HomeTrending MLB NewsJay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat - 1/23/24

Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 1/23/24

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2:00
Jay Jaffe: Good afternoon and happy Hall of Fame election results day!
2:02
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’ve got a lot on my plate today but since my chats have been so scarce lately i figured I’d spend a bit of time answering questions here as a way to burn off some nervous energy. Hall of Fame and hot stove q’s take precedence. Speaking of hot stoves, our new range arrived today, replacing the 20+ year piece of junk that this house came with. it had better heat more evenly!
2:03
Refugee: FanGraphs voters are small hall? What the heck?
2:05
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I wouldn’t exactly say that. While the two candidates elected in this year’s crowdsource poll was fewer than in any of the previous five years, voters averaged just shy of 8 names per ballot; it’s just that those were spread more widely than we’ve seen
2:06
Doug: This is more of a comment but as someone in his mid 20s I was leaning no on Wagner for HOF. But for me Hader is someone who def deserves HOF consideration and he would basically need to keep up this performance through his late 30s to match Wagner. As such, Wagner is in for me
2:07
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hader’s got some good seasons under his belt but his -1.1 WAR 2022 dud still looms large. He’s definitely going to need longevity into his late 30s to have a shot. But I’m glad he helped you gain a greater appreciation for Wagner, who looks as though he might be a near-miss this year but set up for election next year.
2:08
Kevin: Hi Jay–wondering what it’s going to take to finally get Luis Tiant into Cooperstown? I look at s-JAWS and see him tied with Jim Palmer, and ahead of four other contemporaries (Sutton, Drysdale, Marichal, Bunning) plus Sabathia, who ought to fly in on the writers’ ballot. I’d hate to see him get the Dick Allen, Minnie Minoso treatment where he’s not honored while alive to enjoy it.
2:10
Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s in a tough spot because he’s now pooled with all of the other potential candidates in the pre-1980 group for next year’s Classic Baseball Era Committee, for players, managers, execs, and umpires who made their marks prior to 1980 — including those from the Negro Leagues and pre-Negro Leagues Black baseball. What’s more, he never made much noise in his times on previous Era Committee ballot. Maybe our greater appreciation of pitcher longevity and volume will help turn the tide but I’m not holding my breath.
2:10
Oracular Pig: There was an amusing argument on one of the Baseball Prospectus podcasts about whether Gary Sheffield should be absolved of his poor defensive value because he lived in a non-universal-DH world. How much do you or do you not ding him for his defense?
2:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: JAWS takes a big chunk of his value due to what’s rated as the second-lowest total of fielding runs in Baseball Reference’s system, ahead of only Jeter. I find the numbers to be a bit beyond belief, and so I’ve voted for him on all four of my official ballots, even though he’s a bit below the JAWS standard. Generally 50 JAWS is my cutoff for non-pitcher, non-catcher candidates and he’s at 49.3
2:12
Cube Jockey: Regardless of the size of the talent pool and the number of deserving expansion cities, is there a limit on the number of teams MLB can have before it’s too unwieldy?  I’m thinking that after the next round of expansion, the average drought for a title will be 32 years.
2:15
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Well, 32 teams has some appeal in terms of the way it can be cut into 4 or 8 groups in a way that 34 does not, but I don’t think it makes a ton of difference.
2:15
Yeah Well Hiura Towel: If Sheffield doesn’t make it, it might be pretty hard for him to get elected via a committee, considering the PED stuff.
2:19
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, it will be much harder because he’ll be alongside the statistically superior Bonds and Clemens on a panel where the Hall gets to choose who votes. We saw last year that the institution is inclined to try to bury those guys to make a point — they received such low shares of the vote that we didn’t get their exact totals, just  “fewer than four votes.” There’s some separation between Bonds, for whom we have voluminous evidence of usage, albeit at a time before MLB had testing and penalties in place, and Sheffield, for whom we have much less evidence as well as his testimony that he stopped training with Bonds and Greg Anderson once he learned that what he was being given was illegal.
2:19
Darp: The Buerhle dropoffs are really disappointing. Given the roids, shouldn’t Pettite be punished more harshly than MB?
2:21
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It wasn’t “roids” for Pettitte, it was human growth hormone, and he’s confessed to using it during the “Wild West era” of PED usage. Not everybody gets worked up about transgressions from that time period, when MLB, the owners, and the union had a complete institutional failure when it came to policing the game. As for Pettitte/Buehrle, many people view the former’s huge body of postseason work as a separator; that’s what it came down to for me when picking my 10th spot on the ballot.
2:22
