Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 5/14/18

Meg Rowley: Good morning! Welcome to the chat.

Meg Rowley: I am not Travis, but fear not: he’ll be here tomorrow, and back to regularly scheduled programming next week.

Yu: What do the Mariners do about 2B now?

Meg Rowley: Ugh.

Meg Rowley: I think for the moment you’re looking at some combination of the non-catching Romine, and possibly Taylor Motter and (sighs heavily) maybe Gordon Beckham sharing duties there.

Meg Rowley: It sounds like they are reticent to move Dee Gordon off center, but I’ll be curious to see how long that holds up.

Meg Rowley: It’s obviously a terrible loss for them, and a shame because Cano was having a hell of a good year.

Meg Rowley: Their margins were already so thin with that rotation and now they’re faced with at least a month without Cano. Terrible present to my mom, honestly.

Wally Backman: does mccullers have ace in his future?

Meg Rowley: I think the gating factor will always be how many innings he’s able to throw. I think the talent is there, but the particulars of that talent can mean not going super deep into games.

Yu: What is a superstar? Is Kris Bryant one?

Meg Rowley: This debate has always struck me as strange. A superstar to whom? To baseball fans? Sure! To people who shop at Express Men’s? I mean, he’s on those posters a lot.

Meg Rowley: I don’t think baseball has had a star that has truly transcended the sport a la LeBron since Griffey, but with Judge and Stanton on the Yankees and Ohtani doing what he’s doing, that might change.

Meg Rowley: Mostly though, I think how much it matters is overblown and misses one of baseball’s greatest strengths. It doesn’t have one face; it has a bunch. Why fret over every person in the country knowing who Mike Trout is when you can have a Lindor and a Correa and an Altuve and a Judge and a Trout and and and…

Wally Backman: whatsup with jean segura right now? is the walk rate just small sample size?

Meg Rowley: He’s never been a big walk guy. The rate is down this year, sure, but Segura tends to reach via other means.

Meg Rowley: He’s swinging at stuff in the zone more, but that whole top of the lineup has been pretty aggressive.

John Oleruds Helmet: Ms Meg!! Oh honored Mike Zunino fan!! With Baseball already being such an international game do think it’s really necessary to hold these London games?

Meg Rowley: It’s an international game but it doesn’t have much of a presence there, it’s an easy hop for New York and Boston, and there’s a large ex-pat community with money.

Wally Backman: It seems like Puig has been terrible. Is there something wrong? Small sample size?

Meg Rowley: He has not been great. The delta between his wOBA and xwOBA also suggests that there is some bad luck here.

billy beane: why is my pitching so bad and what should i do about it? i have several cornerstone and peak veteran position players.

Meg Rowley: In your defense, you had other, better options, but they’re all injured because pitching is not good for you.

Coz: How much longer can the White Sox trot out Carson Fulmer?

Meg Rowley: Have to think the leash is getting shorter and at some point he might need to work on some stuff but they also aren’t trying to win right now. His year has been brutal, though. I imagine it’ll depend somewhat on when other dudes are deemed ready to go and how this Wednesday start against the Pirates goes.

Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Would selective use of certain advanced statistics make baseball more accessible? E.g. a friend was asking me about slash lines and how to interpret them and I instead pointed them to wRC+. It’s much easier to process “20% better than league average” than have constantly-shifting mental heuristics on somewhat arbitrary measures of baseballing prowess.

Meg Rowley: I think it depends entirely on who you are talking to, and how you can best discuss and illuminate the game for them.

Meg Rowley: I’ve gotten this question a lot lately, and I think the first thing you have to consider is, what are you trying to accomplish in the conversation? Are they trying to assess who is a good hitter? Just enjoy the game?

Meg Rowley: I am a proponent of advanced stats and think they describe the game as it is and give us insight into how it might go in the future, but I think we would all be well served to remember that a lot of people don’t engage the game that way and we don’t gain a lot by being antagonistic. Not saying you’re doing that, but I’m always shocked by how much feeling is behind these discussions still.

Meg Rowley: We won. Front offices think about the game like we do. If your friend gets behind wRC+, great. If not? It’s probably ok.

