Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:04
Travis Sawchik:

12:04
Travis Sawchik: To begin, some free life advice!

12:04
Matthew: Are the Indians “peaking too early?”

12:06
Travis Sawchik: The Indians would be better off winning 18 straight games in October, sure (though all that is required is 11)…. But this is still a team that looks very well situated for October with the game’s best starting staff .

12:06
mike: does CLE make it to 20?

12:07
Travis Sawchik: Carrasco today, Kluber on Tuesday vs Det … so, yeah, I think so

12:07
Travis Sawchik: The record for consecutive wins is 26 by the 1916 Giants … but that streak included a tie so I’m not sure why it is considered a 26-game streak

12:08
Travis Sawchik: The 1935 Cubs won 21 straight without a tie involved. That should be the mark to beat, imo

12:08
Ted: What do you make of Matt Olson?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: I think the Indians unearthed at least a LOOGY …. I love the arm slot and breaking ball versus lefties

12:09
Travis Sawchik: He hasn’t allowed a run in his 20 ML appearances this year and he’s always wiped out lefties

12:09
CamdenWarehouse: He got a late start to the season so the total isn’t there, but I’m still surprised that no one is talking about how JD is running a PA/HR rate nearly identical to Stanton’s.

12:09
Travis Sawchik: Martinez has been amazing. I know a lot of contenders didn’t need bats, but I have to think some clubs are kicking themselves. There’s always room for a bat like JD’s

12:10
PTBNL: True or False: the Indians are now the prohibitive world series favorites.

12:10
Travis Sawchik: Yes

12:11
Travis Sawchik: What’s amazing is the Indians (+207) now lead the Dodgers (+168)  — the No. 2 team  — in run diff by nearly 40 runs

12:11
dirty dan: Sanchez has 50 homers over 161 career games.  I know he won’t play 162 in a year but that seems pretty special for a player.  WIll the bat play anywheres?

12:11
Travis Sawchik: It will play at other positions, which is good, because he’s had some struggles behind the dish

12:11
Johnny5: Factoring in positions, distance from FA, everything else, which duo would you prefer – Betts/Benintendi or Sanchez/Judge?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: Both are great, but I’m concerned somewhat about Sanchez’s glove and how Judge will age …. so I might prefer Betts/Beni

12:12
Alex: Teams give minor league players elite coaching, training and access to analytics.  Why have they made little-to-no-effort to provide top-level nutrition and sleep?  It seems like those things could have large benefits at fairly minimal cost.

12:13
Travis Sawchik: I think this will change over the next decade

12:13
CamdenWarehouse: If you had a BBref page, would “The Prolific” Travis Sawchik be an official nickname?

12:13
Travis Sawchik: Probably only if Carson was willing to sponsor it

12:14
PTBNL: I don’t think I’d have believed you if you told me the Twins and Angels would be duking it out for a wild card spot in September.

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Baseball is the best

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Watching Byron Buxton play CF is one of the best things about baseball

12:14
Javier: Any tips on writing analysis pieces? I write on my blog and sometimes I find myself being too similar in style to other pieces I have written.

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Find the intersection between human stories/element and the data

12:15
Alex: Why were the Pirates not able to do with Nicasio what the Phillies were?  Did the Pirates have an urgency to off-load him, and if so, might that suggest they believe they have unique information on predictors of health?

12:15
Travis Sawchik: Pirates FO

12:15
Travis Sawchik: noted Nicasio was claimed on waivers by a contender that wasn’t willing to give up much

12:16
Travis Sawchik: So Pirates they placed him on irrevocable … a curious decision

12:16
Travis Sawchik: Did they really want to save $600k? I don’t know. The Phillies didn’t get much for him…the real issue was probably not moving Nicasio prior to the non-waiver deadline

12:16
Travis Sawchik: Of the 31 ML players moved 5 days prior to the Aug. 1 deadline, 16 were relievers

12:17
Jimmy: Is Ivan Nova toast?

12:17
Travis Sawchik: No he’s just had an uneven campaign. He’s also had a start skipped. Fatigue?

