Carrie and I had an opportunity to have a date night tonight. Any night that I get to spend with Carrie is a good night, and tonight was no exception. We went out for dinner, and the went to the local movie theater to see Moneyball. Moneyball turned out to be a fascinating movie. The acting was very good, but the subject matter carried it for me. The film documents the 2002 season for the Oakland Athletics. Billy Beane, the GM of the A’s decided that with the meager budget he had, he wanted to try something different. Instead of looking at batting average, good looks, age or other traditional indicators of players of that era, Beane looked deeper. He raised the value of offense and devalued defense (Joepa would cringe). He used statistics like on base percentage, slugging percentage, and other lesser used stats to find the best team that he could with the money he had. Well, it worked. The 2002 A’s went on to win 20 straight and make it to the ALDS.
In today’s baseball, it’s believed that these techniques are used everywhere. Coming up with unique ways to look at player data is just part of the game. Baseball is more than bats an balls. It’s a complex series of formulas and equations. Servers crunching numbers, playing an extremely high level of fantasy baseball. Finding value in players that may not be the youngest, healthiest, or most versatile. Fascinating stuff.
This brings three questions to mind:
1. Are these techniques used in other sports? Can you put together a football team based on stats? Can Penn State find a quality quarterback using moneyball tactics?
2. Can moneyball be used to explain why Ryan Howard is still playing for the Phillies? Do they know something we don’t know? (I hope so, because I really like the Big Piece!)
3. Can someone please send Billy Beane a plane ticket to Pittsburgh??? Because the Pirates need a clinic on how to put together a baseball team… I mean seriously!!
Go see Moneyball, it’s worth it.