Ben Clemens from FanGraphs Hosts Chat on May 13, 2024

Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 4/22/24


1:59 Ben Clemens: One minute early start to the chat, let’s get going

2:00 Cube Jockey: How likely are we to see separate arbitration/free agency timelines in the next CBA for position players vs pitchers?

2:00 Ben Clemens: I think it’s incredibly unlikely

2:00 Ben Clemens: I’m just struggling to see who’s going to push for this

2:00 Ben Clemens: Doesn’t feel like something the union could get behind given that it’s a divisive issue just naturally, and it’s not like owners are going to get behind it

2:02 Swingslow: Why do the Cubs keep a guy like Hendricks on the roster? Feels like they have so much pitching depth and its a shame to move all these guys to the bullpen or AAA

2:02 Ben Clemens: Loyalty, right?

2:02 Ben Clemens: this is his first start off the IL, and they basically put him on the IL with a case of badness

2:03 Ben Clemens: it really hurts to get rid of a franchise legend when it’s not on their own terms, and I think Hendricks qualifies for that now

2:03 Ben Clemens: I’m definitely worried that he’ll give them no choice, though

2:04 Talfred: Looking at the newly released Bat Tracking data, the Squared-up Rate is derived from a formula combining swing speed and pitch speed to arrive at a maximum possible exit velocity. The actual exit velocity is then compared to that maximum. Wouldn’t this maximum exit velocity assume consistent baseballs? It seems to me that variations in baseball liveliness would skew these figures.

2:05 Ben Clemens: I don’t have access to the exact details that go into the formula, but just from a physics perspective, a lot of things matter. The weight of the bat matters, the coefficient of restitution of the ball matters. A lot of the other factors that make the ball lively or not (carry for the same exit velo is one of the prime ways the ball seems to change year to year) don’t matter

2:05 Ben Clemens: so like, we’ve seen that balls are traveling less far for the same EV/L A combos this year. That makes the ball less lively. But obviously since we’re measuring that for a given EV, we’re not talking about any effect on EV

2:06 Who’s Fabio?: Hey Ben, Davis Schneider is the top searched player right now at FG. Do you think he can sustain 280/375/450ish as a hitter?

2:06 Ben Clemens: I do not think he can sustain the .375 part of that

2:07 Ben Clemens: he’s gonna be a high strikeout guy, and even though he’s run very high BABIPs so far in the bigs, I don’t see a great reason to expect that to continue. Push that back down to roughly average, which is incidentally what all our projection systems are doing, and you get an OBP in the .340-.350 range

2:07 Ben Clemens: I buy the power, though

2:07 Maddoning: Can you explain how the Brewers have stayed good, despite replacing Burnes and Woodruff with a couple retreads, and otherwise just kind of bringing the same group back? What is this wizardry?

2:09 Ben Clemens: It doesn’t seem that crazy to me, to be honest. They haven’t had Woodruff for a while now! They got a new star in William Contreras for Josh Hader (via Esteury Ruiz and the A’s inexplicably not wanting Contreras), they’ve brought up some solid contributors on the hitting side from the minors, and they’re hitting well right now. The pitching staff took a step back without Burnes, just like you’d expect

2:10 Ben Clemens: I don’t think they’re going to keep hitting like they have, but Contreras has been outrageously good this year and that’s doing a lot of work

2:10 The guy WHo makes Trades: CHC/HOU CHC trade: CF Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF Owen Cassie, OF Mike Tauchman, and a PTBNL for HOU Trade: 3B Alex Bregman, and 1B Jon Singleton

2:10 Ben Clemens: why would anyone involved want to do this, haha?

2:10 Nate: Which of the new bat speed metrics that we now have access to do you think is most predictive of long-term success? Probably blasts, right (seems fairly well correlated to barrels)? Like you mentioned in your article, you can have a fast swing and still not make that much contact, and you can square it up but not hit it that hard because you don’t have a fast swing.

2:11 Ben Clemens: I’m still digging into this question, naturally

2:11 Ben Clemens: I think it’ll probably be blasts? But I’m definitely not confident

2:11 Ben Clemens: I’m pretty sure that ‘average swing speed’ is more of a trinket statistic than a great thing to predict how good a hitter will be

2:11 Jeremy: There are some puzzling discrepancies between the bat speed data and exit velocity data. Presumably, a lot of that is down to some players swinging heavier bats than others? Phillies fan that I am, the one I noticed is that JT Realmuto actually has slightly faster bat speed than Bryce Harper, but Harper’s average and max exit velocities are much higher than Realmuto’s.

2:11 Ben Clemens: heavier bats, purer contact

2:13 Didace: So far this year, the Washington Nationals pitching staff has been a) Really good, 2nd in WAR, b) So-so, 13th in ERA, c) Bad, 24th in Strikeouts, d) Lucky, 1st in HR allowed, e) Unlucky, 30th in BABIP ?

2:13 Ben Clemens: I think so-so does a pretty good job in the end. you’ve got some great correlations in there, but I’d basically say that d and e offset a little bit, and the Nats are middle of the pack in K-BB%

2:13 Ben Clemens: so they’re doing unsustainably well at allowing very few homers per fly ball, but they’re also doing what I’d consider to be unsustainably poorly in terms of BABIP

2:14 Ben Clemens: One potential counterpoint here: some of that babip is b/c the team is not good at fielding

2:14 Ben Clemens: -10 OAA so far, 26th in baseball

2:14 Ben Clemens: and that OAA is largely a range issue; the nats are middle of the pack in errors committed

2:15 Ben Clemens: What do I make of the first month of Dylan Crews in AA. Not a complete disaster but a high K% and not the level of production I think many expected. Anything to worry about or just SSS?

2:15 Ben Clemens: Yeah it’s 87 PA, and he’s hitting the crap out of the ball, too early to say much imo

2:16 teeth grinder: If you’re starting a franchise today and were given two options who would you pick and why: Gunnar Henderson or Bobby Witt (contract/salary are irrelevant)

2:16 Ben Clemens: Wow, this is a really tough one

2:17 Ben Clemens: I think I’d take Witt

2:18 Ben Clemens: I’ve been too low on him, and I’m consciously trying to correct for that

2:18 Ben Clemens: It’s a great problem to have, obviously. Henderson has been even better than advertised. But so has Witt and in the end I think I trust him to be a defensive difference maker more. But there are no wrong answers here

2:18 Dan’l: Shouldn’t the Cards make Helsley & Romero available now? Do those two have comparable value (upside with H., longer control with JJ)?

2:21 Ben Clemens: uhhhh, they definitely do not have comparable value. Romero has never topped 40 innings in a season and Helsley has a much lower ERA/FIP/whatever rate you care about, with more strikeouts and stuff that grades out better by pretty much any model, over meaningfully more innings

2:21 Ben Clemens: no one’s gonna pay for an extra year of a maybe good reliever in 2026

2:21 Ben Clemens: so I’d say Helsley would fetch far more in trade. Also I don’t think the Cards are going to trade him, if they’re a disaster this year the odds of a regime change are pretty high and that doesn’t lineup very well

2:22 The guy WHo makes Trades: OAK/STL OAK trade: Esteury Ruiz, Hogan Harris, and a…