Fuzzy Dunlop: Saw that Zobrist is 9th in WAR for all players that have played during his career-span…that has to put him in discussion for most underappreciated player of his era, right? Markakis being similar but not with the same production.

Meg Rowley: I think we have talked way, way too much about Zobrist for him to be truly underappreciated, but I do think that as we see more and more teams with guys whose positional versatility is a feature and not a bug, that we will appreciate his career in new ways, if that makes sense.

Chris: Welcome to FangraphsChat™ brought to you by FangraphBet™, your home for the best in daily sports betting. Have a question for our baseball experts on today’s lines? Our exports are here to give you the best in FangraphBet™ advice.

Meg Rowley: I know that this Supreme Court decision is something that I am supposed to have an opinion on, and maybe care about, and consider deeply, but I can’t bring myself to.

Meg Rowley: Gambling is never something that has given me a thrill, and I find the enterprise kind of icky, but I hope you all win a ton and don’t get over your skis with your bets.

Kevin: Please don’t jinx Odubel Herrera!

Meg Rowley: Ok!

Lunch Angle: Rian Watt’s article on Jose Ramirez this morning is pretty compelling. Would you rather have him or Kris Bryant for the next say, five years?

Meg Rowley: It is sort of odd that we don’t talk about Ramirez more. He is really very good! I think Bryant’s absolute ceiling is higher, but it is much closer than you would think. I think I enjoy Ramirez’s approach more, but that’s a personal aesthetic thing.

Babe Lincoln: How old were you when you first realized MEG ROWLEY = ME GROWLEY?

Meg Rowley: Like 28. We all used to be a lot online than we are now.

v2micca: Given his recent inability to stay healthy, do you think it increasingly unlikely that Kershaw opts out of his deal?

Meg Rowley: I don’t think we’re at a point where we can really say yet, but it isn’t great timing for him. That said, he’s Clayton Kershaw. If he comes back and looks like himself again, I think he’ll test the waters for sure.

Meg Rowley: Because the thing is, he’s Clayton Kershaw. Even if he’s not the undisputed, for sure, slam dunk best pitcher in baseball anymore, he’s still Clayton Kershaw.

Meg Rowley: That must be pretty cool.

Sharp: Bryce Harper crushed a ball and nearly put it through the window of a pickup last night.  His swing looks so violent.  Has he been selling out for power?

Meg Rowley: His swing looks pretty Bryce Harper-y to my eye.

Caps!: Has there been a sweeter story than Freddy Peralta’s family coming to see him pitch in AAA for the first time only to have him get called up and strike out 13 guys in his ML debut? At Coors Field? ON MOTHERS DAY???

Meg Rowley: It’s a pretty cool story!

Meg Rowley: As Eric put it yesterday, it’s Yusmeiro Petit’s release point with more velo.

Meg Rowley: If I can interest Mariners fans in feeling worse, Peralta is one of the prospects the Mariners sent to the Brewers for Adam Lind. Happy Monday!

Chief: Is getting Justin Turner back the spark the Dodgers need to turn their season around?

Meg Rowley: It would certainly help, though the pitching is much more troublesome to my mind, and he can’t really do much on that score.

Caps!: Jeff Sullivan wrote in his chat on Friday that the Brewers might have the best bullpen in baseball. Agree or disagree?

Meg Rowley: I make it a habit not to disagree with Jeff when he is right about stuff.

Insert Name Here: The Nats appear to have rebounded from their slow start, but the Dodgers look lost.  Are they just hurt/unlucky, or is there something more?

Meg Rowley: They also have a few guys with troubling signs of being less effective! It isn’t great!

Wes: When a player has a no trade clause, waives it for a trade, is the NTC in effect still or is it permantely waved?

Meg Rowley: My understanding is that it stays with them, but I’d have to check. I’d imagine there is variance deal to deal. And then of course you have trade protections that are based on service time etc.

Beni and the Betts: The Yankees and Red Sox might be the two best teams in the majors.  One of them will be stuck in the wild card game.  Life is unfair.

Meg Rowley: I try to make it a point not to invalidate the feelings of others even if they have enjoyed relative good fortune in the recent past, because the feeling still sucks. It sucks for Dodgers fans that this is their season, even though their team was just in the World Series, because man, this is a bummer of a team to watch.

