How, not who to draft: part two - MLB draft style

June 5, 2014

Tonight marks the first of three nights for the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, in which the 30 teams of MLB will select players from all across the amateur spectrum. The MLB Draft is unique among other major sports drafts for its length; while the NFL and NHL Drafts have seven rounds, and the NBA only two; MLB’s draft is forty rounds long, plus compensatory picks. Obviously, that is far more players than could ever play at the major league level; most will never come close to the big leagues. Even the top pick is not a guarantee of a future star; first overall picks have included stars Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, and Bryce Harper but also Steve Chilcott, Brien Taylor, and Matt Bush, none of whom ever played even a single game in the majors. With such a high rate of failure, teams need to search for every edge they can get. Teams have a wide variety of information on players, from scouting reports and amateur statistics to psychological evaluations and athletic combine data. Some use Decision Lens to help bring it all together, identifying what they most need from players at every position and seeking out the right people to fit those requirements. The ability of Decision Lens to effectively combine quantitative and qualitative data is especially valuable in baseball’s “Post-Moneyball” era, in which teams have to a large extent moved past the idea of a battle between statistics on one side and scouts on the other to the more complex and nuanced question of how best to integrate them and use each to get the most out of each other; the structure of Decision Lens can help and has helped teams deal with that problem. With so many rounds and so much failure, just getting a few mid-late round gems can be the difference between a promising future and a bare cupboard. Decision Lens and many other processes and evaluation systems help teams have the best possible sense of who a player is and how he can help their team before the draft begins.