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The "eyeball" test


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I'm curious how many fantasy owners actually watch players intently before picking up or dropping them? 

Now im not talking about a SC highlight when he's at his best or worst, but intently watching a player for not only performance, but subtle body language clues.

 

I played baseball (SP, SS, CF) every free second of my childhood, then high school and some college ball, so I know when I felt I could dominate a batter, or occasionally when I was about to be dominated. I feel this gave me a nice set of scouting eyes if you will, and while I dabble in sabameteic analysis and pay astute attention to the raw numbers... I see so many posts about how garbage a guy is w/ no substance behind it. Have we become so reliant on the plethora of data in the internet age that we've all to a degree, kinda gone away from personal observation? Has the human eye and gut feeling been lost? Do a series of extremely unfortunate loud outs get lost in the data, rather than an opportunity to pounce on a player just before a breakout? (see A. Rendon)

 

Id love to hear some opinions from this group, if you are on this forum you obviously are intent on winning regularly and finding any advantage. Please discuss, and thanks in advance. 

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16 minutes ago, LarryChip10 said:

I'm curious how many fantasy owners actually watch players intently before picking up or dropping them? 

Now im not talking about a SC highlight when he's at his best or worst, but intently watching a player for not only performance, but subtle body language clues.

 

I played baseball (SP, SS, CF) every free second of my childhood, then high school and some college ball, so I know when I felt I could dominate a batter, or occasionally when I was about to be dominated. I feel this gave me a nice set of scouting eyes if you will, and while I dabble in sabameteic analysis and pay astute attention to the raw numbers... I see so many posts about how garbage a guy is w/ no substance behind it. Have we become so reliant on the plethora of data in the internet age that we've all to a degree, kinda gone away from personal observation? Has the human eye and gut feeling been lost? Do a series of extremely unfortunate loud outs get lost in the data, rather than an opportunity to pounce on a player just before a breakout? (see A. Rendon)

 

Id love to hear some opinions from this group, if you are on this forum you obviously are intent on winning regularly and finding any advantage. Please discuss, and thanks in advance. 

 

I think data is more reliable than body language. And while I am far from the sabermetircian type I feel like I am better equipped to make decisions based off those numbers than someone's body language in a given game or two.

 

Edit: And that's not to say that body language, etc has no value at all. I'm just saying I don't believe I (and probably most)  have the ability to translate it  any kind of consistent worthwhile evaluation method.

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I do like the eyeball test and use it on players that I actually end up watching, but it's impossible for even the biggest baseball fans to see the majority of plate appearances or pitches or defensive plays for more than a handful of guys.  That's where the data comes in.  Something like contact rate for example.  You can watch a majority of a player's PA's and get a good idea of how often he makes contact and you don't necessarily need the data to come to a conclusion.  But for a lot of players you aren't going to see a lot of their PA's outside of highlights.  That's where the data comes in.  Contact rate/hard hit rate and the like are quantifications of the eyeball test.  Some things get lost in the numbers and I try to watch my favorite players when I can, but the data is very valuable imo.

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I have MLB.tv and watch a lot of games. Especially the games of my own players. I think a good example is Carlos Correa. If you look at his BA from last week he hit .320. But if you watched his ABs you would see a guy that is not seeing the ball well at all right now. S for me, it's a combo of both. If the numbers support what I see, I'm in or out. Like you stated, a guy hitting the ball hard but getting unlucky (Machado) is different than a guy striking out multiple times with runners in scoring position (Correa) and looking lost. Basic numbers could look similar but watching the player tells the story. I honestly don't have time to dig so deep, and to be honest, don't care that much. So the eye test it is in a lot of situations. 

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5 minutes ago, fletch44 said:

 

I think data is more reliable than body language. And while I am far from the sabermetircian type I feel like I am better equipped to make decisions based off those numbers than someone's body language in a given game or two.

 

Edit: And that's not to say that body language, etc has no value at all. I'm just saying I don't believe I (and probably most) don't have the ability to translate it  any kind of consistent worthwhile evaluation method.

 

I don't really mean in one AB, or one HR given up, but rather a prolonged slump as a hitter or pitcher. 

