Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 1/31/22


2:00
Ben Clemens: Hey everyone, welcome to the chat
2:01
Ben Clemens: Gonna be a short one today — I’m gonna head out at 12 PT to get some time-sensitive errands done
2:01
Ben Clemens: So let’s work with haste
2:01
Ben Clemens: Unlike the Chiefs before halftime yesterday, boom football burn
2:01
Appa Yip Yip: Danny Jansen has a BABIP of .230 in over 200 games. Wtf is up with that?
2:01
Ben Clemens: He’s a catcher who is unlucky
2:01
Ben Clemens: double whammy
2:02
Ben Clemens: Like, yeah that’s low, but look at what ZiPS and Steamer project for his BABIP, it’s super low too
2:02
Yordan: Am I one of the most underrated players in baseball?
2:02
Ben Clemens: It’s weird, people just can’t accept DH’s being good unless they’re Ohtani or something
2:02
Ben Clemens: Yordan’s Depth Charts projection this year is for 4.4 WAR
2:03
Ben Clemens: That’s a top 30 hitter in baseball
2:03
Ben Clemens: in overall value, not just with the bat
2:03
Jack B: Do you think a college or HS player is going 1:1 this year?
2:03
Ben Clemens: No idea, but Kevin or Eric would have a better view of this
2:03
Teddy: What do you expect out of JV this year?
2:03
Ben Clemens: Huge error bars, but people who went to his showcase said he looked like old  Verlander
2:03
Ben Clemens: as in, the Verlander of old
2:04
Ben Clemens: so…. short innings b/c I think his stamina won’t be back, but top-flight rate stats
2:04
Phil: ZiPS has 22y.o. Dodgers 3B prospect Miguel Vargas projected for a little over 2 WAR and a .164 ISO. It has 37 y.o. Justin Turner projected for a little over 2 WAR and a .163 ISO. Turner has an edge on OBP while Vargas projects to be a better defender. Is this the last year we see JT in Dodger blue?
2:04
Ben Clemens: I think that Turner will be a DH shortly
2:05
Ben Clemens: but he just put up 4 WAR in 2021, and his contract has a vesting option for next year
2:05
Ben Clemens: Hm, it only vests if he’s top 15 in MVP voting, eh
2:05
Ben Clemens: but team option at $16 million, wouldn’t be a complete shock for htem to pick it up
2:06
Ben Clemens: Miguel Vargas, I should point out, was a mid-tier hitter I liked last year
2:06
Ben Clemens: Love him, the guy just hits
2:06
Ben Clemens: I do think there are reasons to wonder about Vargas’s defense though
2:07
Cob: Why don’t teams use playoff data in player evaluations? Is there anything about it that makes it different than regular season data?
2:07
Ben Clemens: There are some differences, level of competition mainly
2:07
Ben Clemens: But they definitely do
2:07
Outfield: I don’t see any viable outfield options for Cleveland by trade or free agency. Discouraging. Any ideas for the team?
2:08
Ben Clemens: Increase payroll, stop doing things like trading Jordan Luplow for pitching when you’re good at developing pitching and bad at having outfielders
2:08
Ben Clemens: If you’re not gonna spend money, and you’re not gonna trade for anyone, well
2:08
Ben Clemens: There just aren’t many options at that point
2:08
Hot dogs: Just read that hot dogs and bacon are the two worst foods a person can eat. Is there no end to this suffering?
2:09
Ben Clemens: My wife has been watching What The Health on Netflix and it’s pretty anti-processed meat
2:09
Ben Clemens: my response: boo
2:09
Ben Clemens: but also, I’m not surprised
2:09
171: Estimate how much lower the O’s staff ERA will be this year with Adley behind the plate than it has in the past. Gotta imagine it’ll be at least like 0.50 right? The confidence of pitchers throwing a ball in the dirt to Adley compared to Pedro Severino has to be huge.
2:10
Ben Clemens: That’s too much, haha. That’d be 55 runs of defense better than Severino over 1000 innings
2:11
Ben Clemens: I do think it will be lower, but let’s put it this way: the number of catchers to grade out that much better than Severino in 2021 was 0
2:11
zjgifford: Just read your sinker/4seam article. On Gray and Castillo reverse tendencies (more sink to fly ball hitters), did you give any thought to the fact they play in GABP? Home/road splits for those two would be interesting
2:11
Ben Clemens: Could matter, but that should show up in their overall tendencies too
2:11
Ben Clemens: It’s not like throwing four-seamers to groundball hitters gets better at GABP
2:12
Ben Clemens: so their sinker rates should just be jacked across the board at home, not selectively
2:12
Ben Clemens: presumably Justin Verlander
2:12
trout: What’s the probability that Correa will go to NYY?
