Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hello folks, and welcome to my first Monday chat in a few weeks. While I wait for the queue to fill up, a couple of things…
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Second, I have a CPBL-related piece in the pipeline for later this week
Avatar Jay Jaffe: (I have been jonesing for several varieties of Asian food but those restaurants in my area were the first to shutter)
Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK, now, on with the show
Logan: If you were present for any historic moment in baseball, what would your top 3 be?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Hmmm, good question. Per last week’s piece on being transported to any season in baseball history (https://blogs.fangraphs.com/if-i-could-be-transported-to-any-season-in…), Game 7 of the 1955 World Series would be one of those three. Perhaps Jackie Robinson’s debut and Hank Aaron’s 715th home run would be the other ones, but oh, there are a lot of tough choices.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: For some reason another one that comes to mind would be Deacon White getting the first hit in National Association history in 1871 — the start of professional league baseball
Scott Summer: Boy do i miss the simple rhythm of baseball. Not even the play as much, but the simple knowledge of it being on. You feel the same way?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Very much so. The wonderful thing about baseball is that it expands and contracts as our ability to focus changes. We can read summaries of entire decades, or gaze at the spin rates, trajectories, and launch angles of individual balls. Just the background noise of games on TV or radio is a comforting soundtrack, as is the daily cycle of checking scores and highlights and stats.
KBO: Not that ESPN will pay the extra it’d take, but do you think it could negotiate a couple of KBO morning games per week to have live games during primetime in the US, or is a 9am start too much to ask for players?
brad: Jay it looks more likely by the day that baseball will not have a 2020 season.  Who makes the call to end the season?  How does that impact the CBA?  Surely salaries will be down for FA with teams having lost a year of revenue.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: It’s April. Late April, sure, but it’s still April. There’s still potentially money to be had in televising games in September, October, and November, and that’s a long time off, so I don’t suspect we’ll see an announcement on cancellation anytime soon, nor would I encourage a glass-is-already-empty assumption.

If and when such an announcement does come, it will be because Dr. Fauci or other public health officials give recommendations that encroach upon a timeline that would rule out the various scenarios in play, at which point Manfred and the MLBPA will have to face that reality. The CBA will still expire after the 2021 season barring some agreement between the two sides. I would expect free agent salaries to take a hit, at least in the short term.

WinTwins0410: Jay, is there any thought that this year’s HoF induction ceremony will not take place this year at all (I think that there initially has been some chatter about postponing it until later this year), and instead will take place as part of the summer 2021 induction ceremony?  And how would you feel about that?  It would of course be bad for Cooperstown the town, but it might be good in that the presence of Jeter, Walker and some veterans committee picks on the stage could help overshadow Schilling’s (likely) induction next year.  Thoughts?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Barry Bloom reported for Forbes a couple of weeks ago that an announcement on Induction Weekend would come in the first week of May. Right now, I think it’s quite likely that it will be canceled because the idea of packing 50,000 or 100,000 people into the tiny village of Cooperstown goes against every COVID-19-related recommendation to date. https://www.forbes.com/sites/barrymbloom/2020/04/18/decision-to-postpo…
Avatar Jay Jaffe: But yes, the silver lining is that the bleak landscape for a Class of 2021 — a ballot where no first-year BBWAA candidate has any real shot at election, and Schilling/Bonds/Clemens are the top returning honorees, though there will be two Era Committee ballots worth of candidates to help prop that up, with Dick Allen, Minnie Minoso, and Gil Hodges among the potential honorees — could be augmented by this year’s holdovers.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: (brief pause to retrieve dumplings)
Neal: Playing your whole career with one team is definitely rare but it seems exceedingly rare for starting pitchers compared to position players. Jim Palmer comes to mind as an exception but not too many others in the modern era. Am I missing other examples? Why is this the case? Shorter contracts?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: You’re right that it’s far more common for hitters, at least among Hall of Famers; since Palmer (1965-84), the only one has been Mariano Rivera, and before that you have to go back to Bob Gibson (1959-75), where there have been 14 such position-playing HOFers since Palmer retired. I imagine a lot of it has to do with injuries and risk rather than contracts, but that’s just a guess, not a researched answer.
Chris: Will Felix Hernandez make it more than 1 year on the ballot? Who stays on longer, him or Andrew mccutchen?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I think we have to wait and see how the remainders of their careers play out. Hernandez is 34 and appeared to be on track to make the Braves. If he doesn’t add some length to his career, he’s not going to last longer than once cycle, but I’m not going to shovel dirt on him just yet as I think he’s needed a change of scenery and reason to motivate for awhile.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: McCutchen is 33 and stil a productive hitter when he can play. If he can get past 2,000 hits (he’s at 1,664), he might scrape up enough votes to stick around for at least a second ballot
branik best: Did you get soup dumplings?  I miss soup dumplings
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m not sure there’s any place one can order soup dumplings for delivery and expect them to arrive intact. They really have to be fresh out of the steamer in a restaurant to work. And holy Moses do I miss them.

