Scouting and Scoring

Scouting and Scoring❰PDF / Epub❯ ☆ Scouting and Scoring Author Christopher Phillips – Heartforum.co.uk An in depth look at the intersection of judgment and statistics in baseballScouting and scoring are considered fundamentally different ways of ascertaining value in baseball Scouting seems to rely on An in depth look at the intersection of judgment and statistics in baseballScouting and Scoring are considered fundamentally different ways of ascertaining value in baseball Scouting seems to rely on experience and intuition scoring on performance metrics Scouting and PDF/EPUB ² and statistics In Scouting and Scoring Christopher Phillips rejects these simplistic divisions He shows how both scouts and scorers rely on numbers bureaucracy trust and human labor in order to make sound judgments about the value of baseball playersTracing baseball's story from the nineteenth century to today Phillips explains that the sport was one of the earliest and most conseuential fields for the introduction of numerical analysis New technologies and methods of data collection were supposed to enable teams to uantify the drafting and managing of players replacing scouting with scoring But that's not how things turned out Over the decades Scouting and Scoring started looking increasingly similar Scouts expressed their judgments in highly formulaic ways using numerical grades and scientific instruments to evaluate players Scorers drew on moral judgments depended on human labor to maintain and correct data and designed bureaucratic systems to make statistics appear reliable From the invention of official scorers and Statcast to the creation of the Major League Scouting Bureau the history of baseball reveals the inextricable connections between human expertise and data scienceA uniue consideration of the role of uantitative measurement and human judgment Scouting and Scoring provides an entirely fresh understanding of baseball by showing what the sport reveals about reliable knowledge in the modern world.

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Scouting and Scoring PDF/EPUB æ Scouting and
  • Hardcover
  • 320 pages
  • Scouting and Scoring
  • Christopher Phillips
  • English
  • 26 March 2016
  • 9780691180212

10 thoughts on “Scouting and Scoring

  1. Michael says:

    The author has researched and presents the history of the work done by baseball scorers that documents each game forming the basis of the many statistical measures of baseball performance along with the work of baseball scouts who support decision making on who does and doesn't become a major league baseball player He assumes most people believe that the first is a fairly objective process while the second is subjective but since both are mediated by individuals he suggests this isn't accurate Much of his inspiration is associated with the Moneyball philosophy that baseball and everything else can be uantified for decision making rather than relying on personal impressions and opinions Big data will make everything better and at a lower cost and efficiently In a somewhat polemical approach to this historian Phillips documents his disagreement with much of this kind of thinkingI was looking for of an understanding of the history of official scoring in baseball rather than anything else and this worked for that or less I was less interested in the second part of the book that looks mostly at scouting It seemed repetitive in what it had to say somehow The book is around 250 pages of text but there is also about 30 pages of detailed notes that I think should have been footnotes rather than at the end Some of the interesting statements are in the notes I thought I only realized they were there as I approached the end of the book and paged through them scanning for interesting stuff after finishing the rest of it The author chose a single player Craig Biggio who played for the Houston Astros and other teams as his main continuing example of how players were assessed in different ways He seems like a good choice to make certain points but for a baseball book I think a surprisingly small number of players are discussed here That may be a good thing Not sure

  2. Bryan Alkire says:

    Really two different books The scoring side gets a 2 and the scouting side gets a 4 The idea is cliché on the scoring side and fresh and interesting on the scouting side The pace is ok as the book is short though there are sections which are wordier than need be The writing is slightly inconsistent as some sections flow well and some sections take a academic approach The scoring section is not new in the information it covers There are better books on the subject which are actually cited in the text The scouting section is better as it provides a comprehensive approach to how scouting actually works and is a valuable addition to the sparse literature on the subject The main failing of this book is tying in how all this history and procedure actually impacts the modern gamehow the different ways of evaluating players is actually used So that hope was disappointed The scoring section was also a bit disappointing for lack of relevance The scouting section went above my expectations as I learned about the subject although again a modern tie in wasn’t there So overall I give this a 3 The scoring section wasn’t new and largely redundant because of other better books The scouting was novel and interesting but again suffered from a lack of modern context But had the book been solely a book on the evolution of scouting it would have been a much better much groundbreaking work

