"On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me."
Technology hasn't just enabled us to find out things scouts couldn't tell us before; it's enabled scouts to do their jobs better, if they care to use the tools. The NFL guy whose whole day is spent breaking down video and entering the relevant data points into the computer, or the assistant coach watching every snap of a kid's collegiate career, grading not just results but technique and effort -- are they scouts or performance analysts? Either, and both, and the distinction isn't really important.
Similarly, the hypothetical "top 5 AL shortstops" question -- a scout cannot watch enough games in person to make a solid determination. But he can watch enough video to do it, if he has access to the right video and the right tools.
If I was a GM or in charge of player development, I'd have a top-notch video setup for every one of my affiliates, and access to the video cataloging system the big club has. Whatever I needed to know beyond the stats, I could pull up the video and find out. And for all I know, some teams are already doing this.
Not all who wander are lost
Scouts are able to evaluate the things that stats can not. Bat speed, foot speed, reaction time, jumps, etc are all things that scouts can give a description based upon. When Andruw Jones was in shape he was one of the best CF's in the game. He got such a good jump off the ball that he was able to play a shallow CF. This allowed him to get to more balls and pitchers loved having him play CF.
However I will say the Reds haven't had great suggest bringing guys up in the past, but last year they did pretty darn good and while they won't bring up a Votto/Cueto/Bruce type every year, they also brought up a Thompson, Roenicke, Dickerson, Hanigan, Ramirez and Herrera. All of whom showed some success when used correctly. Those types of players are the kinds of guys who can start coming up every year with a real good guy mixed in every now and again.
Not everyone can make it, but the Reds are at a point where not everyone making it doesn't hurt so much because the depth is there that the next guy can step up now. In the past if the top 5 prospects didn't pan out you were left with 26 year old AAA lifers. Times are changing.
Not all who wander are lost
Scouts assess actions. Stats assess outcomes. Both are necessary and shouldn't be considered substitutes. The problems arise when we try to measure one with the other.
Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.
Please let me say my earlier post was not meant to be a shot at Doug.
Like I said I love and respect the work that Doug puts into the Minor League side of this forum. I'm not very good at putting my thoughts into words, or making a clear point of what I'm trying to say.
What I was saying is Doug, or anyone else can look at the numbers and pretty much give us the same or even better information than some of the tired/lazy Scouts on MLB payroll.
Sure there are some Scouts worth their weight in gold, for everyone of those there are a dozen guys that tell their employers exactly what they want to hear.
The lazy ones move from one Club to another, they will always have a job because of Who they know not because of What they know.
They are human beings with many of the same virtues and vises as anyone else.