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Sabo Fan
03-03-2006, 05:16 PM
Just got my copy of the Baseball Prospectus annual and I was glancing at the Reds section and thought I'd offer up a few interesting points from the book in case anyone was wondering. Haven't gotten as far as the pitchers yet, so maybe I'll do that later or someone else can if they feel so inclined.

Some things that jumped out at me:

- They have nice things to say about Denorfia, giving him a .263/.336/.419 line to go with 13 homers and a .256 EQA. 20% breakout and a 48% improvement.

- Dunn does well again, .263/.393/.558 line with 41 homers and a .313 EQA. 0% attrition rate, 24% breakout, 10% collapse, and 67% improve. Good stuff.

-EdE. is another Red who does well in BP's eyes, though they make a note of Narron's Dusty Baker-ish affinity for the vets. 22 homers, 75 RBI's, a .275/.344/.485 line, with a breakout of 43% and a 63% improve. Top comparable is Eric Chavez in case you were interested.

- Junior gets a .281/367/.541 line with 29 homers and a .299 EQA. BP sees just a shade over 500 PA's for Griffey.

- Austin Kearns: .275/.367/.510, 21 homers, EQA of .292, top comparables are Pat Burrell and Dale Murphy, not bad.

-They see a bit of a backslide for Felipe, a .266/.338/.433 line, 15 homers, an EQA of .260 and his VORP is cut in half, down to 21.7. A 24% breakout and a 46% improve.

-Wily Mo Pena: pretty much a repeat of his 2004 season from a HR, RBI, PA perspective, but his line of .282/.345/.558 is significantly better than '04 and a huge leap from last year. EQA of .292.

The overview portion can be summed up quite nicely by saying that DanO set the entire organization back several years and did nothing to improve the farm system, which was thought to be his forte. My favorite line: "The Cincinnati player development system is worthy of the term "farm" only in the sense that the Stalinist collectives of the 1930's Ukraine were a farm system - they caused millions to starve to death."

KearnsyEars
03-04-2006, 03:07 AM
I like what it says about our boy Austin!

corkedbat
03-04-2006, 03:18 AM
If Junior can make it to the plate 500 times, he will hit more than 29 HRs - more in the range of 35-40, but that's a big iIF.

KronoRed
03-04-2006, 11:10 AM
What about our solid vets Tony and Rich? ;)

IslandRed
03-05-2006, 06:40 PM
The overview portion can be summed up quite nicely by saying that DanO set the entire organization back several years and did nothing to improve the farm system, which was thought to be his forte. My favorite line: "The Cincinnati player development system is worthy of the term "farm" only in the sense that the Stalinist collectives of the 1930's Ukraine were a farm system - they caused millions to starve to death."

I picked mine up today, and was very curious about what they'd write given that the sale had been announced but not approved at press time. Given the last couple of books had adequately covered our pitching woes and Carl Lindner's lack of commitment to winning, it was obviously O'Brien's turn in the crosshairs. Ouch. It's not that unusual to see them performing the writing equivalent of a root canal without anesthetic, but they didn't even offer up an opening "this is going to hurt a little bit." Even the player notes contained a lot of snarks at the front office.

TRF
03-06-2006, 01:07 PM
If WMP puts up that line, he'll be a superstar.

RedsManRick
03-06-2006, 03:45 PM
I just don't understand projections that see a major uptick in Wily's batting average and on base percentage, yet see his homer totals in the 30's. If he hits .280, he'd have to take a major step backwards power wise to NOT hit 40 homers. If he hits .280 with 40 homers, he'll be one of the most valuable offensive players in the league.

Crash Davis
03-10-2006, 01:34 AM
Anybody read the article in the back by Gary Huckabay regarding the limits of statistical analysis?

Excellent essay and interview. I've been waiting to read another piece like that ever since since Bill James swiftly reprimanded the statistical analysis wannabes a few years ago while guest-writing for Neyer. It was so welcome, in fact, that I didn't even begrudge Huckabay for getting those thoughts into print before I could.

Highlights:

Gary Huckabay:

Travis Hafner with the flu on April 8th is a different player than Travis Hafner in perfect health on May 14th. Using seasonal data, you get an aggregation of all the Hafners that played in 2005; that's not necessarily a bad thing, but any analysis or decision-making based on that information should include contextual information, if possible. That can't be done with statistical analysis.


NL Scout:
As a group, the statheads were no help. You didn't understand that parks change every year, and not just in little ways. Instead of understanding park effects better because we're taking all these little adjustments into account, now we know less than we did before, and we had to pay for the privilege.


Gary Huckabay:
The somewhat problematic issue is that of embedded assumptions -- we don't generally have enough data to know the specific impact of a player's physical environment on that player's performance, so we end up using data aggregations and averages, which leaves us without a good tool to explain why a particular park has certain effects.


Kevin Goldstein, Baseball America:
The amazing thing to me is that people don't question that a college football athlete can have great statistics, win the Heisman Trophy, and still have no future in the NFL because professional football is a different beast. Then, those same people can't accept that a player can be a great collegiate baseball player, but have no chance of ever making a contribution in pro baseball. The college game of baseball is a different game than professional baseball, just as the NFL game is a different game than Major College Football.


Gary Huckabay:
It's not about using information or not using information. It's about identifying and gathering the right information on which to base decisions.


Gary Huckabay: So the stats guys have simply failed to make their case?
Baseball Executive: I think so. And it's because most of the stat guys that have been hired are the wrong guys. They're amateur mathematicians, really. They don't have training or experience in persuading people. What I've seen and heard, both personally and second hand, is that if their mathematical case isn't the one that ends up determining a roster spot or contract, they repeat the same information, only louder, and decry the lack of understanding of the other people in the process.

Gary Huckabay: Are you worried about losing ground to other organizations that are investing more money and time in their analytical capabilities?
Baseball Executive: Not really, no.
Gary Huckabay: There are clubs doing some pretty cool stuff.
Baseball Executive: But they're not using it particularly well. One thing I've learned is that this isn't an area where clubs can actually generate an advantage. It's more of a place where you can lose ground if you do nothing, rather than one where you can gain something through action.


Gary Huckabay: But don't you lose ground to an org that has a dedicated person, or a top-flight consultant like an Eddie Epstein?
Baseball Executive: If so, it's not a huge advantage they're getting. It's not like every team has a squad of Keith Woolners on staff with a team of analysts and programmers at his beck and call. And, the dirty little secret of your industry is its lack of opinion divergence [bold and italics are mine]....
Gary Huckabay: What do you mean by lack of opinion divergence?
Baseball Executive: You guys generally don't have a dime's worth of difference between you when it comes to players. You like durable guys with high on base percentages who hit for power and play great defense. On the mound, you like guys that strike people out as often as possible, don't walk people, and keep the ball on the ground. Gee, not sh!t. Us dumb-arse scouts would never have thought of that. Do you think it's possible that maybe you'll be against wife beating and passing out meth to kids, too?


Baseball Executive: The biggest problem with statistical analysis is that it's always retrospective. That's the biggest difference between stats and traditional scouting, and it's an unconquerable strength of scouting. I've seen perhaps 15-20 prediction methods using statistical data; you have PECOTA and Vlad, Rotowire, perhaps a dozen systems done by individuals, and all of them basically work off the same information. None of them are particularly interesting, really, and their primary benefit is that someone else has done the tedious work of writing them all down. I'd like to see a prediction system that worked well, and had some actual knobs that can be tuned, in terms of underlying assumptions.


