Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat — 6/14/18

12:01
Jay Jaffe: Hello and welcome to the almost-on-vacation edition of my Thursday chat. I’m writing this from Wellfleet, Massachusetts, where I’ll be spending the next week before heading to Denver for our FanGraphs staff trip and reader meetup. Let’s see if the wifi can hold out for another 90 minutes

12:02
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: If the Orioles and Mets combined into a single team, would that team be good enough to get to the playoffs in the NL East? AL East?

12:04
Jay Jaffe: Without thinking too hard about it, I’ll go ahead and say no. Other than Machado, Britton and maybe Chase Sisco, what from the Orioles would even be usesful to the Mets right now?

12:04
Steve: Sounds like expansion is inevitable. If MLB does go to 32, would you prefer 4 8-team divisions or 8 4-team divisions? Do you want an expanded playoff format?

12:06
Jay Jaffe: I think I prefer 4 x 8 teams to 8 x 4 but either way, there would probably be 8 teams in each league making the playoffs, which I don’t love. But it gets so messy if you don’t do it as a function of 4.

12:06
CamdenWarehouse: How much input do teams have on how their games are broadcast? I find it interesting that the Orioles appear to have one of the least advanced approaches and also have broadcasts that favor stats like pitcher Wins, Quality Starts and BA w/ RISP while mostly ignoring sabermetrics.

12:09
Jay Jaffe: I can’t say I know a ton about it but it almost certainly varies from team to team, as some teams own their broadcast outlets or are at least majority owners (thinking of Yankees and Mets), and some are broadcast by Fox or Comcast or other RSNs. I imagine teams provide some input but the outlet is going to make the final call based on its sense of its audience.

12:09
Chavez: Matt Kemp’s slide…completely asinine and indefensible, or old school grit?

12:11
Jay Jaffe: if I understand the rule correctly, the catcher can’t impede the runner’s path to the plate unless he has the ball, and Chirinos had the ball in time. Kemp was overly aggressive — esp. if he’d known about Chirinos’ past concussion issues — but probably within the rules. It was old school, but I’m not going to laud the grit there.

12:11
greg: Do you feel there should be any changes in how a cap is chosen for or by a player for his HoF plaque?  Seems a little arbitrary right now.

12:12
Jay Jaffe: The player has input but the Hall has the final say to prevent somebody from pulling a Wade Boggs. I’m not sure I see the problem here.

12:12
Robbie: With the angels becoming more and more decimated by injuries should they punt on the year and sell of what they can at the deadline?

12:17
Jay Jaffe: Given that they were 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot less than a week ago, I don’t see any reason for the Angels to make a decision on that until after the All-Star break. Besides, the only pending free agent who’s going to bring back anything besides a lottery ticket is Garret Richards.

Whoever is dealing is going to wait until potential suitors are at their most desperate to acquire talent, and that’s on or around July 31. You just don’t see a ton of impact moves before then particularly for teams on the fringes of playoff races.

12:17
Pio: Now that he’s the all-time international hits leader, Beltre is a lock squared, right?

12:18
Jay Jaffe: I guess? He was a lock with 3,000 hits, barring some Cano-like shocker.

12:18
Xolo: How’s Adrian Gonzalez’s HOF case?

12:21
Jay Jaffe: what Hall of Fame case? The guy barely has over 2,00 hits, was never an MVP, and is 42nd in JAWS at the position. If it’s over, it’s been a very nice career but nothing that would even make me think twice about checking his name.

Guys whose careers peter out in their mid-30s seldom have anything but the most tenuous HOF cases. Grich, Andruw, Santo, Sandberg are the non-Koufax exceptions, and you can see that it’s been an uphill climb for all but Ryno from that group.

12:21
Zonk: Where do you stay on the Cape?  We stay in So. Wellfleet, and usually catch games at Orleans or Brewster because they rae close….what parks do you recommend?

12:23
Jay Jaffe: We’re in the Drummer Cove area. My wife’s family has been renting places in this general vicinity since she was very young, and i think this is my 5th-6th (?) trip up here since we’ve been together (missed a couple years due to the book).

As for Cape Cod League games, I’ve only ever been to Brewster but I think the plan is to go to Orleans on Saturday — that’s the one everyone says is the must-see stop for CCL games.

12:24
Funkhouser: Hi Jay! Who is more appealing to you offensively over the next 5 years, Gleyber or Tatis Jr and why?

