As the graph below shows, most of the trend played out over the first half of the existence of the two-league format, which would point to other suspects beyond the most frequently called out for any change in the game — the second wild card. The hope of every team that a playoff spot is right within their mediocre grasp may be what pushes us to extremes, as teams punt seasons less and less and favored teams don’t need to load up as much to make the playoffs.
Bottom line: I truly believe in hard work and makeup as much as I believe in any actual tool. I also believe elite makeup is harder to find than any tool. Back in 2011, my career had stalled—I was down to 12 clients. I made the decision to change the way I scouted, and the second half of my career has been far better than the first. I’m proud of the job I’ve done, and even prouder of the types of players who have made it while I worked for them. This is a business of relationships. If you can’t love your client, even when he’s down, then why even bother? Res Ipsa Loquitor
I have to imagine that there's a certain resistance along the same lines for the second baseman who finds himself in short right field making what has suddenly become a routine ground-ball play. Sure, he made the play and the batter is out and that's a good thing for his team, but he might be asking himself, "Why am I even out here?" Even if he understands it intellectually, there's probably a bad taste in his mouth. If he had made an amazing play because he had worked on his fielding drills more in the offseason or done some agility work to improve his range, the extra play would have felt good. Even though we should probably credit the coaches or trainers that he worked with some, it's pretty obvious where the on-the-field credit goes. If he makes an easy play that is easy because some computer told him to stand there, is he merely a pawn in the game to be moved around?
“It works in batting practice,” laughed Evan Gattis when we talked about backspin. “It’s great then.” Brandon Moss agreed. “In batting practice, backspun balls go forever, so you think that’s the most efficient way to hit it,” Moss practically yelled. “I do not want backspin. I want my ball to go up, and I kind of want it to draw. That means I got behind it and stayed on it.”
To use these values for scouting, I would concentrate on the maximum value range. Scouts are usually starting their stopwatches at the point of contact for a time-to-first measurement. A player is not sprinting to first base on a high towering fly ball, so the scout can let the stopwatch go until the ball eventually lands. Since, I started tracking these numbers on the amateur level early this summer, I have seen only one ex-major leaguer hit one over 6.2 seconds. The best top values have been generally in the 5.5-second range.
AL Central scout: :Here’s why I say this is objective, and maybe I’ll be alone on this: What we’re looking for is guys who either hit their target with their offerings at all levels of the plate or come close to doing it. I don’t have a particular set number of how many pitches they have to do that with, or how many strikes, but I think the good scouts; the ones who have been doing this for a long time, can give you that number pretty easy, and it’s generally close. Also if they’re able to repeat their delivery that makes it easy to give a command grade too, though repeating your delivery is probably one of the most subjective things possible in pitching."
In order to find other strike-stealing candidates, we’re looking for starting pitchers that get decent whiffs on a pitch inside the zone, and have a small differential between inside and outside the zone. That means that, if the batter swings, they’re not offering a meatball, but it also looks like they can command the pitch inside the zone. In order to sort this grouping into our finalists, let’s also look for pitches that currently have high swing rates and bad outcomes.
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