Gary Huckabay: What's next for statistical analysis in front offices?
Baseball Executive: Like most movements, its best ideas will be co-opted by the brightest people on the "other side." It doesn't take very long to teach the core pieces of serious baseball analysis to scouts and old-line baseball men. The reality is that there's never been that much difference between the guys that the scouts like, and the guys that the statheads like. It's really just a question of degree.

Baseball Executive: Seriously, though, it's much easier for an ex-player to learn what he needs in terms of analysis than it is for a true data star to learn what he needs in terms of observation, people, and management skills. Just the way it is.


Gary Huckabay: The baseball analysis "community" lacks standards; people self-publish their work and feel confident that they're qualified to offer advice on multi-million dollar transactions. Many of these people don't have formal training in statistical methods or research design, nor exposure to all of the constraints facing decision-makers in front offices. They occupy a nexus between academia and fandom....
There is excessive attention paid to the "academic" race, refining a model to another 1% of precision, without regard to its utility for making decisions that will actually help a ballclub, or the enormous error bars inherent in the entire exercise. All of these things work against the widespread adoption, much less embrace, of data-driven management.

Ouch.

Chip R
03-10-2006, 09:32 AM
http://snltranscripts.jt.org/86/86hgetalife.phtml

westofyou
03-10-2006, 10:26 AM
Anybody read the article in the back by Gary Huckabay regarding the limits of statistical analysis? First thing I read when I got the book, it was very good, but also cited the FO lack of faith in paying the going rate for a trained math whiz and also pointed out that the scouts get peanuts as well. As for the "people" aspect of it the players are not short on guys with little or no people skills... come to think of it neither are some executives.

Dan O'Brien leaps to mind.

Do the real question could be in his case Nepotism or Math Skills without being able to crack jokes with the good old boys.

In retrospect I'd take the math.

gonelong
03-10-2006, 11:28 AM
Anybody read the article in the back by Gary Huckabay regarding the limits of statistical analysis?

Excellent essay and interview. I've been waiting to read another piece like that ever since since Bill James swiftly reprimanded the statistical analysis wannabes a few years ago while guest-writing for Neyer. It was so welcome, in fact, that I didn't even begrudge Huckabay for getting those thoughts into print before I could.

[B]


What I get out of that is if you hire bad people you get bad results.

GL

Cyclone792
03-10-2006, 11:42 AM
What I get out of that is if you hire bad people you get bad results.

GL

I got that out of it too.

A good working front office model includes people who can provide good statistical analysis, form good decisions based on their analysis and be excellent communicators. That front office also includes good scouts that can provide a wealth of outstanding scouting information, make good decisions based on their analysis and also be excellent communicators. Have them report to front office executives that understand both ends of the equation well, can make good decisions based on all the information they receive from each side and can communicate effectively in a positive manner with everyone else.

Throw that into a bowl, mix well and you've got a great foundation.

princeton
03-10-2006, 11:48 AM
thanks for posting, Crash. You're always thought-provoking

the problem of low opinion divergence is something that we also have right here on Redszone ;)

RFS62
03-10-2006, 12:03 PM
Thanks Crash. Great read.

I've been saying this part for a long time.



Baseball Executive: Like most movements, its best ideas will be co-opted by the brightest people on the "other side." It doesn't take very long to teach the core pieces of serious baseball analysis to scouts and old-line baseball men. The reality is that there's never been that much difference between the guys that the scouts like, and the guys that the statheads like. It's really just a question of degree.

Baseball Executive: Seriously, though, it's much easier for an ex-player to learn what he needs in terms of analysis than it is for a true data star to learn what he needs in terms of observation, people, and management skills. Just the way it is.

SteelSD
03-10-2006, 12:21 PM
Gary Huckabay: What do you mean by lack of opinion divergence?

Baseball Executive: You guys generally don't have a dime's worth of difference between you when it comes to players. You like durable guys with high on base percentages who hit for power and play great defense. On the mound, you like guys that strike people out as often as possible, don't walk people, and keep the ball on the ground. Gee, not sh!t. Us dumb-arse scouts would never have thought of that. Do you think it's possible that maybe you'll be against wife beating and passing out meth to kids, too?

So, if all statheads like the same guys and those are the same guys the scouts also like, why again do the statheads get bashed for a lack of "opinion divergence"?

And if they're truly the same guys the scouts and "baseball executives" like, then why do bad players the statheads wouldn't touch keep getting signed to multi-million dollar contracts by baseball executives?

5-to-1 odds that "Baseball Executive" is Eddie Bane.

gonelong
03-10-2006, 12:23 PM
Thanks Crash. Great read.

I've been saying this part for a long time.

Statistical analysis is a tool. No doubt your scouts should have all the tools they can in their toolbox.

IMO it would be wise to have a statistical team for R&D and to simply to try and answer questions your scouts might have.

GL

Cyclone792
03-10-2006, 12:28 PM
5-to-1 odds that "Baseball Executive" is Eddie Bane.

You've gotta love Eddie Bane and The Great Debate! ;)

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/features/050107debate.html


The Great Debate

By Alan Schwarz
January 7, 2005

---------------------------------------------------------

For the past two years, the scouting and statistics communities have feuded like members of rival families. Baseball lifers who evaluate players with their eyes are derided as over-the-hill beanbags who don’t understand the next frontier. Numbers-oriented people are cast as cold, computer-wielding propellerheads with no appreciation for scouting intangibles. Not surprisingly, the camps have grown so polarized that they have retreated to their respective bunkers rather than engage in open and intelligent debate.

Until now.

Instead of continuing to report on the gulf between the two sides, Baseball America is bringing them together. For the first time since the great “Moneyball” debate began two years ago, we have gathered two longtime scouts and two statistics experts to discuss all the great issues in this arena: the risks of high school pitchers, the use of minor league statistics, plate discipline as a tool and much more.

The four participants were Gary Hughes, the Cubs’ assistant general manager and a scout for more than 30 years with many clubs; Eddie Bane, the Angels’ scouting director and a former top pitching prospect himself; Gary Huckabay, one of the lead analysts for Baseball Prospectus and a statistical consultant for the Athletics; and Voros McCracken, another top numbers man who also consults for the Red Sox. All four were eager to finally sit down with the other side, debate these issues and—most importantly—let Baseball America readers listen in afterward.

We now invite you to pull up a chair as BA’s Alan Schwarz moderates . . .


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ALAN SCHWARZ: To start out, Gary Hughes, how would you characterize the relationship between the scouting community and the statistics community?

GARY HUGHES: I think the longtime scouting guys, probably the initial reaction is to get their back up and try to defend their position. They feel somewhat threatened by it because of all the publicity that’s come out. It’s probably become somewhat of an adversarial thing for maybe not a lot of well thought-out reasons.

A lot of what scouts feel they do is based on gut instinct, their history of being in the game. Their experience. They have a hard time quantifying it. And they see all these things in charts and graphs and things, and maybe when you don’t understand something, you feel a little challenged by it.

EDDIE BANE: It is adversarial right now. Our guys, the so-called old-school guys, the thought is out there that we don’t know how to handle a computer and we wouldn’t know how to use that stuff. I’m very comfortable with a computer. Our people are very comfortable with a computer. We do have to drag some of our old-time guys through it. But the main adversarial thing is that some of our old-time guys are losing jobs that we didn’t feel they should be losing. It was due to cutbacks. Maybe the cutbacks were due to money or whatever. But we correlate it to the fact that some of the computer stuff is causing that. And we resent it.

