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Tigers to expand analytics under Avila...

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reasonably hyped prospect? i bet his hype had **** to do with analytics.

mashed in minor leagues? there's 20 different guys every year that do this. that's not analytics.

any team would want to sign someone to a minor league deal? again, **** to do with analytics.

What the hell does it have to do with traditional scouting then? "Look at minor league stat line - sign players who hit well" might be too complicated for some organizations, but it shouldn't be.

I suppose it's more likely that JD Martinez was going to retire from MLB due to lack of interest, but one plucky scout (played by Kevin Costner) spotted him playing on a sand lot with some kids and liked his new swing, once years ago, the scout (played by Kevin Costner) had bumped into Al Avila at a charity golf outing and picked up his phone number.

The scout (played by Kevin Costner) gave Avila a call, telling him how he had to ignore the stat nerds and look at this JD Martinez fellow. He looked like a baseball player, and had a lot to offer to the team. Avila was resistant. He was an analytical figure, and the numbers just didn't show much there. After all, the name JD Martinez has zero numbers in it. Not only that, but JD's Value over replacement minor league free agent signing compared to previous minor league free agent signings (VORMLFASCPMLFAS) was quite low.

But the scout (played by Kevin Costner) wasn't one to give up easily. He'd given his life to the game. Lost his wife, lost his family. There was no crying in baseball though, so he picked up the phone and tried again. Please Mr. Avila, please. You have to sign this kid. Good kid, just gives it his all. A gamer, knows how to play. Come take a look at him.

Avila wasn't impressed, but he remembered the scout (played by Kevin Costner) and liked him. So he drove down to Florida in his beat up Winnebago and took a look at the kid. He was impressed. Ball jumped off his bat like junebugs on the concrete in June. The month in which junebugs traditionally do things. No one else even knew who he was, but thanks to the scout (played by Kevin Costner) they did. The rest is history.

And what happened to that scout? Well, believe it or not, today he's well known as Hollywood actor Kevin Costner. Funny old game, isn't it?

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I think the JD thing was just a quick throw in to enhance the story.... it wasn't meant to be dissected like this.

That was actually my original point. Whenever anyone writes about Avila, they always have to mention JD. So, he threw JD in there even though he wasn't the ideal player to use for a scouting versus stats example. I just thought it was funny because when he was coming up, his stats shined more than his scouting reports.

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I don't really know what this argument was about, I wasn't saying that JD Martinez was signed due to analytics, it just felt like the writer felt the need to throw in a bone about how great traditional scouting was in his article for no reason, and he picked a player where it didn't make much sense to do so.

Most teams would probably have wanted to sign JD Martinez whether they went by scouting or stats. He was certainly one of the top minor league free agents available. There's no need for any big story about it.

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He hit well in the minors. So do a lot of guys. Go back to the 2011 top 100 prospects and you can probably trade Dixon Machado for 80 of those guys.

The difference with JD is the obvious answer: he changed his swing. That's not saber, that's scouting. DET scouting (and knowing) JD, JD scouting himself.

You can use "saber" to quantify or spot swing changes...

A program could be set up that extracts certain tendencies from video footage. From there some study could be done that correlates those tendencies to how well guys do moving up the ladder.

A scouting database (the database set up by the "saber" people) could make the swing change easier to verify.

Exit velocity data could very easily track a difference in a swing.

I could go on...

Edited by Edman85

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That's certainly a fair enough point. But does that represent anything 'advanced' in the application of stats? I'm on a small screen right now and it's not convenient to search back, but someone, maybe not you, called JD a bad or even contradictory example to the point. I would say that is a bit harsh, there are aspects of JDs story that fit the point he was making even if there are points you can question or more depth to the complete story.

I guess I take the conversation more as 'advanced stat techniques' versus old style use of numbers than just 'stats vs scouting' in term of taking about 'advanced analytics'

There is nothing advanced about a scout seeing a new swing either.

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I don't really know what this argument was about, I wasn't saying that JD Martinez was signed due to analytics, it just felt like the writer felt the need to throw in a bone about how great traditional scouting was in his article for no reason, and he picked a player where it didn't make much sense to do so.

