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Thursday, February 21, 2019

No one has been hit harder by the analytics movement than pro and advance scouts

For all the talk of what analytics has done to free-agent baseball players in two straight sluggish offseasons, no group of people in the game has been impacted more than scouts. They once filled press-box dining rooms and clustered in the expensive seats behind home plate toting their radar guns. Nowadays, you might run into one or two at a game, but only if you know where to look.

Is it just a matter of teams cutting costs, tasking computers with the jobs humans used to do? Many veterans in the industry think so.

“If you look at the kind of money they were spending, forget about the salary, but just to send a scout around the country for an entire year ahead of the team with hotel and meal money, it’s enormous,” said longtime major league pitching coach Rick Peterson, the son of former Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Pete Peterson. “That’s probably the same cost as hiring three analytics people from MIT they can bring in as interns.”

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 10:52 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: scouting

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   1. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 21, 2019 at 11:58 AM (#5817076)
“If you look at the kind of money they were spending, forget about the salary, but just to send a scout around the country for an entire year ahead of the team with hotel and meal money, it’s enormous,” said longtime major league pitching coach Rick Peterson, the son of former Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Pete Peterson. “That’s probably the same cost as hiring three analytics people from MIT they can bring in as interns.”

And both are a pittance for a MLB Team. Skimping on analytics or advance scouting is just another way of saying ownership is unwilling to invest even small amounts in order to wn more games and grow the revenue stream via on-field performance.
   2. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 12:13 PM (#5817083)
And both are a pittance for a MLB Team. Skimping on analytics or advance scouting is just another way of saying ownership is unwilling to invest even small amounts in order to wn more games and grow the revenue stream via on-field performance.

Agreed.

“That’s probably the same cost as hiring three analytics people from MIT they can bring in as interns.”

Anyone with an MIT degree who's willing to work for what MLB teams pay low-level employees is an idiot.
   3. Sean Forman Posted: February 21, 2019 at 12:42 PM (#5817089)
Anyone with an MIT degree who's willing to work for what MLB teams pay low-level employees is an idiot.


There are a LOT of idiots then. :)
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 12:45 PM (#5817092)
There are a LOT of idiots then. :)

Sure, and intelligence appears to not immunize one against idiocy. 90% of the time you follow "your dream" or "your passion" in employment, you're going to get the short end of the stick. We've seen this with actors and musicians for generations.
   5. Jack Sommers Posted: February 21, 2019 at 01:02 PM (#5817099)
Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said the team is satisfied with how it scouts opposing lineups and pitchers, through video study and Statcast data.

We feel like you miss a lot more when you’re trying to do it in person, plus that’s a very tough job,” Mozeliak said.


I think the highlighted part is the key here for teams, even more than the travel budget.
   6. base ball chick Posted: February 21, 2019 at 01:15 PM (#5817104)
The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 21, 2019 at 11:58 AM (#5817076)

“If you look at the kind of money they were spending, forget about the salary, but just to send a scout around the country for an entire year ahead of the team with hotel and meal money, it’s enormous,”


- HORSEPOOPOO!!!!!
is this the stupidest excuse EVAH??>??


And both are a pittance for a MLB Team.


- to put it mildly
they hardly pay the scouts anything and they are not exactly traveling first calss or staying at the ritz


Skimping on analytics or advance scouting is just another way of saying ownership is unwilling to invest even small amounts in order to wn more games and grow the revenue stream via on-field performance


- i think it is more than clear that the vast majority of teams don't care a BIT about on field performance
seeing as how they OBVIOUSLY value profits they get from losing over anything else. i read all about what anthopolous and the braves brass said about some horse***t about valuing profits most

was it bfan or SBB or someone else talking about how wonderful it is that teams are most interested in making profits and the large market teams should do all the winning anyway and the others are just there to be punching bags - and sometimes do the cinderella thingy as a favor to all the bettors who like long shots

teams don't NEED fans any more

especially with all the gamblers and fantasy baseball people keeping things going
   7. DL from MN Posted: February 21, 2019 at 01:38 PM (#5817115)
I wouldn't be surprised at all if Statcast and video analysis does a better job than advance scouts. Why do you need a guy there with a radar gun when the readings are available to everyone?

The smart teams would have their best advance scouts doing the video analysis. If you're good at analyzing players for weaknesses imagine how much better you will be if you don't have to worry about traveling all over the place and you can spend those hours looking over more video.
   8. ajnrules Posted: February 21, 2019 at 01:48 PM (#5817121)
We've seen this with actors and musicians for generations.

Minor league baseball players
   9. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 02:11 PM (#5817131)
90% of the time you follow "your dream" or "your passion" in employment, you're going to get the short end of the stick.


