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dougdirt
01-27-2012, 09:28 PM
So, this evening I got into some lively discussion on twitter with Kevin Goldstein (https://twitter.com/#!/Kevin_Goldstein) about scouting terms and their use in reality. It all started when he said:



No, there are less than 10. RT @GilFisher: @Kevin_Goldstein do you use ace and #1 interchangably? Are there 30 #1s right now?

Now, while I agree that Ace and #1 aren't interchangable, I strongly disagree that there aren't 30 #1 pitchers. So I asked:



@Kevin_Goldstein Honest question that I have never gotten an answer to that I liked: Why aren't there 30 #1's? Each team needs 5 guys.

To which he replied:



@dougdirt24 One is a scouting term, not a role.

To which I replied:



@Kevin_Goldstein I get that, but why did some scout decide that once upon a time. I can't grasp that concept.

And the discussion went on a whole lot further, but that last part seems to be the part that I simply can't get past.

Why do scouts, or why did one scout originally come to the conclusion that there weren't X (x being the number of starters per position needed for the amount of teams in baseball, since each team needs a starter at each position) number of players worthy of being starters?

Later in the discussion it was said that there aren't 30 guys worthy of being starting shortstops in baseball. As well as there are 10 #'1 and maybe 20-30 #2 and #3's combined.

That is simply where I lose the connection. If there are 30 teams in baseball and each team uses a 5 man rotation, distribution of talent says there are 30 #'1, 30 #2's, 30 #3's, 30 #4's and 30 #5's. While each team may not have a #1 guy on their team, there are a top 30 best pitchers, pitchers in the #31-60 range and so on. They aren't distributed evenly among the teams, but they can all be sorted in such a manner by whatever criteria you choose to evaluate your pitchers on.

It is one of the things that truly annoys me about scouting terms. They simply aren't based in reality. If we have 30 teams and need 30 starting shortstops, then there ARE 30 guys worthy of being a starting shortstop. They happen to be the 30 best guys. Is there a huge gap between #1 and #30, of course there is. But that doesn't mean guys #20-30 aren't worthy of starting simply because they pale in comparison to how good #1 is.

Anyways, that is my little rant for the night. Have a take on it?

edabbs44
01-27-2012, 10:02 PM
I wouldn't beat myself up too much about it.

dougdirt
01-27-2012, 10:10 PM
I wouldn't beat myself up too much about it.

I won't. I will probably only waste another 2,000 words on it elsewhere. But I am just tossing it out there as one of my annoyances with things people talk about that aren't based in reality.

RedsManRick
01-27-2012, 10:23 PM
I've always thought about it like this: Scouts think in terms of ideals. They use terms that represent that ideal setting. So a "#1" is "the guy who is the first starter on a playoff team". It's just like the whole first division / second division thing.

dougdirt
01-27-2012, 10:33 PM
I've always thought about it like this: Scouts think in terms of ideals. They use terms that represent that ideal setting. So a "#1" is "the guy who is the first starter on a playoff team". It's just like the whole first division / second division thing.

But why do they do that? And what is a "first division" and a "second division"? What was the original idea behind things like that? The best pitcher in baseball doesn't always make the playoffs. So is he not a first division starter?

RedsManRick
01-27-2012, 10:41 PM
But why do they do that? And what is a "first division" and a "second division"? What was the original idea behind things like that? The best pitcher in baseball doesn't always make the playoffs. So is he not a first division starter?

Because they spend their whole career trying to imagine what might be. It's a function of the way their jobs force them to view the world. Do you expect them to say "this guy is the kind of starter who fronts a mediocre rotation or is the 2nd starter in a good one"?

I agree with you. I find it more useful to talk about the realities things. But it's too confusing to say "in order to build a winning team you want a rotation of 2 #1's, 2 #2/3's, a 4/5".

AtomicDumpling
01-27-2012, 10:59 PM
It is definitely confusing when lots of people are using terms that have no concrete definition. People like to use lingo that makes it seem like they know what they are talking about. When you corner them to pinpoint exactly what they mean they get fuzzy.

I am like you, I want to know exactly what "#1 starter" or "Ace" means. Unfortunately it means something different to everyone and there is no standardization of terms in the scouting field.

