Whenever we discuss the merits of this particular Cubs’ front office, a most consistent and crucial element is their ability to blend advanced analytics with good ole’ fashioned scouting.
Across many interviews over the years, Cubs President Theo Epstein has explained that both types of player evaluation have a place in today’s game, and both are important to delivering a winning team.
Understandably, and as I’m sure you could tell, we tend to focus a bit more on the advanced analytics side of the game around these parts. It’s a bit sexier, ever-growing, and, most importantly, it’s a lot more accessible to fans like us.
Internal scouting reports, on the other hand, well, those are kept quite private (unless you are the Cardinals, then you have more of a show us what ya go attitude about it). In fact, we don’t only know very little about the reports themselves, we know very little about the process at all.
At The Athletic, Rian Watt reached out to a number of Cubs sources to discuss how a report goes from the hand of a scout on a field somewhere to in front of the eyes of someone like Theo Epstein, and how those reports work together with all the other information the Cubs are continuously gathering about ballplayers. Watt was understandably met with a lot of “off the record” and “I’m not going to answer that” replies, but he paints a beautiful picture nonetheless and I think you’ll want to give it a read.
The biggest takeaway from the piece, of course, is the Cubs’ internal scouting database known as “Ivy.” According to Watt, Ivy is run off players names (not teams/leagues/players/coaches/etc), so any of the higher-ups can check in on any individual at any point – without bias – and learn a hell of a lot written by their college of scouts and analysts.
“Once you hit that player page [in Ivy],” [Matt Dorey Cubs Director of Amateur Scouting] said, “there’s tabs for every piece of information on that player you could ever want, whether it’s pro or amateur, on the field or off. I’m still amazed what those guys can do.”
The system includes, of course, every scouting report that’s ever been filed on the player, from his earliest amateur days straight through to the present, but also medical data, player development and R&D reports, mental skills and conditioning information, and records of conversations with high school coaches, school administrators, close friends, parents, and of course the player himself. Every last tiny piece of information that could possibly be used to divine a player’s future is there, along with stats, video, and more.
There’s so much more in this article that informs about the nature of player evaluation and acquisition in the Cubs organization. Check it out yourself – it’s a really great read.