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Chat: Cory Schwartz

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday September 05, 2014 1:00 PM ET chat session with Cory Schwartz.

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The VP of Stats for MLB.com and co-host of Fantasy 411 takes your questions on Statcast, fantasy baseball, heavy metal bands, and The Future Of Things.

Cory Schwartz: Hey gang, sorry I'm late, let's get this going! I'll answer questions until about 3:00pm ET, or until we all get too tired to keep going. Fire away...

Alex (Oakland): Wondering your thoughts on Steven Moya. Metrics seem to say that he can't succeed in MLB. On the other hand at least a few observers love his work ethic, his willingness to learn, change, adapt. "Ya gotta have heaaaaaaart!", as the song goes. But is that going to be enough?

Cory Schwartz: I should preface all of my replies re. prospects by saying, "I am not a scout." Even without Jason Parks, your friendly BPro prospect crew is far, far more qualified to evaluate those factors than I am. That said, I'm generally not a big fan of guys who have a 7-to-1 K-BB ratio as a 23-year-old in Double-A. His power would seemingly make him a legit prospect but unless his plate discipline improves I would have to assume his upside is limited.

CASS (Scarsdale): How did no one see Mesoraco blowing up? What a year! - any catcher's trending in a direction you like that could produce a devin like explosion in '15?

Cory Schwartz: This question comes from my buddy Doug Cassidy, who was a stalwart Mesoraco advocate for quite a few years... good call Cass, he finally came through for ya! Similarly, I'm not giving up on Yasmani Grandal. He's got good power and strong plate discipline, and I wonder if a permanent move out from behind the plate to first base will be a boon for his bat. The ballpark and surrounding lineup don't help, but I'm still a firm believer in his skills. Let's give him some credit for making it back so quickly from last year's knee blowout, too... another year of health could be another boost.

Joe (Iowa): Can you rank Rizzo, Hosmer, Belt, and Vargas for a dynasty league? Thinking of dropping Hos for Vargas. Can't DL Rizzo and need production. In 3rd in H2H standard 5x5.

Cory Schwartz: I rank them Rizzo, fifty feet of you-know-what, then Belt, Vargas and Hosmer. Belt has at times shown excellent skills but never put them all together in a full, healthy season, but he'll still only be 26 next year. Vargas has been very impressive so far but the K-BB ratio is a concern. As for Hosmer, he's also shown plenty of skills, but seems to regress just as quickly as he shows signs of growth. I hate to sell short on him, but the other guys give me more confidence.

joshua kusnick (ft lauderdale): Is Brady Anderson as captivating in person?

Cory Schwartz: In addition to being one of my favorite roto players of all time, he's a terrific dude and "a good sport." For those who didn't catch the story at the time... http://eutawstreetreport.com/fan-challenges-brady-anderson-to-foot-race-at-winter-meetings/

ssimon (Pelham, N.Y.): What time is it?

Cory Schwartz: WINNING TIME

Shawnykid23 (CT): Any under 50% owned (roughly) players you think could be difference-makers down the stretch for fantasy?

Cory Schwartz: Any player can be a difference maker in such a short stretch of games as we have remaining. Look for those with increased playing time, ideally in decent offenses/home ballparks. You're not looking for Mr. Right, you're looking for Mr. Right Now. It could be someone different in each league.

Steven (New London): Which of 'your guys' that you drafted in a bunch of leagues most destroy your season this year?

Cory Schwartz: Oh man, Brad Miller and Will Middlebrooks. I wasn't expecting superstardom from either, but Middlebrooks had shown plenty of power (when healthy) so far in his MLB career, so I figured on .250 and 25 HR from him. Meanwhile, I though Miller had a good balanced base of skills and would do .265-15-15 or something like that. Obviously I missed huge on both guys and that hurt me in quite a few leagues.

Dan Rozenson (Washington, DC): An article in the Atlantic recently said that PITCHf/x has contributed to the lower run-scoring environment in baseball the last few years and higher strikeouts. Do you agree?

