Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 8/16/18

12:03
Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and welcome to another edition of my Thursday chat. Today I’m celebrating the four-year anniversary of the day I proposed to Emma Span, somewhere on the gorgeous grounds of the Getty Museum overlooking Los Angeles (we saw Clayton Kershaw pitch later that night), mourning the death of Aretha Franklin by playing her 1971 Fillmore West concert in the background ( spin it but only after your goosebumps from this, her cover of “The Weight,” subsides ), and waiting with anticipation as the editorial elves tackle an epic article near and dear to my heart, about the 1998 Yankees, whose 20-year anniversary is being celebrated in the Bronx this weekend.

Anyway, on with the show…

12:03
Bo: After reading your piece on Acuna, then Dan’s piece on ROY, I’m inclined to believe if he keeps up anything close to what he’s done since the break, he’ll take it home. Agree?

12:04
Jay Jaffe: I don’t think the last chapter of the race between Acuña and Soto has been written, by any means, and I do have at least some concern about the lingering effects of the former’s unsolicited, bush-league plunking by Jose Ureña last night. X-rays were negative, but until he’s back and mashing, I’m holding my breath.

12:04
Concrete fan: Do you consider the AL West a true division title race?

12:05
Jay Jaffe: The Astros’ lead has shrunk to two games, so it sure as hell is a race now.

12:05
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Ureña will miss one or two starts, the Braves potentially miss their star rookie while everyone else potentially misses great highlights and an amazing ROY race. Obviously the league is not doing a good job handling the externalities of head hunting. Should other people (ownership, manager?) be punished?

12:07
Jay Jaffe: Based on Mattingly’s postgame comments (

Don Mattingly on what he told #Marlins RHP Jose Urena: “What we said with Jose, is ‘I don’t want to see this kid ge… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
16 Aug 2018

) I have no reason to believe the incident was anything but the actions of one player. But I do believe such instances should warrant a suspension of at least 15 games.

12:09
Klew: Why do you suppose the Yankees started Cessa over Gray last night? We’re all well aware of Gray’s struggles at home but he’s clearly the more proven guy and it could’ve been a great chance to earn more trust in a fickle rotation.

12:10
Jay Jaffe: Gray hasn’t thrown more than 3.1 innings since July 26, and his results in the bullpen have been uneven, so I’m guessing the Yankees felt that moving him back to the rotation is premature.

12:10
Concrete fan: What is your opinion on 40-man September rosters, should it remain 40 or would 30 maybe be a better alternative?

12:12
Jay Jaffe: I would prefer that teams be allowed a few callups (maybe 5 max) but designate 25 players as active for each September game without requiring an option or a DL stint. The ability to, say, deactivate last night’s starter would allow for a minor tactical expansion — a Terrance Gore, say — would be an improvement on the inequities that September baseball now creates.

12:13
David: Why should Jose Urena still be employed by MLB after his actions last night?

12:15
Jay Jaffe: I don’t approve of what Ureña did, but in the testosterone-gone-wild world of baseball clubhouses, with the game’s long and unfortunately romanticized legacy of beanball retribution, I understand that he may have felt pressured into some kind of purpose pitch. A suspension is warranted, but so is perspective.

12:15
Jon: Could we get a piece by Sheryl about when using the context of sport to physically harm someone without provocation could be considered criminal behavior?

12:15
Jay Jaffe: I will forward that suggestion to her.

12:15
Nelson: You’ve carved out a really neat niche as the HOF expert, but do you ever get tired of answered “should this guy be in” questions?

12:19
Jay Jaffe: Being that guy helps keep the mortgage payments going, and I enjoy both the specific conversations and the general chance to connect with baseball fans of all age via a great and ongoing tradition of debate, so no.  

It was my dumb luck to tap into such a great renewable resource, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop “playing the hits” so long as people enjoy them

12:20
Jay Jaffe: Apparently, Sheryl Ring already wrote about what you asked about, Jon https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-law-of-the-headhunter/

12:20
Sugar: I don’t know if I’ve seen anyone make closing so easy in a while than Diaz this past week.

12:21
Jay Jaffe: Their value may be somewhat inflated but decades of watching Mariano Rivera and Kenley Jansen gave me an appreciation nonetheless. A great, dominant closer on a roll is something to behold.

12:21
Sad Nats Fan: In Meg’s chat the other day there was a discussion about teams playing players out of position, it hurting their WAR, and the fairness of using WAR to evaluate these players. Can you think of any HoFers or perspective HoFers who’ve been hurt (at least in the JAWS sense) by being played out of position long-term?

