From STANFORD BUSINESS magazine
When he is evaluating talent as a scout for the Boston Red Sox, Hal Morris often recalls lessons learned at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
“I think the course that probably helped most was Organizational Behavior,” he says. “We learned about cognitive biases. In scouting, many things can influence your opinion of a player. You have to be aware and make sure you make an objective analysis.”
Morris, 45, is a former major leaguer who batted .304 lifetime and drove in the winning run for the Cincinnati Reds in the final game of the 1990 World Series. After his 14-year playing career he came to Stanford and earned an MBA degree in 2005. He took a range of courses, including sports marketing, and learned quantitative analysis as well as other skills he says prepared him for a business career.
After graduation, he worked in real estate investment. Then, missing baseball, he decided to return but not in a uniform. “I spoke with some guys I respect in the game. They suggested scouting. They thought I would enjoy breaking down the game to a granular level.”
Morris worked two years scouting amateur players for the Pittsburgh Pirates before the Red Sox hired him in fall 2010 to evaluate players already in the minor or major leagues. The Red Sox, winners of two World Series in recent years, are known as a sophisticated organization that relies heavily on statistics.
“Baseball is a game driven by numbers,” Morris says. “My focus is qualitative analysis, so I don’t delve into quantitative analysis per se, but my Stanford experience makes the data produced by the quantitative guys very approachable.”
Morris can see himself moving into the business side of baseball eventually. “Many of the really top-flight, front office personnel came from a scouting background. I’m trying to hone my skills. We’ll see where that takes me.”
— Robert Preer
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