For this former prospect, a career like the game "Operation"
With only weeks to go until spring training gets into high gear, Collateral Damage takes a look at the baseball players (three pitchers, three position players) who have spent more time on the disabled list over the past decade than anyone else. Up next: Alex Escobar.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Just like with pitcher evaluation, hitter evaluation requires a keen eye for a solid player body.
In parts one and two of this series, I exhausted the word allotments per piece, yet barely scratched the surface of the subject at hand. A proper breakdown of what I look for in a pitcher would probably require a six-beer conversation, and that’s rushing it a bit. Talking continuously while maintaining a socially acceptable pace of alcohol consumption, I would need at least three hours on the platform to expatiate my thoughts on the process of pitching evaluation. Have you ever listened to someone talk for three straight hours about pitching? It’s awesome, but it requires passion, patience, and an ever-climbing blood alcohol level. The point is, I wanted to offer more, but articulating my thoughts on this page proved to be more difficult than I imagined. I’m sure it comes as no shock to you that drinking and running my mouth about scouting come naturally, while writing succinct articles with clever narratives proves to be more difficult.
Before taking the stage to deliver my thoughts on the evaluation of hitters, it needs to be stated that like the previous articles, this is going to be a six-beer conversation compressed into a few thousand words. (Actually, it would probably require a 12-beer conversation or two separate six-beer sessions, but let’s not even go there.) Because of the density involved, I’m sometimes going to paint with a wide brush, but I’ll get precise when a detail needs dissection. As is the case for every article I write (or fail to write), my door [read: my electronic door] is always open to the fine readers of Baseball Prospectus. If you ever have any comments, questions, insults, accolades, or want clarification on a point, or want me to expand on a comment that didn’t receive enough explanation, I’m always willing to start up a conversation or provide a more thorough description. Don’t be shy.
We hear terms like "projectability" and "60-grade velocity" bandied about, but what do they actually mean? Here's a glimpse at what goes into scouting a pitcher.
If you have ever listened to the BP podcast, you have no doubt heard the always-fedora’d Kevin Goldstein and me identify what we look for in a prospect. Every player is unique, but there are certain attributes that tickle the scouting fancy more than others, whether physical or psychological. While we are recidivistic in our velocity whoring, other factors are at play when evaluating a pitcher, just like evaluating hitters is more complex than watching batting practice power displays. In this long-winded series, I’ll identity what I look for when scouting players on the mound, in the field, and in the box.
Not to get overly existential here, but scouting is a profound philosophical pursuit: Are we looking for enlightenment through the physical exceptionalism of athletes? Is it possible to separate our own deficiencies and insecurities from the process? Does the fact that I used to be quite fast influence my ability to appreciate speed in a lower-level prospect? Does the fact that I once had dreams of being a ballplayer heighten my ability to recognize those who are athletically superior to me, or does my failure create a form of subjective justice that I wield upon those that get to play out my fantasy for a paycheck?
This week's installment includes a team called the Microbes, a Hall of Fame quarterback, and the ubiquitous more.
In our previous installment, I marvelled at the fun minor-league team names that pop up throughout history. Because you cannot have too much fun, I humbly submit the following: Ft. Dodge Gypsumites, Waterloo Microbes, San Jose Prune Pickers, Muncie Fruit Jars, Petaluma Incubators, Vincennes Alices, Holland Wooden Shoes, Kirksville Osteopaths, Lincoln Abes. With reality like that, who needs fiction?
Setting aside the teams doing the picking, who are the players who rate best in terms of talent and projection?
To be as clear as possible, this is not a prediction of how the players will be selected or any type of mock draft--you'll see that tomorrow. Instead, this is a ranking of talent in a similar vein of my off-season team-by-team rankings, based on the combination of ultimate ceiling and the chances to reach it.
The American Sports Medicine Institute kicks off its 22nd annual "Injuries in Baseball" course Jan. 29 in Orlando. Today we continue from Part I of our discussion with ASMI's Smith and Nephew Chair of Research, Dr. Glenn Fleisig.
Baseball Prospectus: Do teams tend to send more major league pitchers or minor leaguers? What are some of the differences between the two groups?