Matthew Kory is an expert on all baseball played in Portland, Oregon. He knows enough to fake it on baseball played elsewhere.
Matthew Kory: Hello BP Readers! It's mid-January so let's talk some baseball!
allangustafson (San Diego): Better counting stats in 2015: Duda, LaRoche, Trumbo?
Matthew Kory: Why am I answering this question first? I honestly don't know. I suppose the generic 'it's just a normal baseball chat question'-ness of it appeals to me. Let's start this chat off as if it's been going forever.
I'll say LaRoche!
Alex (Anaheim): What did you think of the Netflix movie about the Portland Mavericks?
Matthew Kory: As with many things, context is vital. Where you experience things impacts how you view them. There's nothing like the roar of the crowd, right? Being at a game is always more exciting than watching on TV. With that in mind, I was fortunate enough to see the movie (The Battered Bastards of Baseball is the movie Alex is referring to) in a theater with the producers and a good portion of the Mavericks players. This undeniably added to the experience such that I am biased. I loved the movie. Loved it. But not everyone shares that opinion and that's fair. But you're asking me and speaking only for me, I thought it was terrific.
Rich (MD): Is the shiny-ness rubbing off of Byron Buxton since he continuously gets injured?
Matthew Kory: I wouldn't say he continuously gets injured. Any injury is concerning when you're talking about a prospect missing development time. That said, he's still just 21 years old and he was going to have to prove himself at the major league level anyway. Put it this way: If you're selling Buxton, I'm buying.
Pelecos (Chicago): Hey Matthew, I'm wondering why fastballs tend to lack movement in the upper-third of the strike zone compared to the life that most fastballs get in the lower tier? Thanks
Matthew Kory: I'm picking this question not because I have an answer but because it's a very interesting premise. I'm not even certain if it's correct. I think a trip around the internet likely beginning at Brooks Baseball is in order. Sadly, I'm chatting so I don't quite have the time right now, but if any readers want to do some searching and or posit some thoughts, I'll post them.
ColeWhittier (The Dena): What would happen if Adam DuVall got a full season of ABs this year?
Matthew Kory: The Giants would regret it.
Gravybill (Outside): Is Dayan Viciedo out of chances at 25 years old? I haven't heard much in way of trade rumors about him and he looks to be buried with the White Sox currently.
Matthew Kory: He'll be 26 next season, but no, I don't think he's out of chances. Anyone on a major league roster can be said to have a chance. That said, he's on the bench now and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he is dealt before spring training. He has power but he really doesn't do anything else well and after almost 1,800 PAs you have to think this is who he is, more or less.
Base (Ball): If you could be a base, which one would it be? First gets the most visitors, but second and third have their appeal. And then of course there's home plate.
Matthew Kory: No question I'd be third base. The question really is, how often do you want large men stepping on you with their sharp shoes? Sure you could argue home plate gets stepped on least of all, and it might be nice to have a suited person dust you off with a soft brush every now and again, but it's not just runners we're talking about. Hitters walk across the plate during the course of traveling to and from the dugout. Catchers stand on the plate sometimes. Batters smack the plate with their bats! No thanks. I'll be third base and hopefully it'll be the World Series or something and I'll be removed after a half inning and sold to some memorabilia collector with a nice house somewhere outside an earthquake zone.
Shawnykid23 (CT): How do you feel about the Red Sox rotation going into 2015? Good enough, or need another TOR type?
Matthew Kory: I'm a sucker for Red Sox questions. Apologies in advance.