VOROS McCRACKEN: I think part of the reason for the cutbacks in scouting is the emergence of college players. I think there’s as much scouting that you need to do on the college level. Colleges are bigger, the players are older. Whereas back when almost every player that was drafted was a high school player, back before I was around, you needed a lot of scouts because you needed to cover every corner of the country to do it. With all these college players playing at a fairly high level of competition, you can, to a certain extent, evaluate many of these college players based on their stats. So I think part of the reason for the cutbacks in scouting is that they’re probably not as necessary if you’re drafting college players.

ALAN SCHWARZ: Gary (Hughes), is there less of a need for scouts today, compared to 25 years ago?

GARY HUGHES: There’s as many or more high school players playing now. If an organization decides on their own that they’re not going to draft high school guys, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t high school guys there who have to be scouted. If an individual team decides they’re not going to scout high school guys, they obviously don’t need scouts to do it. I think it’s arrogant to eliminate an entire class of players.

GARY HUCKABAY: And it costs a lot in terms of upside. You can talk about high school and college players all you want, but the reality is some of these high school kids are going to be superstars, and if a club’s not looking at them, that’s a serious opportunity cost.

VOROS McCRACKEN: The lower-revenue teams are in a bit of a bind when it comes to high school prospects because they are more of an unknown. It becomes difficult for a team that’s not bringing in that much in terms of revenue to take a big-money chance . . .

GARY HUGHES: Why are they an unknown? I don’t understand. Because of the data?

VOROS McCRACKEN: Because a player who is 21 is simply closer to his peak abilities than a player who’s 18, for starters.

EDDIE BANE: My point would be that the reason to have at least as many scouts, if not more, is when you’re drafting Marquis Grissom, as Gary Hughes did with Montreal from Florida A&M, he doesn’t cost $100,000 anymore, he costs a million maybe. And his stats at Florida A&M can be thrown out the window. Because you need to see him in the two games a year that he plays against a pitcher that might have any ability whatsoever. That would be my reasoning to have more evaluators see this guy, because the bonus money is going to be astronomical on a guy like that if you have the guts to take him that high. Gary didn’t care what his stats were. A player at UConn, his stats, compared to a guy that I’m watching in the Pac-10, mean almost nothing to me. I’m in the middle of a negotiation right now (with Jered Weaver) where a guy wants to compare our first-round pick’s stats to Mark Prior’s. And to me, there’s no correlation whatsoever.

VOROS McCRACKEN: My response to that would be that those sorts of things, say the difference between playing at Cal and playing at Florida A&M or UConn, you can study those sorts of things and find out what do the stats mean at UConn, what do they mean at Florida A&M, what do they mean at Cal? It’s not as if we treat a guy like Rickie Weeks, his stats at Southern—he had ridiculous stats at Southern, in a weak conference—the same as if he was playing for USC or Arizona State. Those kinds of things are studied. You can find out information.

Obviously, I don’t think it’s useful to draft players simply based on their stats. The issue I would bring up is that for all of these issues—level of play, the type of pitchers, his raw abilities like his speed, his strength, his size—these are all things that can be, to an extent, measured. Six-foot-one is a measurement. Five-foot-seven is a measurement. Hitters who are 6-1, do they turn out better than hitters who are 5-7, with similar stats at similar schools? These are the sorts of things that people can analyze, and I think it could provide useful information.

GARY HUGHES: All your statistics are going to tell you is what a guy has done. Somebody has got to make the decision on what the guy’s going to do.

VOROS McCRACKEN: I have no idea what the guy’s going to do. But my point would be, the scouts also have only a limited idea of what the guy’s going to do. He might do this, he might do that, he might be somewhere in the middle. What you’re trying to do is you’re trying to take the guys who you think have the best chance. I fully admit that you can’t tell the future via stats. My point is that scouting has that equal amount of unpredictability. You can only know so much. You’re scouts, you’re not fortunetellers.

GARY HUCKABAY: I think it’s important to understand that a lot of people have overclaimed what you can do by statistical analysis. It’s a tool. A car is a tool as well—you can use it to drive to the store, or you can use it to drive into a tree. I think there’s more of a dichotomy between good statistical analysis and bad statistical analysis. But all the information you can get your hands on—as long as you understand what it’s good for, and what its quality is—is always a good thing. We’re all after the same thing here: We’re out to build a great baseball team. As long as you have X number of pieces of information, whether it’s performance data—a term I prefer to use rather than statistics, because these things are records of what happened on the field—and then also, if you’ve got people who have tremendous insight who are well trained, they know how to scout a guy, give me that information too. I want both of it. What I don’t want is someone going, “I want this guy because he had 120 RBIs.”

ALAN SCHWARZ: Let’s talk about the issue of high school pitchers, on which the scouting and statistics communities perhaps disagree most. In general, are high school pitchers smart risks to take in the draft?

EDDIE BANE: First of all, the Anaheim Angels are going to be involved heavily in high school pitchers—if we think he’s the best guy, we’re going to take him. We’re not going to penalize him for being three years younger. We don’t hesitate taking high school pitchers.

ALAN SCHWARZ: What makes a high school pitcher a prospect? What do you see in them that makes you say, “I want to spend my first-round pick and almost $2 million on him.”

EDDIE BANE: We’d need a guy we think would be in the front of the rotation in the big leagues.

ALAN SCHWARZ: But what would your eyes see that would make you project that?

EDDIE BANE: We’d need at least a three-pitch mix already. Command already. We’d not just take an arm in the first round. We’re trying to get our scouts away from the radar gun as much as possible. So a three-pitch mix with makeup. When we get back to the stats, I would not think that anyone would want to know the stats on Mark Rogers versus Phil Hughes last year in the draft. I watched Mark Rogers strike out 21 guys last year and afterward the other team asked him for his autograph. I need to see Mark Rogers and evaluate him, and forget who he’s facing.

ALAN SCHWARZ: Gary Hughes, was Robbie Beckett—a fireballing high school pitcher from the early ’90s with no control—a prospect? Was Roger Salkeld—a more refined guy whose arm blew up—a prospect? Both were high school pitchers who never made it and have become somewhat poster boys for people who stay away from them.

GARY HUGHES: Robbie Beckett wasn’t for me. I saw him throw a no-hitter and strike out 15 guys, walk 16 guys, and lose. I just thought there was too much that could go wrong.

EDDIE BANE: Roger Salkeld (the Mariners’ No. 3 overall pick in 1989) was as good a high school pitcher as I saw in southern California the year before he came out. He was outstanding. Kurt Miller in Bakersfield was outstanding. There’s a lengthy list of guys that did not make it. But also, when you look at the Florida Marlins’ rotation the year they won the World Series, every one was signed as a high school pitcher.

ALAN SCHWARZ: Gary Huckabay, I believe you coined the phrase, “There’s no such thing as a pitching prospect.”

GARY HUCKABAY: Yeah, but that was an overstatement designed to sell books. When I say there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect, it’s because it’s really, really hard, for even the very best scouts, to identify a guy that’s a) going to go through the minor leagues and survive potential injuries that high school pitchers often run into; and b) when I was 18 years old, I spent most of my time imbibing ethanol and chasing women, and I don’t think I was an atypical 18-year-old. Also, sometimes guys fill out differently—some guys at 18 are already as physically mature as they’re going to get. Sometimes they get five or six years of bulk on them and have a considerably better body for the game. Personally, I think that when you count in the cost of signing the high school pitchers, when you consider the systemic and nonsystemic risks that you face in terms of developing that pitcher, I would tend to veer away in general from high school pitchers. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be the occasional kid that you go, “It’s going to cost us this much money, he’s probably going to turn out like this, I won’t be able to live with myself if I don’t take this guy.” That could happen.

