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Chat: Sam Miller

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Wednesday April 03, 2013 2:00 PM ET chat session with Sam Miller.


The man, the myth, the Miller.

Sam Miller: Hey, everybody, I'm watching baseball over here!* Let's chat. (*Does anybody remember that email people would send around maybe 12 years ago, where if you clicked on the link it would go into your settings and jack your volume control to the max and a loud voice would yell "HEY EVERYBODY I'M WATCHING PORN OVER HERE!"? That's the voice I said the preceding in.)

Robert (California): It's over. Mike Trout has fallen apart, time to blow up the team. Call the Dodgers, they'll take on the contracts

Sam Miller: His defense should be good enough to help a team. Fourth outfielder at least.

Jeff Sullivan used to say he wanted Mike Trout to fail because it would make baseball more interesting to see him fail. I think that what he did last year was more interesting than almost anything I've ever seen in baseball, as far as interesting things go. But at *this* point I have to admit there's be a whole lot we could learn about baseball if Trout just fell off completely, played replacement level ball for four years and then joined Brandon Wood in Triple-A. I'm not rooting for it. I like the guy. So i don't hope it happens. But a tiny part of me wonders.

Ernie (Knoxville,TN): Sam, I'm in a dynasty league and was wondering your thoughts on a couple of 2B, Scooter Gennett & Derek Dietrich.

Sam Miller: From: bit.ly/16wYMP2 So what's the story behind your nickname?
I was big fan of "Muppet Babies" (the animated cartoon series that originally ran from 1984 to 1991) when I was little, and (Scooter) was my favorite character. I was in the car with my mom one day and she had no idea about the Scooter thing and she had me put on my seatbelt and I'd click it off. She'd put it on and I'd click it off. I was just real bad. She took me to the police station to have a cop kind of scare me: "Wear your seatbelt and listen to your mom." He asked me for my name and I said, "Scooter Gennett," and my mom was taken aback. And after that I guess I felt like if I told them my real name I was going to get arrested. After that, I never answered to Ryan for the next year or two. So Scooter just kind of stuck.

As far as fantasy prospects go, though, I'd take the other one.

Truman (Seahaven): Which game are you watching?

Sam Miller: The Astros game, of course. Always the Astros game.

Derek Dietrich's grandfather was, according to Derek Dietrich, "was one of the best hitters in the minor leagues when he played." Looking him up, just one second...

Ok, his name was Steve Demeter, 5'9" pinch-hitter/third baseman in two seasons in the majors. Born in Homer City, which now is going to make me look up all the other players from Homer City, or cities with names that sound like they should produce good baseball players. Demeter was a .290/.333/.461 hitter in the minors, more than 9,000 (!!!) plate appearances, 272 career minor league home runs which can't be all that far from the record. Some good seasons.

rsambrook (Vancouver): Chris Archer or Trevor Bauer for this season? (long term?)

Sam Miller: Gosh, I guess I take Archer because I don't have the stomach to gamble on Bauer. Clearly (it seems to me) Bauer more likely to win a Cy Young, make the HOF, etc.

Aceathon (Dallas): You're in the batter's box and 0-2 against Darvish. What do you do?

Sam Miller: Choke up.

Antonio (Teaneck, NJ): I was offered Prince Fielder and Andrelton Simmons for Matt Kemp. Should I accept?

Sam Miller: Most people in this world are trying to take advantage of you. Never give an inch.

padremurph (San Diego): Who has a higher ceiling? Austin Hedges or Yasmani Grandal?

Sam Miller: I nearly always, as a rule, pick the younger player for "ceiling" questions because the range of possibilities shrinks exponentially as we near death. But Grandal.

Marshall (Evansville): How is your scouting project for 2013 going?

Sam Miller: (This question is in response to the first paragraph here: bit.ly/XZ1ta0)

So far I've discovered that Lance Berkman's bat has slowed from the left side, unless he's trying to hit hard line drives the other way on fastballs away. Either one seems likely! So, to answer your question, I'm having a hard time not creating narratives to explain results. I hope to get better as the year goes on.

Dan (Philadelphia): Can you believe Muppet Babies has never been released on DVD? I think it's because the show used a lot of movie clips and it'd be prohibitively expensive to license it. Great show, though, an hour-long block of it led into WWF Superstars on my station.

