Before getting into ways that players are analyzed using scouting tools and statistical analysis, I figured it was important to discuss what the point is of doing either.
Baseball is no different than any other business, in that they are looking for the best return on investment. On an organizational level, the best possible return is a championship. All other decisions are based off of this goal. The difference for many teams is based on the timing of this goal. For teams like the Yankees and Red Sox, this goal is aimed for every single season. For others, like the Nationals and Marlins, it may not be every year that they will compete for a championship, so they need to operate such that they will improve each season in order to compete down the line.
So where do scouting and statistical analysis come into play with this goal? Simply put, you need to evaluate your players, so that you know what to expect in terms of quality of performance. Quality baseball players are a finite group, as are jobs with Major League teams. So each team is looking to get the most from each roster spot they have, toward the end goal of a championship.
For years, scouting was viewed as the only tool in player evaluation. You didn’t need to see what players had done previously, you just had to SEE a player in a game or practice and could make judgments on him and what his potential was. This was the only way to judge players in a lot of teams’ minds.
Over time, fans and teams both began looking for other ways to evaluate players. Baseball has always had a large quantity of statistics available, but a lot of them didn’t tell the whole story. Over time, statistical analysis of the outcomes on the field slowly crept into Major League front offices, as teams learned that there were more to be learned besides what could be seen. The largest motivating factor behind this became the amount of money being spent on the product on the field. With payrolls upwards of $100 million per year, and players making upwards of $5 million per year in many cases, it was in the organizations’ best interest to ensure there was as little risk involved with players as possible.
There is no right answer to which works better. Both are equally important for an organization to use, as both can help a team to evaluate their players more effectively.
My Knowledge Level
The point of writing about these topics, for myself anyway, was to learn more about both topics. Currently, I have a much larger knowledge base in the statistical analysis side of player evaluation (at least in comparison to scouting). I do not consider myself to be an expert on either topic, but am hoping to learn about them, and in turn help you to learn about them as well.
In the coming days and weeks, I hope to learn quite a bit, and just continue to add to my knowledge about the great game. So, to repeat, the main goal of both scouting and statistical analysis is to help us to evaluate players and organizations, toward the end of winning championships.