12:26
Jay Jaffe: Gleyber, if only because he’s already demonstrated with incredible conviction that he can handle MLB pitching, while Tatis is still in Double A and might be a year away (Super Two 2019?). Not to take anything away from Tatis, who could be very valuable if he can stick at SS AND reach his ceiling as a hitter.

12:27
Ronnie: Roy Halladay has 65 bWAR & -14 DRS. Mark Buehrle has 60 bWAR & 88 DRS. Are those DRS numbers already accounted for in the WAR totals, or is it possible that Buehrle provided more value over his career than Halladay?

12:32
Jay Jaffe: I believe bWAR does not incorporate pitcher fielding into its calculations, as it’s already in there as part of the run prevention + team defensive support adjustment.

The difference between 60 and 65b WAR itself is not much, and it’s very subject to our assumptions about the amount of credit we give pitchers with regards to the defensive split. And that’s without considering leverage or quality of opponent, However, given the 2 pitchers in question, there’s also about a 15-win gap in 7-year peak score (50.6 to 35.9) despite Doc having about 500 fewer innings total in his career. I’m pretty sure we can say he was the more valuable of the two in the sense of HOF cases.

12:32
Tim Tebow’s Thunder Thighs: If the Mets go into fire sale mode, trading DeGrom, Thor, Cespedes, etc, do they give Tebow a cup of coffee?

12:32
Jay Jaffe: Ugh, quite possibly.

12:33
Nick: Is there a measurable skill involved with winning a ton of one-run games like the Mariners or is it 100% pure dumb luck?

12:35
Jay Jaffe: I wrote about this the other day. https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-al-west-and-one-run-success/. Significant correlation regarding bullpen WAR and 1-run success, and I think there was a 2013 study that suggested team BB, K (both pitching) and ISO (hitting) had some connection.

12:36
Nick: Is Edwin Diaz the best closer in baseball?

12:37
Jay Jaffe: If Kenley hasn’t gotten his groove fully back yet, then yes, that’s not an unreasonable assertion but I’d take Josh Hader’s fireman work over either if I had to choose right now (while crossing my fingers that he could withstand the workload ROS).

12:37
Scott: Will Kevin Brown’s recent incident have any impact on his Hall chances or is it already too much of a lost cause?

12:37
Jay Jaffe: I don’t see it having any impact on his HOF case, as it has no connection to his career. I’m sure he’ll get a look in the Today’s Game committee or its equivalent at some point but I don’t think his chances are very good.

12:38
Andy: Okay.  To save me from googling… What’s the issue with Wade Boggs’ HoF cap?

12:39
Jay Jaffe: There was as story that Boggs agreed to go into the HOF as a Devil Ray for a price when he signed with the team, maybe $1 million. The Hall overruled him and publicly reasserted its authority in this area, and Boggs has denied the story as well.

12:40
Bort: Bat flipping: yea or nay?

12:41
Jay Jaffe: I’m pro-celebration as long as it doesn’t get too confrontational. Let these players be themselves and understand that “playing the game the right way” has everything to do with where one learned “the right way” — different cultural norms dictate that. Requiring everyone to act like they’re on the 1949 Yankees is not the norm.

12:42
Tax Lawyer: Do you ever struggle to reconcile the fact that our beloved pastime is also essentially, at least at the prof level, just a tax shelter for 30 billionaires who don’t want to pay back the society that facilitated their enormous wealth?

12:45
Jay Jaffe: No, because there are CEOS and other business men everywhere enriching themselves to an even greater degree by giving us stuff that is either less useful to a happy, healthy life or by actively working to make the world worse. What’s the riches of a sports owner compared to the likes of Sam Walton or Martin Shkreli or the Orange Ape in the White House?

12:46
Bernie: Winning 1-0 in Game 7 of the World Series, Trout, Betts, and Freeman are coming up. What one pitcher do you want on the mound?

12:46
Jay Jaffe: Vintage Mariano Rivera.

12:46
Moltar: So I take it you’re in wellfleet – Moby Dick’s, or go south for Arnold’s? My family always stayed in Eastham by the bay.

12:47
Jay Jaffe: I have time to hit both places. Usually Arnold’s is lunch on the day we rent bikes and Moby Dick’s a dinner one night.

12:47
Magician_531: Trout isn’t just having a good season. He isn’t just having a good season compared to himself. He is on pace for the best season of all time (bWAR flavour). Even if you factor in the fact that Ruth’s seasons were shorter, he is still on pace for the second greatest season ever.  What does he have to do to get people to notice him? He isn’t even leading in All-Star votes.

