HomeTrending MLB NewsBen Clemens FanGraphs Chat - 4/29/24

Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 4/29/24

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2:00
Ben Clemens: Hey everybody, welcome to the chat
2:01
Ben Clemens: Let’s talk baseball!
2:01
Randy: A testament to just how good he is that the sky was falling for Aaron Judge and his 125 wRC+. How good is the NYY team if they get 2022-2023 Judge?
2:01
Ben Clemens: It’s so true. When you have the kind of two-year run that Judge just put up, merely good offense feels like a huge letdown
2:02
Ben Clemens: His power production this year has been shockingly low for Aaron Freaking Judge
2:02
Ben Clemens: Nothing has really changed, in my opinion, though. He still looks like one of the best hitters in the game to me
2:03
Ben Clemens: This offense is impressive, it’s doing very well even with Judge and Torres struggling on a relative basis
2:03
scrrrrrr: The next time you chat we can commemorate Imagaga’s rookie of the month award
2:03
Ben Clemens: What a marvelous start to the season
2:04
RAGBRAI: A month in, are SBs about where they were last year at this time? More? Less? Will we continue to see an increase by season’s end?
2:04
Ben Clemens: Stolen base attempt rate has accelerated in the past two weeks, now basically in line with 2023, but success rate is still down
2:05
Ben Clemens: I think that we’ll see things stabilize with slightly fewer steals than we’re seeing now. Pitchers and catchers have been very good at defending the running game this year
2:05
#1MetsFan:

