Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat

12:00
Travis Sawchik: Happy Monday

12:01
Travis Sawchik: All three AL division leaders now have 92.5% or better division odds

12:01
Travis Sawchik: Let’s get started, shall we?

12:01
Kiermaierkegaard: Hey Travis! Are there any broader trends we can forecast from what the Brewers are doing defensively? “Positionless” infields etc…? What Stearns and Counsell are doing seems to be working, and it’s fascinating to me.

12:02
Travis Sawchik: I suspect the Brewers are concerned with cramming as much power into their infield as possible and taking advantage of a strikeout environment that has eroded defensive changes by 20% over the last decade. It is interesting!

12:02
ZZ Bottom: AL wildcard race the most compelling story rest of season?

12:03
Travis Sawchik: In the AL, sure. But the NL has three pretty good division races going on. The NL should give us plenty of September drama

12:05
bobby: People are discussing the “unfairness to the yankees” with the wild card. Why not discuss it regarding a team with a near same record in a much better division-oakland a’s?

12:05
Travis Sawchik: Noise is proportional to market size

12:05
Travis Sawchik: The playoff structure is not a pure meritocracy, for sure

12:05
Travis Sawchik: And just think, we’re likely headed for a future of four divisions

12:06
Gadi: Kipnis is getting hard to watch…I’m surprised the Indians havent been platooning Erik Gonzalez with him.  I find it hard to believe Yandy cant help this team either as a 3rd baseman or 1st base platoon.

12:06
Travis Sawchik: #FreeYandy

12:07
Travis Sawchik: Yandy is going to be 27 next month. I’d like to see what he can do down the stretch and how much of that .413 OBP in Triple-A translates. Indians can afford to experiment.

12:07
Mike M: Javy Baez – MVP contender?

12:08
Travis Sawchik: He’s having a great year and in the mix in what is kind of a weak NL MVP chase. Top five fWAR leaders are all in the AL

12:08
Justin: If the Pirates find a taker for Nova this offseason (which shouldnt be THAT hard), they’d have something like $20-30 million in payroll space to add to the team.  Can you think of any FAs that would seem like an especially good use of that money?  Not a lot of holes on the team but i keep coming back to Donaldson…

12:08
Travis Sawchik: Would the Pirates actually use the cap space they created?

12:08
NYY fan: Tell me it gets better???

12:09
Travis Sawchik: Yankees are still in really good shape … they’re just in the wrong division

12:09
Abraham Nunez: Any chance the backlash from this offseason impacted the decision making around the Archer trade from Pittsburgh’s side some? It is odd to me that they never made this aggressive of a move in the past when they had some REALLY good teams but chose to do so now.

12:09
Travis Sawchik: Pirates were in on David Price in 2014 and thought they had made a better offer to Tampa

12:10
Travis Sawchik: It was an interesting trade, for sure. Pirates’ playoff odds suggest this was kind of an unusual team to bet on, though Archer is under control.

12:11
Travis Sawchik: I understand the deal more from Tampa’s perspective, though if Pirates can get more out of Archer it can be a very good mid-range deal for them in an NL that doesn’t have a super team at this very moment

12:11
Aaron: After a mediocre start by Chris Archer and a couple losses putting the Pirates below 10% playoff odds, I wonder what you think will have to happen to make the Pirates NOT regret that trade?

12:12
Travis Sawchik: Pirates have to get Archer back on track. Like the Astros did with Gerrit Cole, to a degree. It’s certainly possible.

12:13
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Baseball is very popular with a relatively older audience and is concerned about its popularity with children. This is why it makes sense for its most important games to end well after midnight eastern. Because if people on the west coast can’t see the top of the second, the sport will die. It is fine if people on the east coast wake up to find out that stuff happened after that Chapman homer in the World Series. *Shakes well-rested fist*

12:15
Travis Sawchik: Sheryl Ring had a good piece on baseball’s age problem last week. MLB is aware of it. That’s why Rob Manfred has been so interest in raising participation among kids. Kids that play the sport are more likely to become paying customers. I think pace and game times are an issue, too, but smaller ones in the grand scheme of things. The NYY-BOS game time last night is a problem. I don’t think old people stay up for that either.

12:16
Dbacks: What is your thoughts on Shane Bieber? Do you feel like he is at his peak or just at the tip of the iceberg regarding his potential?

