Friday, February 26, 2010

What We Are Working On…

A solid off-season is leading to significant new projects




With a little less than three days before the first pitch is thrown in a Spring Training game, hope springs eternal among the baseball world. Every team feels they ‘have a chance’, every team is setting goals, and every team is setting out on its ‘plan’. What better time to preview our ‘plans’ here at Diamond Futures, for the coming season.

What happens during the season to a Major League team is usually a function of their off-season planning and preparations. We have had a fantastic ‘off-season’ at Diamond Futures. Readership is growing exponentially, the Prospect eGuide (http://baseballnumbers-diamondfutures.blogspot.com/2010/02/gain-fantasy-league-advantage.html) is getting exceptional reviews and exceeding our wildest sales expectations, and we have been very fortunate in being able to acquire key pieces to enhance our ability to ‘peer into the future’ by examining the past. This has led to our ability to put into motion some things that we consider to be tremendously exciting and we thought we’d share with you what we have in store for you.
Before we get to those, I wanted to digress a moment to talk about the space that we are trying to occupy in the industry. Let’s start with what we aren’t…1) Diamond Futures’ is not a first-hand news source. We don’t have beat reporters assigned to Major League teams and we don’t try to scoop the industry by breaking a story first. We have a small group of writers/researchers that analyze and evaluate the news, and because baseball—especially the Minor Leagues are our focus, we may bring you information before you have heard it elsewhere, but being a news-source isn’t our goal. 2) We aren’t a fantasy baseball site…Sure we provide you information and analysis that is tremendously useful in managing/building your fantasy team—especially for Dynasty League’s, we focus on what value a prospect is going to bring to a Major League team, and have structured our metrics along those lines. While you can use our Top Prospect List to help you in your fantasy draft, that doesn’t mean that if we were drafting a fantasy team, we would value the players the same way…for the most part, our predictive metrics focus on a prospect’s potential career value, not how he is going to perform over the coming season. 3) We aren’t a scouting service. While we see a lot of baseball over the course of a season, we only witness about 10% of the prospects we talk about live, in person. We see another 50% - 60% of the prospects via television or video, but that still leaves a significant group of players that we rely on other contacts to get our information. More importantly, while we value what traditional scouting methods have brought to the table, we only ‘believe’ in what we can see and/or touch. The plethora of theories and analysis that exists on ‘swing mechanics’ or ‘pitching motions’ just aren’t tangible enough for us, and are likely decades away from being measurable enough to have objective value to what we do. That isn’t to say that their aren’t scouts that are better than others and that there aren’t scouting theories that may be dead-on—it’s just that until they are consistently definable and measurable they don’t have value to us, and become merely data points to fill in a prospect’s profile.

Which brings us to what we are—our mission. Diamond Futures strives for essentially two things: 1) To develop the most accurate techniques in the industry to project a prospect’s future value to a Major League organization and 2) To present the results to you, our reader, in a format that is easily digestible and, most importantly, makes sense. Essentially, we strive to be the bridge that exists between the ‘statheads’, and all of their overly complex formulas, and the general baseball-minded public. All of our off-season preparations have been geared toward furthering that mission.

So here is a peek at what you can expect to see from us over the coming baseball season…


What is the Quantitative Value of a Minor League Prospect?

It is one thing to rank prospects by organization, by position, by league, or even within all of Minor League baseball. But what does that ranking represent? What is the difference in value from the #19 Prospect and the #125 prospect? As you may have noticed form our recent Prospect List Retrospectives, while we have historically done as good, or better, a job than any other source out there, prospecting is about probabilities—not absolutes. So, for the last few weeks, we have been working on a study to measure how effective traditional prospecting methods perform and we will present the results to you before the Major League season gets underway.


New Software Will Bring You Better, More Readable Analysis

We admit it…we have reached the limits of our Blogger site. In an effort to bring you more readable data, we need more/easier database and graphical capabilities than our current site offers. So, we have a new domain ready to go, and now it’s just a matter of setting it up. Our goal is to have everything ready to roll in time for the start of the Major League season.


What is a Second round Pick Worth?

One of our key areas of focus this past off-season has been on improving our projection-engine when it comes to players with minimal professional performance data. A number of things that we have spent time on revolve around how to assess comparative data of draft picks. So, in kind of a partner study to our Prospect Value study is some work we are doing on Amateur draft pick value. Expect to see the results of this around mid-season.


We are Good Now…but We are Getting Better…

Highlighted to us by the work we did this past season in trying to determine the prospective value of Stephen Strasburg, we have a major opportunity to make advancements to our prospect engine in the area of pre-professional player comparable identification. We began adding college data to our models a few years back, and we have been using draft position number and bonus information as comparable identification criteria for longer than that. But we have always felt that draft and bonus information was only a substitute for what we really wanted, which was pre-draft scouting information. Now, through a number of sources, we have acquired nearly thirty years of pre-draft scouting reports and rankings. So now we have various levels of pre-draft information on more than 12,000 players and are in the process of determining the most accurate way of using the information to identify comparables for newly drafted prospects. While you won’t see visible results from this effort, it will lead to more accurate player assessments by the time we do next year’s prospect lists.


We Are Going to Dip Our Toe in the ‘Stathead’ vs. ‘Scouting’ Debate

We’ll preface this with the disclaimer that we do not now, nor have we ever, consider this (Stats vs. Scouting) to be a mutually exclusive decision path. But let’s be honest, a lot of what we do requires little in the way of first-hand viewing. One of the things that developed into a residual outcome of our Prospect Value study, was a fun little exercise that we did comparing pure performance metrics vs. the valuations of one of the major industry sources that relies heavily on the scouting community. Based on some initial results, we think you’ll find it interesting. Look for this mid-summer.


Improved Transparency with Regard to Our Projections

We walk a delicate tightrope, as we try to present our analysis in simple, understandable, methods and terminology, yet at the same time provide enough insight into our methodology. We won’t try to convince you that what we do in our analysis is simplistic, but realistically, it’s the accuracy of our projections that is important. We realize that this has led to somewhat of a ‘black box’ approach at times. We don’t intend to ‘kluge’ up the process by giving you information overload. But we feel that if we give you more information, you, the reader will find more uses for what we do. So, we have developed new ways to present our analysis and you should see more information, and yet retain our simplicity, by time we do next year’s rankings.

2 comments:

  1. when you say inbox...is that your inbox for your e mail or somewhere else?

    ReplyDelete