Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Monday, August 21, 2017

Can Scouts and Statcast Coexist? | FanGraphs Baseball

Yes, still beating this dead topic. At least there is a new spin.

“I think context on a personal level,” Daniels said. “I think in general, when we talk about evaluating players, that is the piece [missing]… You’re not there everyday. And that includes myself… That’s becoming more and more the skill of the scouts; their top responsibility is to identify that context. Identify that personal piece… that is an element you cannot access unless you are on the ground. The best scouts are able to fill in that blank.”

Jim Furtado Posted: August 21, 2017 at 10:25 AM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros, scouting

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. villageidiom Posted: August 21, 2017 at 11:11 AM (#5517849)
Perhaps if we could arrange a roundtable discussion between the stats folks and the scouts. I bet that would be interesting.
   2. DavidFoss Posted: August 21, 2017 at 11:31 AM (#5517858)
I know this is clickbait, but what's the issue? If the Cape-Atlantic League's parks were all equipped with a dozen high-def cameras each then Mike Trout doesn't slip to 25th in the first round?

At the major league level, it seems like it would just be used to suggest shift alignments and perhaps aid in outfielder instruction. But evaluation? Are they upset that they no longer set the conventional wisdom which used to pick the gold glove?

The picture of 'scouts' in my head is that they're on the road all the time watching HS and college games, talking to the kids coaches and stuff. What does any of that have to do with statcast?
   3. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 21, 2017 at 12:09 PM (#5517887)
The picture of 'scouts' in my head is that they're on the road all the time watching HS and college games, talking to the kids coaches and stuff. What does any of that have to do with statcast?

Exactly. And I think that's what Travis Sawchik and Jon Daniels are suggesting in the article, that Statcast (or systems like it) can handle the mechanical stuff that scouts do and free up the scouts to focus more on things that the technology doesn't do and which is hard to do when you're not physically at the game.

There were times when I was going to minor league games regularly that I would try to watch a particular player rather than the game itself. I'd watching how he reacted on the field - where he was positioned, how he moved around, how he reacted to situations, what Daniels calls the "flow of the game". (Personally I found this really hard to do, by the way - as a fan you're typically following the ball rather than the player.) I think that's going to be the role for the scout going forward.

-- MWE
   4. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2017 at 06:15 PM (#5518133)
Basically, if you could put Statcast (or some cheap equivalent) into high schools, then there's no more need for the 20-80 ratings of arm, speed, power, etc. you'd have direct measurements of those. To the extent those are measures of a player's physical potential, that would be one aspect of a scout's job gone. If you want to measure the social/psychological "potential", you're better off hiring a psych grad student. (not that I put much stock in such things but I don't put much stock in scout ratings of such things either.) The flow of game stuff potentially could be done through video.

But none of that technology stuff sounds too economically feasible, especially relative to scouts who aren't exactly paid a ton. Maybe if statcast Lite can be put into an app, you'd have something. That said, I'm not sure any of that needs the precision of statcast. We're not calling balls and strikes, I assume the break angle on some kid's slider is not an important predictor of the future -- they'll teach him that later, they just want to know how hard does he throw and is he reasonably accurate. If the kid is fast enough to be a key component of his potential, he's probably running track too and you've got plenty of his speed readings there -- if not, stick him on a track and tell him to run as fast as he can. Or just start having NFL style combines where you do have statcast set up.
   5. Jim Furtado Posted: August 21, 2017 at 10:59 PM (#5518256)
Amateur and professional scouting are two different things. While amateur scouting still needs scouts to handle radar guns and stopwatches, professional scouts no longer need such gadgets.

It makes sense, now that teams can quantify stuff like speed, arm strength, etc. with technology, they want their scouts to focus on the softer intel (stuff like makeup and work ethic). It also makes sense, now that teams can systematically track that soft intel, there will be occasional upheavals in scouting departments.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: August 22, 2017 at 05:48 PM (#5518827)
But how much "soft intel" do you need about ML players, how hard is it to obtain, are scouts any better at obtaining it? Is some Cub scout going to get more about Alex Avila out of Brad Ausmus than Joe Maddon is? Or Epstein talking to Avila Sr (OK, he might be biased :-). No doubt there's an informal grapevine among the players about who the clubhouse jerks are.

Pro scouting has always been kind of a weird thing. The "advance scout" who's trying to find out how to pitch Ryan Braun (or to run on Lucas Duda's arm) made some sense but doesn't anymore with statcast. But the pro scout who's telling you "Yu Darvish is pitching well, trading for him would be fine" never seemed very useful to me. I suppose you wanted somebody to hold a radar gun on Darvish but that's not skilled work. Beyond that, look at his stats. Does the scout then take the clubhouse guy out, get him drunk, and learn all the Darvish dirt?

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.



<< Back to main


All News | Prime News

Old-School Newsstand

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF


Thanks to
LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim
for his generous support.


You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOrtiz: Plea to consider 'character' alters Hall of Fame vote | Jose de Jesus Ortiz |
(47 - 4:33am, Nov 25)
Last: PreservedFish

NewsblogMLB Sets Record For Revenues In 2017, Increasing More Than $500 Million Since 2015
(5 - 4:24am, Nov 25)
Last: Lest we forget

NewsblogHall makes room for an "idiot" on the ballot
(32 - 1:35am, Nov 25)
Last: John Northey

NewsblogOTP 20 November 2017: Sheriff’s official suspended 10 days over Cubs World Series sneak-in
(895 - 1:09am, Nov 25)
Last: Joyful Calculus Instructor

NewsblogOT - NBA 2017-2018 Tip-off Thread
(1521 - 12:49am, Nov 25)
Last: tshipman

NewsblogOT - November* 2017 College Football thread
(224 - 12:34am, Nov 25)
Last: Gold Star - just Gold Star

NewsblogOT - 2017 NFL thread
(190 - 11:43pm, Nov 24)
Last: PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina

NewsblogFinding the best spot for Giancarlo Stanton
(13 - 10:32pm, Nov 24)
Last: Don Malcolm

NewsblogWho, me?! Why your team's next closer will probably be a total surprise -- even to him
(8 - 9:45pm, Nov 24)
Last: JJ1986

NewsblogThe fault in Dipoto's (prospective) stars - Lookout Landing
(1 - 8:50pm, Nov 24)
Last: ReggieThomasLives

NewsblogJoe Morgan Wants To Keep Steroid Cheats Out Of Baseball Hall Of Fame | MLB |
(192 - 7:25pm, Nov 24)
Last: bachslunch

NewsblogRyan Thibs has his HOF Ballot Tracker Up and Running!
(64 - 7:10pm, Nov 24)
Last: John DiFool2

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-24-2017
(11 - 4:37pm, Nov 24)
Last: RJ in TO

NewsblogFavorite Thanksgiving recipes from MLB |
(8 - 2:12pm, Nov 24)
Last: simpleton & childlike gef the talking mongoose

NewsblogA Discussion of WAR Wherein I Ardently Attempt to Avoid any WAR-Related Puns |
(62 - 10:30am, Nov 24)
Last: Dr. Chaleeko

Page rendered in 0.3069 seconds
47 querie(s) executed