Cory Schwartz: Yep, I read that. Interesting theory but I thought his conclusions were overly narrow. Not stated at all in his article is the fact that baseball is a very cyclical game... it was only 14 years ago that Barry Bonds hit 73 homers, but go back 14 years before that and we were in the height of a pitching/baserunning era. The 1985 Cardinals had 314 (!) steals as a team! We are clearly in a pitching cycle right now but eventually the hitters will have their day, for one reason or another.

moonkyu (SF): FFF!!! Even with only one podcast this year, I rode the 411 strategy and philosophy to fantasy domination. Just saying. Also, outlook for Jose Abreu next year? Given the lack of MLB track record or poor understanding of how to Cuban stats relate to MLB stats, are we seeing the ceiling and should expect regression or are there more adjustments in the future (e.g. ridiculous contact rate in the second half v. first half).

Cory Schwartz: Glad to hear it! As for Abreu, my sources sold me this year on his "anywhere" power, but his command of the strike zone was a total wild card, so I expected a Mark Trumbo or Adam Dunn type of season: 35-40 homers but a shaky average. A 112-40 K-BB ratio is very manageable in today's game, when it comes with his kind of power... I don't think he'll hit .322 every year, but clearly his average won't be a liability. He's a first-rounder in pretty much every format next year, given the league-wide decline in power in recent seasons.

Big Erv (Club DTM): Who killed the 411?

Cory Schwartz: It's not dead, it's just resting! Neither Siano nor I could give it the time and attention this year that we would've wanted, and we didn't want to mail it in, so we decided to leave it on the back-burner for now. But, think of the 411 like Rickey Henderson... not retired, just "not playing." Or maybe like Minnie Minoso, and we'll return for an at-bat or two at some point down the road. The podcast may be on hiatus, but the 411 philosophy lives on!

Bryan Cole (Boston, Mass.): I know the plan is for StatCast to be in all ballparks for next spring. Is there any push to add them for the playoffs, so we can see more of the types of videos we got around the All-Star Game? Or should we just be rooting really hard for the Brewers?

Cory Schwartz: Bryan, we do hope to expand coverage during the postseason, but there are no guarantees on that. It is our goal to roll out the system as soon as possible, but it's a pretty complex and resource-intensive effort.

ssimon (Pelham, N.Y.): Does the "strikeout scourge" era make a fantasy $1 pitcher strategy more likely to succeed?

Cory Schwartz: Not necessarily, because the bar has been raised for what makes a fantasy pitcher worthwhile. That said, I've never been a big believer in spending heavily on starting pitching, and the annual emergence of guys like Corey Kluber, Tyson Ross, Dallas Keuchel and Garrett Richards -- among many others -- just re-affirms that for me every year.

JRam (San Anto): How does the Carter power surge affect his value going forward? I have him locked up for cheap in a H2H 6X6 OPS league. Trade away in the spring when the value is at its peak or ride his 30+ homer seasons hoping for a 250 batting average?

Cory Schwartz: I've heard some intel on changes he's made to his swing, which make me think his improvements are real and sustainable. I don't think he's going to hit .300, but with his power, a .260 average is extremely valuable. Would it blow your mind if he and Juan Abreu ended up with similar numbers next year? Abreu at .290 with 38 homers and Carter at .271 with 43 homers? #YCPB

Quiet Time (D.C.): Fantasy Question: Regardless of cost, who would you rather have for the next 3 years: Danny Duffy, Jake Arrieta, or Rusney Castillo? What kind of player will Castillo be?

Cory Schwartz: Castillo is a total wild card. The scouting reports I've read pegged him somewhere between Rajai Davis and Shane Victorino, but then it was said that he bulked up and showed unexpected power during his workouts last month. Even if he "ony" ends up as the next Shane Victorino, I'd take that over either SP. I'd take most solid everyday players over most unproven SP's.

Ron (St. Louis): From MLBAM's perspective, is StatCast's main purpose to provide analytic data to MLB teams, to provide entertainment (infographics for instance) for mainstream audiences on TV broadcasts and Gameday, to further appeal to the super hardcore fan, or something else? A bit of all of those, I'm sure, but as decisions are made about how to implement and release it, who is the sacred cow?

Cory Schwartz: Our #1 goal is to enhance the fan experience in their enjoyment of the game. That includes online, via mobile devices, and via broadcasters and the in-stadium experience. We think that the system will generate data that we can use to provide interesting insights to both casual and hardcore fans alike. That said, MLBAM is owned equally by the 30 clubs, so providing data and support for them is also paramount to our mission.