Sam Miller: This seems like a good time to ask whether anybody else watched exercise shows as a kid. Those sort of cardio shows with five people working out in unison. Anybody? Back when there were only three channels plus PBS, the offerings were extremely limited before Sesame Street came on, and I remember watching exercise shows religiously every morning. When we went on vacation I wanted my parents to tape it.

grandslam28 (Chicago): Which prospect should I take in my minor league draft: Dorssys Paulino Adalberto Mondesi Chris Archer Tyler Austin

Sam Miller: You guys ask so many prospects questions! Depends on your needs but if you think your league is going to be around for a long time, like if you really believe if and you're sure the other team owners won't let you down, Mondesi.

grandslam28 (Chicago): NL only Keeper league didn't see anything good so bought Taylor Green for $3. Good shot? Could he turn out to be anything?

Sam Miller: Could turn out to be even older than he already is

Chesty (New Bern,NC.): Sam, 12 team h2h stats are hr,rbi,ave,r,sb,xbh. DL trouble(5 wks).How to rank the following players.Nunez,Chisenhall,Scutaro,J.Donaldson.Thank you

Sam Miller: I rank them by using all the available information and trying to decide which is the best, then the second best, then the third best, then the fourth best. Sometimes I vary things and rank them starting with the worst. But usually I rank things that way.

In this instance, that method of ranking things would lead to the following results:
Scutaro at the top, followed by
Chisenhall, then
Nunez and finally

If you get the same results that I got, you have mastered my patented ranking method.

grandslam28 (Chicago): Taylor Green: Actually it was for $2 lol

Sam Miller: Noting this so there will be no confusion in future Taylor Green chat questions.

Garcia (The Hills): Better prospect Trevor Story or Alen Hanson?

Sam Miller: Read this as "Better prospect story, Trevor Story or Alen Hanson." Was trying to figure out how to assess the value of each player's story. Finally got it.

Trevor Story is not as good at baseball as Alen Hanson, in my reading-other-people's-opinions opinion.

MJSilverman (Calistoga, CA): I'm concerned about the Brewers bullpen. Do you see any improvement from 2012, and, if Axford is as awful as he was last year, who might replace him?

Sam Miller: I see improvement for all bullpens that were below average last year, and the opposite of improvement for all bullpens that were above average last year. I find myself getting a bit dogmatic on this point.

Axford's so-so. Probably keeps the job all year, but he's not one of those rare relievers who I trust. Every day I learn how secretly awesome some scrub reliever was last year, and today that scrub reliever is Jim Henderson. Jim Henderson might replace him.

gweedoh565 (Ann Arbor): Did you do the exercises yourself or did you just like to watch?

Sam Miller: That's a really good question.

I think just watched. Ninety percent sure just watched.

Alex (Anaheim): How soon will we see Profar in the bigs?

Sam Miller: May 28

Todd (Dallas): Should the Rangers make a serious offer for Ricky Romero for their 5th starter spot? What do you believe would be a fair offer that the Blue Jays might accept?

Sam Miller: No. Jurickson Profar.

dipotonotdipoto (oc): Let's say you were a bird. You could fly to any baseball city and sit on top of any ballpark to watch a game, right? Well obviously anywhere within reason, you ain't gonna go visit the Iowa Cubs or anything. That would be a waste of time and effort. Plus Iowans just don't seem bird-friendly to me. Too interested in hawk eyes. But yes you are a bird. Which stadium would you choose?

Sam Miller: So the question is which baseball park would be best from a particular viewpoint? Obvs rules out domes. I've always wanted to go to the Caribbean Series, and I imagine those parks are fairly small so I would still get a pretty good seat, and it seems like a nice enough place for a bird. Wouldn't want to go to New York, for instance, or San Francisco, or Chicago, because there's too much bird competi

wait why am I answering this?

grandslam28 (Chicago): Thoughts on J.J. Hoover?

Sam Miller: I like him just a tiny bit less than I like John Axford

grandslam28 (Chicago): Who would you rather have in keeper league? Dan Hudson or Cory Luebke? what if their prices are $1 & $7?

Sam Miller: Hudson, unless Hudson is the 7 and Luebke is the 1. If they're the same cost, Hudson.

Henry J Waugh (Iowa): Did you finish the Universal Baseball Assoc.? And if so where would you rank it on baseball fiction? Thanks!

Sam Miller: I did, and I found it extremely fun to read and very quotable; there's a whole grip of sentences that I jotted down to save because they seem to sum up some aspect of baseball perfectly. My favorite line, which applies to all baseball, is "The dice and charts and other paraphernalia were only the mechanics of the drama, not the drama itself." But by the end I also found the story a bit aimless and the ending unsatisfying. Good baseball book, but not The Great American Novel, and not Skinnybones, as far as baseball fiction.

grandslam28 (Chicago): How much do you like Axford?

Sam Miller: Six and three quarters, maybe seven

Aaron (Berkeley ): Do you see the goal of sabermetrics as fundamentally descriptive, prescriptive, or both?

