reminds us that the guy didn’t show enough false hustle as a Yankee.

12:43
Ham ‘n Mayo Smith: I’m really perplexed by Byron Buxton.  Understand young players may take a while to figure it out regardless of their skill set.  What’s your gut sense on where he ultimately lands?  Billy Hamilton clone?  Early version of Barry Bonds (e.g., five tools in Pittsburgh before sitting for the pharmacy boards)?  Something in between?   Is it down to the weather in Minneapolis?  He just shouldn’t exhibit mediocrity to such epic proportions, oui?

12:50
Jay Jaffe: I wish I knew. He’s got some issue — the migraines and a broken toe — that help explain this year’s slow start, but I wish he would stop hitting .170 in April like it’s his birthright. That said, if he can provide league average offense with the kind of defense he’s shown in CF, he’ll be a valuable player for awhile. Devon White or Torii Hunter maybe?

12:50
Larry Wayne Jones: If Acuna is “on track” presumably to go into the HOF, what about Albies so  far?

12:51
Jay Jaffe: what about actually reading the article? The information is right there within. https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/instagraphs/acunas-hall-of-fame-chance…

12:51
Roman Numeral Three: If there’s one thing NYC knows about sandwiches, it’s using corned beef/pastrami. Reuben Sandwich ftw.

12:53
Jay Jaffe: I live close to outposts of both Katz’s Deli and Mile End, and I have to say the Reubens from the former are just so ridiculous in price ($~22) and structure (so unsound they’d never pass the city’s stringeng building codes) that I’ve given up. Junior’s Restaurant, which is more famous for its cheesecakes, makes my favorite Reuben.

12:53
Wes: My wife is unsure about trying real ramen after eating the 20 cent packages her whole life. How do I convince her?

12:55
Jay Jaffe: Having eaten a thousand packages of dried ramen in my life — it was a staple growing up, always handy when backpacking, and it remains the greatest hangover remedy known to man — I can tell you that it’s worth stepping up to the real thing for the ajitama egg alone.

12:56
Nats: Ryan Zimmerman remains near the top of the league in exit velocity but his average remains poor. This phenomenon happened in 2016 as well. What is your take on prolonged average depression relative to EV?

12:59
Jay Jaffe: that it’s worth looking at more than just raw EV average on all batted balls, though it can certainly tell us something. Zim still hits a lot of grounders and is a slow guy, so his BABIP is generally gonna be nothing special. That said, his xwOBA this year is in the .380 range, as it was last year, compared to .316 in 2016, so I wouldn’t hit the panic button.

1:00
Nixon: I believe that whoever signs Bryce Harper to a massive contract is going to severely hurt their team’s future. He is injury prone, has not been valuable defensively since 2012, and is offensively inconsistent. Yes, offensively he is extremely gifted, but at $400 million that is not enough. Am I way off?

1:04
Jay Jaffe: the SSS defensive metrics don’t love Harper’s 2018 work but he’s generally been a bit above average in the OF corners. He’s had some injury problems, and even as somebody who’s been on the Harper train from day 1, I’d like to see him play at least 140 games again before I pursue him as a free agent. I also don’t think he’s gonna get $400 million. $300-something million yes, but not $400 million. And since it’s by definition going to be a big payroll team, I don’t think it’s going to be a crippling blow if things go south for him. An embarrassment, potentially, but c’mon, how can his contract turn out significantly worse than those of Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury or Jason Heyward, to pick a few examples.

1:05
BK: Harper’s contract has to be like 2-3 years and then a whole bunch of options right? Harper has got to want to hit the free agent market again

1:06
Jay Jaffe: I’m more certain that there are going to be some opt outs in Harper’s deal than I am about an Astro throwing a no-hitter this season. The helper monkey put down the bacon grease he was chugging to tell me that the number is 146.8%.

1:07
The Man With No Name: $22 for a Reuben???!?!?!?!?!?!?  I just choked on my $9 one.

1:09
Jay Jaffe: it’s, like, half a pound of meat at least. And highly impractical to eat. So yeah, I’m not paying that price again anytime soon. The one at Mile End is more like $13, and Junior’s maybe $15 (for a much bigger portion). There aren’t a lot of $9 Reubens in this town anymore.

1:09
Michael J: Why do Dodgers fans hate our FO? They act like it would be worth paying an aging set up man $20 mil over 2 years, even if it meant they went over luxury tax threshold.

