Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 9/13/18

12:03
Jay Jaffe: Hey folks, good afternoon and welcome to another edition of today’s chat. Apologies, there will be a few minutes delay in me getting started as I’m putting the finishing touches on today’s post, regarding Jake Odorizzi’s no-hit bid.

Please enjoy this if you haven’t seen it already

The absolute unit that could.
13 Sep 2018
12:07
Jay Jaffe: OK, back, and as noted, working at a slight disadvantage due to a bandaged left thumb, which I sliced off the tip of on Sunday morning in the service of chopping garnishes for my breakfast tacos. A LOT of blood a trip to urgent care, two stitches, all while trying not to freak out our two-year-old daughter.

The tacos, which used chicken from this recipe (https://lifemadesimplebakes.com/2017/07/instant-pot-shredded-chicken-t… — I used all thigh meat), were delicious nonetheless.

12:08
Ozzie Ozzie Albies Free: Why are so many helmets flying off players heads? Shouldn’t they be a bit snug to where they don’t?

12:08
Jay Jaffe: I can’t believe Rob Manfred hasn’t corraled a blue-ribbon committee to look into the matter, because you know Bud Selig would have been on it like… like a toupee on Bud Selig

12:09
Jonny: With the Cardinals being in the thick of the race now, and Tommy Pham putting up a 166 wRC+ and 1.1 WAR so far with the Rays, do the Cardinals regret that trade now? Or do they really think Pham is a net negative? Or do they just really really like Justin Williams?

12:14
Jay Jaffe: We know that tensions were pretty high between Pham and the team based on a number of issues, including playing time, his contract renewal, and his long road through the minors. We also know that the Cardinals have had tremendous outfield depth in recent years, depth that led them to trade Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk this past winter and not miss them at all. I can’t say I know much about Williams, but I do know they wanted to create more space for Harrison Bader and Tyler O’Neill

12:14
Marwin Gonzalez: Do I get a QO? Who are the best utility players to compare me to contract wise?

12:17
Jay Jaffe: Gonzalez was a 4-win player by our measures as recently as last year, and is at 1.4 WAR this year. He’s not really a very good SS anymore (-8 DRS/-6 UZR in 522 innings over the past two seasons), but he’s a useful player to have around, albeit probably not ~$18 million a year useful. I generally would tend to err on the side of issuing a QO , but here I think it’s a stretch. that said, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the Astros work to come up with a 2- or 3-year deal for him to keep him around.

12:18
Lunar verLander: Sure, you sliced your thumb open, but when your daughter gets older, you can say that you put your blood, sweat, and tears into everything you do for her.

12:18
Jay Jaffe: Oh indeed.

12:18
John Oleruds Helmet: Mr Jay!! Oh honored one!! Grace thee with thy wisdom!!! Could the Rays be the surprise team of 2019? Am I crazy to think they could get even better next year with improved health of some of their young pitchers?

12:22
Jay Jaffe: I think they’re already one of the surprise teams of 2018, given what they’ve done after trading away Longoria, Odorizzi, Colome, Dickerson, Archer, etc. — not that I’m crazy about their attempts to justify such cost-cutting. They remain a fascinating baseball laboratory due to things like their use of the Opener. I don’t think they’ll sneak up on other teams in the same way next year, but if De Leon and Honeywell come back from their TJs and pitch well, they’ll be competitive for sure.

12:22
Erica: I think we shouldn’t make fun of Willians Astudillo for being chubby. Like, maybe it doesn’t bother him, and I don’t think people are being malicious about it, but “it’s funny/cute when you try hard at sports” isn’t a great message to send to people with bigger bodies

12:26
Jay Jaffe: I’d like to think that we’re celebrating the way that in baseball, players of so many shapes and sizes — the Bartolo Colons, the Randy Johnsons, the Aaron Judges, the Jose Altuves, the Astudillos — can find ways to succeed and to entertain us. Bartolo batting GIFs aside, these guys are being highlighted for accomplishment, not ineptitude. But I do concede that it’s a sensitive area, and certainly worth some thought in each case as to what is being portrayed.

12:26
Phil Diggety: HOF chances for Posey/Greinke/Votto? And Verlander is almost certainly going in at this point, yes?

12:28
Jay Jaffe: I’ve written about the Hall chances of all of these guys this year, and at the risk of slowing down my already turtle-like pace in this chat, suggest you google “Jay Jaffe” “[player]” FanGraphs to find them — but yes, I think Verlander probably put himself over the top this year.