JasonPennini (Denver): Which player would you want on your team for 1) Next Year 2) Their Entire Career ? Bryce Harper, Oscar Taveras, or Kris Bryant

Cory Schwartz: 1) Harper... he's done enough at the MLB level that I have the most confidence in what he'll produce next year. Injuries aside, his baseline looks like .275 with 25 homers and double-digit SB's, which is very valuable in fantasy. 2) Bryant. 43 HR's in 138 games at AA-AAA, plus 34 doubles and 86 walks. He looks like a short-list, elite slugger, and those are gold in today's offensive environment.

Phil (Chicago): When will Strasburg step up to the next level? ERA is too high.

Cory Schwartz: He's been better this year than ever before; the unusually high HR/FB and BABIP mask that. I'd like to see him restore the slider to his repertoire though, to give hitters another look.

Jackson (Kansas): When will we know how much stat cast data will be available to the public and in what form?

Cory Schwartz: Jackson, still TBD. Our focus right now is on doing the work to expand coverage to all 30 ballparks for all games, but we remain firm in our commitment to provide data to the public.

shlenny9 (Tampa): Do MiLB players get a bonus for a league championship?

Cory Schwartz: I do not know! Anyone have any insight on this?

mdotmorris22 (Minnesota): Does Aledmys Diaz project as major league starting infielder?

Cory Schwartz: Good question for the prospect crew. But based on what I can see, he seems to be very far away offensively... very raw.

Scott (Chucktown): 12 team roto dynasty standard 5x5. Would you want more than one from each group of Castro, Russell, and Bogaerts and Latos/Wacha for Shields and Holliday? Can you rank the combo in order you would prefer? Would you accept Castro and Wacha/Latos for Holliday/Shields?

Cory Schwartz: So you'd be getting an SS and an SP for Shields and Holliday? In that case I'd want Wacha and Castro, with the thinking that those guys give me the best chance to win next year. Building a great keeper list or dynasty roster is great, but winning a championship is better. #FFF

Tricky (Bedlam): Need to drop two in a 5x5 for next year: Ross, Kluber, Richards, Zimmermann. Recs?

Cory Schwartz: Wow, very tough choice. Can you try to trade two for a big bat? If I really had to drop one it would be Ross, given his sometimes-sporadic command and weak offensive support, but man, I like all four. Nice problem to have!

Peter (Florida): Kennys Vargas has shown some pretty awesome power from both sides of the plate thus far. When he gets into one he actually makes Target Field look small. I know he's due for some regression in the babip and avg departments but his minor league numbers also suggest he should be taking more walks. On balance, can he be a .260 guy with 25 home run power at his peak?

Cory Schwartz: I saw him for the first time at the Futures Game and wow, he has serious power. The 39-4 K-BB ratio makes it almost certain that his AVG will regress, but his minor league numbers show very solid command of the strike zone. I could see him maintaining a .280-290 average with 25 homers, or even more... with his size, he could mature into a monster. The Twins desperately needed a guy like this in the middle of their lineup.

Cal Guy (Cal): Cory, Who do you think will be new closers in 2015? Betances for one?

Cory Schwartz: The road to fifth place is littered with Closers of the Future, but Betances is one candidate if the Yankees don't re-sign Robertson. Ken Giles in Philly is another.

Andrew (St. Augustine): Alex Reyes improved his control during the second half. Where do you think he ranks among prospect pitchers going into the offseason?

Cory Schwartz: Question for the BP scout team! My two cents is, he only turned 20 last week and pitched in the Midwest League this year, so there's still a lot of road to travel before he reaches the Majors. But with his stuff he has to be viewed as a legit prospect... just not for 2015, in all likelihood.

Kevin G (Jacksonville): Who will have the better career Danny Duffy or Brandon Finnegan?

Cory Schwartz: As of today you'd have to go with Duffy because he's got a regular rotation spot and is pitching very well. Remember that he too was a big-time prospect before injuries slowed him, but he's still very young and has upside to grow. Finnegan has much to prove before he becomes the next... Danny Duffy? :-)

Dozier (Minn.): I got it all together except my BA. Do you think I will ever get my BA up to .280?