VOROS McCRACKEN: Things happen with pitchers—“something” tends to happen a lot with high school pitchers.

EDDIE BANE: The best pitcher I ever saw as an amateur was Kiki Jones (No. 15 overall, 1989), and Kiki didn’t make it. We do not expect every guy we take to be a star. But if you give me both Becketts, Robbie and Josh, I want ’em.

GARY HUGHES: We keep mentioning the high school pitcher and the injury factor there. But it’s pitchers in general. Don’t all of a sudden think just because a pitcher goes to college he’s not ever going to get hurt.

VOROS McCRACKEN: But the college pitcher is usually closer to the major leagues, so there’s less time for him to get injured.

ALAN SCHWARZ: Let’s segue into one of the things that started a lot of this controversy across the industry—”Moneyball,” Michael Lewis’s profile of the A’s and how Billy Beane runs his club. What effect did “Moneyball” have on baseball? Was it positive, in that it brought some of this analysis more to the mainstream, or negative, for how its unflattering depiction of most scouts polarized the two sides of the issue?

VOROS McCRACKEN: I’ll go first because I was actually in the book. A lot of “Moneyball” is a certain amount of exaggeration because Michael Lewis is telling a story. There are plenty of facts involved in all of these stories in “Moneyball” that did not make the book because they didn’t quite fit the story as well as the facts that were included. So a lot of it was exaggeration designed to sell books. And on that score, “Moneyball” was a success, because Michael Lewis sold lots and lots and lots of books.

ALAN SCHWARZ: But what effect did it have on baseball?

VOROS McCRACKEN: I think part of the effect is that the five of us are sitting here right now. I don’t think that we get to this point where anyone wants to hear us sit down and discuss this without that book.

GARY HUCKABAY: Long-term, I don’t think there is an effect, to be honest. I think it’s kind of a blip in the road. I think it had the effect of hardening the position of some people on all sides—people got their righteous indignation up a little bit—but I think it was a short-term thing. I have yet to meet people in the industry who will not talk with me and be reasonable. And I try to be reasonable and respectful of them. Maybe it made that go away for a few months. But people were going to see the effects of this approach and how it can be successful, particularly a low- to mid-revenue team, whether or not Michael Lewis writes that book.

GARY HUGHES: I’d kind of go both ways. It definitely had an effect. “Moneyball” has become a catchphrase now that’s being completely misused. It’s ridiculous, calling Boston a Moneyball team, with their hundred-and-something million payroll. But to ignore the success that Billy’s had, given the parameters he’s had to deal with, would be unfair too.

VOROS McCRACKEN: Certainly, we in Boston are not antagonistic to the concepts in “Moneyball” either. Obviously they hired me as a consultant. When they promoted Theo, basically the idea was he was going to try to meld the two approaches and get them to where they were not only getting along, but are complementing one another. The stats can help the scouts zero in on the guys they should be zeroing in on. And the scouts, once the stats are sorting things through, can tell you who exactly are the best guys to go after. The success of that can obviously be overblown because a World Series championship is a big thing, big news. How much it had to do with stats, how much it had to do with improved scouting . . . I think the point is that Boston has at least tried to reconcile the two positions.

GARY HUGHES: It seems like the teams that are so-called Moneyball teams—I’m not going to get into names of individual people or teams—those teams seem to really lack communication skills within their organization. They don’t talk to each other. They talk within their little comfortable niche of people, and the rest of the organization has no idea what’s going on. That seems to be by design. And guys are leaving baseball—just walking away—rather than work with people who just aren’t going to listen to them.

EDDIE BANE: I think it’s had a very negative effect on the people that I think should be considered to be general managers in the major leagues. Gary Hughes and Scott Reid and Mike Radcliff and Ken Forsch and Gary Sutherland and Dick Tidrow, they are outstanding people. But because of the connotation that they’re not Moneyball people, we keep hearing about guys that are Ivy League graduates who are going to jump into general-manager jobs. They may be very qualified. But to think that Mike Radcliff and some of these other guys that have helped build the Minnesota Twins into what they are . . . It’s because they’re not quote-unquote Moneyball guys.

Lewis’ book directly affected human beings like John Poloni, who signed Tim Hudson. He’s the “fat scout” in the book. I resent that. I think John Poloni’s an outstanding scout. And without Tim Hudson (who was signed by Poloni), the Oakland A’s, they wouldn’t have written a book about them. I want to read a book by Pat Gillick. Or Brian Sabean. Or Terry Ryan—but we can’t get him to brag about himself. These guys won’t do it. When they write a book, I want to read it.

ALAN SCHWARZ: Let’s talk tools for a moment. Are the five tools (hitting for average and power, running, fielding, arm) as relevant today as they’ve always been? Or given what we’ve learned over the past 10 or so years, should something like plate discipline be made the sixth tool?

GARY HUGHES: I think the five tools are five physical tools. I don’t see where plate discipline becomes a tool.

VOROS McCRACKEN: I don’t know how much hitting for average is a physical tool, either. There are a lot more gifted athletes out there than Wade Boggs, who had the single ability to hit for a high average. Plate discipline is such a critical complement to the physical abilities. If you can take the physical abilities and combine them with plate discipline at a young enough age, I think you can work through whatever problems the hitter has at the plate, and he can become a good hitter. Everything that I’ve seen, from college baseball stats to minor league baseball stats, time and time again, walks and strikeout ratios, it just seems to keep coming up as very, very important.

GARY HUGHES: You’re absolutely right. It’s very important. I just don’t think it’s a tool with a capital T. And you don’t need computers and stat guys to see it. You show up at a game and the first thing you get is a stat sheet and you look at it. This has only been for the last 30 or 35 years that I’ve been doing this. But guess what? The guy with the best strikeout-to-walk ratio is usually the best player. Wow! This didn’t just happen in the past five years.

EDDIE BANE: Every one of us knows that the bat is the most important tool in the world. We’re to the point now where we don’t add up the tool scores and divide by five. We add the bat about four times and then divide the other tools in. You have to hit as a shortstop now. You can’t get by just being a slick-glove guy. And we realize plate discipline is important. But where we would differ a little bit is, Paul Konerko had plate discipline when he was 18 years old. Magglio Ordonez was (swinging) at everything that came up there, but it developed over time. And they’re both great hitters.

Our job, when we go to a high school game, is there better be some swinging as soon as we get out of the rental car. I’ve never wanted to draft a guy where the first line in the report is, “He’s got a good eye.” We’re looking for guys who swing that bat. And if they’re swinging and missing in high school, we ain’t going to be very interested.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ALAN SCHWARZ: OK, so it's the trading deadline, and you want to evaluate another team's Double-A right-field prospect. Everyone agrees that he has considerable skills, and you're going to scout him for three games. How will you evaluate what kind of asset he might be for your big league club a few years from now?

GARY HUGHES: You'll have a history coming in, but you'll evaluate his five tools. You'll compare what you have on your own club. You'll think about what your immediate needs are and what your long-term needs are. And you'll make your decision based on your feeling.