12:27
Jay Jaffe: I noted the other day the way the late 1950s/early’60s Giants had to send either Orlando Cepeda or Willie McCovey to the outfield to fit those two big bats into the lineup, but that wasn’t the reason Cepeda needed to wait for election by the Veterans Committee (his mid-30s falloff and 1975 drug bust were much bigger factors).

Derek Jeter probably should have been the one to move off shortstop when Alex Rodriguez arrived (though I think people take A-Rod’s continued success at the position as a given, whereas I’m skeptical).

I do think the candidacy of Gary Sheffield has been harmed significantly by some brutal defensive metrics. Obviously, the bat would have carried any position he played but I wonder if he’d been moved to the outfield or first base earlier in his career if he’d have been at least solid average at one spot.

12:28
Gerald: Do you like prospects? Baseball prospects, to be clear.

12:31
Jay Jaffe: I have no expertise in this area and so can almost always learn something by reading about prospects — whether it’s Eric and Kiley, the Baseball America team, the Baseball Prospectus team, the MLB Pipeline folks, Keith Law, etc. —  particularly once they make the jump to the high minors and their MLB arrival becomes a distinct possibility.

12:31
Kike’s Tight Pants: Any chance Keith Hernandez gets suspended/punished for his silly comments last night re: hitting Acuna? Please?

12:32
Jay Jaffe: PLEASE learn how to type Kiké on your device. And please stop fantasizing that baseball will do anything regarding the dinosaur opinions of yesterday’s stars in today’s booths.

12:32
Stevil: Jose Ramirez is having an MVP season, but does he stand a chance at actually getting the award with Betts and Trout healthy?

12:34
Jay Jaffe: Trout, unfortunately, isn’t healthy right now, and it’s not a given that he can maintain his torrid pace when coming back from a wrist injury. Betts did his own DL stint earlier this season. I think the race will be decided in the final weeks of the season — enjoy it, because it’s a great one.

12:36
Finding Nimmo: I’ve heard that Rodon’s recent resurgence isn’t quite backed by peripherals. How valid do you think his last 10 starts have been and what is the outlook moving forward?

12:38
Jay Jaffe: Rodon has a 2.69 ERA and 4.17 overall, and 1.60/3.38 over his last seven starts, all of them quality starts. The numbers are basically saying that’s unsustainable, and I’m a bit nervous about his lowered strikeout and groundball rates, but I still think he can be a solid mid-rotation guy, maybe even a bit better than that, when fully healthy.

12:38
JJ: Brett Anderson 2ER in his last 20 innings. Is it sustainable? He is available in my deep AL only league.

12:41
Jay Jaffe: do you know anybody for whom an 0.90 ERA is sustainable with or without an 11.7% strikeout rate? pick them up on waivers in your league, because I’m sure they’re just there for the taking.

Sorry to snark. I’m not the guy to ask for fantasy questions, but that’s too fat a pitch to lay off.

12:41
tb.25: Will whoever wins ROY be more likely to have the HOF career? Or will their performance 5+ years from now be completely irrelevant to this year’s accolade and performance to win it

12:44
Jay Jaffe: ROY isn’t very predictive of a Hall of Fame future. Bill James’ Hall of Fame Monitor metric, which attempts to quantify the traditional accomplishments that historically have appealed to Hall votes, value a ROY as 1 point, each All-Star appearance as 3 points, and each MVP as 8 points. So figure that the difference in gains between a five-time All-Star and single-time MVP winner — the kind of player over whom we might be having a real debate about which side of the border he falls — is almost imperceptible.

12:46
Bo: What does the Braves’ 2019 rotation look like? Folty, Newcomb, Gausman, Touki, Allard? Where do guys like Teheran, Soroka, and Fried fit?

12:47
Jay Jaffe: The Braves have incredible depth in the pitching department. It wouldn’t surprise me if they traded Teheran this winter, but I would expect the situation regarding the younger arms behind Folty, Newcombe and Gausman to remain rather fluid due to workloads and injuries.

12:48
Mortimer Smith: HUGE debut for Wilson Ramos on the national stage last night. What are the chances the Phillies look to offer him a contract this offseason?

12:50
Jay Jaffe: I’m skeptical, as I don’t see them giving up on Alfaro’s long-term potential. That said, a 31-year-old catcher with Ramos’ injury is not going to get a massive deal, and if the job share is effective down the stretch, maybe the team will try to maintain that.

12:50
Kristen: Thoughts on Jurickson Profar who’s finally healthy and 3rd on the team in fWAR?

12:53
Jay Jaffe: I’m elated that we’ve finally gotten to see what a season of regular play from Profar looks like. Good power, patience, contact profile, though from afar I’m a little mystified why the batting average is so low. I’ve been meaning to write about him, so look for something soon.

12:53
Roman Numeral Three: What’s the difference between Bernie Williams and Jim Rice other than one lasted one year on the ballot and the other is a HOFer? Does one extra all star caliber year really separate them that much?