Richie Allen and the Ebonistics: I periodically express my annoyance at the fact that Mr. Allen still isn’t in the HOF. Thanks for Your consistent support of His candidacy.  Should’ve happened while He was alive.
2:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: We’re going to have to go through this all again next year. It’s gonna be emotional, for sure.
2:22
Justin: I know you’ll do more prognosticating in articles over the next week or two, but off the cuff: Assuming a class of 3 and that Wagner has to wait, and that both Jones and Beltran stay above 60%: is there any chance of a 5-man class next year? I know the odds are strongly against it, but I would love it. I suppose more likely is 3 or 4, with remaining free votes going to intriguing down-ballot folks?
2:23
Avatar Jay Jaffe: highly, highly doubtful. We’ll get Ichiro, perhaps CC and hopefully Wagner, but as we’ve seen this year, even a share in the high 60s is often two steps from election instead of one, particularly on a crowded ballot.
2:24
Blake: Do you think some Hall of Fame voters or other baseball writers have an outsized impact on voting? As in are their voices that hold a lot of sway and pull other voters towards their arguments?
2:27
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes. Just like in any other field, those who have earned the most respect from their peers and have the largest audiences tend to carry more influence within this process than others. If a career excellence award winner such as Gammons or Stark communicates a strong rationale for voting for a particular candidate, that voice is going to carry further than somebody without that profile.
2:28
10,000 Rakes: If Johan hadn’t dropped off after his first ballot do you think he would have eventually gained support?  Not even get elected but he deserved more support.
2:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: yes it probably would have accumulated over time given the contrast to the few other starters who have come up for consideration since.
2:29
Insert Witty Name Here: Did Chase do worse than you thought he would on the public ballots?
2:33
Avatar Jay Jaffe: In the Ballot Tracker team’s VIP poll, I estimated Utley with a first-year showing of 17%, which you’d figure might at best have something like a 22%/13% split. Instead, he’s right around 40% in the Tracker, which is a pretty solid start. He was always going to be a candidate who needed time on the ballot to grow his support.
2:33
Da Bear: Which will be greater: The number of votes for Colon, or the number of voters passing on Beltre?
2:35
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Tough call. I’ve said (somewhere?) that we’ll be able to count the Beltré-no votes on one hand, so a maximum of five unless you’re Antonio Alfonseca. I’ll take the over for Bartolo. Maybe 6 for him, 4 off for Beltré.
2:35
Farhandrew Zaidman: Do you think we’ll ever see an MLB manager traded again? There’s a historical precedent, and we almost saw it a few times this year in the NFL.
2:36
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Yes, given that we’ve seen it happen three times in this millennium, last in 2012 (John Farrell from Toronto to Boston).
2:37
Matt VW: The Red Sox this weekend suggested that they can coach up the infield defense to produce a 9 win improvement. They were truly abysmal last year, but even with Story available and returning to fielding form for a full season, this has to be malarkey, right?
2:37
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ell Oh Ell
2:37
Felix: Have you written about John Franco before?  If Wagner gets in, does he, along with Lee Smith, indicate Johnny should get further attention?
2:40
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I must have written about him at Baseball Prospectus in the context of the 2011 ballot. He’s got the 5th-highest saves total and a 138 ERA+ in his favor but he didn’t strike out a ton of guys and doesn’t fare well in either version of JAWS (53rd in original recipe, 28th in R-JAWS). I imagine he’ll get more attention if Wagner gets in but for some voters, Wagner seems to be as low as they’ll go.
2:40
Morgan: If Billy Wagner’s not gonna get into the hall, will it be more because of the amount of innings or his postseason record?
2:42
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it comes down to a combination of both — but given that he’s gotten to 68%, he’s a likely Era Committee honoree if nothing else. The problem for a guy like Franco, who got just 4.6% in his lone year of eligibility, is that BBWAA ballot performance is a significant factor in determining who gets onto the Era ballots; it’s rare that a one-and-done gets a chance.
2:42
guest: How is it that Beltre is still not polling at 100%? if he isn’t surefire HOF whose voting abilities do we need to revoke?
2:43
Avatar Jay Jaffe: it’s mathematically impossible to get back to 100% when 2 voters have already come out of the woodwork to make asses of themselves. As it is, he’s likely to wind up with one of the top shares of all time, and that’s gonna be pretty damn cool.
2:43
Nervous Flyball Pitcher: What are you nervous about?
2:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m nervous mainly for the candidates, whom I feel genuine empathy for on a day like today, with its heightened emotions. I’m also just typically nervous when it comes to writing on deadline — not debilitatingly so, but just a bit jittery — particularly given that this is something that’s going to be as widely read as anything I do this year. I always try to live up to my own high standards, and it’s just a little more challenging when the clock is ticking.