2:12
Ben Clemens: But I don’t really know
2:12
Krusty: Random leverage stat questions: would RE24 be more popular if it were marketed as basically “advanced RBI”? Any chance WPA ever goes mainstream like WAR?
2:12
Ben Clemens: Probably? Equalized RBI or something?
2:12
Ben Clemens: I do not think WPA will go mainstream like WAR, though
2:12
Ben Clemens: And rightly so
2:13
Ben Clemens: It’s answering a more niche question than WAR, and the reason WAR has caught on so broadly is that it’s just an instantly understandable concept
2:13
Dank Meme: What sort of pitcher is Means this year? He looked great in the first half, but was very hittable after he returned from the IL. Is he just a mid-rotation guy who pitched over his head for a couple months?
2:13
Ben Clemens: Really good question and I’ve been wondering this.
2:13
Ben Clemens: I still think means is more of a #2 than a mid-rotation guy
2:14
Ben Clemens: I wrote about him as a trade target earlier this offseason
2:14
Ben Clemens: To be clear: #2 upside
2:14
Ben Clemens: not right now
2:14
Jfast: Is Kyle Tucker an MVP candidate in 2022?
2:15
Ben Clemens: I don’t think he’s a front-runner or anything
2:15
Ben Clemens: But I think whichever of the trio of best Astros hitters (for me that’s Bregman/Yordan/Tucker) has the best year is an MVP candidate
2:15
JC: What kind of contract would Trea Turner get if he was an FA this off-season?
2:15
Ben Clemens: Bigger than Seager’s, maybe bigger than what Correa eventually lands, but in that range
2:16
Ben Clemens: I’d prefer Correa to Turner but I’m kinda low on Turner relative to industry consensus
2:16
Jack B: Over/under 150.5 games played this regular season?
2:16
Ben Clemens: That’s what my heart says, and also what my brain says
2:16
Ben Clemens: I think that a slightly delayed start of the season is in play for sure
2:17
Ben Clemens: But I don’t think either side is interested in losing 12+ games
2:17
Joe: To rephrase a question from KG’s chat earlier, if you cloned yourself 9 times and played a 162 game season against MLB teams, how many total runs would you score?
2:17
Ben Clemens: I think I’d essentially need to walk in runs
2:17
Ben Clemens: But I’d never get deep into any bullpens b/c I wouldn’t ever be threatening
2:18
thebeatlesshow: If the new CBA includes that bonus pool for non-arb eligible players, what’s to stop the owners from low-balling their players  who get bonus money?
2:18
Ben Clemens: Well, they already basically lowball those guys
2:18
Ben Clemens: non-arb-eligible players make the minimum
2:18
Ben Clemens: within a margin of error
2:18
Ben Clemens: and in fact, MLB’s proposal would REQUIRE that those players make the minimum
2:19
Ben Clemens: removing teams’ leeway to pay slightly more
2:19
Ben Clemens: but that ‘slightly more’ doesn’t really happen as-is
2:19
Mike B: Out of this group does 1 guy jump out to you as a have to have for 2022 (Montas, Bassitt, Valdez, McCullers, Darvish) or are they all in the same bucket
2:20
Ben Clemens: I’d prefer Valdez and Darvish out of that group (assuming we’re talking fantasy here)
2:20
Ben Clemens: I’m really not sure what to make of the A’s guys because it matters where they get traded
2:20
171: Means + Rutschman + New LF wall = career year?
2:20
Ben Clemens: Oh yeah Means might be the player most impacted by the new wall, even without Adley
2:20
Ben Clemens: lefty fly ball pitcher?
2:20
Ben Clemens: sign me up for a fence that reduces righty HR/FB please
2:21
Mike B: Enrique Hernandez’s projections across most of the fangraphs projection models have him as an above avg hitter, do you buy into these & his late career offensive surge or no?
2:22
Ben Clemens: I’d say I’m more Steamer than ZiPS (Steamer is the low model at a 105 wRC+)
2:22
Ben Clemens: but he’s been a pretty okay hitter over the course of his career, and he seems to have rediscovered his batting eye in 2021
2:23
Ben Clemens: If you were looking at his hitting trajectory, the thing you’d be worried about is that the downward trend in walks was due to his increased chase rate and unfixable
2:23
Ben Clemens: that reversed in ’21, and he’s been an above average hitter overall
2:23
Ben Clemens: So why not continue to expect good hitting?
