Baseball players should be evaluated and signed based off of either the eye test or the Saber metric approach and there is no in between. Both methods have been proven to work on their own in separate situations. While the eye test will result in a lot of star power in a line-up, a Saber metric approach will lead to a better balance on a team up and down a line-up. Both have been applied and both have won championships. The only thing that has yet to be proven is that a blend of the two would work. the two methods are almost polar opposites in the game of baseball. The eye-test finds the best players in the league, and the Saber metrics finds what players will give you the best value. So how would a blend of the two even work?
The eye-test has been applied to teams with a lot of money like the 1927 yankees. This team had a line-up where the first 5 batters were referred to as, “murderers row”. Murderer’s Row had players of the caliber of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig on the same team. The Yankees in 1927 found the best players in the country using the eye-test and signed them using their endless resources. This team had the best win percentage of all time and won a world series. The eye-test in this case has been proven to work and leads to success.
The 2004 Red Sox were a team who adapted to the new Saber metric approach of scouting. The Red Sox signed many players just before that season, but many of the were player no one had heard of. These players were evaluated from a strictly statistical approach. The players who were thought to be able to contribute the most the the team for the best price were the ones who were signed. The balance in the line-up where all players up and down had a positive WAR is what lead to their eventual success. In this case the Saber metric approach was proven to work and proven to lead to success.
The two teams that had success using one of the approaches would no doubt stick to their approach to continue winning. But what if there was a way to sign super stars at a good price for their value, while also picking up lower tier players who will still contribute to the team? This is where it would make sense to combine both methods of evaluation. Using the eye test scouts will be able to pick up on which players are the best around the league. Then using Saber metrics they could them pluck the players with the most value out of the pack that have the most value. This would create a balanced line-up that would also potentially have some serious star power. The only thing holding back this approach is the stubbornness of the two sides. No team wants to abandon the approach that has lead them to success and try something new.
Eventually all teams will be using a blend of the two most popular methods to build their rosters. As soon as one team decides to give it a try and builds a super team, all other teams will follow suit. It is a copy-cats league in the MLB. If one team has success doing something all others will try to replicate it in some way. While both the eye-test and Saber metric approach have their benefits they both have their weaknesses. For the eye-test you sacrifice balance for star power. For Saber metrics you sacrifice star power for a better balance. Teams could have the best of both worlds if they decided to try a hybrid of the two methods.
A hybrid would mean getting rid of all weaknesses and focusing on the strengths of both methods. Building a roster full of talented contributors would be the ideal situation for any team. Gone will be the stories of the 1927 Yankees and the 2004 Red Sox, and in will usher a new super team better than any others before it. It will not only lead to success, but it will lead to continuous success. Just rinse and repeat the process of seeking out the best players and deciphering their true value from a statistical stand point. The players being signed would be the creme of the crop and on a team where every player contributes is a team that will be very hard to beat. Therefore the Hybrid approach is a step that must be taken to advance baseball into a better more competitive era.
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