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  • Discussion on "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game"

    I was wondering if anyone would be interested if having a BBF discussion on Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game? The book caused quite a stir when it first came out. There was controversy over what the book said and what it didn't say. I propose that we discuss the book chapter by chapter spending perhaps a few days to a week on each chapter.

    Code:
    Table of Contents
            Preface	
    Ch. 1	The curse of talent	
    Ch. 2	How to find a ballplayer	
    Ch. 3	The enlightenment	
    Ch. 4	Field of ignorance	
    Ch. 5	The Jeremy Brown blue plate special	
    Ch. 6	The science of winning an unfair game	
    Ch. 7	Giambi's hole	
    Ch. 8	Scott Hatteberg, pickin' machine	
    Ch. 9	The trading desk	
    Ch. 10	Anatomy of an undervalued pitcher	
    Ch. 11	The human element	
    Ch. 12	The speed of the idea	
            Epilogue : the badger	
            Postscript : inside baseball's religious war
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

  • #2
    I'd be in! I've read Moneyball a few times and, agree or disgaree with what it had to say, it is one of my favorite baseball books ever.

    My two favorite chapters were (can't remember the names) the one when the scouts were debating prospects predraft and one when he talked with beane during the 20th game winning streak, against kc.

    Comment


    • #3
      The problem I have with MONEYBALL is not the things I disagree with. In almost every book, there will be things I disagree with.
      I often feel that Beane and Moneyball get too much credit for how we evaluate a player today. Beane wasnt breaking new ground as much as he is given credit for. Plenty of people valued OBP for example, long before Moneyball was published. It was evident long before Beane that Brett Butler was a better player than Lance Johnson.
      It is a very good book, but I have a hard time seeing it as this groundbreaking work that revolutionized how we evaluate talent. The credit should go to my little league coach. He once told me 30 years ago that a walk is as good as a hit. He was the genius!!!!
      http://soundbounder.blogspot.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by parlo View Post
        The problem I have with MONEYBALL is not the things I disagree with. In almost every book, there will be things I disagree with.
        I often feel that Beane and Moneyball get too much credit for how we evaluate a player today. Beane wasnt breaking new ground as much as he is given credit for. Plenty of people valued OBP for example, long before Moneyball was published. It was evident long before Beane that Brett Butler was a better player than Lance Johnson.
        It is a very good book, but I have a hard time seeing it as this groundbreaking work that revolutionized how we evaluate talent. The credit should go to my little league coach. He once told me 30 years ago that a walk is as good as a hit. He was the genius!!!!
        You make some excellent points, parlo. These are the kinds of things I'd love to discuss with you and others. It is true that Beane wasn't the first GM to use a more statistical method to evaluate players even with the A's. Sandy Alderson was the one that brought sabermetrics to the A's. Beane learned much from Alderson.

        To me the more interesting aspect of the book is the personal story of Billy Beane. How Beane was the ultimate 5-tool prospect and considered superior to Daryl Strawberry as an 18 year old. That part of the book really fascinated me about how all the traditional scouts were 100% sure Beane was going to be a major league superstar. The fact that Beane didn't became the superstar everyone envisioned speaks to the core of traditional scouting.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by parlo View Post
          The problem I have with MONEYBALL is not the things I disagree with. In almost every book, there will be things I disagree with.
          I often feel that Beane and Moneyball get too much credit for how we evaluate a player today. Beane wasnt breaking new ground as much as he is given credit for. Plenty of people valued OBP for example, long before Moneyball was published. It was evident long before Beane that Brett Butler was a better player than Lance Johnson.
          It is a very good book, but I have a hard time seeing it as this groundbreaking work that revolutionized how we evaluate talent. The credit should go to my little league coach. He once told me 30 years ago that a walk is as good as a hit. He was the genius!!!!
          The revolution, as has been discussed before, was not in finding new ways to evaluate ballplayers, but in applying proper tools of evaluation to finding inefficiencies in the market, and thus enabling a low-budget club like the A's to win. When the book was written, OBP was undervalued, and Beane was able to take advantage of this.
          "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

          - Alvin Dark

          Comment


          • #6
            So I thought we could start discussing the "Preface" of the book. Michael Lewis explains why he wanted to write about Billy Beane and the Oakland A's.
            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

            Comment


            • #7
              If not for Moneyball, I wouldn't have found Bill James. That in itself made it good.

