Matt is a feature writer at Baseball Prospectus.
Matthew Trueblood: hello
Dusty (Colorado): Is it too early to be excited for Wander Javier? He seems like the real deal.
Matthew Trueblood: I have gotten a question about Wander Javier in literally every chat queue I've done this summer. I'm not really a prospect guy, and have tried to stop having fake opinions when I don't know a player myself. What I can tell you about Javier is that people like both the pure hit and the power potential. I've heard questions about whether he sticks at shortstop, and when you hear those questions when the kid is 18, it usually means he's not sticking. Fine prospect. Lot of development left.
Baseballdeity (Florida ): Matt Olson seems to have made significant changes to his hitting stance from 2016 to 2017. Are results sustainable in 2018 & beyond?
Matthew Trueblood: I had an interesting Twitter exchange with George Bissell, of our fantasy team, on this. Yeah, no question Olson has a whole bunch of raw power. The question is going to be whether he gets to it consistently, and his overall value is going to ride heavily on the answer to that question. I think he can thank the ball for the huge power output he's managed in the Majors so far. I also think the changes he made while in Triple A were good ones, and that we should consider him a legit power hitter.
edwardarthur (Illinois): I'd think a championship this year would cement Terry Francona's case for the Hall of Fame. How wouldn't you view his odds if he never wins another championship?
Matthew Trueblood: He's in. He's in, and in easily. Managers make weird Hall of Fame cases, because their success obviously depends a whole lot on the talent of their players. Francona's had some great teams and players with whom to work. He's also navigated issues of clubhouse chemistry and egos, untimely injuries, and imperfect rosters with incredible aplomb over the years. Yes, he belongs in Cooperstown, even right now.
Jason (Charlotte): Which Braves pitcher has the highest upside ?
Matthew Trueblood: Greg Maddux.
I dunno, man. I can tell you who intrigues me the most, just because of the narrative around them selecting him at the time and his pro success to date. That's Ian Anderson. But I'll leave questions of the absolute highest ceiling to our prospect gurus.
edwar288 (Minneapolis): Were you the guy at Ray Js who thought Erik Kratz should be starting over Salvador Perez in the 2014 playoffs then Perez hit a dinger? Good times.
Matthew Trueblood: I was. They were. I stumbled upon the article I wrote around that idea a few days ago; it was a fine argument that just happened to be moronic. Here's the link, actually: http://www.banishedtothepen.com/spoilers-yup-but-really-no/
That he hit a homer that night, though, really is Baseball being Baseball. I'm kind of sad to see those Royals teams go.
sykklone (IA): What are your thoughts on Isan Diaz and Trent Clark?
Matthew Trueblood: Diaz obviously went backward a bit this year. Arm, speed, motions say he's going to be a second baseman, not a shortstop. Still has the natural power and a bit of an approach, though. I think he wants to be really good, so he might just make the improvements necessary to actually be good.
Can't say I like Clark as much. The steals were great to see this year, but he has all of Diaz's offensive issues, plus a flatter swing that doesn't give him a great chance to hit for power the way you want a right fielder to. A flat swing is no death sentence anymore, but Clark seems to have a lot of growing up to do before it's going to be wise to bet on him suddenly letting a coach get in his ear and turn him into a power hitter. The tools are great, but he has to change physically and mentally to realize the benefits of them.
Pete (Kansas): Nomar Mazara had an ok season, but didn't make the Great Leap Forward that everyone expected. Does it happen next year?
Matthew Trueblood: To correct the record just a little: Nomar Mazara had a dreadful season. We have him down for -0.3 WARP. In my looks, he seems to play the outfield an awful lot like a first baseman. He got marginally better at telling a ball from a strike, but suddenly, you can miss his bat even within the zone when you need to. For a guy with his size, profile, and home park, he also didn't hit for the power one would want.
All that said, yeah, fine chance that he becomes the guy we think he can be next year. Still such a smooth swing, and enough loft in it that I think the power comes. He's young. Worse prospects have had worse seasons at 21 and still turned into above-average players.
Matthew Trueblood: Alright, that was dreadfully short, but I was sick all morning and I'm not feeling great again right now. Tweet at me (@MATrueblood) if you have a follow-up question.