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Chat: Harry Pavlidis

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Friday February 06, 2015 1:00 PM ET chat session with Harry Pavlidis.

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BP's Director of Technology is so smart he can answer any question imaginable, including whether Brad Brach throws a splitter or a forkball.

Harry Pavlidis: Let's chat (AKA Harry dances around your prospect/fantasy questions)!

Greg (NY): Can you please rank these SPs for 2015 and beyond in a keeper league. Pomeranz/Jimmy Nelson/Hahn/Cingrani? thanks

Harry Pavlidis: Nelson would be my least favorite. It's close for the other three. Pomeranz seems to be coming around, I'm often told I should like Cingrani more than I do, and Hahn having that new pitcher smell (I'd like to see his BB rate mellow out, but he's exciting)

Pete (Cherry Hill): Does Chad Billingsley have anything left? Is there even a projection that has any value given multiple severe injuries?

Harry Pavlidis: PECOTA has him at around replacement level. I suspect that is optimistic. Maybe he can find a bullpen role but he's had so many issues it's hard to imagine him bouncing back to his old form, or even close to it.

DBITLefty (Still floating ): Best/most exciting stuff of the 2015 debuts?

Harry Pavlidis: I'm looking forward to Rodon's slider. If Giolito somehow shows up in September, I'll come back here and edit this to say "Giolito's curveball".

Ryan (Chicago, IL): Harry, tell us about your hopes and dreams.

Harry Pavlidis: to be asked this question in a chat.
I am fulfilled.

dvanhait (Holland): Which of three of these catchers have the best chance of seeing more playing time in 2015: Gosewisch (Arz), Nieto (CWS), Vasquez (Bost), Lobaton (Wash) and Susac (SanF), Murphy (NYY), Joseph (Balt, and Sanchez (PITTs)?

Harry Pavlidis: ok this is a good one ... I'll take our latest depth chart estimates and give you my over/under
Gosewisch (Arz) 472 PA (I'll take the under)
Nieto (CWS) 30 (push)
Vasquez (Bost) 397 (under, a little)
Lobaton (Wash) 166 (over, Ramos always seems hurt :(
Susac (SanF) 134 (over, I can see him getting Posey some rest/1b time)
Murphy (NYY) 95 (under)
Joseph (Balt) 97 (over)
Sanchez (PITT) 62 (push)

Bryan Cole (Boston, Mass.): Hey Harry, can you explain what definition of "delivery angle" is you used in the BP annual article? I can't figure out how you get there from the trunk tilt and elbow flexion.

Harry Pavlidis: From Dan:
To construct that tilt, we need to know four pieces of

biomechanical data. Figure 1depicts angles superimposed onto photographs that represent

each piece of biomechanical data analyzed here. We need to know three critical angles: the

angle of the upper arm relative to the body (shoulder abduction), the angle of the forearm

relative to the elbow (elbow flexion), and how much the pitcher tilts to his left or right. We also

need to know how much the pitcher tilts forward.
You can't get there from just Trunk Tilt and Elbow Flexion.
You need to know the upper arm relative to the body, the forearm relative to the upper arm, the amount of tilt of the body, and the amount of forward tilt.
That gives you the angle of the arm path as the pitcher releases the ball.
Adjusted for how forward learning that arm path is.

joughbrasch (Denver, CO): Do you think Statcast will greatly enhance the reliability of defensive metrics? If not, what would make them reliable.

Harry Pavlidis: whose metrics? Teams, sure. Public, we'll see if the data is made public in a form that lends itself well to analysis.

DBITLefty (Floating ): On a scale from 1 to 10 (with 10 being very high level of anxiety), how concerned are you about Kris Bryant's strikeout rate? And similarly, what level of confidence do you have that he will be an above-average big leaguer in his first season?

Harry Pavlidis: anxiety 3
confidence 6

DBITLefty (Floating ): Most difficult pitcher to analyze from a PITCHf/x perspective?

Harry Pavlidis: Trevor Bauer, too many offspeed pitches.
Odrisamer Despaigne, too many arm angles.
Greg Maddux, was just a cloud.
Yu Darvish, similar to Bauer but with more varieties in more places.

ajsteiny8 (Milwaukee): Who projects as the best bat from the group of Schwarber, Alex Jackson, and Plawecki?

Harry Pavlidis: pure bat, I'll take Schwarber. I don't know much about Plawecki, and I do like Jackson a lot. But Schwarber I saw do nothing but sting baseballs in Kane County. He smacks the snot out of red stitched spheres. FYI.

