Man Your Battlestations: MLB Scouts Plot Draft Strategy
Tonight's Major League Baseball amateur draft wraps up years of prep work by team scouts, executives, and medical professionals. With millions of dollars of player investments hinging on drafting the right players, baseball front offices have got their strategies down to a science.
What's the Latest?
Tonight is the 2014 Major League Baseball Draft and Tony Blengino, a former executive who worked for both the Milwaukee Brewers and Seattle Mariners organizations, has a fascinating post up at Fangraphs detailing life in the draft room. Even though the draft typically takes place in early-to-mid June, team employees have been occupying their respective draft rooms since mid-May. Scouts spend up to 20 hours a day in these war rooms compiling and analyzing data in order to build the best possible strategy heading into draft day.
The MLB draft consists of 40 rounds of thirty picks by thirty teams (plus a few other bonus picks sprinkled in). That means draft room dwellers are tasked with ranking over a thousand players. Big draft boards are assembled. Scouting reports are finalized. Cases for favorite players and against not-so-favorite others are made. As an organization's future hinges on picking the right players, the weeks leading up to the event include a lot of long hours and a whole lot of stressed team employees.
What's the Big Idea?
Some international readers may not be entirely familiar with the sports draft process. Unlike club soccer (or football, to most folks who aren't ignorant Americans like me), sports leagues such as the NFL and MLB do not have the ability to directly sign young domestic talent. A draft is held in the spirit of competitive balance (or in the spirit of billionaire owners imposing bonus restrictions on top talent) and each team takes its turn picking names off the big board.
Many of the players picked in the first round are generally considered blue-chippers by most teams' scouting departments. It's in the later rounds where scouts earn their bonus money. Future Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 13th round (402nd overall) of the 1999 draft. The great catcher Mike Piazza was famously drafted in a round that doesn't even exist anymore, the 62nd (1,389 players were picked before him). Finding these sorts of diamonds in the rough is no easy feat considering the vastness of North American amateur baseball. That MLB draftees tend to spend several years in a team's farm system adds an additional wrinkle to the difficulty of projecting a ballplayer's future potential.
Blengino's article, linked again at the bottom of this post, explains various draft strategies and the ideas both big and small that go into deciding which players to select and when. It's a rather fascinating phenomenon, especially where the philosophies of old-school baseball scouting merge with the new-school emphases on data and statistics. Front offices are always on the lookout for new ideas that may offer them an advantage in such a massive, momentous event.
The 2014 Major League Baseball amateur draft airs tonight at 7 p.m. EST on the MLB Network. It will also be live-streamed on MLB.com.
Photo credit: Rena Schild/Shutterstock
The way that you think about stress can actually transform the effect that it has on you – and others.
- Stress is contagious, and the higher up in an organization you are the more your stress will be noticed and felt by others.
- Kelly McGonigal teaches "Reset your mindset to reduce stress" for Big Think Edge.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Three scientists publish paper proving that not Venus but Mercury is the closest planet to Earth
- Earth is the third planet from the Sun, so our closest neighbour must be planet two of four, right?
- Wrong! Neither Venus nor Mars is the right answer.
- Three scientists ran the numbers. In this YouTube video, one of them explains why our nearest neighbour is... Mercury!
The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested on a massive scale in order to retrieve a cell critical to medical research. However, recent innovations might make this practice obsolete.
- Horseshoe crabs' blue blood is so valuable that a quart of it can be sold for $15,000.
- This is because it contains a molecule that is crucial to the medical research community.
- Today, however, new innovations have resulted in a synthetic substitute that may end the practice of farming horseshoe crabs for their blood.
The distance between the American dream and reality is expressed best through literature.
- Literature expands our ability to feel empathy and inspires compassion.
- These ten novels tackle some facet of the American experience.
- The list includes a fictional retelling of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard and hiding out in inner city Newark.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.