Captain Hook
01-28-2012, 12:12 AM
Ace=top 30 starter
great=31-60
good=61-90
ok=91-120
garbage=121-150

I've never really understood assigning starting pitchers numbers 1-5 when describing how good they are or could be in the future.2000-2007 the Reds never had an ace but they always had a 1,2,3,4,5.Seems pretty simple to me.

dougdirt
01-28-2012, 12:19 AM
When it comes to pitchers, take the Top 150 best starters. The guys 1-30, are #1's. The guys 31-60 are #2's and so on. I really can't figure out what it isn't really that simple. I also can't grasp that concept that there aren't 30 worthy starters at each position. There simply has to be because a team isn't going to just not have someone at a position.

MikeS21
01-28-2012, 02:09 AM
I suppose I look at it like this. Back when Jimmy Haynes was our staff ace, yes, he was our #1 starter. But it is also a fact that if you put Jimmy Haynes on 80% of the other clubs, he would have been lucky to be their #3 pitcher.

Are they #1 starters or are they #4-#5 starters pitching at the top of the rotation?

A guy like Chris Heisey may be our starting LF. Is he a true starter or a 4th OF pushed into a starting role because the are no clear cut better options?

AtomicDumpling
01-28-2012, 02:46 AM
When it comes to pitchers, take the Top 150 best starters. The guys 1-30, are #1's. The guys 31-60 are #2's and so on. I really can't figure out what it isn't really that simple. I also can't grasp that concept that there aren't 30 worthy starters at each position. There simply has to be because a team isn't going to just not have someone at a position.

Yes that is how I use the term #1 pitcher etc as well.

What about "Ace" or "TOR starter"? Same as #1 or more restrictive?

I think TOR starter is the same as #1 starter.

Ace is reserved for perennial Cy Young contenders (maybe top 10 starters in baseball) or the guys that are consistently #1 starters every year.

dougdirt
01-28-2012, 03:03 AM
Yes that is how I use the term #1 pitcher etc as well.

What about "Ace" or "TOR starter"? Same as #1 or more restrictive?

I think TOR starter is the same as #1 starter.

Ace is reserved for perennial Cy Young contenders (maybe top 10 starters in baseball) or the guys that are consistently #1 starters every year.

TOR starter is #1 to me. Ace is not. Ace is a guy who is one of the top 15 starters in the league, consistently. Guys like Lincecum, Verlander, Lee, Halladay, Sabathia....

dougdirt
01-28-2012, 03:07 AM
I suppose I look at it like this. Back when Jimmy Haynes was our staff ace, yes, he was our #1 starter. But it is also a fact that if you put Jimmy Haynes on 80% of the other clubs, he would have been lucky to be their #3 pitcher.

Are they #1 starters or are they #4-#5 starters pitching at the top of the rotation?

A guy like Chris Heisey may be our starting LF. Is he a true starter or a 4th OF pushed into a starting role because the are no clear cut better options?

Haynes wasn't ever a #1 though. Not every team has a #1, but there are 30 #1's. Some teams have more than one.

Captain Hook
01-28-2012, 05:06 AM
Haynes wasn't ever a #1 though. Not every team has a #1, but there are 30 #1's. Some teams have more than one.

So a pitcher can be a teams #1 but not really be a #1 or a pitcher could be a #1 but not be his teams #1?

I'm not trying to be difficult but I'm sure you can understad why this could confuse someone that knows baseball teams have five starting pitchers and that they are commonly labeled 1-5 starting with the best pitcher of the group.I do get what you saying though.

mth123
01-28-2012, 05:53 AM
Its simple to me. Of those 150 starting spots, many are question marks. "First division" and "second division" goes back to the days when there were no divisions. Contending teams were considered 1st division and non-contending teams were considered second division. So a guy who was a number 1 starter was a guy who was considered good enough to be a starter that the contending team would want pitching the first game of the World Series (and thereby possibly getting 3 starts in a 7 game series). A number 2 was a guy who was a very good pitcher who would easiiy be one of those number 1's in a 30 of each distribution but was clearly a cut below the number 1s who were basically the annual Cy Young contenders (not guys who might put it together and win one in a career year like Steve Stone for example, but more like guys who were in the conversation every year like Tom Seaver and Bob Gibson). If you weren't one of those guys, you weren't (and aren't) a number 1. A number 3 is an above average to good pitcher who a team would be perfectly confident in as a play-off starter. A number 4 would be those rotation fillers who might be the best guy on a crummy team, but a good team wouldn't want to start a post season game (back when the post season was shorter). There really aren't number 5's. All the rest are question marks. They either aren't established, are coming off of injury or just not very good but may or may not get a lot of starts simply because there aren't enough quality starters for the number of slots. I haven't gone through the rosters and classified each pitcher, but I'd guess there are 10 to 12 numbers 1's, 20 to 25 number 2's, maybe 30 to 35 number 3s and another 30 to 40 number 4s. The rest are question marks.

