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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Greg zaun’s distaste for baseball America

Can’t easily quote, but zaun says “it’s a garbage publication in my opinion”.

Paul d mobile Posted: June 19, 2012 at 08:17 AM | 20 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: scouting

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   1. Greg K Posted: June 19, 2012 at 10:17 AM (#4160929)
I miss Gregg Zaun the player.

So few players nowadays would have their promo shots done in a public washroom.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 19, 2012 at 10:20 AM (#4160935)
I am kinda surprised Goldstein doesn't say they have they're own in-house scouts looking at players. I know they can't afford to have scouts covering every team but I kinda thought they at least had some guys going around the country looking at players, or at least tape of players. Do they not?
   3. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: June 19, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4160945)
Baseball America has been around long enough that someone should be able to take a systematic look at how their prospect rankings have fared. I'd be curious how they compare to other publications (like BPro, as they are compared to in this article, although the latter hasn't been around as long).
   4. The Good Face Posted: June 19, 2012 at 10:58 AM (#4160957)
I miss Gregg Zaun the player.

So few players nowadays would have their promo shots done in a public washroom.


We'll always have the Zauntourage to remind us of him.
   5. Tricky Dick Posted: June 19, 2012 at 11:01 AM (#4160961)
Do the teams themselves use Baseball America? Though I'm sure that they review BA, I doubt that the teams rely upon Baseball America rankings. All of the major league organizations have extensive scouting systems with their own reports for both their own players and other teams' players. I don't think that they would disregard the work of their own organization's scouts in order to rely on BA for decisions. I think Baseball America is mostly for fans and baseball junkies. While I agree that major league organizations probably are biased toward their own prospects, I'm not sure I agree that GMs think that they can increase the trading return for their prospects by influencing BA.
   6. Danny Posted: June 19, 2012 at 11:12 AM (#4160975)
I'd guess teams subscribe to Prospects Plus to make sure they're not missing out on kids.
   7. Barnaby Jones Posted: June 19, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4161091)
I am kinda surprised Goldstein doesn't say they have they're own in-house scouts looking at players. I know they can't afford to have scouts covering every team but I kinda thought they at least had some guys going around the country looking at players, or at least tape of players. Do they not?


Not really. I mean, BP has Jason Parks who spends a goodly chunk of time watching minor leaguers, (a) he's just one guy, and he certainly doesn't see every prospect; (b) I think it is generous to call him a "scout," since he's stated that if he could get hired by an MLB club, he would already being do that. At this point he's still an amateur/hobbyist who is dedicated and writes pretty; and (c) Goldstein makings his rankings independent of Parks' evaluations, based on his own sources.
   8. andrewreinsch Posted: June 19, 2012 at 01:22 PM (#4161105)
From the article:
The flaws in this type of system are immense. In addition to asking readers to trust the writer’s ability to discern the bias of the organization, readers also must trust that the writer’s contacts are plentiful enough to get an accurate overall picture.


I'm willing to be corrected, but didn't he just describe reporting? The writers cultivate sources that they trust, talk to them, and fashion a story out of the information. Past that, we decide for ourselves whether to take a writer's word for it.

I also spoke with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, who told me about his own methods for compiling team rankings. He also amalgamates the opinions of scouts and industry insiders, but he will purposefully avoid speaking with members of the actual organization he’s ranking. Instead, he specifically seeks out scouts from other organizations in order to get a less biased opinion of a player.


That sounds better, but I'm not sure it's actually the case. If we suppose that the temptation for an organization source is to pump up their own players, wouldn't somebody from a different organization be tempted to the same degree to take the air out of somebody else's guy?
   9. bigglou115 Posted: June 19, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4161124)
That sounds better, but I'm not sure it's actually the case. If we suppose that the temptation for an organization source is to pump up their own players, wouldn't somebody from a different organization be tempted to the same degree to take the air out of somebody else's guy?


Yeah, I tend to agree that the problem isn't just using sources from the system the player is in, but anybody who draws a paycheck from a major league team. That said... I think the benefits outweigh the problems.

BA isn't going to change a major league organizations mind, so their rankings are really just for us, so the value of lying is minimalized. Would I rather have a slightly biased ranking of 25-30 players in every farm system? Or would I rather have whatever the staffers at BA could put together?
   10. Moeball Posted: June 19, 2012 at 02:14 PM (#4161153)
I often wonder about the validity of BA's rankings. They keep telling me the Padres have a great farm system with all this talent but I just don't see it.

For example, the Padres hyped Rizzo based on BA's reports (mainly to take people's minds off of the fact that the Pads could actually afford to keep Adrian Gonzalez but weren't going to - that's a different topic for another day, though) - then they brought Rizzo up last year and he hit worse than some pitchers (in 150+ PA - maybe it's not enough to judge, but maybe it is).

Yes, Anthony was only 21 last season but he's 3 months older than Giancarlo Stanton and Stanton didn't have any trouble hitting 34 Homers last year.

Maybe Rizzo will go on to have a fine career with the Cubs - maybe he was just rushed too soon last year. But I wonder if I will ever see all this Padres farm system "potential" come to fruition.
   11. Swedish Chef Posted: June 19, 2012 at 02:19 PM (#4161167)
wouldn't somebody from a different organization be tempted to the same degree to take the air out of somebody else's guy?

