As I was doing draft research a couple weeks ago, an idea struck me: What if MLB teams were only allowed players from their specific regions? Alternately, what if there was a WBC-style tournament for MLB teams and their regions? I love thinking about fun stuff like this, so I decided to put the teams together to see what they might look like.
In instances where it’s different, I’m going more off of where a player grew up or went to high school, rather than where they were born. But there has to be some flexibility in an exercise like this—whether it be bumping a guy up the defensive spectrum a spot or two to squeeze him into the lineup or borrowing a player from the state next door to make the team better.
While I tried to be as realistic as possible with these teams, the goal is all about fun. So, for example, if there were players available from a certain area (pitchers from Chicago, let’s say), but there were better options available from a neighboring state without an MLB team, sometimes I chose to go with one of those players, placing emphasis on value over proximity. After all, this is just a silly exercise for an event that will never happen and the teams only exist in our imagination.
Let’s take a look at all the teams, from worst to best . . .
I have always been fascinated with origins. When I meet people, I like to ask about where they grew up. Whenever I’m watching an NFL game, I regularly find myself Googling players to see where they went to college. I always need to know where bands or musicians are from and when I see a movie I like, I look up the writer and director on IMDB to see what else they’ve done.
Needless to say, covering the draft for Baseball America was right up my alley.
To help relieve some of the downtime this winter, I decided to take a look at where Major Leaguers come from, focusing my study on the draft—a baseball census, if you will. The sample for this study is comprised of any player who got at least 130 big league at-bats, or pitched 50 innings or more at any point over the past five years (2009-2013). It’s a group that includes 1,247 different players spanning from established and retired players like Jamie Moyer, John Smoltz, Garret Anderson and Jim Thome to recent first-rounders like Michael Wacha, Mike Zunino, Gerrit Cole and Jose Fernandez.
First, let’s look at a state-by-state breakdown of where these 1,247 players were drafted from . . . Continue reading
Being an umpire is hard.
Umpires have one of the few jobs where many observers naively believe they could do better. They’re right there with politicians in that regard.
For the past few years, it seems there has been a growing number of complaints and snark toward professional umpires. I blame PITCHf/x and Twitter.
If you actually think umpiring is easy, get off your couch and try it. Umpire a high school game and I think you’ll be surprised how quickly the game moves and how difficult it can be to make split-second decisions on the spot, without the luxury of multiple TV angles and slow-motion replays. I’ve done it—and while I didn’t enjoy it and didn’t stick with it for very long, it certainly gave me a new perspective and appreciation for those who do it at a very high level.
Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with umpires from time to time and have honest questions about the jobs they do. Mainly, how often (if at all) are they required to have their vision tested? Even if they are tested regularly, is 20/20 vision acceptable? We know that the average (AVERAGE) Major League hitter has 20/12.5 vision—meaning what someone with 20/20 vision could read from no more than 12.5 feet away, an average Major League hitter could read from 20 feet away. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Joey Gallo.
After all, his season was fascinating. He hit .251/.338/.623 with 40 home runs mostly for low Class A Hickory. Those home runs led the minor leagues—even though he missed about three weeks of the season. Baseball America named him to their second team postseason Minor League All-Star Team and put him on the cover of the Oct. 1 issue.
But the power came with a price. Gallo was third among minor league qualified hitters this year by striking out in 37 percent of his trips to the plate (165 strikeouts in 446 plate appearances). Only Rockies first baseman Harold Riggins (39.8 SO% over 482 plate appearances with high Class A Modesto) and White Sox outfielder Courtney Hawkins (37.6 SO% over 425 plate appearances with high Class A Winston-Salem) fared worse.