  1. Whats for lunch
  2. Ever since Francisco Alvarez went down, Mets pitching has reverted back to where it was before he was in the bigs. Its a small sample size, but am I right when I tell everybody that Alvarez is a catching superstar in the making?
2:05
The person who asks the lunch question: What’s for lunch?
2:06
Ben Clemens: I haven’t decided what’s for lunch today. I was supposed to cook some mapo tofu last night and have leftovers today but I got lazy and ordered in. Maybe a kitchen sink style sandwich instead
2:06
Ben Clemens: I think that Alvarez is a catching superstar in the making, but I didn’t come to that opinion b/c of the pitching, more b/c I think he’s a pretty good defender and a great hitter
2:06
Ben Clemens: It’s just too small of a sample to say much about his effect on the staff. a year is too small of a sample, eve
2:06
Anon21: Balls are dead, right? 92 fewer homers than 2023 through the same number of games. Can’t just be the weather.
2:06
Ben Clemens: Yeah carry seems down markedly. Not just the weather, agree
2:07
Stan Javier: Looking back at the Padres trade for Soto, do you consider the trade to be fair? Lopsided?
2:07
Ben Clemens: Boy, I definitely need to read what I wrote to be sure of what I thought at the time
2:08
Ben Clemens: I said that I didn’t like the trade but that if they had to trade Soto, I liked getting a grab bag of pitchers
2:08
Ben Clemens: Uh, I have an article coming out tomorrow that will touch on Michael King but woof
2:10
Ben Clemens: He’s down a tick and a half, his sweeper lost three inches of run, and he’s locating worse
2:11
Ben Clemens: A lot of that is because he just can’t throw the same way as a starter, a lot of his best performances are in relief
2:11
Ben Clemens: but if that breaking ball isn’t there for him, everything doesn’t work quite as well
2:11
Ben Clemens: I think that given that the Padres were forced sellers, they were always gonna take some risks, and King not working out is a pretty bad run out
2:11
BallFourFan: When (if ) Cole makes it back, who do you see as the weakest link in the current Yankee rotation?
2:12
Ben Clemens: This is not a bad problem to have, but I’d say either Schmidt or Gil
2:12
Ben Clemens: Gil seems to me like he’d be an incredible reliever, so maybe him
2:12
Casey: With John Means AND Kyle Bradish set to return to Orioles rotation, who gets moved to the (up-and-down) bullpen?
2:12
Ben Clemens: AL East rotation return double dip
2:13
Ben Clemens: Dean Kremer seems like a likely one
2:14
Ben Clemens: And honestly I bet they move Suarez even though he’s been really good. Irvin has been kind of a revelation of late, I feel like the change in sinker shape has really done him well
2:15
Ben Clemens: The thing that has always held him back is that his fastball is a weak main pitch despite a big pile of nice things he could use with it
2:15
Ben Clemens: But he’s throwing as hard as he ever has and with better shape, so that seems preeeeetty interesting
2:15
Fish Johner: Re: Mason Miller, is he more valuable as an elite reliever or a potential mid-rotation starter?
2:15
Fish Johner: What should the A’s do with Mason Miller? Should they trade him to a team that needs a premier closer or should they keep him for whenever they try to be competitive again?
2:16
Ben Clemens: I think the A’s should trade him, to be honest. If there were no injury concerns I’d say just try him out as a starter, he looked electric in his brief time starting last year
2:16
Ben Clemens: But they seem to think that it’s a health thing, that he really can’t stand up to the rigors of starting given the way he pitches, and given how good he is at relieving, that tilts the balance for me
2:17
Ben Clemens: but yes, you don’t need a closer this good when you’re as bad as the A’s are. They’ve been better than expected and they’re still not sniffing the playoffs. It’d be one thing if he were a pre arb outfielder, but I’m always of the opinion that you should trade relievers if they’re good and you’re bad
2:17
Ben Clemens: You just never know what will happen in a year
2:17
Reynaldo Lopez: Reynaldo has talked about taking speed off of his pitches to focus on pitch mix when moving from relief to starting, do you see this becoming a larger trend? Could it help save the UCLs?
2:17
Ben Clemens: We’ll see! He and Jordan Hicks have both done it to good success this year
2:17
Ben Clemens: I definitely missed this trend
2:18
Ben Clemens: It makes some sense to me in hindsight, but I just did not see it coming
2:18
Ben Clemens: take guys who were exciting starting prospects who became good relievers, and see if they can start again
2:18
Jared Jones: JARED. JONES?
2:18
Ben Clemens: Yesterday wasn’t quite as exciting as I’d hoped, only three K’s
2:19
Ben Clemens: But I continue to think he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, stuff still looks nice, he got down below 95 mph late though
2:19
Ben Clemens: Could be that the adrenaline of hitting the majors is wearing off and he’s settling in for a long slog of a season
2:19
Insert Witty Name Here: Was Crochet’s start to the season a mirage or (insert knitting pun here)?
2:19
Ben Clemens: okay that’s all the knitting puns I have
2:20
Ben Clemens: I’m still interested in Crochet and haven’t changed my opinion of him over his recent struggles. If I’m the White Sox, I’m really happy to just keep throwing him out there and letting him work through it to figure out how he’ll do in sink or swim mode
2:20
Ben Clemens: I mean, you watch the guy pitch and you say yes, this could be an elite starter
2:20
Ben Clemens: So do it! let’s see what happens
2:20
Wireless Joe Jackson: What is the latest date at which Cleveland will hold the best record in the AL?
2:20
Ben Clemens: I’m going to say May 27
2:21
Ben Clemens: the Yankees and O’s are hot on their heels but the early May schedule is cooperative, angels and white sox sandwiched around the Tigers
2:21
Ben Clemens: they even get the scuffling Astros in there
2:21
Ben Clemens: Let’s actually go June 3
2:21
Ben Clemens: b/c they finisht he month with Angels, Rockies, Nats
2:21
Adam Akbani: Jordan Walker’s batted ball data, discipline, and contact stats from 4/15 until he got demoted were fantastic. The only thing down was his pull rate. Disappointing to see the team not give him more PAs to try and figure it out at the MLB level, especially given the improvements in his all-around game.
2:21
Adam Akbani: He even had a 40% sweetspot% during that time, a sample that accounted for 25% of this season’s PAs.
2:21
Ben Clemens: It’s extremely disappointing on one hand, but I think this was a Marmol-proofing move
2:21
Ben Clemens: Marmol was treating Walker like a pariah
2:22
Ben Clemens: if Walker started against a lefty and a righty reliever came in, Marmol auto-PH’ed for him
2:22
Ben Clemens: usually with Alec Burleson
2:22
Ben Clemens: if Burleson started against a righty and a lefty reliever came in, he usually got to face the guy
2:22
Ben Clemens: even though Walker’s defense looked improved, he was getting subbed out aggressively for defense
2:23
Ben Clemens: it’s just really hard to improve when your manager is not interested in playing you, so I think if you assume that’s how the PT was going to go, he had to go down to Memphis
2:23
Ben Clemens: but I think it’s short-sighted on Marmol’s part to manage a young strong hitter that way
2:23
Talfred: With framing stats, it seems to me that the umpires can have an effect, particularly in small sample sizes. If a catcher happens to have an inordinate number of “pitcher’s” umps, with large strike zones, it could make the framer look good. Is this correct or am I ignorant of the factors used and how they’re weighted?
2:23
Ben Clemens: No, you’re correct
2:25
Ben Clemens: That’s one of the reasons that framing is so strongly mean-reverting. Good framers in one year are not always good in the next one
2:25
Ben Clemens: sorry, quick personal thing to deal with, back in a minute
2:27
Ben Clemens: aaaand we’re back
2:27
Harry Lime: With so many examples of bad calls , why doesn’t MLB do something about the bad  umps?
2:27
Ben Clemens: because they’re actually quite good in the long run. I love this stat: Angel Hernandez is better than the average ump from the mid-2010’s
2:27
Ben Clemens: in terms of percentage of calls made correctly
2:27
Alex: How likely is it AJ Preller loses both Soto trades? Greater than 75%?
2:28
Ben Clemens: mmmmm, I think it’s hard to definitively say he lost the first
2:28
Ben Clemens: 2.5 years of Soto is really valuable
2:28
Ben Clemens: the second one is looking dicey
2:28
Ben Clemens: and the difference between the two, yeah
2:28
Guest: Does Mark Vientos’ walkoff HR yesterday change anything, or is it just a nice moment and he’s still going to be sent back down once Marte’s bereavement leave ends? Now that JD Martinez is active, and DJ Stewart is hitting pretty well, is there any way they can give Vientos AB without sitting Baty?
2:28
Ben Clemens: I think he’s gonna end up sent back down when Marte comes back, yeah
2:29
Ben Clemens: I think that Stewart is the long-term odd man out but they seem to like him for lefty/righty balance
2:29
PittsburghBob: who you taking 1:1?? Bazzana or Condon??
2:29
Ben Clemens: Honestly, I just do not have a good idea of this
2:30
Ben Clemens: I like Bazzana’s name more but this is not my area of expertise
2:30
Alex: When you say the Padres were forced sellers do you mean because Peter Seidler died or because there’s a conspiracy within MLB to keep small market teams like the Padres down where they belong
2:31
Ben Clemens: Oh, the former
2:32
Ben Clemens: I think they just had to lower payroll
2:32
Okra: What do you think the Marlins should do at the deadline and this offseason.  Full tear down or hold on to guys like Arreaz, Jazz, Luzardo?  They have had horrible injury luck this year but don’t seem like they are only a guy or two away even with better health.
2:32
Ben Clemens: I think they should probably do a full tear down but honestly this is just a broken organization
2:33
Ben Clemens: they don’t seem to have a cohesive plan from one minute to the next
2:33
Ben Clemens: and I don’t think the front office can do a lot to change that because ownership keeps moving that around too
2:33
Ben Clemens: it’s just a bad situation, and I imagine Kim Ng is happy in retrospect that she got out of there before it crumbled
2:33
I want Soto: Is 15 years 40mil per with no deferrals enough?
2:33
Ben Clemens: in my opinion this would do it
2:33
Rick Asadoorian: Do you ever get nostalgic for early 2000s baseball when advanced metrics were in their infancy and we had a greater fog of war in player analysis?
2:33
Ben Clemens: Oh absolutely
2:34
Ben Clemens: There’s a sweet spot in most things you can analyze where the analysis is really good but not broadly adopted
2:34
Ben Clemens: and that is the most fun time for people like me
2:34
Ben Clemens: we’re past that point in baseball, which doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, but the low hanging nfruit is incredibly well understood at this point
2:35
Guest: Would you pick the Rockies, the White Sox, the As, or The Field (read: the Marlins) to finish with the worst record in baseball this year?
2:35
Ben Clemens: I know the Marlins miraculously have a worse record right now, but I just like the players on teh Marlins enough more that I think they’ll finish ahead
2:35
T(win)s: Twins are the worst team and can’t hit for anything!  Oh wait that was for last week’s chat….