EDDIE BANE: The first thing I do when I get to the ballpark is, I don't care about his right-field play. I don't care about his running speed. I want to see him hit. If he don't hit, I don't have to stay three days. I'm going to pick up the stat sheet--I'm going to look at the strikeouts and walks. I'm going to look at the batting average. I'm going to know all that stuff because I've been on the computer. But if I don't think this guy can hit for the Anaheim Angels, the other stuff is secondary.

ALAN SCHWARZ: But what would you have to see to be encouraged?

GARY HUGHES: The swing, the approach at the plate, the show of fear.

EDDIE BANE: If you show fear, you're gone.

VOROS McCRACKEN: How would someone show fear?

GARY HUGHES: There would be a little give at the plate.

EDDIE BANE: You give on a pitcher with a decent slider . . .

VOROS McCRACKEN: That happens to everyone--everyone gets their knees buckled every once in a while. So if you rule a guy out that gets his knees buckled, that seems extreme. You'd need to see him show fear a bit more consistently. I'm not sure . . .

EDDIE BANE: I am sure. Because if I see fear in a hitter, I'm not ever coming back. I don't see fear in good big league hitters. I know that they get fooled and they'll bail on balls. But for me, that's a different term than fear.

GARY HUGHES: The best player who ever lived bailed--Willie Mays.

ALAN SCHWARZ: Gary Huckabay, what would you look at if you had three days to evaluate someone?

GARY HUCKABAY: Since we're talking about a right fielder, I want to know his age. I want to see his stat lines every year through the minors. I want to know where he played, what leagues, what parks. I want to know, a lot of times, on a guy who might be set up as trade bait, are they being protected a little bit, getting the platoon advantage all the time? I want to take a look at his defensive numbers, to see what kind of balls he's getting to. If he's making a ton of errors.

I would love to see the scouting reports. I want to know his physical attributes, because if you're telling me we're going to acquire this guy as a catcher, and he's 6-foot-5, no--because there's been one catcher in major league history who was 6-foot-5, and he had a horribly short career where he was really valuable, and that was Sandy Alomar.

ALAN SCHWARZ: Voros, what would make you dismiss a player?

VOROS McCRACKEN: I never dismiss a player. There was a player, I don't remember who it was, who I thought would never hit a lick in the major leagues. And one day, he just one day up and started hitting. So I wouldn't dismiss anybody off the bat. But a 25-year-old guy in Double-A is a problem, OK? Not necessarily rule him out--a 25-year-old who hits the bejesus out of the ball in Double-A might be worth looking at as a bat off the bench. But if he's 25 and still in Double-A, what has he been doing from 20 to 24?

GARY HUGHES: But you can't have it both ways. You said you wouldn't give up on a guy.

VOROS McCRACKEN: I wouldn't. But I don't think he's much of a prospect. If you're going to hold on to prospects and invest a lot in them, they need to be someone who you expect to be playing every day or in the rotation or a top reliever.

ALAN SCHWARZ: Let's talk about a major league pitcher. We're in the offseason, and your club needs to sign a No. 2 or No. 3 type starter, a good but not great veteran guy. How will you evaluate this pitcher?

GARY HUCKABAY: The first thing I'm going to do is make a distinction between the statistics that describe what a player has already done versus those that do a better job of predicting the future. For example, ERA, year to year, is kind of iffy from time to time. What I'm going to look for instead is someone with a big strikeout rate. I'm going to like someone who doesn't give up a lot of hits. I'm going to like someone who has not been abused. I am more of a hardliner on that than just about anybody. If a guy has thrown a ton of pitches per game, I'm going to take a look and try to figure out, based on the actuarial curves and other stuff that I've done, how likely he is to get hurt.

ALAN SCHWARZ: One thing that Eddie and Gary, you might not be aware of, is that a few years ago Voros came up with something called Defense Independent Pitching Stats, which . . .

EDDIE BANE: Alan, you said, "You guys may not be aware." That's one of the things we're battling. We are aware. I read these guys' stuff all the time.

ALAN SCHWARZ: I said, "May not be aware." Gary, have you ever heard of DIPS?

GARY HUGHES: No.

ALAN SCHWARZ: OK then! (Laughter)

EDDIE BANE: But I'm going to read everything I can, and on top of that have Gary Hughes in the ballpark to see what the guy does. We're trying to dispel these things. It's not like when we're drafting we spit tobacco at the board, and whatever name we hit is the guy we take. I've read this stuff.

GARY HUGHES: Is that what DIPS is? Tobacco? (Laughter)

EDDIE BANE: But someone who works with Gary has read this stuff.

ALAN SCHWARZ: OK, but Gary hasn't, so just explain to it quickly for him and the people who will be reading this later, it's a method where, essentially, looking mainly at a pitcher's strikeouts, walks and home runs allowed per inning does a better job of predicting ERA than even ERA does. It's very counterintuitive to see that singles and doubles allowed don't matter a whole lot moving forward. This shook up the statistics community and has become pretty widespread among stat-minded major league executives as they evaluate talent markets. I'm curious, Gary (Hughes), how do you form opinions on which major league pitchers you might want to pursue and which ones you won't?

GARY HUGHES: History--you've got a long, long list of times to evaluate this guy. The numbers are somewhat important. I think the longer history you have with seeing a guy, you solidify the feeling you have. The first time I see him I have a feeling, five years from now I'm going to have a different feeling. There are so many darned factors that go into it.

EDDIE BANE: I will have read this (statistics) stuff before I go into the ballpark. But I'm going to evaluate him myself as a scout--just as a scout--and I'm going to call Pat Gillick, if he had him in Toronto or Seattle in the past, and go, "Tell me about him." I'm going to get information from the press box. I'm going to work other scouts over. I'm going to know everything I can about this guy. "Yeah, I heard his elbow was hurting him." "No, it wasn't his elbow, he pulled a hamstring." "He had a drinking problem in the past." I'm going to have the DIPS information already. I mean, this stuff if fabulous. But I've got to have the other stuff too--the intangibles.

ALAN SCHWARZ: It seems to me that the scouts and stat people often butt heads over which players to sign for the bench--how to look at quadruple-A minor league veterans versus established but fading major leaguers, situations like that. Your Roberto Petagines, your Mark Leonards. Those types of guys where the stat people say, "Look, the guy had a .380 OBP in Rochester. He won't hurt you and will cost only $400,000." And the scouts will say he can't run and he has no arm. I'm exaggerating here but it does sound a little familiar. Do you think, Gary (Hughes), there will be any shift in evaluating these types of players, where scouting will . . .

VOROS McCRACKEN: Give more credit . . .

ALAN SCHWARZ: . . . see the predictabilities of some of these statistics. So even if his tools don't knock you out, he still has value?

GARY HUGHES: But you still in heart think he's not going to hit big league pitching. You say he had a .380 on-base percentage. The key word there is "had." If you could tell me he's going to have the .380 next year, that'd be great!

VOROS McCRACKEN: But obviously there's a relationship between the two. Guys who have higher on-base percentages in Triple-A tend to have higher on-base percentages in the major leagues. This is a point where I don't have a lot of wiggle room.

ALAN SCHWARZ: That gets us to this question--do you guys think Triple-A stats can predict player performance in the majors?

GARY HUGHES: I don't know. I can't answer that. That's not my thing.

VOROS McCRACKEN: I think to the extent that that's your answer, that you don't really know . . .

GARY HUGHES: I don't think you know.

VOROS McCRACKEN: I don't know. But I do have an idea. I have looked at stats for tons of Triple-A players, and what they've done in the major leagues, and I think with this sort of information, I don't think that "I don't know" should be the final answer. I think, "I don't know, and I would like to find out" would be the better approach. I'm not sure that's always been the approach. I would say that you know almost as much about what a guy's going to do in the big leagues from his Triple-A stats as you do from his major league stats.

