Craig Edwards FanGraphs Chat–4/18/2019


Craig Edwards: Let’s get this rolling.


Concrete Fan: Do you regard Matt Chapman as a top-5 overall thirdbaseman?


Craig Edwards: I think in some order you have Rendon, Ramirez, Chapman, Bregman, Bryant, Machado, Arenado with Turner and Donaldson sort of next. In that first group, Chapman needs to be better than two players to be top-five. I think Bryant is probably one. i think Chapman is easily top-six right now and I wouldn’t have any problem with him in the top-five.


Justin: how the heck is Glasnow suddenly walking 1/4 of the guys he’s walked in his career?  is this mostly just a SSS or does it seem like something clicked with him?


Craig Edwards: He’s not going to keep up a 3.3% rate, but he did put up a 9% rate in the minors back in 2017 so it isn’t like a walk rate below 10% should be a big surprise even as he struggled in the majors the last couple seasons. Plus, if you are mainly focused on two pitches, it is is probably easier to throw strikes, especially when the featured fastball is an easier to command fourseamer as opposed to a sinker.


Larry: I’ve been told on broadcasts for years that fouling a ball straight back represents a good swing. Why is this?


Craig Edwards: Because the batter timed the pitch well and didn’t swing over it. While it is true that if the bat had been slightly higher at impact, it might have resulted in a popup, it wasn’t too far off from going a long way.


Mitchell: How likely is it that the large number of extensions occurring this spring , and presumably in the future, drive a greater number of trades in the future?


Craig Edwards: This sort of cuts both ways. If teams are less able to fill holes through free agency, they have no option but the trade route. On the other hand, if owners and players continue to agree on extensions, there is less incentive for teams to trade their players away. Ultimately, I doubt we end up with more major trades than we’ve seen over the last few years.


frank: strikeout rate begins to stabilize at 70 batters faced. carlos rodon is at 98. how much weight do you put into his early and stagering improvements?


Craig Edwards: Keep in mind when talking about stabilization, we still have to regress considerably toward the player’s previous level. That said, Rodon’s strikeout rate last season was almost unreasonably low for him. He’s got a 23% career strikeout rate. I want to believe, but right now he’s mainly just throwing two pitches so I would expect the strikeouts to come down some from the 30% once the league sees him a few times. He certainly looks better than last year, though.


pelkey: why shouldn’t the braves just carry 10 starters and have them each go 4-5 innings every fifth day?


Craig Edwards: 10 starters is a lot and when one or two guys can’t go 4-5 innings, that puts a big strain elsewhere. If you actually had 10 guys who could go 4-5 innings, if you took half of those guys and let them go an inning or two, they would probably be even better. Then, you just need a few more guys and all of a sudden you have a really good bullpen with your 5 best guys in the rotation.


Jordan: Thoughts on the Pirates? Pitching looks really good. Offense is struggling but without Polanco and Dickerson. Upon their return can you see a legit contender?


Craig Edwards: I thought the Pirates had a chance to surprise this season, but the offense is struggling even with Bell and Melky playing a bit over their heads. Getting Dickerson and Polanco back along with a better Marte and Cervelli would help the offense, but the team is going to have to win a lot of close games meaning the rotation has to keep pitching like this and the bullpen has to be lights out. It’s certainly possible, but if the team is still in it in a few months, they are going to need to make more moves because the NL Central and the NL in general should be very competitive.


Yogi: Who’s this Mike Trout guy people keep talking about?


Craig Edwards: He’s a top-five third baseman.


John H: Is it still too early to be concerned about Corey Kluber considering some of the trends in his underlying skills towards the end of last season? Would you still consider him a top-5 pitcher? Top ten? Twenty?


Craig Edwards: I don’t think so. Kluber should still be really good, but his strikeout rate suffered a pretty big drop last season. His velocity was down slightly last season, but it is too early to tell if his velocity numbers right now will stay down. If they don’t shoot up at some point, we should still be looking at a good pitcher, top-20ish, but not the best pitcher in baseball, which he might have been for a time in 2017, early 2018.


AF: Too early to worry about Eloy Jimenez? He looks kind of overmatched and is giving me flashbacks of Jorge Soler


Craig Edwards: Yes, way too early. He’s not going to strike out 30% of the time, and he’s going to hit for a lot more power. When the weather warms up, so will he.


Not the mama: Jeff Fletcher of the OCR recently stated that teams signing players with QO attached would have to surrender 2020 pick if the player signed after 2019 draft, is that correct? The narrative has been that teams are waiting until after the draft to not lose any pick, but that doesn’t seem to make sense if Fletcher is correct


Craig Edwards: Looking this up. Give me a second.


Craig Edwards: quick reading of the CBA, and could be wrong, does seem to provide that provision, though a closer reading is probably necessary. IN any event, a draft pick next year is worth a lot less than one now. I’m not entirely sure the draft pick is what has prevented Kimbrel and Keuchel from signing, though for teams right now, delaying a penalty by a year and not signing a player until you know you are in contention does have its benefits. Probably not enough to where you wouldn’t sign that player today if you wanted or needed him, but there are some small benefits.


Redbull: When will Rizzo start hitting?


Craig Edwards: Soon, I’d guess. He got off to a slow start last season that was mainly bad luck and I think the same thing is going on this year, too, though maybe not to the same level.


Colin: How concerned are you with the Cardinals rotation? I see lots of room for improvement (Mikolas, Wacha)  but I see Hudson and Wainwright as long term concerns, the latter’s performance thus far notwithstanding.