2:48
BenB: How much is the uncertainty around tv contracts impacting the remaining free agents ?
2:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Probably a bit more than most of us expected at the outset of the cycle.
2:48
Cee Zebra: Semi-serious proposal: The next time the hall has a shutout, they rip the band-aid off and induct all the steroid cases. Inner circle guys like Bonds/Clemens/A-Rod down through fringier candidates like McGwire/Sosa/ManRam. The hall gets a more accurate accounting of the best players from the 90s/00s, and era committees won’t have to relitigate the whole mess every couple years.
2:48
Avatar Jay Jaffe: If only!
2:49
Kevin: Sheffield: better hitter than Edgar and Ortiz.
2:50
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Not quite. Going by OPS+ it’s Edgar 147, Papi 141, Shef 140, where by wRC+ you can swap the last two — very, very close, and certainly part of the same discussion.
2:50
Farhandrew Zaidman: I don’t know if I’m just an easy mark, but Sheff’s explanation of the PED stuff on Foul Territory swayed me.
2:51
Avatar Jay Jaffe: He’s offered a coherent explanation time and again. But he’s got a long track record of saying things that aren’t always quite as coherent, and that doesn’t help him here.
2:51
Alex: This past decade the HOF discussion was about steroids and what to do (not let them in apparently).  The next decade storyline seems it will be how the game has changed dramatically and starting pitchers don’t pitch nearly as much leaving career counting stats to look lacking compared to pitchers from the past 50 years.  What do you think the hall in general does with this new dilemma, do they start admitting these players or not?
2:52
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I don’t think the Hall itself will do anything. It’s up to the voters and the committees making the ballots, but the limitations on the number of candidates and the configuration of the committees makes it very, very hard for a wholesale reevaluatoin
2:53
Vet Comm: Who on this ballot seems prime fodder for the Veteran’s Committee to induct at a later date, a la McGriff & Trammell? Jeff Kent seemed like a good choice from last year, and as mentioned above, Sheff might struggle. I’m thinking guys like Rollins and Buehrle fit that profile pretty well, though as always, who really knows anything.
2:56
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Maybe Rollins, Wright, Buehrle and Pettitte — but all of those guys are going to have trouble landing on ballots unless they increase their shares; as we’ve seen it’s not the guys getting very little support that go to the front of the line.
2:56
Nate: Did you have any thoughts on the Hader deal in Houston? I get that it’s a lot, and 4-5 years is a risk for any RP. But I can’t help but think it’s almost less than I expected…I was half expecting 6 years and 100+ at first
2:59
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Judged by present-day value it’s surpassed the Díaz deal, which has some deferred money, as the largest ever for a reliever. I don’t see how he could have done much better than that, and even that’s a bit of a surprise given that Hader isn’t far removed from a sub-replacement level season. It’s a risk but I like his chances of maintenance better in Houston.
2:59
King’s Court Jester: What are Felix Hernandez’s odds of sticking around on the ballot past year one? Is he a good bet to hit five percent or is he likely to go one and done?
3:00
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Particularly in a year where CC Sabathia will be on the ballot and starting pitching will be discussed in greater detail, I think he’ll stick around. He’s got a Cy Young and a higher peak than Pettitte and Buehrle, who have persisted, so I think that bodes well at least for avoiding one-and-done status
3:00
Bob: Would you ever leave a sure thibg candidate off your full ballot of 10 players to make space for an 11th player who you think is Hall worthy but is closer to elimination than 75 percent?
3:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: If I was in a situation where I felt the need to support a low-% guy in order to preserve his eligibility, I’d withhold from somebody in the middle of the pack percentage- and timing-wise. Like if I felt much more strongly about Wright than I do on this year’s ballot, I’d consider leaving a Jones or an Abreu off as a temporary remedy.
3:03
Devil Ray Jay Johnson: It it inevitable that once MLB expands to 32 teams, it reorganizes the leagues by geography?  Or will the specific tradition of the separate leagues win out?
3:03
Avatar Jay Jaffe: i think that will be a big fight but not sure which direction it goes.
3:03
AJ: Do you think that Kimbrel and Jansen have helped their HOF cases in the last couple of years? Their performance has dragged down their ERA+’s significantly but theyre still above average relievers and their counting stats, especially saves, keep creeping up. Another way of asking it: Is Wagner looking better or worse by comparison?
3:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Even though both Jansen and Kimbrel now have higher strikeout rates at the 800-inning mark than Wagner (who still owns the record at 900 inning cutoff, but has just 903 IP), I think the two active guys’ ongoing declines underscore how hard it was to do what Wagner did — don’t forget, he retired coming off a 1.43 ERA season and had a 2.07 ERA from 35 onward.