1:00
Jay Jaffe: Aside from both petering out in their mid-30s, they were VERY different players. Williams was a switch-hitter, was much faster than Rice, and was a pretty good CF early in his career (the Yankees should have moved him to a corner earlier, speaking of the previous question about WAR and playing out of position). Rice was more powerful, though much of that was the product of Fenway Park.

I think the fact that Rice did one thing VERY well (hit dingers) whereas Williams’ talents were more broad had a lot to do with the way the two players were perceived, Yet they’re pretty close in both HOFM and JAWS, and the disparity between the two as far as their HOF fates go is striking.

1:00
TKDC: Gary Sheffield’s case is hurt more by defense or steroid link?

1:05
Jay Jaffe: Both, and also the easily-debunked tale about Sheffield making intentional errors.

I do find it interesting that Tom Verducci, who’s pretty much a hardliner as far as the PED/HOF thing goes, has been very sympathetic regarding Sheffield’s explanation that while training with Bonds, he didn’t know what he was taking (https://www.si.com/mlb/2014/12/16/hall-fame-ballot-gary-sheffield-john…) and that when he found out (after severing their relationship), he was angry.

1:06
Haz: What’s your feeling about longevity/remarkable consistency as a skill with regards to the Hall? e.g. Mark Buerhle’s 15 straight seasons of 10 wins/200 IP or Bart potentially pitching until 50 and winding up with ~280 wins? Could be argued it’s not all too different from, say Ralph Kiner’s very short but spectacular peak.

1:10
Jay Jaffe: There’s a reason why I use peak and career WAR in my Hall of Fame considerations, but there’s a very big difference to me regarding the players you cited. Kiner surpasses the seven-year peak standard in LF (43.7 WAR to 41.6), where Buehrle (35.9) and Bartolo (35.6) are nowhere close to the standard among SP (50.1) — or even the mid-40s marks of some guys like Kevin Brown, Dave Stieb and Luis Tiant who I think have been overlooked.

1:11
Andruw: I faded at the end but my career and the fact that I am one of the best defensive CF of all time should be enough for the hall right?

1:12
Jay Jaffe: Given what the advanced metrics say, yes. But historically, players who fade away in their early to mid-30s don’t do well in HOF voting, and the Rule of 2,000 (hits) has come to serve as a proxy for too short of a career

1:13
Spencer: Mets fan here, how high were you on David Wright’s HOF chances during his prime (and/or before he got hurt)? Was he just a really good player? Or were we looking at something special before his body quit?

1:16
Jay Jaffe: I was never tremendously bullish on him at the time but Howard Megdal’s tweet this morning suggests that may have been my oversight

Here’s best way, imo, to see David Wright’s HOF track. Through Age-30 season, he was eighth all-time in WAR for 3B…. twitter.com/i/web/status/1…
16 Aug 2018
1:16
Spencer: Also what player(s) HOF chances were you most optimistic on before injuries/ineffectiveness derailed their chances?

1:20
Jay Jaffe: I didn’t go into it in today’s epic piece on the 1998 Yankees — which is out now https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-1998-yankees-were-a-juggernaut-and… — but I was dead sure Chuck Knoblauch was headed for 3,000 hits until his throwing problems arose. That was well before my work on the HOF began, though.

A few come to mind, but I’m sure this is the tip of the iceberg: I guess time will tell as to whether I was right about Joe Mauer’s HOF chances at the point in 2010 when he signed his mega-contract. I thought (hoped?) CC Sabathia would hold up better. And I feel less certain about Bryce Harper’s chances today than I did a year ago.

1:20
thomas: Bader’s WAR is above acuna. Just sayin

1:22
Jay Jaffe: He’s got 29 more games played than Acuña too. Just sayin’.

1:22
brood550: What does Diaz need to do to win the AL Cy young from here on out?

1:25
Jay Jaffe: Beam Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer to an alternate dimension, because any one of them would be a more credible CY winner.

In an age where analytics can illustrate the limitations in valuing a guy who throws 60-80 innings at the same level of one who throws 180-200, I don’t see a reliever winning again anytime soon.

1:25
Bin: What are your views on Kershaw, over the next 3-4 years?  Is he in a slow, constant decline at this point – or can he remain dominant in his later years (ala Scherzer?)

1:28
Jay Jaffe: I’m worried about the velocity loss (from 93.1 in 2017 to 90.8 in 2018). He’s still got the stuff to succeed at a high level but I’m skeptical that we’re never going to see another 6-7 WAR season out of him.

1:28
Sam: How much does the latest Judge setback affect the Yanks playoff chances?