Craig Edwards: It’s the team’s biggest weakness at this point. If MIkolas and Flaherty pitch like they did last year, they are an okay 1-2, but then you need three number threes to back them up. Wainwright has been the team’s best starter so far and that isn’t a good thing. They really need Carlos Martinez back or Reyes to get back to where he was last year before he got hurt.


Green & Gold: Does Votto’s performance give any hope for the future?


Craig Edwards: He’s hitting for more power than he did last year, which is something. The strikeout and walk rates are the most concerning right now. I think he’ll probably be fine, but at 35 years old, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see last season not as an anomaly but the beginning of a decline. He’ll get better this year, but how much better is probably limited by his age and last year’s stats.


Curious Jorge: Is there a number of plate appearances where the sample size is large enough that a kind of critical mass is reached and we can say that this is how good most players are going to perform? I know every player can turn things around, but I’m wondering if there’s a tipping point.


AF: Safe to conclude that Miggy & Votto just don’t have the pop anymore? Neither has hit a ball over 400 ft this season.


Craig Edwards: It’s early, it’s still a little cold. I’m not sure I’d conclude that just yet, but the reasonable answer comes from their last few seasons lacking in power, not what they’ve done the last three weeks.


Votto : I’m hitting for more power? 1 HR, .158 ISO so far vs. 12 HR, .135 ISO last year.


Craig Edwards: I was asked for some hope and I provided it as best I could. Six doubles isn’t nothing.


Pete : Sale – Legit panic or is this just an early-season blip?


Craig Edwards: I was a bit more cautious on Sale before the last start. He showed he still has good velocity and got some strikeouts out of it. The question going forward is how often does he turn it on and will that affect his consistency. It seems like he could go on a great run at some point, but if he takes the foot off the pedal, he just isn’t as good. The team needs to get to the playoffs to make use of a healthy Sale and a diminished Sale hurts their chances after this slow start.


cole: are you buying ozuna’s comeback this year? looking solid at the plate


Craig Edwards: I wouldn’t buy his 2017 numbers, but he’s now hit 29 homers in the last 12 months so a 30-homer season with close to four wins seems like a reasonable possibility, but he’s going to need that shoulder to hold up because it was pretty clear he was compromised last season.


Paul: At what point does it become too late to sign Keuchel? If you sigh him today, you’re probably not getting him until late May/early June. And assuming that he still want’s more than the QO, that’s a lot of money for 50-75% of a season


Craig Edwards: Even if Keuchel isn’t as good as he was a year ago, he’s probably a couple wins better than just about everybody’s fifth starter. That is still worth more than a QO. 1/20 seems like a pretty easy call if he is taking that.


Chat Flip: If MLB is going to promote players having fun (as it did on its official twitter account yesterday) do they need to start heavily punishing retaliation for said fun? “Celebrate but get ready for one in the earhole” feels like a mixed message.


Craig Edwards: I agree. I think, ultimately, with on-field celebrations, do as much as you want, especially if your team is okay with it. If the other team is annoyed, that’s a good thing. There’s no place in baseball for intentionally throwing at a batter. You can police your own team, if you want. The only way to police another team is to beat them.


Matt: Is your opinion on Scott Kingery today any different than it was on Opening Day?


Craig Edwards: Yes. It is better. I still thought Kingery would be a solid player, but it is hard not to have that called into question a bit after last year. It’s encouraging to see him play like the player most thought he was going into last year.


Cement Fan: Do you regard Nolan Gorman as a top-5 overall thirdbasemen?


Craig Edwards: In the minors, sure.


ron: maikel franco does not appear to have improved quality of contact. he is notably hitting the ball the other way more often and drastically increased his fly ball rate, at least early in this small sample size. Home run per fly ball rate is surprisingly not massively inflated. Walk rate and strikeout rate are also both improved. which of these changes do you believe will stick and which do you believe will regress?


Craig Edwards: I’ve always liked Franco’s game. I think I’m partial to hitters that make a lot of contact and hit for power. I’m not sure anything he’s doing right now is sustainable. He’s going to hit for less power with a higher average. He’s going to walk less and strikeout more. I think at the end of the year, we are going to see last year’s version of Franco with a little higher walk rate and a little more power. Maybe not an All-Star, but an above-average regular.


Hello: Why does every FG writer (that I’ve seen) oppose throwing at batters while many members of the public are fine with it?


Craig Edwards: I couldn’t tell you why many members of the public aren’t more concerned for the health and welfare of human beings. Baseball is a game, but it is not only a game solely for our entertainment.


Chickie : Mookie making a case that the same $400 million dollar contract Trout got, or thereabouts, is in no way shape or form in his neighborhood?


Craig Edwards: He’s still got a few years to make his case. And the market might well decide he’s worth $300 million then.


Dr. Bob: If less quality will be available for trades and in free agency in the future given the trend toward extensions, doesn’t this make player drafting and development ever more important than before?


Craig Edwards: It’s always going to be important, but the new CBA could mitigate that somewhat and some teams might decide they would rather have multiple young prospects than a good player signed to an extension. We don’t yet know if these extensions, which could be a response to lack of extensions the last five years, will continue.


Billy Beane: Of the qualified 3B since 2017 (he started mid-year), Matt Chapman has the 5th most WAR and also has the fewest PAs of anyone in the top 10 and the 3rd best WAR/600. He’s a slam dunk top 3 3B. the only question is how you rank Ramirez, Bregman, and Chapman.


Craig Edwards: Anthony Rendon has 14.2 WAR since the start of 2017 which is the fourth-best in baseball. Arenado has been much healthier and that matters, too. Chapman is in the mix for top-five. He’s not slam dunk top-three.


Craig Edwards: Alright everybody, thanks for the questions.

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