  3. Malcolm says:

    This is a remarkably humanistic book about a profoundly dehumanising tendency in sport – the tendency to uantify Phillips builds his case from a critical assessment of the Moneyball myth that seems to reify uantitative data as the source of sporting assessment As an aside much as I understand the appeal of Moneyball as a reference point I prefer to see Phillip Roth’s The Great American Novel as the start of a critiue of uantification He unpacks his critiue not by challenging those data but by exploring how they have come into existence This is not however a detailed assessment of statistical methods but a social and cultural history of the networks of people and ideas that have built baseball’s uantitative evidence base At the heart of his argument is the significance of judgment in how that knowledge has been built and a case that for the most part in baseball at least the shifts seen in data analytics in the last 20 years or so are changes in magnitude not changes in kind It’s a compelling argumentThe case is built around seuential discussions of scoring and scouting arguing that both have got to a stage where they reduce complex uestions involving significant subjective judgment to simple numerical indicators in an effort to enhance comparability Although he doesn’t say this uite as explicitly the underpinning principle of this reduction seems to be a widespread view that somehow the meaning of numbers is clearer and straightforward – a view Phillips sets out to debunkHe opens with an exploration of the ways that the data derived from and for scoring has been developed from the earliest systematic collection of performance data in the late 19th century and its systematisation in the early 20th It would be easy to have fallen into a technical discussion but although technology focused as in focusing on the artefacts – score sheets and the like – Phillips explores the social networks and institutional arrangements In doing so he discusses the role of leagues and clubs the place of journalists as score keepers the changing rules surrounding the practice and especially the place of subjective assessment what counts as fielder error and therefore unearned run for instance A key part of this section is an exploration of the work that went into building data bases procedures in place to reconcile data where there were inconsistencies and the enormous and complex work that went into translating print copy data into computerised and then on line record sets Much of this discussion he build around a single simple uestion how do we know that there were 30 doubles hit in 1907? The specific answer to the uestion was it actually 30? is less relevant than the ‘how do we know’ part – which is all to do with the complex arrangements for building data with integrity At the heart of this discussion is the simple point that every data set is only as good as the people who enter the data into it so the key is having systems in place to ensure that accuracy – and this section of the book explores the social and cultural arrangements as well as the institutional structures that mean we can trust those dataThe discussion of scouting has a different emphasis at least at the outset where as with some of the scoring discussion he is interested in the role of judgment and how that translates into comparable accurate data There are very different institutional arrangements involved in scouting where at least until 1965 scouts signed players the draft changed all of that Scouting became centralised and a considerable amount of the data shared Club decision makers become isolated from many of those who wrote their scouting reports which became standardised so clubs began to expect a higher degree of consistency and comparable information from scouts As with scoring systems became bureaucratised and common; also as with scoring much of this relied on extensive labour to ensure consistencyPhillips draws on the career of Craig Biggio a former Houston Astro Hall of Famer who did not at the outset seem a convincing candidate with decision making over several years turning on performance data Phillips returns to Biggio repeatedly to illustrate his points; given the complexity and subtlety of the discussion it is a sharp tactic allowing readers a common reference point Yet as noted this is not technical discussion but a social and cultural history so it is an analysis of networks of institutions and individuals He seems comfortable developing this discussion when dealing with artefact based systems so the initial discussion of coaching where he is discussing the disparate practice of individual practitioners albeit within a defined system is less coherent than the exploration of scoring and post draft scouting In both those cases there are emerging commonly deployed artefactsHis discussions of what seems to be an arcane technical set of issues is in fact a sophisticated exploration of cultures of management and the sorts of evidence available to allow clubs to be making safe business decisions Even then the richness and importance of the book is not highlighted This is a rare social history of uantitative data how it some into being the work cultures and business practices that underpin a key business component of commercial sport It is valuable reading for historical insight and I suspect important for those interested in the kind of evidence that not only frames sport business but also systems of talent identification and recruitmentThat said however the conclusion is perplexing Phillips fails to look outwards to consider the ways that these kinds of work practices are significant across sport business focusing instead on notions of truth and expertise which might be consistent with Phillips’ interest in intellectual history of science I can’t help but think he missed an opportunity to develop uestions related to work and culture that might be important in other sport settings Even with that weakness there is nothing else like this in sports history that I know of It is a significant contribution and highly original and comes highly recommended