GARY HUCKABAY: I'll go further and say exactly as much.

EDDIE BANE: That doesn't surprise me, but I don't believe it. I won 15 games in Triple-A two years in a row. I won seven games total in the major leagues. The level of play is completely different. We weren't into DIPS in '73 but I led the league in ERA both years. I wasn't good enough to pitch in the major leagues. You get up there and you lose the confidence level. David Newhan bounced around, he finally got an opportunity to play, he's all right. But where was he going to play for the Anaheim Angels other than on the bench? When it comes to the stats, I want to know who he's playing against, where he's playing at and who's he's hitting these balls against. I want Moose Stubing to find Brendan Donnelly (in the minors) because of how he saw Brendan Donnelly throw, not because of the statistical edge he might have had.

VOROS McCRACKEN: His statistics were excellent.

GARY HUCKABAY: Donnelly and Newhan were people we were screaming about for years.

EDDIE BANE: But the thing I'd like to hear--I know you guys work for two clubs--but it's easy to bring up Newhan and Donnelly. Scream about someone who's going to do it next year, or that we should be on. Right now. Because I'd like to know. Write it down and give it to Alan, and we'll look at it a year from now.

VOROS McCRACKEN: It's funny, I can't say the guy's name, but someone was just claimed from your organization that I was very interested in.

EDDIE BANE: Steven Andrade by the (Blue Jays) organization--we'll see how that works.

VOROS McCRACKEN: His stats are great stats. They're flat-out great stats. I've never even seen him pitch. And even if I had, I'm not a scout. I wouldn't know what to look for. All I know is he's got great stats that very few other relief pitchers in the minor leaguers have.

ALAN SCHWARZ: It feels to me, and I wasn't necessarily expecting to reach this point, as if maybe a GM in an organization, yes, has to be fully versed in both sides of performance evaluation--the subjective and the objective. But does each assistant GM need to be? Or should each club have an assistant GM like Gary Hughes, whose expertise is by-the-eyes scouting, and an assistant GM who's primarily a statistics analyst? Kind of a double-platoon front office instead of a single-platoon one.

GARY HUGHES: My whole thing is probably more humanistic than some of this stuff. It comes down to respect. You're nuts if you don't pay attention to what anyone brings to the table as far as evaluation. And somebody's got to make the final decision. If there's respect, if there's the ability to sit down in a room and talk and get everybody's opinion, then someone has to stand up and make the decision, and we go forward as an organization. You can't have the DIPS guys against the guys chewing dip.

EDDIE BANE: Personally, I think we are going that way. We are smart enough to know that the stuff that Gary Huckabay writes, we have to know that. We're doing it. But the reason we got our hackles up, as Gary (Hughes) said, is we were under the impression that, like the line in "Moneyball," we should do the amateur draft off of computers. I don't think anybody actually believes that. We believe there's room for statistical analysis. But we also certainly believe that there's plenty of room for scouting. When Paul Weaver's been with the Astros for 25 years, and he loses his job, and he's an outstanding scout . . . that's when we get concerned. If there's $50,000 in the budget, and you're going to hire a scout or a stat guy, one guy's going to be out in the street. And the guy who was out in the street was Paul Weaver.

GARY HUCKABAY: I think you're dead-on. I think the problem there is the determination is that there's only $50,000 for this. Let's look at the budget as a whole. Because you can't show me a major league baseball club that doesn't have a couple of very seriously bad contracts on it. I would much rather have both guys, the scout and the stat guy, and knock off a hundred grand from my offer to a mediocre free-agent pitcher.

EDDIE BANE: I agree with that.

GARY HUCKABAY: Teams that are smart, not smart, winning, non-winning, rich and poor--every single one of them, it seems every year, in August they absolutely, positively, flush half a million dollars down the toilet on a player at the trade deadline. A player that's not going to help them very much, if at all.

EDDIE BANE: We all know that. The scout and stat guy can tell you that.

ALAN SCHWARZ: But then why does it happen?

GARY HUGHES: (Smiling) Because you've got this one chance to get that ring. How many chances do you get? It's been 1908 for us.

ALAN SCHWARZ: We're getting to the end here. What do the next 10 years hold for traditional, subjective, watch-with-your-eyes scouting? What refinements might there be, because you want to get better at what you do, right?

GARY HUGHES: What's come out of this discussion, hopefully, is that there's more than one way. And yet, we've got teams that refuse to draft a high school player. That's ridiculous! It's ridiculous.

EDDIE BANE: Ah, let it go.

GARY HUGHES: It makes no sense whatsoever. Oakland, all this stuff, and the two best players they had were the Latin shortstop and the high school third baseman. To eliminate that . . . it's arrogant. It's foolish.

EDDIE BANE: The future of scouting, and I hope the Angels are ahead of the curve, is we're going to have to understand what Gary Huckabay is writing about. And what Voros McCracken is writing about. We do. And we're going to get it. But the day of not needing a scout to see Mark Rogers and Brendan Donnelly, it's not going to come. I think people were trying to eliminate advance scouting by using Inside Edge or something. That's not working.

GARY HUGHES: Do you have to see a player to scout him?

GARY HUCKABAY: I would think so.

GARY HUGHES: Can you make a decision without ever seeing a player?

GARY HUCKABAY: Look, any decision, you're going to have a certain level of confidence in. And the more information you have is going to let you be more confident about that decision. I always have thought there's a false dichotomy here. There's this tendency to dismiss what a lot of the quantitative guys do as just working with the numbers. Well, you know what? Those numbers are scouting. Somebody saw that guy get a double. Somebody watched a pitcher get that strikeout. They just have a very specific method of how they write this down and then put it all together. This is real baseball performance. It's not just numbers out of thin air.

VOROS McCRACKEN: If I had a list of Rule 5 players, Rule 5 candidates only, and I see a pitcher with absolutely dynamite minor league stats, I don't need to see a scouting report to know that the scouts don't like this pitcher. If the scouts liked this pitcher, he would not be on this list in front of me, OK? And so for that, the Rule 5 draft, I would be comfortable in drafting him, bringing him to spring training, and having a look-see. It's a riskless proposition. It's fifty grand.

GARY HUGHES: That's another stat guy you could've hired! (Laughing.)

ALAN SCHWARZ: All right, so what is next for statistical analysis? How are you guys going to get better, make yourselves more useful?

VOROS McCRACKEN: More information helps. If we had more information with regard to fielding--fielding is the great frontier of statistical analysis--we could do lots and lots of things. I know Eddie, you say you're trying to move away from the radar gun, but I personally would like to have radar-gun readings in with the stats. So we can look at whether there are differences between the futures of pitchers basically with the same statistics, but one guy throws 10 miles an hour faster. For a stat person, what they want generally is more information. And more people to listen to them.

GARY HUCKABAY: Fielding's nice. And at Baseball Prospectus, we've been building something over the last three years something we call the Databeast. It's going to include information on, basically, coaching effectiveness. How much is Leo Mazzone really worth? And the answer is, a hell of a lot. If you've got a guy who's teaching your hitters, and suddenly they spike, you want to know about that. We want to know more about health of the players, how they respond--we want to have a database that says, This guy had Tommy John surgery performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum on this date, and this is what his numbers are, so we can know going forward what we can reasonably expect in terms of recovery from injuries. We want to be able to quantify that.