              Comment


              • #8
                Ok, let's get this discussion started. In the Preface, Michael Lewis explains why he wrote Moneyball. The very first setence of the Preface starts out:

                I WROTE THIS BOOK because I fell in love with a story.
                Lewis wanted to answer the question as to how did one of baseball's poorest teams, the Oakland Athletics, win so many games. How can a team with a tiny fraction of t he Yankee's payroll rack up 100 win seasons even after losing their best players. He commented that the A'S really were trying to apply a method of developing players based on scientifc principles. Lewis later in the Preface chapter says this.

                At the bottom if the Oakland experiment was the willingness to rethink baseball: how it is managed, how it is played, who is best suited to play it, and why. Understanding that he would never have a Yankee-sized checkbook, the Oakland A's general manager, Bille Beane, had set about looking for inefficiences in the game. Looking for, in essence, new baseball knowledge. In what amounted to a systematic scientific investigation of their sport, the Oakland front office had reexamined everything from the market price of foot speed to the inherent difference between the average major league player and the superior Triple-A one. That's how they found their bargins. Many of the players drafted or acquired by the Oakland A's had been victims of an unthinking prejudice rooted in baseball traditions. The research and development department in the Oakland front office liberated them from this prejudice, and allowed them to demonstrate their true worth. A baseball team, of all things, was the center of a story about possibilities---and the limites---of reason in human affairs. Baseball---of all things---was an example of how an unscientifc culture responds, or fails to respond, to the scientific method.
                Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 11-07-2008, 03:30 PM.
                Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                Comment


                • #9
                  Anyone? It's kind of hard to have a discussion with myself.
                  Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Sorry you're all by your lonesome so far - I just found the thread and can chime in when I have the time. I love the book and have read it twice thus far. As a HS coach, I use ideas from the book all the time, during both practices and games. I attended a coaching clinic where a HS coach applied the book to the way he runs his program and I thought it was useful stuff.
                    At any rate, I believe that folks who've played or coached at a college level or above can really appreciate the book. Others who are on the outside looking in may not care for it too much.
                    Just my two cents.
                    Last edited by bhss89; 11-10-2008, 03:31 AM.
                    "I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it." - Sandy Koufax.

                    "My name is Yasiel Puig. I am from Cuba. I am 21 years old. Thank you."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bhss89 View Post
                      Sorry you're all by your lonesome so far - I just found the thread and can chime in when I have the time. I love the book and have read it twice thus far. As a HS coach, I use ideas from the book all the time, during both practices and games. I attended a coaching clinic where a HS coach applied the book to the way he runs his program and I thought it was useful stuff.
                      At any rate, I believe that folks who've played or coached at a college level or above can really appreciate the book. Others who are on the outside looking in may not care for it too much.
                      Just my two cents.
                      Sorry to rain on your campfire, but I've played at the college level and its not that I don't appreciate the book and the effort it took to produce, its that I disagree with the formula as a succesful tool to achieving the ultimate goal of any team, that is to win a championship.

                      In my mind, moneyball gets you only so far. When you look at the era chronicled in the book, Oakland had success in terms of winning a large number of games, playing in a weak division. Yet come playoff time, they lost. The one line that struck me was when Beane said something to the effect of "the formula doesn't work in the playoffs, its luck that wins playoffs". What a classic cop out. Playoff games are won and lost primarily on skill and tact. You can pull the wool over the eyes of the casual fans over 162 games when you have the luxury of playing some real stinkers in terms of opponents, but just how good you are as a team will be clearly transparent to the rest of the world when you face the very best of the best. Certainly, on occasion, luck is a factor. But I also believe you make your own luck to a certain extent.