Meg Rowley: But it is also good to have perspective.

Meg Rowley: So I will say, I’m sorry you feel that is unfair, but also invite to consider the possibility that you’re actually fine.

Put on your tinfoil hats!: The top 3 leaders in ERA in the AL are all Astros pitchers. They are also the 3 Astros pitchers who were not drafted by the Astros / didn’t come up through their minor league system. There isn’t anything to this, is there?

Meg Rowley: I don’t think so. Good teams are often good because they aren’t dependent on one source of talent. The Astros develop guys well and also have made good moves in free agency and trade.

Guest: No big star since Griffery? What about Jeter/ Arod???

Meg Rowley: They didn’t permeate the culture the way Griffey did. Griffey was on TV shows. There were songs about him. He was the biggest sports star we had.

Bad Bill: Can you suggest an Ichiro-like role for Adam Wainwright, so that the Cardinals can gracefully get him off the field and keep him in the organization without jamming down his throat the fact that he’s toast?

Meg Rowley: I wouldn’t presume to know what will feel right to Wainwright. It’s a little different situation, too. The Mariners made a mess by bringing Ichiro back into the fold. They created a need for a more elegant solution.

Tim Bryan: Meg, I applied to a position you posted last week at the Cubs organization to be a data analyst. Who should I contact to move my application along?

Meg Rowley: All of those positions get so many applicants that I imagine it takes a while to sift through the resumes. Also, while I don’t know anything about that specific position, I know that sometimes there isn’t much in the way of correspondence back from the team.

Matt: How sustainable are mookies stats so far? This seems insane but that babip isn’t too crazy

Meg Rowley: It’s high, but not insane, and honestly closer to what he’s done historically than the down year last year.

Meg Rowley: His wOBA is .496; his xwOBA is .530 (!!!). He’s just really very, very good at baseball.

Alp: Are you worried that the Yanks, Red Sox and Astros are way too overpowered in not just the AL but all of baseball?

Meg Rowley: No, not really.

Meg Rowley: Great teams lose in small stretches, so it isn’t as if anything about October is fated.

Meg Rowley: This won’t be popular among my Mariners fan friends, but damn that Astros team is fun to watch.

Rollie’s Mustache: What’s your gut feeling on Osuna’s future in Toronto? Do you think he’s played his last game as a Blue Jay?

Meg Rowley: It’s really hard to say given the ongoing investigation and pending legal action.

Meg Rowley: His administrative leave technically ends tomorrow, so we’ll know more soon.

GraphsFan: How regularly do you catch M’s games in person? Or watch them fully through?

Meg Rowley: I’m a 20-game season ticket holder; I normally get to at least 15 in person.

Meg Rowley: In terms of sitting down and watching from first pitch to last, very few these days. I watch most Paxton starts. But most evenings I’m bopping around between games.

Nic: How close to Trout is Judge? He seems to be even better this year than last, with a lower chase rate, more walks and so on.

Meg Rowley: Aaron Judge is a very good baseball player. Mike Trout might be the best baseball player… ever. Also, Mike Trout is only nine months older than Aaron Judge. Mike Trout is amazing.

John: In today’s day and age, is there any real rhyme or reason as to not having a baseball information roving coordinator around to help players understand advanced stats and how it benefits them? I feel like there’s such a divide between players and a front office staff, where players would benefit from learning more about newer means of evaluation – and the the front office would benefit from gaining trust from players so that it doesn’t appear as though they only evaluate players based on numbers and spreadsheets. If that makes any sense.

Meg Rowley: It does, though I think you would be surprised how much this has improved. I think really smart front offices (and that’s most of ’em these days) know that what matters is communicating key concepts to players in a way that is useful for that player to understand. It’s part of why you’ve seen so many bench coaches and managers and field staff concerned with how to translate it into terms that are useful for players.

stever20: What did you make of Matt Harvey’s start on Friday?  Was it just the Dodgers are a hot mess?

Meg Rowley: He threw four innings. The Dodgers are a hot mess, and Harvey didn’t embarrass himself, but he also threw four innings.