It's a cromulent rotation with appropriate error bars. Miley and Porcello could bounce back and step forward (respectively) as Boston clearly thinks they'll do, but they could also not. Same for Masterson who should be at least a bit better if he's actually healthy which supposedly he is but which he might not remain. The thing that rotation should do is give you innings and if the offense is what the offense looks like on paper (i.e. good) then it's probably good enough. Even so, I think they go get someone else to front the thing. Zimmermann is a fair bet to be traded. I might bet on him at this point. Hamels is the better pitcher but that contract and the prospects the Phillies are demanding are too much (which is why he hasn't been dealt yet).
allangustafson (San Diego ): Taking a trip to hike and camp. Best backpacking trip: Silver Falls State Park, Tillamook head trail, or " I got the spot for you"
Matthew Kory: Silver Falls is spectacular, but I'm hardly the camping guru. I enjoy it, but I haven't been to even a quarter of the places I'd like to go. Heck, I live in Oregon and haven't been to Crater Lake. What kind of Oregonian hasn't been to Crater Lake? But to answer your question, I enjoy the Oregon coast. It's nothing like San Diego's coast, far more rugged, but there's a beauty to it even on the darkest and windiest of days. And if you like beer, the Pelican Brewery in Pacific City is right on the beach. That's where I'd go.
Ron (Texarkana): This is definitely outside of scope, but is there any update on when Yoan Moncada may be able to sign as a FA? I keep reading different statements, and I wonder if it's on purpose.
Matthew Kory: No update other than he can't sign yet. As I understand it, if he becomes eligible to sign before this June, the huge favorites to sign him are Boston and the Yankees (possibly not in that order). Both teams have blown through their allotment of international money and spending more won't increase the penalty. If Moncada isn't able to sign until after June, both Boston and New York will be unable to sign them as they'll both be entering their multi-year penalty period where they won't be allowed to spend over, I believe, $300,000 a figure Moncada will blow past. In that case, I'm not sure who the favorite would be. Probably everyone but Boston and New York.
Jesse (Fullerton): Do you like the Angels moves so far? What's are they missing?
Matthew Kory: Sure seems like they're going to need starting pitching. They can probably get through with the guys they have now and they likely can't afford to jump in on Max Scherzer or James Shields but both those guys would be huge improvements. The offseason is still young. There's time.
RotoLando (Cloud City): I don't know much about MLB rules concerning unsigned draft picks. What is Brady Aiken's situation? Is he free to sign anywhere?
Matthew Kory: No, he isn't. He'll go back into the draft and be picked (again) this June.
Chris (Baltimore): Betts for $4 or Greinke for $18 and you can keep them for 4 years with a $3 bump.
Matthew Kory: Context, Chris! What is your salary cap (assuming you have one)? What does the rest of your team look like? How much do good players typically go for? If I'm doing a straight WAR guess over the next four seasons, I'll take Greinke.
John Carter (Toronto on a wet snowy day): When does Brad Miller win back the Seattle shortstop gig?
Matthew Kory: Spring Training.
The Dude (Office): Preferred method of brewing coffee- pour-over, French-press, single-serving pod, or traditional drip coffee pot?
Matthew Kory: I celebrate coffee's entire catalogue. Typically in winter time I enjoy french press. I like the fuller, dirtier flavor of french press most days, but this morning I had pour-over. I'm unpredictable.
dvanhait (Holland): What's your take on WAR ratings? Are they a good predictor of a player's worth overall of just his overall worth for his team? Can they be used to predict the future worth of a player?
Matthew Kory: I love WAR and WARP. I think they're terrific. I don't think they're always 100 percent accurate and I don't think they're completely predictive (which, for the record, no originators of the stats claim they are). They're good shorthand indicators of player value but if I was doing analysis, I wouldn't say 'Player X had 5.9 WAR so he should be the MVP over Player Y who had 5.7 WAR.' If I have any complaint about them it's that they look so exact with their decimal when really the error bars are large enough that I don't think we know for sure if a 5.9 win player is better than a 5.7 win player without looking at other stats as well.
bloodmoney (detroit): gerrit cole = cy young this season. tell me why you do/don't agree.
Matthew Kory: The easiest answer is Clayton Kershaw. It's hard to pick against the best pitcher in baseball by a fair margin to win an award for best pitcher in his league.
Ralph (Tennessee): Will Buxton produce numbers this year?
Matthew Kory: Resisting a snarky response to this is difficult so I'm going to say yes, be quiet, and move on to the next question.
John (Pottersville): Is Betts better than Bogaerts? Are they both future stars?