Most teams would probably have wanted to sign JD Martinez whether they went by scouting or stats. He was certainly one of the top minor league free agents available. There's no need for any big story about it.

Bingo.

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You can use "saber" to quantify or spot swing changes...

Sure, but only once there is a record created. If you need/want to make an evaluation before there is a statistically significant sample size, you have to apply different tools.

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I don't really know what this argument was about, I wasn't saying that JD Martinez was signed due to analytics, it just felt like the writer felt the need to throw in a bone about how great traditional scouting was in his article for no reason, and he picked a player where it didn't make much sense to do so.

Most teams would probably have wanted to sign JD Martinez whether they went by scouting or stats. He was certainly one of the top minor league free agents available. There's no need for any big story about it.

there wasn't a big story about it. The article was 1109 words long and 99 of them were devoted to JD.

The Tigers also never would have ended up with J.D. Martinez if they had been relying solely on analytics. Avila knew Martinez as a kid in Miami and never lost touch. So when Martinez was released by the Astros last spring, the Tigers swooped in despite analytics that might have suggested otherwise.

Fifty-three home runs in 234 games later, chalk up a win for traditional scouting.

"The combination is what works, the scouting with the analytics," Avila said. "You have to have one balance out the other — the opportunity to use both in order to put together the team."

And Micro seemed to back that up a little bit.

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There is nothing advanced about a scout seeing a new swing either.

??? I know, I thought the writer was saying exactly that at that point in the article wasn't he? Maybe it's just that the headline put more emphasis on that aspect than was actually in the write up.

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??? I know, I thought the writer was saying exactly that at that point in the article wasn't he? Maybe it's just that the headline put more emphasis on that aspect than was actually in the write up.

The article was about how Avila is going to do some things differently than DD and more statistical analysis was one of the main themes. I liked the article for the most part. I just thought the part about JD seemed out of place.

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The article was about how Avila is going to do some things differently than DD and more statistical analysis was one of the main themes. I liked the article for the most part. I just thought the part about JD seemed out of place.

yes that part of the article was kind of the 'counter-point' to the main theme. I didn't mind it because it seemed he was just trying to say Al would be a guy open to all kinds of info and to pushing all available levers.

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there wasn't a big story about it. The article was 1109 words long and 99 of them were devoted to JD.

And Micro seemed to back that up a little bit.

I don't doubt that the Tigers scout every player they sign, as they're probably not an incompetent organization run by apes, hooting and throwing their feces at each other.

It was just an article about Avila liking analysis and the writer decided to remind us that traditional scouting is the only way to find great players like JD Martinez. It was ham fisted and probably wrong. Woop de doo. I'm quite certain that every player signed by every organization is part scouting and part analysis. Except for the players the Phillies sign. That's just throwing darts at a board attached to Rube Amaro's servants faces.

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I don't care whether Avila uses more analytics or not. As we have seen, there are a dozen ways to build a winner. Dayton Moore isn't known as a saber guy and his team is doing ok these days.

Whether AA focuses on stats, scouting or whatever, all I care is that he do it right.

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I don't care whether Avila uses more analytics or not. As we have seen, there are a dozen ways to build a winner. Dayton Moore isn't known as a saber guy and his team is doing ok these days.

Whether AA focuses on stats, scouting or whatever, all I care is that he do it right.

I would hope the Tigers are using the right balance of saber and scouting. If Avila thinks they are behind in saber, then I hope he changes that. The Royals were awful for a long time, so I don't consider them the model franchise to follow, although there are some things they seem to do quite well.

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You can use "saber" to quantify or spot swing changes...

A program could be set up that extracts certain tendencies from video footage. From there some study could be done that correlates those tendencies to how well guys do moving up the ladder.

A scouting database (the database set up by the "saber" people) could make the swing change easier to verify.

Exit velocity data could very easily track a difference in a swing.

I could go on...

Oh of course. It didn't happen in this case, but you could eventually have video and data analysis doing all of these things instead of or in addition to humans in a lot of ballparks.

