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8 Responses

  1. Larry Rosenthal says:

    I agree; good post!

    Larry Rosenthal
    Chapman University School of Law

  2. In this comment, I express frustration with the conventions of law review discourse that require excessive, stylized, and self-referential but un-self-aware signposting of argument structure. I further argue that whatever the virtues of this style in formal academic writing may be, it is poorly suited to blogging.

    What makes me cry about your opening paragraph is that in the very next sentence — “This is a long, baseball-heavy post, so let me cut to the chase at the outset.” — you switch to a more lively, conversational style. The post immediately comes alive. Embrace the medium. You know you want to.

  3. Linus says:

    I agree whole heartedly with the main arguments here, but I do have a few questions.

    One thing that gets lost in evaluating teams is institutional training. The Royals have become a poster child for the quantz guys to beat up on as they inexplicably seem to focus and train players for skills that seem to highlight their weaknesses rather than their strengths. When Beane and Co. decided to focus on OBP and ignore “tools” so to speak they seemed to take the notion that getting on base was a skill, an easier skill to evaluate and one that was undervalued. But i wonder if one of their innovations was also realizing that their resources being limited, meant less institutional training was available AND less time was available to develop their players.

    I am assuming here that $$ and resources are directly correlated to the quality of training and instruction players can get. A team with less resources goes into a draft knowing two things, 1) they need returns on their drafts faster, 2) they may not get the same result from a super gifted athlete as the Yankess could get. This would naturally mean they would shy away from high school players AND they would be biased for players that already have a skill that can be easily translated to whatever level of ball they play (ie controlling the strike zone).

    I have often wondered whether there the highly touted players who end up as a bust could have succeeded with another organization, or whether there are organizations who are just better at taking less “gifted” players and turning them into stars.

    One limitation with quantitative analysis has always been to make an assumption that development of a player was predictable and equal across organizations. This simply cannot be true.

  4. Linus says:

    Oh sorry. My question is whether or not the new tools in evaluating players, such as F/X would likely be the new wave of innovation. Just reading about the journey of Brian Bannister and how he 1) first tried to use what he learned from statistical analysis for his pitching, but got mixed results, but then 2) started to succeed when he began using his pitch f/x data to better construct a pitching plan that works for him.

    I wonder if the best way to use limited resources for teams is not just to find undervalued skills that can uncover cheaper (not better) players , but develop better training and performance evaluation analysis.

    This post http://www.vivaelbirdos.com/2009/8/19/992832/albert-pujols-anatomy-of-the-swing is fascinating at how it uses Albert Pujol’s swing to challenge traditional notions on how to evaluate swings and hitting in general.

  5. nasamomdele says:

    I think you’ve run too far too fast with the lessons of Moneyball.

    Beane has said that the events of Moneyball were a snapshot of what they were doing at that moment. The lessons have evolved, though some specifics remain- when you don’t have money, you can’t bet on drafting and keeping 1st round picks, so it may be better to use those picks on developable talent. Its just another risky game you play, just with less money.

    To say that the lessons have not played out is both beside the point and wrong. The lessons of Moneyball are divided between the big money teams and the small money teams, like Oakland. You wrote that Boston utilizes some lessons from Moneyball, while they can also afford big money players- what you might call ‘traditional’ approaches to talent valuation. You couldn’t be more wrong.

    In Moneyball, Beane expresses the fact that he would love to land stars for Oakland, but is simply outbid. The lessons are for the competitive benefit of the small-market team, the Davids of sports, not for their dominance, but for their competitiveness.

    Not to mention that the Red Sox are playoff contenders every year with analytical minds running things. Can’t say that for the Yankees.

    Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  6. That is a great summary of Moneyball. I have always wanted to read that book and this post has made me want to even more. I actually like the idea of Moneyball especially because baseball doesn’t have a salary cap. You see it in every sport teams that draft well and draft smart overcome bad seasons a lot quicker and easier. Also look at how many teams repeat as champions in MLB, there is a new champion every year. I’m interested to see how the movie turns out.