if it were worth one run to go from 2 outs, no one on to bases loaded, 3rd out in the bottom of the 8th or 9th innings whilst one is losing by 2 or fewer runs, the a’s would have set an MLB record for most runs scored by a club ever.
Still, it’s a damn entertaining movie, and anyhow econ majors need to eat, too. (Nate Silver, now of FiveThirtyEight political-stats fame, is a poster boy for number crunchers who got their start in baseball.)
Aaron Sorkin wrote the script, and with Social Network and now Moneyball, he’s gotten quite good at explaining how the geeks are winning the future.
And yet, the Oakland A’s are currently closing in on five straight non-winning seasons. There are plenty of theories—the Coliseum’s sheer ugliness impedes player performance, stats can’t predict injuries—but the most compelling for my money is just that: money. Sabremetrics + “good old fashioned money-muscle” = wins. Once the formula behind the A’s incredible 2002 season was essentially open-sourced by Michael Lewis’s book, big money teams got with the program, and the A’s again found themselves in the same cash-poor position as the start of that very season, when they’d just lost Johnny Damon to a $31 million-dollar Red Sox contract and Jason Giambi to the Yankees for $121 million. Meanwhile someone finally hired Bill James, the father of sabremetrics (to be fair, the Red Sox did try to bring Billy Beane on, first, but he turned them down to stay in Oakland), and you can see a straight line from the 2002 A’s to the 2004 Red Sox, when another team of misfit players spectacularly beat the odds by studying them.—Tasneem Raja(via motherjones)
i’ve thought about this a lot since moneyball was published. this being the question what did the a’s or beane gain from lewis exposing their system? i love baseball. i love the a’s. shit, i enjoy michael lewis’ writing. but this book was always a terrible idea to me.
i’m not saying that baseball wouldn’t have caught onto sabermetrics or rumors wouldn’t have gone around until others started using the system. i am saying that publication of moneyball accelerated that process exponentially, destroying any advantage one of the poorest teams in baseball had.
so what i really want to know, now that the movie is being released on the heels of losing season number 5, is why? why agree to tell this story to begin with? because all of the innovation that allowed you to succeed without a payroll is gone, and we’re right back to needing a new tactic to keep up.