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Chat: Harry Pavlidis

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Thursday September 15, 2016 1:00 PM ET chat session with Harry Pavlidis.

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You know Harry. Harry is great.

Harry Pavlidis: So, we meet again. More questions about stats and technology, please! Let's see what we have inside today ...

Nicholas Zettel (Chicago ): What effect do you think potential MLB strike zone changes will have on the game? Will they make it easier to call strikes & balls?

Harry Pavlidis: Hey Nick! I don't think it will make the job of umpiring any easier. It will make the job of pitching more difficult.

It seems reasonable to conclude the loss of the low strike would lead to--in the vernacular of the day--a higher aggregate launch angle for batted balls.

A smaller zone will mean more walks and fewer strikeouts, but also more hitter's counts which also means a different type of batted ball change is possible--more hard hits.

Shrinking the zone might slow the game down, too. More walks, more offense in general ...

Jarrett (NJ): Is Rene Rivera a legit God-tier level defensive catcher? Obviously FRAA loves him, and he has developed a very strong reputation for game calling and pitcher handling in New York in a very short time. I'm led to believe he had similar in Tampa, which was why he had a job so long. Is it legitimately defensible to be playing him so much over TdA, who FRAA also loves and might be a better hitter, but has a poorer reputation for handling and has had to have games called for him from the bench?

Harry Pavlidis: It seems like it, doesn't it? FRAA loves him because CSAA, EPAA and TRAA/SRAA love him. He can frame, block and throw. And, guess what, GCAA loves him. Judge's numbers show his pitchers get an even extra benefit just from him being there. TdA has a poorer outlook on GCAA, so he really needs to get his bat going. Or, you're right, there's a case for Rivera.
A note about calling from the bench--it seems to be that 'game calling' and the value we find has not a whole lot to do with pitch selection directly.

John Choiniere (USA): How do you think the Bears will do this year?

Harry Pavlidis: Arctic ice loss makes me worry about the Polar Bears.

Bob (PA): The next big thing that BP unveils that blows us away will be...

Harry Pavlidis: some new pitching numbers. Not anything like a run estimator--we have DRA for that--but more descriptive about their command, control and sequencing.

Bob (Fayetteville): Why does Rick Porcello get so little love? Is his 2016 season in any way indicative of what we can expect going forward, or can we expect a regression more in line with his 4.32/1.28 from 2013?

Harry Pavlidis: Everyone hates the Red Sox.

2013, you mean that bad year when he had his career best DRA? If I had to pick a year that he'd 'regress towards' it would be 2014, which will be his 3rd best DRA season when this one is over.

Brendan (LA): Hi Harry, What do we make of Jake Arrieta's slider usage going down from 30% in 2015% to 17% this year? Do you think it's intentional in order to sustain health? Or, evident by his low wSL/C, do you think it's because he just doesn't have a feel for it. Thanks, Brendan

Harry Pavlidis: Interesting. Guesses of possible influences, in no particular order: pitching behind more; strategic decision to hide it more; maybe part of a fatigue avoidance plan, but doubtful; matchups; catcher preference.

Kevin (Wilton, CT): In the short time of Puig's return to the majors, is there reason to believe he has fixed some of the holes in his swing?

Harry Pavlidis: I'd dive into some video, given the small sample size, or some expert video analysis, to see if anything has changed since he came back up.

JP (CT): Baseball tasks you with designing a "robot ump," what does your system look like?

Harry Pavlidis: at first? Nothing, just a request for a proper and useful definition of the strike zone that tells me where AND when to set it.

Paul (DC): Perhaps odd to be asking this about a guy sporting a 4.41 ERA, but how big a step forward into relevance has Mike Foltynewicz taken this year with the Braves?

Harry Pavlidis: Progress is always a good thing! He's still throwing hard, he's actually just not throwing hard stuff quite as much (more sliders and changes). So there's a hint of maturity there, too. There is also a continued issue (with improvement, though) with being a hard fly ball pitcher.

His career ERA, DRA and cFIP all seem to be lining up, roughly speaking, so I'd take the positive movement for what it is, but with a grain of salt. It comes down to him making another step forward in 2017, and I do think there are reasons to be optimistic.

metsFan39 (CT): Harry, im kinda new to the advanced statistics. What are the best stats to measure consistency of starting pitchers?

Harry Pavlidis: I'd think you'd want all your favorite pitching stats and you'd want to measure the variance (typically expressed in standard deviations or z-scores) over time. How you slice the data, or how you smooth those trends over time is a complex question, but, to answer your question I'd start with k%, b% and game score by game and see what pitchers have the lowest amounts of variance.

MK (TX): Where do you think the next great innovation in baseball analytics lies, either in the public or private sphere? Is there a new "Moneyball" out there somewhere?

Harry Pavlidis: My crystal ball is in the shop.

I hope the next big thing is in injury prevention. Or getting me a crystal ball that doesn't break down so much, that is annoying.

Eric (Florida): What do you know about Seth Beer?Future Star?

Harry Pavlidis: I have no idea but for some reason I seem to really like the guy.

Sir Nerdlington (Colorado): First trip to the AFL this year. Any recommendations? Should we focus more on the back fields than the games?

Harry Pavlidis: My best advice is to ask someone who has been there before. From what I'm told, though, the back fields are the place to be. Honestly, I'm not sure how active things are in the Fall as opposed to the Spring, so my final suggestion is to go, find out, and tell me how it went!

Sam (New York ): #1 prospect in 2018, 2019 and 2020?

Harry Pavlidis: Yes, I imagine several rankings will come out from various sources, including BP, for all of those years.

This completes my knowledge of prospect rankings.

Earl (Richmond): At the 2015 trade deadline, Diamondbacks traded Addison Reed to the Mets for 2 fringe prospects. Looking back, if teams would have known how valuable Reed would have been for the rest of 2015, 2016 (and hopefully 2017), what kind of prospect package would it have taken to get him?

Harry Pavlidis: My only response to that is it seems the reliever market got more expensive this deadline, didn't it?

Jake (Suburban areas of Chicago ): Chris Archer was fairly hittable earlier over-relying on his change-ups. Now he's throwing it less and going back to his bread-and-butter. Is there ever going to be a happy medium between the two Archers?

Harry Pavlidis: It's a game of adjustments and confidence. So, yes and no.

Harry Pavlidis: alright, after avoiding all the prospect, trade and fantasy questions ... I'm done! Seriously folks, we have experts on that stuff. They love to answer your questions, I wish I could help!


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