Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:06
Travis Sawchik: Howdy

12:06
Travis Sawchik: The Belt at-bat is still going …

12:06
Travis Sawchik: But we’ll chat anyways

12:07
Ron: Are you more worried ab out Giancarlo Stanton or Joey Votto’s slumps and which slump shows a more problematic trend in either player?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Since Votto is six years older, I’m more concerned. Stanton seems to go through brutal cold stretches each season, so maybe this is just one of those lulls. Maybe some of it is adjusting to a new league, too

12:08
indians farm: what are the Indians doing with Yandy Diaz? Trade candidate?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: I think we’ll see him at some point and I guess he could be a hypothetical trade chip, too

12:08
Brandon Belt : Okay, I have to ask: if I had that exact at-bat every time I went to the plate, would I be worth playing?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Absolutely

12:09
Travis Sawchik: 84-105 pitches seen per game?

12:09
Travis Sawchik: 300-400 pitches per series? He might be the most valuable player in baseball without ever getting on base

12:09
Jonathon Lucroy: What did you think of Manaea’s future with plus command/lower velo

12:10
Travis Sawchik: If it helps keep him on the mound, I’m all for it. He could be quality No. 2 on a contending team’s staff

12:10
Matty P: scary that Kluber, Carassco, Bauer and Clevinger all seem to be getting more efficient with their pitch counts. This rotation is superb

12:11
Travis Sawchik: And it’s the No. 3 staff in the AL at the moment …

12:11
Travis Sawchik: What Houston is doing is insane

12:11
Polish Hill Porpoise: So Teoscar is this year’s Pham right?

12:11
Travis Sawchik: He has the game’s highest “hard-hit” percent at the moment, FWIW

12:12
OddBall Herrera: I have been pounding the table for Andujar – guy has a 60 grade on power, he’s near the top of the EV leaderboard, better than average SwStr.  In short he looks legit to me, but also bizarre because I can’t think of other guys with his skills who also apparently can’t take a walk (the obvious is Vlad, but that’s going too far).  He seems like Schoop w/ strike zone control, which is a scary notion for opposing pitchers…any thoughts?

12:12
Oh, Starlin!: Andujar’s got stick. Do you think he maintains stick?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: He’s the real deal

12:13
Travis Sawchik: He’s going to hit

12:13
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think the Yankees wanted to include him in any Gerrit Cole package so that speaks volumes

12:13
Alderson: What should the mets be willing to give up to land realmuto? Nimmo seems like too high a price tag

12:14
Travis Sawchik: I wouldn’t trade Nimmo

12:14
Travis Sawchik: Bruce is the guy I’d try to move. And if there’s no fit, I’d look for cheaper catcher options and then maybe target a Grandal in the winter

12:15
ComputerChairGM: Someone mentioned in a chat last week that maybe the baseball was changed again? Is there any article/evidence supporting that I can read?

12:15
Travis Sawchik: Rob Arthur wrote something on this …

12:16
GERB: Jose Ramirez has 14 BBs, 7 HRs, and 6 Ks. Is there anything real causing some of the .169 BABIP, or is bad luck (and a some bad weather) hiding his monster start?

12:16
Travis Sawchik: Mostly bad luck, I assume, and it’s hiding an early bump in patience and BB% gains

12:17
Travis Sawchik: Jose is a very good baseball player and perhaps an underrated one

12:17
Travis Sawchik: (Given that he plays in the shadow of Lindor)

12:17
John Oleruds Helmet: Is it possible Mookie Betts is underrated as a hitter?

12:17
Travis Sawchik: I don’t think he is in this community, but if he is by the public at large then he’s in the process of changing that

12:19
James: Is the AL central the worst division since the last realignment?

12:19
Travis Sawchik: No. Check out the 1997 NL Central https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB/1997-standings.shtml

12:21
Travis Sawchik: But I’d prefer two eight-team divisions to four four-team divisions per league in the next realignment to lessen the threat of sub-.500 teams reaching the postseason

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Sounds like MLB is leaning to Eight, four-team divisions when they reach 32

12:21
Brandon Nimmo: Seriously, how is Jay Bruce playing over me? And he has foot problems! Put him on the 10 day DL and let me play!

