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Can the way a hitter is pitched help us predict a decline in performance?

There are many reasons why a player’s abilities may appear to fluctuate between seasons. Players get injured, they gain experience, and the league constantly adjusts to their particular strengths and weaknesses in real time. On top of all of the variation in skill, there is also the omnipresent addition of noise, which can make it difficult to perceive any significant shifts in ability.

But whereas the best baseball analysts are limited by the considerable volatility in things like batting average, teams have access to detailed scouting reports and the in-game experiences of some great baseball minds, namely the players themselves. I’ve written about this in my past few articles, focusing in particular on the different ways in which skilled hitters are approached by pitchers. Good hitters are rarely thrown strikes, and when a pitch does find its way into the zone, it tends to be towards the zone’s periphery. Pitchers presumably adopt this strategy in order to prevent good hitters from punishing in-zone pitches. Since pitchers have access to more and better-quality information than the general public, they might be the first to react when a batter’s true skill increases or decreases.

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The key to getting Andrew McCutchen out.

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Ben and Sam talk about whether teams should step up advance scouting in the upper minors, then discuss the difference (or lack thereof) between the PEDs MLB bans and the procedures it allows.

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Ben and Sam discuss whether college pitchers should stop pitching for their college teams after being drafted, then talk about the Red Sox and advance scouting.

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October 5, 2012 5:26 am

Advance Scout


Dan Brooks

Even if you figure out what Darvish has done, you might not know what he's about to do.

Today brings baseball’s first wild-card play-in games. It also brings another baseball first: Yu Darvish’s first start against the Baltimore Orioles, scheduled to get underway at 8:37 PM ET.

You can bet that the prospect of facing Darvish for the first time in a high-stakes game has the Orioles worked into an advanced scouting frenzy. Their season—a magical one, at that—hinges on their ability to analyze (and effectively attack) a pitcher whom their hitters have never seen.

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How Yu Darvish escaped the fate of Gene Bearden and learned to love the rematch.

Through his first eight starts of the season, Yu Darvish had a 2.60 ERA and had struck out 10 batters per nine innings. That was the kind of production the Rangers had paid his posting fee for, but it came with a considerable caveat: through his first eight starts of the season, Darvish had yet to face a team for the second time.

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A look at 10 men who should be considered to run a baseball operations department.

Welcome to Top 10 Week. All week long, various BP authors will be revealing their Top 10s in various categories. Today we start off with Will Carroll ranking the 10 best general manager candidates.

A couple years back, I did a list of the "next GM" crop. It's one of those innocuous exercises that nonetheless tells us a lot about what's going on inside of the front offices. We hear about GMs, about trades, about drafts, but even in Moneyball and earlier in Dollar Sign on the Muscle, we seldom hear about the day-to-day operations carried out by a group of people that is overworked, underpaid, and most importantly, vastly overqualified. This is a group that years ago would be more likely to be putting together a hedge fund, working for the State Department, or something a bit more "important" than the game of baseball. With the money of the modern era, teams got smarter, fast. 

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June 23, 2009 11:59 am

The Latin Talent Market


Kiley McDaniel

Some of what the mill cranks out proves to be true, but other stuff not so much as we near the July 2 signing window.

The Video Notebook

Now that I've presented 25 scouting reports for July 2nd prospects (here and here) along with videos of the top players (all of them which you'll find here), you may be wondering what I have to left write about, with all of the crucial information already written and still 10 more days until players can sign. First, the ranking of players is always changing, though I'm not going to edit that list just yet. If there's one thing I can tell you about this market, it's that something is always happening. Every call I make not only yields solid information and teaches me something new, but there's at least one off-the-wall item mentioned as well. Maybe it's a function of a maturing market where everyone isn't on the same page yet, or perhaps there's just more to be made from misinformation in a free market. Probably both, and some other factors, but rest assured, I have more than enough material. The trick is to figure out what is most legitimate, and of that, what is most important. I've been working the phones as the signing period nears, so here is your information dump, notebook-style.

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January 4, 2009 11:33 am

Prospectus Q&A: Tony Blengino


David Laurila

The head of Seattle's new Department of Statistical Research elaborates on the ins and outs and evolution of baseball analysis.

A new era of Mariners baseball began when Seattle hired Jack Zduriencik as their general manager following the 2008 season, an era that will include an increased emphasis on statistical analysis. Helping to lead that charge will be Tony Blengino, who previously served as Milwaukee's assistant director of amateur scouting under Zduriencik, and now holds the title of special assistant to the general manager, baseball operations. A chief financial officer and author of the book Future Stars, before joining organized baseball in 2003, Blengino will head Seattle's newly created Department of Statistical Research. Blengino talked about his new role, and how the Mariners hope to build a championship-caliber team through a perfect marriage between traditional scouting and statistical analysis.

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February 17, 2008 12:00 am

Prospectus Q&A: Joe Bohringer


David Laurila

A conversation with the veteran scout from the D'backs organization.

In the past, scouts have been called the lifeblood of baseball, and even with the increased emphasis on statistical analysis in today's game, they remain a vital part of a team's success. The best of them, like Arizona's Joe Bohringer, incorporate both analytics and traditional scouting methods as they evaluate talent. Bohringer joined the Diamondbacks in 2006, and has a degree from the MIT Sloan School of Management and previously served as an Area Scouting Supervisor for the Mariners and as the Senior Manager of Player Development for the Dodgers. The 2008 season will be his 19th in professional baseball.

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Sitting down with the Pirates' new GM to talk about the philosophies hell bring with him from Cleveland, and his overall vision for Pittsburgh.

Neal Huntington has a challenge in front of him, but the 10-year veteran of the Indians front office has a plan in place to help resuscitate a moribund Pirates franchise that hasn't had a winning season since 1992--a plan that includes the utilization of performance analysis. Appointed as the team's new general manager in September, the 38-year-old native of Amherst, New Hampshire brings not only an extensive scouting and player development background to Pittsburgh, but also a deep understanding of sabermetrics.

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May 15, 2007 12:00 am

Wait 'Til Next Year: The Scouting Directors, AL West


Bryan Smith

Examining the past draft tendencies of major league scouting directors, Bryan predicts which amateurs teams will nab in this June's frenzy.

In football, every coach is assumed to have tendencies that can be discovered and schemed against, and as a result, coaches spend hours each week looking at game tape. Tendencies are a natural part of being in a high position in the sporting world -- in stressful situations, people go with what has worked before. It's natural, but yet we don't identify when it happens enough in the baseball world.

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