12:48
Jay Jaffe: I’d say he’s getting more notice this year than ever before thanks in part to his own work and in part to Ohtani, and I never sweat ASG vote totals, particularly preiminary ones

12:48
ben: Growing up, who was your favorite team? Favorite player?

12:49
Jay Jaffe: I grew up a third-generation Dodgers fan (grandfather born in Brooklyn but living in Washington state a good decade before the team left). Davey Lopes, Reggie Smith, Fernando Valenzuela and Pedro Guerrero were my favorites.

12:49
Bo: Read Sullivan’s piece on Max Muncy. Are you a believer?

12:51
Jay Jaffe: Given what the Dodgers have done with Justin Turner and Chris Taylor in recent years, and what other hitters have done by similarly changing their approaches, I believe that Max Muncy is going to remain a productive hitter, if not necessarily a superstar-level one.

12:51
Aaron Bummer: It seems increasingly likely that the Mariners will have the opportunity to eliminate a 100-win Red Sox/Yankees team in a single game with James Paxton on the mound. I have a problem with that, mainly due to the fact that such a system significantly distorts the true talent level of the entire team (as if baseball isn’t random enough already). Do you?

12:54
Jay Jaffe: The playoffs have been doing this for decades, with increasingly greater degrees of enabling imbalances as the fields get larger. If the Yankees or Red Sox don’t want to risk being eliminated by James Paxton, they should avoid putting themselves in the position of losing a best-of-5 or best-of-7 to the Mariners.

Even before that, the playoffs have always been a different animal than the regular season because of the way off days change the % of innings that teams can put in the hands of their best pitchers. Bitch about it all you want but that’s not changing.

12:55
skysbat: Do you think Soto is for real? Or in for a regression? And as a follow-up Soto or Gleyber?

12:58
Jay Jaffe: I think Soto is both for real AND in for a regression. He very much seems like he belongs in the majors, if not necessarily producing at Next Mike Trout levels.

On an age-to-level basis, the two year difference between Soto and Trout is certainly meaningful, but Gleyber’s long-term value as an infielder probably gives him the edge in my eyes, especially if Soto is a left fielder.

12:58
MLB Expansion??: I am all for the opportunities and jobs that could be created from expansion.  However, there are currently too many bad teams.  If there was an overload of talent on most teams and were unable to get playing time, then expansion would certainly be warranted.  As is do you think expansion would water down the MLB product and create more bad teams?

1:00
Jay Jaffe: That there are too many bad teams is a function of the skewed incentives created by the CBA and revenue sharing and salary structures — many of these bad teams are intentionally bad, spending minimally now so as to ensure profitability while they retool/rebuild. The talent pool is probably large enough to support 2 more teams.

1:00
Magician_531: With all of the advanced metrics that are creeping into the game, do you think that we will start seeing baseball statistics displayed as actual statistics alongside standard deviations and whatnot? Stats would be more useful if they could be used as, well, stats. It would be a lot easier to compare players’ numbers if I could tell if there was actually a significant statistical difference between them and perform z-tests, etc. Do you see this type of thing entering baseball writing and stat keeping culture any time soon?

1:05
Jay Jaffe: Your average fan doesn’t give a shit about z scores. Shit, the average American is barely able to do simple math given the decline of the education system in this country. It’s hard enough getting hardcore fans to accept OPS and defensive metrics. Tell somebody that Player A is 5 runs above average and Player 5 is 5 runs below is tough enough to follow without saying, oh, those are +/-10 run estimates given the small size of the samples

The portion of people who want baseball to feel like a college-level stats class is at least three places to the right of the decimal. Having spent 15 years engaging with the public on this, I think the verdict is quite clear that it takes generations just to accept the smallest move towards inclusion of new stats.  </rant>

1:05
Bo: Who are your picks for the NL playoffs, as of today? Any changes to your pre-season predictions?

1:11
Jay Jaffe: I stand by Nationals, Cubs, Dodgers as division winners. I had Cardinals and D-backs as my wild card teams, today I’d take Braves and Brewers, probably.

1:11
Andy: Okay.  To save me from googling… What’s the issue with the 1949 Yankees?

