Since he was hired as the Astros general manager in December 2011, Jeff Luhnow has never been shy in his willingness to challenge conventional methods. Some of the once-unorthodox practices he implemented during Houston's ascent from tankers to 2017 World Series champions - a heavy use of defensive shifts, tandem starts in the minor leagues - have become widely accepted or have paid off at the major league level. Others have gone by the wayside or remain in progress. Among the team's most dramatic and potentially far-reaching new approaches is still in its early stages. The Astros are in their first full season operating with a significantly restructured scouting operation, a change they first hinted at publicly late last season with their highly criticized non-renewals of at least eight field scouts. "The eliminated positions thrust Luhnow to the center of what The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal termed"the scouts versus stats.....

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