The feast-or-famine approach didn’t surprise me for Gallo. That was his report coming out of high school. I saw him a lot prior to him getting picked 39th-overall and wrote this just before the 2012 draft . . . Continue reading
Here’s one from the cutting-room floor. I wrote this article for Baseball America leading up to the 2011 draft, but it never got published. I have always been fascinated with vision, as it relates to MLB hitters, and with the information teams are trying to gather to gain a competitive advantage…
At its core, amateur scouting is the process of information gathering and data collection. Some of that data is objective, like height, weight, radar gun readings, 60-yard dash times and statistics, while other information is subjective.
Teams have been working to collect as much information on players as possible, especially with the increase of signing bonuses over the past couple decades.
One relatively new source of data some teams are using is from a company in Vernon Hills, Ill., called Vizual Edge.
Dr. Barry Seiller, an ophthalmologist, first started the Vizual Fitness Institute in 1989 to combine two of his passions—vision and athletics—and help answer the question of how vision impacts athletic performance. Seiller started working with Olympic athletes—mostly lugers, bobsledders, skiers and snowboarders—but the company has grown and now helps evaluate and train athletes in nearly every sport. Vizual Edge started in 2000 as a sister company to Vizual Fitness. Continue reading
About two months ago, I went up to Philadelphia with some friends for the weekend. I had never been to the city, so it was three days filled with history, sightseeing and cheesesteaks (Pat’s is the best!).
One of the things we did was go to The Franklin Institute. It’s a science museum mostly geared toward children, but was worth the price of admission because of a fascinating traveling exhibit called, SPY: The Secret World of Espionage. The exhibit blew me away with declassified C.I.A. artifacts and stories like hiding secret information inside dead rats on the street. I just kept thinking, “If they were doing this stuff in the 1950s, just imagine what they’re doing now with today’s technology!” It’s a fantastic exhibit and if you’re in Philadelphia, or if it makes its way near you, I would highly recommend checking it out.
Of course baseball is never far from my mind and there were five rules for spies on the way into the exhibit that I think can be applied to scouting. I took pictures of them . . . Continue reading
Phil Bickford may as well just flip a coin. Not on whether or not he should sign today, but whether or not he’ll ever be in this situation again.
Of course all players are different, but if history is any indication, the odds are about the same as to whether or not the high school pitcher will maintain his premium draft stock if he heads to college.
The righthander from Oaks Christian High in Westlake Village, Calif., was drafted 10th overall by the Blue Jays, but appears to have hit a snag in signing, reports Baseball America’s Jim Callis. Major League Baseball’s recommended bonus for the 10th overall pick is $2,921,400 and the team could pay him more than $5 million without forfeiting a 2014 first-round pick.
I looked at what happened to players who were drafted in the top 10 rounds from 2000-2010 who did not sign. You can download the full chart below and it’s a group that includes 246 players (about 22 each year). Of those 246 players, 24 were never drafted again and nine of those 24 were high school righthanders. Continue reading
I wrote this column a while ago and have been sitting on it ever since. I didn’t think it would ever run at Baseball America, so I figured I’d post it here—especially timely with the new scouts exhibit opening at the Hall of Fame.
There’s a common misconception among readers that writers at Baseball America are scouts. I’ve seen it debated on message boards and we often get asked questions in chats as if we’re scouts. Personally, I’m not sure where the misconception comes from, as you wouldn’t think that the writers at Seventeen are teenagers or the writers at Motor Trend are mechanics.
We are always the first to debunk the belief that we’re scouts or preface any personal opinions we provide by stating, “Now, we’re not scouts, but. . . ” We do that because we have so much respect for the men who actually are employed to evaluate players and present their opinions.
But, just so we’re clear, I’ll say it again: We’re journalists. We are not scouts.
Yes, we often will write about players we’ve seen and we’ll tell you how fast a pitcher was throwing, what kind of offspeed pitches he throws, or how fast an outfielder got from home to first. That’s not scouting, that’s just reporting. Anybody can sit at a game and hold a radar gun or click a stopwatch.
However, there’s a growing number of people online who think the opposite. It’s baffling to me how many blogs are popping up where writers try to come off as if they’re scouting players. This is a trend that needs to end. Continue reading
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