Glassey: What percentage of pro scouts played pro baseball?

From Conor Glassey at Baseball Prospectus on January 9, 2014, with mention of SABR members Sean Forman and Ted Turocy:

At some point, you may have wondered (as I have) what percentage of scouts played professionally, and what percentage played in the big leagues. The information is out there, so I decided to do some digging.

First, a few notes on the study: I looked at each team’s amateur scouting staff from the 2013 season. While I know there have been some changes since then, that was the most recent listing I had, thanks to the Baseball America 2013 Directory. That gave me 707 total scouts. I searched for each scout’s name on and didn’t give a scout credit for playing professionally if their only experience was in the independent leagues.

At first I was skeptical about how comprehensive Baseball-Reference’s minor league data was, but I checked with Sean Forman, who asked Ted Turocy, and this is what he said:

Published league averages started containing all players from about 1965 onwards. Before that, it depends on the league and year you’re talking about; some published all players, some completely omitted less-thans below some threshold of activity. Generally, more recent years are probably more complete than older ones and higher-level leagues more complete than lower ones, but there are probably hundreds of exceptions to that pattern.

After 1965, the data we have is believed to be complete relative to what was published in league averages. It is of course always possible that those league averages omitted players, or that there were cases of mistaken identity where the activities of one player who appeared only briefly got assigned in the records to someone else. However, we’ve yet to be able to document conclusively that a single such instance has occurred, at least in the affiliated leagues — although plenty of people over the years have written to claim their stats are missing. (The less-stable independent leagues are obviously another kettle of fish.)

Read the full article here:

Originally published: January 9, 2014. Last Updated: January 9, 2014.