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pyro and lee just get extra sensitive when something subjective works:

"analytics had little to do with but neither did traditional scouting."

k

I think you get extra sensitive whenever anybody argues with you about sabermetrics (I remember you getting all upset when the "clique" said Galarraga was going to be bad for example). You've gone on anti-saber rants in the past, yet you seem to like stats a lot when they back up your opinions.

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I think you get extra sensitive whenever anybody argues with you about sabermetrics (I remember you getting all upset when the "clique" said Galarraga was going to be bad for example). You've gone on anti-saber rants in the past, yet you seem to like stats a lot when they back up your opinions.

lolwut

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...

A scouting database (the database set up by the "saber" people) could make the swing change easier to verify.

Exit velocity data could very easily track a difference in a swing.

I could go on...

Interesting point here. How much of that advanced metrics equipment is going to percolate down to MiLB parks? You can make the argument that is is just as important to get advanced data on your developing players. Just as an example, let say we we see in F/X that Greene isn't spinning his FB the way he used to. So we send him to the minors to work on it, and he starts getting more people out, but is he really spinning the ball better or is he just a AAAA guy even without good spin on the ball? You can try to scout how many pop flies he's getting, but does it matter against AAA hitters? So you call him back up and he gets hammered and then you know the hard way - "I guess he really isn't throwing any better" :dead:

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It was 2% scouting, 1% analytics/stats, and 97% fortunate circumstance.

I can go along with that. The biggest factors may have been the Astros being so loaded with depth that they let JD go and Avila having good connections.

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It was 2% scouting, 1% analytics/stats, and 97% fortunate circumstance.

2%? That's absurd.

In fairness to the Tigers, there was a heavy scouting component to the Martinez acquisition. The Tigers scouted him extensively during winter ball that year, identifying the mechanical changes he had made. The changes hadn't truly clicked in game action at the time if his release and the Tigers had been encouraged by what they saw over the winter. From there, Avila's relationship played a role, I'm sure.

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2%? That's absurd.

Probably any team's scout would have noticed the change he made in his swing if they happened to looking at him closely. Isn't that one of the main things scouts look for in a batter? The Tigers may have been looking at JD more closely because Avila had a past relationship with him. There are lots of guys that make mechanical changes and they don't work. So, is that scouting or good relationships or good fortune?

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Was wOBA Actually Invented Nearly 100 Years Ago? | Community – FanGraphs Baseball

With apologies to Michael Lewis, what if everything you thought you knew about baseball was wrong? As our collective understanding of advanced statistical analysis in baseball grows exponentially with each passing day, we are now among a generation of baseball fans that has done more critical thinking about and retained more esoteric knowledge of the game than our parents could ever have dreamed of. Anyone who has seen MLB Network’s show on the evolution of statistics would think that between Henry Chadwick’s invention of the box score and Branch Rickey’s hiring of Alan Roth as a statistician, baseball fans in the 20th century consumed baseball metrics in only the most rudimentary of ways — via the dreaded batting average, home runs and RBI triumvirate.

However, what if I told you that one of the most advanced analytical discoveries — one that sabermetricians hold near and dear to their hearts — was actually discovered before Babe Ruth ever played a game?

My dad gave me Michael Lewis’ “Moneyball” when I was 13 years old. Up until that point, I had every statistic on the back of every baseball card memorized. I would spend hours organizing and reorganizing my seemingly infinite collection of cards — always checking the numbers before placing a card into a new position. Michael Lewis ruined this childhood passion. Knowing that Bernie Williams hit .338 in 1998, narrowly beating out Mo Vaughan (.337) for the batting title just didn’t seem that important anymore. Long story short, I had to know everything about baseball I didn’t already know. My progression began with on-base percentage, grew to OPS, and I eventually stumbled upon the likes of FIP and wOBA. As a teenager, I simply believed these metrics were all invented by Bill James, who I imagined being like Vito Corleone with Tom Tango as Tom Hagen and Voros McCraken as Michael Corleone.