12:16
Travis Sawchik: I think there’s more there. Starting with potential 80-grade command is a good starting point. He can sharpen or add another breaking ball … He’s a mid-rotation guy for me

12:17
Pip: Over/Under on Bryce Harper’s total contract being worth $300 Million?

12:17
Travis Sawchik: Over

12:18
Travis Sawchik: He’s still going to be entering his Age 26 season probably coming off a ‘down’ 4-win season. You don’t see that every day.

12:18
Adam: Chances of a waiver deal for Harper?

12:18
Travis Sawchik: Probably unlikely … but there’s a chance. Depends on what Nats do here in the near term

12:19
Bravesy McBravesface: Shouldn’t the Yankees just bullpen the wild card game?  If they do choose to use one of their starters for an extended outing, it seems like more of a gamble.  If they bullpen the game, they’d save one of their starters for the division series, likely wouldn’t surrender many runs, and could take advantage of matchups more easily.  It’s not an infallible strategy, but the way their rotation has pitched lately, it feels like less of a gamble.

12:19
Travis Sawchik: Yes!

12:19
Bernie: Will Fangraphs ever have weekly staff power rankings? Fans are obsessed with lists, especially those of the power sort, and I feel like you guys could do it right.

12:20
Travis Sawchik: It’s been discussed. I believe it has been done before at FG. People do love lists.

12:21
Dodger: What’s up with Max Muncy? Is this regression a sign for concern or a normal slump?

12:21
Travis Sawchik: Since he lacks a track record it’s a little more concerning but I still believe in Muncy

12:21
Bernie: What are the chances Harper or Donaldson sign 1 year deals next season?

12:22
Travis Sawchik: If players want to max earning potential and erode some of the owners’ revenue gains they should always take short-term deals … I think Harper will sign something with an opt out after 1- or 2-years … Donaldson might be more likely to take a one-year deal

12:23
PD: What can the Pirates do to improve their defense? They shift a lot, but by BABIP, UZR and DRS, they’re in the bottom 10 or worse and only Marte and Dickerson are above average defensively. Is it a matter of just getting better players?

12:23
Travis Sawchik: It’s mostly a matter of better players. Marte is the only guy who screams above-average defender to me

12:24
Brian Cashman: The Yankees are similar to the 2008 General Motors in that they are too big to fail. How is MLB or Rob Manfred going to bail us out?

12:24
Travis Sawchik: Bullpen the wild card game

12:25
Sleepy: What Manfred and baseball can’t seem to understand is that nobody *really* cares about four hour games.  They care about four hour games that don’t end until after midnight.  Start.  Postseason.  Games.  Earlier.

12:25
Travis Sawchik: I’m all for a day WS game

12:26
Trixie: Why did the Padres just give away Tyson Ross?  Couldn’t they have traded him a week earlier for a lottery ticket prospect?

12:26
Travis Sawchik: That’s a good question. He had to have some value… Maybe the padres ask was too much? No idea.

12:27
Steven: Any chance Ohtani gets OF time at any point? Perhaps in an NL stadium with a new manager?

12:27
Travis Sawchik: He can run, and he’s obviously a good athlete, so I bet he could be a decent defender. While he’s not pitching it would make more sense

12:27
Travis Sawchik: Remember when everyone (many) thought Ohtani couldn’t hit ?

12:28
Travis Sawchik: Always trust the Davenport translations

12:29
Travis Sawchik: Which had Ohtani’s last full season in the NPB translate to a 133 wRC+ in the majors

12:29
Travis Sawchik: His current wRC+ is 138

12:30
Alex: MLB is concerned about peak revenue with ad sales starting 8pm EST. But if it’s a good game  it is now 11pm and ad sales can’t be as high. Wouldn’t it make more sense to say start at 6 or 7pm and have the mid/end game still during peak hours?

12:30
Travis Sawchik: Why not be flexible depending on time zones of actual teams involved?

12:30
Travis Sawchik: But I’d generally be for a 7:05 pm start time

12:31
James: Thoughts on Sosh’s comments? seems like everyone but him knows that he aint coming back next year.

12:31
Travis Sawchik: Not sure but it seems like it’s time for a change

12:32
Austin: I still think the Yankees could hang any day of the week with the Red Sox even after the sweep. Am I completely delusional?

