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Thread: Scouting terms and being based in reality

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Scouting terms and being based in reality

    So, this evening I got into some lively discussion on twitter with 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?

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    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    I wouldn't beat myself up too much about it.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    Quote Originally Posted by edabbs44 View Post
    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.

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    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.
    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.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    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?

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    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".
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 01-27-2012 at 09:43 PM.
    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.

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    KungFu Fighter AtomicDumpling's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    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.

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    Member Captain Hook's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    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.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    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.

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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    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?
    Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one, and they don't want someone else's shoved into their face.

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    KungFu Fighter AtomicDumpling's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    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.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    Quote Originally Posted by AtomicDumpling View Post
    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....

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeS21 View Post
    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.

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    Member Captain Hook's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    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.

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    The Big Dog mth123's Avatar
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    Re: Scouting terms and being based in reality

    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.
    Last edited by mth123; 01-28-2012 at 05:09 AM.
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