When a closer is not only giving up runs and losing games every outing, but has a dear God help me look on his face while doing it (S. Dyson), it goes unnoticed in the box scores other than the 20+ ERA.

 

when a hitter rolls his eyes and cracks a slight grin after an extended o-fer, rather than showing some "angry" emotion as though he's being squeezed or knows he's sooo close to squaring that pitch up because he recognized it right out of the pitchers hand... that's more what I meant. Should have been more clear. 

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there's probably an ideal balance somewhere in between.

I love the stat OPS, it really helps separate the tiers of offensive player. For instance: last year's top 10: Ortiz-Trout-Murphy-Votto-Freeman-Miggy-Donaldson-Bryant-Blackmon-Arenado...   pretty much sums up last years 10 best offensive players (aside from Mookie and Altuve, whose speed plays a big role in their effectiveness-- and Trea would have qualified with more at bats)

 

Hit velocity and BABIP can be super helpful in finding buy-lows and sell-highs. That was my main incentive for holding onto Rendon last year, and eventually he put together a nice year. On the other hand, you've got to recognize that burly all-or-nothing sluggers often sneak into the hit-velo top 10, so it''s important to remember how infrequently they actually hit the ball. 

 

Nothing beats the eye test though. Watch youtube highlights of Jorge Soler's homers, and you'll be convinced he is a top 15 player. But watch his full at-bats, and you'll see a guy with terrible discipline who can't distinguish between a bender into an ant hill and a fastball at the letters. Or how about Trevor Story in last year's Spring Training? He looked like the best player on the field all Spring, and those that saw him took a flier late in drafts. The Eye Test paid dividends. 

 

Avi Garcia is an interesting one. Everyone and their mother is claiming-- based on peripherals-- that he is the same guy as always, and just riding a hot streak.

Statistically, that's a completely logical take, and I get it. And anyone with a BABIP that ridiculous is inevitably going to drop off--  but I've watched him quite a bit and I see a different player. More compact, quicker. His approach is more refined. I may look the fool in due time, but I think he has turned the corner, despite the concerning peripherals. Not saying he will be a fantasy star or anything, but a useful player that should be owned in most leagues. 

 

So, in total: I think the ideal way to gauge players is a combination of the eye test, and digging deeper into advanced stats. But if I had to choose one method over the other, I'd trust my eyes more than the stat sheet. And for a discerning baseball eye, both methods often arrive at the same conclusion. 

 

 

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I don't know what to look for, but I would like to learn, the only thing I might observe is if someone is able to foul off a bunch of balls and stay longer in the count or someone who swings at every ball out of the zone, but then again you can just access their swinging-strike%, can you guys describe what you would look for in the eyeball test?

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I was thinking about this last night after watching the first half of Moneyball. Although I'm sure few people here need a synopsis, in the early-2000s Billy Beane "pioneered" the use of advanced metrics in player evaluation as a means of contending with teams with vastly greater bankrolls. In the film, he is flouts the observations of his motley crew of scouts in favor of the numbers drawn up by his savant Paul DePodesta.  

 

It got me thinking about the 2002 Oakland A's, who had just lost Giambi and Damon. The film (and presumably the book) credit the Beane and DePodesta partnership for finding undervalued gems like Justice, Hatteberg, and submariner Bradford. But you go back and look at what made those teams so successful and it was pitching: Zito, Hudson, Mulder and their two best hitters were homegrown talent like Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada. In fact, every high WAR player they had was homegrown and had come up through the A's pipeline. For this, the scouts deserve all the credit. 

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21 minutes ago, LarryChip10 said:

I'm curious how many fantasy owners actually watch players intently before picking up or dropping them? 

Now im not talking about a SC highlight when he's at his best or worst, but intently watching a player for not only performance, but subtle body language clues.