Boiled or fried dumplings, OTOH, can better withstand delivery. Today I got some fried pork and chive ones that are pretty good. . The shrimp mo (sandwich-like thing) is merely OK, the cucumber salad good

Context: Mike Trout is on track to become a top 3 or 4 all time time player and he’s in his prime. Much like Ted Williams with WW2, will this break in playing time bring up the “what if…” if he finishes just outside top 2 or 3 in all time WAR?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As far as statistical milestones, yes, there will be some what-ifs, but as with Williams (and Mays, who missed most of 2 seasons during the Korean War) it won’t alter the conclusion that they were among the very best ever
WinTwins0410: Jay, one other question: Rick Reuschel.  Do you see a scenario where he makes his way onto a future Modern Baseball eras committee (vets committee) HoF ballot?  And if so, do you deem him Hall-worthy?  WAR is great.  I feel like his soft-spokenness — and the fact that he didn’t play for winners — all would work against him.  Thoughts?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I answered a q about Reuschel vs. Kevin Brown last week. I just don’t see a committee coming around to Big Daddy given the extent to which he toiled in obscurity, and the odd career path, and I’m a bit less sold than WAR/JAWS would lead you to believe.  https://blogs.fangraphs.com/jay-jaffe-fangraphs-chat-4-21-20/
branik best: What beer have you been drinking during quarantine?  I live near Evil Twin, so I picked up a bunch.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: ooh nice. I’ve been augmenting what we can get at the Korean deli (Jai Alai, Sloop, Half Acre, Bell’s, Radiant Pig, and of course Sierra Nevada) with deliveries from Threes Brewing, which is now delivering all over Brooklyn (and I think Manhattan).
Mad Joe-Don: Fun fact: Mike Trout has never led the league in hits or any variety of hit. How odd is that for a player of his stature?
brad: Jay, why do you assume they can play baseball in November, also how does that impact 2021 season, does that get pushed back or shorter spring training…especially for SP
Avatar Jay Jaffe: As part of the MLB/PA agreement hashed out a few weeks ago, both sides reiterated that November baseball is a possibility, likely in a neutral site domed stadium so as to mitigate concerns about the weather (though Dodger Stadium has also surfaced as a potential locale via a plan that was floated through Chicago radio host Matt Spiegel, which I wrote about.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: until we know what’s happening with 2020, i don’t think we can say much about 2021 other than that the league and the union will have to adapt as the facts present themselves. Nobody can afford rigidity
branik best: Re: NYC beer, Nice!  NYS breweries can now UPS ship anywhere in NYS in case you weren’t aware.  I’m just outside Threes’ delivery zone and might be tempted to order next week.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: i was not aware of that. Frustrated as hell that beer can’t be shipped here from out of state as it cut off a great birthday gift from my wife a couple years ago.
A Guy Can Dream…: With the possibility of ARod and J-Lo buying at least part of the Mets, it got me thinking… with the exception of the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs or my hometown Phillies, which team would I want to own if money weren’t an object. Which team would you go with?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: I’m at least 37,000% certain I can do a better job of owning the Mets than the Wilpons, and they already have an excellent ballpark and a lot of room for improvement.
Player salaries: Buster Olney said in an article over the weekend that MLB would never recover in terms of losing fans from not having a season this year if the sides didn’t agree to it because of money. Is this going to be owners’ talking point to get he players to agree to salary reductions?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: seems quite likely it could be used against them, but “needlessly endangering our health because of money” is a pretty strong counterargument from the players, one that the general public supports while GOP tries to force-reopen the economy (which from what I’ve read is largely about getting unemployment claims off the state tabs)
