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Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Data for Scouting Book, and a Deeper Look at Why Rankings Disagree

Okay…who’s helping me set up the Scouting vs Scouting roundtable tables?

Some of Baseball America’s other ‘biases’ (or impact considerations) are less obvious, but the patterns of influence can still be seen across the pages and over the years. In the same way Scouting Book solicits and factors in the opinions of various front office staffers and ‘behind the scenes’ experts in collecting our data, Baseball America gleans much of its information from personal conversations with MLB organizational scouts. This is golden information, of course, but it comes with a tangled string attached. Put simply, players who receive more scouting attention are more likely to have accurate and positive reviews from Baseball America. That means, effectively, that those who play in the USA, and especially in larger high school, college and minor league markets, tend to get more attention, and this ‘buzz’ can lead to higher rankings. This same problem impacts other sources, as well, but for an organization that’s very focused on in-person scouting reports, it can be especially impactful.

The shortcoming is more obvious overseas. Where some publications will also go outside the box in an attempt to evaluate and discuss significant Japanese, Cuban, or independent league players who may impact MLB in the future, Baseball America tends to ‘short shift’ players from outside the usual process in their publications, treating them more as interesting footnotes than regular entries. Indeed, BA does not even consider most of these players eligible for inclusion until they are signed by a Major League ballclub. This is not a failure on BA’s part: this is what they do, evaluate the minor league systems of today’s MLB ballclubs. They are not, after all, called Baseball World.

Repoz Posted: February 24, 2011 at 10:59 AM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: books, business, history, international, media, minor leagues, products, prospect reports, scouting

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   1. wcw Posted: February 24, 2011 at 03:21 PM (#3757255)
Shrift.
   2. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: February 24, 2011 at 03:56 PM (#3757286)
The shortcoming is more obvious overseas. Where some publications will also go outside the box in an attempt to evaluate and discuss significant Japanese, Cuban, or independent league players who may impact MLB in the future, Baseball America tends to ‘short shift’ players from outside the usual process in their publications, treating them more as interesting footnotes than regular entries. Indeed, BA does not even consider most of these players eligible for inclusion until they are signed by a Major League ballclub. This is not a failure on BA’s part: this is what they do, evaluate the minor league systems of today’s MLB ballclubs. They are not, after all, called Baseball World.

Kind of reminds me of how the Negro League players often get written off as not having sufficient records to "prove" just how good they were, and when it's pointed out that they routinely beat the Major Leaguers when they met head-to-head, it's said that the Major Leaguers weren't really "trying." And while nobody's saying that the two situations have comparable root causes (it's not as if today's Major Leagues are turning away foreigners), they both illustrate the problems arising from trying to make judgments based on incomplete information, and from overly relying on purely statistical data that aren't always easily transferable from one context to another.

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