BCermak (New York): Javier Baez comes to the plate to face Aroldis Chapman for 100 consecutive plate appearances. Both players' fatigue "resets" at the end of each plate appearance. How man HRs, Ks, BBs and balls in play would you predict?

Harry Pavlidis: let's pretend that 'learning' resets, too, so no adjustments. It's the Groundhog's Day Matchup from hell.
I'll take 55 strikeouts, 10 walks, 5 homers ... leaving 30 balls in play with the hope that Baez doesn't get drilled by a pitch.

Rick (Evanston ): Not a tech question. But a product question. Are you guys going to put out Futures Guide 2015 this year, and if so, when might we expect it?

Harry Pavlidis: I believe it's due out in a month or so

Shawn (Cubicle): If you could easily improve how PECOTA handles one input, what would it be?

Harry Pavlidis: just one?
our biggest challenge right now, and the first to be addressed, is pitcher value. Let's call that "one input".

Ken Giles (Philly): Am I going to get a chance to close this year? P.S. it's always sunny here.

Harry Pavlidis: Geno's is 24/7, there is no closing shift.

I suspect Pap closes until he's traded, to keep value up.

Edwin (Milwaukee): How does the Madison Mallard's beer selection compare with MLB stadiums?

Harry Pavlidis: never been...should I?

Edwin (Milwaukee): Will the Screwball ever make it back into the regular arsenal of an MLB starter, or is it pretty much a dead pitch at this point?

Harry Pavlidis: Hector Santiago throws one, not very often. Trevor Bauer's "reverse slider" is a modified screwball. It seems to have gone the way of the Dodo. Is it dead? Nothing is baseball is dead forever.

Greg (The Office): Who has the greatest chance for a breakout season in 2015: Javier Baez, Manny Machado, or Jorge Soler? Thanks for the chat!

Harry Pavlidis: Can Machado really breakout again? I feel like he already did it, so it would be a comeback.
I'll take Soler.

Shawn (Cubicle): Besides a knuckleball, what is the most difficult pitch to frame (pitch type and location)?

Harry Pavlidis: curveball, beyond location the biggest challenge is movement, to the best of my current knowledge.

brentdaily (colorado): Did you catch Jeff Zimmerman's 'Zobrist' values on FanGraphs to identify unheralded prospects? Cubs had 7 of the top 50 on the list. Coincidence or are they doing something institutionally along the same lines to identify hidden value? http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/final-2014-zobrist-values/

Harry Pavlidis: I don't think so. Zobrist seems heavily tilted towards older players, so it's probably something more to do with that than skills. Older dudes have more pop and more patience, that's all.

brentdaily (colorado): Any idea on what and when Statcast will kick out publicly available data? If you had access to it all, what would be the first thing you'd start researching?

Harry Pavlidis: I'm not aware of any plans. If I had access I'd research the data itself, nothing topical until I've gone swimming long enough to know what the heck I'm dealing with.

ajsteiny8 (Milwaukee): I've got a dynasty league draft this weekend. Top pitching prospects in include A Bradley, D Norris, C Rodon, T Kolek, and A Nola. Long term, who looks best?

Harry Pavlidis: I like Rodon a lot. As far as the rest, Nola is safe mid/back rotation. Bradley has upside but risk. Kolek scares me. Norris I know the least of, but I like what I see.

Chipshot212 (MA): How valuable a real-life asset do you see Springer being for Houston over the next few years? With the defense likely rebounding and the power/discipline ideally making up for the low contact rates, can he be a 5 WAR CF? Mike Cameron is a comp I've heard.

Harry Pavlidis: I can see that, he's got great tools. We've got him peaking at 4 last I checked (that may be revised shortly, don't take that to the bank) but 5 is not out of reach.

Jack (Bronx): What prevents you from putting out a PDF edition of the Prospectus? Most of the other products (futures guide etc.,) come in an e-edition and it would be terrific to be able to put it on an IPad and have ready access to it.

Harry Pavlidis: Sorry, for various reasons this particular book won't be on PDF. But, the good news is the itunes store version will be a great choice for the iPad.

justarobert (Santa Clara): Just curious, how goes the project to create a Rosetta stone of baseball player IDs?

Harry Pavlidis: I expect it to be released sometime this season, probably before July.

Kingpin (Grinnell, IA): Do any of Cliff Lee, Matt Cain, or Mat Latos figure to return anywhere close to their prior form coming off their injuries from last season?

Harry Pavlidis: Cain and Latos have to prove to use they can pitch as they age. Lee already has, so I'm a bit less concerned about him.

Ashton (TX): Is there any hope that Tommy Hanson becomes serviceable again?

Harry Pavlidis: there's always hope. But his injury list has stuff like 'back, forearm, shoulder' ... last I checked those pieces are important for pitching. I have more concern than hope. But I loooove being wrong about these things (same with Billingsley, I don't have much hope but it's always great to see guys beat the odds)

Tony (Meridian): Harry, I would love your thoughts on the seasons you anticipate from Kevin Gausman and Jose Quintana. I am keeping both in my keeper league as I see them both as strong SP4s, and perhaps a SP3, plus I have them for $4 and $3 (on a $260 budget). Thanks!

Harry Pavlidis: I think Gausman steps forward, Quintana maybe not so much. Sounds like a good price for both, and Gausman is also 2 yrs younger and possesses some serious stuff.

Charlie (NatsReview): This last season I watched a ton of Stephen Strasburg outings and I started to winder if the dominance of his offspeed stuff made his fastball more hittable. That is to say, as hitters realize just how ridiculous his curve and changeup are, they guess fastball almost all the time, which is why when he gets hit hard, it's off the fastball. When he was throwing 98, most guys were still screwed even if they guess fastball, but at 95 lots of guys have at least a chance. He's still great, but 78% of the HRs he gave up last season were on the FB, which was only 57 of his pitches. Any credence to this theory?

Harry Pavlidis: fastball counts = biggers swings = more HRs, so careful in reading those numbers.

I don't imagine big league hitters totally give up on pitches like that. Strasburg is elite, and doesn't get hit hard often. When he does, I bet it's when he's fallen behind and fills the zone with four-seamers. If there's something else going on, maybe, otherwise I suspect this is just normal.
And, on face, the notion of having two plus secondary offerings being a potential weakness is hard to embrace. That would require extraordinary evidence, and, at first blush, I don't see it.
All that said, he may be doing something sub-optimal, sequencing etc, so I would suggest you dive deeper, look by count, and see what pops up.
http://www.brooksbaseball.net/tabs.php?player=544931&p_hand=-1&ppos=-1&cn=200&gFilt=regular&time=month&minmax=ci&var=ra&s_type=2&startDate=01/01/2014&endDate=01/01/2015&balls=-1&strikes=-1&b_hand=-1

Rob (DC): The catcher framing work that I've seen at Baseball Prospectus over the past couple of years just blows my mind. I'm not sure I understand the full implications correctly, though. When we say that Brad Ausmus had 242 catcher strikes above average runs added, are we saying he added about 24 wins above replacement over the course of his career, just by framing? In other words, does the model suggest that his framing created 24 WARP? That's more than Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers earned over his entire career! It's quite possible that I'm totally, embarrassingly wrong. If I am, how can CSAA runs added be translated into WAR terms?

Harry Pavlidis: the answer is "yes" and I'm also freaked out by the implications, to some degree. I spend a lot of time looking for ways to 'reduce' the impact (replacement level? no; positional adjustment; no) when it comes to a wins translation....but I'm finding that the elite players of our present time are Posey, Trout, Lucroy and Yadi. I'm going to dive further into this, but, heck it sure screams "wow" to me, too. This also takes Piazza's HOF case further into the "no kidding, elect the man" territory.

justarobert (Santa Clara): I know we have basically no public data on umpire positioning, but what kind and magnitude (relative to, say, catcher skill) of effect on framing would you expect to see from where an umpire sets up?

Harry Pavlidis: we think it impacts the zone quite a bit, in terms of shifting it over. Left-handed hitters get a different zone, and it sure looks like it's because the umpire moves over to a different angle. I think some guys do it less than others, though.

Shawnykid23 (CT): Who is the most maddening pitcher for you? Someone who seems to have all the talent/stuff in the world but hasn't put it together yet?

Harry Pavlidis: Edwin Jackson comes to mind.

brentdaily (colorado): Who would you rather put in LF as a 9th inning defensive replacement - Manny Ramirez (2nd worst all-time by DEF score) or Dan Vogelbach? I can't get enough of Manny's defensive highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCdp-pSA8kc

Harry Pavlidis: Me.

Matt (Cambridge): Would it be possible to integrate Pitch F/X like Whiff rate,GB%, or F-Strike% into PECOTA?