12:28
PM: Can you briefly go over the process and methodology that lead to jaws

12:30
Jay Jaffe: One of these days I’ll do a glossary page for JAWS, but for the moment the best way to understand it short of buying The Cooperstown Casebook — which I highly recommend, having read it several hundreds of times myself (because I wrote it, hahaha) — is to start with one of my annual introductions to the series such as I did at SI last year https://www.si.com/mlb/2017/11/27/hall-fame-jaws-intro-2018-ballot

12:30
Qualified Offer: What would you say the breaking point of contract value is on offering a QO?

12:32
Jay Jaffe: I think a guy whom you think has a good chance to be worth at least two wins is worth considering for a QO, with other considerations — incoming free agents, near-ready prospects, team budget situation — shading that decision. It’s not entirely true that there are no bad one-year deals, but it’s tough to go too far wrong with one, within reason

12:33
Outta my way, Gyorkass: Lots of folks associated with the Cubs (management and fans) not happy with MLB’s decision to make up the WAS game in DC today. Fair or not for CHC, given the long stretch of baseball they were in the midst of?

12:36
Jay Jaffe: I think it’s fair for the Cubs to be pissed. The CBA exists in part to protect players from stuff like 30 straight days without an off day, and asking the Cubs to fly for a one-off to do it, when there’s a good chance of rain, is some BS.

Brief delay while I help Carson Cistulli along with prettifying my Odorizzi article

12:39
Turgid: Have managers and coaches stopped wearing full uniforms? Just realized yesterday that I don’t think I’ve ever seen manager Aaron Boone with a jersey on

12:42
Jay Jaffe: I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but it certainly has happened. One guy who would know is Paul Lukas, keeper of the brilliant Uni Watch site (http://uni-watch.com), @UniWatch on Twitter, and somebody I’ve been reading for 20+ years. He used to do a real live paper ‘zine called Beer Frame and a site called Inconspicuous Consumption (http://www.core77.com/inconspicuous/), both devoted to deconstructing and appreciating the sometimes mundane items of every day life, such as the Brannock device, which measures people’s feet when they’re getting fitted for shoes. He’s great. Tell him I sent you

12:43
Davey Jones’ Lockerroom: Do you have objection with MLB sporting up its look and throwing the stodgy old white guy tradition to the wolves?  Let guys wear shorts and “futuristic” t-shirt jersey, flashy many colored cleats, cricketers batting helmets?

12:43
Jay Jaffe: I don’t think shorts are practical (sliding? ouch) but I think players should be able to go nuts with their cleats as an outlet for their individuality.

12:45
Harry Barker-Fost: Derek Holland has to be one of the most surprising players in baseball year. How, at age 31, has he surpassed 9 K/9 for the first time in his 10-year career?

12:47
Jay Jaffe: I haven’t looked too closely but yeah, he’s getting the highest full-season swinging strike rate (10.2%) of his career, and he’s at his highest innings total since 2013. Maybe it’s better health? Change of scenery, and probably a philosophical change in there too — worth a closer look in terms of whether his pitches themselves have changed.

12:47
High and Away: I know it’s totally unfair that MLB is making the Cubs play every game on their schedule, but do they still have the division edge?

12:51
Jay Jaffe: Slow down there. It’s not unfair that the Cubs have to play every game, but given the travel/weather combination of the moment, it is perfectly reasonable not to require them to make one up until the day after the regular season ends if it affects the playoff picture. The real question the Cubs have to answer is whether this is preferable to the possibility of playing Game 162, then playing the makeup, then playing the wild card game (if they don’t hold onto the division) and then the division series opener if it all shakes out that way. Not unreasonably, they would prefer that route.

Based on the talent at hand, I still think the Cubs will win the division, and so does our Odds page (71.4%) . But I love that this is in doubt, because I’m all about that Team Entropy.

12:51
High and Away: Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich are tied atop the NL with 5.5 fWAR. You get to be the tiebreaker! Who has been more valuable?

12:52
Jay Jaffe: I’ve said this before but I’d give Cain bonus points for the highlight-reel caliber of his defense.

12:52
Nola’s: Do you have any opinion on Craig Counsell? Seems like one of the best at blending new school and old school.

12:54
Jay Jaffe: Beyond his enlightened approach to bullpen management, I’m not sure exactly where he falls on the new-school/old-school spectrum, but Counsell and the entire Brewers organization have done a helluva job over the past two seasons.

