“Precision Tayloring” The WAR on Traditional Scouting… Combining Sabermetrics with Objective Scouting
“It’s unbelievable how much you don’t know about the game you’ve been playing all your life.” -Mickey Mantle
Since the turn of the 20th century, observers of the game of baseball, primarily ones with ties to the front offices of the teams in the league and the reporters sent out to cover those teams, have been looking for ways to accurately quantify the actions they would see on the field. Through the years, this would lead to a deeper and more thorough understanding of what was actually happening on the field. Then in 1977, Bill James self-published his annual “The Bill James Baseball Abstract.” With this came a radically different way to look at the game, culminating in full affect with the run put on by the 2002 Oakland Athletics. Though the sabermetric revolution has been met with some resilience from the traditional scouting community, neither camp can deny the benefits brought forth from the advancements of pitching and batted ball tracking. Wanna know how many fastballs Clayton Kershaw actually threw in the strike zone in 2012? We can find that out now.
With this new stream of information, we can stay ahead of the game in fantasy baseball by combining traditional baseball scouting and new-age sabermetric statistics. Lets explore, shall we?
Those who aren’t too familiar with the 20-80 scouting scale or who need a brush up on scout speak in general, please consult this guide here. Also, a glossary of sabermetric terms would be helpful to keep near by.
- 80—— .325+
- 70—— .300–.324
- 60—— .280–.299
- 50—— .255–.279
- 40—— .235–.254
- 30—— .209–.234
- 20—— .209 and under
- 80—— 39+
- 70—— 30-38
- 60—— 20-29
- 50—— 14-19
- 40—— 9-13
- 30—— 4-8
- 20—— 0-3
- 80—— 35+
- 70—— 27-34
- 60—— 20-26
- 50—— 15-19
- 40—— 10-14
- 30—— 5-9
- 20—— 0-4
It is important to note that the values assigned for this list and the methods themselves for giving out grades to prospects are rooted in subjective baseball scouting reports, and that the format of these reports is not unilateral across the industry. For example, some reports will list all these grades on a 2-8 scale just dropping the zeros for simplicity sake. We can, however, still quantify these subjective reports into usable and projectable numbers for fantasy baseball purposes. The grades shaded in the green region would be referred to as “plus” or “plus-plus” in reports, while the grades in the orange would be considered major league average to above average. Any of the grades shaded in the red to black would indicate a below-average grade that could hinder a player from staying in a major league roster.
For an example we will look at building a projection off of a scouting report from last season, on the player who should go number 1 in just about every fantasy draft this season. Mike Trout.
2012 Season: .326/.399/.564 Avg/OBP/SLG 129Runs, 83RBI, 30HR, 49SB in 139 games played.
The tools: 7+ Hit, 7 Power, 8 run
2013 Projection: MLB.tv is great. It has allowed me to sofa scout all of Mike Trout’s and Ryan Braun’s at bats from the 2012 season, to determine who should be chosen #1 in fantasy drafts next season. Many of you may be lucky enough to own the 1st overall pick in your upcoming drafts this spring. Trout should have broke camp with the Angels last season, as Bobby Abreu was a shell of himself batting just .208 in the first 24 games for the Angels. Trout hit lead-off from day 1, and provided a much needed spark to the Angel offense. Like his May 5th HR, which would be the first of 30.
In 2013 Mike Trout will hit lead-off for an improved Angels’ offense, and has the clear injury history to be reliable enough to play 160 games and hold up. 600+ At bats would give Trout a monster season, as he has the bat speed and lighting fast hands to consistently work the bat head in the zone for a .300+ AVG. He is going to lead the AL in steals and runs again, and will flirt with 35+ HRs, giving you plenty of power to boot. Trout’s real development should come from his plate discipline this season, as he looks to continue to cut down his O-Swing% (percentage of pitches swung at that are outside of the strike zone) from 29% in 2011 to 24.8% in 2012. If he can continue to shave that number down, his hit tool will improve to the coveted 8 grade. He can continue to work counts and draw walks to fuel his OBP. He’ll also terrorize pitchers on the base-paths with some of the fastest times from home to first that scouts have seen, which draws the 8 grade for speed. He should be a fantasy monster for years to come and should go #1 in all regular and dynasty style fantasy drafts this season.
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