Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat–9/25/2019


Ben Dubose: Bregman is only 0.3 bWAR back from Trout. MVP?


Craig Edwards: Still Trout. Bregman is behind by more than that here and at BP. Have to really push the defense beyond what we know to get Bregman close to Trout. Bregman has had a great season, but he hasn’t been as good as Trout, which is true for nearly all players evey year since 2012.


Mike Myers: Are you a fan of the Wayne’s World movies? Whenever I watch Max Scherzer pitch I think of the partial ocular albino (Kevin Pollak’s character).


Craig Edwards: If you label Scherzer, you negate him.


Dave Martinez : Who should be my starting pitcher in the Wild Card game?


Craig Edwards: I would still go with Scherzer. You can make a case for Strasburg, but the body of work, even this season, is too much to pass up.


David: CY, MVP, ROY – who you got?


Craig Edwards: Trout answer is above. I’ve written on both Cy Youngs in the past week. Here’s the NL:


Craig Edwards: I think I’d go deGrom there.


Craig Edwards: Cole for me in the AL.


Craig Edwards: As for NL MVP, that post just went up.…


Craig Edwards: It’s a really tough call. I don’t have a vote, but if I did I would probably go with Yelich over Bellinger, but I don’t have strong feelings that I would be picking the best player this season.


Craig Edwards: ROY is Alvarez and Alonso. Those are the easy ones.


Guest: Acuna has to get at least a handful of votes for NLMVP, right?


Craig Edwards: First place votes? It’s possible with the 40/40 he gets a few, but he really shouldn’t be in the conversation at the very top. I’m sure he will be somewhere on most, if not all ballots, though.


Tom: Think the Cards win the NL Central before the season is over?


Craig Edwards: Playoff odds put it at 93% so it seems pretty likely. With four games to go, 3-1 gets it for them no matter what the Brewers do. Most likely outcome that gets it by a shred is 2-2 with the Brewers going 5-1. The game against Castillo and the Reds tomorrow is a big one for Milwaukee.


Guest: Are they Cardinals going to blow this, Craig?


Craig Edwards: Doubtful


Dave Roberts: In what order would you start Kershaw, Ryu and Buehler in the NLDS?


Craig Edwards: I would go Kershaw, Buehler, Ryu. If you needed to, you could pitch Buehler in game 5 with Kershaw.


Richie: Anytime you get to so set it up, you should always bullpen the wildcard game. You got the further day off after it to rerest the relievers.


Craig Edwards: That assumes you have nine innings worth of relievers better than at least 3-4 of a starter, which probably isn’t the case for most teams. Might be the case for the Brewers, A’s, and Rays depending on the health and effectiveness in Milwaukee and Tampa Bay, but Cleveland and Washington would be much worse off going to a bullpen game.


Nolan: Biggest question mark for the playoffs: WSN bullpen, MIL rotation, LAD bullpen?


Craig Edwards: Of those three, I think the LA bullpen, particularly given they are already guaranteed a spot in the division series.


BenZ: If we have a Houston-Milwaukee World Series, which is more likely, the Brewers winning the series or the Astros sweeping?


Craig Edwards: Brewers winning. Even if the Astros were 70-30 favorites in each game, the odds of a sweep are only 24%. The odds of a Brewers series win are higher than that and the Astros probably wouldn’t be favored by that much in every game.


BenZ: I know they would go bullpen heavy, but if you are the Rays, would you rather have Morton or Snell start a Wild Card game? And would it be the same against either the Indians or the As?


Craig Edwards: Morton. Snell would essentially be an opener-type situation at this point and Morton has been pitching well. I don’t think you change that up based on opponent.


v2micca: How concerned should Braves fans be regarding Freeman’s sore elbow?


Craig Edwards: Fairly concerned until he actually plays, which should be Friday. They have the luxury of getting rest right now, but hard to know exactly what his strength will be.


Jeff: Phillies, Red Sox, and Cubs: which fan base should be most disappointed and why?


Craig Edwards: Disappointed to not make the playoffs: Phillies, given how good things looked for them for a while and how much they did to improve the team.


Craig Edwards: Disappointed in the organization: Cubs, given the team had obvious holes in the offseason and refused to find a solution and just hoped Kimbrel would be the answer. They were an expensive version of Cleveland trying to thread the needle, and it backfired.


Ben: Should Mike Matheny ever get another MLB managing gig?


Craig Edwards: Clint Hurdle did better in his second turn because he embraced analytics and got on the same page with the Pirates analytically. If Mike Matheny has spent his time figuring out why he was a disaster in St. Louis and works to improve on the issues that got him fired, he might make a good manager. If he thinks he earned all those victories in St. Louis and getting fired was unfair or just bad luck, there’s no reason to put him in charge. In any case, Kansas City is probably not the organization that is going to help Matheny fix his flaws. I’m not sure what the question was at this point, but going to say probably not.