12:54
Matt: He’ll fall well shot on JAWS, but Curtis Granderson is a hall of fame caliber good dude. I’m very happy he’s been successful with the Brewers so far.

12:57
Jay Jaffe: He’s generally a very easy guy to root for, and very media savvy. I hope to hell that he’s just trolling when it comes to his moon landing conspiracy bullshit, though. https://nypost.com/2015/08/30/curtis-granderson-a-mets-believer-and-mo…

12:58
Crawfy25: What is probability that there is a 5 way tie between the cubs, cards, brewers, dodgers, and rockies after 9/30

1:00
Jay Jaffe: according to this rarely-seen subpage within our Odds, not enough to show up in a single-decimal format https://www.fangraphs.com/standings/playoff-odds/fg/tie-breaker. The most far-fetched scenario that registers there is a 0.1% chance of a 4-way tie for NL Wild Card 2, though the teams themselves are unspecified. Will try to find out more for a future Team Entropy installment

1:03
Sandy A.: Due to the new rule, if everyone else has to finish their season early Sunday afternoon, why should the Cubs get to wait till the next day?  They could then hold a starter back and save him for the playoffs.   It kinda defeats the spirit of the rule in my opinion.

1:04
Jay Jaffe: There’s also a rule saying that players aren’t supposed to play on more than 20 consecutive days. Which one takes precedence? Essentially, that’s what the Cubs and MLB are contesting.

1:05
peakfreak: Is the opener strategy working for the Rays? Has it contributed significantly to their winning record?

1:07
Jay Jaffe: It would seem to be working, yes. I’m not sure of the splits from the point that they introduced it, but they’ve got the majors’ sixth-best ERA- and FIP- (89 and 92, respectively) overall, which has to be well above most projections, and likewise, they’ve already surpassed their projected 76 wins.

1:07
Bo: You know what else isn’t fair? Getting to play the AL Central when the NL East has to play the AL East.

1:09
Jay Jaffe: It’s pretty clear that life doesn’t guarantee fairness, but not unreasonable to hope that an organized entity such as MLB does its best to maintain certain types of fairness within its system. Geography and the financial and competitive advantages that come with it are things over which MLB can only do so much, and that’s part of where the debates lie.

1:09
CubbieBlues: What does Joe Maddon have to do to get in the HoF? One more world series?

1:13
Jay Jaffe: I suspect he’s probably already done enough to get in; getting that career winning % well over .500 (it’s at .541) despite spending a couple years at the helm of the Devil Rays is a pretty solid achievement unto itself. In this day and age, it does seem as though a second title is a separator for managers, a way to stand out beyond guys like Davey Johnson, Lou Piniella, Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia, Billy Martin etc., all of whom have some claim on a spot if not necessarily the consensus to get elected.

1:13
Chevy Avalanche: Grienke is an absolute beauty. And I can’t find an article by you about how he’s headed for the HOF. Is Google letting me down or is such an article still to be written?

1:14
Jay Jaffe: Nothing centered around him, it’s true, but mentioned in the context of pieces on Felix, CC Sabathia, Verlander and maybe others. Maybe I oughta write something

1:14
Dan: Would you consider Kimbrel a lock for the HOF? He seems to fly under the radar from a media perspective (even for the Red Sox); however, statistically he is already one of the greatest closers of all time.

1:19
Jay Jaffe: No. He’s got 527 career innings, mostly dominant ones, but we’ve seen the way the voters have turned their noses up at Billy Wagner’s 903 innings while he’s the owner of the highest K rate and lowest batting batting average allowed (min 800 innings for both), while at the same time electing Trevor Hoffman and his less dominant performance over 1,089 innings. Right now, Kimbrel’s numbers are impressive, but can he hold on for another 500 innings? I hope he can, but it’s a genuine rarity for closers to last that long

1:19
Hey yo: Read the Casebook and loved it.  Noticed that in several player’s bios you mentioned if they struggled with the bottle.  As a recovering alcoholic, found it interesting.

1:21
Jay Jaffe: Thanks. Battles with alcohol certainly shaped a lot of careers, and not for the better — a lot of early declines, early exits and early demises. I thought it was noteworthy to mention that when it was relevant, and hope that i didn’t cross any lines by trying to glorify it.

1:21
Steve: Who sets the minimum requirements for HOF induction?

1:24
Jay Jaffe: The Hall itself sets the rules. They set the minimum playing career at 10 seasons — which has come to be clarified as playing games in 10 seasons — and have only waived the requirement once, in the case of Addie Joss, who played nine seasons plus exhibitions in a 10th before being felled by the tubercular meningitis that killed him.