  4. Matt Mitchell says:

    Scouting and Scoring is an academic look at how data comes into existence using baseball as a backdrop For the data analyst it is a reminder that while it certainly can seem like tabular information grows on trees these days the truth of the matter is that some person somewhere has generated that data For the baseball fan it's yet another conclusive argument that scouting and statistics are not diametrically opposed as some storytellers would have their readers believe That said it certainly a book written for the studious baseball fan The book can be very easily parsed into the two halves of its title The scoring half of the book leads off and acts as a bit of a supplement to Alan Schwarz's The Number Game by exploring the why of the scoring systems employed and how the data was cleansed and produced into its current state It is the stronger of the two halves of Christopher Phillips' argument The scouting part makes up the back half of the book highlighting how the process of scouting evolved over time with the changes in how baseball clubs acuire new players before exploring the openly acknowledged humanity involved in creating that information It seemed as though Phillip had less insight about how scouting data was being used unsurprising given how scouting data is not generally publicized data This unfortunately left a few gaps that I presume he had hoped to answer by talking to someone who worked in the business but was unable to interviewStill this is a must read for the statistorians of SABR and an interesting read for those who are general baseball fans or data analysts with some understanding of the sport

  5. Chris Jaffe says:

    It's an odd book in that it kept alternating between portions that I found really interesting and parts that I couldn't retain anything from after reading It's a 35 stars book but my overall impression is positive so I'll kick it up to four starsPhillips's main contention stated directly in the conclusion is that a lot of human sciences are becoming data sciences and that includes things like scoring and scouting Scouts have a reputation for being lone wolfs hunting out prospects on their own but Phillips notes that their job is really acting as a cog in a bureaucratic machine The turning point in their profession was the institution of the 1965 amateur draft and now they mostly file reports instead of personally signing prospects As part of the reports they have to uantify how valuable they think a prospects skills are There's been an increasingly numeric uantification of scouting reports radar guns etc that's been going on for decades prior to Moneyball The sections on scoring detail how we developed the modern scorecard and the Project Scoresheet version that's essentially at the heart of how MLBAM collects data And the first chapter of the book gives me a whole new appreciation for Pete Palmer as he's done than anyone else to create the most accurate database for baseball stats of anyone

  6. Reid Mccormick says:

    During my sopho year of college I took a statistics course It was a reuired class thus I treated it like a reuired class with great disdain Surprisingly it was the most interesting classes I took that semester and easily the most useful class I ever took in college The things I learned in that class helped me through graduate school and even in my professional life But importantly having a good grasp of statistics has made me a better baseball fan If I had the ability to rewind and do school all over again I think I would try data and statistics as a career Baseball has obviously championed data over the past decade or so but so has most other sports and professions Scouting and Scoring is an interesting into the nitty gritty of baseball Most books on baseball stats talk about the numbers and what they mean but in this book you learn how we get those numbers in the first place You think of the numbers as being objective but in reality there are mounds of subjectivity And speaking of subjectivity scouting is still a guessing game made by people Over the years there has been countless attempts to standardize scouting but in the end it is a real big game of chanceThis book was good but it felt longer that it needed to be The section on scoring was great The section on scouting was a tad boring

  7. Robert says:

    Mr Phillips has written a clear understandable analysis of two ways of understanding baseball One through observation e handed by experience with the game as a player or spectator The other through the collection and analysis of the data the game players and officials generates as it is played Mr Phillips's thesis a I understand it is that the evaluation of players through personal observation of through the statistics the game creates are both ultimately subjective and complementary Combined statistics and observation yield a complete picture of the game than either one does by itself A second major point of his analysis is that those who scout amateur players professional players and compile and analyze the statistics and create models of the game seek to minimize individual variance through educationtraining rules uantification and standardization of practice Mr Phillips has written a clear and well written argument and book that I a fan of the game for 70 years thoroughly enjoyed

  8. Paul Reynolds says:

    I enjoyed this book as someone that read a lot of James studied the old Total Baseball books and has used Foreman’s database The history of scoring was interesting as is the evolution of scouting Everything comes down to humans in the end I enjoyed this book but I think you have to really appreciate the process of data collection to enjoy this book

  9. Shirl Kennedy says:

    Good book but a bit weedsy You will not enjoy it if you don't really really like baseball

  10. Brucie says:

    deep and wide review of application of statistics to baseball players fascinating story of attempts to rate players by numbers

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