12:18
Gary Sanchez: A little tired of hearing about my poor defense. Metrics consider me to be a good framer with an elite arm. Hard to believe a dozen passed balls not only negates that, but makes me a net negative defensively. My defensive WAR is actually higher than Posey’s, with fewer games and several at DH.

12:19
Travis Sawchik: The passed balls have really grabbed our attention …but the overall numbers are solid

12:20
Brian: The extreme FB approach is failing Greg Bird due to his relatively low hard hit rate—likely from his shoulder surgery. How long do the Yanks continue to let him be a black hole for?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Tough to judge him with the injury, etc … But I don’t think the approach is killing him, it’s always been his approach. He might not be 100 percent (or shaking off rust)

12:21
R: Do the 2017 yankees (-11.55) break the FG all time least Clutch record. Currently in 3rd place when you combine hitting and pitching behind the ’84 Phils (-12.74) and 2001 Rockies (-12.69)? With better timing of events, are they a sleeping giant in these playoffs? (Great BaseRuns record btw)

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Weren’t the Indians leading this a month ago? I could be wrong. The good news? They are due for some positive regression

12:22
David: Matt Olson is on the Athletics… What do you make of the Athletics’ Matt Olson?

12:22
Travis Sawchik: I have some Tyler Olson on my mind …

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Sorry!

12:23
Travis Sawchik: I like Matt, too

12:24
Travis Sawchik: Paul recently wrote him up

12:25
Travis Sawchik: If you’re looking for fantasy power down the stretch, and he’s available, he’s a good pickup

12:25
Olson Twins: You answered a previous question about A’s 1B/OF Matt Olson by discussing Indians LHP Tyler Olson.. so is Matt Olson (and his 17 HRs in 47 games) really that under-the-radar?

12:25
Travis Sawchik: Yeah, I made the equivalent of really poor throwing error. I like both!

12:26
JR: Baez is looking pretty good as of late.  Is he becoming the offensive star we’ve all hoped he would become?

12:26
Travis Sawchik: He’s always had special physical tools … If he is making real gains into approach, yeah, he can be an all-around star

12:27
Anthony: Do you have any idea how one would go about quantifying front offices? Which team would you say has the best/ worst current front office?

12:27
Travis Sawchik: That’s really tough given market sizes and ownership groups and that draft success isn’t tied to the GM as much in the other major pro sports

12:28
Travis Sawchik: And there’s a lot of smart people in front offices these days so the divide between the great and not-so-great has shrunk

12:28
Nick: Is Trevor Bauer’s breakout at least somewhat

12:28
Travis Sawchik: It is! Writing about that later today at FG (or maybe tomorrow)

12:28
J: With Bradley Zimmer out, does Greg Allen now have to be on the Indians postseason roster?

12:29
Travis Sawchik: Assuming Zimmer is out for a while, I think you have to consider Allen with his defense and speed. Jackson has played well, too. I don’t think the club is going to try Chisenhall in CF again .

12:29
Dave Roberts: Any suggestions for how I can get the Dodgers back on track? Willing to hear anything out of the box at this point.

12:30
Travis Sawchik: At least this isn’t October baseball. I think Dodgers will eventually stop losing but Dave wrote about some real issues that exist on the site today .

12:30
IsIt2015Yet?: Your current piece really ignores how bad Huntington has been at drafting, imo. His reclamation trades are really the only thing keeping him afloat but those have gone south (Niese, Hudson, Benoit) of late, too. Below average GM in a role where you’ve nearly got to be perfect to make the post-season.

12:31
Travis Sawchik: There’s been some draft misses, sure. But we can’t really judge the last 4-5 drafts, so it’s a pretty small sample of work … Also, GMs have far more direct impact on roster through trades, FA signs and waiver pickups

12:32
Travis Sawchik: People have really short memories. 2012 Pirates fans could not fathom a stretch like 2013-15. I think Pirates could be Wild Card contenders in 2018 with some things breaking their way

12:34
David: Has Gary Sanchez taken the mantle of best catcher from Posey going forward? In his first calendar year, he hit .282/.358/.560 with 36 homers in 126 games. Through his 161 total career games, so far he’s at .285/.357/.577 with 50 homers and 7.2 fWAR. Not bad!

