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Jim Palmer: Orioles Must Beef Up Analytics, Scouting As Part Of Rebuild

October 11, 2018
Former Baltimore Orioles right-hander Jim Palmer says the team is lagging far behind other organizations in analytics and international scouting. 

Palmer, an analyst for MASN, notices the differences between how the best MLB teams use analytics to their advantage when acquiring players and how that's been done for the Orioles, who finished with the worst record in baseball this season. 

"You have to have a nice blend of analytics and scouting," Palmer said on The Bat Around Oct. 7. "I think the Orioles got away [from] that for whatever the reason was."

In the midst of a rebuilding process, the Orioles announced Oct. 3 that manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette would not return in 2019. Palmer said the organization should make changes in analytics and scouting procedures in the future. 

Palmer referenced an article in The Athletic, which estimated the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees each have 20 employees dedicated to analytics. The Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros, also playoff teams in 2018, have 15. The Orioles, however, rank among the teams with the fewest analysts (five). 

"My suggestion is to look at why it's changed in the first place," Palmer said. "Maybe analytics you never had, but why weren't we scouting in the international market? Why don't we have as many pro scouts as we used to have?"

Answers to these questions might help accelerate the Orioles' return to the prime form they achieved under Showalter and Duquette. The team ended its 14-year streak of losing baseball in 2012 and made the playoffs three times in five years from 2012-2016.

Palmer highlighted the Yankees' acquisition of first baseman Luke Voit to show how teams should use analytics in scouting. When New York first baseman Greg Bird and outfielder Aaron Judge battled injuries during the summer, the Yankees looked for a potential power bat. 

Voit had a big month for Triple-A Memphis in July, and New York traded lefty reliever Chasen Shreve to get the hot hitter. After the acquisition, Voit hit .333 with 14 home runs during 39 games with the Yankees. 

Just 10 players posted an average exit velocity higher than Voit did for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017. 

"All of a sudden you get a 4A player because Luke Voit had never proven anything else," Palmer said. "It's a nice blend because of pro scouting because they see him, the analytics identify him and you move on from there." 

In addition to analytics, Palmer also questioned the Orioles' lack of emphasis on scouting and signing international talent. Their facilities in the Dominican Republic, he said, aren't to the standard of others. 

"They don't even have air conditioning down there which has to be very uncomfortable even if you're a young kid when you don't really care how hot it is," he said. "But the other facilities for the Yankees, [Toronto] Blue Jays, Cardinals … they're much more updated."

In addition to the lack of top-notch facilities, the Orioles haven't shown much interest in regularly signing international players in the past. Rather than spending in the international market, the Orioles have used that money to get well-established minor leaguers instead. 

"You have to establish a presence," Palmer said. "People actually have to believe that you're going to sign players. The Orioles signed a couple players this year, and we'll see how good they are."

For more from Palmer, listen to the full interview here:

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox