Trevor is an author of Baseball Prospectus.
Trevor Strunk: Hey! I'm Trevor Strunk, I'm a PhD candidate in English, a Phillies fan, and I love thinking about the intersections between philosophy and baseball. I also tweet a lot at @hegelbon and have an unhealthy fixation on fantasy sports.
Aldon (SF): Which NL East SS prospect (Amed, Dansby, JP) would you most like to build a team around and why? Are they all top 10 guys at this point?
Trevor Strunk: That's a good question. I think I'm still pretty high on Crawford's potential, so I might say him, but it's closer than I would have expected even a few months ago. I'm lower on Swanson than some, and I think that's because I don't really trust the power to develop -- to me he looks like a good-not-great SS. I gotta admit, I slept a bit on Rosario, but was super high on him in dynasty leagues last year. I think Crawford splits the difference between floor and ceiling for me, but if I needed to swing for the fences? Rosario. And yeah, definitely top 10 guys at this point; it's a stacked division in the middle infield.
Greg (Albany): What do you think of these Replace-Mets SPs? Gsellman and Lugo have looked very impressive. On top of that, Ynoa had a pretty good start yesterday.
Trevor Strunk: Hard to say. In terms of real baseball, I think Gsellman might have made the patented Mets-Turn that we saw Harvey and deGrom take, so I'm pretty high on him moving forward. Hard to say looking at Lugo's stats that he's not in the same boat, but I haven't heard the same buzz about him from my Mets-Scouting-Pals (not that that's any sort of true litmus test). And I really don't like betting on low-strikeout guys in the minors, so Ynoa scares me.
That said, for redrafts? I'd grab Gsellman and Lugo for the stretch run, since they're likely to stymie some guys who haven't seen them yet. In dynasty, Gsellman for sure, and Lugo too as a flier. Maybe see if you can sneak them in now before the hype train ups their cost.
Tom (Arlington): Do you think baseball will consider changing the season length in the near future (say, the next 10 years)?
Trevor Strunk: I do think they'll consider it, though the kind of true traditionalist that the game endears itself to might make them reconsider. It's hard to get change through Baseball -- like Congress but with less yelling, I'd guess.
Still, part of the appeal of the NFL season is that every game definitely counts. And while we at Baseball Prospectus know that every game however seemingly dull still counts in the MLB season, it's tough to convince a fan of that. If the season were cut to 2/3 of its length, I think we'd see a huge uptick in ratings, which I'm expecting the owners would love. We might also see fewer pitcher injuries and Tommy Johns, but that's speculation.
We'd lose the pace of the season though, and I wonder if that loss will keep them from ever acting on the thought.
John (San Francisco): After a rough start to the season, Kendall Graveman has strung together several above-average months on the mound, though, he seems to be tiring lately. Do you think he can be a middle of the rotation guy for the A's over the next few years?
Trevor Strunk: Graveman strikes me as the kind of quintessential 4/5 who has a shot to be a 3, sort of like how JA Happ was for the Phillies and Jays before the Pirates changed him for the better. I guess there's always a chance at improvement though, right? And the same kind of "well maybe he'll switch arm slots and find a way" or discover a 2-seamer hope that turned into JA Happs and even Corey Klubers over the past few years will keep Graveman employed as an innings eater for a long time.
I think if he can be a consistent 7 K/9 guy, he could surprise some people. But failing that, I think he'll probably have an odd low 3-ERA year here and there, but mostly just provide replacement level value.
John (San Francisco): What kind of hitter do you think Ryon Healy will realistically develop into? He's been a pleasant surprise this year for the A's.
Trevor Strunk: He is surprising! I remember that CespedesBBQ tweeted something a few weeks ago about players they had no idea were having such good seasons, and Healy is definitely mine. For whatever reason, he's just completely missed my eye and looking at the numbers of late, that's really kind of galling, haha.
In any case, my fantasy waiver wire disappointments notwithstanding, I think Healy could become a pretty solid hitter, say a Todd Frazier type with less power but also less of a propensity to strikeout. I don't think his BABIP and HR/FB will hang the way they are now, but he's had decent contact and okay patience in the minors, and clearly has some pop. I think he's a top 10 3B really soon, maybe next year, as opposed to a Middlebrooks-style mirage.
Ben (SD): Thoughts on the potential of Andres Gimenez?
Trevor Strunk: Can't say I know much about him, but you have to love a young shortstop who has good contact and on base skills. I'd defer to scouts on his ability to stick at short, because his profile of speed and patience might be a little less valuable down the defensive spectrum. But I'd totally be excited as a Mets fan -- that's the kind of profile that has an outside shot to turn into a top prospect, whether or not that means he's a contributing Met down the road or trade bait.
