Lindbergh/Arthur: What we learned from our unprecedented access to 73,000 never-before-seen MLB scouting reports

From SABR members Ben Lindbergh and Rob Arthur at The Ringer on March 4, 2019:

What would we learn if we could see what an MLB team’s scouts saw? For the first time, we can: A former member of the Cincinnati Reds’ front office provided The Ringer with a copy of the Reds’ scouting database from between 1991 and 2003, consisting of more than 73,000 reports. Throughout this week, we’ll be using this newly declassified scouting goldmine to analyze old-school scouting’s strengths and weaknesses, profile players who defied the scouts’ expectations, and examine how scouting has evolved in recent years. In Monday’s Part 1, we crunch the numbers on how well scouts projected players.


Almost 20 years ago, in November 1999, the Seattle Mariners’ All-Star center fielder, Ken Griffey Jr., requested a trade. Citing a desire to travel less and spend more time with his family, Griffey rejected an eight-year extension offer and, leveraging his veto rights as a 10-and-5 player, reportedly gave the Mariners a list of four teams to which he would accept a trade, all of which had won at least 96 games in 1999: the Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, New York Mets, and Cincinnati Reds.

In the fall of ’99, five Reds scouts who had seen him that season filed reports on Griffey, who had grown up in Cincinnati and whose father was the team’s hitting coach.

“Outstanding tools across the board!” one scout wrote. “A future Hall of Famer. Is only active player with a chance to break Hank Aaron’s home run record and would like to see him do it in Cincinnati. Has ability to carry a club to the world series. Tremendous fan appeal, will sell tickets. If have a chance, would acquire.”

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Originally published: March 4, 2019. Last Updated: March 4, 2019.