About Scouting Book

Why and How We Do All This

ScoutingBook.com is the backyard toolshed of a handful of swell fellas (and one sassy lady) who live, work or breathe baseball, online gaming, or both. We use Scouting Book as our own touchstone to collect and share our opinions, rankings, and ideas about baseball prospecting in a connected world. We're also sharing these opinions and rankings here for those who may be interested.

We're not ESPN, with a billion dollar budget, hairdressers and a shiny, shiny studio. We're not even John Sickels (though at least one of us would like to have his baby.) We're just a group of baseball-minded folks who needed a place to pool our resources and record our thoughts on prospects while we experiment with some online collaboration ideas. The site has grown a little from there.

The Scouting Book website is a series of generated reports from a whole mess of online and offline systems. Scouting Book's prospect 'rankings', our biggest feature, are actually a Combined Ranking: a calculated summary of player valuations based on inputs from across the entire baseball-prospecting world. Our depth charts of current and future closers (our 'Closer Watch' feature) is produced in a similar way.

Important: We do not 'choose' where (or whether) to 'place' prospects in the ranked list. Prospects appear where the formula places them each time the calculation is run (usually nightly). A prospect who is highly-ranked on other significant lists (BA, ESPN, etc) will automatically appear in a calculated position on our site, assuming we have their core data in our offline database of 2,000+ prospects.

We don't reject old-school scouting reports, and we don't discount modern sabermetric statistics, either: we bow out of that entire argument and use our system to try to deliver values that come from both the head and the gut at the same time.

Likewise, we don't reject the opinions of others. In fact, they're incorporated in our summaries automatically.

In addition to the obvious inputs from such places as Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, SI and ESPN, our contributors and sources include professional scouts, baseball writers, online fantasy baseball consultants, and more than a couple of hobbyist sabermetricians who spend too many days tramping around minor league ballparks.

Like valuations, we collect biographical notes from many sources, and try to distill dozens of opinions on each player (ours as well as everyone else's) down to one useful summary that we hope gives you a good overall picture of who each player is, and why they're interesting. We strive to show both the good and the bad about each potential star: we're enthusiastic, but we're not empty touts, and we don't favor any team over any other.

Important: We're not Red Sox fans, or Yankee fans, or fans of any particular team. There is no favoritism here, and if a farm system gets more or less attention, it means that system is more or less active in producing highly-valued prospects. Period.

Because the bulk of our website is a series of calculated reports coming from many, many inputs, the site and its 'lists' change every day. We work hard to neutralize individual bias and report only the information on which we achieve some kind of consensus.

Our main ranking formula, which turns all the data into the convenient (though shallow) numbered prospect lists that everyone enjoys so much, is the engine behind ScoutingBook.com. The process is re-run every day, sometimes more than once, and we also do some hand-cleanups and amendments for softer information more or less weekly, such as when a player is traded or suffers injury.

Our main prospect-ranking formula combines:

Team scouting reports and independent evaluations (which we cite when appropriate)

Other published ranking systems (which we show for your consideration)

Live scouting reports from our own cities and our helpers across the country and in Latin America and Japan

Adjustments we make for opportunity and depth in each system (impacted by such things as trades, injuries or promotions to other players)

Adjustments we make for fantasy baseball purposes (hitting is important, defense less so, other than that it impacts opportunity)

Our own combined and consensus valuations. (Our own 'votes' have a small impact, but they are often the tiebreakers when the rest of the scouting world is divided)

Our factors and methods, while battle-tested and useful to us, are definitely different than the criteria and approaches used by some other systems, so if our rankings or our thoughts don't 'match' someone else's, that makes perfect sense, too.

We don't pretend to be the only smart guys in the room: we always show the rankings of other online 'prospect lists' right beside our own for your consideration.

We don't attempt to be perfectly comprehensive, either. If your favorite phenom isn't shown today, it's probably because he has not yet gained enough of our automated attention to appear, or because we're waiting for pending information from one of our sources: he may be half-documented in our offline system waiting for a few more 'votes' to promote him to public view.

We consider any MLB rookie-eligible player a 'prospect' no matter how old, and players are graduated the year after they no longer qualify as MLB Rookies, though their biographical information page remains available for historical interest.

We try to focus on the prospects most likely to have a near-term impact. If a player is a few years away, we will say so, but he'll only appear high on our lists if he's so special he's worth the wait. Inferior players with a bigger chance to contribute sooner may also be favored, at least for a short time while their window is open. Sometimes, like everyone else, we are spectacularly wrong. Baseball players are human, full of foible and surprise, and no matter how many formulas we use and how much data we crunch, so are we.

Other tools and features on the site, such as our popular Closer Watch, Multi-Position Qualifier, or the new Probable Pitchers and Park Factors feature, follow this same model: we're taking a big pile of public but sometimes contradictory information and boiling it down into simple 'actionable' info for our own use. If anyone else enjoys it, too... great!

The annoying ads (sorry) pay for our hosting and an occasional beer, and that's about all. Scouting Book is not a profit center, it's a work of passion.

(Updated Jan, 2013)


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