2:23
Jfast: Im a Bregman fan but his last two years are somewhat disheartening. What makes you bullish on him moving forward?
2:24
Ben Clemens: His history as an excellent player
2:24
Ben Clemens: No argument that his last two years have been bad, and injury-marred to boot
2:24
Ben Clemens: But uh, he’s a career .281/.377/.507 hitter and only 27
2:24
Ben Clemens: I like that quite a bit
2:25
Jack B: How much of spring training do you think they would sacrifice to start the regular season on time?
2:25
Ben Clemens: I don’t see spring training being shorter than the four-week kinda deal they did in 2020
2:25
Farhandrew Zaidman: Hi Ben! Have the Dodgers quietly out together the best LH bullpen in the majors? Vesia, Bruihl, Price, and Caleb Ferguson off an injury. Seems good. Thanks!
2:26
Ben Clemens: I thikn I’d give the edge to the Yankees (Chapman, Joely Rodriguez, Wandy Peralta)
2:26
Ben Clemens: b/c I like Joely and well, Chapman will probably rebound
2:26
Ben Clemens: Even without Britton, that’s a nice group
2:27
Ben Clemens: but yeah, Vesia and Bruihl are real relievers for sure
2:27
JC: Why are you low on Turner?
2:28
Ben Clemens: I can’t put my finger on it, but something about the shape of his production just makes me think it won’t last
2:29
Ben Clemens: Is it impossible to keep running high BABIPs and great ISO’s and not walking that much just b/c he’s that good at baseball?
2:29
Ben Clemens: If I were a team looking to spend money on him I would be doing far deeper of a dive than that
2:29
Ben Clemens: but it just like…. his line triggers my spidey sense, is how I’d put it
2:30
Resident Vegan: its okay to let bacon and hotdogs go. If you look at the data like you look at baseball data, you’ll quickly see that eating a plant based diet is Moneyball and omnivore diets are the deadball era.
2:30
Ben Clemens: I eat FAR less meat than I did two years ago, and I haven’t really missed it
2:30
Ben Clemens: I do like meat, I don’t think I’m going vegetarian anytime soon
2:30
Ben Clemens: But I don’t eat much red meat at all, and I find that with the sauces I like to make (generally Asian-influenced but also herby Italian stuff)
2:31
Ben Clemens: Veggies and grains soak up the flavor really well
2:32
Ben Clemens: Also, it’s inarguably healthier for you
2:32
Bob: As it stands now, do the Cardinals have the most complete, best outfield in the NL? MLB?
2:32
Ben Clemens: I think I’d prefer the Dodgers’ outfield and just bet on Bellinger a bit
2:33
Ben Clemens: Also, Astros and Yankees
2:34
Ben Clemens: But the Cardinals are right there
2:34
Guest: Leiter or Davis for dynasty league?
2:34
Ben Clemens: I don’t think guys like him come around very often
2:34
Teddy: if you were houston, would you seriously consider going after Kris Bryant (as a corner OF) and moving Tucker to center? Not a great fit, but curious how much GMs just try to go after the best players on the market (within their price range) regardless of positional fit
2:35
Ben Clemens: There are teams where I think that would make sense, but I think the Astros just  have too much going on in terms of locked-in positions
2:35
Ben Clemens: They aren’t really gonna move Bregman off of third or Yordan off of DH
2:35
Ben Clemens: If this was more of a flexible, shuttle-guys-through-DH situation
2:36
Ben Clemens: I think you could make it work
2:36
Ben Clemens: But I don’t think you can play Tucker as an everyday CF, and I don’t think there are enough rest days at 3B, 1B, DH (the other places I’d shuttle Bryant) to give Tucker time off in CF
2:37
Ben Clemens: Without Yordan, I’d say just sign the best hitter and make it work
2:37
Ben Clemens: But the cost of having a bopper like that at DH is that you need to be a little more diligent in your non-DH roster
2:37
Ben Clemens: a cost I’d be happy to pay, but a cost nonetheless
2:37
Farhandrew Zaidman: Sorry for the Dodger spam, but continuing the bullpen question: is Kenley a MUST re-sign, or better to transition to Treinen and find leverage (RH) arms elsewhere?
