Saxon: No one hit harder by analytics movement than pro and advance scouts

From Mark Saxon at The Athletic on February 22, 2019:

For all the talk of what analytics has done to free-agent baseball players in two straight sluggish offseasons, no group of people in the game has been impacted more than scouts. They once filled press-box dining rooms and clustered in the expensive seats behind home plate toting their radar guns. Nowadays, you might run into one or two at a game, but only if you know where to look.

Is it just a matter of teams cutting costs, tasking computers with the jobs humans used to do? Many veterans in the industry think so.

“If you look at the kind of money they were spending, forget about the salary, but just to send a scout around the country for an entire year ahead of the team with hotel and meal money, it’s enormous,” said longtime major league pitching coach Rick Peterson, the son of former Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Pete Peterson. “That’s probably the same cost as hiring three analytics people from MIT they can bring in as interns.”

Teams counter that while many scouts have lost their jobs in the past decade or so, the job losses are concentrated on just a few teams and in just a couple of areas: pro scouting and advance scouting. Official budgetary information is hard to come by, but some executives say they’re spending more on scouting than ever.

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Originally published: February 22, 2019. Last Updated: February 22, 2019.