ALAN SCHWARZ: Last thing--what would each of you, as representatives of your two sides, like to see from the other side, moving forward?

VOROS McCRACKEN: The only thing that I would say is, at times, the reaction to us is dismissive. Obviously you guys don't like some of the things that came out in "Moneyball." But from our side, we don't like the fact that what we say is not only not agreed with but not worth discussing. And that's something I'd like improved.

EDDIE BANE: I want them to realize that we're not spitting tobacco on the draft board to make our picks. As far as "Moneyball" goes, I didn't like it. But the respect I have for these two guys today, just hearing them talk, I'm going to get their phone numbers and find out what Boston and Oakland's paying them. I can't tamper, but maybe get permission. This is good stuff. We use it. Maybe we don't acknowledge it enough.

GARY HUGHES: The word is "respect." There's no reason there can't be coexistence. I have to apologize--you read "Moneyball," and the first thing you do is you don't want any of those kids who they drafted to do well. (Laughter) But it's not their fault. I'm betting that the kids from the Moneyball draft are going to be statistically the same as anybody else's draft, just for different reasons.

GARY HUCKABAY: There's a book there, I bet.

Falls City Beer
03-10-2006, 12:30 PM
So, if all statheads like the same guys and those are the same guys the scouts also like, why again do the statheads get bashed for a lack of "opinion divergence"?

And if they're truly the same guys the scouts and "baseball executives" like, then why do bad players the statheads wouldn't touch keep getting signed to multi-million dollar contracts by baseball executives?

5-to-1 odds that "Baseball Executive" is Eddie Bane.

Yeah, you gotta wonder if strawmen can pitch. :beerme:

westofyou
03-10-2006, 01:01 PM
5-to-1 odds that "Baseball Executive" is Eddie Bane.

A true scouting dilema was Bane the player, 1st round pick #11, a college pitcher but......only 5' 9" however he was a LH.

Pitched a perfect game the curveballer was 40-4 in three years at Arizona State, and the Twins signed him for the largest bonus they had ever paid a pitcher. He debuted before 45,890 expectant Minnesota fans (7/4/73), but in three seasons he never lived up to their hopes.

KronoRed
03-10-2006, 01:38 PM
What I get out of that is if you hire bad people you get bad results.

GL
See Reds, Cincinnati

princeton
03-10-2006, 02:05 PM
- Austin Kearns: .275/.367/.510, 21 homers, EQA of .292, top comparables are Pat Burrell and Dale Murphy, not bad.

I gave Dale Murphy as Austin's ceiling back when Kearns was 19 years old

thousands and thousands of posts later, I'm still waiting.

(BTW, my ceiling for Adam Dunn back then, Reggie Jackson, seems to have been replaced by Ernie "Let's Lose Two" Banks)

westofyou
03-10-2006, 02:13 PM
(BTW, my ceiling for Adam Dunn back then, Reggie Jackson, seems to have been replaced by Ernie "Let's Lose Two" Banks)

Dunn walks way more than Banks and hits more doubles, he'll have a better run with his OB skills, plus he won't be dragged down by the 60's either.

princeton
03-10-2006, 02:15 PM
Dunn walks way more than Banks and hits more doubles, he'll have a better run with his OB skills, plus he won't be dragged down by the 60's either.

I'll try again: Let's Lose Two

westofyou
03-10-2006, 02:17 PM
I'll try again: Let's Lose Two
Earl Weaver would say you're full of beans.

princeton
03-10-2006, 02:20 PM
Earl Weaver would say you're full of beans.

Earl had pitching, instruction, and a farm system. Dunn is Mr. Red.

westofyou
03-10-2006, 02:21 PM
Earl had pitching, instruction, and a farm system. Dunn is Mr. Red.
Ok, how about the College of coaches to complete the picture.

princeton
03-10-2006, 02:26 PM
Ok, how about the College of coaches to complete the picture.

how about we trade a future HoF OFer to get an Ernie Broglio instead?

M2
03-10-2006, 03:03 PM
FWIW, I don't think it's all that hard to watch baseball and spot athletic talent. Anyone who's viewed the game for a number of years and been part of any athletic endeavor can tell you whether a kid has a quick bat or footspeed or if he plays defense with some ability.

It doesn't take a genius to hear the pop of a good fastball into a catcher's mitt (and even less of one to hold a radar gun) or to spot a good bend on a breaking ball. Frankly, I think it's just as easy to train a numbers person to do eyeball scouting as it is to train an eyeball scout to crunch numbers. Ultimately what's required is an able and eager mind.

princeton
03-10-2006, 03:17 PM
Frankly, I think it's just as easy to train a numbers person to do eyeball scouting as it is to train an eyeball scout to crunch numbers. Ultimately what's required is an able and eager mind.

years of past experiences goes into scouting, relating successes and failures seen in the past to aspects of new players.

I figured out Bill James in about half an hour.

Falls City Beer
03-10-2006, 03:25 PM
Frankly, I think it's just as easy to train a numbers person to do eyeball scouting as it is to train an eyeball scout to crunch numbers.


Easier. Any nimrod can see talent; it's comprehending it that's tough.

There is no greater skill than creating applications for and arriving at conclusions based upon statistical analysis. That's the heavy lifting in any discipline.

The rest is just...mythology.

M2
03-10-2006, 03:26 PM
years of past experiences goes into scouting, relating successes and failures seen in the past to aspects of new players.

Yeah and those years can be acquired well before you hit the age of 18. Watch baseball. Pay attention. Big deal.


I figured out Bill James in about half an hour.

And I figured out Felipe Lopez was at least two years away after watching him in AAA in 2002.

I'm not claiming any of this stuff is hard. Yet there's huge numbers of folks who seem wholly unable to do it. That's probably why scouts don't get paid much.

gonelong
03-10-2006, 04:33 PM
Yeah and those years can be acquired well before you hit the age of 18. Watch baseball. Pay attention. Big deal.



And I figured out Felipe Lopez was at least two years away after watching him in AAA in 2002.


... and I told everyone EE would be the cornerstone of the Rob Bell trade after watching ONE game of his at single A Dayton.

On the other hand, I can't look at a pitcher and tell you if he is going to amount to anything or not. The statistics will carry me much farther in evaluating a pitcher in that regard.

GL

princeton
03-10-2006, 04:39 PM
I'm not claiming any of this stuff is hard.

if you can figure out a tip, then you can figure out the stats part -- does your batter get on base more than 40 percent of the time against good pitching? Does he K less than a quarter of the time? Does your pitcher K a batter an inning, walk less than three a game against good competition?

but a scout has to predict which waitress will be American Idol in 10 years. To be good at that is hard.

(and this is coming from someone whose record on FeLo is VERY good)

CFO of my medical school just left for his dream job: to scout for the Jays. I'm predicting a painful time for Toronto

M2
03-10-2006, 04:51 PM
if you can figure out a tip, then you can figure out the stats part -- does your batter get on base more than 40 percent of the time against good pitching? Does he K less than a quarter of the time? Does your pitcher K a batter an inning, walk less than three a game against good competition?

I agree it's basic stuff. Yet I'm still amazed at how many paid baseball people ignore those basics time and again. I'll believe that understanding this stuff is a commodity when the industry makes it a commodity. Oddly it's still radical thinking in many organizations.


but a scout has to predict which waitress will be American Idol in 10 years. To be good at that is hard.