1:12
Jay Jaffe: Nothing in particular, just plucked that at more or less random. They were an all-white team that featured Joe DiMaggio, who while certainly one of the all-time greats was very staid and undemonstrative on the field.

1:12
Mike: Thoughts on Kyle Gibson as a moveable piece at the deadline? Or just the Twins retooling in general?

1:14
Jay Jaffe: Given that the Twins entirely didn’t break up the band last year when they were below .500, i’m not sure they would do so this year, and it seems to me that Gibson having finally turned into the type of starting pitcher who can miss bats — something historically in short supply on that team — I don’t see him as a guy they’d trade.

1:15
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: Are we better than the Royals?  Serious question.

1:16
Jay Jaffe: No. there are certainly a handful of MLB-worthy players in Scranton, some who might even be better than whoever is occupying their spot in KC, but every minor league team has a lot of filler that would be thoroughly overmatched in MLB.

1:16
Can’t read good: I always thought “pulling a Wade Boggs” meant drinking like 60 beers on a cross-country flight, or whatever that rumor was. Glad I didn’t miss the chat!

1:17
Jay Jaffe: Pulling a Wade Boggs could also mean breaking out a knuckleball on mop-up duty, riding a police horse during a championship celebration for the archrivals of the team that drafted and developed you… these are good topics.

1:17
Moltar: What kind of trade value does a balky Cespedes have right now? We have to assume the Wilpons have no interest in picking up much salary.

1:17
Jay Jaffe: Almost none, without throwing in considerable salary.

1:18
Bo: Best (or most underrated) sandwich toppings?

1:19
Jay Jaffe: Not necessarily on the same sandwich, but whole grain mustard, pickles, cucumber and hot or yellow peppers are all excellent additions to the right sandwich

1:19
Slurve: One of the main reasons sports are so entertaining is the fact that the “best” team doesn’t always win.  In fact, those are some of the best moments…  Miracle on Ice, Villanova 1985, etc.

1:21
Jay Jaffe: In the Selig era, MLB once and for all decided that it wanted more of a tournament-style postseason format such as the NCAA where David could topple Goliath, if not in the championship then at least in an earlier round. Hence the move from 4 teams to 8 and then 10.

1:21
Sleepy: It seems increasingly likely that Cleveland will have the opportunity to play postseason baseball largely due to the fact that they get a whopping 76 games against the Twins/Tigers/Royals/White Sox.  I have a problem with that, mainly due to the fact that such a system significantly distorts the true talent level of the entire team (as if baseball isn’t random enough already).  Do you?

1:23
Jay Jaffe: I’m pro-unbalanced schedule both because the travel demands on players are already too high and because if you are competing for a division flag you should be doing so most often against your closest rivals. If that makes the wild card – a side door entry into the postseason — an unequal chase, so be it. Better than than a balanced schedule with more travel and less chance for teams to control their own destinies by beating their closest rivals.

1:23
RIch W.: Expansion question:  if two more teams are added, is Charlotte in the conversation?

1:26
Jay Jaffe: It sounds as though they’re certainly among the top choices. Based on Jayson Stark’s most recent column at The Athletic (https://theathletic.com/390737/2018/06/13/stark-how-mlb-expansion-coul…) and my own previous work in this area, it seems as though Charlotte, Portland, Montreal and San Antonio (or maybe Austin) are probably the top 4, not necessarily in that order.

1:27
Kyle: Two Mets questions for you. Does Nimmo continue to hit for power or revert back to a disciplined eye with eh pop? Does Lugo and his increased curve usage keep having success?

1:29
Jay Jaffe: based on what Travis Sawchik recently wrote (https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/nimmo-is-finding-his-power/) with regards to his change in launch angle and groundball rate, I’m a believer that Nimmo can continue to hit for some power while maintaining his plate discipline. And I certainly thinK Lugo is worth a longer rotation look right now

1:29
Grant: How should we use JAWS when assessing a player’s HOF candidacy? Anyone above average is a no-doubter, I assume, but how far below average can one be and still be a worthy candidate?

1:32
Jay Jaffe: JAWS isn’t meant to be a binary yes/no tool. it’s a sophisticated first-cut mechanism, but you always want to consider other things such as the postseason, historical importance, reasons for career interruptions, and so on. As a general rule of thumb I think a non-reliever who’s inside of 10 points from the JAWS standard is somebody who’s probably worth investigating in greater detail, if only to understand where he comes up short compared to the guys who are in.

1:32
Johnny : What do you like best and least about the HOF museum in Cooperstown?

