Q. Are MLB talent scouts able to evaluate players based on intuitive judgments?
A. The thought was floated that they aren't. In this article the author implies that the only appropriate tool for making roster decisions is a performance-based analysis.
Every year, though, decisions are made based on how players do in March. The decisions are justified by claiming that it they aren’t based on the results, but on how the players look to experienced coaches and scouts who are paid to evaluate players in an up-close-and-personal atmosphere. The problem is that human beings — even experienced scouts and coaches — are pretty terrible at evaluating the difference between “how a guy looks” and what his results are.
Incidentally an incorrect implication, but the spirit is clear.
Q. What makes you think that "experienced scouts and coaches" can evaluate anything based how a guy looks?
A. Oh, just f'r instance, let's consider the amateur draft.
In this Baseball Analysts article, Sky Andrecheck examines the MLB return that franchises have gotten with their draft picks.
He finds a verrrrrrry nice, smooth curve: the higher an amateur player was taken, the better the career he had in the major leagues.
Q. Implying what? What's your point?
A. That MLB franchises knew how good that amateurs would turn out to be, up and down the draft, with a remarkable level of accuracy.
Q. Implying what? Still don't get your point.
A. Do you think they used a performance analysis paradigm to evaluate anything? Or do you suppose that they evaluated 18-year-olds based on how a guy looked?
If experienced scouts and coaches can't tell anything based on how a guy looks, what is that curve doing there?
A. Any time we sabermigos get to thinking we know it all, and Eric Wedge knows nothing, we might do well to remember the amateur draft. How large a distance is there between you, gentle reader, and your being able to achieve a curve like the one above, based on watching high school games?
There is a million miles between ME, and me getting a curve like the one above, by watching high school players. I doubt the distance between YOU and there, is much less than that.
Now remember something: the above curve is based on the talents and abilities of fine men who are at the bottom of the MLB employee pool. Jack Zduriencik, and Eric Wedge -- and all GM's and Managers -- are they at the bottom of the MLB employee pool? Or are their skills at all toward the top of the pyramid.
Q. One last question. The Mariners did seem to do pretty lousy last March, making decisions off Arizona performance.
A. I think there's a lot of "noise" in their 2-for-7 result last year. :- ) But if you want us to go point-by-point, just let us know.
Supposing the Mariners did do lousy last year, which I don't necessarily suppose, would that mean you'd give up the task? After all, every good organization watches spring training ......
Q. What is appeal to authority, by the way?
A. The syllogism thusly:
- Most of what authority A has to say on subject matter S is correct.
- A says P about subject matter S.
- Therefore, P is correct.
If you can find ANY statement in the last few years, locally, with that final line in it, I'll buy you a Good Humor bar.
We are arguing about whether Capt Jack's and Sgt Wedge's intuition should be ONE PIECE OF THE PUZZLE, or whether it shouldn't be.
Nobody says Eric Wedge must be correct because he's the manager. Nobody.