12:32
Travis Sawchik: No. The Yankees can hang, for sure

12:33
Lunar verLander: Wait…would that be power ranking of the staff?

12:33
Travis Sawchik: Now THAT would get some ratings

12:34
Alex: Are Kris Bryant’s shoulder woes similar to what Michael Brantley dealt with?

12:34
Travis Sawchik: It’s strange to see Bryant with a sub .500 SLG and .200 ISO

12:35
Moltar: The last time FG did a weekly power ranking it was to beholden to preseason projections, so it was way out of step with the actual standings months in to the season. But who really needs power rankings anyway?

12:35
Travis Sawchik: I guess the WS odds are kind of our defacto power rankings

12:36
Mac: What do you make of the Indians trade for Mercado? Have they lost faith in Zimmer finding his way or is one of them being looked at as a corner?

12:36
Travis Sawchik: Zimmer’s stock is down, I would think, and Mercado is an interesting flier

12:37
Doug: Concerning the Padres letting Ross go. Seeing as Harvey and Shields weren’t traded either, I am guessing there was no market. Padres save money and open roster spots for younger players.

12:38
Travis Sawchik: The market might have been minimal

12:38
Astroville: Why on earth would the Astros go and get Osuna? I feel this is going to create a lot of awkwardness and ruin some team chemistry. Terrible idea right?

12:38
Travis Sawchik: That backlash shouldn’t have been at all surprising to the Astros

12:39
Matt : I don’t see any reason why the Yankees playing a wildcard game is bad for baseball, the Astros, Indians, and Red Sox are all borderline super teams, sometimes you win 99 games and still win the division. I don’t remember Red Sox fans complaining in 04 when they were the WC

12:39
Travis Sawchik: Different WC in 2004. The WC needs to change to a Best-of-Three (with a doubleheader) or a KBO-style format where the weaker seed has to win twice in two games, the better seed just needs one win

12:40
Adam: Yes the right choice between making west coast people leave work two hours early to watch world series games or making east coast people stay up past their bedtime is the one that will make sure New Yorkers get enough sleep.

12:40
Travis Sawchik: How about we just tape-delay the WS for the West Coast and everyone logs off Twitter?

12:40
KMA: Which Brewer, Cain or Yelich, has a better shot at winning the 2018 NL MVP?

12:41
Travis Sawchik: Brewers offseason worked out pretty well, eh?

12:41
romorr: Cleveland a super team?  What’s their record, and the record of the 2nd place team in the Central.

12:42
Travis Sawchik: Cleveland hasn’t been to date. But if you get Kluber right (looks like he might be) and Miller right, then you have a rotation and bullpen that can compete with any team

12:42
Not Shane Robinson: Do you think the Red Sox window to win a World Series extends far beyond this year? Their luxury tax bill is already going to be pretty hefty, they don’t have a good farm system, and I’d imagine Kimbrel will ask for Jansen/Chapman money and I don’t know if Barnes or Kelly can be shutdown guys to replace him.

12:43
Travis Sawchik: I think it extends beyond this year but it’s not as large as the Yankees’ window

12:43
Alex: Why on why do we still have to endure the unbalanced schedule? I can’t stand the 18 games vs. CHW, KC, MIN, DET. I  know it benefits the Indians this year, but half their season is playing against crap teams.  I think it has even caused the big rivalries like NYY vs. BOS and SF vs. LA to lose their luster when they play each other every other week.

12:44
Travis Sawchik: I’m 100 percent with you Alex for a number of reasons

12:44
Travis Sawchik: I’d love to see a much greater diversity of intraleague play

12:45
RockAugust: I don’t like the wild card one game playoff. I love everything else about the playoffs but want to see the wild card a 3 game playoff like a normal series. What do you think?

12:45
Travis Sawchik: Off time for other teams is the issue, but putting a double-header in a Best-of-Three would be pretty awesome

12:45
Michael Batista: What’s up, Travis? Trying to replace McCullers on ESPN. Know its a stretch, but how viable is Clay Buccholz, really? Just banking on a contingency plan in case Zack Wheeler addition doesn’t go through.

12:46
Travis Sawchik: I hope you land Zack Wheeler. Arrow is up .

12:46
Adam: If Nolan carries the Rockies to the Wild Card, is he your NL MVP?