Returning to the present day, I‘m currently in the midst of writing my college thesis (yes, it’s on baseball), and I recently came across a piece of research that sounded my “wow, everything I thought I knew about baseball is wrong” alarm to claxon-like levels. In the 1915 edition of Baseball Magazine (distributed from 1908-1957), there’s an article written by F.C. Lane that would make even Tom Tango take notice (assuming he isn’t already aware of its existence): “Why the System of Batting Averages Should Be Changed: Statistics Lie at the Foundation of Baseball Popularity — Batting Records Are the Favorite — And Yet Batting Records Are Unnecessarily Inaccurate.”

Lane opens his discussion with a question: “Suppose you asked a close personal friend how much change he had in his pocket and he replied, ‘Twelve coins,’ would you think you had learned much about the precise state of his exchequer?” He goes on to compare two mens’ respective financial situations: Man A, with “twelve coins” consisting of a combination of quarters, nickels, and dimes; and Man B, with twelve silver dollars. Saying both men have equal financial means is equivalent to the system of tracking batting averages, he explains. “One batter, we may say, made twelve singles, three or four of them of the scratchiest possible variety. The other also made twelve hits, but all of them were good ringing drives, clean cut and decisive, three of them were doubles, one a triple, and one a home run…Is there no way to separate the dimes from the nickels and give each its proper value?” Sound familiar?

“If these averages mislead or give mistaken ideas of batting ability they forfeit their only excuse in being?”

This issue was not solely unique to Lane’s inquisitiveness. John Heydler, secretary and future president of the National League, added, “that the system of giving as much credit to singles as to home runs is inaccurate to that extent. But it has never seemed practicable to use any other system. How, for instance, are you going to give the comparative values of home runs and singles?”

Lane wasn’t satisfied with Heydler’s admission that even though the system was broken, it couldn’t be fixed. To prove Heydler wrong, the question Lane would attempt to answer was simple: “What constitutes the value of a hit?” “A hit,” Lane says, “is valuable in so far as it results in a score. The entire aim of a baseball team at bat is to score runs. Hits, stolen bases, taking advantage of errors — in short, all the departments of play — are but details in the process of scoring runs.”

Lane continues to outline what appears to be a very early version of weighted on-base average (wOBA). Before he concludes his argument, he makes another discovery that took the rest of us about 80 years to figure out. Lane compares Jake Daubert — who hit for a high batting average — and Gavvy Cravath, who Lane claims is a much better player, even with his sub-.300 batting average.

To make this comparison, Lane looks at the league average figures for singles, doubles, triples and home runs (77.44%, 14.80%, 5.51%, and 2.24%, respectively) and compares those numbers to each player’s numbers. Daubert’s hit breakdown was as follows: 79.47% singles, 13.90% doubles, 5.29% triples and 1.33% home runs. “In other words,” explains Lane, “Jake made more singles and fewer extra base hits than the general average right down the line. Jake had a lot of coins in his pockets, but many of them were nickels and dimes.” Cravath, on the other hand, had the following breakdown: 59.38% singles, 20.80% doubles, 4.69% triples and 16.12% home runs. Lane breaks down the numbers further, assigning the proper (his idea of the correct) values to each hit, thus creating a weighted batting average. Comparing a player’s weighted figures to the league averages seems quite a bit similar to what we know as wRC+ today, wouldn’t you say?

Clearly the baseball universe did not end up adopting these types of analyses back then. Even today, most fans are just beginning to realize just how one-dimensional batting average is. MLB Network’s aforementioned special on statistics called OPS the gateway drug, and noted that fans are beginning to realize that OBP and SLG are better metrics than AVG. While the more advanced figures like wOBA and wRC+ are still relatively unknown to the baseball masses, even they seem to be slowly seeping into the wider baseball zeitgeist.

“Let it be hoped that 1916, the dawn of a new day in baseball affairs, will witness as well the dawn of a new day in the outworn method of keeping batting averages. The time has passed when the public will any longer swallow the palpable falsehood that a home run is no better than a scratch single. It knows better, instinctively feels better, and should be told the truth by a presentation of the season’s statistics founded upon a sane, workmanlike basis.”

If only Lane could’ve seen just how far his theories have come.

Fascinating article authored by Sam Menzin

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