FanGraphs Audio: The Pessimist’s Guide to the Future of Scouting

Episode 762
Roughly two weeks ago, the Houston Astros fired eight scouts in what GM Jeff Luhnow characterized as the first step in an effort by the club to restructure, but not reduce the size of, the organization’s scouting departments. Nevertheless, there remains some anxiety in the scouting community, according to FanGraphs’ lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. He examines their concerns and his own in this edition of the program.

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Audio after the jump. (Approximately 1 hr 13 min play time.)

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6 years ago

I have been a big believer in the value of expert opinions using small samples of data, but listening to Eric caping for them somehow diminishes my confidence in the value of employing more scouts. Perhaps I am misinterpreting the role, but it sounds like he is advocating more for people whose primary expertise need not be in evaluating baseball skills.

6 years ago
Reply to  flyingnimbus

I agreed with most of the points made in this podcast, but one nuance I think they glossed over is the scout’s role in projecting a player 5+ years into the future. A trackman csv can tell you all about velocity, extension, spin rate, pitch movement but tells you nothing about what kind of delivery they have, what their effort level/injury risk is or what kind of deception they might create , how physically mature their frame is, how consistent their mechanics are, the list goes on and on.

What separates longtime scouts from ivy league number crunchers in front offices is a 20-30 year mental library of what various all star and HOF players looked like as amateurs or minor league players. Not to mention the thousands of other players they have seen and can compare players to for reference. Players develop along their own development curve and there should always be a role for people with an expert eye for spotting and projecting tools.

Forget about the joke that 8 scouts probably combine for salaries under 1 million and each team just got a 40m check out of the clouds from MLBAM revenue sharing. By restructuring, does luhnow mean they are going to shift bodies away from domestic amateur/ pro scouting and have more people international? they can depend on fangraphs baseball america for basic amateur stuff