 

I played baseball (SP, SS, CF) every free second of my childhood, then high school and some college ball, so I know when I felt I could dominate a batter, or occasionally when I was about to be dominated. I feel this gave me a nice set of scouting eyes if you will, and while I dabble in sabameteic analysis and pay astute attention to the raw numbers... I see so many posts about how garbage a guy is w/ no substance behind it. Have we become so reliant on the plethora of data in the internet age that we've all to a degree, kinda gone away from personal observation? Has the human eye and gut feeling been lost? Do a series of extremely unfortunate loud outs get lost in the data, rather than an opportunity to pounce on a player just before a breakout? (see A. Rendon)

 

Id love to hear some opinions from this group, if you are on this forum you obviously are intent on winning regularly and finding any advantage. Please discuss, and thanks in advance. 

The value of stats vs. eyeball is highly dependent on sample size. For rookie level guys who only have PCL, AZ Fall, etc. stats to check, the eyeball can sometimes go a long way.

But the numbers rarely lie when it comes to guys who've been hitting/pitching in the majors for many years. I mean you get the occasional rare "breakout". But for the most part it's reliable when you're talking a few full seasons worth of ABs or IP.

Of course, the value of the eyeball test is also very dependent on the value of the particular eyeball. As you say, you -were- a ballplayer up into college. So you know what it's like to be out there. I played catcher up through high school so I feel ok relying on my eyeball once in a while too although I played more basketball and my main sport was football.

The numbers, on the other hand, are the same for everyone, baller or not. That makes them useful on forums like these where anyone can log in and give an opinion.

All that said, I do appreciate it when a poster remarks on more than just stats. For example "I watched the game and his curveball was killer but his fastball command was questionable" etc. 

I guess in the end the different information you can get here will be more or less valuable depending on the particular reader.

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24 minutes ago, Mickey Donovan said:

I have MLB.tv and watch a lot of games. Especially the games of my own players. I think a good example is Carlos Correa. If you look at his BA from last week he hit .320. But if you watched his ABs you would see a guy that is not seeing the ball well at all right now. S for me, it's a combo of both. If the numbers support what I see, I'm in or out. Like you stated, a guy hitting the ball hard but getting unlucky (Machado) is different than a guy striking out multiple times with runners in scoring position (Correa) and looking lost. Basic numbers could look similar but watching the player tells the story. I honestly don't have time to dig so deep, and to be honest, don't care that much. So the eye test it is in a lot of situations. 

 

I was watching the condensed version of yesterday's Astros/A's game. My intent was to evaluate Hahn's outing the best I could. You don't see everything in these condensed games but at least you get more than the outs (typically the punch outs) like you would in the highlights. 

 

While doing so, I actually thought Correa looked good to the eyes. As a frustrated Correa owner, I wasn't expecting to be. 

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Just now, IceGoat said:

 

I was watching the condensed version of yesterday's Astros/A's game. My intent was to evaluate Hahn's outing the best I could. You don't see everything in these condensed games but at least you get more than the outs (typically the punch outs) like you would in the highlights. 

 

While doing so, I was quite impressed with Correa's plate appearances. As a frustrated Correa owner, I wasn't expecting to be. 

 

Good to hear. The only AB is saw was him K'ing with the bases jammed. 

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Ideally you could watch every game and see every player and use that to aid your decision making, but in reality even if you go home at night and sit down and only watch baseball until you go to sleep, at most you can be watching one game at a time.  I get a good look at teams as they play vs. my hometown team, and I have MLB.TV so I'll specifically tune in to watch some of my own players AB's or SP's for a few innings, but most of the time it's just not reasonable to rely on an "eyeball test".  

 

The advanced stats have proven to be pretty reliable, and you can digest a lot of info in a short amount of time.  I also find you have bias with an "eyeball test" that you can't really have from looking at raw data.  A guy can "look lost" but if his BABIP and HR/FB% are super low then you can bet those numbers will progress to the mean.

 

Let's put it this way - if you had to play an entire fantasy baseball season with ONLY the eyeball test, or ONLY stats/data, which one would you choose?  For me it's hands down the stats/data; I feel like I could roster a very competitive team all season and never watch a game, but I wouldn't want to try and run my team without any advanced stats and flipping through games every night trying to catch a twinkle in someone's eye.

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4 minutes ago, Mickey Donovan said:

 

Good to hear. The only AB is saw was him K'ing with the bases jammed. 

 

I saw that, too. At least he didn't swing at it. The previous two at bats looked good. He turned on an inside pitch to double in Springer then next time up, with a runner on, hit one to the deepest part of the park. A very loud out. 