12:46
Travis Sawchik: Independent of how the Rockies do, Nolan should be in the mix

12:47
Moltar: Is there anything in baseball more depressing than seeing Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and Austin Jackson penciled in to the Mets lineup every day? A bottom of the barrel team like the Mets should be playing Jeff McNeil and anybody else under 30 with a pulse over these wash-outs.

12:47
Travis Sawchik: What about when Reyes pitches, though?

12:48
AC: Which team will have a winning record first: Royals, Tigers, Orioles, or Marlins?

12:48
Travis Sawchik: Yikes

12:49
Travis Sawchik: Tough call between Marlins and Tigers

12:49
Kiermaier’s Piercing Green Eyes: Hey, the AL has a legitimate wild card race now!

12:50
Travis Sawchik: It felt like the Mariners were just setting us up

12:50
kevinthecomic: Carlos Santana’s career low BABIP: bad luck or the result of shifting?

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Santana has seen a ton of shifts so I suppose it’s luck or quality of batted balls

12:51
romorr: Mariners are the 2012 Orioles without a Machado call up when things normalize.

12:51
Travis Sawchik: Let’s remember the Mariners have a -19 run diff

12:51
Travis Sawchik: They are not a great team

12:52
jay: I’ve always liked the All-Star game in any rules or format in baseball because it’s usually the best players (looking at you, Sal Perez) in the game. But what would your thoughts be on an NBA-style ASG where captains are named and they pick, regardless of team? Any shot at this happening? Would be great to see what the players pick from.

12:53
Travis Sawchik: Did you see the players’ selections this year? It wasn’t great … but a draft would be fun

12:53
Alex: Do you think a lottery for the top 10 draft picks would decrease the tanking we saw that has run rampant the last few years?

12:53
Travis Sawchik: No

12:53
Travis Sawchik: But if you took away revenue sharing …

12:54
Failson: Is it time to finally recognize the Phillies as being really good, and ahead of schedule?

12:54
Travis Sawchik: Didn’t that happen a few months ago?

12:56
stever20: 0% chance that Arenado gets any consideration for MVP.  Totally Coors Field effect- home wRC+ is 169, away is 122.

12:56
Travis Sawchik: His road wRC+ is still well above average https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=y…

12:57
Jessica : Anthopolous said the Braves plan on introducing some ideas to Gausman when he comes over. Would you have any suggestions/theories for possible changes Gausman could make to improve?

12:58
Travis Sawchik: I’d be looking at fastball usage and location

12:58
Chuck: Are you worried about Muncy’s playing time going forward? He’s my starting 2B in a H2H league.

12:58
Travis Sawchik: No

12:59
Moltar: Why do people hate on tanking? I wish the Mets would tank with a purpose rather than half-ass it with Jose Reyes.

1:00
Travis Sawchik: I’d say the AL Central is a microcosm of the issue. It’s not good baseball.

1:00
BT: Soto ROY?

1:00
Travis Sawchik: Soto for president

1:00
Mountie Votto: What happened to Tyler Mahle? Fatigue? Tipping pitches?

1:00
Travis Sawchik: That’s a great question. I still like the command and think he has mid-rotation potential

1:00
AC: Would the combined roster of the White Sox, Orioles, Royals, and Tigers make the playoffs? VMart AND Chris Davis? Who says no?!

1:02
Travis Sawchik: I haven’t really looked into it but I’d guess it’s a no

1:03
Not Shane Robinson: Do you think the luxury tax has been counterproductive to what it was intended to do? Previously small market teams had an advantage over (or were at least more or less equal to) bigger teams in terms of things like international spending. But does the tax incentivize teams like the Yankees and Dodgers to put their money into the farm system instead of rolling out a $240M payroll? 8 of the top 13 international amateurs this year went to 3 teams.

1:05
Travis Sawchik: I think there are a number of unintended consequences mostly working in favor of the owners. The Rays did end up with Wander Franco, though

1:05
Travis Sawchik: That music you hear marks the conclusion of this chat. Thanks for stopping by everyone

1:05
Travis Sawchik: Until next time, 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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1 Comment on "Travis Sawchik FanGraphs Chat"

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stever20
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stever20

re Arenado away 122 wRC+ sounds good, until you realize that it’s NL #30 in away wRC+ right now. Really do not see him getting much consideration. He was a distant 4th in the MVP race last year with a far less extreme home/away wRC+.