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Let Nimmo play!

12:22
Travis Sawchik: #FreeNimmo

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Bruce is a fine player but I’m not actually sure why the Mets didn’t have more belief in Nimmo this winter

12:22
Travis Sawchik: Maybe it was more about Conforto’s shoulder

12:24
Coach K: Please provide some insight on Pirates SP Kuhl. Seemingly stuck in same spot as last year. Control fades and then gives up one big inning. I thought with Taillon doing what he is doing and Williams better than expected Kuhl was going to difference maker. What do you see based upon your history covering Bucs? Also, when Musgrave gets off DL ( if healthy) is he #2 in Buc-town?

12:25
Travis Sawchik: Kuhl is a guy who relies too much on his fastball, imo, when his best pitch is his slider/curve are his best offerings

12:25
Travis Sawchik: But I guess when you average 95 mph it’s easy to fall in love with the fastball and radar gun

12:25
Travis Sawchik: There’s some upside there

12:25
Travis Sawchik: I want to see Musgrove in a bullpen role

12:26
Travis Sawchik: He excelled in one in a small sample in Houston

12:26
Snid: Is David Dahl just another Chad Hermansen?

12:26
Travis Sawchik: Yikes!

12:27
Fantasy Question: I know you typically don’t approach fantasy questions, but would you rather have Gleyber Torres or Orlando Arcia?

12:27
Travis Sawchik: Torres. Arcia has a 77 wRC+ to date in his career. Not sure if he’ll ever be a fantasy standout. Might be a better “real” player

12:28
v2micca: Four of the projected division winners have stumbled a bit out of the gate (Yankees, Dodgers, Nats, Cubs)  Which, if any of these teams should be concerned with their slow start?

12:28
Travis Sawchik: I suppose they all have different reasons for mild concern but if I’m the Yankees I’m pretty concerned about what the Red Sox are doing

12:29
Travis Sawchik: Yankees have a 24.6% chance to win the division at the moment https://www.fangraphs.com/standings/playoff-odds

12:29
Travis Sawchik: By far the lowest among the aforementioned clubs

12:29
Travis Sawchik: Red Sox’ pitching plus the new approach at the plate and what Betts is doing …. pretty formidable

12:30
Travis Sawchik: I’m guilty of falling in love with the Yankees but the Red Sox were still a very good team and most of us expected them to ve in the postseason

12:30
HBP: Joey Gallo has become even more interesting this year.  He has dropped his K rate by 7%, and his walk rate has fallen with it.  He’s making way more contact this year, swinging way more,  and his Babip is terrible.    I’m guessing there’s some real upside…but, wow, lots to unpack here.  Thoughts?

12:30
Travis Sawchik: There

12:30
Travis Sawchik: ‘s a lot going on there

12:30
Travis Sawchik: [including that I cannot type]

12:31
Travis Sawchik: I think he really wants to try to put the ball in play against all these crazy alignments

12:31
Jay: Christian Villnueva… Top OPS in baseball… SSS king or legit breakout candidate?

12:31
Travis Sawchik: He’s not going to have the top OPS in baseball at the end of the season. But there’s legit skill here. Good find

12:31
jack82: Is Miles Mikolas really good? Or two starts vs CIN made him appear better than he really is?

12:31
Travis Sawchik: I think he

12:32
Travis Sawchik: ‘s a mid to back-end rotation guy

12:32
Rusty: I have no trouble believing the Braves will fall off their 97 win pace.  But at what point are we allowed to consider them in the WC chase?

12:32
Travis Sawchik: We’re giving them a 7.8% chance of making the playoffs, so not yet

12:33
Travis Sawchik: I’ve been big on the Braves’ future since last spring but I think it’s still a year away

12:33
Travis Sawchik: Curious to see what they and the Phillies do with their spending power in the winter. The NL East is becoming the most interesting division in baseball, imo

12:33
jack82: Think Jose Martinez be a fantasy top 10 1B at season end?

12:33
Travis Sawchik: Yes

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Cardinals might have stumbled upon Pujols Lite

12:34
Baseball Yeti: If Fangraphs had a 10-Day DL, who would be the most likely to be on it for blister issues from a new keyboard?