                      The pefect anti moneyball success story that has a small dollar, small market parallel is Minnesota. They steal a base, they sacrafice runners over, they play classic, textbook small ball, which Beane and moneyball supporters claim is terribly flawed yet have enjoyed significantly more success than the A's have over the same time period. They apply the same concept to home grown talent being the primary way for them to have competitive talent and subscribing to a certain style of play, but its a style of play that has been proven over time to be successful when executed correctly, with the right players and coaches.

                      The other problem I have with moneyball is that it seems to really push the concept that the numbers are the whole key when it comes to looking at draft talent. The problem with a number by itself is that it lacks the proper context in which to understand exactly what it represents and how that relates to what you are trying to do in your draft. When you look at the success (or lack of in reality) when it comes to the draft chronicled in book, to me it underscores the lack of meaningful evaluation that can be made when scouting via the money ball formula. Go back and look at the A's picks in that draft and the names that Beane coveted. Then look at who drafted immediately behind the A's and look at their picks. It's an eye opening experience. For further proof of it look at some of the trades the A's have made over the past few years, mostly made in the name of restocking their minor league system, because of their failure in the drafts of the last few years. The A's minor league system is "an island of misfit toys" to paraphrase an expression from the book.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I guess I should have explained myself better - I meant that a coach/player at a higher level could appreciate the book simply for how well it was written, not necessarily for the facts it contains.
                        In regard to how Moneyball translates into coaching at the HS, summer team, or college level, I believe in my case it simply opened my eyes to new ways to assign value to a player. I certainly don't advocate getting my line drive hitters to look to walk so someone can drive them in with HRs. (I site that as one Moneyball-type example that some fans may attribute to Beane's approach). A typical HS lineup would fall flat on its face with this approach, our team included.
                        And although I agree that Minnesota has a formula for success in place at the current moment, they are suspect to the "ebb and flow" of success just as much as Oakland or any other small market club. I realize it's only one example, but in '06 the A's did sweep the Twins in the ALDS in a match-up of the small market studs.
                        I believe the "numbers approach" you allude to is due to the fact that, IMHO, a team with a small budget must "play the numbers" and go with the best draft choices based on past results. I realize that some players are drafted by clubs simply because "they look good in a uniform" and some of these guys pan out, but the A's, Twins, et al don't have coin to simply throw at a player on a whim. That's what I get out of Beane's sabermetric approach to the draft. Perhaps I'm completely wrong, I don't know.
                        "I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it." - Sandy Koufax.

                        "My name is Yasiel Puig. I am from Cuba. I am 21 years old. Thank you."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Is it just me, or has hatred of Beane and the Moneyball approach seemed to have increased since the publication of Lewis's book? And if so, why is that? Is it anti-sabermetrics feelings? Oakland's failures in the playoffs? Perhaps the erroneous assumption often made that Beane dictated what went into the book, which bestowed much praise on the A's' strategy, to make himself look like a genius? I don't know, but ever since the book came out, I see a lot of people from the more old-school/traditionalist side who can't stand Beane and the way the A's organization is run.

                          Me, I'm not all the way on the Beane bandwagon, though I am on the sabermetric side. It's stupid to always eschew the sac bunt, because then you don't have an alternative to keep the defense on their toes. It should be rarely used, but you should trot it out every once in a while to make teams aware that it is a threat, even if it does result in a lower run expectancy. But Beane's up there in his office with his George Lindsey run expectancy matrix, turning purple every time his team uses an out to advance a runner. That's just an example.
                          "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

                          - Alvin Dark

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by NY16CATCHER View Post
                            Sorry to rain on your campfire, but I've played at the college level and its not that I don't appreciate the book and the effort it took to produce, its that I disagree with the formula as a succesful tool to achieving the ultimate goal of any team, that is to win a championship.
                            Ah good some points to discuss.

                            In my mind, moneyball gets you only so far. When you look at the era chronicled in the book, Oakland had success in terms of winning a large number of games, playing in a weak division. Yet come playoff time, they lost.
                            A weak division? I'm not sure that is an accurate statement. In 2000 the A's won 91 games (91-70) and won the AL West title by half a game over the Mariners (91-71). The third place Angels won 82 games and had a winning record.