Scoops McClatchy: Are you still high on Austin Riley?  His bb/k rate worries me.


Craig Edwards: In 2018, his strikeout rate was 29% in Triple-A. It was 20% the early part of this season. I think there is reason to think he’ll get better next season with more time against MLB pitching. Just can’t expect what he did the first few weeks to be the norm.


JustCurious: Which fringe contender (i.e team that will just miss the playoffs) is least likely to be in contention next year? My bet would be the Phillies given that they have way overperformed the underlying metrics (see BP’s 2nd and 3rd order win percentage: and I am not sure how much more they can spend given last offseason’s splurge.


Craig Edwards: The Phillies opening day payroll this season was around $140 million. From 2011-2014, it averaged around $170 million and revenues have only gone up. The Phillies have room to make more big moves. Plus, to answer the question, the Mets.


TomBruno23: Who is a player from your youth that, looking back on it with Fangraphs data, isn’t as good as you remember? For me Vince Coleman is towards the top of the list.


Craig Edwards: One thing to keep in mind with Coleman is that BsR was only stolen bases back then. He probably had another 2-4 wins in his Cardinals days that aren’t accounted for. I’m not sure as to the answer to the question, though. I’ll have to think about it.


JustCurious: The Phillies backloaded a bunch of contracts though. Ex. Bryce going from 11.5 to 27.5, McCutchen going from 10 to 17, Nola going from 4.5 to 8.5, offset a bit by Arrieta dropping 5 million. But, they have $125M committed to just 9 players going into 2020. After arb raises I don’t think there is much money even if the budget is $180M+


Craig Edwards: Depends on what happens with guys like Hernandez and Franco. Realmuto is the only big arb guy who is for sure to stick around. I could see the Phillies going up to $200 million after this season’s failure. Need to keep the attendance run going.


J: Do you think there’s any actual chance the Cubs hire David Ross as manager next year? It’s been reported that he’s under consideration but that just seems ridiculous to me


Craig Edwards: I doubt it.


TD: Do you think the Yankees will keep Didi next year?  Seems like DJ is a keeper and with gleyber, there doesn’t seem to be room for Didi


Craig Edwards: They can still move Lemahieu around like they planned. It’s hard to know what the market is going to be. I doubt the Yankees are going to give him 4 or 5 years and if there’s a shortstop needy team out there, that might be in play given the lack of options in free agency this season.


Trent: Which free-agent landing spots would be most interesting to you as a fan of baseball in general?  I’d love to see, e.g., Cole to the Nationals (for a rotation even better than the 2017 Indians or 2010 Phillies?), Rendon to the Phillies (to take the PHI-WSN to another, even higher level), or Cole to the Angels (to perhaps finally get Trout into the post-season).


Craig Edwards: The last one. Get the Angels to the playoffs. People wonder why Mike Trout isn’t more famous. It isn’t his personality. It’s not playing on the biggest stage.


Andrew Friedman: We should be in on Cole this offseason, right? Any chance he takes 4/140 to be close to home and contend every year?


Craig Edwards: Maybe 4/140 before the player opt-out that guarantees 3/60.


I am the Walrus: If the Rox pay around $5M/yr of Blackmon’s contract, can they get a Goldy type return?  He has more years left of control at about $13/yr after they pay $5M.


Craig Edwards: Blackmon is 33 years old coming off of two okay seasons. In this scenario, the team trading for him has him at 4/53. That’s pretty much what Andrew McCutchen got in FA (3/50) except he was a year younger. I don’t think the Rockies could get anything back by paying down $5 M per year, or at least not any top-100ish type guys.


I am the Walrus: Cubs have about $45M coming off the books.  What if they signed Rendon and traded Bryant for a couple of assets including a CF/leadoff and a young pitcher?


Craig Edwards: Why wouldn’t they just use that $45 million to get a center fielder and a pitcher and keep the younger player with an MVP award who played a crucial role in winning a World Series and kept the team as one of the game’s best the past few years?


Chat Mapman: Is May’s 8.9% swstr a cause for concern? Seems like it would limit his ceiling.


Craig Edwards: the 9% swstr doesn’t represent his ceiling, though. It will likely go up with more time. He spent most of 2018 in High-A (12% swstr) and then most of 2019 in Double-A (11% Swstr). Once he adjusts to the level, there will be more whiffs.


Mac: I know there’s a reason for it, but do you find it ironic that the Gold Gloves are the only awards with a sabermetric component even though we agree that defensive stats are the most unreliable over a single season?


Craig Edwards: consider that people tend to think they are more accurate now than the straight votes that used to lead to Gold Gloves and some pretty egregious misses. Defensive metrics aren’t as good as what we have on the offensive side, but they are still a step forward in understanding player value in the field. And people would go insane if there was a stat-based component for MVP or Cy Young.


