Operating System

Scout’s Honor: Will the Rise of Sabermetrics and Data Replace the Role of Baseball Scouts?

As popularized by the book-turned-movie Moneyball, a large portion of baseball relies on sabermetrics, a newer analysis of statistics to gauge players and teams. Where in the past RBIs and batting average were heavily relied on as be-all indicators, newer statistics have emerged as more accurate in measuring ability, since the game has changed so much in the 100+ years since its inception. With all these new statistics and measurements, software has been developed over the past 30 years to calculate and simulate different scenarios. If you are curious, Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) is a yearly video game series in which you manage a baseball team, simulating games and poring over stats just like loads of front-offices do. Alongside the software, there are devices in most ballparks measuring every pitch (called PITCHF/x), and even players on the field, just collecting all the data possible for use.

An example of a spread chart from PITCHF/x

With all the tools available now to measure just about every fine detail about a player, some teams are cutting back on their scouting team. Scouts have been essential for baseball teams since the beginning of the sport, looking at prospects, or talent on other teams, measuring them and seeing if they are of any interest to the team. The Astros just cut eight scouts from their team, so scouts around the league are becoming weary about the future. Some teams still heavily rely on scouts and find them indispensable, with teams like the Brewers using them for players in the lower minor leagues, where there are not enough stats to fully screen players. There is also some information that can’t just be measured through just data and film.

Scouts with their radar guns ready

In a similar vein, all this technology also frees up the scouts and allows them to just watch the game for qualitative factors. Whenever a scout is recording the reading off a radar gun, or writing down the time for a sprint, they aren’t looking at the game. This issue is the same for sports reporters, because whenever you’re writing something down, you’re not paying attention to play as it happens. With the advancements of PITCHF/x and the like, scouts don’t need to spend time doing the busy work of recording numbers, where devices can do them automatically. This frees the scouts from tedious tasks, and watch the players as they play and how they interact in detail. They can see how other players react to a play not directed at them, see their energy while playing, and just their general dispositions. Used properly, modern baseball technology might free up and help scouts, maybe not replace them entirely.

Operating System

Podcasts We Are Listening To

Tell us what you are listening to by taking this survey! At the end of it you can see what other people around campus are listening to!

I recently got into podcasts and I thought I was the only one listening. Turns out I was wrong. Here is what IT User Services is listening to:

Me, Lizzy Ferreira (Student Consultant)

My favorite new podcast is Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell. I read a few of his books high school and really enjoyed them so I wanted something more. Revisionist History definitely has a liberal political agenda, but it’s honest about it. Instead of saying “This is what happened, this is history” it delves into a topic that is deeply historical but discusses them in a modern context. I got halfway through the episode titled Vietnam 1964 on my way to work today. I am eager to get back to it during my lunch break.

I listened to my first podcast back in Middle School. It was a podcast about Harry Potter and I was pretty into it. This was back before there were iPhones that automatically downloaded podcasts for you, so every time a new episode aired, I had to turn on my very slow computer, launch iTunes (which to this day still takes forever), download, and sync to my iPod nano (the original nano). It was clunky and awful.

Now I have an iPhone that handles everything for me. My 19 podcasts are downloaded every morning and I get to listen to them on my walk to work. For my hour lunch break I listen to another one or two and then I have a few for my walk home and for cooking (I love cooking).

Here is the comprehensive list of all of the podcasts I subscribe to: NPR’s Invisibilia, Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, NPR’s Radiolab Presents: More Perfect, Jessica Williams’ (of The Daily Show) 2 Dope Queens, WNYC’s Note to Self, NPR’s Code Switch, WNYC’s Radiolab, NPR’s Ask Me Anoter, Radiotopia’s The Allusionist, NPR’s Planet Money, NPR’s How To Do Everything, NPR’s NPR Politics Podcast, WNYC’s Freakonomics Radio, Fivethirtyeight’s What’s The Point, White House Speeches (Audio), Fivethirtyeight Elections, BBC World Service Global News Podcast, West Wing Weekly, and Serial.