Cory Schwartz: I like the improvements in the BB/K rate this year, but the LD rate has dropped two years running while the FB rate has climbed. That's a formula for low BABIP's, which you continue to record... so as of now, I think you're a .250 hitter. But, I see that your minor league BABIP's were much higher, so if you can combine the newly-found power with that approach, there could be another level. You're 27 already though, so the clock is ticking, but what you are right now ain't bad at all.

Rhonda (St. Petersburg): Next year: Mesoraco or Sal Perez?

Cory Schwartz: Don't want my man Cass to be upset, but I'm sticking with Sal. His control of the strike zone has improved much, but the power is growing and he's still very, very young. There is a ton of upside here.

Trent (Nola): What player and pitcher do you enjoy watching the most, not including any players or pitchers from a team of city you cheer for. So basically just on their own merits, without any personal attachment.

Cory Schwartz: Wow, great one. It used to be Vlad Guerrero, for his unorthodox approach at the plate and, even more than that, his incredible throwing arm. I see some of that in Yasiel Puig, who I really enjoy watching. Even though I'm a traditional 5x5 fantasy player, I really have a soft spot for guys with great throwing arms.

Bryce Harper (DC): Some people say that they would rather have Michael Brantley than me. What do you think?

Cory Schwartz: I'm sure Josh Kusnick is one of those people but I am not.

dianagram (VORGville): Hi Cory! Its been nice to see some local TV broadcasts starting to embrace WAR, BABIP, DRS and other sabermetrically-inclined stats. Do you think MLB Network will lead the way in bringing even more stats graphics to their games? Or do you think we've reached a saturation point?

Cory Schwartz: Good question for Tony Petitti! I think you'll continue to see advanced metrics and other data integrated into local and national broadcasts, as long as it can be done in ways that add to the fan experience of watching the game, rather than distracting from it. This will continue to be slow and gradual though, partly because there isn't a "standard" yet for many of these metrics. If the marketplace offers multiple values for, say, WAR, then I don't think you'll see adoption as quickly as if there were one universally accepted value, as there is for mainstream stats like OPS, ERA, etc.

Rocky (Miami): Pick which estate you want half of: Arrieta, Cobb, or Teheran?

Cory Schwartz: Teheran. I've been a big fan for years, and the simultaneous growth of his repertoire and command point to continued improvement. He's still only 23, there could be another level from here, and where he's at right now is pretty darn good as it is.

moonkyu (SF): Keeper league settings question What is the best way to keep the bottom of the league engaged: carrot or stick? We've tried having small payouts for 8th place, but this diminishes the pot for the winners and not many people seem to care of about small payouts. Reducing FAAB seems vindictive to the teams that are already struggling. Has something else worked well in your experience?

Cory Schwartz: A combination of both is probably ideal, but the best strategy is to pick good owners who are willing to commit to the league long-term, which ensures that they'll stay active even when their teams are bad. Tough to find, but no better solution than that.

mdotmorris22 (Minnesota): Any chance we see Casey Kelly up in the majors next year? And does he still project as a mid rotation starter?

Cory Schwartz: He's still coming back from injuries, after struggling in his cup of coffee in 2012, so I don't think there's any rush. The Padres have sufficient SP depth for the moment that they can afford to let him earn his way back.

JRam (San Anto): Thank you, I also listened to your 411 episode with Nando Defino and landed Jose Abreu. So thanks again.

Cory Schwartz: One big recommendation per show, I'll take that ratio! Check out Nando on Sirius/XM, always entertaining and knows his stuff. Great taste in empanadas, too.

Zod (Phantom Zone): Star pitcher most likely to begin his regression stage next year?

Cory Schwartz: You mean like Verlander this year? I hate to bet against players, or seem like I'm wishing ill on them, but I'm in constant worry over the workload on Felix Hernandez's arm. He's certainly adapted well to the gradual decline in his velocity, so hopefully he'll have a strong second act a la Jered Weaver, rather than burning out.

Tristan (Hogtown): I traded for Marisnick in my dynasty league after reading an article in BP. Do you think he could be decent fantasy contributor as soon as next year? Is he worth protecting in the offseason waiver draft?