Jay (Niagara, Ont): Josh Bell is James Loney! James Loney is Josh Bell!
Even with these juiced baseballs, Josh Bell can't put the ball over the wall. Is the James Loney comparison a perfect one, or not?
Trevor Strunk: I just looked at the two side by said and kind of quietly said "dang." It's a good comp! That said, I think Bell has a better chance to develop power than Loney, who always tantalized but never really even did enough of that to make you believe in his ability to hit 15 home runs consistently. I also think Bell will get on base more, which still makes him a wonky first base fit. So maybe I'd say he reminds me of a young Mark Grace a bit more, if you'll forgive the auspicious comp
ColeWhittier (Pasadena, CA): Do you think A.J. Reed or Aaron Judge will be good major league bats? Or have they gone the way of Jon Singleton?
Trevor Strunk: Judge strikes me more as a Gallo than a Singleton, which truthfully doesn't make me any more sure of what he's capable of. I think I'm always more willing to believe in giant people who can hit baseballs a mile than I should be, but I'd say Judge is unlikely to hit a Singleton styled floor. He'd slay, for instance, in the NPB.
Reed is harder -- I have a real problem with 1B only prospects, even when they look like special bats, and so Reed always worried me. I can only box score scout in the time here, but it seems like it's a decent enough bet that he'll figure something out. But will it be enough to be a good-enough first baseman in the AL West? Ehhhhhhh
KlamHeptomaniac (online): Which MLB prospect would most appreciate Hegelian dialectic and why?
Trevor Strunk: I was really unsure as to this answer until the last question, and now I know it's definitely Joey Gallo. The three true outcomes are far and away the most Hegelian of all baseball's qualities, in which the walk is the thesis, the strikeout is the antithesis, and the home run is the synthesis that resolves the two into utopia. Gallo is clearly a Hegelian, though whether or not that means he can play baseball is another question.
You didn't ask, but the truest Hegelian MLBer ever was Jack Cust.
Michael (Houston): To what extent are team sports a tool of the capitalist ruling class to cultivate a resentment of labor within the labor class itself?
Trevor Strunk: Michael from Houston...I feel this name rings some sort of familiar bell, long in my past....
Anyway, almost entirely in some ways. Do I believe that sports were implemented as some sort of grand conspiracy to instill intra class resentment? No, I really don't think capitalists think much beyond profit in early ventures -- supervillainy is more a concern once you break the Forbes500. But I do think that the constant drum of "they're paid to play a game!!!!" is used in fairly bad faith by the owners to turn their fans against the players and deflate salaries/condition us to be happy when a star player leaves for greener pastures.
The very idea that we'd be mad at players who get money to enjoy baseball and not think twice about people who get paid to own a team and make all the decisions about it just like we ourselves would want to is remarkable. I think that's definitely been a low-grade propaganda campaign by the owners and, in smaller part, management of these teams.
ColeWhittier (Pasadena, CA): Aledmys Diaz has put up very good numbers this year, love his ability to make solid contact and not K. Does he continue to put up these kinds of #s and does he stay at SS or will he move around like the rest of their infielders? Fun to see a Cuban player exceed expectations!
Trevor Strunk: Right?? I feel like we've just been constantly bummed out by Cuban imports recently, and as a good Red, I have to feel a sense of relief that Diaz is doing so well. I really really wonder about his future, honestly -- I thought he was a first half mirage, and perhaps he would have been if he didn't get hurt. But he picked right back up in the last few games, and I'm feeling good that my attempts to sell high on him in dynasty didn't pan out.
That said, I can't see the same power moving forward, or at least I can't in good conscience predict it. It isn't like the guy was known for 25-30 homerun pace, and while he doesn't seem to be slowing down now, I'm just skeptical about that skill suddenly showing up in the majors. Then again, Mike Trout didn't look like a slugger in the minors either, and here we are -- I think there's a very good chance that he keeps his numbers up, and that the Cards keep him at short. He's certainly a better defender than Peralta, and I can't imagine that St Louis wants to look a gift horse solution to that particular black hole in the mouth.
CJ (Seattle): What rule change would you most like to see MLB implement in the near future?
Trevor Strunk: Oh man, this is a good question CJ. It's hard too, because you want to be careful not to be too fanciful (3 balls, 2 strikes anyone?) or too boring (pay minor leaguers more money). Obviously, I'd fall into the boring camp, but for the sake of having some fun, I'll think outside of that box.
I think honestly, I'd like to see some of the unwritten rules of the game either be written down or gotten rid of. I realize this puts me in the weird unfun category a bit, but since replay already happened, it's hard to come up with another meaningful gripe outside of the weird arbitrary rules that baseball is rife with. So put whatever you want in writing -- no throwing at a batter inside after a hit batter, no running over the mound to go to the field, whatever -- and get rid of the rest. The slap fights over rules that have been handed down from, like, Tobacco Stain Joe and Old Cow Calderson in 1884 are getting to be embarassing -- they're hyper masculinist and, somehow at the same time, deeply childish. We need to hope MLB actually accounts for these soon.
