Kepner: Give baseball scouts a (perfect) 80 for tradition

From SABR member Tyler Kepner at the New York Times on June 12, 2017:

One morning in February, by the back fields of the Kansas City Royals’ complex in Surprise, Ariz., Dayton Moore chatted casually with Rene Francisco. Moore is the Royals’ general manager and Francisco a top assistant, both with decades of scouting experience. Their conversation would be familiar to anyone in baseball.

“I’ve never put an 80 on a player,” Moore said. “You, Rene?”

Francisco shook his head.

“I’m usually a 40 through 60 guy,” Moore said. “I mean, 60s plus, it’s an All-Star, so what the heck.”

The banter continued like this. An outsider might have felt like a toddler trying to understand calculus. Were these people talking about numbers, players or what?


These numbers are not part of the analytics revolution that has swept baseball in the last 15 years. Quite the opposite, actually. As teams finalize evaluations for the amateur draft — which starts Monday, with the Minnesota Twins picking first — most still rely on a common and quirky scouting language that stretches back decades.

Baseball scouts measure tools on a scale of 20 to 80, or sometimes 2 to 8. To baseball people, a scale from 0 to 100, or 0 to 10, would look as out of place as a pitcher’s mound in the middle of the outfield.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: June 12, 2017. Last Updated: June 12, 2017.