Britt: Becky Hammon might be the first woman head coach in the NBA.  Will women be coaches/managers/GMs in MLB one day?

Meg Rowley: GMs for sure. I think coaches and managers might take longer because women with the best bat to ball skills play softball and it is seen as different enough, is different enough that the transition will take longer.

Joe Joe: Currently, the AL is being given a 67.7% chance to win the World Series by Fangraphs Playoff Odds (with the 4 teams with the best individual odds). Does this seem high to you?

Meg Rowley: Not especially– the Yankees, Red Sox and Astros are really good, the Dodgers are not.

Johnny5: Is it possible you thought Griffey Jr was the biggest baseball superstar because you’re a Mariners fan? I just don’t see any way he was bigger than Derek Jeter.

Meg Rowley: I feel confident in my argument that Griffey’s wattage burned brighter at its peak. He was on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. He was in the Simpsons and Little Big League, in video games and songs. How many kids did you see wearing their caps backward? He was an effervescent kind of cool that contrasted strongly with Jeter’s staid, say-nothing approach.

Meg Rowley: Or put another way: he did all that while on a crappy Mariners team almost no one on the East Coast could watch.

Jason Gottlieb: Cano injury suck, but I do have Ozzie Albies and Jose Ramirez who has second and third base eligibility. Would you advise trading Albies anyway, simply due to his high value right now? Or is it somewhat sustainable?

Meg Rowley: I advise you to ask someone who knows about fantasy baseball because I care about you personally.

Jeff: Is Edwin Diaz ever playing again and how do you like him?

Meg Rowley: Edwin Diaz pitched on May 10th! And I like him very much.

Anon: Do you think that child molester college player who didn’t get drafted ever ends up signing with anyone?  Or is he too damaged?

Meg Rowley: He might not get drafted but I do think he ends up on a team. From the sound of it there are at least a couple of teams that either believe this latest round of press he’s doing, or perhaps more cynically, think it gives them adequate cover.

Meg Rowley: I wouldn’t like it if my favorite team drafted him. Baseball is under no obligation to participate in redemption arcs.

BT: Gallo got me thinking of an idea for off season posts –  Weekly craziest shift post

Meg Rowley: Not sure we’ll have a ton more to say about it by then. Weekly theme posts like that can exhaust the bit more quickly than you’d imagine. That said, it is weird baseball, which is pretty squarely in my wheelhouse and we have months to fill so…

stever20: with baseball 1/4 of the way done now just about, what do you see as the biggest surprise of the season so far(both positive and negative)?

Meg Rowley: Probably the Dodgers and the Braves for me.

Meg Rowley: I was pretty high on the Diamondbacks going in, so that’s less surprising, though I am often wrong, so maybe it is the most surprising!

Chet: Does Turner and Forsythe coming back help the Dodgers snap out of the funk? Is it too little too late?

Meg Rowley: It’ll certainly help, but I still fret over the pitching and 8 games is a lot of games to make up.

2-D: How would you feel if you were required to submit one article a year that’s hand written, in ink, and on college ruled paper?

Meg Rowley: Like I’ve misunderstood Carson’s interests.

AC: Griffey had video games named after him, Jeter did not. So, Point: Griffey. (Also, as a Tigers fan, I apologize for Blaine Hardy’s poor command)

Meg Rowley: This was actually taken so I could assure you that man, accidents just happen and it’s a damn bummer but also, clearly wasn’t done on purpose.

Meg Rowley: Side note: people have a lot of feelings about Derek Jeter!

Chris R: Is it crazy to say that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. can have a similar immediate hitting impact as Mike Trout did in his first full season?

Meg Rowley: He is really very good, but also, what a curious habit we have of comparing prospects to literally the best player in baseball. Why not have more modest goals!

The Human Eyeball: Who would be your most surprising players this season (positive and negative)? And do you think their performance will continue?

Meg Rowley: Related to my previous answer, Albies probably? Who I expected would be good but not to this degree.

Mountie Votto: Should Eugenio Suarez be in the conversation for one of the top 3B in the league? Obviously he’s not Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado or Anthony Rendon, but he’s comfortably above average and seems to be continuously improving

Meg Rowley: Gotta see this stuff for longer stretches before we start having that conversation, which honestly has as much to do with how deep third is as anything else.

