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Chat: Harry Pavlidis

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Tuesday March 04, 2014 1:00 PM ET chat session with Harry Pavlidis.


BP Director of Technology takes your questions on BP's new catcher framing/blocking model (and anything else on your mind).

Harry Pavlidis: the season is around the corner, but it's cold out. Let's ignore the weather and talk about baseball under heat lamps.

AB (Penn): The Orioles mix of low .OBP guys and no speed is not a recipe for success right?

Harry Pavlidis: just focus on Manny Machado and you'll feel fine.

Damon (Louisville): Who has the better chance of sticking at catcher: Gary Sanchez or Jorge Alfaro? Do you think either will long term?

Harry Pavlidis: If you look at what our Prospectus writers have to say, Sanchez seems less likely to stick behind the plate. My reading of the tea leaves is Alfaro should be behind the plate and eventually in the majors. Sanchez is less likely for both.

Damon (Louisville): Who has the better chance of sticking at catcher: Gary Sanchez or Jorge Alfaro? Do you think either will long term?

Harry Pavlidis: If you look at what our Prospectus writers have to say, Sanchez seems less likely to stick behind the plate. My reading of the tea leaves is Alfaro should be behind the plate and eventually in the majors. Sanchez is less likely for both.

Grasul (Minnesota): Please, please could we get what team a player currently plays for somewhere in the sortable statistics reports? You could also include general items like which side he bats, throws, etc, but being able to make a list of BP Player IDs and what team the player is currently on would be tremendously useful.

Harry Pavlidis: That's a good suggestion. I'll pass that along to Rob and see what he thinks. In general I like these ideas about making our tools more useful for folks, so please keep 'em coming!

Herb (Ocala): What are your thoughts on framing platoons? I saw the idea mentioned on a Rays site regarding Molina and Hanigan working with pitchers that may benefit most from their abilities.

Harry Pavlidis: It's actually something we discussed on the twitter machine when we released some 'beta' numbers along with the actual pitcher adjustments. You could certainly do some playing time optimization by matching the skills. You can go a layer deeper and focus on framers who handle a certain pitch to a certain side of the plate when facing a certain type of lineup etc etc.

Jim Lahey (Sunnyvale): Loved the catcher framing piece yesterday. Any plans to eventually work the results into catcher/pitcher WARP? Or, better yet, a separate WARPy measure so we can see the component effect of framing on WARP?

Harry Pavlidis: yes, we have some work to do to make that a reality, but it's planned.
We have to make some adjustments to how much credit/blame we give to pitching/defense for what happens on the field since we've taken the piece of the pie and moved it behind the plate.
hmmm, pie.
What was the question?
Right. WARP. We have some more esoteric issues to address in addition to the assignment of blame/credit; you can see more on that in the comment thread in the article itself. We'll touch on that in greater detail as we work towards WARPifying RPM.

Dave (Warrenville): How good do you think C.J. Edwards can be? Can his frame bear up to a 200 inning workload? If so, is he a #3?

Harry Pavlidis: he'll fill out some, so we'll better be able to judge his frame as he ages. He sure has the upside of mid-rotation or better. I really want to see him repeat some kind of solid performance outside of the Florida State League. The Southern League will tell us a lot more about his future.

Duff Man (Shelbyville): Do you have any favorite sleepers in the Cubs system? Also, do you think Mike Olt can resurrect his career?

Harry Pavlidis: I'm excited about Olt. My friend Sahadev Sharma did some great reporting on Olt's vision issues, and, no pun intended, things have cleared up.
As far as sleepers, it's hard for me to say who would appear to be a sleeper ... Christian Villanueva? Arismendy Alcantara? The aforementioned Olt? If so, those guys.

Jim Lahey (Sunnyvale): Who do you think is the long-term answer for the Cubs at SS? Does Starlin bounce back, or does Baez take over?

Harry Pavlidis: well, those aren't mutually exclusive options. But I think Starlin bounces back and the whole Baez/Bryant/Alcantara/Olt/Castro logjam figures itself out in who knows what fashion. It's hard to imagine Baez and Bryant not breaking through, so we'll start getting answers this summer I suspect.

Dan Rozenson (Washington, DC): Given the work you just unveiled, which catchers' free agent contracts do you think would have arrived at a different figure if teams knew to took framing into account to such a large degree? Do they already?

Harry Pavlidis: not sure, if I were to guess: right now teams are getting bargains when they sign a good framer, I don't think it's in the normal negotiation mix. In the near future that will change, there has been too much of this information out and about for the labor side not to pick up on it, too.