1:34
Jay Jaffe: Least: that it’s a pain in the ass to get to even given that I live in Brooklyn, and that there’s not, like an Ommegang stand in the museum where I can buy a beer to drink while I walk around. I mean WTF???

Best: The Whole New Ballgame exhibit, the research library, and the plaque gallery in the dead of winter when one can be the only person in the entire room for a good long stretch of time.

1:34
Sonny: Anecdotally you seem to attract the most interesting questions in your chats. I don’t know how to interpret that as anything but a positive reflection of the work you do

1:34
Jay Jaffe: I’m not sure if that’s true but thank you. I’m glad you enjoy the chats and the occasional forays onto more esoteric areas!

1:34
Chris: I assume the lack of a <rant> tag at the beginning of your response to proper statistics means that you’ve been ranting indefinitely, and that’s now how I will imagine you from now on … baseball’s Frank Costanza

1:35
Jay Jaffe: That works.

1:35
Braves fan : What team will deGrom and Machado be on August 1st?

1:35
Jay Jaffe: Mets and Indians

1:35
Jonny: Between Cabrera and Beltre, who do you think will reach 500 HRs first?

1:36
Jay Jaffe: Cabrera given that he’s under contract for 5 more years. It wouldn’t surprise me if Beltre retired at season’s end or gave it one more year at most.

1:36
HereForTheFood: What is the best argument against JAWS that you’ve received over the years?

1:38
Jay Jaffe: The fact that estimates of defensive value are just that, estimates, and we’ll never have enough data from older eras to get better ones. To a lesser extent, the same goes for baserunning value.

1:38
Bo: How much has Harper’s slow 2018 campaign hurt his offseason contract?

1:39
Jay Jaffe: One NL team is apparently out of the bidding. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/nationals-journal/wp/2018/06/12/mi…

1:39
John Kreese: Will you follow the World Cup?

1:41
Jay Jaffe: Yes. I can’t find the time to invest in either foreign or domestic soccer otherwise, but I will watch the **** out of the World Cup. Uruguay is my default rooting interest based on the fact that I loved my visit there in 2008 (a Tony Bourdain-inspired side jaunt to Montevideo, RIP) and what Diego Forlan and company did in 2010, but I can enjoy just about any game, and it’s fun to spend time and talk about the games with two of my closest friends who know a whole lot more about the sport than I do

1:41
Kev: In regards to fixing some issues with balls in play, can’t the MLB just lower the mound, reducing strikeouts?

1:42
Jay Jaffe: I don’t think it’s that simple. Lowering the mound could make it harder for pitchers, and put more stresses on arms.

1:42
Jsto: The Brewers have the best record in the NL; why aren’t the considered the favorite to win the NL Central?

1:43
Jay Jaffe: Their run differential is not as good as some of the other teams, and run differential (and Pythag records) generally correlate better with future success than actual success — that and the projection systems all suggest they have less talent than other teams and by the way, have you seen their starting pitching lately?

1:44
Kosch: How is the defensive component of WAR measured for the old timers?

1:46
Jay Jaffe: It uses Total Zone, which IIRC starts with how often a team converted a ball in play into an out, and what the average number of plays made at each position was in a given league, then throws in adjustments for opposition hitting, and pitcher and batter handedness, and more when available.

1:47
Jonny: Do you envision ever including postseason value into JAWS?

1:50
Jay Jaffe: not likely. I look at a postseason WPA spreadsheet Dan Szymborski sent me a few years ago sometimes, and I absolutely think it’s worth considering postseason performance — one can’t understand why some guys are enshrined without it. But it’s also worth remembering that such opportunities have a whole lot to do with the quality of one’s teammates, and what JAWS does is an attempt at a more context-neutral approach, which is going in the other direction.

1:51
Ghost of Frank Menechino: Does Mussina eventually get voted into the HOF? If he does, does Schilling have a chance?

1:52
Jay Jaffe: I think they both get in before their eligibility lapses. Mussina 2-3 years, Schilling closer to the end of his run in 2022.

1:54
Jay Jaffe: OK folks, I’ve got some sun, sand, oysters and Mayflower Porter to enjoy, and one more article to write before I can call this a true vacation. Thanks for stopping by this week! There’s no chat next week as I’ll be en route to Denver on Thursday, but I hope to meet some of you at our official event on June 22. https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/fangraphs-meetup-denver-june-22/

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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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