12:34
Travis Sawchik: Apparently me today. Having some issues with my right pinky finger. Carson is coming out to have a look at it

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Sheryl Ring has become a content (and excellent content) machine

12:35
E5: Am I just having another bad April or am I finally showing my age?

12:35
Travis Sawchik: Since you always have bad Aprils, I’ll give you a pass for now

12:35
BK: How awesome would a Harper Inciarte Acuña outfield be?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Where’s Pache going to play?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Could the Braves be a super darkhorse? Maybe. I think Phillies are going to make a huge play

12:37
Not Eno : If you filter by SP with a 10+ K/9, less than 2 BB/9, FIP under 4, and xFIP under 3…there’s Marco standing with Corbin, Sale, Scherzer, Thor, Ohtani, deGrom, Morton, and Cole.   Pitches in the zone a lot so he’ll have that higher Babip, but not .438 high.  But SwStr is only at 9%.  Can he be a thing?

12:37
Travis Sawchik: Marco’s stuff falls short of that group but interesting nonetheless

12:37
Mike: Plenty of attention has been given to the successful “McCullersing” but Sonny Gray has dropped his 4 seamer to 18% and upped his curve usage. Right now his Zone % has dropped 4 points and is sporting an ERA in the 8.00s (plus a 6 BB/9). Could be maybe need to go back?

12:37
Travis Sawchik: Like with many new ideas/concepts, they can be taken too far and they don’t fit everyone

12:38
Travis Sawchik: See: Schimpf, Ryan

12:38
Swung on Belted: Belt is such a tease. But his epic at bat and wRC+ have got me thinking that this could be the year?  What’s your assessment of him and will he rake vs lefties too this year?

12:39
Travis Sawchik: I’ve always been a big Belt fan. His home park hurts him more than just about any player in the majors. I’d love to see him traded out of SF just to see what he could do in a neutral or hitter-friendly environment

12:39
CamdenWarehouse: just stop using the apostrophe, travis

12:39
Travis Sawchik: I have a 30 grad on hitting the apostrophe key

12:39
Tyler: Am I the only one skeptical about Andujar? His walk rate is so low that his ceiling can’t be that high. Seems like he’ll be a free swinger that you hope can put out 20-30 homers a year, but will never get on base like you’d want.

12:39
Travis Sawchik: I think you are!

12:40
Travis Sawchik: We’d like everyone to walk at a double-digit rate, but he’s raked everywhere he’s been

12:40
Brew: Are the Brewers missing someting by not giving Aguilar more regular AB’s.  He is still just 27 and looks like he can really hit.

12:41
Travis Sawchik: Brewers just kind of have a logjam of guys but he probably warrants a bit more of a look

12:41
javier baez: how can an ump tell a defensive player where he can or cant lineup in the field of play??

12:41
Travis Sawchik: I guess I missed this while focused on your offensive breakout?

12:42
Corey: If the Red Sox are THAT good you tip your cap to them.

What’s the virtue of being concerned about how another team is playing?

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Well, if you want to avoid playing in a one-game Wild Card thing you have to be concerned with your divisional foes

12:42
Travis Sawchik: I’m not a fan of the one-game Wild Card

12:43
Travis Sawchik: And I have a solution …

12:43
Julian: Baez and Torres look a bit alike, huh? Who would you rather have? Looking at tools, Baez seems have better power, glove, speed. Torres perhaps better hit. Not sure about arm.

12:44
Travis Sawchik: Beaz has better raw tools outside of the hit tool.. if Baez can keep these discipline and batted-ball gains he’s an elite player

12:44
Travis Sawchik: But Torres has the service time clock in his favor from the club perspective, of course

12:44
JD: Nick Pivetta is doing big things. Will he keep on doing these things?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Not quite to this degree, but, yeah, he looks to have some staying power. That Phillies rotation looks pretty legit at the moment

12:46
los doyers: Is Ryu getting back to his old soft #2/solid #3 form as a starter? command back? Velo almost is

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Everyone forgot about Ryu, it seems, but he’s a legit mid-rotation piece when he’s healthy

12:48
Henry Rowengartner: Syndergaard hasn’t been going very deep into games (6,4,6,5,6).  Thoughts on this?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: Noah doesn’t seem much interested in pitching to contact

12:48
Moltar: Is it really that bad that the Mets have 4 good outfielders for 3 spots? It’s still April, these things work themselves out. I’ve sat through enough Mets seasons where they don’t have any depth at all to ever complain about having *too many* good players.

