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A Method to the Madness

Somehow, someway you’ve stumbled across this site. Congratulations. Did you know that every month the Netcraft Web Server Survey conducts a survey on how many living, breathing websites are cohabitating on the World Wide Web? As of ten minutes ago, we sure didn’t. Their data from January 2009 shows evidence of 185,497,213 distinct websites existing on the internet. That’s a lot of websites. For better or worse, and hopefully for better, you can now add one more to the total. Here’s to the hope that this site represents the best darn .000000000539091657% of the internet possible.

In the end, our reasons for doing this are simple: we love watching about baseball, we love reading about baseball, and we love talking about baseball. We especially love the team building and roster construction aspects of the sport, particularly when it blends objective sabermetric data with subjective personal scouting. As an aside, this quote from Tony Blengino succinctly sums up how we feel about the whole stats vs scouts “debate” – “So it really is vital that statistics and traditional scouting work hand in hand for an organization to succeed, and I think you see that with the most successful organizations in the game; they do both well.” We also aren’t ones to toot our own horns, but we feel we’ve got a unique perspective on prospective big league talent, from countless hours spent observing and analyzing ballplayers firsthand at high schools, junior colleges, and four-year universities to the accumulation of raw data, empirical and otherwise, accessible to the public like never before.

We have a vision for what this site can be and we plan to do our very best to make sure that vision gets carried out. There is a framework in place outlining what we hope to accomplish, but it’s worth noting that a framework is exactly what we have right now. This was done intentionally as we believe a loose framework is the best way to present the information we’ve compiled and the opinions we’ve formed. This site was created with the intent to be malleable and responsive in order to give you, the reader, the kind of content you’d most like to see.

It’s important to begin with an explanation about how we plan to do what we plan to do. We like to think of this as the method to our madness. “Method” is the careful, systematic way that something intelligent is done. “Madness” is the strange, meaningless action of a crazy person. Our conclusions will not always be agreed upon by everyone, but we promise to always have a method that details how we came to those conclusions.

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.” – Polonius in Hamlet

  1. The method is simple. We will take into account any and all information from any and all reputable sources. These include, but are in no way limited to, firsthand accounts, statistical analysis, scouting reports from people in and out of the business we trust, and scouting reports from cited publications and sources we trust.
  2. We fully acknowledge that this is an opinion driven business. Baseball scouting is extremely objective and there can be no right or wrong answers so long as there is some meat to back them up. The goal of this site is to provide a place where a general consensus on draft prospects can be realized. We wanted to start this site because we felt our opinions were worth sharing. We also wanted to start this site to collect as much information on amateur baseball talent as possible, with the eventual goal of coming to an agreed upon consensus of where that player slots into a larger baseball universe. We may like a player a lot, perhaps more than the majority public opinion. We may think said player will be a very good big leaguer when others don’t quite see what all the fuss is about. However, in the grand scheme of things, our opinion doesn’t count for a whole lot at this point. Our goal is to not just provide our opinion of the player, but also the opinion of others within the game that will be more relevant to the player’s immediate future (for example: what round the player will be drafted in).
  3. We have three personal approaches when it comes to scouting an amateur baseball game. They all have their pros and cons and we try to mix them up. We have our opinions about which works best, but know that one of these three basic methods will always be followed.
    • Comprehensive: Study the numbers beforehand and go into the game knowing who and what to watch for, deviating only if something special catches your attention.
    • Blind: Ignore the information presented before hand and just trust your eyes to tell you who can play and who can’t. After the game, run through the numbers and see what matched up and   what didn’t.
    • Oddities: Scan the numbers quickly, but only to see if there are any statistical outliers that warrant concentrating more time watching a particular player or three.
  4. This may be hearsay and a lot of those in the business will argue blue in the face otherwise, but we present this simple fact to you because, well, honesty is our policy: scouting is not exactly rocket science. We mean no disrespect to the job and the professionals (and they absolutely are professionals) who do it for a living. We have been involved in the game enough to feel comfortable watching a player and formulating an opinion based on what we see. Of course, we are not delusional. Many of the intricacies of the scouting profession remain blind spots for us. To help remedy that, we firmly believe in the scouting bell curve. There are rare times when you see a player and you just know, for better or worse, whether or not that player has it or doesn’t. We had one of those better reactions to a player when watching current Baltimore Orioles minor leaguer Matt Wieters play collegiately; right away, you knew he had everything it took to be a very high draft pick and a darn good big league player. Conversely, sometimes there is a player, highly touted or not, that has such obvious fundamental flaws to his game that you know straight away that it would take a minor miracle for him to realize his potential. Those are both extremely, extremely, extremely rare examples. Almost always, it takes repeated viewings of a player to even begin to formulate a meaningful opinion.
  5. We love player comps. Love ‘em. Lots of purists hate them, but we think there is no better way to draw casual fans of the draft in than through comparisons to current and former major and minor league players. They are also very useful when used as a conversation starter or as a summation of a player’s skillset; Player X reminds me of Player Y because…and boom! You’ve got a discussion going.
  6. Ah,  the traditional scouting scale. It is used by a lot of different professionals in a lot of different ways. Every Major League team, to our most recent knowledge, currently grades players in increments of 5. All players are graded on the current abilities and their future potential. Here, it’ll be used as Cliff Notes. Rarely will we talk about players’ abilities on the scale numerically, but we will refer to their talents with the scale in mind. For example, if we talk about a college pitcher with a plus breaking ball, you can assume that breaking pitch rates between a 60 and a 65 on the scale. The simplest breakdown you’ll ever see on the scale (additional detail will be made available as we get rolling):

    80 = “Eighty”
    70 = Plus-Plus
    60 = Plus
    55 = Above Average
    50 = Major League Average
    45 = Below Average
    40 and Under = Bad News

If one thing can be gleaned from this cobbled together introduction it’s this: Even if you don’t trust the analysis, this site will at least serve as a resource. Scouting has become more of a science than an art, but it’s a terribly inexact science. The effort to discover and increase understanding is what science is all about. The more information that the public has access to, the more everybody can learn. That’s all we want: to share what we’ve learned and to learn ourselves. Simple enough, right?

Remember our fun fact from the beginning? There are 185,497,213 websites on the internet. Sound familiar? Well, I figure the breakdown is roughly 185,497,200 or so porn sites (so I’ve been told), with many of the leftover sites devoted to the great sport of baseball. Baseball has a gigantic web presence, but there is simply not enough coverage of the yearly Rule 4 Draft. Time for us to do our part in changing that. Site number 185,497,214 is open for business.

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2 Comments

  1. […] High School Righthanded Pitchers (15 thru 11) Mock Draft 1.0 (or everybody’s favorite feature) A Method to the Madness (or what we are all […]

  2. […] perfect way to evaluate who reads what, but the numbers are startling. For example, my first post, a quick summary of what this site is all about, has been viewed about 40 times; the second post, Mock Draft 1.0, has been viewed almost 4,000 […]

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