Springer: The changing landscape of scouting

From Stephanie Springer at The Hardball Times on December 12, 2018:

A common fear in many industries is the growing sense that “robots are stealing our jobs.” It’s a mixture of paranoia, anticipation, and a highly optimistic view of what might be possible; ultimately, the fear that automation and technology will entirely replace human intervention is rooted in the idea that technology is just that advanced.

Baseball isn’t immune from the idea that robots will supplant humans in certain jobs. The speculation (or wishful thinking) in the game focuses on the most visible way in which technology could eliminate the human element from baseball — replacing the human umpire behind the plate with the mythical automated strike zone. The idea is hardly new, and the #RobotUmps hashtag enjoys a renaissance with every controversial call on the field, though an adequate robotic replacement for the umpire has yet to come to fruition.

But if you’re truly worried about how robots and technology are encroaching upon the human element of the game, look a bit further behind the plate, past the protective netting. The small cohort of people sitting there with clipboards and radar guns is slowly diminishing. Quietly, front offices are cutting their scouting staffs and reorganizing those who remain, with the Astros being particularly aggressive. While baseball isn’t exactly replacing human scouts with robotic ones, some organizations are making strides in that direction, which has implications for the human element, not only in the form of the scouts themselves but also in the product (and people) on the field.

Read the full article here: https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/automatic-scouts-the-changing-landscape-of-scouting/

Originally published: December 12, 2018. Last Updated: December 12, 2018.