A look into the world of pro scoutingBy
In a piece for The Journal News, as opposed to the blog, PeteAbe took a look into the Yanks’ world of pro scouting. Instead of taking the time to sum up what these guys do, allow me to quote:
The pro scouts watch players in the major leagues down to the lowest levels of the minors. Their job is to gather information to allow Cashman to make the best-educated decisions about trades, waiver claims and other personnel moves.
When Cashman gained full control over the team’s baseball operations in 2005, one of his first ideas was to better organize how the Yankees went about obtaining and organizing that information. He promoted Billy Eppler, a young team executive based in Tampa, to run the department.
“You see how much work is done on the amateur scouting side, where they have cross-checking, they have meetings, they have regional meetings. They spend so much time and effort for that one day. Why can’t we do it like that on the pro side?” Cashman said.
Run by ex-scout Billy Eppler, the department has a group of twelve scouts spread all over the country, and they even handle Japan. It’s a thankless job, because if Derek Jeter goes 3-for-4 with two doubles he’s the one that gets the credit, but there’s nary a mention of the scout who informed the team that Matt Garza tends to tip his breaking ball by fanning out his glove. I recommend you give it a read, but I also want to take this opportunity to talk about the Rays’ pro scouting department.
Tampa, you see, is going to eschew human advance scouts in favor of statistical analysis and video. The whole idea is to provide the field staff with the most in-depth info possible, while drawing off a much larger sample.
“When an advance scout goes in there, he’s seeing it for three, four days,” [manager Joe Maddon] said. “The data we’re going to accumulate goes over a longer period of time, which would indicate it’s more correct and not as much one man’s subjective opinion. We feel as though this may be the next level of advance scouting.”
Now, it’s important to note that they’re not getting rid of human advance scouts entirely, they’re just going to use them in a more localized way. A spreadsheet won’t tell you that Jason Bay has been in a bit of a funk lately and can be gotten out with off speed junk away because he’s stepping in the bucket, and so that’s where the human scout comes in. He can provide updated info on the “feel” of a team as well as recent tendencies, but the stats and video can be used for everything else. And, of course, you still need human scouts to watch the minors because those stats are unreliable, especially the farther away you get from the bigs.
Frankly, I think what the Rays are doing is brilliant. They’re using their resources more efficiently and taking advantage of state of the art information. It’s a copycat league, so it’s only a matter of time before we see more and more teams doing this. What do you guys think?