On the Reds, I'd call Latos a number 2, Cueto a number 3, Arroyo and Leake are number 4s. Bailey, Chapman and everybody else they may try are question marks. So when a scouting report says a guy has a number 3 ceiling, they are saying he's potentially one of the top 60 or so starters in baseball.

Eric_the_Red
01-28-2012, 08:59 AM
This sounds like a Seinfield routine.

_Sir_Charles_
01-28-2012, 10:45 AM
So a pitcher can be a teams #1 but not really be a #1 or a pitcher could be a #1 but not be his teams #1?

I'm not trying to be difficult but I'm sure you can understad why this could confuse someone that knows baseball teams have five starting pitchers and that they are commonly labeled 1-5 starting with the best pitcher of the group.I do get what you saying though.

Yeah, it could be confusing. And what's more is WHO does this ranking of starting pitchers 1-150?

But Doug's way, a club could easily have a #2, #4, #4, #4, #5 starting rotation. Now it does show rather quickly and easily how good their rotation is without having to look up all the individual stats. But my biggest problem with it is that it's all still based upon some guy's arbitrary ranking of the top 1-150 pitchers to begin with.

jojo
01-28-2012, 12:15 PM
To me the apparent divide makes sense pretty much... Consider the Reds of the lost decade. Paul Wilson was never a #1 starter though it couldve been argued that he may have been one based upon a definition of him being the best starter on the Reds rotation. Same for Arroyo in 2006 despite logging the most innings for the Reds while posting an ERA that was 4th best in the NL and .5 lower than the next best Reds starter.

Scouts base their opinions on stuff (an estimate of true skill based upon tools). The #1 pitcher on a team is defined by single season production relative to the talent distribution of the small subset of major league players on a 25 man roster.

To me, the scouts definition is much closer to my intuitive sense of a #1 starter than simply ranking pitchers on a roster.

Big Klu
01-28-2012, 12:47 PM
So a pitcher can be a teams #1 but not really be a #1 or a pitcher could be a #1 but not be his teams #1?

I'm not trying to be difficult but I'm sure you can understad why this could confuse someone that knows baseball teams have five starting pitchers and that they are commonly labeled 1-5 starting with the best pitcher of the group.I do get what you saying though.

The Atlanta Braves of the 90's had Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. That's three #1's.

RANDY IN INDY
01-28-2012, 01:27 PM
To me the apparent divide makes sense pretty much... Consider the Reds of the lost decade. Paul Wilson was never a #1 starter though it couldve been argued that he may have been one based upon a definition of him being the best starter on the Reds rotation. Same for Arroyo in 2006 despite logging the most innings for the Reds while posting an ERA that was 4th best in the NL and .5 lower than the next best Reds starter.

Scouts base their opinions on stuff (an estimate of true skill based upon tools). The #1 pitcher on a team is defined by single season production relative to the talent distribution of the small subset of major league players on a 25 man roster.

To me, the scouts definition is much closer to my intuitive sense of a #1 starter than simply ranking pitchers on a roster.

Agree.:beerme:

RedsManRick
01-28-2012, 02:28 PM
I think Doug's point is that it's not clear how scouts ever arrived at their definitions. In what way at all is their idea of a "#3" in line with a team's 3rd starter? I think this paints a pretty clear picture.