Cory Schwartz: I think the Astros are very high on him, but he's still only 23 and is very raw so they can afford to be patient. They've got 2/3rds of their OF set with Fowler and Springer, so the third spot is there for Marisnick to take, but I think he needs more time in the minors. Hopefully they can fix his swing like they've (apparently) done with Carter, and his time will be sooner rather than later.

mshreve1967 (Titusville, NJ): If given the choice of AJ Burnett or Kyle Kendrick, who would you choose for a big game? Or would it be more prudent to release them both outright and grab someone from A-ball, if you were the Phillies.

Cory Schwartz: Gotta admit, I thought Kendrick was going to take a big step forward last season after stepping onto the Halladay/McCarthy/Morton path of throwing sinkers, cutters and curves. Didn't happen. Then again, AJ might retire, and hasn't pitched well this year or in his postseason career, so I'll stick with Kendrick anyway. You're assuming he'll still be around though the next time there's a big game being played in Philly, right? ;-)

Trent (Nola): Guerrero was fun to watch. I also really liked Roberto Alomar in his prime. He could affect the game on both sides of the ball. Defensively I loved watching Rey Ordonez. He couldn't hit a lick, but my was he phenomenal with the glove. When the Mets had him and Alomar it was webgem city (the Vizquel/Alomar tandem was nothing to sneeze at either). Too bad I can't find any highlights of him online.

Cory Schwartz: MLB.com has released a lot more video over the past few years, so don't give up the search! Ordonez was fun to watch but man he could NOT hit at all. I do like those guys who have a balanced game and can do different things to help win, but other than the 450-foot homer, nothing impresses me more than a guy with a great throwing arm. Manny Machado has the best infield arm that I've seen lately... hope he can stay healthy.

Jake (MI): Can you give us any possible breakout candidates for next season from a dynasty baseball league perspective?

Cory Schwartz: I hope A.J. Pollock gets healthy and gets another long look next year, he could be a 15/20 type of guy in that ballpark. Same with his teammate Chris Owings. Those two come quickly to mind.

Dave (UK): I turned down my Baez for his Correa straight up in a dynasty keep forever league with a 30 man minors. Good idea? I'm in rebuild mode.

Cory Schwartz: I think so. Baez is a Major Leaguer right now, and Correia still has a long way to go. It's not like Baez isn't an elite prospect, either... he could hit 30+ homers as soon as next year. Crazy bat speed and anywhere power.

Orion (CA): Thanks for chatting with us, Cory. Two questions for you: 1. Will MLB.tv have any televised broadcasts during the postseason? 2. Should I take Ben Paulsen at all seriously, this month or as a sleeper next spring?

Cory Schwartz: Thanks, glad to! Yes, MLB.TV will cover the entire postseason, and I believe with some new features to keep an eye out for. And for Paulsen, his minor league numbers were so-so and Morneau is under contract for another year, so I wouldn't get too excited.

Trent (Nola): Thanks for the chat Cory. And whaddya know, after asking my question I went in search of Rey Ordonez highlights for the first time in a while and actually found one (just uploaded 7 months ago) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXaQ6TDWnww

Cory Schwartz: St. Rey sure was fun to watch, wasn't he??

BTW, the queue is just about empty but I'll stick around in case anyone straggles in late. Doesn't have to be about baseball, too... anyone wanna ask what I think of the new Afghan Whigs record?

Byron Buxton (Wannabee): Am I gonna play MLB next year, or not?

Cory Schwartz: You have the talent to make your own timeline, but you have to stay healthy first. Have a season like 2013, though, and I could see you in the Twin Cities before the end of the summer, definitely.

Daniel (Cotuit): Of the September call ups who aren't top prospects, who do you think might be worth stashing going forward? Guys like Moya, McCann, Farmer, Alvarez, Tropeano come to mind. Anyone else stand out to you?

Cory Schwartz: Not really a September call-up, but man, Danny Santana continues to surprise, huh? I wonder if it's just a BABIP-fueled mirage, but since he probably only cost $1 in any league, it's worth paying to find out, no?

Cory Schwartz: OK folks that will wrap it up, thanks for the great questions! Enjoy the stretch run and the postseason, watch for more cool Statcast stuff, and maybe even a surprise podcast from the 411 before the season is over. Viva Parks!


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