Dylan P: How would you set up the Yankees rotation? I’d go paxton, severino, tanaka myself


Craig Edwards: I don’t think you should be starting the fourth game, but that is how I would line up the first three games, probably.


Matt W: What can the Twins do to avoid another Bronx disaster?


Craig Edwards: Get early leads.


KLanz34: Who will rebuild fastest – O’s, Tigers, Royals, Marlins? I feel like Marlins should based on farm rank, but they have the fanbase issue to hurdle as well.


Craig Edwards: The Orioles and Tigers seem more likely to spend money to supplement the farm but if Miami hits on a few prospects, it could make a big difference. I’ll say the Tigers due to the combo of farm/resources/division competition.


BarryBondsJuicedForOurSins: The dawning of the age of Aquino was fun, but seems like the lights are out now.  Fun Shane Spenceresque story or do you think he’s got another chapter?


Craig Edwards: I imagine he’ll get all of next year as a starter and his season might be like his current body of work, which comes out to about two wins with the potential for more. Shane Spencer never actually played a full season.


Matt W: How do you solve a problem like Syndergaard? His underlying metrics looks so good (83 FIP-) but he just doesn’t get results (4.3 ERA). Do we have to just wait for him to get traded to the Astros and go full Cole?


Craig Edwards: a better defense would help.


Cody: Is Kyle Lewis a legit starting outfielder or is this just small sample awesomeness?


Craig Edwards: probably small sample stuff, but it doesn’t hurt to try and find out.


Charles Finley: Should the Yankees really be looking into re-signing E5, given how the DH spot is extremely useful for so many players in their org (Sanchez, Judge, Stanton, Voit, Andujar, Ford, even Frazier)?


Craig Edwards: Assuming they have some sort of a budget, it should probably go to pitching, but bringing Encarnacion back is a fine move.


?: Sounds like you’re saying the Mets are least likely to be in contention next year- out of curiosity, why? They aren’t losing a lot of key guys, should get more out of Nimmo, Diaz and Familia can reasonably be expected to rebound at least minimally; they should get something out of Lowrie, even as a UT, and Cespedes might even come back. Plus, they might have a new manager who is better with “strategery”. What, in your mind, makes Philly (for example) better, other than $ to make moves that they haven’t yet?


Craig Edwards: Mets rumors seem to revolve around addition and subtraction. Wheeler was really good this year and he might be gone or just not as good. The odds of deGrom being as good next year aren’t high. The same is true of Alonso and McNeil. Stroman isn’t a great fit with the Mets’ infield defense. The things that went wrong for the Mets this year were mostly balanced by things that went right and they ended up right where they were projected to be. If they trade Syndergaard, that’s a huge loss. The Mets seem unlikely to build anything more than the 80-85 team that they had going into this season and that puts them at risk to fall out of the race.


?: Syndergaard has given up 10 hits in 5+ innings in his past two starts, and has had a number of starts like this. The defense is admittedly bad, but is your attributing his underperformance to the defense based on any anecdotal or other evidence, or just assuming a link?


Craig Edwards: His xwOBA has been much lower than his wOBA in every full season with the Mets. I wrote about it earlier this year.


Charles Finley: Who are the likely suitors for Marcell Ozuna?


Craig Edwards: anybody that could use an outfielder. Maybe St. Louis, San Diego, Texas.


Ben: There’s no way the Red Sox actually trade Betts, right? As a Yankees fan, I would be ecstatic if they do.


Craig Edwards: I don’t see it happening. His value is just way too high to the Red Sox compared to what they could get back.


Ralph Rowdie : How do you think the AL wild card race plays out?


Craig Edwards: (throws hands up in the air). Uh, Oakland and Tampa Bay?


BVW: Who says no – Syndergaard for Betts?


Craig Edwards: Probably Boston. I’m guessing if they trade Betts, which I don’t they will, they would look for multiple young players, not just one pitcher who doesn’t make them better in 2020 and not better at all beyond 2021.


Bad Bill: How much does a 19-inning trial by ordeal, as St. Louis and Arizona endured last night, hurt the teams going forward?  Will it be significant for the Cardinals given the tightness of the race to the division title?  Any hard data on that?


Craig Edwards: The Cardinals have an off-day tomorrow and that will help. Plus, the important bullpen guys didn’t pitch more than an inning so it wasn’t much different than a typical game as Ponce de Leon Dominic Leone ate a bunch of those innings.


J: Given the rise of fly balls combined with how common infield shifts are, would it be fair to say that CF is a more important defensive position than SS?


Craig Edwards: There are still a lot more ground balls than fly balls and BABIP on GB is .236, roughly double that of fly balls so the outs the shortstop needs to get are generally going to be tougher. Even with shifts, shortstops still have to cover a lot of ground so it is still more important than center field.


Craig Edwards: That’s going to do it for me today. Thanks for all the questions. Next week, we might have a different chat schedule as the playoffs are set to begin so look out for that.