I took the 150 pitchers with the most IP in 2011 and sorted them in to quintiles (1-30, 31-60, etc.). I then sorted by each IP, ERA and FIP separately and looked at the guy at the top of the quintile and a guy in the middle of it. Here's what I came up with:



Best IP ERA FIP Examples
#1 (1st) 251 2.28 2.20 Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander
#2 (31st) 206 3.28 3.36 CJ Wilson, Justin Masterson
#3 (61st) 188 3.68 3.80 Jon Lester, Paul Maholm
#4 (91st) 163 4.27 4.12 Carl Pavano, Jeff Niemann
#5 (121st) 134 4.75 4.53 Mike Pelfrey, Wade Davis

Median
#1 (15th) 222 2.89 3.06 Dan Haren, Cole Hamels
#2 (45th) 196 3.47 3.59 Matt Harrison, Edwin Jackson
#3 (75th) 179 3.83 4.01 Derek Holland, Bud Norris
#4 (105th) 154 4.45 4.27 Josh Tomlin, Jonathan Sanchez
#5 (135th) 114 5.07 4.82 AJ Burnett, Kevin Correia

I think that paints a bit of a picture. Scouts think of the guy at the top of the range, the ideal, not the typical guy.

Captain Hook
01-28-2012, 03:30 PM
I agree with you. I find it more useful to talk about the realities things. But it's too confusing to say "in order to build a winning team you want a rotation of 2 #1's, 2 #2/3's, a 4/5".

If you wanted to talk about the rotation as a whole maybe you could take the average of the five starters and use that number as a standard for what a good rotation should be.Using your example, you could just say you need to shoot for a rotation with a 3.2. This still needs the original problem that Doug has to be worked out but I could see it as a useful and more understood number.

IslandRed
01-28-2012, 04:20 PM
I think that paints a bit of a picture. Scouts think of the guy at the top of the range, the ideal, not the typical guy.

I think that's probably a good way to look at it. Yes, technically the 30th-best pitcher in baseball could be defined as a #1 starter, but he'd only be a #1 on that one team. I think scouts want their evaluations to be independent of team context, so if they say "#1" it could be interpreted as "more often than not."

jojo
01-28-2012, 04:25 PM
Look at it this way.... a team in the playoff chase wants to trade for a number one pitcher.... which definition makes more sense...the scout's or the alternative?

I'd target arms on the scout's list.

dougdirt
01-28-2012, 05:32 PM
I think Doug's point is that it's not clear how scouts ever arrived at their definitions. In what way at all is their idea of a "#3" in line with a team's 3rd starter? I think this paints a pretty clear picture.

(cut)

Scouts think of the guy at the top of the range, the ideal, not the typical guy.

That is my point, kind of. Again, it goes back to saying that there are only about 10 #1's and only about 20 combined #2 and #3's. That simply doesn't make any sense because that brings us to 30 pitchers, or to distribute the talent evenly among all teams, 1 pitcher per team that makes up all #1, #2 and #3 starters. Even if you look at the top of the range of that, rather than the ideal, that still doesn't quite add up.

To go further, as KG said, there aren't 30 worthy starting shortstops in baseball. But there clearly have to be. There is a difference between the idea of what a starting shortstop should be and what one of the 30 best shortstops in baseball actually is.

RedsManRick
01-28-2012, 06:19 PM
That is my point, kind of. Again, it goes back to saying that there are only about 10 #1's and only about 20 combined #2 and #3's. That simply doesn't make any sense because that brings us to 30 pitchers, or to distribute the talent evenly among all teams, 1 pitcher per team that makes up all #1, #2 and #3 starters. Even if you look at the top of the range of that, rather than the ideal, that still doesn't quite add up.

To go further, as KG said, there aren't 30 worthy starting shortstops in baseball. But there clearly have to be. There is a difference between the idea of what a starting shortstop should be and what one of the 30 best shortstops in baseball actually is.

I'm with you, Doug. But I think you're starting from a different point. You're using a perspective which considers all 30 teams. From the scouting perspective, they're looking for a guy that, if you had a team full of them, would put you in the playoffs. They are operating from the premise of building a winner, not analyzing the whole league. All of their language is based on that idea.

So when they say "#1", they're taking the sole perspective of "If I'm talking to my GM, do I want him to view this guy as who we'd want in that role?" Yeah, there's a lot of interpretation there. It's a highly contextualized interpretation, but it's functional for the way they think.

The guy who is good enough to be in the majors, but would be below average for his position, is not what you want to target if you're building a winner. You don't think of building an 81 win team and then finding better players. You think in terms of building 92-95 wins from the start.

You don't want to be in that position of saying "he's a number 1", having your GM target him as your best starter, and then putting an 76 win team on the field in part because he's in the bottom half of the top 30 starters.

