March 26, 2023

Avatar Jay Jaffe: and now, on with the show…
sam: If judge leaves the Yankees (and the East), how would you rank the AL East teams for next szn
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, a lot would depend upon what the Yankees do to fill the void left by Judge’s absence, because it’s not like they’d go into the season without some other big bat or upgrades. But in terms of which team’s roster as it would stand looks the strongest  if they don’t retain their free agents, I suspect it might be the Blue Jays
James: Cristian Javier is a top___ pitcher in the league?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’d probably call him somebody in the top 10-12 starters in the AL
Avatar Jay Jaffe: and I think he’s got the upside to narrow that number down a bit. Lowest AVG and BABIP of any starter with at least 140 innings, and virtually tied with Ohtani in K%. That is some pitcher
Jax: Thoughts on Grifol? Realistic to expect Moncada, Grandal to bounce back in ’23?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m glad to see him get his shot but surprised it didn’t come with KC, though I know Matt Quatraro comes highly recommended and that the Royals felt like they needed an outside POV from a new manager. So much of the White Sox’s problems in 2022 had to do with health, and I suspect we’ll see a lot of bouncebacks but I’d retain more skepticism when it comes to Grandal give his age (34 next week) and injury history than, say, Moncada or Anderson
Red: Obviously we know by now BvP stats aren’t very predictive. What metrics do you think are most pertinent in game planning for a specific hitter
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably a lot comes down to looking at performance versus pitch types and characteristics coming from similar pitchers, and matching swing planes. Who hits high velocity fastballs up in the zone, who’s good at low breaking stuff, who shouldn’t play against this type of pitcher if we have another alternative, how does this guy fare against sinker-slider combos with this kind of velo.
James: Will the Astros’ Alvarez/Tucker/Pena core be better than the Altuve/Correa/Bregman core?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: That’s a tall order, and I really doubt it, because the original trio all played important defensive positions and all could conceivably wind up in Cooperstown, setting aside how voters feel about the sign-stealing stuff. Alvarez is a DH in waiting, and Tucker is a corner outfielder, albeit a damn good one, but it’s tough to match those up when compared to 2B and 3B
Blake Seams: Who would be your leading contenders for WS MVP at this point?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: If it’s the Astros, Jeremy Peña has hit .381/.409/.619 and made some big defensive plays. A strong clinching start by Framber Valdez could top that given he already delivered a strong start, though.

As for the Phillies, Alex Bohm has hit .278/.350/.556 and made some tough defensive plays but if they’re gonna come back to win two in a row i suspect the pool of candidates is going to deepen

Trader Jerry’s: Do you think Haniger gets a QO from Seattle, and if so, do you think he accepts it?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes and yes. From Dipoto’s standpoint, there’s no bad one-year deal, and I can’t imagine Haniger wanting to hit free agency with a 57-game season as his platform (to use a Boras term)
Jax: How much more valuable does catcher pop-time, pitcher time to the plate become with the increased base sizes
Avatar Jay Jaffe: 0.172 eensies more valuable.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Man, I dunno
Thank you for the chat!: Do you see a bad contract swap for the yanks around Hicks or another player?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think that could depend on the severity of Hicks’ injury. I listened in on today’s presser with Cashman and Boone but didn’t retain what Cashman said about Hicks other than he’s not going to discuss whether he’ll be traded. If they do pull off such a swap I’d guess it’s a pitcher but who knows
Giant Gonzales: With both DeGrom and Verlander being FA, do you think the Scherzer deal last year was an outlier or set a new market for 40+/yr ?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: deGrom, assuming he opts out, is certain to chase $40M+. Not sure Verlander will see that high a market but I expect he can approximate an updated of his last pre-surgery deal of 2/$66M
Taiko: Since the playoffs are highly unpredictable, just getting into the postseason regularly gives a team a shot at the title each year. What in your mind do the Mariners have to do to build off this season and become a regular playoff participant?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: they were weak at 2B and in terms of the depth of their rotation, though not for lack of trying. A Castillo-Ray-Kirby-Gilbert quartet (however you want to order them) is pretty darn good but Ray didn’t pull his weight this year; if he can return to something closer to Cy Young form and the others can continue to maintain or improve, that’s a very strong unit
Thank you for the chat!: Are the Astros an underrated dynasty? The justified bad image from the scandal somewhat masks an incredible run similar to the Giants. Also Verlander has played in 5 world series now which also seems unreal.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s been an incredible run — six straight ALCS with 3 pennants — but so far the only championship they have to show for it is a tainted one, so I think people can be forgiven if they don’t place it aside the Giants (who were subpar in those intermediate years between championships) or the Torre-era Yankees.

