Roughly 25 students gathered in Susie’s on Wednesday night to listen to Matt Hyde ’92 discuss his experiences evaluating athletes as a scout in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees, and the increased emphasis on analytics in his field.
Hyde has scouted for the Yankees for 11 years. Prior to his time in the MLB, he attended the University of Michigan, where he was a four-year letterwinner as a catcher. Additionally, he also coached teams in the Cape Cod Baseball League. During his visit to Andover, Hyde emphasized a fundamental shift in the way baseball players are now being evaluated. Analytics in conjunction with traditional evaluation methods, he said, are helping scouts discover and acknowledge players who would not have stood out with their skills alone.
“I go around and I’ve got to be an expert on the top players in the Northeast, and I see players from around the country,” said Hyde. “If you deal with math, the language of math is numbers… the language that we have in scouting is talking about tools, and we have a scale of 20 to 80 and that’s how we talk about players.”
“And the great addition to the world of scouting over the past several years has been analytics. And those analytics help us to not miss guys and also to reward guys who do things well that we might not see with our naked eye,” he continued.
Many students found Hyde’s presentation to be engaging, as it provided them with a new perspective on the analytical tools that are shaping baseball today.
“I always like listening to Matt Hyde,” said Travis Lane ’18. “He brings up a lot of different points about how baseball is played and how it’s changed over the years.”
Jake Zanazzi ’18 said, “It was really interesting to learn the balance between scouts using analytics and what they see– how analytics are becoming a bigger part of different sports.”
Prior to the common implementation of analytics in professional scouting practices, Hyde acknowledged that even he missed players that went on to become top MLB performers.
Hyde said, “Kyle Hendricks [of the Chicago Cubs] went to Dartmouth, and I saw Kyle pitch three times his Junior year. I missed with Kyle Hendricks– along with a lot of other guys. Kyle was throwing 88-91 [miles per hour]. On our scale, an average fastball is 91. So, Kyle was barely throwing average. The following year, my boss had me do a study on strikeout rates [to look for] a correlation in the statistics [between success in college and MLB] – guys who had a strikeout rate of nine [per nine innings] or greater ended up having a good chance of having a major league impact– Kyle Hendricks, 2011, eighth round, he went 10.16 strikeouts per nine. If I had done that study one year earlier, I definitely would have been on Kyle Hendricks a lot more.”
Along with outlining the impact of analytics on MLB scouting operations, Hyde discussed the important role Andover played in pushing him to pursue and find success in his passion for baseball. He urged students to take advantage of the opportunity that Andover provides for them both in and outside of the classroom.
“The teachers that I had here at Andover were people who were always trying to get better themselves. And they were learners… I know that I always have to keep on learning… to get better. I wanted everyone to come away [from this discussion] with [the understanding] that if they love something, pursue it. Because if they really love it and they put their heart into it, they’re going to be able to have some of these great experiences,” said Hyde.
Faculty and students are grateful for the opportunity to learn from Hyde.
Andover Baseball Head Coach Kevin Graber, who helped organize the event, said, “I think it’s amazing when a graduate of Phillips Academy comes back and valued his experience at this school so much they want to come back, share some of what they’ve learned with current students. Matt Hyde does something for a living that very few people do and a lot of people probably want to do and think is pretty cool.”
“When you’re talking about Matt Hyde, you’re talking about one of the best in the business, so you really then have the opportunity to speak with someone who’s really, really skilled at their craft and knows a lot,” he continued.