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Chat: Harry Pavlidis

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday December 26, 2013 1:00 PM ET chat session with Harry Pavlidis.

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Chat with our Director of Technology about stats at BP, or anything else.

Harry Pavlidis: Happy Boxing Day. Get your Tanaka bids in and come back here to talk about the hot stove to date, look aheads to 2014 and anything you're curious about regarding BP's work these days.

Jim (Louisville): Harry, can you talk about Robert Stephenson and what you expect from him in 2014? How would you compare him to some of the other top arms now in MiLB?

Harry Pavlidis: Stephenson has managed to come up couple times in the queue today. I guess he's not under the radar. He should be headed to Double-A shortly, if not to open the season. I wouldn't leave him in the Cally league much anyway, that's not a great place to pitch. If he handles AA with any level of success he should move up quickly. But I'd take the save route and expect him contribute in 2015 but certainly not ruling out a faster rise. I'm less and less against moving blue chip pitchers quickly these days.

Ryan (Cincinnati): Long term, would you rather have Cingrani or Stephenson in your rotation? Why?

Harry Pavlidis: Stephenson, he's got the higher upside and possibly two elite pitches (fastball/curveball)

Terry (Pittsburgh): Gregory Polanco just won the Dominican League MVP. What kind of player do you see for PIT in the future?

Harry Pavlidis: I love Polanco. I have visions of Marte/Cutch/Polanco dancing in my head and they're wonderful. I expect him to be a quality regular after a little more time in the minors.

Jenny (Houston): What's the MLB ETA for Robert Stephenson and what improvements need to be made to get there?

Harry Pavlidis: and rounding out our Stephenson trifecta .... I'm unsure how well his changeup rates right now, if it's average that should be good enough, assumng his command is at least average as well, to take his stuff into the show. So, as noted earlier, late 2014/early 2015. He'll be one to watch this Spring.

Peter (Chicago): Is it safe to say that, assuming Baez has the better hit tool and Sano has the better power tool, that Baez may be less risky to reach his ceiling because you need the hit tool to tap into the power?

Harry Pavlidis: I'd say that make-up will be the most important factor for reaching a ceiling. On that note, Baez seems to be maturing. I like Baez more than Sano because he's in a better spot on the defensive spectrum, he's got the hit tool, and he's not exactly a power slouch himself. He's a 75 if Sano is an 80. I've said this for a while now: I haven't seen hands as fast as Javy's since Gary Sheffield.

Jim (Raleigh): Thoughts on three starters that could make a big impact in 2014: Gausman, T. Walker, and Bradley?

Harry Pavlidis: Bradley isn't ready yet IMO. He's going to be very good but he needs to throw more strikes. We should see him this year and he should be exciting, but there may be some lumps. Meanwhile Walker and Gausman should be in the rotation Opening Day. At this point I'd expect Walker to have the biggest positive impact on his team.

Sean (Charlotte): How do you compare the potential of three big RHP: A. Sanchez, Syndergaard, and R. Stephenson?

Harry Pavlidis: MOAR Stephenson .... I like all of these guys probably as 2's. That's a lot of like for me.

Nick (St. Louis): What are your thoughts on Stephen Piscotty?

Harry Pavlidis: He reminds be of biscotti. Looks like his gap power is starting to push out to HR power. It's too bad he didn't stick in the infield but he seems to be on track to develop enough power to fit in a corner outfield. Of course the Cardinals will probably convert him to a second baseman and leave us all in the dust as usual.

Cal Guy (Cali): Happy New Year Harry, How many major league innings pitched in 2014 do you see for Walker, Gausman and Bradley?

Harry Pavlidis: 180 150 90

brentdaily (boulder): Will the general public and front offices ever be closer in terms of evaluating players than they are today? Odds us wannabe start geeks can infer a good bit of the value provided by those two components via other metrics?

Harry Pavlidis: The public will never ever have as much information about makeup, biomechanics etc. as the front office so it's hard to evaluate models that rely only on outside information--the unknowns are so much greater in these cases. But there's nothing stopping "outsiders" from contributing to the development of techniques for measuring and projecting performance. Just know that you are working with fewer inputs _and_ outputs. Remember, the sabermetric movement didn't start in a front office.

Dan (Lexington, KY): Which of these two would you keep in a keeper league, A. Wood $5 or N. Arenado $5? Thanks

Harry Pavlidis: Arenado. Should I mention I have an underwhelming track record in fantasy baseball?