12:34
Travis Sawchik: I owe Gary Sanchez an apology letter

12:34
Travis Sawchik: There is one better offensive catcher than Sanchez this year (albeit a smaller sample): Austin Barnes

12:35
IsIt2015Yet?: 2013-2015 is about the most disappointing of all possible “resurgences” I can imagine.

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Averaging 94 wins over three years is disappointing for a franchise that went 20 years without a winning season? You have a curious level of expectations

12:36
Travis Sawchik: MLB’s postseason is far more random than NFL/NBA/NHL

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Best way to win titles is to get to the tournament as often as possible

12:37
Post Malone: Did Dave write about issues that exist on the site or issues that exist within the Dodgers?

12:38
Travis Sawchik: There are undoubtedly issues with both … but in this case I was referring to the Dodgers

12:38
PTBNL: I’d agree that MLB is more random than NHL/NBA, but the NFL postseason is a series of 1-game series, could make the case that it’s just as prone to high variance as MLB

12:39
Travis Sawchik: I think the importance of QBing reduces variance. I mean it’s Aaron Rodgers, Ben R., Russell Wilson and Brady in the final four of football every season. There is no parity in football (or NBA)

12:39
Chaps: Looking at the Indians & Astros remaining schedule, the Indians should be favored to have the best record in the AL, right?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: Indians had easiest remaining schedule entering the month

12:39
Lendel: Are Drew Pomeranz and Doug Fister the Red So #2/3 starters for the playoffs right now? They’ve both pitched well the last month or so

12:40
Travis Sawchik: The Fister story is so great. Pomeranz is the AL’s Rich Hill

12:40
Dylan: Is there anything positive to take away from the 2017 Mets season?

12:40
Travis Sawchik: [Thinking emoji face]

12:40
Travis Sawchik: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so much go so wrong for one team

12:42
Mac: In the context of the largest team FIP/xFIP differential ever since fly ball data became available, have the Reds actually been bad this year, or has the pitching been unlucky with fly balls?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Maybe the answer is … both?

12:42
Amy: Guess the top 3 September exit velocity leaders

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Hmmmm it must not be Judge and Stanton if you’re asking … Feels like a trap!  I’ll say Yandy Diaz/JD Martinez/Gary Sanchez

12:43
Anthony: Who is the best pitcher in the AL?

12:43
Travis Sawchik: Since he’s come off the DL, it’s been Kluber

12:43
Travis Sawchik: Overall body of work? Sale is right there. But I’d take Kluber as my first pick entering the postseason

12:43
PTBNL: Don’t blame you for making an error with regards to an A’s player…I’m a huge fan and couldn’t tell you most of the guys in their starting lineup, that team gets 0 attention because they’re not very good, play in a small market, and have no stars

12:44
Travis Sawchik: I’ve been writing about the Indians quite a bit so I made a mental gaffe

12:44
Post Malone: Gary Sanchez is a catcher and has hit 50 home runs in 161 games.

12:44
Travis Sawchik: That’s insane when you think about it

12:44
Travis Sawchik: Even with the park

12:45
Anthony: At this point, would Milwaukee and St. Louis have a better chance to catch the Cubs than the Rockies? It’s into the second week of September, and the Cubs STILL haven’t pulled away

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Cubs are a great surprise story of 2017 and not in a good way … I’m curious what the division looks like in 2018, too. Maybe that idea of a Cubs Dynasty was a bit premature

12:46
Post Malone: I think Bird proved the shoulder was healthy 6 months ago in ST. Don’t think that’s why he’s not hitting the ball hard

12:47
Travis Sawchik: Maybe not the shoulder, rather, the ankle … The kinetic chain of the swing begins at the base

12:48
PTBNL: Did you miss Craig’s post today on the Indians? Cubs have the best improvement in winning percentage from first half to second half, winning 65% of their games since the ASB. They’ll be fine.