That said, Jansen and Kimbrel need volume as much as they need rate stat excellence, and so long as they can maintain reasonable productivity, they’re advancing their causes. Both reached 400 saves last year in All-Star seasons, and that’s not nothing.

3:08
Devil Ray Jay Johnson: Which player appearing on the ballot for the first time had the biggest movement in your mind from “no way” when you first heard the name toward “yes” after you researched him more closely?  (Looking for the biggest movement from your first to last impression, not necessarily that you ultimately voted for him)
3:08
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Coming into this year I wasn’t prepared to think about Wright for a ballot spot, but ultimately he was in consideration for that 10th spot.
3:09
AJ: Do you believe that 3 Cy Youngs should practically automatically guaruntee induction? If DeGrom, Snell, or even Kluber have one more Cy winning season in them are they in? I would guess yes, but that feels unfair to Santana who we all agree shouldve won 3 in a row
3:11
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think it’s still gonna take more volume to get to Cooperstown than any of those active pitchers can muster, and I don’t see deGrom pitching enough to compete for a Cy Young again, whereas Snell seems as though somebody ought to be able to help him refine and turn a corner. “I know i can change him!”
3:11
Devil Ray Jay Johnson: Speaking of manager trades, good ol’ Randy Winn should get some consideration for the Hall of Surprisingly Pretty Good, right?
3:12
Avatar Jay Jaffe: 99 OPS+, 1 All-Star appearance, 27.5 WAR. A nice, solid career.
3:12
AJ: If Greinke gets 3000Ks, do you think he gets in first ballot? Does he get in first ballot anyways or will who retires first out of the big 4 have an impact on his HOF chances?
3:14
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Traffic could be a factor but with his portfolio he’s probably first ballot regardless, particularly given the way he’s become a media favorite.
3:14
S: I know this is not baseball related, but there is a lot of anti-trans sentiment in the world right now. Can you verify that you support trans rights, including the inclusion of kids in youth sports?
3:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hell yes, I support trans rights! I’m not sure my unlikely career as a baseball writer would have gotten off the ground without the mentorship and friendship of Baseball Prospectus’ Christina Kahrl, an incredible trailblazer within our industry.
3:17
Da Bear: That sounds like a book title: “A Little More Challenging When the Clock is Ticking: The Case for 2020s Pitchers in the Hall”
3:17
Avatar Jay Jaffe: haha! duly noted.
3:18
Scott: Can you give me one reason Ichiro shouldn’t be unanimous next year?
3:18
Avatar Jay Jaffe: the only reason he might not be is because some of the same guys who made asses of themselves this year could do so next year.
3:18
Randy: Different shapes of production/career arcs, but Utleys candidacy has me wondering if Willie Randolph could get some play eventually on a Vet Committee
3:22
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Again, it’s very, very, very tough even to land on an Era Committee ballot if you went one-and-done. Bobby Grich (8th in JAWS) has never been on one, and Lou Whitaker (13th) has only been on one, so Randolph (16th in JAWS, with no Gold Gloves and a lower peak than either) has an uphill battle, to say the least.

