What is that meaningful thing, performance or projection? Since these games don’t count it seems like it must be the latter. Is it too soon to have gone back and see whether SCOUT excellence correlates with MLB excellence?
He who shall hurt the little Wren
Shall never be belov’d by Men.
He who the Ox to wrath has mov’d
Shall never be by Woman lov’d.
The wanton Boy that kills the Fly
Shall feel the Spider’s enmity.
The poison of the Snake & Newt
Is the sweat of Envy’s Foot.
The poison of the Honey Bee
Is the Artist’s Jealousy.
A truth that’s told with bad intent
Beats all the Lies you can invent.
Comment by William Blake — March 16, 2012 @ 12:07 pm
Very fair question(s).
The project started as means of providing an alternative to a standard slash-line leaderboard. With regard to the AFL, in particular, it’s pretty frequent that a beat writer or blogger will refer to a prospect’s slash-line as an indication that he’s doing well. Of course, because the AFL is generally hitter-friendly, it’s the case that almost every player’s slash-line is excellent. SCOUT is a means of comparing the players against each other, to get a sense of how well each is actually performing.
That’s all I intend by “meaningful,” really — that it’s an improvement upon other leaderboards you’ll see for leagues (like the winter leagues, like spring training) that are rife with small sample sizes.
Insofar as we have years of data telling us that Hector Luna is only slightly better than a replacement-level hitter, it’s wise not to conclude much from his 26 springs PAs. On the other hand, despite his .833 spring OPS and the attendant fanfare, Brandon Wood appears to be hitting exactly like Brandon Wood so far. And for the prospects, SCOUT helps to highlight a guy like Jefry Marte, maybe, who’s been around long enough to have already fallen off some prospect lists, but is still just entering his age-21 season and showed good underlying skills this past fall.
I really appreciate the attempt at this. This kind of problem seems to make more sabermetricians wave their hand dismissively, say “small sample size” and move on. I think the way you’re defining this, and how it should be used, is very well explained.
I do wonder if this controls enough for the variance in pitchers that the hitters will see, though. Between raw new guys, veteran retreads trying to prove something, guys working on specific pitches and approaches without caring about the outcomes, etc. the quality of opponent seems to be all over the map.
If one’s frequent spring training partner is the B-squad AA/AAA guys from the Padres, then total spring training results might be a bit more skewed than if one is playing most games against Phillies starters (ok, bad example, Halladay is off to a rough spring) or something.
Also, some guys might be looking better than they should because the in-game strategy isn’t the same. In as much as a team uses scouting reports in the regular season, they may not be using them as much in spring training, in favor of working on specific pitches. Say Felix wants to reintroduce his slider into his repetoire again (because in a recent interview, he says he does). He’s probably throwing it more often, in more counts, to different guys, than he normally would. He’s trying to spot the slider and repeat mechanics, not pitch with intent to attack that specific hitter’s weakness on the “right” count. So it doesn’t mean as much if the hitter guesses right or hits one that straightens out a bit.
In other words: Doesn’t the small sample size and wide, wide variance in talent and game approach, skew the level of pitching competition that hitters see?
Having listened to my first Podcast last night, I think I understand Scout+, or at least its place here at Fangraphs.
Horticulture is hard and the most beguiling species are the hardest. The best gardeners nurture patiently and flexibly; aerating deep tap roots that produce, say, fruit of calculus, or patiently stringing drip lines along lateral roots and then benignly accepting crypto-occult mystic brambles, or lovingly misting aeroponic roots and then bemusedly chuckling over the ugly bloom of alchemy. Flexibility, because the best gardeners know they aren’t in charge, the species’ innate process dictates whether you get delicious fruit or teosinte. And, like all of us, the best gardeners know that waste fertigates.
Fangraphs is the gardener and Carson is the species. Scout+ is something.
(Incidentally, the only species as broadly “spacey-but-together” as Carson on the podcast are, in my experience, (1) St Johns (Maryland, New Mexico) graduates, (2) Classicists, (3) advanced degree holders who took lots of acid, and (4) professionals multi-tasking through conference calls but earning their exorbitant rates nonetheless.)
Comment by Steve Balboni — March 16, 2012 @ 1:15 pm
Thanks, Carson. That’s a measured, intelligent response. My opinion is that you’re claiming SCOUT(+) does exactly what it actually does. This is a fruitful direction for future sabrmetric research, in my opinion, small-bore stats that provide incremental improvement on what already exists rather than attempts to find global narratives in single numbers.
It doesn’t show much, but it’s a fun exercise. Here’s the leader and laggard boards for 2011, min 50 AB:
128 Mike Morse WSH
122 Willie Harris NYM
122 Alex Gordon KC
120 Ben Francisco PHI
120 Jake Fox BAL
120 Kila Ka’aihue KC
119 Alcides Escobar KC
118 Lastings Milledge CWS
118 Aubrey Huff SF
118 Ian Kinsler TEX
78 Ryan Langerhans SEA
78 Scott Cousins FLA
80 Pedro Alvarez PIT
80 Drew Stubbs CIN
82 Willie Taveras COL
82 Mark Reynolds BAL
83 Tyler Greene STL
84 Jhonny Peralta DET
85 Brandon Inge DET
85 Matt Wieters BAL