12:48
Travis Sawchik: This is what worries me about the Cubs —-> http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=sta&lg=nl&qual=0&t…

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Some of the weakest SP performance among contenders

12:50
Travis Sawchik: Another worry is Cubs have the oldest average age (30.9 years) among pitchers in baseball  https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/2017.shtml

12:51
Tek: Is this what a Luis Severino’s peak looks like? Can he actually get better?

12:51
Travis Sawchik: He needs to stay healthy, of course, but we’re still in the early chapters

12:51
YKnotDisco?!: Does Lindor need to level off his swing a bit? Did he take the revolution a bit too far? Homers are great and all, but has he traded too much OBP for em’?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: Maybe a tick down, but I’m OK with 29 HRs and a sub 15% K rate at shortstop … He also had an awful slump in May-Juneish

12:52
v2micca: Following up you QB reducing random variance in the NFL.  Going back to 2005, the AFC quarterback in the Superbowl have been, Big Ben, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Big Ben, Peyton Manning, Big Ben, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady.   Yeah, that isn’t really parity.

12:52
Travis Sawchik: It’s basically like if Kluber or Sale or Kershaw or Scherzer is throwing every pitch of the postseason for a team

12:52
Travis Sawchik: NFL is too QB-oriented if you’re concerned about parity

12:53
Oddball Herrera: How concerned are you about Austin Hays’ walk rate? That seems to be the one red flag in the profile of a guy who had a ridiculous MiLB season

12:53
Travis Sawchik: That’s the one thing that jumps out … but overall so many positives to build upon. Great pop-up guy

12:53
AndyBaesball: “Beat way to win titles is to get to the tournament as often as possible”  See:  StL, SFG.

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Yep

12:54
Amy: 1. Manny Macado 2. Nelson Cruz 3. Dom Smith (?)(!)

12:55
Travis Sawchik: Well, Machado has been better, Cruz is Cruz… then the record scratches … Dom Smith!

12:56
Mel: Luis Castillo, Rodon, or Jimmy Nelson in a keep forever?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: I hated to see that Nelson injury

12:56
Travis Sawchik: Castillo, I think

12:57
JR: What does Hoskins line look like in 2018 – homers, avg, rbis?

12:57
Travis Sawchik: Oh man

12:58
Travis Sawchik: .280/.380/.580 slash line, 33 HR, 105 RBIs

12:58
Sinclair : What do you think of Dom Smith ?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: He’s apparently crushing the ball

12:58
Matt: So, help me understand the line of logic. I’m pretty indifferent on the DH.no DH thing. But it always amazes me when people use pitcher injuries during batting related events as “this is why pitchers shouldn’t hit”. No one says the same about catchers pulling a hammy on the basepaths. Not necessarily apples to apples, but both are specialized positions not expected to hit much. The whole hting just seems like confirmation bias to me.

12:59
Travis Sawchik: I personally like the NL game better …. but SPs are the highest paid position so it might make sense in wanting to protect investments from occasional non-pitching injuries

1:00
PTBNL: Speaking of 2018 Phillies – are they gonna have a good offense? Pitching is question mark, but looking at guys like Hoskins, Hererra, Williams, Crawford, Altherr, it seems like they could score some runs.

1:00
Travis Sawchik: Phillies are slowly becoming interesting

1:00
JTT: Football has theoretically parity, the salary cap, draft order based upon record, no international players. However, there seems to be way more  franchises with inept management/scouting than their are in MLB

1:01
Travis Sawchik: Football is way behind the other major pro sports in data science ….but the positional values on the field prevent parity . You either have a QB or you’re not very good .

1:01
PF: The league with the most parity has to be the NHL right?

1:01
Travis Sawchik: I don’t follow the NHL … so I don’t know.

1:02
Melissa: With the Nats 4 behind the Dodgers for best record on September 11, what are your thoughts about the Nats pushing a little to acquire home field advantage? How much value does home field provide in the playoffs?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: I think the home team in baseball wins about 53-54% of the time so it’s not insignificant. Umpire bias matters http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/is-home-field-advantage-becoming-endang…

1:03
Coz: Do the White Sox value Jose Abreu more as a trade chip or as a mentor for the younger Cuban players?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: Ideally a trade chip, I would think

1:04
enjoymoreradio: If you’re Chris Antonetti, are Michael Brantley’s injury concerns enough to dissuade you from picking up his 2018 option, and using that money to try to re-sign Santana or Bruce?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: I’d be a little concerned about Brantley’s ability to stay on the field … maybe there’s a better way to spend that $10 million

1:07
Dedgers: What do you make of Judge’s 20% walk rate during his post-ASB slump? Seems like it adds credence to him playing hurt, no?

1:07
Travis Sawchik: Judge is a smart kid. I’m not too worried about the slump that looks to be ending

1:07
PTBNL: DBacks have 4 of the top 13 pitchers in NL in terms of fWAR, Greinke (3), Ray (10), Godley (11), Corbin (14). With the Dodgers struggling is this the best rotation in the NL?

1:08
Travis Sawchik: DBacks have to be feeling pretty good about themselves

1:08
SadSadMetsSadSad…sad?: What’s the saddest thing about the Mets in 2017?  And, following up, what’s saddest thing we can look out for going into 2018?

1:08
Travis Sawchik: For me, it’s Conforto. That serious of an injury on an empty swing? In 2018, you can probably expect pitching attrition to some degree

1:10
JKD: Trea Turner has played 154 games over 2016-17, 695 PAs. His line: .309/.350/.505, 201 hits, 22 HR, 14 3B, 33 2B, 117 runs, 72 for 84 in steals. Obviously he needs to stay healthy, but… I’m not sure if people are hyping him up *enough*

1:10
Travis Sawchik: That’s a remarkable line

1:10
Travis Sawchik: He should be hyped

1:10
IsIt2015Yet?: Would Cutch bring even 1 top 50 prospect this year in trade after his mixed performance the last two seasons? If the answer is no, no reason to not just pickup his option and let him play out his time in P’burgh, right?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think you’re getting a top 50 prospect for him. Most likely the option is picked up and he walks after 2018 (or is traded at the 2018 deadline perhaps)

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Alright folks thanks for the questions! We’ll be back next week. Maybe the Indians will have lost and the Dodgers will have won.

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Be good, do good

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A Cleveland native, FanGraphs writer Travis Sawchik is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Big Data Baseball. He also contributes to The Athletic Cleveland, and has written for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, among other outlets. Follow him on Twitter @Travis_Sawchik.

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Original Greaser Bob
Member
Original Greaser Bob

My 2 cents. Cubs SP WAR pre-ASG 9th, post-ASG 4th. And regarding average pitcher age here are the players listed from the BBRef link & I’m guessing guys like Montero, Jay, Lackey, Uehara, & Arrieta won’t be there next year :
Jake Arrieta 31
Wade Davis 31
Pedro Strop 32
Jon Jay* 32
Jon Lester* 33
Miguel Montero 33
Brian Duensing* 34
John Lackey 38
Koji Uehara 42

Brians Sticky Sock
Member
Brians Sticky Sock

All I can say about the Cubs’ pitching, is that they’ve really focused on pitching in the last two drafts, and they’ve been open about buying pitching, either through trades or free agency. I’m more worried about adding some better on base percentages to the order. They didn’t replace Fowler, and Zobrist fell off a cliff. The majority of their lineup is league average or below at getting on base. They’ve got power and will score as much as last year, but they’re so much more inconsistent this year.

Travis L
Member
Member
Travis L

The Chicago Cubs are 5th in MLB, behind 3 AL teams and COL, in OBP. Very difficult to argue their biggest problem is OBP.

In fact, their rank by slugging percentage is 12th overall.

Brians Sticky Sock
Member
Brians Sticky Sock

Speaking anecdotally as a fan, their offense seems much more inconsistent this year. The last time I looked, which was about two weeks ago, their OBA as a team was 10 points lower than it was last year and their slugging was up. Batting average and runs per game is about the same. So the scoring is the same, but they’re much more up and down this year, which is why I focused on SLG & OBA. I know the defense and pitching isn’t as good, so there’s a number of factors. But unscientifically, I think they’re missing last year’s Zobrist and Fowler. I’m open to other suggestions, but that’s what I see.