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Old 06-09-2019, 12:52 PM   #1
jaa36
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some thoughts on player development and scouting

I just finished the book The MVP Machine (Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik- it is excellent) which goes into detail about changes in the way teams and individual players have approached player development and it got me thinking about this in OOTP. The book describes very conscious efforts by teams and players to adjust mechanics, swing planes, develop new pitches, etc, with (in some cases) very positive effects, and contrasts this from the more traditional viewpoint that a player's talent level is static.

As it stands (in OOTP), development is a very "hands off" process, and abstracted. Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn't, maybe as you sink money into the development budget players get better, but you don't really know what effect it has- as in, if a player gets better, you don't know if that was the team's effort at development, or just random change on the part of the player.

I wonder if it would make more sense to have development be more targeted- at least in the modern area. As in, there would be a staff position for "player development coordinator" (which most teams have these days in some way shape or form) as a proxy for the player development team as a whole, and that person would suggest or implement changes a player could make. For example, you could get a message like "Player X has a good fastball, but doesn't command his slider very well. He's got a good spin rate, though, and we think we could teach him a good curveball." Or, "Player Y has a really good curveball, but he doesn't use it enough. I think if we can get him to throw it more often, he could end up with much better results." Or "Player Z has a pretty flat swing plane and ends up hitting the ball on the ground quite a bit. We might get some better results if he elevated the ball more." You could get messages like this about players on your own team, or about free agents or players on other teams that you could look to acquire to unlock those results. And of course, players with higher intelligence or work ethic would be more likely to be able to make these changes.

Another area would be more generalized- do you want to invest money in facilities or other amenities for minor leaguers in hopes that it more generally improves player training and improvement. I suppose this captures what the development budget does as it stands.

There is some risk in a targeted approach being too "video gamey"- though I think if done well, you would have to make thoughtful decisions about what to invest in and what not to.

I think scouting could use some overhaul too. It makes sense to have an organizational budget as far as how much to invest in for majors, minors, international and amateur scouting, as it stands. But the idea that a scouting director would have easily-identified specific "ratings" for those categories, and a global preference for tools or abilities, seems kind of odd to me, and makes it pretty easy to just pick out the "best" scouting director.

I wonder if it would make more sense for the ratings for the scouting director to instead reflect the ability to accurately identify specific underlying tools or abilities- as in, some scouting directors would be better at identifying power potential, some at contact potential, some at potential to throw specific pitches. Even more so, the scouting director might have more of a role in identifying the player's underlying personality and work ethic, as these days, much of a traditional scout's role has been taken over by measuring things like spin rate or swing mechanics more objectively via technology.

I'm not sure how to work this in, but it would also be nice to have a sense of a prospect's ceiling vs floor, though these are admittedly nebulous concepts. Perhaps instead of having a scouting director that "favors tools", that person would just suggest a wider range for their potential outcomes in their scouting report as compared to a "favors abilities" scouting director.

I'm curious what others think about all this.
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Old 06-09-2019, 02:21 PM   #2
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I have a few thoughts but am on the go right now and will circle back later this afternoon.

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Old 06-11-2019, 05:24 PM   #3
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I would think adaptability could play a factor in this too (in addition to intelligence and work ethic.)
I'm thinking that this could make for a good risk factor as you might try to influence a player's path in terms of development and depending perhaps how large the change is (in your example above, the difference between asking a pitcher to learn to throw a new pitch as opposed to just trying to get him to develop and use more a pitch already in his repertoire) this could backfire if he is resistant to change. (I would imagine that if you know he is low intelligence, work ethic, AND adaptability, you likely won't even try to alter his approach.)
I like the idea of being able to have more specific influence on player development particularly if there is a corresponding risk to every potential reward.
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Old 06-12-2019, 02:22 PM   #4
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In the middle of reading the same book, and this has long been my most-wanted thing in OOTP.

Player development is my favorite part of Football Manager (especially developing the soccer equivalent of prospects), and I wish there were some levers for shaping and molding players in OOTP, too.
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Old 06-13-2019, 09:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaa36 View Post
As it stands (in OOTP), development is a very "hands off" process, and abstracted. Maybe it happens, maybe it doesn't, maybe as you sink money into the development budget players get better, but you don't really know what effect it has- as in, if a player gets better, you don't know if that was the team's effort at development, or just random change on the part of the player.
To a certain extent, that's true, especially for pitchers. You can always put a position player in a new position and hope that he learns it - he'll at least get a rating at that position after a while, even though it probably won't be a good rating.

Pitchers, on the other hand, can't be forced to develop a new pitch the way a position player can be forced to play a new position. There's actually a good reason for that: dictating pitch development would make it too easy to "game" things and would give the human player too big of an advantage over the AI. That's because, in OOTP, a pitcher with only two pitches can never become a starter (unless one of those pitches is a knuckle ball). So the human player can look at the draft class and say "hey, there's a reliever with high stamina and two good pitches. If he can just develop a decent third pitch, he'd make a pretty good starter!" The AI, on the other hand, sees that pitcher and says "oh look, a slightly above-average middle reliever. I'll pass."

So unless the AI can be taught how to develop players the same way the human player would, I don't see much change in this area of the game.

Last edited by joefromchicago; 06-13-2019 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 06-14-2019, 08:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joefromchicago View Post
Pitchers, on the other hand, can't be forced to develop a new pitch the way a position player can be forced to play a new position. There's actually a good reason for that: dictating pitch development would make it too easy to "game" things and would give the human player too big of an advantage over the AI. That's because, in OOTP, a pitcher with only two pitches can never become a starter (unless one of those pitches is a knuckle ball). So the human player can look at the draft class and say "hey, there's a reliever with high stamina and two good pitches. If he can just develop a decent third pitch, he'd make a pretty good starter!" The AI, on the other hand, sees that pitcher and says "oh look, a slightly above-average middle reliever. I'll pass."

So unless the AI can be taught how to develop players the same way the human player would, I don't see much change in this area of the game.
I probably wasn't entirely clear with my first post. I wouldn't want a high development budget to just be a license to ask any player to develop a third pitch. Rather, that a high development budget would make it more likely that the GM would be informed about the possibility of a player's ABILITY to develop a third pitch or make another change, and give you the option to act on that information. I definitely would not want to give the human player an(other) unfair advantage over the AI, and hopefully the AI could be taught to target players that have the potential to improve, or act on the information that it's given by the scouting/development team.
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Old 06-16-2019, 02:02 PM   #7
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Well, maybe to piggy back or hijack the thread - you tell me, but what about adding into PD and Scouting an "Analytics Department", where you can spend X amount of money on areas you think are important in Sabermetrics.

Okay. This money would be assigned thru your scouting department to look for or have your scout rate players in areas you spend your money. If you like rWAR, they look at that and all things rWAR related. Like FIP-, they look at those areas.
BABIP, or ERA+.

You get the idea.
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