I've always been confused by this too, but I think I've basically figured it out.

mth123
01-28-2012, 06:35 PM
That is my point, kind of. Again, it goes back to saying that there are only about 10 #1's and only about 20 combined #2 and #3's. That simply doesn't make any sense because that brings us to 30 pitchers, or to distribute the talent evenly among all teams, 1 pitcher per team that makes up all #1, #2 and #3 starters. Even if you look at the top of the range of that, rather than the ideal, that still doesn't quite add up.

To go further, as KG said, there aren't 30 worthy starting shortstops in baseball. But there clearly have to be. There is a difference between the idea of what a starting shortstop should be and what one of the 30 best shortstops in baseball actually is.

But the talent isn't evenly distributed. A lot of team's suck and the pitchers aren't any good. When you want to build a winning roster, you'd want to exclude the crummy ones from the standard. Its the same reason that league average is really below average. If you want a guy who is a midling player among contending teams, he would need to be better than average, which includes a lot of back-ups and crummy guys dragging the average down. Those other guys are ok as stopgaps and fillers and contenders will have some, but those are the spots they look to upgrade at the deadline.

Play-off caliber rosters are exclusive clubs. You don't want to include all players in the equation of what you'd want. I'd wager that pretty much any play-off team would be pretty uncomfortable with the 90th or even 75th best starter in baseball penciled in to start a play-off game.

IslandRed
01-28-2012, 06:50 PM
To go further, as KG said, there aren't 30 worthy starting shortstops in baseball. But there clearly have to be. There is a difference between the idea of what a starting shortstop should be and what one of the 30 best shortstops in baseball actually is.

At that point, you have to stop and consider that there is no consensus on who the 30 best shortstops are. Start going down the list and somewhere around #20, they start looking awfully interchangeable. Ask a dozen different scouts and GMs and you might end up with 20-25 different guys that appear in that #21-30 area.

So, building on what the other guys have said, if you're a scout looking for someone who could help the team win, "starting shortstop" to you means someone that pretty much everyone agrees is starter quality. Not so much that large pool of borderline candidates that either start or don't depending on their team situation.

mth123
01-28-2012, 07:07 PM
At that point, you have to stop and consider that there is no consensus on who the 30 best shortstops are. Start going down the list and somewhere around #20, they start looking awfully interchangeable. Ask a dozen different scouts and GMs and you might end up with 20-25 different guys that appear in that #21-30 area.

So, building on what the other guys have said, if you're a scout looking for someone who could help the team win, "starting shortstop" to you means someone that pretty much everyone agrees is starter quality. Not so much that large pool of borderline candidates that either start or don't depending on their team situation.

Exactly. Sometimes you'll even see a scouting report specifically saying that a guy could be a starter for a non-contending team but would be a bench payer on a good team. We see it all the time. A player plays several years and fills a big role on a crummy team and then a contender goes out and gets him as bench strength. There is definitely a distinction between starting SS for a good team and starting SS for other teams. Ronny Cedeno is an example of a starting SS, but my guess is he'd be a utility IF on a contending team and if he was the best option they had, they'd make a quick move to upgrade.

When scouts are using this shorthand distinction, they're talking from the perspective of building a winner.

AtomicDumpling
01-28-2012, 07:15 PM
If you asked 10 scouts to define the term "#1 Starter" you would get 10 different definitions. That is the problem. Everybody is using the same term to mean different things. It doesn't matter to me which interpretation of the term we use as long as we are all using the same definition. Then it will have meaning. Right now, the term "#1 Starter" has no meaning and does not advance a discussion.

mth123
01-28-2012, 07:24 PM
If you asked 10 scouts to define the term "#1 Starter" you would get 10 different definitions. That is the problem. Everybody is using the same term to mean different things. It doesn't matter to me which interpretation of the term we use as long as we are all using the same definition. Then it will have meaning. Right now, the term "#1 Starter" has no meaning and does not advance a discussion.

I don't really believe that issue exists among scouts. Some scouts may have a different opinion of what a player is capable of, but I think the shorthand for the standard is fairly consistent among scouts.

Posters on a message board, talking heads and people who write about prospects, OTOH, are a whole different thing.

jojo
01-28-2012, 07:27 PM
Truthfully it's not a term that is useful enough to need an explicit definition IMHO.