Hopes and Dreams: Any advice for a recent college grad attempting to get into baseball?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: You are in for some rough sledding right now, I fear. I’d say keep polishing your skills — programming, quantitative, writing — while you can
brad: Jay, but playing 1 or 2 games in November is a lot different from assuming you can play until thanksgiving and have the entire month to play….I don’t see social distancing ending anywhere before sept 1 and that is likely a best case…baseball is sadly not going to happen.  You cant force players to live in a hotel in AZ not see their family and small kids for 3-4 months.
Avatar Jay Jaffe: To be clear, i meant November as a postseason option with a limited number of teams playing. And no, nobody can force people to do something like that.
JoJo: Which of these AL rookies will play everyday this year?: Nick Solak, Austin Hays, Nick Mdrigal?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: My guess is that Madrigal and Hays are more likely than Solak, whose status I think owed something to Calhoun’s injury, which he will presumably be past if/when the season opens
Zaza: How does first and third base play out for the Rays?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Via our depth charts and my own research for the mothballed Positional Power Rankings, Ji-Man Choi is the team’s top option at 1B against righties, with Yandy Diaz perhaps supplementing that against lefties but seeing more time at 3B. Given that both Lowe and Tsutsugo swing lefty, Jose Martinez could be the platoon beneficiary there if Diaz remains at 3B. Joey Wendle and Tsutsugo could also see time there.
Curtis: Who is your favorite Hall of Famer & why?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: ah, man, too hard to choose. Jackie has a case that’s head and shoulders above the rest. I have a big affinity for “my guys” — the players for whom I’ve advocated over the years such as Bert Blyleven, Ron Santo, Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, and now Ted Simmons. But it would be tough to pick just one
Charles Xavier: In terms of historical context, what other matchups are in the same realm of Satchel Page vs Josh Gibson?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: in terms of ones that happened, I’d think Babe Ruth vs. Walter Johnson and Lefty Grove would be pretty special (Ruth vs. Christy Mathewson or Cy Young, neither of which happened, would be very interesting). Mays and/or Aaron vs. Koufax comes to mind among the more modern ones. I’d love to see Pedro Martinez or Greg Maddux go at Barry Bonds. I’m not sure any of those rise to the mythical levels of Paige vs. Gibson, though — that would be tough to beat.
Curtis: What is the most underappreciated statistic attached to a player or one you simply just marvel at every time you see it?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Cy Young’s 511 wins is just a jaw-dropping number that will never be approached again, even if wins are sorta bullshit. Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 strikeouts boggle my mind too
branik best: What HOFer (or non-HOFer) do you wish we had statcast data on?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Babe Ruth for hitters and Bob Feller and Walter Johnson for pitchers.
Sam: You get a magic wand that allows you to add any 5 non-Hall of Fame players to the Hall of Fame, but you also have to remove 5 currently enshrined players (the wand really likes equilibrium). Who are your 5 for each side?
Avatar Jay Jaffe: Dick Allen, Minnie Minoso, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Bobby Grich: IN

Tommy McCarthy, High Pockets Kelly, Jesse Haines, Lloyd Waner, and Harold Baines: OUT

Avatar Jay Jaffe: OK folks, I need to take advantage of this window of child-free time to get some other work done. Thanks so much for stopping by today! Be safe, and I’ll see you next week.


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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