Paul (DC): Using the old Davenport Translation module, or any other tool you might have sitting around in the BP arsenal, for Nippon League stats, what sort of season are you predicting for the supposedly soon to be MLB posted Masahiro Tanaka?

Harry Pavlidis: We haven't run that yet, but Clay has http://www.claydavenport.com/pt/TANAKA19881101A.shtml

dantroy (Davis): Any chance you can add scoresheet IDs to the PECOTAs this season?

Harry Pavlidis: yes, assuming they don't change their data format. Rob McQuown is looking forward to adding this feature. We actually have a pretty big player ID project going on right now (thanks to Stuart Wallace). We plan on making this resource available to the public in 2014. ID mappings across stat sites, fantasy sites, projection systems etc.

David (Malibu): So, with the Tanaka sweepstakes set to take a month, is it likely we'll see Garza, Ubaldo, and Santana all sign after that? Same with either a Price or Shark trade?

Harry Pavlidis: Santana could go late into spring, when teams can watch him throw. Otherwise, I think you're right. Tanaka is the market's focus at the moment.

David (Malibu): With news that the Cubs likely signed another top 30 type IFA(Wladimir Galindo) do you see them spending plenty more, since they're well past the cap?

Harry Pavlidis: yea, I'm pretty sure they found a loop-hole or an exploit of some kind that they are happy to live with. They'll throw money at Tanaka. The inability to acquire talent on the free agent market is a big aggravation for Hoyer, he and Theo both love these chances to acquire talent from abroad.

David (Malibu): Gut feeling: Is Shark still a Cub on Opening Day?

Harry Pavlidis: Yes. But not on August 1.

Alex (Anaheim): Over-under on bids for Tanaka?

Harry Pavlidis: I'll guess a dozen teams put up the 20 million fee and start the bidding war. Maybe he'll bag something like 6/100 ... I'm just spit ballin' here.

nictaclacta (Glendale): Hey Harry, I have to make a dynasty keeper decision to make involving Anthony Rizzo. How do you see his long-term value? Thanks for your insight.

Harry Pavlidis: as a general rule I think you can acquire value at 1B from the fringes of the market. Since I'll guess your league doesn't value defense and makeup, let him fly.

Jim (Boston): Where do you see Stephen Drew ending up? Do you think the Red Sox would be better off with Drew/Bogaerts or Bogaerts/Middlebrooks on the left side?

Harry Pavlidis: good questions. In terms of on the field right now, I'd say Drew/Bogaerts, but the organizational plan and fit, along with their expectations for Middlebrooks, are certainly enough to make the other choice work. So, given the situation, the Sox current opportunity to compete, I expect them to bring him back

Mike H. (Chicago): Harry, removing all outside influences and personal connections, if you're Jeff Samardzja of the Cubs what dollar amount are you looking for to sign an extension being 2yrs out from FA? I know he's a local kid and grew up a Cub fan, but throw that out and lets get down to dollars and cents...Thanks!

Harry Pavlidis: it's apparently more than he's worth and may even involve some type of no trade clause. He's been adamant about keeping a high asking price, and I really think his public statements are not aligned with his actual plans.

Billy (Boston): Did Theo E. know what he was getting into (spending limitations wise) when he took the Chicago Cubs gig? I'm hearing there are some major player spending constraints tied to the balance sheet via Dollar in and Dollar out...

Harry Pavlidis: Yes and no. I think the limitations on spending in the first years were not completely to his liking. That said, he has an approach to organizational improvement that involves spending a lot of money away from the field--they overhauled the scouting and coaching and development staffs. So, on one hand he's gotten everything he's needed to turn the organization around but he's been stymied by the lack of cash flow and the crimp in the free agent market (as I noted earlier).

Isaac (Boston): Where does batted ball data come from? Why are there variances between LD, GB, and FB percentages between BP and other places, like Retrosheets and Fangraphs? Thanks!

Harry Pavlidis: First a mommy datum and a daddy datum fall in love .... batted ball data comes from people observing the game and recording a code for the type of batted ball. BP is showing you MLBAM's version and Fangraphs is showing you BIS's version. Different people, different systems, different answers. Which is way, as a baseball analyst, I prefer things like Trackman and HITf/x for such topics. Alas, that's not for public consumption.