I was very pleased to see Susan Slusser, who’s a member of the Historical Overview Committee that builds the Era Committee ballots, voice her support for both in this year’s ballot reveal while comparing Utley to them. https://www.sfchronicle.com/sports/giants/article/baseball-hall-fame-b…

3:22
Felix: Why are pitchers whose peak was in the 1980s so underrepresented?  Clemens and Gooden have obvious answers attached, but what about Cone, Stieb, Orel, et al?  Why are we left with Jack Morris representing an entire decade?
3:25
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Some of it is because voters were spoiled by the cohort of pitchers who debuted in the mid-60s and stuck around through the 80s or even into the 90s and won 300 games or nearly that many. But some of it is also that all of those guys had injuries and career interruptions that prevented them from solidifying their cases.
3:25
TP: In your write-ups on each player appearing on the ballot, was there any player who struck you in a “Damn, he was better than I remembered!” way? Which of the articles did you enjoy writing the most?
3:28
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Whoops. I loved writing the Mauer, Beltre, and Utley pieces as they had all been percolating somewhere in my mind for the past 5+ years. Beyond those I’d say the Bartolo Colon and Jose Bautista pieces were the most fun but I learned so much about everyone I wrote for, even if it didn’t really change my evaluation of them.
3:26
T(win)s: Does Torii Hunter stay above 5% and gain support?  Not a HOF but if you squint really hard he’s a poor man’s Andruw Jones
3:29
Avatar Jay Jaffe: The fielding metrics just aren’t strong enough (+33 runs) to call him a poor man’s Jones but I think he squeaks through.
3:29
Oscar: Given your answer about Wright, any regret about leaving him off considering 5% is starting to look increasingly unlikely?
3:30
Avatar Jay Jaffe: maybe a tiny bit but it’s offset by trying to stimulate some more conversation about starting pitchers. Sardell’s last model had Wright with an 80% chance of making the cut; he only needs 7 more votes, and I think he’ll get them
3:32
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Ok folks, I’ve got a lot to do over the next 72 hours so I’m going to call it here. Thanks so much for stopping by today, and look for my coverage of the election results here this evening. Also: no chat from me next week as I’ll be skiing in France!

 

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, and a Hall of Fame voter since 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jay_jaffe… and BlueSky @jayjaffe.bsky.social.

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