 

He, like Machado, is too talented to sell low on. Players could go through stretches where they look lost at the plate and the numbers corroborate the struggle, but things could change on a dime. Correa is merely 22 and chock full of talent. 

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FWIW, I'm in Reno NV where the AAA Arizona affiliate plays. It's been a wonderful opportunity to sit real close to the next wave of upcoming diaper dandies and scout super stars on rehab assignments. 

I watched a game last year when the AAA Cubs were in town and was simply BLOWN AWAY w/ Wilson Contreras. He looked so fluid behind the dish, moved w/ grace like a tight end, (built like one too) and was grinning ear to ear for 9 innings like a boy playing the game he loved. I went all in on him in both my keeper and dynasty league before the 7'th INN stretch. I simply couldn't deny what I was seeing. 

Alacantra at the time was ranked much higher, but looked small and pedestrian to me, I wasn't impressed in the slightest. 

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Eyeball test told me Freddie Freeman was going to be one of the elite players in the game his rookie year.  He had it, reminded me alot of watching Will Clark growing up.

 

I did a draft exercise years back after Freeman's rookie year, where we drafted 30 man 3 players, to be faces of franchise type, and was bashed taking Freeman in the 3rd, people calling him a filler

 

I have owned him every year since, and hardly disappoints

 

 

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18 minutes ago, pbjfb said:

I don't know what to look for, but I would like to learn, the only thing I might observe is if someone is able to foul off a bunch of balls and stay longer in the count or someone who swings at every ball out of the zone, but then again you can just access their swinging-strike%, can you guys describe what you would look for in the eyeball test?

The eye test involves a bunch of factors. Most are life experiences in the game yourself. Reading body language, seeing how a hitter is working his counts, trying to pick up on clues if a player is pressing. Case in point with someone like Correa right now when he comes up with runners on base especially with the bases loaded. You can tell that he's pressing and is guessing incorrectly. Correa works a 3-1 count with the bases loaded and fouls off the next pitch which is a ball. Considering he went down swinging on a bad pitch in the last bases loaded situation you could tell that he had it in his head that he was getting a bad pitch and was not going to swing this time. Pitcher throws him a slider on the outside corner for strike three and he goes down looking. What Correa should have done was take his walk at 3-1. The problem with him right now is that he's anxious to do too much with runners in scoring position. Atleast that's what the eye ball test tells me. Pitcher's will continue to take advantage of this until he becomes more patient.

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Eyeball test tells me if Adrian Gonzalez hits one homer this year I'll be genuinely shocked.  He looks 100% done as being anything more than a slap singles hitter.  Yet I'll continue rostering probably until Memorial Day just due to track record.  But eyeball test is big for me.  I always buy MLB extra innings so I can watch as many games as possible. 

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7 minutes ago, Cmilne23 said:

Eyeball test tells me if Adrian Gonzalez hits one homer this year I'll be genuinely shocked.  He looks 100% done as being anything more than a slap singles hitter.  Yet I'll continue rostering probably until Memorial Day just due to track record.  But eyeball test is big for me.  I always buy MLB extra innings so I can watch as many games as possible. 

I haven't gotten a chance to watch AGon live actually. But his numbers seem to suggest a hidden injury. I remember he was playing in the world baseball cup or w/e in the offseason too. But I'm not sure what he looked like there either.

That's the other thing about baseball. It's so dependent on timing, reflex, rhythm, etc. that even the slightest injury can throw the stats way off. But like in football, just about any NFL quality RB who is 80% healthy would produce good results behind the Cowboys' OL.

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I definitely do an eyeball test for pitchers.  Usually, I will read a couple articles on a guy, look at his stats, find out what he should be good at, and also what he struggles with. I try and formulate in my mind what I should be seeing based off of that info. Then, I pick his starts to watch before I grab off the waiver and see if that matches the writing.

 

It has worked out pretty well for me on the regular. I jumped ship on Cotton and Gsellman this year after watching them. I jumped on Nova because of this. It helped me grab Duffy and Fulmer last year...helped me stick with Verlander when he struggled last year...helped me target Taillon in this year's draft.

