Oct

15

From the WSJ last month:

[W]hile Moneyball emphasizes drafting college starters, who have logged substantial innings against quality opposition, Mr. Beane will sometimes violate that advice, especially after agents and rival GMs have gotten in on the secret … A tenet of Moneyball is that on-base percentage is the game's essential offensive stat. So why are the A's seventh in the American League in OBP this year, down from third in 2001? Because other teams have seen Oakland's success and started paying big for players with high OBPs. The A's have instead focused on pure walks, ranking third in the majors in that undervalued category. Similarly, analysts know that pitchers with high strikeout rates hold up well (see Roger Clemens and Randy Johnson). So why does the A's staff rank 12th in the AL with 6.06 strikeouts per nine innings — down from fourth in 2001? Because strikeouts are expensive. So Mr. Beane put a solid infield defense behind his effective but less-than-overpowering pitchers.

(Bacon analogy — "The principle of ever-changing trends works to force quick and drastic changes of results sequences when the public happens to get wise to a winning idea.")

A look at last year's AL West standings gives the impression that the A's lost ground to the Angels … But when Mr. Beane and his analysts looked at P-wins (a predicted winning percentage based on the ratio of runs scored to runs allowed), they saw that both the A's and Angels played like 93-win teams — and realized that better luck would be as likely as reorganization to close the gap.

(Bacon analogy — "Keep out of those switches") From NYT earlier this month:

'The sort of team we put together is probably going to be dissimilar to others,' Beane said. 'When everyone else is zigging, we're going to zag.'

(Bacon– "Copper the public's ideas.") From The Sports Economist last month:

Sauer and Hakes turned to the data and asked if on-base-percentage was truly undervalued in baseball's labor market. Their paper reports that before Moneyball appeared, on-base-percentage was indeed undervalued. After this story became known, though, this advantage disappeared. In sum, baseball executives were able to adjust behavior in light of new information, a result standard economic theory would predict.

From the referenced "Journal of Economic Perspectives" paper:

Michael Lewis's book, Moneyball, is the story of an innovative manager who exploits an inefficiency in baseball's labor market over a prolonged period of time. We evaluate this claim by applying standard econometric procedures to data on player productivity and compensation from 1999 to 2004. These methods support Lewis's argument that the valuation of different skills was inefficient in the early part of this period, and that this was profitably exploited by managers with the ability to generate and interpret statistical knowledge. This knowledge became increasingly dispersed across baseball teams during this period. Consistent with Lewis's story and economic reasoning, the spread of this knowledge is associated with the market correcting the original mis-pricing … The ideas in Moneyball, belying protestations from entrenched interests in the baseball world (Lewis, 2004), spread with sufficient speed that baseball's labor market no longer exhibits the 'Moneyball anomaly.'


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