Matt Harrington (Multimedia Support Specialist)

“I like This American Life for when I’m walking because it tells a story”

Freyja (A student consultant, via chat, lightly edited for punctuation):

Lizzy: What is your favorite podcasts that you subscribe to, and why?

Freyja:  Ugh, you have to ask the hard question first… I don’t really have a favorite per say, just lots of really informative and interesting podcasts like On The Media, Embedded, TAL, On Being, Dan Carlin’s stuff, Congressional Dish, Intelligence Squared, Scathing Atheist, Mental Illness Happy Hour, Savage Love cast to name a few…

Lizzy: What is the last [podcast] you listened to?

Freyja: BBC Global News Podcast, they put out an episode twice a day, I try to listen to them on my commute and stay informed of whats going on in the world.

Lizzy: I listen to that too! Do you listen to it twice a day? I don’t.

Freyja: I try to get through them both, although if it’s similar content to the previous, one I will fast forward through it.

Lizzy: What has been your favorite piece from them? I liked the one where they interviewed the guy that makes all the baguettes for the French Air Force. He was funny.

Freyja: For sure the coverage of the migrant crisis, it’s something that is completely omitted from US news, and that’s the thing, US news is so myopic, I love the world focus they have.

Frank Aronson (Technical Consultant)

“I listen to a left wing radio talk show “Stephanie Miller Show” because she mixes politics and farts. I listen to “The Bob and Chez Chow,” [whom are] also left wing prognosticators. I listen to Mark Maron’s “WTF!”. The Obama interview is a classic. He [also] interviewed Teri Gross on her on show. He asks totally off the wall stuff.

Occasionally I listen to “On the Media” and I will occasionally listen to Rachel Maddow and “Real Time”. I have never actually seen Rachel Maddow in Northampton, [but] I have a friend who knows her.

A lot of [my podcasts taste is] politics/funny

The only paid subscription is Stephanie Miller. It’s about 2 hours without adds. My favorite [on her show] is Charlie Pierce, whom they have twice a week, he was a Boston/ Worcester boy when The Atlantic was in Boston. Sometimes he will put a sentence in there that you can’t believe you actually heard on the radio. He is a good interview.”

Liam Macci (Student Consultant, Interview via facebook web chat)

Lizzy: What was the last podcast you listened to or subscribed to?
Liam: The Maritime History Podcast
Lizzy: And what do you like about that podcast?
Liam: It offers an interesting perspective on history, not from the vantage point of a nation state, but of the sea, which spans the entire planet, but is owned by no one.
Lizzy: When do you listen to podcasts?
Liam: Commute, workouts, meals, any time I’m doing something that doesn’t require cognitive function
Lizzy: How many podcasts would you say you subscribe to? (Checking on your phone is not cheating)
Liam: 11

Dylan Hand (Student Consultant)

I listen to a podcast called CED Talks, its run by a guy named Cedric Phillips who is a lead commentator for Star City Games, they do live-streams of the Magic the Gathering tournaments.

He talks about a variety of things like basketball, boxing, and Magic. He is enjoyable and relaxed. He had Stephen Curry of the Warriors on once. It’s funny and insightful from an informative point of view.

It’s the only podcast I listen to and I listen to it through sound cloud. I think a lot of people put their podcasts onto soundcloud.


If you would like to listen to some podcasts you can use a podcatcher app for a smart phone such as: Apple Podcasts for the iPhone, Pocket Casts, NPR One App, Overcast, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play Music (Hey! I just wrote another blog post about that!).

You can also download podcasts from their websites onto your computer. Many podcasters also post a lot of their stuff onto SoundCloud.

Whether you like sports, news, law, music, pop culture, history, or good story telling there is a podcast out there for you.

Want to tell US what podcasts you are listening to? Take our quiz to tell us what your favorite podcast is and to see what other people on campus are listening to!