Verlander is obviously a championship caliber pitcher even at 39 and a future Hall of Famer. He’s left an indelible stamp on his era, and it was something of a relief to see him get the W last night. that said, in those previous 4 trips, the only championship he has is the aforementioned one, so I’m sure it would be a load off him if they won again.

Bad Bill: Opinions on the Arenado non-opt out?  (Bonus question: since he now won’t be at 3B, how do the Cardinals make room for Jordan Walker?)
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Walker played a lot of right field in the minors this year and is seeing time at all three positions in the AFL right now. His future is clearly in the pasture if he remains in the organization
Thank you for the chat!: I want Harper to win a World Series and be validated as the great player he is. But I don’t want a recession. How do we reconcile these options?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: You don’t have control of either one of them, but one of those is a lot more fun?
Will: Trying to find a trade that works that creates a Donaldson/Oakland reunion. Would Laureano even entice the Yanks given the amount of $ or prospect power they’d have to send back? I’m sure sending Murphy in a deal that sends back JD would require a motherload of prospects
Avatar Jay Jaffe: First off, they have control of Jose Trevino — who’s coming off a 3.7 WAR season in which he became a first-time All-Star — for 3 more seasons so I can’t see them targeting Murphy. And they now have Bader in center field, so I don’t see Laureano as a particularly good fit; he doesn’t have enough bat for a corner if they lose Judge.
TomBruno23: Cardinals, at a minimum, need to find a new 3rd best hitter to replace their retiring 42 year old DH. I do not see said hitter on the roster. What do you think they will do this winter?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think they need to decide which is the real Tyler O’Neil, the guy from 2021 (144 wRC+ 5.6 WAR) or the one from ’22 (101 wRC+, 1.5 WAR). They have above-average bats at just about every position but as I said in the Arenado piece above, outside help in the OF is probably worth pursuing. The bigger deal is who’s going to catch, assuming Ivan Herrera isn’t ready for the full-time job, and how they can improve the rotation, which just doesn’t miss enough bats.
TKDC: Do you think there are any free agents that will alter their HOF odds depending on what they do? For example, if Kimbrel signs with a team that has no other known options at closer, doesn’t that improve his HOF odds?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think saving 30 games for the Pirates with a 4.00 ERA is going to move the needle much on Kimbrel. If he pitches well for a second-division team he’ll be traded to set up somebody in August, as was the case in 2021. He’s going to have to get back to something closer to form to revive his Hall chances
Will: Given this wouldve been the end of Harper’s 4/$180M offer from the Dodgers, is it safe to say he left money on the table with the Phillies contract
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Sure. But he wanted what he wanted — sign someplace, demonstrate a full-length commitment to a team without any opt-outs or no-trades — and aim to reap the rewards for that, and so he was going to leave money on the table regardless. I wouldn’t weep for him as he seems pretty damn happy with the way things are playin gout
Mike Trout: Don’t batter vs pitch type numbers still have SSS problems? Or is that more of a scouting call than a data call?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: They do, which is why you want to bulk up the sample sizes by finding similar characteristics, and even then I imagine there’s a fair bit of regression involved if you’re modeling something. And yes, I imagine that a scouting component is gonna be part of the equation as well
Did Chewbacca use TP?: Thank you for hosting the chat! How do you think the FA will be this offseason? Will stars like Judge sign early or late? Any general trends you’d expect?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: League revenues are at record levels, around $11 billion, and it looks like a pretty good free agent pool and — thank jeebus — labor peace so I’d expect it to be a pretty active market.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: No idea how quickly Judge signs; I wouldn’t be surprised if he agrees to a 9/$300M deal or something like that before the five-day exclusivity period elapses or waits until late January to make up his mind.
Grant: Yes or no: the Angels will make the playoffs by the year 2025
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Depends who owns the team and whether they retain Ohtani
Avatar Jay Jaffe: but right now I’m not placing money on yes
Giant Gonzales: Follow up to that DeGrom/Verlander question. We’ve seen Tatis Jr and Julio Rodriguez get locked up to massive contracts early, which is great for both player and fans of the team, as Washington tried with Soto. Do those evaporate as soon as “future rookie superstar X”  gets signed to a franchise contract and then completely flames out in the following years/gets a career changing injury that leaves a team a player that has negative value for 10+ years?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Doubt it, because each team that’s making such a commitment will tell you their process differs from their competitors, and because teams tend to be careful about who they give those deals to. The Tatis one doesn’t look great right now, admittedly, but the Padres were swinging for the fences on that one and it could still turn out well for them