Harry Pavlidis: Possibly. Velocity seems more likely to be a part of it in the near future than anything else.

Charlie (NatsReview): Other than pitch selections and outcomes, what is the one thing I should work to learn this year with PitchFX that can lead to meaningful analysis on a single game basis?

Harry Pavlidis: location patterns can sometimes tell you about (a) approach and/or (b) flaw in delivery.

Charlie (NatsReview): Thanks - I will definitely dive into those Strasburg numbers some more and see if there is anything worth noting... by the way, I don't think it's a weakness per see, I assume his offspeed is dominant enough that any increase in fastball hittability wouldn't be enough to offset it.

Harry Pavlidis: yea, I see. It's a little cookie but we've eaten their cake, pizza and drank all their beer.

Matt (Cambridge): My understanding is there is a support group for us Edwin Jackson addicts. Bret is a member as well.

Harry Pavlidis: I can quit him anytime. I don't have a problem. I choose to go see him start five times a year. I don't have to go.

Tom (Cali): Urius or Rodon?

Harry Pavlidis: Rodon > Urias

lionsfan1180 (Easton, PA): Which Chris Davis do we see this year? 2013 version or last year?

Harry Pavlidis: last year, 2013 was great but I don't think we'll see it again

Mark68 (Mile High): Does Andrew Heaney add enough value to the Angels' rotation to make up for the difference between Howie Kendrick and whatever combination of Grant Green/Josh Rutledge/Taylor Featherston that ends up playing the keystone?

Harry Pavlidis: I'd guess no this year, but this isn't a one year transaction

Evan Fangoria (Montevideo): Thanks for chatting, Harry. One non-PECOTA forecasting system has lefty changeup artiste Marco Gonzales the 3rd-best MLB pitching prospect (for 2015 alone, with 2.5 WAR per 180 IP) behind only Giolito and Jon Gray. Are you bullish on Gonzales?

Harry Pavlidis: I like Gonzales, but not as much as I like Gray's ceiling. Giolito could be magical.

bob m (philly): Do you think Mike Fiers can come close to duplicating his 2014 numbers? In other words, are you buying? Would you take Alex Wood over Fiers? Also, what are your thoughts on Dave Dahl and Albert Almora------ceilings and ETA? Thanks

Harry Pavlidis: not really, he's ok but that was a short run. And, heck yes, Wood over Fiers. Almora maybe late 2016, solid regular. Dahl I don't know much about.

Shawnykid23 (CT): If you only sign 1 of next year's FA SP class (potentially David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija) who would it be?

Harry Pavlidis: Greinke

DF (Wilmington, NC): Any idea when the annual will be released in Kindle format?

Harry Pavlidis: "coming soon" ... is what I am told, I believe it's in the final stages.

NightmareRec0n (Boston): Could Cole Hamels be getting even better? His curveball is looked like an elite pitch last year and gained more movement.

Harry Pavlidis: move him out of that bandbox and look out

Mythbusters (TV Land): Please, Harry, we're begging you, could you here and now bust the myth about "downward plane" and pitcher height/release point? There is no evidence anywhere that we could find of ANY correlation between height and either groundball rate or HR per flyball suppression or, well, anything. Thanks a million!!

Harry Pavlidis: I don't think that's a myth. Location matters, angle matters. I think it's the combination that matters most, but we'll see (we have some research to do/publish on this)

rick (Chicago): What scares you about Kolek?

Harry Pavlidis: He's raw and wild. And anyone who suddenly starts throwing that hard that young makes me really nervous about arm health going forward.

Dylan (RI): Do you think the Mariners could have Roenis Elias fix his mechanics? He has a fantastic Changeup and Curveball, but his release points are all over the place.

Harry Pavlidis: I'm not sure I'd call that a mechanical flaw. Some guys actually can and like to vary their slot. It's unusual, but it can work for some.

rick (chicago): A number of varying opinions on Gausman. What is your opinion? Thanks

Harry Pavlidis: I like him a lot, I think he'll be very good starting pitcher.

Charles (NYC): Isn't power a direct function of bat speed? I mean bat weight doesn't vary much and pitch speed is outside the control of a hitter, so doesn't that only leave bat speed?

Harry Pavlidis: and barrel control. Gotta square the ball up to transfer that speed into power.

Harry Pavlidis: Sorry if I didn't get to your question ... I said I'd dance around some :) Until next time, happy spring.


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