ScottLindholm (Davenport, IA): I was reading the article ranking the under-25 players which has the Cubs at #10 and White Sox at #18. Is part of those ranks the relative lack of Cubs with big league experience (3) vs. White Sox (8) implying higher ceilings for Cubs prospects? And if you answer this, can I quote your answer in a post I'm writing for 670 The Score? Thanks.

Harry Pavlidis: yes and yes. #quotable

jlarsen (Chicagoland Area): Chris Archer working hard on change-up, Jake Odorizzi learning how to throw Alex Cobb's split-finger change-up, Nate Karns improving on his change-up and Jake McGee adding a change-up w/ a possibility of a curveball to his repertoire. Which one of these guys will benefit most from adding the pitch that some people are obsessed/fixated/fascinated with? If Odorizzi does indeed learn and hone "The Thing"(split-change), would this take him from a bottom-of-rotation to a 2/3 guy because he'll finally have an out-pitch?

Harry Pavlidis: a killer changeup can move the needle, sure. But some times a guy is just hoping to get a half-way decent one. In theory any big league pitcher who 'learns awesome new pitch' is going to get better, change cutter knucklecurve etc, but it feels to me like Odorizzi and Archer are going to benefit the most, since they are already potential quality starters and this could put them over the top. Karns could be helped out by having a better chance to stick in the rotation, but that's not as shiny as having a chacne to be a front-line guy.

Herbert (Eugene): Some scouts noted that Taijuan Walker was finishing more upright in his delivery at the end of last year -- could these mechanics have led to his shoulder fatigue this spring? And is this something that could pop up again in the future if not corrected?

Harry Pavlidis: I've heard that before (maybe we saw the same quotes??) ... but, my general answer is pitching is the leading cause of pitching related injuries.

Bill J (Boston): Ben said in his writeup yesterday that Major League Baseball's new play-tracking system will produce seven terabytes of data per game. Can you put this in perspective? Will the amateur sabermetrician with a macbook pro be able to do anything with data on this scale?

Harry Pavlidis: 7 terabytes probably refers to the raw video and radar data. That is translated into a stream of usable information (player/location/time/event etc.) That will be a much more manageable data set and that's what we can hope to access if things go that way with MLBAM's plans.

Alex (Anaheim): Do you expect lots of video reviews of plays at the plate?

Harry Pavlidis: no, I don't. There aren't that many to begin with. They'll be the ones most talked about, I imagine.

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Talk a little about the pitchers who showed unusually large positive or negative effects. Given how few of the names on your list would seem to command the "unqualified respect of the umpire", is there something behind this or is it just a noisy number from year to year (like BABIP)?

Harry Pavlidis: I think it's _more_ a measure of pitcher command rather than pitcher reputation (although I would argue that is part of it, too).

Cris E (St Paul, MN): Very cool, but when will the data be available so this can be extended down into the minors? There's a lot to like from a player development angle if and when progress and value can be shown.

Harry Pavlidis: this is a PITCHf/x model so the work you see will be limited to MLB information.
We can apply some non-PITCHf/x techniques to minor league data but our focus is general on publishing work based on the tracking data rather than the stringer data alone.

Aaron (Boston): The pitch framing work done by you and Dan Brooks was absolutely fantastic, so thank you. There has been similar research looking at pitch framing. How much further do you think your work pushed knowledge within the baseball community? Did you learn anything that you didn't already suspect?

Harry Pavlidis: Thanks, glad you are enjoying it. We think we've helped to validate the previous work, added some additional refinements based on our PITCHf/x expertise, we're publishing the data in great detail (see the sortables and brooksbaseball.net soon for more and more goodies) and generating another round of attention to the topic. All told we think those things represent progress in the field, and we're proud to contribute to the body of work.

jlarsen (Chicagoland Area): We have learned from Mike Fast that early ST and basically any velocities in exhibition play should not be looked upon like they are "The Elephant Man" but isn't it a tad frightening that Sabathia and Johan, whom both have made careers out of the wide difference between their fastball speed and offspeed pitch velocities are topping out at 88(Sabathia) and barely 80(Johan)? Still early in the process, but that's alot of building up to be doing.

Harry Pavlidis: my research indicates you need plus-plus deception to make a changeup with a big speed gap work if you don't have a hot fastball. I think some of the elite changeups have survived the decline of their sister fastball, so I wouldn't worry too much about that in particular. The overall problem of reduced strength/velo/stamina(?) is more concerning.

Dave (Pa): One more keeper to choose for 4x4 starting staff from: Kluber@$10 Lester@$12 Samarzjda@10 Thoughts?

