Scouting is hard. We, as an industry, simply haven’t figured out how to appropriately measure and value intangibles. We’re still learning, and I have no doubts that a clever individual will create a method to do so. Right now, quantifying those intangibles remains elusive.
In 2007, the year before Clayton Kershaw would make 21 starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers in his rookie season, Baseball America had him as their number 24 prospect in baseball. Below are the pitchers listed ahead of him.
- Adam Miller- 23
- Matt Garza- 21
- Mike Pelfrey- 20
- Yo Gallardo- 16
- Tim Lincecum- 11
- Andrew Miller- 10
- Homer Bailey- 5
- Phil Hughes- 4
- Daisuke Matsuzaka- 1
Perhaps the most difficult factor to quantify when scouting and discussing these intangibles is “makeup.” Makeup encompasses heart, grit, determination, work ethic, professionalism, teammate behavior and more.
There is no question that in 2007, there was a better fastball on the list above. There were more deceptive deliveries. There were cleaner mechanics.
I stood in the box vs Yo in 2008 in a simulated game and against Clayton that same spring when we faced the Dodgers. Clayton’s stuff was not more intimidating (Yo’s was pretty filthy).
Perhaps Clayton’s intangibles separated him. I don’t know all of the listed men personally, so I can’t speak to their grit, but I’m not sure I know of a more driven human that Kersh.
Is the talent off the charts? Of course it is. Regardless of the platitudes telling you otherwise, it’s not enough to want it bad. Rudy Ruettiger played at Notre Dame on mostly heart, but he didn’t go on to a Hall of Fame NFL career. However, when it comes to a group of men, all of whom display otherworldly athletic gifts, perhaps we can pay closer attention to makeup.
If you’re a minor league player looking around trying to figure out how to stand out from the pack, control what you can control. Display “8” makeup. Bring it to the field every single day, no matter what your situation is. Build it into your DNA. Somebody will bet on you.