I mean Twins are the hottest team now and are WS bound!  Gotta love the hot/cold nature of April baseball

2:36
Ben Clemens: Yeah I was watching their game yday and the Angels announcers kept praising the dominant Minnesota offense
2:36
Ben Clemens: like, wow, things flip around fast!
2:36
Yeah Well Hiura Towel: Is there anything there with Erick Fedde?
2:36
Ben Clemens: I predicted he’d get Cy Young votes before the year
2:37
Ben Clemens: his sweeper is legit, and his command looks sharp
2:37
Ben Clemens: I think he’s a low-3s ERA type guy
2:37
Playing like Astros: Is it getting late early for the Astros?
2:37
Ben Clemens: It is. I really liked Dan’s article about this last week:
2:38
Ben Clemens: basically a few more weeks like this and it’s over for them
2:38
Snit: Too soon to be worried about Acuna Jr. yet? K% is back up to 24%, ev, barrel%, & hard hit% are all markedly down from last year – and even his career averages. And to top it off he often looks lost at the plate. Not catching up to fastballs, bad swings, etc.
2:40
Ben Clemens: I’m not worried yet. I guess I’m more believing last year was near a career year for him, but I kind of thought that to begin with.
2:40
Ben Clemens: He’s underperforming his expected production (which he’ll probably always do, due to his spray angles, but I don’t think by too much) and still above average
2:41
Ben Clemens: I think things are gonna be fine, 150 wRC+ rest of the way or something
2:41
Insert Witty Name Here: Re: Mason Miller, I remember fellow Phillies fans clamoring that trading Ken Giles was a dumb idea.  Granted the return was awful (Vince Velazquez and Mark Appel headlined), but the A’s should absolutely trade him.
2:41
Ben Clemens: Yeah, it’s not fun but I think it makes sense
2:41
Trader Jerry’s: On a scale of 1 to 10, how concerned are you about Polanco and Garver’s slow starts?
2:41
Ben Clemens: Polanco is one of those guys where every year I’m like ‘oh it’s over after this year right?’ and then it isn’t
2:41
Ben Clemens: but eventually I’m gonna be right!
2:42
Ben Clemens: and this year does not look promising, his defense is bad enough that if he’s not hitting he’s a real anchor
2:43
Ben Clemens: Garver I haven’t looked at as much, to be honest with you
2:43
Ben Clemens: as I look over his data now, maybe I’m a 7 on both
2:44
Ben Clemens: but I also don’t think he’s gonna run a 9% line drive rate all year
2:45
Ben Clemens: Hey everyone, sorry to call this off early, but a little bit of a home improvement emergency here so I’m gonna have to head out. I’ll make it up with a longer chat next week, have a wonderful day everyone.

 

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

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