2:37
Ben Clemens: I’d sign Kenley
2:38
Ben Clemens: He’s not a must-have, but for a team like the Dodgers, it’s not that easy to improve the position-player side
2:38
Ben Clemens: or the starters side
2:38
Ben Clemens: and it’s also very hard to acquire a 2021-Kenley-level reliever
2:38
Ben Clemens: Will he keep it up? Dunno
2:39
Ben Clemens: But given their budget and the difficulty they have leveraging anyone they’d sign this offseason, I think seeing if you can have an elite reliever is a nice and defensible move
2:39
Michael Toglia: I had a pretty decent AFL but yet when the Rockies prospect list came out, I went from a 40 to a 35.  What gives yo?
2:40
Ben Clemens: I’m not Eric, so I’ll defer to him obviously, but if you read his blurb, it’s largely about his AFL performance
2:40
Ben Clemens: and how pitchers exploited his breaking ball vulnerability
2:41
Ben Clemens: Also I’m looking at his fall league stats and they were pretty blah?
2:41
Ben Clemens: And fall league is a weird place to scout the statline anyway
2:41
Ben Clemens: but a .400 slug for a power dude, that’s not great
2:42
x2R: If you were a starting pitcher, what would be your arsenal?
2:42
Ben Clemens: I’m partial to a Corbin Burnes style arsenal. Cutter/sinker/slider/curve
2:42
Ben Clemens: I understand why he’s gone away from his sinker but I wish he used it more
2:43
Ben Clemens: I just think that the sinker/cutter/slider spectrum is great
2:43
snell cy: The possibility of Darvish’s rebound?
2:43
Ben Clemens: I can easily believe in it
2:44
Ben Clemens: Even with a crappy second half last year he was alright on the season as a whole, and I have no problem saying maybe he was affected more than most by the foreign substance crackdown so maybe an offseason to work on how to create spin in the new regime will benefit him
2:45
Ben Clemens: Plus I just always bet on Darvish, I’m a sucker that way
2:45
Appa Yip Yip: Wow no love for the knuckleball. Gimme knuckleball/changeup.
2:45
Ben Clemens: Everyone loves knuckleballs, I’m not as into them
2:45
Ben Clemens: They are cool as an oddity, not more than that though
2:45
MolsonMuscle: Who do you see Leiter being comparable to?
2:45
Ben Clemens: Jacob deGrom, only worse
2:45
Ben Clemens: I’m not a big comps guy
2:46
Ben Clemens: I really like Leiter’s fastball, though, I hope he bullies people with it like deGrom does with his
2:46
Chip: Talk me out of A.J. Puk as a dark-horse closer.
2:47
Ben Clemens: If you think you’re gonna get a pile of saves, that’s not really Oakland’s way
2:48
Ben Clemens: They like to spread out their ninth-inning work. Even in the full season where Liam Hendriks closed for them (2019), he only had 25 saves
2:48
Ben Clemens: Because Treinen started out as the closer, basically
2:49
Ben Clemens: I think they just like their flexibility and will keep doing that in ’22, playing matchups and rest and whatnot
2:49
Ben Clemens: Rate stat wise? I’m into it!
2:49
Ben Clemens: If one pitcher in the majors threw a knuckleball, I wish it were AJ Puk
2:49
Ben Clemens: For the Knuckle Puk nickname, obv
2:49
Monkeyball: How much better would an average MLB pitcher be if they could throw using their foot instead of their hand? Love a deceptive leg slot.
2:50
Ben Clemens: I don’t think that I understand how this would work
2:50
Ben Clemens: Is it like, arm-level velo and command, just it comes from a strange place?
2:51
Ben Clemens: If so, I imagine it would be pretty useful because throwing 95 from the ground would MESS with some batters
2:51
Ben Clemens: one of the big disadvantages to sidearmers and underhanders is that you can’t really generate elite velo from that slot
2:51
14343: Who in MLB truly has an 80 hit tool?
2:51
Ben Clemens: I thikn I’ll just say no one
2:51
Ben Clemens: Maybe Wander? I’m unclear on exactly what an 80 hit tool means, I know Kevin has said it’s a true-talent .330 hitter or something like that
2:52
Ben Clemens: And I don’t think there are currently any of those
2:52
Ben Clemens: If you subscribe to the stdev method, it’s a 3-stdev above average hit tool
2:52
Ben Clemens: so in a 1,000-hitter MLB, one player would have an 80 hit tool
2:53
Ben Clemens: which means there isn’t always one, and I’ll just say it’s no one right now
2:53
KDS: Would a great 90s team (e.g., 1998 Yankees), if pulled into the future), be beaten easily in a 7 game series by a good 2020s team (e.g., 2021 Yankees) or has the talent level stabilized over that time frame.
