Whether overseeing your league’s open tryouts or determining a final roster spot, player evaluation is a vital coaching skill. Being able to determine and grade athletes on their ability is important when assembling your roster.
Scouting baseball players, especially hitters, takes a keen eye and a solid understanding of positive qualities. Discover how to grade athletes at the plate with these Pro Tips.
A STRATEGIC APPROACH
When scouting hitters, it can be helpful to pay attention to their approach at the plate. While their ability to hit the ball is, naturally, important, how they strategize is a vital factor as well.
“How he controls his at-bat. How does he take a pitch? Is he very confident, does he have a game plan? Is he looking for that pitch early in the count?” asks one professional baseball scout. “Does he have the ability to put all of those pieces together? The good ones, they check all of those boxes.”
Looking at an athlete’s plate approach in addition to their hitting ability can say a lot about a baseball player. A strategic approach at the plate can indicate discipline and knowledge of the game. Knowing how to work a favorable count or how to wait on a pitch can bring more value to your lineup. Yes, a player who is able to drive the ball is worthwhile to an offense. However, that power can be rendered useless if there’s no strategy behind it.
A great way to analyze a player’s plate approach is to watch batting practice. Those skills of seeing the pitch and reacting accordingly can come through with each swing. Be mindful, though, that batting practice is not a game. Some scouts caution being too enamored with a player’s performance and to take batting practice results with a grain of salt.
It can be easy to romanticize the player who showcases power in batting practice. However, it can be equally difficult to say with certainty if those results will stay consistent come game time.
BONUS PRO TIP: A hitter’s willingness to take a walk can also be a good quality to look for. Having the discipline to take pitches can indicate a strong knowledge of the strike zone. Meanwhile, a higher walk percentage can also indicate a higher on-base percentage. This, in turn, can lead to more potential runs for your team.
THE POWER OF OPS
There is a plethora of statistics for baseball coaches and scouts to analyze. Notable numbers, like an athlete’s batting average and home run totals, can show how well they put bat on ball. However, one stat category can be a worthwhile study for coaches looking to generate runs.
A batter’s On-base Plus Slugging – or OPS – is the sum of their on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. This can be a great representation of a player’s ability to get on base and to hit for extra bases. To generate runs, teams need athletes that can regularly get on base. Therefore, offenses can be more fruitful if their lineup features players with higher OPS percentages.
VALUING HARD WORK
A final scouting tip to consider when evaluating hitters is to look at their work ethic. Hard work and determination can be valuable traits in any athlete. When it comes to hitting, it’s a difficult task that’s fraught with struggles. Having athletes that can persevere through challenges can help a team succeed.
Seeing how players react to adversity can tell you a lot about their ability, according to one scout.
“It’s really easy to go see a good player succeed on a day-to-day basis,” he says. “But I like to be there when he fails. Because, you know what, on that day I can climb inside his brain and I can climb inside his heart and I can figure out what makes him tick.”
Understanding the right qualities to look for in hitters can make scouting much easier. With these Pro Tips you can learn to efficiently evaluate an athlete and begin to build your all-star roster.
Looking for more scouting advice? Discover how to build your pitching rotation with these baseball tips for scouting pitchers.