1:12
Jay Jaffe: Have you seen that bullpen lately? I change the channel nightly to avoid it. Letting Brandon Morrow go was a mistake without getting somebody to approximate his footprint. Better to spend the money on him and offload, say, Logan Forsythe and muddle through at 2B, which is basically what they’ve had to do anyway.

Flags fly forever, and to a certain extent, no fan should worry about a team’s payroll and profit margin more than s/he does their chances of winning the game in front of them or the World Series in the end. That said, the Dodgers’ payroll was so impractically high that it wasn’t hard to envision it having a very real impact on what they were able to do, because the CBA has created such onerous penalties for repeat luxury tax offenders.

1:13
Puffinstuff: where do I find xwOBA in the leaderboards?

1:13
David: You going to tonight’s game as a member of the press or a fan?  In other words, what is the go to beer at the stadium, if allowed?

1:15
Jay Jaffe: Press tonight. The craft beer situation at Yankee Stadium has been a blight, particularly compared to Citi Field, but TBF I have not had a chance to fully scope it out this year, as my only game to date was in field level, behind home plate, and the craft station was past the RF pole. SSS, ask me again in a few week.

1:15
Chucky : Your paying $22 for the ambiance of Katz’. Send a salami to your boy in the Army. No longer PC in this day of gender neutrality. Haven’t been there in awhile to be honest, do they still have the “No Tipping” sign there? And do the countermen still get pissed off if you don’t tip?

1:16
Jay Jaffe: I haven’t been to the one on Houston St. in 3-4 years, so I can’t tell you. They have a stall at the DeKalb Market food court just a few blocks away, and it’s got no ambiance. They don’t give you pickles and samples of the meat they’re slicing while you wait. That’s what you’re paying $22 for, and if you don’t tip them for that, you deserve to have hot mustard rained down upon you.

1:17
Slurve: Do you anticipate any surprises in the next 5 years regarding the HOF Voting?  More toward a player getting in than the on-going debate of who will not get in…

1:18
Jay Jaffe: If I could anticipate them, they wouldn’t be surprises, would they? I do think Carlos Beltran will do well on the first ballot — maybe not in, but trending towards election — but that’s right at the outer edge of the 5-year window you asked about.

1:18
Wes: How do you feel about these Facebook live games? For or against?

1:19
Jay Jaffe: strongly against. I hope the ridicule and outrage against them continues.

1:19
Benny Agbayani: Is there any link between how Harvey was handled in 2015 and TOS? It’s an easy line to draw but I’m not sure it’s fair. Maybe TOS was inevitable?

1:23
Jay Jaffe: Generally, syndrome is a word used to describe a set of symptoms for which the causality is unclear, and I think that applies to TOS. Aside from it being the result of an unnatural high-stress activity — throwing a baseball hard — we really don’t know what causes some players to get it and some not. So no, I don’t know that there’s a causal link there, but I do know that that’s a double whammy of injuries to navigate through in a short amount of time.

1:23
Puffinstuff: Do you think the Mariners avoiding all free agent pitchers this offseason was a) inspired because the options sucked at the price points present, b) revealing of a misguided belief in their ability to draft and develop players, or c) cheap.

1:27
Jay Jaffe: I think it’s more A and a bit of C than B, but as I noted in my SI.com farewell https://www.si.com/mlb/2018/02/08/seattle-mariners-free-agency they were already at a club record for payroll, and they’ve got a lot of money committed for the next few years.

I don’t think their strong start is sustainable without better results from the guys besides James Paxton

1:27
Tucci: Are more teams batting their best hitters first in the order this year (Harper, Pham, Betts)? Or has that been a trend that I missed in recent years?

1:30
Jay Jaffe: We’ve seen a lot of excellent hitters moved up to 2nd in the order in recent years, and this seems to be of a piece with that. Betts had 1,459 PA at the leadoff spot from 2015-17, so it’s nothing new for him

1:30
Armen: What does “BIP” mean on Baseball Sevant?

1:31
Jay Jaffe: either Balls in Play or a reference to a fun, pint-sized player from the 1980s and ’90s https://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1011023&position=2B/OF

1:31
Bearcub12: I know this is a talking point that’s been beaten into existence over and over again, but at what point do we consider Mike Trout in the same conversation with guys like Babe Ruth? I’ve already started that conversation, am I premature?