 

I will fully admit that I don't have a trained eye for this, but really its a gut feel. I played a little bit of baseball, and have watched enough that  can feel confident going for a pitcher or not. Sometimes it burns me, but general I am pretty successful. Now, it also results in a lot of disappointment, because I usually don't sit and watch verlanders games, or some of the better pitchers, and I see a lot of duds from my flyers or potential flyers.

 

Hitters....yeah, I am terrible at that. I pick them up at the worst time, drop them at the worst time. Just ugh. That's why this year I went offense heavy in the draft so I don't have to worry about that, and I can focus on pitchers for the waivers.

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1 hour ago, LarryChip10 said:

I'm curious how many fantasy owners actually watch players intently before picking up or dropping them? 

Now im not talking about a SC highlight when he's at his best or worst, but intently watching a player for not only performance, but subtle body language clues.

 

I played baseball (SP, SS, CF) every free second of my childhood, then high school and some college ball, so I know when I felt I could dominate a batter, or occasionally when I was about to be dominated. I feel this gave me a nice set of scouting eyes if you will, and while I dabble in sabameteic analysis and pay astute attention to the raw numbers... I see so many posts about how garbage a guy is w/ no substance behind it. Have we become so reliant on the plethora of data in the internet age that we've all to a degree, kinda gone away from personal observation? Has the human eye and gut feeling been lost? Do a series of extremely unfortunate loud outs get lost in the data, rather than an opportunity to pounce on a player just before a breakout? (see A. Rendon)

 

Id love to hear some opinions from this group, if you are on this forum you obviously are intent on winning regularly and finding any advantage. Please discuss, and thanks in advance. 

I think watching a game(s) can certainly give you a great advantage to predict what might be on the horizon.  Gives you a little bit better sense of "luck" like did a pitcher get hit hard or kind of unfortunate series of duck farts, hits to holes left vacated by shifts, etc.  Same with hitters, were they dialed in and just as you say the loud outs?

 

 

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1 hour ago, LarryChip10 said:

 

when a hitter rolls his eyes and cracks a slight grin after an extended o-fer, rather than showing some "angry" emotion as though he's being squeezed or knows he's sooo close to squaring that pitch up because he recognized it right out of the pitchers hand... that's more what I meant. Should have been more clear. 

 

Like last night when the ump kept calling outside (balls) pitches for strikes against Hanley and he finally had to swing at a bad pitch that was outside and struck out and then golfed his batting helmet in anger? Guy is foaming at the mouth to mash (and hit 2 of the longest HR's in back to back days).

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56 minutes ago, Fiveohnine said:

I haven't gotten a chance to watch AGon live actually. But his numbers seem to suggest a hidden injury. I remember he was playing in the world baseball cup or w/e in the offseason too. But I'm not sure what he looked like there either.

That's the other thing about baseball. It's so dependent on timing, reflex, rhythm, etc. that even the slightest injury can throw the stats way off. But like in football, just about any NFL quality RB who is 80% healthy would produce good results behind the Cowboys' OL.

There has been reports of forearm tendinitis bothering him lately.  That could be part of issue.  He was so completely worthless vs LHP though last year.  That's usually a precursor to skills eroding.

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A healthy mixture of  sabermetric data, observation and " gut" feeling on decisions are the ingredients here.

 

I'm pretty intent on letting data lead me on a specific course of action most of the time. Players struggle each season at various times but usually a large sample size gives what the players " norm" will be. I follow this. I also dig up what players history vs each other ( hitter vs batter ) etc when creating daily lineups. Some wins and some fails in there. Play the odds. It's impossible to digest all the players in both MLB and MILB so for that, gotta rely on a lot of feedback from the " experts" out there that scout these players.

 

I watch a ton of games and sometimes can foreshadow the near future based on results of a 3 game series etc. I'll always start my studs no matter the situation cause history tells me they'll bust out of it but when? The unknown.  I'll tinker with my mid-tier players based on match-ups and " gut" feeling.

 

Aside from watching a lot of games I find it quite fun and enjoy searching out data on any / all players trends, expectations, results from games played.

 

 

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