Player Makeup Important for Baseball Prospects

I just got done re-reading one of the best articles on scouting called Best Tools (link). It contains some amazing information from actual scouts on what they are looking for in a prospect’s makeup. With so many prospects equally matched in talent, makeup plays a huge role in deciding who gets scholarships and/or draft and who doesn’t.

First, I just can’t rightfully cut and paste a whole section of the article, so the Scouting Makeup section (about 2/3 of the way down) should be read in full. It is a great how-to on what to and not to do on and off the field. Here are some quotes from the section.

I’m going to go talk to the bus driver, I’m going to go talk to the cafeteria lady, I’m going to talk to the janitor—the people who are around the kid the most but have no horse in the race and find out exactly what this kid is all about.


Obviously there’s always exceptions, but the good students, from a scouting perspective, are going to be able to retain instruction and figure it out.


Every guy, whatever the story is behind them, is going to hit a tough spot and you want to see how he’s going to deal with adversity, so hopefully you do see him in some sort of spot in a game where you can figure out if he’s going to rise to it or if he’s going to shrink from the moment. You see how the guy interacts with his teammates and you talk to his coaches to see what kind of work ethic the player has.

Besides the entire section on makeup here are some notable quotes from the infield defense section.

You want to get there early and watch him take groundballs and infield practice. While they’re taking batting practice, see how he shags them off the bat—if he does shag them off the bat. Maybe he’s the type of guy that doesn’t do that. That tells you a little bit about the guy, too. But maybe he’s power shagging out there, taking all kinds of balls off the bat in the infield or outfield. And then, of course during the infield practice, you really bear down on him to look at his instincts and his actions and his range and his arm strength to get a feel for the glove.


What I don’t like as a scout is when the infielders just half-ass the ball over to first and don’t show any arm strength. We’ve got to see the arm strength. When we don’t see it, we have to project it.

Every potential prospect needs to understand they are being looked at under a microscope and the little things will make a huge difference on which players will be offered college scholarships and/or drafted.

High Walk Rate Aging Curve

Over at, MGL asks if the following statement is true.

“Of all of the skills to sign up for past a players prime, however, plate discipline is probably the best one.”

I decided to create an wRC+ aging curve of high walk players.  I know the quote is for high plate discipline, but I am not sure how exactly plate discipline should be defined. The article focused on Shin-Soo Choo, so I waned to players with similar walk rates. Over the past three seasons (age 28 to 30 seasons), Choo has walked (NIBB) 12% of the time. So for the curve, I used players since 1980 who had less than or greater than a 10% walk rate between their age 28 and 30 seaons (min 300 PA).

While the high walk players plateau sooner, they begin to decline at the same rate around age 28. High walk players don’t really age any better than lower walk players.

Cano Contract Success Rates

Just a quick take here. Cano has 19 fWAR over the past 3 seasons. Since 1970, 16 players have had between 17 and 21 WAR.  Three are still playing, Zobrist, A-Rod and Matt Holliday. Here is how the rest of them performed.

Name Total WAR PA Last Seaon Total Seasons
Chipper Jones 39.8 5203 2012 10
Rickey Henderson 37.7 5452 1999 10
Brian Giles 28.6 4814 2009 8
Rod Carew 28.4 4915 1985 9
Tony Perez 24.4 5420 1982 10
Carlton Fisk 23.9 4657 1988 10
Mike Piazza 19.6 3670 2007 8
John Olerud 16.3 3356 2005 6
Todd Helton 15.4 4652 2013 9
Alan Trammell 15.3 2904 1996 8
George Foster 12.8 3744 1986 7
Devon White 12.4 3572 2001 8
Andruw Jones 2.5 1388 2012 5
Alex Rodriguez 29.8 3570 2013 7
Matt Holliday 14.0 1806 2013 3
Ben Zobrist 11.3 1366 2013 2

Using 10 years, $240M, $6.5M/WAR, 5% inflation in my contract calculator, I have Cano needing to produce 30 WAR for the Mariners to break even on the contract. Here are the possible chances of the contract vs his possible results:

Contract vs Results Success Rate
> Value 15.4%
At value 15.4%
75% to 100% 15.4%
50% to 75% 30.8%
<50% 23.1%

Truthfully, I expected worse.

Doug Fister Injury Risk

David Laurila stated the following about the Doug Fister to the Nationals trade.

I responded to his tweet with any possible injury factors, but I wanted to go into more detail here. I examined as many factors I have seen with other injured pitchers (declining velocity) and I could only find two possible indicators, inconsistent release points and low Zone%. Both of them are relatively small and shouldn’t be a deterrent to trading for Fister.

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Diet Effects Over an Entire Season

Over two months ago Alyson Footer wrote and article titled “Healthy diet now a staple of ballplayers’ regimen” at I finally got to reading it and couple quotes really stood out.

For the most part, the players are on board with the fried-free meal plan, especially as the summer months continue and a contending team’s endurance is tested in August and September.


“If you can save a percent here or a percent there in a season on your body and keep the muscle you worked hard to gain in the offseason … they add up to 15 or 20 percent in September,” [Chad] Tracy said. “You’re coming down the stretch, maybe 20 percent stronger than maybe the guy who isn’t.”


While most of the general population that eats healthy does so as to not put on weight, professional athletes are different. They have to maintain certain eating habits so they don’t lose too much weight, an issue that can become a problem for a lot of them as the season wears on. Not enough of the right foods just exacerbates the issue.


“Their pants are starting to fall off of them, and they’re wondering what they can do to try to keep some of that weight on,” Tracy said. “The biggest thing is eating and eating the right stuff.”

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Eye Sighting Aging Curve

In a recent New Yorker article,  Malcom Gladwell reported on eye sight in baseball:

The ophthalmologist Louis Rosenbaum tested close to four hundred major- and minor-league baseball players over four years and found an average visual acuity of about 20/13; that is, the typical professional baseball player can see at twenty feet what the rest of us can see at thirteen feet. When Rosenbaum looked at the Los Angeles Dodgers, he found that half had 20/10 vision and a small number fell below 20/9, “flirting with the theoretical limit of the human eye,” as Epstein points out. The ability to consistently hit a baseball thrown at speeds approaching a hundred miles an hour, with a baffling array of spins and curves, requires the kind of eyesight commonly found in only a tiny fraction of the general population.


Eyesight can be improved—in some cases dramatically—through laser surgery or implantable lenses. Should a promising young baseball player cursed with normal vision be allowed to get that kind of corrective surgery?

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