Matthew Kory: Part of the answer to this question will depend on how Betts is used. Right now he's a right fielder, and based on the team's roster, maybe not an every day one. If he gets dealt I'd assume a move back to second base. Bogaerts will be a shortstop this season and likely for the next few if things go acceptably (which is about as well as I think one can reasonably expect them to go). Shortstops with Bogaerts offensive profile are exceptionally valuable (if you assume he'll hit and I think he will), more valuable than right fielders. So no, I'll say Bogaerts is better, but I am buying both as 3-4 win players going forward, and possibly more as they develop.
Dave (You know): What websites have you visited while participating in this Chat?
Matthew Kory: All different parts of BP, Baseball Reference, Twitter (to promote the chat at the beginning), and I'll cop to checking my email (I'm expecting a response from friends on Spring Training plans soon).
dvanhait (Holland): Thanks, I'd be curious as to what other stats you would look to in order to make your selection once you've tackled the WAR/WARP thing... but I may have used up my quota of questions for one day. I understand.
Matthew Kory: No, I appreciate the questions and this is an interesting topic that I don't mind discussing further to the extent I can in this format. If I was looking at a player, I'd look at their age, position, ballpark, and I'd look at some other stats like SLG, OBP, BABIP, etc. If it's a pitcher we're talking about then their team is important, (defense and catching are vital for pitchers), strikeouts, walks, home runs allowed, and then you can look at FIP and advanced FIP formulations. There's lots to consider and I think that's for the best. Then there are reports from the scouting set (which you can often find here at BP). All of it helps create a reasonably well-rounded picture of what the player has done and hopefully from that you can sense how they might do going forward.
John (Chicago): Rick Porcello's ERA dropped a full point even though he was striking out 20% fewer batters. Help me make sense of this.
Matthew Kory: If you look at FIP you'd say he got lucky last season as his FIP in 2013 was 3.53 and in 2014 it was 3.67. He struck out fewer guys but he also walked fewer. He's a very defense-dependent guy given his GB rate and lack of Ks so pitching in Detroit wasn't an ideal set up for him. Boston should be better, but I'm not sure he's much better than he was last season. A three win pitcher is probably about right for him unless his K rate goes way up, which at this point seems unlikely.
Jay (LA): Kole Calhoun was a 4 win player last year, and is entering his age 27 season. How likely is a monster breakout year?
Matthew Kory: We have him as a 3 win player here at BP, but even so, I'm not sure how much better you can expect a guy to get. I'd say a monster breakout year which I'll define as adding two more wins onto what he did last season is pretty unlikely. If he replicates last seasons value I'd be pretty happy.
Hank (Chicago): Assuming the Whitesox need to be about 15 games better in the win column to compete for the division, do you think the offseason moves they've made so far make them approximately 15 games better?
Matthew Kory: It's possible. Their bullpen was horrible last season and I'd expect that to improve just because. Cabrera is an improvement and I really like Samardzija. They're going to need Abreu and Sale to do it again, but they're in the discussion in that division. You have to think that if they're in contention mid-season they'll go out and get someone too. I think their upgrades have pushed them that far.
Bobby (Arlington): Thanks for the chat!! Is it safe to assume that Rougned Odor is the Rangers' starting 2B in 2015 and, if so, what kind of production do you expect from him?? I appreciate your thoughts!!
Matthew Kory: I'd guess incremental improvement on last season. Hitting is so tough right now with the way bullpens are constructed and the speed at which pitchers throw. I haven't seen data on this but it wouldn't surprise me if this is one of the most difficult times to come into the majors as a young player (making Mike Trout all the more incredible). The baseball season is long and Odor is young. He had his best month in September last season so maybe that's an indicator he's figured some things out. Even if he's not a star this year he's an exciting young player who should be increasingly valuable as the years go on.
Twins Fan (DC): The Twins can win the AL Central in 2015 if _______.
Matthew Kory: Oh gosh. "...they sign James Shields and Max Scherzer." comes to mind. In truth I just spent a few minutes looking at their depth chart and I don't see it. Last season's Royals should be a lesson in writing teams off but I just don't see where they get the pitching from.
lionsfan1180 ((PA)): How much does the move to St. Louis affect Jason Heyward? Also, where do you see him batting in that lineup?