AtomicDumpling
01-28-2012, 07:36 PM
I don't really believe that issue exists among scouts. Some scouts may have a different opinion of what a player is capable of, but I think the shorthand for the standard is fairly consistent among scouts.

Posters on a message board, talking heads and people who write about prospects, OTOH, are a whole different thing.

Yes the issue definitely exists among scouts. That much is patently obvious. That is why DougDirt, who is basically a professional self-employed scout, raised the issue in this thread.

traderumor
01-28-2012, 07:55 PM
Haynes wasn't ever a #1 though. Not every team has a #1, but there are 30 #1's. Some teams have more than one.I'm not trying to be smart, but if every team doesn't have a #1 and some teams have more than 1, then why the arbitrary number of 30 #1 starters? Why wouldn't it be 20, or 40?

mth123
01-28-2012, 08:06 PM
I'm not trying to be smart, but if every team doesn't have a #1 and some teams have more than 1, then why the arbitrary number of 30 #1 starters? Why wouldn't it be 20, or 40?

Exaclty. Its about caliber not role.

AtomicDumpling
01-28-2012, 08:08 PM
I'm not trying to be smart, but if every team doesn't have a #1 and some teams have more than 1, then why the arbitrary number of 30 #1 starters? Why wouldn't it be 20, or 40?

The point is to be able to compare pitchers around the league. If you just did it by team then you would have some guys that are the best starter on a bad team ranking higher than a much better pitcher on another team that is only the 3rd best pitcher on his team.

While Jimmy Haynes was the Reds' #1 starter a few years ago, he was not worthy of being even a #4 starter on any other team. So to call him a #1 starter is extremely misleading.

There are 30 teams in major league baseball. If you distributed the 30 best pitchers in baseball evenly throughout the league then each team would have a #1 starter. Then do the same for the next 30 best pitchers in baseball to find the #2 starters and so on. That gives you a much better and more useful indication of talent. So if a prospect is projected to be a #2 starter it actually gives you a meaningful comparison of what that scout's opinion of the pitcher's future ability will be like amongst MLB pitchers as a whole.

IslandRed
01-28-2012, 08:40 PM
Yes the issue definitely exists among scouts. That much is patently obvious. That is why DougDirt, who is basically a professional self-employed scout, raised the issue in this thread.

I have a feeling that if Doug went to work for the Reds or any other team, the issue would be cleared up in short order. The scouting director can't rely on reports from his scouts if he doesn't know what they're trying to say, and having each scout speak his own language is too much hassle.

AtomicDumpling
01-28-2012, 09:49 PM
I have a feeling that if Doug went to work for the Reds or any other team, the issue would be cleared up in short order. The scouting director can't rely on reports from his scouts if he doesn't know what they're trying to say, and having each scout speak his own language is too much hassle.

Maybe the scouts for one team use the same lingo, but it is very clear scouts across baseball in general do not. Hence this thread.

traderumor
01-28-2012, 10:02 PM
The point is to be able to compare pitchers around the league. If you just did it by team then you would have some guys that are the best starter on a bad team ranking higher than a much better pitcher on another team that is only the 3rd best pitcher on his team.

While Jimmy Haynes was the Reds' #1 starter a few years ago, he was not worthy of being even a #4 starter on any other team. So to call him a #1 starter is extremely misleading.

There are 30 teams in major league baseball. If you distributed the 30 best pitchers in baseball evenly throughout the league then each team would have a #1 starter. Then do the same for the next 30 best pitchers in baseball to find the #2 starters and so on. That gives you a much better and more useful indication of talent. So if a prospect is projected to be a #2 starter it actually gives you a meaningful comparison of what that scout's opinion of the pitcher's future ability will be like amongst MLB pitchers as a whole.I know you can't do it by team, but I am saying that logic dictates that the number could be something other than 30. Honestly, I think the whole thing passes the duck test and people who understand MLB can distinguish without making arbitrary dividing lines. And I think that could result in more or less than the number of teams in the league.

AtomicDumpling
01-28-2012, 10:08 PM
I know you can't do it by team, but I am saying that logic dictates that the number could be something other than 30. Honestly, I think the whole thing passes the duck test and people who understand MLB can distinguish without making arbitrary dividing lines. And I think that could result in more or less than the number of teams in the league.

Yeah I could live with that. Just as long as everyone uses the same definition. Otherwise the conversation is meaningless.