Harry Pavlidis: is Kluber healthy? My faith in Samardzija has been shaken some, but I'd suggest the younger cheaper guys as keepers (not my forte, YMMV)

Timmy (Scottsdale): Do you want 1/2 of Mike Trout's or Bryce Harper's estate in 2034?

Harry Pavlidis: Trout, but Harper's will be plenty.

Cal Guy (Dry, Parched Cali): Hi Harry, For pitchers making a TJS comeback, is there a point where they are considered "out of the woods", such as a particular number of successful innings pitched, reaching pre-surgery velocity, or other yardstick? Thanks!

Harry Pavlidis: I'd feel like 100 innings healthy past surgery would be plenty to put it out of mind.

Joaquin (San Diego): Now that there are "official" framing totals, does this affect how pitcher WARPs will be calculated?

Harry Pavlidis: yes, this was touched on earlier in the chat in case you missed it, Joaquin.

Sean (Kansas City): Is there a team whose roster and farm system would most recommend them going Full Astros for the next four years, or is Full Astros only something that we'll see every generation or so?

Harry Pavlidis: I don't think any organization wants to end up in a place like Houston's. They end up there and find ways to scramble back. Houston has an approach but the goal of it is to win as soon as possible, not lose for as long as possible. So you'll see struggling franchises take various paths to recovery.

Hey Buddy (By Cracky!): The White Sox are going to be pretty awful on the field this year, but I have not been this excited since 2006. With that said, what is the reasonable expectation for the White Sox this year, as well as their next playoff appearance?

Harry Pavlidis: I think this year will be rough. The farm system is not close to producing a lot of talent, so I'm not expecting anything big from them for a year or two at least.

Rachel (Rodondo Beach): Will Salvadore Perez have a breakout season?

Harry Pavlidis: I'd say 2015 is his bust out.

Dragonbreath (Gurnee, IL.): ETA for Polanco in Pitt?

Harry Pavlidis: soon please. Sometime this year. I need to see the Marte/Cutch/Polanco dream come real.

Serret (Detroit): Do you like the over or under on Billy Hamilton stealing 50 bases?

Harry Pavlidis: I'll take the over. He breaks things.

John (CT): What in particular needs to click to put the O's in the heat of the race?

Harry Pavlidis: the side of the scoreboard that says Baltimore

Dragonbreath (Gurnee, IL.): Andrew Heaney lands #2 slot for Miami before the all Star break?

Harry Pavlidis: I would be very surprised by that. I'd put my chips on Eovaldi or even Turner locking that down before Heaney.

treynay3 (Purdue): There are a lot of mixed opinions on Homer Bailey. Some say he's reached his ceiling and we should expect production similar to last year's for at least the duration of his prime. Others say that he can be even more, as scouts placed an "ace" ceiling on him as a prospect, and his peripherals are good enough that improvement is possible. Which camp would you be in? More of the same going forward or a chance to improve even more? Thanks!

Harry Pavlidis: he's improved a lot over the past couple years, his makeup seems to be top notch. Ace? No. I'm a Homer fan but I think what we saw his his norm not some step on the ladder. He could be a solid 2/3 type for a while.

Dragonbreath (Gurtnee, IL): Can Julio Urias sustain a heavy work load with that frame?

Harry Pavlidis: his frame isn't close to mature, keep that in mind. So if you have doubts remember to project it forward.

Bill J. (Boston): If for some reason MLB announced a rule that said the Cubs had to release either Castro or Baez today, 1. Who would they release, contracts/club control considered? 2. If contracts weren't a consideration, who would they release? 3. Which is more likely to be a shortstop in five years?

Harry Pavlidis: I'll answer #3 ... Baez may get too big to play short. Starlin would be my guess. The question is will his bat recover, not can he play short. I can't help but see Javy at third, but that's just me.

Ash (Dallas): Realistic expectations for Yuk Sin Moon in 2014?

Harry Pavlidis: start with the notion of a swingman, see how it goes from there.

jlarsen (Chicagoland Area): Is Steve Stone implementing sabermetrics to Whitesox telecasts to troll Hawk into arguments or teach young fans some new things while attempting to get Hawk fired in the process?

Harry Pavlidis: All I know is it will be entertaining, in some fashion.

Harry (Toto): Most likely to hit 30 HR: Beltran, Rizzo, or Hosmer?

Harry Pavlidis: Rizzo

Harry Pavlidis: there's the lunch whistle! I'll answer the rest of Jake's questions on twitter...thanks for stopping by.

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