Scouts Honor: The Anti-Moneyball

It looks like a response to Moneyball has come from an unlikely source. Bill Shanks has announced the release of Scouts Honor: The Bravest Way To Build a Winning Team. The book distributor’s website states:

Michael Lewis’s MONEYBALL was a huge success arguing the case for the new brand of baseball General Managers and operations people who were changing the game with their Harvard degrees and outside-the-box, number-centric take on what it took to build a winning team, using the Oakland A’s as the focal point of his argument. Atlanta Braves television host Bill Shanks looks at what that approach has really meant to baseball and why the instincts of the old-school scouts and baseball veterans are the only true way to build a winning and successful baseball team in this ‘new’ generation. Using the Atlanta Braves as a focal point, Scout’s Honor is an in-depth look at what instinct and gut-reaction means to baseball and how the numbers-don’t-lie style of the new breed is not only misleading, but mistaken.

For those of you who don’t know who Bill Shanks is, he is a journalist who covers the Braves for the MLB Scout site, Braves Center. He is vehemently anti-sabermetrics.

Given my fascination with both the Braves and sabermetrics — not to mention that I consider the Braves to be a pro-sabermetric organization — I think I have a duty to review to book. I have tried to obtain an advance review copy, but I can’t really find a way to get in touch with the publisher. But don’t worry, once I get my hands on it, I’ll post a review here.

6 Responses “Scouts Honor: The Anti-Moneyball”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Are they– I don’t always think I know how to tell, as they don’t just complement each other, they also intersect–

    If I look at a pitchers’ record and see an ungodly strikeout rate, no walks and a lotta base hits and runs, I think “He’s got to throw fewer strikes.” Conversly if I see a record with a ton of both strikeouts and walks I think “He’s got to develop better location.”

    Now if Leo Mazzone watches
    “A” work and then tells him “You give tham too many pitches to hit” and says to “B” “You’re throwing TOO hard,” he’s making essentially the same observation as I am from a different set of data. In each case the numbers I look at are being addressed at their source– the actions they record…

    When the Braves sign an Ozzie Guillen or an Alan Ashby I wonder if they have any flair for numbers at all, or if their scouting is just so good that it looks at the same things we do most of the time…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great stuff. Thought I’d drop you a line to introduce a new blog.

    Dedicated to Pardon The Interruption, it’s called Pardon The Eruption.Feel free to check it out! Thanks!

  3. Anonymous says:

    I’ll belooking forward to your review JC!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Obviously since Shanks is writing it the Braves are the example he’ll use but I think the Twins would be a better organization if you wanted to counter sabermetrics. They’re operating under similar monetary constraints to the A’s and still having a lot of success.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m a reader and subscriber of Shanks’ stuff on BravesCenter.Com, and calling him ‘vehemently anti-sabermetrics’ is off-base and uninformed. Shanks has engaged in several fascinating conversations on the forums at BravesCenter describing what he believes to be the perfect recipe for evaluating the true talent a player. He is just as much of a statistical evaluator as the next guy, but places a strong importance on makeup and presence.

    This is the same mold that the Atlanta Braves use in their developmental process.

    The only vehemence Shanks has ever displayed against sabernometric evaluation is toward the occasional nutcase who predicts Jeff Francouer will never take a swing in the major leagues because of his poor walk rate. Sole judgement of a players’ worth by their numbers.

    It’s this type of outlook, such as was generally described by Michael Lewis in Moneyball of DePodesta and Beane, that Shanks finds difficult to swallow.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone else cringe at the geeks vs scouts bickering? Wasn’t the take-home message of Moneyball that Beane was exploiting market inefficiencies with a sabermetric approach that nobody else was using?

    Therefore, if every team is similarly interpretting the same data, a competitive edge would have to be found elsewhere. Then the market would favor the scouting approach that can recognize the future M.Tejadas that sabermetrics would inherently undervalue.

    It’s not merely a matter of better or worse, but also a matter of recognizing the inefficiencies in the player evaluation market.