68% of statistics are invented by statisticians who aren't paid all that well but are happy with their lives because they love what they do.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 02:21 PM (#5817134)

We've seen this with actors and musicians for generations.

Minor league baseball players


And scouts! They're paid laughably small amounts.
   11. bob gee Posted: February 21, 2019 at 02:29 PM (#5817137)
In 1991 or 1992, I had sent out resumes to several baseball teams in the hopes of being an analytics person. Obviously this is pre-most teams having a person in that area. I believe I combined for that resume my non-scholastic analytics I had done + interpersonal / marketing skills + (non-baseball) athletic accomplishments / varsity sports.

The only response I received was from the Reds, and I spoke with someone who was reasonably high up there. He told me that the only way I'd be able to progress to the major league club was to start at low-level A ball, roughly 9K? for the summer time, and that with my resume + college (not MIT), unless I was absolutely only looking to work for a baseball club, (paraphrasing here) I should probably go into another area that could pay me better for my skills.

Just interesting to think about things started changing even a couple years later.
   12. Eddo Posted: February 21, 2019 at 02:41 PM (#5817139)
Sure, and intelligence appears to not immunize one against idiocy. 90% of the time you follow "your dream" or "your passion" in employment, you're going to get the short end of the stick. We've seen this with actors and musicians for generations.

That alone does not make one an idiot. It means they aren't maximizing their potential financially, but there's more to life than money.
   13. JL72 Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:20 PM (#5817153)
I wouldn't be surprised at all if Statcast and video analysis does a better job than advance scouts. Why do you need a guy there with a radar gun when the readings are available to everyone?

The smart teams would have their best advance scouts doing the video analysis. If you're good at analyzing players for weaknesses imagine how much better you will be if you don't have to worry about traveling all over the place and you can spend those hours looking over more video.


Is there information that advance scouts can get by attending games in person that cannot be obtained from video and stats?
   14. jmurph Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:25 PM (#5817155)
Is there information that advance scouts can get by attending games in person that cannot be obtained from video and stats?

Thinking out loud (as it were), I could imagine individual defense being a thing that one could learn more about in person, assuming baseball doesn't have the equivalent of an all-22 type camera angle available to teams?
   15. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:30 PM (#5817156)
He told me that the only way I'd be able to progress to the major league club was to start at low-level A ball, roughly 9K? for the summer time, and that with my resume + college (not MIT), unless I was absolutely only looking to work for a baseball club, (paraphrasing here) I should probably go into another area that could pay me better for my skills.


9K for what sounds like a third of a year's work at an entry-level job, in what was probably a very cheap area to live in, doesn't sound that horrible for 1991. The only real problem is that it prevents you from having a real, full-time job (which, admittedly, is a pretty big problem).
   16. DL from MN Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:33 PM (#5817157)
This article mentions sign stealing as valuable advanced scouting. I would think managerial tendencies are things that don't show up on video.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:34 PM (#5817159)

That alone does not make one an idiot. It means they aren't maximizing their potential financially, but there's more to life than money.


Well, the vast majority of them never achieve their dream, or come close, and most of them never had a reasonable chance of achieving it. So, they gave up the money for nothing.
   18. Tom Nawrocki Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:39 PM (#5817160)
Well, the vast majority of them never achieve their dream, or come close, and most of them never had a reasonable chance of achieving it. So, they gave up the money for nothing.


But what have they lost? So they spent three years knocking around Kingsport and Visalia and Quad Cities, living on peanut butter sandwiches, and realized they're never going to get to the majors or be Bill James. So what? Now, they're 25, still have that same MIT degree, and can go apply for a high-paying job with a cool back-story that's going to stick in the employer's mind. (My son did analytics for his university's football team, and always mentioned it in job interviews, because it always sparked a conversation with the interviewer.)
   19. The Yankee Clapper Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:43 PM (#5817165)
I wouldn't be surprised at all if Statcast and video analysis does a better job than advance scouts. Why do you need a guy there with a radar gun when the readings are available to everyone?

Optimally, teams should be using advance scouts for things they can't pick up from video, or possiblely one can confirm or reinforce the other. If your scout is just providing radar gun data, yeah, he's not adding much.
   20. vortex of dissipation Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:43 PM (#5817166)
It's always a bit jarring when reading books on early 20th Century baseball to encounter passages talking about managers such as John McGraw or Connie Mack skipping league games to go scout a prospect. I don't know quite how common it was, but it definitely was done, at least on occasion. In those days, the only way to really judge a player was to see him play in person, and those at the highest level sometimes wanted to be absolutely sure before committing themselves...
   21. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:52 PM (#5817167)
But what have they lost? So they spent three years knocking around Kingsport and Visalia and Quad Cities, living on peanut butter sandwiches, and realized they're never going to get to the majors or be Bill James. So what? Now, they're 25, still have that same MIT degree, and can go apply for a high-paying job with a cool back-story that's going to stick in the employer's mind.