RANDY IN INDY
01-28-2012, 10:40 PM
The conversation is pretty meaningless anyways because I don't figure there are many scouts that care what anyone thinks on a message board. When a really good scout speaks about players, most baseball people know what he is talking about and how to interpret his analysis and wording.

dougdirt
01-28-2012, 11:47 PM
You don't want to be in that position of saying "he's a number 1", having your GM target him as your best starter, and then putting an 76 win team on the field in part because he's in the bottom half of the top 30 starters.

I've always been confused by this too, but I think I've basically figured it out.

If you are a 76 win team it isn't going to matter if you have Roy Halladay instead of David Price, you aren't reaching the playoffs.

dougdirt
01-28-2012, 11:52 PM
But the talent isn't evenly distributed. A lot of team's suck and the pitchers aren't any good. When you want to build a winning roster, you'd want to exclude the crummy ones from the standard. Its the same reason that league average is really below average. If you want a guy who is a midling player among contending teams, he would need to be better than average, which includes a lot of back-ups and crummy guys dragging the average down. Those other guys are ok as stopgaps and fillers and contenders will have some, but those are the spots they look to upgrade at the deadline.

Play-off caliber rosters are exclusive clubs. You don't want to include all players in the equation of what you'd want. I'd wager that pretty much any play-off team would be pretty uncomfortable with the 90th or even 75th best starter in baseball penciled in to start a play-off game.

I am not saying every opening day starter is a #1 though. I am saying the 30 best starters in baseball are. The "crummy ones" are still among the best 150 starters in baseball (5 starters, 30 teams). You must include those guys, because they exist. The Cardinals won the world series this past season without a starter posting an ERA+ over 107, or what likely adds up to being a #3 type of starter. The Cardinals went to war with a few #3 type of starters based on how they performed in the regular season compared to league average and they won.

dougdirt
01-28-2012, 11:56 PM
I'm not trying to be smart, but if every team doesn't have a #1 and some teams have more than 1, then why the arbitrary number of 30 #1 starters? Why wouldn't it be 20, or 40?

Because some teams can afford better players, so the talent isn't distributed evenly. But, if we were to have a draft, by position, the first 30 pitchers selected would ideally be the 30 best pitchers taken, and each team would have one of those guys. When each team needs "one of each" then that position has X starters (X being the number of players needed at that position to start multiplied by the number of teams out there).

dougdirt
01-28-2012, 11:58 PM
I know you can't do it by team, but I am saying that logic dictates that the number could be something other than 30. Honestly, I think the whole thing passes the duck test and people who understand MLB can distinguish without making arbitrary dividing lines. And I think that could result in more or less than the number of teams in the league.

But they can't. That is why Jim Bowden says Mat Latos isn't a #1, but other places say he is. That is why Jim Bowden says that Michael Pineda has #1 potential, but some places say he is a potential #2.

RANDY IN INDY
01-29-2012, 12:19 AM
But they can't. That is why Jim Bowden says Mat Latos isn't a #1, but other places say he is. That is why Jim Bowden says that Michael Pineda has #1 potential, but some places say he is a potential #2.

Don't you think that different scouts, different front office personnel, field managers and coaches are always going to have different perceptions of players and how they fit, regardless of the language being spoken? Regardless of the stats they put up, certain players, particularly young players, will have different potential based on who is grading them and what they perceive is there. Certain organizations sometimes value some things more than others and needs play a big part.

RedlegJake
01-29-2012, 01:00 AM
It depends on the role. Are you asking for the 30 best starters in baseball period regardless of team, or the 30 best restricted to 1 per team? Two different things entirely.
So just saying #1 could mean very different things - it a loose term that can have very different meanings depending on who and how it is being applied. Personally I look at a #1 as a role on each team independent of league wide talent - meaning restricted to each team. Atlanta's #1 may be no better than Saint Louis' #3 but he is still the #1 in Atlanta. Now ace is different to me. An ace is a league wide definition - not every team has an ace, some teams have 2 or 3. To me an ace is a guy who pitches so consistently and so well you normally expect to win every time he pitches. You don't, of course, but you still have the expectation of winning every time out. Lincecum, Lee, Cueto (yes, I have Johnny in that class - I expect the Reds to win every time he pitches)those guys are aces.