Farhan: % chance that I sign Judge this year and Ohtani next year, we have the money
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I do think the Giants are the biggest threat to poach Judge but I’d be surprised if they could land both him AND Ohtani, especially because if the Yankees lose Judge I’d expect them to go hard at acquiring him
Ben: What would it take for the Mariners to close the gap with the Astros this offseason?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: multiple surgeries for several Astros
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the Mariners are a promising team that  think has multiple playoff appearances ahead of it with this core but the Astros have been able to replenish on the fly with youngsters like Peña and Javier and Valdez without sacrificing competitiveness and that’s just in another league compared to where the Mariners are.
Tom: Cards set for pitching? Is Flaherty the ace we thought he was?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: See above. The Cardinals lack startes who can miss bats, and Flaherty, much as I like him, has thrown 154.2 innings at around league average over the past three seasons
Tom: HOFers in the WS – Harper, Verlander, Altuve. Any others? Alvarez?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the landscape is pretty bleak for starting pitchers on a Hall track but I think Aaron Nola is a guy who has a shot if he can stay healthy; he’s already got bWARs of 9.7 and 6.0 banked. I wouldn’t rule out Alvarez or Tucker but I think if the former winds up planted at DH long term that will reduce his odds. I also do love Javier, who has only begun to scratch the surface with his talent.
Rex Manning Day: Am I crazy for thinking the consensus that Judge is going to age badly has become overdetermined? I know the track record for big dudes isn’t great, but then, the only guys who’ve ever been close to Judge in both size *and* performance are Stanton and Winfield. Feels like people are focusing entirely on the Stantonian risk but ignoring the Winfield potential. Given the insanely small sample of comparable players, isn’t there reason to think that being *this good* at Judge’s size requires a level of athleticism that balances out a lot of the size-based risk?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think that’s an unreasonable view. Judge has spoke of the way he changed his training methods in order to reduce wear and tear, seeing the dangers of being a cage rat who wears himself out. I think that’s a big part of the reason he’s been able to stay on the field the last two seasons though obviously some of the reasons he’s missed time have been more fluky
YorDaddy: No love for Pressly as a potential WS MVP? I know WPA favors closers but he does have a huge huge lead on that particular metric.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: No closer has won WS MVP since Mariano in 1999. In this day and a closer with 4.2 innings ain’t gonna get it over a strong starter or hitter.
TomBruno23: I think at catcher the Cardinals will go hard after Sean Murphy as opposed to anything on the FA market.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: that seems plausible and they have the talent to get him.
Giant Gonzales: If you were Boston (and knowing that the owners obviously have a luxury tax payroll mandate for 3 years before reset) would you pay Devers $300+/10 yrs knowing that at some point he’ll have to move positions to either 1B or DH?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve never been as high on Devers as some, and I look at him right now and see a guy who’s a 4-5 win player, as opposed to Bogaerts, who’s a 5+ win player. So no, i’m not the guy who’s going to sign Devers to 10/$300M+. That’s not to say somebody won’t, though
DBRuns: Jay, in the last 19 years, only one revenue sharing recipient (currently 14 teams) has won the World Series (the 2015 Royals). Is there a legitimate competitive balance issue in the sport? Perhaps the expanded postseason helps this (gives the Rays, Guardians, Brewers, etc. more rolls of the dice), but the playoffs are increasingly dominated by large market teams.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think you can look at the argument from the other direction: 21 teams have won pennants and 14 have won the World Series in this millennium, without any team repeating as winners. We see a lot of teams choosing profits over competitiveness; the fact that the Royals can win, and that teams like Cleveland and Tampa Bay can get there is proof that it’s not just market size determining this.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Much of the competitive balance problem in the sport is based on teams deciding NOT to compete and so we see a wider split between the best teams and the worst. The new CBA is supposed to incentivize competing; we’ll see if it does what’s intended.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, i have to cut this one off here. It’s date night for my wife’s birthday and I’ve got a few things to wrap up, ahem. Enjoy the rest of the World Series.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: !!!


Brooklyn-based Jay Jaffe is a senior writer for FanGraphs, the author of The Cooperstown Casebook (Thomas Dunne Books, 2017) and the creator of the JAWS (Jaffe WAR Score) metric for Hall of Fame analysis. He founded the Futility Infielder website (2001), was a columnist for Baseball Prospectus (2005-2012) and a contributing writer for Sports Illustrated (2012-2018). He has been a recurring guest on MLB Network and a member of the BBWAA since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe.

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