1:35
Jay Jaffe: He doesn’t belong in a conversation with Babe Ruth, either production-wise or in terms of cultural impact, and he never will in this age of fragmented audiences. But in the same breath as Mickey Mantle isn’t ridiculous. Trout is already 8th in JAWS among center fielders and fifth in 7-year peak WAR. He could very well pass Mantle in the later over the next couple of years. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/jaws_CF.shtml

1:35
Al Gone Quinn: wRC+ Rankings: 1. Babe Ruth 197 (best of his era); 2. Ted Williams 188 (best of his era); 5. Barry Bonds 173 (best of his era); 6. Mike Trout 170 (best of his era); 7. Mickey Mantle 170 (best of his era).     So yea, Mike Trout.

1:36
Jay Jaffe: And Trout is never gonna get much higher than 170, nor is he gonna bust out 1,200 innings of above-average pitching on top of his value as a hitter. Best of his era, yes. Ruthian, no.

1:37
Benny Agbayani: What kind of numbers would Ruth put up today? What kind of numbers would Trout put up in Ruth’s era? I know WAR adjusts for era, but Ruth couldn’t possibly be the GOAT playing in today’s game, right?

1:41
Jay Jaffe: It all depends on what set of assumptions you’re bringing to this. WAR tells us how much better a guy was than the scrubs of his day, which in Trout’s case has to be greater than in Ruth’s day given the expansion of the talent pool.

But if you were to bring Ruth into 2018 baseball, you’d probably have to assume that he’d be a different type of personality than he was in the 1920s-30s,  doing the things that would maximize his career — better diet, better conditioning, less partying, access to video, etc. To pretend that he wouldn’t take advantage of those things seems silly to me. Would he be as good as Bonds or Trout? We’ll never know.

1:41
Justin: I mean, Trout has to catch Barry before he can think about Ruth. As a black guy I’m a little (shrugs) on pre-1947 MLB, but Barry still exists on the greats list, even if you take out the bighead years.

1:42
Jay Jaffe: I think it’s absolutely fair to view pre-integration baseball with skepticism when measuring greatness. Ruth and Bonds were both products of the times that they played, for better or worse.

1:42
Brooklyn Sandwich: Fried chicken sandwich dipped in cheese sauce at the Commodore. That’s the jam.

1:43
Jay Jaffe: I don’t really see the need to add cheese to fried chicken, but if it makes you happy, knock yourself out.

1:44
Rox Fan: I know there are like 22 million reasons Ian Desmond is still getting regular playing time, but come on already!

1:46
Jay Jaffe: I said this last week, more or less, whether it was here or for some radio/pod spot: i’ve never been able to figure out how the Rockies allocate playing time in the outfield and at first base. That said, holy hell I hadn’t seen how bad Desmond was hitting (.176/.218/.360, 38 wRC+). There are pitchers who can give you that kind of production with the bat.

1:46
Alec Asher Wojciechowski: Where did Evan Gattis’ power go?

1:46
Jay Jaffe: it’s always in the last place you look. No, that’s the car keys.

1:46
Nate: Is Trevor Bauer a dark horse Cy Young candidate at this point in the season?

1:48
Jay Jaffe: I don’t think he’s such a dark horse but I don’t see how he’s gonna win while ranking 9th in both ERA and strikeout rate and 10th in FIP.

1:48
LosDoyers: Have you read the SportingNews.com interview with Trevor Bauer regarding his experiments?

It’s actually very well fleshed out

http://www.sportingnews.com/mlb/news/indians-trevor-bauer-cheating-all…

1:48
Jay Jaffe: noted for further reading.

1:48
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: Regarding 100% induction into the Hall of Fame, what is your take on people not giving votes to sure-fire Hall of Famers (say, Griffey or Maddux) in order to keep a fringe guy on the ballot?

1:50
Jay Jaffe: It wouldn’t bother me if somebody stepped forward and claimed that as their rationale. I know somebody did it for Maddux or another pitcher a couple years ago to vote for Trammell or Walker, but got so beat up publicly that I can understand not going public with it. Maybe that’s what the three guys who didn’t vote for Griffey actually did. We’ll never know.

and with that, our weekly session is at a close.

1:51
Jay Jaffe: Thanks for stopping by, folks!

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Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe.

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