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Jeff Sullivan FanGraphs Chat -- 4/1/16
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Jeff Sullivan
Hello friends
Welcome to Friday baseball chat
Do you like April Fool's jokes?
Jeff Sullivan
Today's April fool's joke was the idea that I would be here on time
Which RF puts up more WAR over the next 3 years: Betts or Stanton?
Jeff Sullivan
I'll take Stanton by a win or two
"I don’t want to say Rickard has been unwanted, but he definitely hasn’t been wanted."

You just can't write that.
Jeff Sullivan
Only somewhat related but I get a kick out of this new wave of potentially helpful Rule 5 picks. For a stretch of years it seemed like something we could all ignore. It's interesting again!
I'm a fool every other day too
Good morning Jeff! How would you define a successful season for the 2016 Mariners, and is that above or below your realistic expectation for them this season?
Jeff Sullivan
Of course the major success would be getting into the playoffs. I don't know where the line is between "content" and "successful" but I think the team would be content if they hung around into September. Which, I think, is the idea -- they're built to be a little better than average, which gives them an opportunity
I expect them in the low- to mid-80s, which means even if good and bad balance out, they should be within striking distance of the race for almost the entire year. Good enough to keep people interested
This may be more of a math question, but why hasnt anyone ever hit 80 to 100+ HRs a season?
Someone like Stanton is obviously strong enough, has 500+AB a year, why dont more balls that he connects with go as far as the 30 to 40 that do leave the park?
Jeff Sullivan
This is going to sound more dismissive than I intend, but hitting a baseball is incredibly hard
And to hit a home run mostly requires that you square a pitch up. Now, for a guy like Stanton, he doesn't always have to make optimal contact to drive the ball out, but you're still trying to hit a particular spot on the ball with a particular spot on the bat. The probability is never real good on any given pitch, and if Stanton did show signs of being able to make more consistent home-run contact, he'd get pitched around / intentionally walked
Pitchers are too good. Baseball is too hard. Stanton might be able to reach 80 or 90 if he played a full year in the low minors, and they were aggressive pitching to him. But in the majors, everyone is elite
What do you think has a greater chance, the Cubs winning less than 85 games or more than 100? It seems that the prevalence of truly awful teams in the NL would push the top tier higher than normal.
Jeff Sullivan
I guess more than 100, but only barely. Triple digits is within their reach -- they're probably something like a 95-win team now -- but it wouldn't be hard to drag them down. One or two regulars underperform, Arrieta or Lester goes on the DL, maybe some bad bullpen sequencing. It's surprisingly easy to underachieve
are you worried about the injury to Michael Brantley?
Jeff Sullivan
I'm not excited about it, but I think he's going to be all right
It might take him a little time to get his power up to speed, once he's back, but the core skills ought to be there. He's a fantastically good player
Do you find that you (and Dave) are asked proportionally more Mariners questions given your writing history/likelihood that Ms fans (like me) followed you guys over to Fangraphs? Or has that more or less died down by now?
Jeff Sullivan
I find that it's died down, and while the Mariners are still overrepresented by a few percentage points in the question queue, it's nothing insane and ultimately I'm in control of what I answer!
Are we sure the Orioles aren't dumb? I'm a die hard Os fan, but it seems like they get involved in a lot of messes of their own making. Is that the consensus view, or do I just think that because I follow the team closely?
Jeff Sullivan
I think it's both real and self-fulfilling. The O's get into a few sticky situations, but because they got a reputation for that, now people pay attention to every single sticky situation. It's hard to separate one from the other
I think, organizationally, they're unusual. The GM is kind of impulsive and unpredictable, and ownership has a strong influence. And they've had some issues with rigid thinking regarding pitchers they've had in the system. The Orioles haven't run smoothly all the time, but I don't think they're dumb. I definitely don't think they're being dumb about Gonzalez. They know how badly they need starters. They had every reason to like Gonzalez, coming in. Clearly, he underwhelmed. I think they just don't trust him with the stuff that he's throwing
How does a guy who's 31 (Max Scherzer) add a few mph to his FB? Does it bode well for the Nats and that contract?
Jeff Sullivan
Could've just made a change to his training approach. That's not uncommon for players as they get into their 30s and realize they need to work a little harder. And Scherzer basically just got back to a level where he used to work. But, yeah, I do think this bodes well -- Scherzer has a good amount of ground he can give before he's declined into unfamiliar territory. Never a bad thing when a free-agent investment has his stuff play up in Year 1
Important hypothetical: a pitcher has retired 26 batters straight. On the final out, he strikes out the batter but the catcher lets it past him. The catcher has trouble retreiving the ball, so the runner tries for second but is thrown out at second base. Still technically a perfect game?
Jeff Sullivan
I have to think the answer is no. That runner reached base -- it's no different than getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. You're out, but it's still a single
Just remembered the last out of Humber's perfect game:
Already some controversy in there, but that was so close to having Ryan reach base on an uncaught third strike
TF Fredrik
What hitting stats do you look at for younger hitters (Or hitters in general I guess) as signs of progress? I know we are still waiting for more info/larger sample on batted ball numbers to know how important they might be.
Jeff Sullivan
Always good to see a drop in strikeouts, like we can see with Socrates Brito
And with a stronger hitter, I like to see the developing ability to hit the ball with power to all fields
But the unsatisfying answer is it's sort of a case-by-case thing. Depends on each player and on what his profile has been. You look for the elimination of weaknesses
Where does the WAR on the depth charts page come from? Hanley is listed at 2.3 on there, but both ZiPS and Steamer have him pegged for lower.
Jeff Sullivan
It's the same blended projection, but with an increase in playing time. ZiPS and Steamer project their own playing times, but the times we have on the depth charts are determined by FG authors
How many previously unheralded shortstops will Cardinal Devil Magic turn into stars this year?
Jeff Sullivan
Stars? None. But I suspect they're going to be just fine for the first few months
The Decadent Moose
On a scale from 1-10, 1 being how efficiently I load the dishwasher and 10 being any non-theoretical amount, how are the White Sox going to spend that $13MM (Adam LaRoche)?
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