The number of folks who are actually good at it is awfully small compared to the number of folks who are paid to do it and bring no particular ability to the job. So I'll state it again - someone with some basic stats acumen can spot the same athleticism that most scouts pick up on without much training or trouble. That person won't be Paul Krichell, but he/she will grasp obvious athleticism when it's on display.

gonelong
03-10-2006, 05:01 PM
if you can figure out a tip, then you can figure out the stats part -- does your batter get on base more than 40 percent of the time against good pitching? Does he K less than a quarter of the time? Does your pitcher K a batter an inning, walk less than three a game against good competition?

It helps to know that a tip needs to be calculated. Besides, its all easy once someone shows you how to do it and why its important, the trick is to be the first (and only) ones doing it and use that to your advantage. You won't get that by teaching your scouts how to calulate OBP.

You basically need an R&D department, part of which should be statistical analysis of the drafting, development, and rating of players. Part of should probably be figuring out what your scouts should be looking at. It should go much, much deeper, but thats a start.



but a scout has to predict which waitress will be American Idol in 10 years. To be good at that is hard.

(and this is coming from someone whose record on FeLo is VERY good)

CFO of my medical school just left for his dream job: to scout for the Jays. I'm predicting a painful time for Toronto

... given that its so difficult to do, I'd think organizations would be open to anything that could help them do so. Obviously, some aren't.

GL

princeton
03-10-2006, 05:17 PM
I think that "all" you need are great scouts carrying 18% tip charts

giving out the tip chart's the easy part. It doesn't take a department or even an employee. You can even get a consultant to do that for you (I'm available, BTW)

Figuring out which scouts can see Mario Soto out of a hundred Alex Farfans and a thousand Ezubial Eyorroxys is hard.

SteelSD
03-10-2006, 06:15 PM
if you can figure out a tip, then you can figure out the stats part -- does your batter get on base more than 40 percent of the time against good pitching? Does he K less than a quarter of the time? Does your pitcher K a batter an inning, walk less than three a game against good competition?

And yet, if you went out player hunting with your eyes, a tip chart, and the criteria you listed above, you'd be ruling out many significant viable candidates for your team. You might not realize why that's true, but it is.

It's unfortunate that much of the current debate degenerates into the kind of drivel spouted by "Baseball Executive". It's also disappointing to see a continued thrust into the realm of "statistical analysis is easy". It's not, but we continue to see that contention in print while your local "Baseball Executive" grabs a Tony Womack for "Win-Efficient" negative Run Scoring. Oh, and the KC Royals still exist.

And yet, we continue to hear that statistical analysis is easy. All that's telling us is that there are a TON of folks drawing scouting and front office MLB paychecks who are too dumb to figure out that which you think you learned in half an hour. But then, it appears that you'd eliminate batters from consideration if they K more than once every four AB, so your half hour was less productive than it could have been. No mention of the importance of OBP composition. No identification that ground ball rates don't necessarily equate with HR propensity. Sorry, princeton. Those kind of mistakes are all too typical of the "stats are easy" crowd.

"Baseball Executive's" opinion divergence comment was another example of common rhetoric you'll hear from folks who have no understanding of appropriate statistical modeling and application. Just another attempt to debase that which they don't understand while, at the same time, trying to tell us that they're able to- as a group- do the same thing the "statheads" can do. It's a "well, duh" commentary that don't make sense.

I'd love to have the following conversation:

Baseball Executive: "The stathead crowd does not have opinion divergence."

Me: "Depends on what you mean. Let's face it- at some point facts are facts and if you get a bunch of smart people in a room, they'll generally agree on the facts."

Baseball Executive: "Well, duh! Of course you all like high OBP power hitters who stay healthy. We all do too. That ain't hard!"

Me: "So, if you like all the same players we do, wouldn't that mean you have your own opinion divergence problem? And if we all agree on good player versus bad player, why are you arguing?"

Baseball Executive: "Well, the reality is that there's never been that much difference between the guys that the scouts like, and the guys that the statheads like. It's really just a question of degree."

Me: "Oh, sure. I completely understand. It's why you guys pay crappy players millions of dollars to play baseball when we wouldn't."

<End conversation as Steel dodges a fist>

But that's the nuts and bolts of it. The more rhetoric tossed out there by the "Baseball Executive", the more warped and ridiculous the words get. Illogical tripe backed by nothing but an incessant need to feel that the traditional scouting community has some kind of secret code that cannot be unlocked by those who have a much better understanding of how past performance (i.e. "retrospective") directly relates to future performance.

And the "no competitive advantage" stuff is just plain garbage. Anyone here who doesn't think that Oakland or Cleveland have a competitive advantage over KC or Cinci (particularly during the O'Brien regime) or Washington is just plain nuts. That advantage is centered around the kind of R&D gonelong mentioned plus the respective teams' ability to understand and utilize objective data.

Not too difficult, I think, to figure out that both scouts and analysis are necessary tools. Both have their respective difficulties and I'm not going to get into a debate about the perceived difficulty level of each. But, man, am I getting tired of being told over and over again how something that's very hard is so very easy to people who fail to truly understand it.

RFS62
03-10-2006, 06:18 PM
The farther up the food chain you move, the more the balance shifts to statistical analysis.

There's not a lot the numbers can tell me about a high school kid playing in a metal bat league 3 or 4 times a week.

M2
03-10-2006, 06:58 PM
There's not a lot the numbers can tell me about a high school kid playing in a metal bat league 3 or 4 times a week.

True, that's where you get back to the raw athleticism and, sadly, groupthink (which is often how teams confirm that they're seeing something that's real).

Though there are some trends you can track. For instance, there seems to be a high correlation between overall athletic talent and prep left-handers who pan out. It's one of the reasons why Scott Elbert interests me more than Chad Billingsley.


Figuring out which scouts can see Mario Soto out of a hundred Alex Farfans and a thousand Ezubial Eyorroxys is hard.

Except you and I both know the scout who found Mario Soto likely endorsed hundreds of Farfans to go with him. Though Mike Keenan, who spotted something in Travis Wood last spring that others missed, intrigues me.

gonelong
03-11-2006, 01:29 AM
I think that "all" you need are great scouts carrying 18% tip charts

Until your competition comes out with a chart that not only figures out the tip, but sorts out the best restuarants to eat at.



giving out the tip chart's the easy part. It doesn't take a department or even an employee. You can even get a consultant to do that for you (I'm available, BTW)

Well, if you assume all that can be known is already known thats a great idea. No need to check on those new fangled gas engines when you already are making the best buggies money can buy.



Figuring out which scouts can see Mario Soto out of a hundred Alex Farfans and a thousand Ezubial Eyorroxys is hard.

I'd be using my R&D department to figure out not only who those guys are, but how I can teach what they know to other guys. And if I can't teach it to them, can I measure it for them?

For instance, you pretty much have to have a minimum amount of bat-speed to hit a MLB fastball. Why not set up a simple swing speed device (similar to those they use for golf) and have some guys take a bit of BP. Sure, you can't measure their pitch recognition, etc. but you could likely get a read for what type of swing speed is likely to be more successful. Measure your guys from A ball to retirement. How fast do guys lose their batspeed as they age. How many years before my aging LF can't get around on a fastball?

Now pair that with a scout that can tell you if the guy can recognize pitches, etc. Now maybe I can generate effective scouts in 5 or 10 years instead of 20. Maybe I can get my lesser scouts to see the difference between Brandon Larson and Edwin Encarnacion or guage whether to give a guy a 2 year deal or go ahead and give him the 4 year deal.

GL