Cards Player Analysis: A Seat at the Buffet

Mike Girsch

St. Louis Cardinals Vice President of Amateur Scouting and Player Procurement Jeff Luhnow, along with Director of Player Development Mike Girsch and Senior Quantitative Analyst Sig Mejdal, offer an overview of the organization's methods of analyzing players.

As the St. Louis Cardinals set sail down a new path in their storied history, the scouting department will play an even bigger role with ownership's commitment to player development. Free agent salaries continue to skyrocket, so teams such as the Cardinals have begun to look to the draft to stock their roster with younger, more affordable players. That being said, the draft has always been a crapshoot as most players drafted never reach the high levels of the Minors, much less the big leagues.

For decades, teams relied solely on scouts' opinions on draft day. But in recent years some teams have brought in mathematicians to help even the odds. The Oakland A's were the first organization to publicly recognize this new way of player evaluation and had this "buffet of information" all to themselves. The Cardinals just want to take a place at the table.

Jeff Luhnow (right) joined the organization in October of 2003 as the Vice President of Player Development. From the business world, he was brought in to oversee the team's development of its own statistical analysis of players.

Mike Girsch will enter his third season as a member of the Cardinals' front office and was recently promoted to his post this past November after serving as the amateur scouting coordinator.

Sig Mejdal (right) joined the Cardinals as their Senior Quantitative Analyst in 2005 after enjoying success at employers such as Lockheed and NASA. The "Rocket Scientist" is responsible for analyzing college statistics for the amateur draft. Sig has also contributed injury probability pieces to the Bill James Handbook and these have become some of the most reliable projections in the industry.

The Cardinals have begun laying a foundation for "new school" statistical analysis to merge with "old school" player scouting. At the Winter Warm-Up, Luhnow, Girsch, and Mejdal explain how that is being done.

Up first, Luhnow gives an overview of the analytic department of the Cardinals as well as introducing the other two speakers.

(3:40)

Next, Girsch discusses the statistical models the Cardinals use. Keep in mind, the panel did not get into great specific details of these models, as Mr. Luhnow stated during before the session started that they must "assume that all of those in attendance are representatives of the Cubs or the Red Sox." First is an overview of hitting and base running analysis.

(6:05)

Girsch then speaks of the data the organization's has on all balls batted and how it uses this data to determine fielding analysis.

(3:48)

The pitching model and how the Cards use the analysis of defense to rank the pitchers, followed by the two models used to determine prospect status.

(2:43)

Mejdal discusses merging the "new school" and "old school".

(4:08)

Next, Sig discusses his job of analyzing the statistics of college players.

(5:01)

Mejdal explains how the system uses the scouts' data and combines it with his statistical analysis.

(2:03)



Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

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