1:30
Jay Jaffe: it doesn’t help it, but the Yankees have a whole lot else going wrong right now – Severino, Sabathia, Gray, Sanchez — that is also damaging their chances

1:30
Bryce’s Hair: Wouldn’t it make sense for the Nationals to (attempt to) trade Harper now?  He would most likely get through waivers to someone in playoff contention, say someone like the Rockies.  Wouldn’t it be interesting throwing him in the middle of that playoff race?  I would think they could receive at least as much value as a compensating pick would bring.

1:32
Jay Jaffe: it would certainly be interesting, but I suspect it will take Bryce/Boras going to Rizzo and explicitly asking for a trade, and I suspect that his struggles earlier this year weigh heavily enough on him that he’s not going to do that out of concern for how such a move would be perceived

1:32
Sam: What’s your opinion on the Acuna/Urena incident?

1:32
Jay Jaffe:

This doesn’t even deserve to be called horseshit. It’s chickenshit.

The first pitch of the night to Ronald Acuña Jr.

Clearly intentional.

16 Aug 2018
1:32
Sam: Is there any chance Colon gets inducted into the hall?

1:33
Jay Jaffe: I love Bartolo but when they start handing out plaques to guys who failed PED tests, let me know and I’ll put his odds above zero.

1:33
Frood: Is it too early to say JP Crawford’s a bust?

1:35
Jay Jaffe: far too early, yes. We’re talking about a 23-year-old with 199 major league PA and multiple injuries this year, not to mention the silliness of playing him out of position. I’ve never been terribly high on him but that’s far too early to jump ship

1:36
Scott: JAWS doesn’t like him much, but could Rick Porcello sneak up in the Hall voting if he stays healthy and effective? He’s 30 and has a Cy Young and 130 wins.

1:37
Jay Jaffe: I don’t see anybody getting into the Hall with a 4.00+  ERA anytime soon. his final numbers will pale next to the Bartolos and Buehrles of the world, and I just laid out why I don’t think they’re worthy.

1:37
Dave: Will Graig Nettles ever be elected to the HOF?  I’ve always been a bit surprised by his lack of support.

1:40
Jay Jaffe: I’d definitely be in favor of it, but I’d also put Dick Allen, Scott Rolen and Ken Boyer ahead of him and that’s just among 3B. The low bating average and lack of Gold Gloves (which were being won by Brooks Robinson and later Buddy Bell, also a decent candidate) doomed him in the eyes of the voters

1:40
jj: Bader has less PA than Acuna.  Not that it means much, but using Games doesn’t seem to be a good measure since he has come in for a couple innings as a defensive replacement or PH.  Has anyone ever won the ROY award because of a great defensive season.  I doubt it.

1:43
Jay Jaffe: fair point, but I don’t think there’s much doubt that Acuña would have a higher WAR had he not missed a month due to injuries, and I’d always caution skepticism about outlying defensive metrics.

Ozzie Smith darn near won the 1978 ROY with an 84 wRC+, but he did steal 40 bases to go along with his already-good glove.

1:43
Eric: You said, “…and also the easily-debunked tale about Sheffield making intentional errors.”  Sheffield said in an interview that “If the official scorer gave me an error that I didn’t think was an error, I’d say, ‘OK, here’s a real error,’ and I’d throw the next ball into the stands on purpose. I did it all.”  How is that easily debunked?  He said it!

1:45
Jay Jaffe: And Sheffield recanted the statement soon afterwards. Plenty of links in my HOF profile of him here:

https://www.si.com/mlb/2016/12/21/jaws-2017-hall-of-fame-ballot-gary-s…

1:46
TKDC: If Bryce were put on waivers, would the Mets put in a claim just to block any team from getting him in exchange for prospects? The Nats are very unlikely to just let him go to the Mets, and this would keep the Nats from getting better longer term.

1:48
Jay Jaffe: The Wilpons get night terrors regarding Harper landing on their payroll. Of all the NL contenders, I can see the Rockies, who are in position to do so, making the first claim.

1:48
(not that) James: I never knew you had such a glorious mustache.  Can I call you Jay Mustachffee from now on?

1:48
Jay Jaffe: Thanks! But no thanks.

1:49
APODionysus: Severino. What’s going on there? He clearly is not himself and hasn’t been for a while with the exception of one start.

1:50
Jay Jaffe: I have this tab open but haven’t read. it’s from Mike Petriello https://www.mlb.com/yankees/news/luis-severino-struggling-with-slider/…. It’s also worth looking at whether Sevy is/was tipping his pitches. Where are Beltran and Utley when you need them? http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/severino-tipping-pi…

1:51
Jay Jaffe: OK folks, that’s it from me for this week. My stomach is rumbling and I’ve got a pile of work to do. Thanks for stopping by!

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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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