Well, that's recognizing your mistake and giving up quite early. If you toil for 15 years hoping to get a shot at being GM, it's not so rosy.

But, more to the point, why should anyone ever accept less than their market valuable b/c the employer is in a "cool" field? You're not playing CF for the Yankees, you're coding SQL in a cubicle, just like you would be at a boring company.
   22. JL72 Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:53 PM (#5817168)
This article mentions sign stealing as valuable advanced scouting.


Thanks. This makes sense, as does defensive positioning.

I would think managerial tendencies are things that don't show up on video.


Not sure which tendencies would not show up on video, or somewhere else in the stat sheet.
   23. Too Much Coffee Man Posted: February 21, 2019 at 04:09 PM (#5817174)
90% of the time you follow "your dream" or "your passion" in employment, you're going to get the short end of the stick.


If you check out this https://education.illinois.edu/docs/default-source/edpsy-documents/rounds-pub.pdf?sfvrsn=8eb1b786_0
And scroll down to Figure 2, based on a longitudinal study of over 140,000 studies, following your passion "interests" predicts 7 times as much variance in income earned as cognitive ability.
   24. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: February 21, 2019 at 04:12 PM (#5817177)
I considered going (well, trying to go) the team analytics guy route but ruled it out due to a lack of imagination on my part, as well as salary concerns. (I'm not a go-getting scrapper anyway, I made the right choice.)

But, more to the point, why should anyone ever accept less than their market valuable b/c the employer is in a "cool" field?

People should be utility maximizers, subject to not hurting others. If you like being in a cool field, or working for a "more moral" employer, or whatever - and are willing to trade salary for that - go for it. Many, if not most, of us could make more money than we do by doing other things.

Also, if they don't make their goal, the experience was worth something - right? (Or at least the knowledge that they tried.)
   25. BrianBrianson Posted: February 21, 2019 at 04:12 PM (#5817178)
But, more to the point, why should anyone ever accept less than their market valuable b/c the employer is in a "cool" field?


Economically, it's because they're in a different market, so their market value is different. If you won't work analytics for an MLB team for peanuts, they'll hire someone else who will. So, in that market, that's your value.

Otherwise - we spend a lot of time at work. If you spend you life trying to maximise your paycheque, you may find you've also given away a lot of your life for that money. Internet tells me I'm in the bottom 10% of people salary-wise with my qualifications. But, I like doing it, and it's enough money.
   26. TJ Posted: February 21, 2019 at 04:23 PM (#5817183)
Is there information that advance scouts can get by attending games in person that cannot be obtained from video and stats?


If a player has "The Good Face" or "Calm Eyes"?

Can't wait for StatCast to adapt facial recognition technology to get this for us in-game...
   27. Man o' Schwar Posted: February 21, 2019 at 05:26 PM (#5817193)
Can't wait for StatCast to adapt facial recognition technology to get this for us in-game...

I'm all ready for the Scott Boras arguments that his player should get more money because his Blinks Below Average (BBA) stat is at the top of the league.
   28. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 05:34 PM (#5817195)
Sure, and intelligence appears to not immunize one against idiocy. 90% of the time you follow "your dream" or "your passion" in employment, you're going to get the short end of the stick. We've seen this with actors and musicians for generations.


I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the astonishing lack of imagination involved in saying something this idiotic, but I kind of was.

There is more to life than making as much money as possible. This is so obvious as to usually not need stating. But then again, as you say, there are a lot of idiots out there.
   29. Hysterical & Useless Posted: February 21, 2019 at 06:10 PM (#5817205)
Well, the vast majority of them never achieve their dream, or come close, and most of them never had a reasonable chance of achieving it. So, they gave up the money for nothing.


One of the things often written of today is how much more valuable "experiences" are than possessions. Having the experience of working at something you love, even if you never make it to the top and never make much money at it, is glorious. So even though I never made so much as a pittance at what I would've liked to be my career, I had a lot of fun at the time, hung out with a lot of really interesting people, and my wife & I were still able to raise 2 kids and retire at 64. Yeah, maybe if I'd gone a different route I would've been able to make so much more money that I could've retired at 54 instead. Or maybe I would've been miserable and we would've gotten divorced and our kids would've grown up to be serial killers...

I know, I know, give 'em time.
   30. Eddo Posted: February 21, 2019 at 06:21 PM (#5817212)
Well, the vast majority of them never achieve their dream, or come close, and most of them never had a reasonable chance of achieving it. So, they gave up the money for nothing.

Why is it all about money, though? If one's passion is to travel, you're costing yourself a lot of money by doing that (travel is expensive). Was that money given up "for nothing", too?