John (Salt Lake City): Please rank for 2014? Career? S. Miller, Z. Wheeler, A. Wood, A. Cashner, C. Martinez

Harry Pavlidis: Wood does not belong in this list. Let's make that clear, he is destined for the bullpen before long.
Wheeler, Martinez, Cashner, Miller in that order for both.

Isaac (Boston): Where can I find a good explanation of FIP- and xFIP-? Thanks!

Harry Pavlidis: FIP http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?mode=viewstat&stat=493
xFIP is a Fangraphs/Hardball Times metric that involves adjusting the batted ball outcomes based on the batted ball types, you can find more about it in FG's glossary.

justarobert (Santa Clara): Very excited to hear about the player ID work. Have you heard any buzz about Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez?

Harry Pavlidis: Thanks, glad to hear that. But, no, I haven't.

David (Montreal): Do you have any updates on if Fieldf/x will be available to the public?

Harry Pavlidis: I don't see a path towards that happening. At least, not one that's open at the moment and not one that I expect to ever open. I just see tangled undergrowth when I look over there.

Brad (Baltimore): Hi Harry, I hope you had a great holiday. I apologize if this question seems silly or obvious, but I'm genuinely curios and haven't been able to find an answer. Why is the amateur draft part of the CBA? More specifically, why is the MLBPA able to bargain draft rules (specifically signing bonuses) and use the draft during collective bargaining when they do not represent the amateur players or the Minor League players?

Harry Pavlidis: because the union is happy to help teams limit the money they are allowed to spend on non-union members.

Willly (Under the Christmas tree): With the news of an all clear on Brandon Beachy, what should we expect from him this year?

Harry Pavlidis: I'd still be cautious in setting expectations. Maybe 120 innings out of the back of the rotation. If you get more, gravy.

David (Montreal): Where can we find players' TAv+ or FRA- stats?

Harry Pavlidis: in our custom reports you can find FRA+ and RPA+ (which is essentially TAv+) -- more info here http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15098

Pedro (San Diego): Top 5 baseball books? Top 5 books overall?

Harry Pavlidis: I won't even attempt a top 5 overall. But here are five really good baseball books, in no particular order and all somewhere in my top 10 or 15 and that I can think of right now: Dollar Sign on the Muscle, Ball Four, The Bullpen Gospels, The Book, Game Time.

Frank (Houston): When do you expect the Astros to call up George Springer and what are reasonable expectations for his rookie year? Is he on your radar for AL rookie of the year?

Harry Pavlidis: I would expect him to break camp and be one of the ROY contenders. A 15 HR/15 SB season wouldn't be much of a surprise out of him even if he takes his lumps along the way.

bradleyankrom (NYNY): If you and Ray King were trapped in a blender, how would you escape?

Harry Pavlidis: I need some more context. Where is the blender? A standard kitchen?

Willy (Under the Christmas tree): How do you expect the Kolten Wong / Ellis experiment to play out this year? Will Wong's leash be short?

Harry Pavlidis: I like the mix-and-match they've got setting up. They have the right culture to set and manage player expectations as far as I can see, so I see the vets and rooks getting their time and all pulling on the same end of the rope.
I genuinely hope and don't expect Wong to have a short leash. You have to trust your young players and show them that failure is normal, expected, and temporary. Well, 2 out of 3 for sure.

bradleyankrom (NYNY): The blender is on the counter of your kitchen, approximately six inches from the sink.

Harry Pavlidis: I don't own a blender.

whjohnson37 (Houston): Why would the Astros break camp with Springer on the MLB roster? They are a few years away from competing and I doubt they'll burn a year of team control that way.

Harry Pavlidis: then wait til June. He's ready.

Peter7899 (Springfield, MO): Travis Wood's BABIP the last 4 years... .259, .324, .244, .248. Those aren't terribly small sample sizes either. Do you think he is one of the rare pitchers whose repertoire leads to regularly low BABIPs?

Harry Pavlidis: I think he's had the smarts to throw fly balls when the wind is blowing in and the fortune to have well positioned defenders around him. He is a good pitcher, but I don't think he has the babip magic.

bradleyankrom (NYNY): The hypothetical blender is on your real kitchen counter, approximately six inches from the sink.

Harry Pavlidis: in that case I drink all the tequila out of the blender and ... what was the question again?

Harry Pavlidis: and with that important answer, I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your time and thoughts this year, looking forward to 2014.


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