2:54
Ben Clemens: I think they would in a 1,000 game series or whatever arbitrary establish true talent level type deal
2:54
Ben Clemens: I haven’t really looked into the speed at which talent has improved, but bat speed and average fastball velo and all that stuff are WAY up
2:54
Ben Clemens: Would they beat this year’s Pirates? I also t hink so
2:54
Ben Clemens: It’s not like there’s NO comparison
2:54
Farhandrew Zaidman: I asked Trevor May (of the Mets) on twitch why more pitchers don’t throw knuckleballs, and he basically said it kills your fastball arm speed so it’s a zero sum game unless you pitch exclusively in knuckies
2:55
Ben Clemens: That makes a lot of sense to me
2:55
Jfast: Building off the arsenal q: would you rather have Cole’s or McCullers
2:55
Ben Clemens: At the levels they throw? Cole’s, because he’s just a better pitcher?
2:55
Ben Clemens: In an abstract sense, McCullers, b/c I dunno, four-seamers feel boring to me at the moment
2:56
Ben Clemens: Sinker/curve, that sounds fun
2:56
Ben Clemens: particularly with his new slider
2:56
x2R: Screwball or ChangeUp? Why?
2:56
Ben Clemens: So, this is another nuance-laden one
2:57
Ben Clemens: I love that Devin Williams has his airbender/screwball
2:57
Ben Clemens: I’m happy that the whole league doesn’t have it
2:57
Ben Clemens: if there were equal incidence of each pitch, I’d vastly prefer changeups
2:57
Ben Clemens: So I love that there are more than 0 screwballs, but a changeup is just a cooler pitch to me in the abstract
2:57
Ted: Jeremy Pena: 105 wrc+ o/u?
2:57
Ben Clemens: In ’22? I’ll take under b/c I like betting with edge
2:58
Ben Clemens: but league average ish hitter is where projection systems are, and that seems just fine to me
2:58
Chip: If you search K%-BB% min. 20 innings in ’22, the chart goes DeGrom, Hendriks, Hader, Iglesias, Kimbrel … Art Warren. I’m drafting Art Warren late, is what I’m saying.
2:58
Ben Clemens: The Reds aren’t regarded as good at pitching development for nothing
2:59
Ben Clemens: It is kind of interesting to me that he’s mostly crushing guys with his slider, and it’s more old-fashioned tight slider than the sweeper that is all the rage right now
2:59
Ben Clemens: But look, that pitch looks great and I wouldn’t bet against him continuing to throw it often and command it
3:00
Ben Clemens: ‘command it’ is the key point here, the way this doesn’t work is if his walk rate goes a little bit north
3:01
Ben Clemens: We have a 40 command on him, that’s obviously worrisome — but if that’s a 50, his plus fastball and plus slider sure sound like a good reliever to me
3:01
Nate: In theory, if the Astros get an improved Bregman, a league average version of Pena, and Correa kind of regresses a bit to his projections from last year…are we really going to skip much of a beat? Not to mention replacing Greinke’s innings with Verlander now
3:01
Ben Clemens: Yep, that’s my basic view
3:01
Ben Clemens: Might even be a little better
3:01
Ben Clemens: Largely b/c of a Bregman bounce-back and having Verlander back, not b/c Pena is as good as Correa, but still
3:02
Ted: Luis Garcia (pitcher) had a surprising uptick in velo in the WS last year – would you agree he seems like the strongest #3/4 SP in MLB?
3:02
Ben Clemens: I’ll take Freddy Peralta
3:02
Ben Clemens: and probably Ryu also
3:03
Ben Clemens: Whichever of Darvish or Snell you’re lower on, even
3:03
Ben Clemens: but yeah, Garcia is up there?
3:03
Ben Clemens: But not #1 in my opinion
3:03
Ben Clemens: Thanks for all the questions everyone, I’m off to run a ton of errands and eat some much-deserved lunch
3:03
Ben Clemens: Have a great week, and may there be labor movement by the time we talk again next week


 

Ben is a writer at FanGraphs. He can be found on Twitter @_Ben_Clemens.



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