I love baseball. Always have. Probably always will. A decade or so ago, the game changed. Not in an obvious way like Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, but it was just as impactful. Stats that used to mean something, went out the window. Stats no one believed were worthwhile, became all important. Sabermetrics were born. Moneyball was a book written about that evolution of player value based on tangible stats that translated into success.
The central premise of Moneyball is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders (including players, managers, coaches, scouts, and the front office) over the past century is subjective and often flawed. Statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average, typically used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th century view of the game and the statistics that were available at the time. The book argues that the Oakland A’s’ front office took advantage of more empirical gauges of player performance to field a team that could compete successfully against richer competitors in Major League Baseball.
Rigorous statistical analysis had demonstrated that on-base percentage and slugging percentage are better indicators of offensive success, and the A’s became convinced that these qualities were cheaper to get on the open market than more historically valued qualities such as speed and contact.
A new movie based on Billy Beane’s early experiences with moneyball as the GM of the Oakland A’s is coming out and while it showcases just how nerdy I am, I’m really excited about the movie.