Sam Miller: Definitely, 100% prescriptive if you're making a living in baseball. Probably prescriptive for most fans (including me), but it really depends on personality type. The older I get the less I find it important to predict anything in baseball. I had a very nice conversation with John Thorn about this a few months ago that, in a few months more, I'll be at liberty to share with you all. John may have convinced me that there's not all that much use in knowing whether player A or player B is better, unless you're running a team or an agency.

totesmj (NYC): I have League and Grilli in a 10-team, NL only keeper, and another owner has Jensen and Melancon...he offered me Jensen for Grilli. Do I accept?

Sam Miller: He's trying to rip you off! But not doing a very good job of it. Here's what I would do: Offer him Grilli for Jensen. Then you get the better player without feeling like an easy mark.

JWR (USA): So I see that Fangraphs and Baseball Reference have now agreed on the same baseline for replacement players. Does BP use the new agreed upon replacement level or is it using something else?

Sam Miller: We have our own replacement level that is empirically derived.

JWR (USA): Wouldn't it be better if all of the saber-sites could agree on how to calculate WAR?

Sam Miller: No. It would be worse if all the saber-sited could agree on how to calculate WAR. Room for doubt is what makes WAR work.

Ben L (NYC): Please share your most interesting factoid about household pests.

Sam Miller: My *most* interesting factoid about household pests is one I've already told you before, and it goes like this: There is a spider within six feet of you. Right now, and all of you. http://bit.ly/cozNyF

rsambrook (Vancouver): Who eventually takes over at 2B longterm for the A's (Sogard, Sizemore, Weeks, Green, Lowire)

Sam Miller: Oh man shouldn't have clicked on this one. It partly depends what you mean by longterm; are we talking beyond this year? I want it to be Sizemore but Woj tells me a plurality of the odds go to Nakajima

Sweet Lou (Pittsburgh): Hi Sam, The Bucs seem to have had positioned themselves relatively well with platoons in RF and 1B, at least until Opening Day, when the plan hit an unexpected Hurdle. Is this a disconnect between GM and Mgr, or just one more questionable decision by the Pirate org in general? thanks, Frank

Sam Miller: An unexpected Hurdle! So good.

Part of the deal when you give a manager a platoon is the leeway to play hot hands, or whoever he thinks looks best. Managers like to keep players in set roles (reasonably, perhaps), and a platoon is just unset enough that the manager then feels like he can do whatever he feels like. I don't know what this says about Pittsburgh, but most GMs and managers talk a ton and unless there's some real tense situation between the two men, I think the GM tends to have a lot of influence, and will have a lot of influence.

Billy (Ocean): Alberto Callaspo: Massively underrated or just right?

Sam Miller: Oh, definitely underrated. Not necessarily massively, but way underrated. Assuming we have a good means of measuring how he is rated.

Cat Facts (Cat City): Did you know Both humans and cats have identical regions in the brain responsible for emotion. MeeWow!

Sam Miller: Purrrrrfect

Chesty (New Bern NC): Sam,tried your patent ranking system but slightly confused. 3b Chisenhall or Chris Nelson.I came up with Nelson with your patent.Do you agree?Thanks again

Sam Miller: Yes Nelson, but as soon as you start to hear rumblings about Nelson losing playing time, flee the scene

Henry J Waugh (Iowa): I think that's a fair assessment although I always felt the ending was intended to feel somewhat aimless/shiftless. Would you agree it's under appreciated among baseball fiction?

Sam Miller: I don't know how much it is or isn't appreciated, which is a little bit of a dodge. I liked the book a lot and people should read it. It should be something like a classic in the field. (Is it? I honestly don't know.)

Scrapper (Illinois): On a scale of 1-10, how much does Ludwick's injury hurt the Reds?

Sam Miller: 3

Aaron (Berkeley): Do you think it at all possible that sabermetrics at its most accurate could be good for prescribing the best ways to win baseball games while being harmful to an organization's business aspirations? For instance, sabermetrics might tell us to bench Ryan Howard, but that might be a poor business decision, at least initially.

Sam Miller: Sabermetrics doesn't purposefully try to ignore the business stuff, it's just a bit limited in what it knows and can conclude. But making the most money is part of running a business and running a business is part of winning, so it still falls into sabermetrics' purview, I would think. Go find that article Ben wrote about the Indians after the SABR conference, as an example.

Dog (Dog City, IA): Can you please ask Cat Facts to divulge location of Cat City?

Sam Miller: Passing this along, from one fictional commenter to another. Thanks to the rest of you for your patience.

Oscar Taveras (STL): Quickest route for me to get to the bigs this year?