Meg Rowley: We’re lousy with very good third baseman!

Derek Jeter: How are Ken Griffey Jr’s gift baskets?

Meg Rowley: You can tell that most baseball writers have historically been men because this bit of his biography is remembered mostly fondly.

Rob: Thoughts on Matt Thaiss? Seems he has added some power and is already a good hitter

Meg Rowley: I will admit to not having thought of him often. My understanding is that the power was the biggest knock on him (apart from the defense) and he is, as you note, doing better on that score so that is encouraging. I’d ask Eric or Kiley as they will have a smarter answer for you.

Mountie Votto: Longer stretches? Suarez has been improving the last 3 years, both offensively and defensively. What more do you want?

Meg Rowley: For him to sustain this level of offensive production. You’re absolutely right that he’s shown improvement year over year, and what we’ve seen is very encouraging. But it’s a deep position and I was asked if he was in the conversation as one of the top guys.

54: Who gets their stroke back soonest, Goldschmidt, Hoskins, or Gallo?

Meg Rowley: I think you have the order right

Brooklyngail: After three straight 90-loss seasons, you can forgive Braves fans for being a little silly. No one expected the league’s best record on May 14.

Meg Rowley: It’s very exciting! I’m happy for you(?)!

54: Do you think Steven Souza always talks to himself incessantly, or just when he is Mic’d up for ESPN Mother’s Day. The pressure to quip must be enormous.

Meg Rowley: It is such a weird-ass broadcasting choice to me. But also, I talk to myself a lot during the day. Being alone at a desk and alone in the outfield aren’t so different, are they?

stever20: What are your thoughts on Ohtani 1/4 of the way thru the seeason?  what you expected?

Meg Rowley: I was skeptical that he would have this degree of success at the plate. I assumed that the command would sort itself out. I was a little nervy about the velocity I saw in spring. I am sometimes a silly person.

Meg Rowley: Ok, I need to get going and write a thing and edit a thing, and maybe eat some food.

Meg Rowley: Thanks for hanging out on Monday. Travis will take my normal time tomorrow, so be sure to stop back then. Otherwise, have a great week everyone!

We hoped you liked reading Meg Rowley FanGraphs Chat – 5/14/18 by Meg Rowley!

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Brians Sticky Sock
Brians Sticky Sock

“I just don’t see any way he was bigger than Derek Jeter.”

This is East Coast Bias…

During the 90s it felt like you were either a Bonds guy, or a Griffey guy; I was a Bonds guy… but Griffey as a personality, a cultural star, was bigger than Jeter.

Jeter was overhyped by ESPN (but still a great, great player), I think New Yorkers (from talking to my New York friends) think Jeter was even better than he was.

I’m Chicago based.


Yeah, Griffey really was a Lebron type in that everyone knew who he was before he was drafted, and everyone knew he would be the #1 overall pick someday. Then, Opening Day, 1989, as a 19 year old making his debut – it was an event. A Strasburg level debut event – which considering the comparative lack of media coverage back in 1989 it is really saying something. A can’t-miss, ‘you’re going to tell your kids about this’ moment, and he had a nickname. It was his debut – and yet he already had a nickname.

And I know I can’t be the only one that remembers the chaos around his Upper Deck rookie card – I mean mayhem man. You couldn’t even find a deck in stock because as soon as a card shop would get more in, people would buy them out hoping to get a Griffey Jr. rookie card. I literally remember waiting in lines at multiple card shops just hoping to get a chance to buy a super expensive pack of Upper Deck cards just for the off chance I could land a Griffey. Everyone did. Kids at school starting following baseball just because Griffey. Griffey was cool. That was it – he was THE fad for a while. You weren’t cool at school in California unless you were into Griffey that rookie year. And I clearly remember a phase at school – it was a school of Griffey shirts, Griffey binders, Griffey posters, and trying to trade for Griffey cards during lunch. It was very much like a New Kids on the Block/90210 or Power Rangers or MC Hammer phase – the kind that just takes over the school. In southern CA. Go figure that.

So I think Griffey was much different. It was an event. From day 1. Apples to Oranges with Jeter.