12:48
Travis Sawchik: The issue is when you’re paying the fourth-best option $39 million through 2020

12:49
BK: We’ve gone half an hour and have yet to mention Mike Trout has claimed his rightful spot atop the WAR leaderboard

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Trout has his rightful spot on the Ohtani leaderboards

12:49
THICC Porcello: Is this FINALLY the year that Brandon Belt breaks out? Granted, all four HRs on this streak were hit on the road… but  maybe?

12:50
Travis Sawchik: Belt has three seasons of 130 wRC+ or better on his resume. He’s already broken out. He’s a very good player. His park and injury have obscured his true talent

12:50
Guest: going back to 2013, belt has put up 3.5+ WAR every year he hasn’t gotten hurt. dude’s one of the most underrated players in the game.

12:50
Travis Sawchik: Agreed

12:50
Travis Sawchik: Put Belt in Yankee Stadium II and no one thinks he’s underrated

12:51
James: Do the Astros need to make a move in the outfield? Lots of Ks from Fisher and Marisnick.

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Those poor Astros

12:51
kevinthecomic: since you know Neil Walker pretty well from your days covering the Pirates, what in the wide wide world of sports is going on with him?

12:52
Travis Sawchik: The K% and BB% rates are in line with his career norms, which is encouraging, but maybe there’s something to be said for the first three weeks of spring training

12:52
Wes: Gallo is also putting the ball all over the field compared to being a serious pull hitter. An adjustment from the shift is real.

12:52
Travis Sawchik: I might take a look at this

12:52
Not the Big Red Machine: Will Luis Castillo figure things out this year ?  Or is playing on a bad team affecting him?

12:53
Travis Sawchik: If he’s healthy, he’ll be fine

12:53
Guest: On the Astros OF…there is that Kyle Tucker guy sitting in AAA too

12:53
Lunar verLander: Re. Astros in the outfield: If only they had an outfield prospect who apparently has a swing like Ted Williams…if only…

12:53
Travis Sawchik: I’m not too worried about anything regarding the Astros

12:54
Guest: Are Yankees fans inevitably going to be disappointed by Torres? Feel like they’re expecting A-Rod jr here, and he kind of seems like more of a sum of all parts type player than anything

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Expectations for a Yankees’ prospect rated as a top 10 overall talent are generally going to be unfair

12:55
Travis Sawchik: He’s not ARod. Who is? He should be a fine major leaguer

12:56
Justin: You said Baez might be an elite player if he holds onto this improvement. Fair. What percent of players do you consider elite? Is it just, above a certain skill level, or, say, the top ten percent?

12:56
Travis Sawchik: 5 WAR+ players I’d consider elite and then you have Trout in another category

12:56
Travis Sawchik: 20 position players reached 5 WAR last season

12:57
Travis Sawchik: So that’s the top 5% of players roughly

12:57
Jake Arrieta: No1 wanted me in the winter because of my velocity drop. It dropped again in 2018 yet I’m looking better than ever. Do you believe I can be a top of the rotation starter throughout the season?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: Be greedy when everyone is fearful? Phillies might have some value here, at least short-term value

12:58
v2micca: I watched for as long as I could, but I eventually had to go to bed.  Can you tell me how that Brandon Belt at-bat finally ended?  (Assuming it did)

12:59
Travis Sawchik: I  believe it ended with a flyout to right? And it was a total victory for Belt and the Giants

12:59
CT: Has the fly-ball revolution increased the value of outfield speed/defense?

12:59
Travis Sawchik: Not significantly because so many balls have been going out of ballparks and because K% are still increasing

1:00
Travis Sawchik: Defensive chances are down for all positions between 20-27% from a decade earlier

1:00
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe: Brandon Belt had a 21 pitch at bat. If Rob Manfred wanted to really change the length of a game, what if a fifth foul ball resulted in a strikeout?