Sam Miller: I mean, a guy in the Cardinals outfield gets injured, right? The longest route is hoping Jon Jay sucks (which I don't think he does, but it's technically a possible route). The Just Playing Your Sweet Ass Off route is a non-starter.

Todd (Dallas): What are your thoughts on Pete Kozma and Jose Iglesias? They have both looked good so far this spring/year. Think they will be ok offensively?

Sam Miller: I made up my mind on Kozma last year and I don't have enough time in the day to reassess him continually, so I'll say "Meh" and "no." There are too many baseball players.

Iglesias won't be ok offensively, either, but don't care, won't ever care.

Tim (Idaho): Who do you think will have the most saves for Detroit this season?

Sam Miller: Benoit but it'll be something like 19. Benoit:2013::Romo:2012 seems reasonable.

AG (Long Beach): Thoughts on HJ Ryu's first start last night? Also, please assign Muppet Babies characters to current MLB players. Obviously Greinke is Baby Beeker.

Sam Miller: Alas, only listened to it, so don't know how hard the hits were or how hittable the locations were. Anybody want to answer this?

gweedoh565 (Ann Arbor): What are your top 3 baseball fiction novels?

Sam Miller: Great American Novel is the only one that really stands out among adult fiction, though I used to love Zane Grey's baseball books when I was growing up. Wonder how those hold up. Also really loved Graham Greene's The Power And The Glory, though all the baseball takes place off-screen (and unacknowledged).

Different AG (Oakland): Is this Padres' rotation the worst rotation of the past 10 years? Is there anything more depressing than five replacement level starters?

Sam Miller: This is an article idea, not a chat question, so I'll simply say "nah can't be, can it?"

Noah Braun (SD): NL only league without strikeouts (12 teamer), how would you rank matt garza, s marcum, mike minor, jon niese and ross detwiler? thank you!

Sam Miller: I would rank them using the same method I outlined earlier in the chat. In this case, that method would lead to the following results:

1. Nielse
2. Minor
3. Detwiler
4. Marcum
5. Garza

Lemmy (Alphaville): You had the Indians making the postseason in the BP predictions. Who are some players you think will impress this season for Cleveland?

Sam Miller: I guess the usual ones? I just think it's a well-rounded team that can count on All-Star level production at all four up-the-middle spots, which is a great way to start a season. PIcked 'em for a WC partly out of whimsy and partly because of the division.

JWR (USA): You mentioned at the beginning of the chat that you were watching the Astros' game. How does one best enjoy an Astros' game? Just "enjoy the bad" or is there some other strategy?

Sam Miller: Imagine that you're the GM and you're trying to figure out how to win the World Series in 2015. It becomes interactive, and you'll find a) that you pay closer attention and b) really care about results without caring about *these* results.

Scrapper (Chicago): Ok, so you say that is good that there are many different versions of WAR...but can anyone explain what the key differences are between the various WAR formulas?

Sam Miller: Sure!


Garcia (The Hills): NL only keeper league. For my minor draft, I have my rankings as follows - d'Arnaud, Puig, Almora, Story, Hanson, Wong, Dahl, Polanco, Seager, Goodwin, Marisnick, Quinn, Franco, Vogelbach, Pederson, Hedges, & Nimmo. On the outside is Ozuna, Owings, Trahan, K.Parker, Cecchini, Candelario, and Skole. Does the order seem to be reasonable or am I missing something?

Sam Miller: LOL I have no idea. Just have fun!

Aaron (Long Beach): Did you know Howie Mandel performed voices for both Muppet Babies AND Bobby's World?! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muppet_Babies#Cast Better fictional imagination: Bobby Generic or Bunsen Honeydew?

Sam Miller: LOL I had no idea. Just have fun!

grandslam28 (Chicago): What would you spend on these non closer relievers in a NL keeper league: Jansen, Storen, fujikawa, Rosenthal & any other high upside reliever I missed. Changes in price for giving up/going for it?*

Sam Miller: Prices are a step too specific. Jansen the best, Rosenthal, Fujikawa, Storen.

Toronto Fan (Toronto): Has there been a better GIF in baseball this young season? http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2013/04/mlb-gif-blue-jays-fan-bat-cleveland-indians/

Sam Miller: little known fact: That's actually the PRIME MINISTER of Canada. What a country!

John Axford (Iowa): Let's say you were a bird, and you had to fly to any baseball city and sit on top of any ballpark to watch John Axford in a 1980s exercise show with the Muppet Babies , would you rather buy Scooter "Ryan" Gennett in a keeper dynasty rotisserie auction fantasy league or read a prospect "Trevor" story about household pests?

Sam Miller: And that pretty much sums it up. Sorry for driving this trainwreck. Hope you all had fun. I had fun! Logging off now, see you next time.

Sam Miller: .

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