Yeah, someone who's been chasing their dream for forty years, then complains about having no money is whining. But plenty of people don't lament that they didn't maximize their earnings in their 20's and 30's and look back fondly at playing gigs in bars and performing in local theater.
   31. Starring RMc as Bradley Scotchman Posted: February 21, 2019 at 06:42 PM (#5817222)
I was on the radio for 25 years, never made much money. Now, I'm in financial planning and insurance, and do pretty well.

Wouldn't change a thing.
   32. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 07:05 PM (#5817228)
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the astonishing lack of imagination involved in saying something this idiotic, but I kind of was.

There is more to life than making as much money as possible. This is so obvious as to usually not need stating. But then again, as you say, there are a lot of idiots out there.


Well, of course I never said that. I firmly believe in trading money for work-life balance. I wouldn't work 60 hours a week if you doubled my salary.

But an MIT grad working 80 hours a week for $35K a year because he loves baseball is idiotic. Work 40 hours a week for $100K, and buy yourself season tickets.

Why is it all about money, though? If one's passion is to travel, you're costing yourself a lot of money by doing that (travel is expensive). Was that money given up "for nothing", too?

It's not all about money. Money is simply a tool to achieve a lifestyle.

It's about shortchanging yourself because the industry is "cool". Hollywood, sports, the music industry, etc. have been exploiting people forever based on people's silly attachment to "cool" professions.
   33. Eddo Posted: February 21, 2019 at 07:10 PM (#5817230)
It's not all about money. Money is simply a tool to achieve a lifestyle.

It's about shortchanging yourself because the industry is "cool". Hollywood, sports, the music industry, etc. have been exploiting people forever based on people's silly attachment to "cool" professions.


If they're truly following their dream, it sounds like they have the lifestyle they want. Why would they need the money, then?

I'm sure you'll acknowledge that it's not unacceptable to take a job you love over one you hate if the former pays 99% as much. Aren't the people we're talking about just setting their threshold lower than you would? Do you have to judge them for it, and call them idiotic?
   34. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: February 21, 2019 at 08:02 PM (#5817236)
why should anyone ever accept less than their market valuable b/c the employer is in a "cool" field?


This is just plain silly and if you don't understand why someone will take a job for less money because they think it'll be fun or they'll go interesting places or meet interesting people, then I can't really explain it to you.
   35. base ball chick Posted: February 21, 2019 at 08:27 PM (#5817239)
snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 21, 2019 at 03:52 PM (#5817167)

But what have they lost? So they spent three years knocking around Kingsport and Visalia and Quad Cities, living on peanut butter sandwiches, and realized they're never going to get to the majors or be Bill James. So what? Now, they're 25, still have that same MIT degree, and can go apply for a high-paying job with a cool back-story that's going to stick in the employer's mind.

Well, that's recognizing your mistake and giving up quite early. If you toil for 15 years hoping to get a shot at being GM, it's not so rosy.

But, more to the point, why should anyone ever accept less than their market valuable b/c the employer is in a "cool" field? You're not playing CF for the Yankees, you're coding SQL in a cubicle, just like you would be at a boring company.


- i would guess that the vast majority of people accepting less than their market value to work in a "cool" field don't want or need more money to live the way they want to live

or are more than happy to live in poverty in order to do what they want to do instead of doing something they don't want to do for more money and being unhappy wishing they were doing what they wanted to do in the first place

from what i can tell, most of the people i can see who work in analytics/some other low or no paying job for a ballclub either come from a family with plenty of money or has a spouse/partner who earns the money and it is like they have a hobby
   36. grandcosmo Posted: February 21, 2019 at 10:09 PM (#5817252)
why should anyone ever accept less than their market valuable b/c the employer is in a "cool" field?
Because A) they want to and/or B) they can. Why do minor leaguers play for so little money? Same answer.

A college roommate of mine started as an intern with a team in one of the big four leagues, then moved to working 80 hour weeks for money in the low teens, gradually moved up the ladder and now is the General Manager of the team with a contract and is making more than $700K a year. Because of stories like his there are plenty of people willing to work for very little money.

   37. KJOK Posted: February 21, 2019 at 10:59 PM (#5817257)
The ones losing their jobs are the ones that are not returning value, just like in any industry.

I was lucky enough to sit next to the Oriole scout this summer who was deciding what players they would ask LA back for Manny Machado. Guys like that are NOT losing their jobs.
   38. 185/456(GGC) Posted: February 22, 2019 at 06:13 AM (#5817269)
If only Repoz would link to that stats/scouts roundtable. I was once stuck at a crappy company with low pay. I thought that I could supplement my income by blogging. It didn't work out, but I eventually moved on.

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