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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat -- 3/4/16
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Jeff Sullivan
Hello friends
Welcome to Friday baseball chat! There's baseball happening!
Your thoughts on the Jays this year? Seems like their PECOTA projections were a little conservative...84 wins seemed low even if it would give them a WC.
Jeff Sullivan
PECOTA puts them at 86-76 and Steamer/ZiPS puts them at 84-78. I like them more around 88-74; I don't think they're a particularly deep team, but they're a strong team, and in a weird way I kind of like their underwhelming starting rotation
I obviously love Stroman, I'm on board with Happ, and I should hope they don't give many starting opportunities to Sanchez because I think he's a dynamite relieer
do you like Ian Kennedy with the Royals. Better ERA in 2016 ?
Jeff Sullivan
Better ERA for sure but I don't think of him as anything more than a No. 3
Jeff, which prospect/player who did not pan out surprised you the most? Who is the biggest "should have been" you can think of and using hindsight, why do you think they didn't work out?
Jeff Sullivan
This isn't my real answer but, Ryan Anderson. He struck out like 12 batters per nine innings and was starting pretty well in Triple-A at 20 years old. He was supposed to be legitimately unhittable, but then the shoulder started barking. He doesn't count because pitchers get hurt and that's not an unusual thing, but just based on talent alone, Anderson could've been a Hall of Famer instead of a professional chef
I think your prompt basically eliminates pitchers because pitchers can have strange career paths. Elbows and shoulders and whatnot. So let me rack my brain for a hot second about busted position players
aw the hell with it, there's too much to remember and I can't see past my own biases
So I'll volunteer Chris Snelling!
Tore up the minors when he was younger, showing all the skills you could want to see. Excellent control of the strike zone. He was undone in a hurry by injury problems. Just constant. He's not the best answer to this question, but he's my answer to this question
What would the Braves haul for Miller have gotten Dave Stewart on Jonah Keri's trade list (if you've read it, and Dave Cameron's from last year if you haven't)? By that I mean, around which caliber player would be the tipping point for what teams would have accepted for that package if they knew Stewart was offering it?
Jeff Sullivan
Let me pull up Jonah's list real quick
I don't know if the specific team circumstances would've worked out, but in a vacuum I could see that package getting three years of Matt Harvey instead of three years of Shelby Miller
Now, the Mets might not have been in the mood to sell an ace for another glove-first center fielder and two good prospects. But if Harvey were on, say, the Braves instead, then you probably have a fit. There's a reason why after the trade happened, we all figured the package was more appropriate for someone like Jose Fernandez
Do you think the Mariners have a rotation set and are just not telling the team/media in case someone gets hurt, or if someone blows away the fickle spring training competition they could win the job?
Jeff Sullivan
There are six candidates, but really, Felix is in, and Iwakuma is in, and Walker is in, and Miley is in. So it's all about Paxton vs. Karns -- I'm ignoring whoever else -- and though the Mariners might be leaning 60/40 in one direction, I'm sure they just want to see how both pitchers perform. I don't at all think they've made up their minds
Do you take Iglesias or McCullers in 2016 ?
Jeff Sullivan
McCullers is better
I don't know if that's a good answer from a fantasy perspective but it's a good answer from a reality perspective
"From an analytics point of view," Servais conceded, "they say you should hit your best hitter second. (Pause) I think Robby Cano should hit third. " - Does this mean that Servais doesn't think Cano is the best hitter on the team, or he's acknowledging that he understands that Cano should theoretically hit second but will still be in the three spot?
Jeff Sullivan
I think the Mariners just don't want to move Cano up and potentially make him change his approach to suit his lineup position. The difference between having him second and third is pretty damn small, over a full season, and maybe they prefer someone with Marte or Aoki's bat control in front. Cano did bat second 10 times last year; expect the lineup to move around as the season wears on
For whatever it's worth, Cruz is arguably the best hitter on the team, and he's definitely not batting second
Pedro Alvarez...where do you think he fits? Boras says the reason he was bad at defense last year was the Pirates positioned him away from the bag alot. Is anyone buying that? Or is Pedro a pure DH now?
Jeff Sullivan
I don't think anyone's buying that although I also don't think anyone believes Alvarez is the worst defensive first baseman ever. He's mostly a DH. There would be an immediate fit in Colorado and maybe the Rockies consider that as they save money from the suspended Jose Reyes. But they also might just not be interested in a veteran -- they weren't interested in Desmond. The White Sox would fit if they just bit the bullet and dumped LaRoche
Pretty Tony
I think Anthony Gose would have more success if he went by Tony.
Jeff Sullivan
I unreasonably love this
Tony Gose
Tony Gose Tony Gose Tony Gose
Jeff, thank you for your work on the recent poll and for providing me with the total votes for each team. The reason I asked was because I was trying to compare results that might be between fans and non-fans. For example, as a Diamondbacks fan, I found it odd that we had the 7th most votes in the NL even though we're definitely not the 7th most popular team. I compared this with the voting results - the poll suggests fans think we're an 82 win team - yet most fans I know (in person and various online groups) seem to believe we're more in the 85+ wins group. My theory is that with the Diamondbacks being a popular narrative, that they drew more non-fans to vote. Do you have any thoughts or desires on analyzing this?
Jeff Sullivan
It's a tricky thing to analyze but I definitely think that you're on to something. The Diamondbacks are one example of a team that drew more votes than the FG demographics would predict. The Royals are an even more obvious example. They drew a ton of votes because there's been so much talk about just what these teams are, compared to what the numbers say they are. So people formed opinions a while ago, and this was an opportunity to express them. I doubt anyone was in much of a hurry to come and offer their opinion on the damn Rockies
TF Fredrik
Top speed guys, Burns, Hamilton, & Gordon, and anyone of their class, what is ideal batted ball profile they can have to still succeed with such weak contact? Seems like running a 50%+ groundball rate, and using a lot of the opposite field would be a start.
Jeff Sullivan
I think the reality is that, while people think about speed guys succeeding on grounders, they *really* succeed on liners and bloopers beyond the infield. Grounders are still mostly outs, even if you're Delino DeShields. It's just that those flares tend to correlate better with grounder rate than fly ball rate
You definitely look for an ability to spray the ball and I think when a speed hitter makes it to the majors, that process is selective for spraying because weak pull hitters don't make it anywhere
As a soft rule of thumb, I think you want a GB% at least very close to 50%
And you'll hope for some ability to walk
Pale Hose
Let's say you have a reliever with 70 command that specializes in a reverse Dickey effect. How slow would he have to throw to completely throw off a major leaguer's timing, albeit for one PA?
Jeff Sullivan
Maybe we're talking about going from like Kelvin Herrera to a theoretical Barry Zito who throws strikes
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