They certainly wouldn't be expected to bring up any sleepers they have their tabs on.
   12. bigglou115 Posted: June 19, 2012 at 02:21 PM (#4161169)
I often wonder about the validity of BA's rankings. They keep telling me the Padres have a great farm system with all this talent but I just don't see it.


I also wonder if teams try to manipulate the rankings away form some guys. The Braves made a not insubstantial offer to Beachy the second they saw him, specifically because they didn't want other teams to see him and outbid them. They knew they had something, but nobody outside saw it. I have to think that's at least largely in part to the Braves just not telling anyone about him.
   13. Jim Callis Posted: June 19, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4161178)
For anyone to suggest that we compile our organization Top 30 lists rankings solely or primarily on the input of those organizations is silly. We talk to the organizations because they have greater depth of information on their players than anyone else will. At the same time, we have several sources outside the organization as well. I'd say that for most players on the top halves of the Top 30s, we have at least a half-dozen reports from outside the organization.

My experience, and I've been working for Baseball America for 20 years, is that organizations want the information about their players to be accurate. I can't think of the last time an organization tried to give me false or misleading information. Additionally, I can't think of the last time I did a Top 30 list and didn't hear from someone within the organization that I was too high or low on specific players. The rankings are ours and ours alone, and the teams have no input on where players fall on our lists.
   14. NJ in DC (Now with temporary employment!) Posted: June 19, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4161233)
For example, the Padres hyped Rizzo based on BA's reports (mainly to take people's minds off of the fact that the Pads could actually afford to keep Adrian Gonzalez but weren't going to - that's a different topic for another day, though) - then they brought Rizzo up last year and he hit worse than some pitchers (in 150+ PA - maybe it's not enough to judge, but maybe it is).

K rate + PCL.
   15. MM1f Posted: June 19, 2012 at 04:01 PM (#4161306)
Yes, Anthony was only 21 last season but he's 3 months older than Giancarlo Stanton and Stanton didn't have any trouble hitting 34 Homers last year.


All the stupid in this sentence makes my head hurt.

So, because ONE preternaturally talented fellow can dominate at a young age that means no other player ever has an excuse for struggling in his first taste of the big leagues at that same young age?

I mean, A-Rod hit .358 in the majors at age 20, so I don't know why (insert 20 year old prospect here) is only hitting .295 in AA!
   16. MM1f Posted: June 19, 2012 at 04:17 PM (#4161329)
The flaws in this type of system are immense. In addition to asking readers to trust the writer’s ability to discern the bias of the organization, readers also must trust that the writer’s contacts are plentiful enough to get an accurate overall picture.


I'm willing to be corrected, but didn't he just describe reporting? The writers cultivate sources that they trust, talk to them, and fashion a story out of the information. Past that, we decide for ourselves whether to take a writer's word for it.


Just what I was about to say. What they are doing is reporting. Everyone is so hung up on being a self-styled expert these days (and this goes for everything, not just baseball) that it is somehow a weakness to report what your sources say, rather than try to hold yourself up as some expert.

Would Gregg Zaun, or others, really prefer to see the scouting notes a writer would write while watching a player over the notes a scout made?

I'll put it another way, for any historically minded folks. Baseball America is a secondary source. They compiled the many primary sources (scouts, GMs, managers) at their disposal, sort out the information they glean, account for the different perspectives of their different sources and, out of all this, assemble a guide. By compiling the opinions of many, they are more likely to come closer to the truth than a given primary source would be.
Gregg Zaun is essentially saying you can't ever profess to know anything about any event you were not physically present for.

Incidentally, GMs have to make decisions based on compilations of scouting reports rather than their own eyes. Not only can they, logistically, not see most minor leaguers they might trade for but they know that the observations of multiple scouts on a player are more worthwhile than what they might see themselves.
   17. Greg K Posted: June 19, 2012 at 05:38 PM (#4161407)
I'll put it another way, for any historically minded folks. Baseball America is a secondary source. They compiled the many primary sources (scouts, GMs, managers) at their disposal, sort out the information they glean, account for the different perspectives of their different sources and, out of all this, assemble a guide. By compiling the opinions of many, they are more likely to come closer to the truth than a given primary source would be.
Gregg Zaun is essentially saying you can't ever profess to know anything about any event you were not physically present for.

To carry the analogy exactly the historian would have to have the option of viewing at least some events first-hand - limited by how much time he had to spend.

I don't mean it as a criticism of your point, which I think is a good way of thinking about it, but just thinking that it would be awesome to poke my head into 1627 for an afternoon instead of going to the British Library tomorrow to look at some documents. [Also I'd have to believe that my time machine would get me to 1627 faster than the coach gets me to London].
   18. SM Posted: June 19, 2012 at 08:31 PM (#4161547)
I read this headline as "Greg Zaun's distaste for baseball, America" which would be very different
   19. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: June 19, 2012 at 08:41 PM (#4161554)
I read this headline as "Greg Zaun's distaste for baseball, America" which would be very different


I did too, and I was glad he spent so much of his career in Canadia.
   20. Ron J Posted: June 19, 2012 at 10:51 PM (#4161672)
#15 You can look at this in reverse too. Take a look at Bobby Bonilla's minor league career. 383 career minor league games, none above AA, never topped a .400 SLG.

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