New York Yankees professional scouting director, Dan Giese, spends most of his year on the road. If he had been scouting thirty years ago, his team would work off of his opinion alone in many cases when it came to evaluating talent. Times and technology have changed, and along with that, the way that talent is evaluated has changed as well. To help illustrate the point, when Gies talked to NJ Advance Media, he discussed the process that went into bringing Luke Voit to the Yankees this summer.
At 27, Voit is a player that is known in terms of Major League Baseball. While he hadn’t made his mark on the game yet — looking like he was going to be a AAA first baseman and insurance against injuries for the Yankees — he has been much more. He has become their everyday first baseman, and is arguably the hottest bat on the team in the month of September. While his breakout numbers have been a surprise to many fans and analysts, Giese says that he could see all along that Voit was a player waiting to breakout — and the Yankees were the team that could make that happen.
“We saw the peripherals of what he’s doing and obviously, even the surface-level stuff was really good. We thought, he’s going to help us here.”
What Giese specifically saw in Voit was that he had a strong hitting power, which has been on display against Boston where he clubbed three homers in two games. The scout was impressed with Voit’s quality of contact, which is how well a batter actually handles the pitches that he should be hitting well — such as the belt high fastball over the plate. He was also highly impressed with his barrel rate and zone control, and felt like if he played in the right stadium, he has the kind of tools necessary to be a prolific power hitter.
So far, Giese has been right. With his ability to drive the ball hard to right center, the inviting Yankee Stadium short porch has been good to Voit. He is hitting.323 with nine homers and 20 RBI in 29 games with the Yankees. It wasn’t just Giese who saw this potential. The Yankees analytics department — which is something fairly new to the team and baseball in general — crunched the numbers on Voit and believed he could thrive in Yankee Stadium.
“Scouting and analytics, we work hand-in-hand really well. All our decisions are made through those pillars.”
In unlocking Voit’s talent which the Cardinals hadn’t seen in him, Giese and the Yankees analytics department found a solid player that began paying almost immediate dividends for the team. This took place by Voit replacing the struggling Greg Bird at first, and then becoming a threat in the lineup — providing protection for everyone batting around him in the order. While Giese is getting the bulk of the credit for the scouting done on Voit, Andrew McCutchen, J.A. Happ, Lance Lynn, and Zach Britton this summer, he has been quick to point out in interviews that it is the combined efforts of scouting and analytics that make it possible to find hidden gems.