1:00
Travis Sawchik: I have wondered why batters are rewarded for multiple foul balls

1:01
Travis Sawchik: It’s not logical why a foul ball can result in a Strike 1 and a Strike 2 but not a Strike 3

1:01
Travis Sawchik: This was also a rule that was created back when no one struck out

1:01
Jimmy Jammer: Fun fact of the day, there are only 2 current MLB captains; Adrian Beltre and….David Wright! Why don’t more teams give out the captain title? I’m surprise more teams don’t give young studs (Bryant, Trout, Harper) the title which gives a little more incentive for them to stay.

1:02
Travis Sawchik: What do captains actually do?

1:02
Mike: Whats going on with Carlo Santana?

1:02
Travis Sawchik: Probably just a lot of poor luck. Eye skill is still there. He should have a great year for power at Citizens Bank

1:02
Matt: Do the Phillies seem to be rising above the projections yet?  Will this upcoming series against the Diamondbacks tell us if they’re for real?

1:03
Travis Sawchik: I wouldn’t read too much into anyone series but I do think Phillies have a better chance to reach the postseason than our 14% odds give them at the moment

1:04
Travis Sawchik: If, say, the Dogers and Cubs really stumble or the Cubs and Nats, it’s going to be a fun and wide open second half in the NL

1:05
James: Hey, Travis! Big thanks for doing this every week. Who would you rather have ROS: Berrios or Manaea? And are they both top-20 starters ROS?

1:05
Travis Sawchik: Berrios. I like his skill-level better and I think he’s a better bet to stay healthy

1:06
Dingers!: Javier Baez: Chances he breaks 30 HRs this year vs. chances he breaks a .325 OBP? By the end of the year, where does he rank among Cubs in WAR?

1:06
Travis Sawchik: He’ll hit 30 HRs with health, I think he falls short of .325 OBP

1:06
ryan: What are the odds the Orioles trade machado this year?

1:06
Travis Sawchik: They should …

1:06
John Oleruds Helmet: Travis your chats are a light and beacon of hope for the entire baseball community. Thank you

1:07
Travis Sawchik: That’s awfully kind of you, John. But it’s not a consensus opinion. For instance, this chat’s existence for my 3-year-old means waiting on a sandwich

1:08
Dunt: Why is Lucas Giolito doing this to me?

1:08
Travis Sawchik: What happened to that spring, Lucas?

1:09
TJ: Thoughts on Mookie leading off?  I don’t like it…reminds me when Soriano was smacking dingers out of the 1 hole nonstop with the Cubbies…seems a waste when his SLG% is .732 despite the hilarious .459 OBP

1:09
Travis Sawchik: I’m OK with Mookie getting as many PAs as possible but it might not be the optimum spot for me

1:10
Sonny: You spoke to Iannetta about the code sheet, did you get to ask him about his offensive renaissance? A one time top prospect making good a la David Ross?

1:10
Travis Sawchik: It was solely a conversation about the code sheet. Sorry!

1:10
john cale: if defense is less important now than it was 10 years ago, is that being accounted for in fWAR?

1:10
Travis Sawchik: It’s something we probably need to revisit

1:11
Thierry Henry: Are you worried about Gary Sánchez?

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Never again

1:11
Jo-Nathan: and if you bunt with 2 strikes and foul it off you are out

1:11
Travis Sawchik: Very true

1:11
Travis Sawchik: But why?

1:12
Grownup Fan Wearing a Mitt: YOUR TAKE ON FOUL BALLS OFFENDS ME, SIR! WE NEED AS MANY FOUL BALLS AS POSSIBLE! C’MON!

1:12
Travis Sawchik: I stand behind the hot take

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Alright folks, I have to go

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Thanks for stopping by!

1:12
Travis Sawchik: We’ll do this again next week

1:12
Travis Sawchik: Until then, be good and 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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Tea_Wreck
Member
Tea_Wreck

I’d read someone (Bill James?) that the strike-out on a bunt was a rule change to prevent batters from repeatedly attempting to bunt and continuing to fouling it off. If that’s true then it’s a rule change necessitated by the already weird rule that batters can’t earn strike 3 on a foul.

Of course if we’re going to go down that rabbit hole then we start to question why a foul straight back to the catcher is only a strike and not an out.