1:24
Stevil: Looking at Atlanta and where they’re at now, are they the next powerhouse in the NL? With so little salary committed, they could tighten up with a free agent like Harper or Machado and look even scarier.

1:25
Jay Jaffe: They do seem well positioned. The extent to which that wealth of young talent holds up, and to which ownership spends money, are what remains to be seen. I don’t know that I’d put higher odds on them than the perpetual competition machines in Chicago and LA, but it should be very interesting to see.

1:26
Stevil: Hey Jay, by all appearances, Seattle seems to be on the edge of a cliff. They have a ton of committed salary to players that couldn’t get it done this season–and that doesn’t include Nelson Cruz. Should they be looking at the international market for answers? What would you do if you were in Jerry’s shoes?

1:28
Jay Jaffe: Trade himself to another team? I really don’t know, but you’re right, this looks like a mess in the making given the weight of their long-term commitments ($83.6 M for 2020, for example) and the weakness of their farm system. Investment internationally, where you can get tremendous bang for the buck with some skill and luck, is certainly worth pursuing, but that goes for every team.

1:28
Bob: How valuable is Bryce Harper to the Nationals?  In terms of WAR he is their 5th best player, according to baseball reference he is their 8th best player, yet the local sports talk act as if he is one of the best players in the league.  Is WAR that far off or are the sports writers wrong?  Couldn’t Taylor/Eaton/Robles replace him and they don’t lose all that much?

1:32
Jay Jaffe: In WAR terms, you’re correct, in part because Harper had such a mediocre first half, but I’d say that we can understand his value as going beyond the aforementioned because A) we’ve seen his upside, in the form of that MVP season and B) he’s got the profile of a superstar, with a reach that goes well beyond those of nearly every other player in the game.

The Nationals will obviously have to weigh the question of whether he’s worth the continued investment now that he’s about to become a free agent, but you’re right, in baseball terms he might not be that hard to replace.

1:33
Astros Bullpen: The stats have stated they had a top bullpen all season. With the addition of Osuna, is it the best in Baseball?

1:36
Jay Jaffe: If Aroldis Chapman and everybody else in the Yankees’ bullpen are healthy, I’d put them ahead, but right now, it’s probably the Astros.

It bums me out that both of those units have key players who have been suspended due to domestic violence incidents. Appreciating them is a lot less fun.

1:37
Nick: What are your thoughts on Franmil Reyes? Big numbers at AAA as a 22 yr old, and success in the MLB as well

1:39
Jay Jaffe: Dude certainly has made an impression with his power and can probably be an above-average regular for awhile thanks to that. The question is whether he has any other plus tools, and I certainly haven’t seen enough myself to answer that (I haven’t watched many Padres games and furthermore, I’m no scout).

1:39
Davey Jones’ Lockerroom: Did Cleveland actually do something shady in acquiring/DL-ing Josh Donaldson?  What’s the beef?

1:41
Jay Jaffe: The beef as I understand it, based on a Ken Rosenthal article, centers around the legitimacy of placing Donaldson on revocable waivers when he was not healthy enough to play an MLB game yet — a rule I did not know existed but one that teams are aware of. It seems like that wasn’t the case, and furthermore, if I understand it correctly, Donaldson should have been required to sit for five days before getting a second rehab stint. So yeah, I can understand why other teams are sore.

1:42
Jeff McNeil: BPro noticed you taking credit for their writers work Mr Editor in Chief are you gonna fix it and apologize immediately or are you going to answer questions about Franmil Reyes

1:44
Jay Jaffe: I am not the editor in chief of this site. I’m not even an editor. Please contact Carson Cistulli.

1:44
Towel: Astros AND Yankees bullpen over Oakland’s? Hmm

1:46
Jay Jaffe: I think they belong in the discussion, sure. It depends what we’re debating. From a full statistical perspective (things like FIP and K rate as well as just ERA), they’re not at the Astros/Yankees’ level, but as Jeff Sullivan pointed out this week, their high-leverage performance, which centers around a smaller subset of their relievers, has been insane and possibly record-setting.

1:47
Jay Jaffe: OK folks, it’s time for me to head out, as I’ve got to vote in the New York State primary and prepare for the arrivals of my mom and brother, who are visiting us this weekend. Here’s my Odorizzi piece https://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/odorizzis-no-hit-bid-didnt-go-entirely…. Have a great week, and 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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