Technology transforming player evaluation
August, 30, 2011
By Jim Bowden | ESPN.com
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesTechnology now allows evaluators to quantify the true defensive impact of players like Peter Bourjos.
When I was first named general manager of the Cincinnati Reds on Oct. 16, 1992, I was proud of the computer databases we had developed and all of the information we had accumulated from our scouting reports, statistical analysis, medical information, financial history and personal background on every player in professional baseball.
It was amazing to see how far the industry had moved forward since my first year in a major league front office in 1984, when I worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates. At that time, there were no computers or video. Rather, there were just filing cabinets filled with years of scouting reports and handwritten paperwork. "The Baseball Register" was the general manager's source of statistics and his window to what other teams were doing. Between 40 and 50 newspapers were delivered and clipped by interns to get the latest rumors, injuries and insight from each team’s beat writer. It was life before computers and the Internet.
Call me Fred Flintstone, but now looking back at 1992, and the progress that I thought the industry had made, reminds me of my childhood, when my parents tried to explain to me what life was like with black-and-white television sets, no microwave ovens or even refrigerators (they had iceboxes, or so my mom tells me to this day).
As Jayson Stark writes today, technology has truly changed the way front offices operate. In a short period of time, clubs have developed their own private metrics and complex algorithms, and more in-depth and detailed statistics, including Sabermetrics, have been added to conventional baseball statistics. Stats like OPS, WAR, VORP, WHIP, runs created, PECOTA, BABIP and DIPS have become the normal way to analyze and evaluate what players have accomplished, which way they’re trending and what their future holds.