Except showboating. Actually, new answer -- make showboating not only legal, but mandatory. The best showboat gets two runs.
Chet (Evanston): Yes, but Trout only started taking steroids once he reached the majors.
Trevor Strunk: Lmao
John (San Francisco): Looking ahead to 2017, what do you think of a CF platoon of Jake Smolinski (against lefties) and Jaycob Brugman (against righties) for Oakland?
Trevor Strunk: It's interesting! I'm a big platoon fan and I don't know why more managers don't try them. I suppose it can be a bit of a drain on roster construction, but so long as you're platooning just a few positions, it can't hurt too badly, right? Just more bench bats.
In any case, I think that makes a lot of sense. I always like Smolinski as a prospect, and even if he has lost some of his luster, you have to think he'd be able to handle the short side of a platoon. And Brugman is exactly the kind of guy you want on the other side -- nice, but not overwhelming stats, so you aren't exactly wasting him.
Like I said, I love platoons, haha, so I'm for it. That said, it'll depend a lot on whether Smolinski and Brugman can handle being in a part time role, both ego-wise and psyche-wise. I know that sounds meat headed or vague, but I think platoons fall apart most because guys either can't handle being routinely benched or their routine can't handle it.
Reuben Frank (the rings of saturn): Theoretically speaking, do you think Sam Bradford would be a better long reliever or a closer, and if the latter, why will Car Seat Headrest be his entrance music?
Trevor Strunk: I think the question is definitely leading toward long reliever since Sam Bradford has never been what you'd call a clutch performer. But! He is an excellent quarterback when it comes to short throws, and his velocity plays up just at the line of scrimmage. Since the mound is 60 feet 6 inches away from the batter, you have to assume he could throw some darts. And as the dying quails he throws sometimes might suggest, they wouldn't be straight fastballs. I think he could be a great closer -- football prospectus anyone?
Also his walkout music would be Paranoid Android
ColeWhittier (Pasadena, CA): Is Orlando Arcia's bat less than we expected and what can we expect from him offensively in the future? Obviously the glove is top notch.
Trevor Strunk: He hasn't been great, for sure (outside of defense, which of course will cure a lot of warts). But he's also extremely young. You're talking about a 22 year old getting his first taste of the majors -- there's maybe even more physical development there, let alone mental development as he gets a feel for the game. So I think while he might not be the 275/340/425 hitter he was in the minors, I don't think he's going to hit below a 300 OBP forever either. I'd expect he becomes a tier better than Andrelton Simmons in the offense category, given time.
JM (CT): What's your best guess as to when Franklin Barreto arrives in the majors? And will it be with A's or will they trade him off in they are in contention next year ala Addison Russell?
Trevor Strunk: I'm horrible at guessing these, but I'd assume next year. AAA at the point in the year he moved up seems to me to be a "let's see if he can sustain it" gamble heading into 2017. If he keeps hitting in camp, I can't imagine they leave him down any longer than service time would dictate.
That said, will he start? I'm not sure -- I'd assume if he was up, he'd be up to play, but I've been wrong there too. The luster kind of wore off Marcus Semien, but he's still a contributor, and I doubt the A's are looking to move on from him incredibly quickly. That said, Joey Wendle might be more of a bench piece, and if they're competitive, they might want to have Barreto and Semien play together in the middle infield by moving Semien to 2nd. I could definitely see it.
Also, here's my sports radio guy coming out: no way they do another high profile SS trade any time soon after Russell. Beane seemed to have worked out an exciting Cal-League mirage trading loophole, but that one bit him very badly.
Eric (the cosmos): Please pair the current division leaders with the most appropriately corresponding continental philosophers.
Trevor Strunk: Okay lightning round:
Nationals:Sartre (smart but somehow off putting)
Cubs: Michel Foucault (obsessed with history)
Dodgers: Gilles Deleuze (no this is not entirely a joke about injuries)
Red Sox: Jacques Derrida (those flamboyant folks)
Indians: Heidegger (problematic fav)
Rangers: Jacques Ranciere (fun but who knows how good they really are)
Steve Starkins (Martlon, NJ): did you know that the Philadelpjia Eagles had the chance to draft Earl Thomas but didn't? What are your thoughts on this?
Trevor Strunk: I may be too shocked to continue chat.
Trevor Strunk: Well, looks like we're out of time and questions! Thanks! Hopefully this was as fun for you as it was for me: I had a blast. Definitely would like to do another soon, so keep your eyes peeled.