Matthew Kory: I would think improvement from Heyward would be the result of him aging towards his peak. Turner Field is a more homer friendly park than Busch Stadium, but Heyward is such a talent that it shouldn't be enough to hold him back. I like him a lot this season. As for the lineup, not sure about that. I can see hitting him second, but that's just a guess.
Melissa (Toledo): Should I marry Nolen Arrendando or Hanley Ramirez if I don't want my husband hanging around the house with some piddly injury?
Matthew Kory: When looking to avoid injury, always go with the younger player. Also Nolan Arenado has a mustache.
Elizabeth (Berkley): Which stock will be higher in 2016: Billy Hamilton, Alex Cobb, or Byron Buxton?
Matthew Kory: Skipping right over next season, huh? Okey-dokey. Hamilton is the "which of these things doesn't belong here" of the group so he's right out. I should take Cobb, but I'll take the more exciting and younger player in Buxton. The guy could be a monster and another year away from 2014 can only be a good thing.
Betty (Seattle): When the Seahawks play in the Superbowl, which Mariner player am I most likely to see sitting in the stands on the 50 yard line?
Matthew Kory: I'll go with Felix Hernandez. Did I get it right??
Zelda (Boston): If I was to book a room in the same city as you for Spring Training, what state would that be in and what would be the first letter of the city? Just wonderin.
Matthew Kory: I'm not sure where I'll be as I don't have a room yet. Think I'll be in Arizona for the first time though. First one to spot me at a park gets a high five.
John (Chicago): Would you be willing to rank T. Walker, Shelby Miller, Odorizzi, and deGromm for fantasy purposes?
Matthew Kory: Sure. deGromm, Walker, Odorizzi, Miller. How's that?
dvanhait (Holland): Is Betts (BRS)a good bet for someone looking to begin building a fantasy team?
Matthew Kory: Betts is a good bet for someone looking to begin a real team!
Silverback38 (VA): What's the latest deal with Taijuan Walker? Rumor was he was the next Felix but he seems to have dropped off the planet. The love is lost?
Matthew Kory: He got hurt last season but he's a pitcher so that's not really any kind of surprise. I'm still bullish on him and he should be healthy to begin the season.
EB (Philly): Expanding on the "Cole for Cy Young" question above, what are your thoughts for him this year? Do we see more of what he was doing to finish 2014?
Matthew Kory: It's no news that he's an exciting young pitcher. Love the strikeouts and what he did in September last year (7.5 K/BB ratio) was amazing. I don't think he's that guy going forward, but then that's Pedro Martinez/2014 Clayton Kershaw territory so. Expecting him to win the Cy is a bit much. Expecting him to be the best starter on a decent Pirates team is probably about right.
Jim (Cleveland): Matt, thanks for the chat. Can the Indians be this year's KC Royals?
Matthew Kory: They could be. If Brandon Moss can come back healthy that will be huge, but that's a big if right now. The Indians don't have the pitching the Royals did last season so more of their productivity compared to KC will likely have to come on offense which is why I think Moss's health is a big issue for Cleveland.
mattofaction (Fresno): Fill in the blank: The defending champion San Francisco Giants are the ________-best team in the National League on paper right now.
Matthew Kory: Probably fourth or fifth, but there's time left to improve this offseason and also I could be wrong!
Henk (Chicago): Do you think Tim Anderson gets a cup of coffee if he picks up where he left off in AA last year. Seems like that would be an upgrade at potentially 2B for the Sox as well.
Matthew Kory: Projecting guys with 45 PAs in Double-A to jump to the majors is tough. I imagine he'll play in the minors for a while in 2015.
Matthew Kory: That's two hours so it's probably time for me to do other things. Sorry to those who submitted a question I didn't answer and thanks to everyone who submitted one. It's always a fun time to chat with you all. Hope you have a great week and thanks for sharing some of your time with me here at Baseball Prospectus.