                            In 2001 when the A's won 103 games they finished 13 games behind the 116 win Seattle Mariners.

                            In 2002 The A's won 102 games and finished just three games ahead of the 99 win Angels. The Mariners finished third with 93 wins. The A's had their 20 game winning streak in '02. During the streak the A's only increased their lead over the Angels by three games because the Angels went 17-3 during the A's winning streak.

                            In 2003 the A's won the AL West again while going 96-66 while the second place Mariners went 93-69.

                            In 2004 The A's finished second (91-71) one game behind the Angels (92-70). The third place Rangers finished just three games back of the Angels (89-73).

                            I would argue that the AL West from 200-04 was actually quite strong. The Mariners and Angels were quite strong and competitive.

                            The one line that struck me was when Beane said something to the effect of "the formula doesn't work in the playoffs, its luck that wins playoffs". What a classic cop out. Playoff games are won and lost primarily on skill and tact. You can pull the wool over the eyes of the casual fans over 162 games when you have the luxury of playing some real stinkers in terms of opponents, but just how good you are as a team will be clearly transparent to the rest of the world when you face the very best of the best. Certainly, on occasion, luck is a factor. But I also believe you make your own luck to a certain extent.
                            It is true that the A's have not done well in the post season. But I don't see that as an inherent problem with how the A's plays baseball. I don't believe that any team is strictly a Moneyball team or a non-Moneyball team.Ttoday a good portion of teams have a staff of people who work the Sabermetric angle. However, if we look in depth at the A's playoff losses there are some interesting events that happened.

                            2000 ALDS vs Yankees (lost 3-2)
                            This was the A's first trip to the post season under Billy Beane. The Yankees were the two time defending World Series champions. The Yankees were highly favored. The entire series was a tight back and forth. I thought the A's showed some grit in Game 4. Being down 2-1 and facing elimination at Yankees it didn't look too good for the A's. But the A's blow out the Yankees 11-0 behind Barry Zito. The Yankees come back in Game 5 and score six runs in the first innings. Yet the A's fought back again and it was 7-5 Yankees after just four innings. Unfortunately, for the A's that was how the game ended.

                            2001 ALDS vs Yankees (lost 3-2)
                            This one was frustrating for the A's I'm sure. They win the first two games in Yankee Stadium and are in complete command. The lose Game 3, 1-0, on a Jorge Posada home run. The Yankees got two hits the entire game. The Yankees go on to win Game 4, 9-2, and Game G 5-3 to close out the A's.

                            2002 ALDS vs Twins (lost 3-2)
                            To most A's fans this loss id the most galling. The Twins were clearly an inferior team. The a's had the 20 game winning streak and won 102 games. The A's led 2-1 with Tim Hudson going in game 4. And Hudson just tanked it going just 3.1 inning and the Twins scoring seven runs in Hudson's final inning.

                            2003 ALDS (lost 3-2)
                            Another tough loss for the A's. The jump out to a 2-0 lead on the Red Sox, blow an 8th inning lead in Game 4 and lose game 5, 4-3.

                            2006 ALDS vs Twins (won 3-0)
                            Finally success as the A's sweep the Twins.

                            2006 ALCS vs Tigers (lost 4-0)
                            The A's get swept by the hot Tigers, 4-0.

                            The pefect anti moneyball success story that has a small dollar, small market parallel is Minnesota. They steal a base, they sacrafice runners over, they play classic, textbook small ball, which Beane and moneyball supporters claim is terribly flawed yet have enjoyed significantly more success than the A's have over the same time period.
                            You need to take a careful look at the actual records of both teams. You claim the A's play in a weak division yet you give the Twins a free pass? The Twins played in a much more weaker division. Also, how do you define "success". In the 2000-06 time frame here are the A's and Twins records


                            Code:
                            Year  Athletics   Twins
                            2000    91-71     69-73 
                            2001   103-59     85-77
                            2002   102-60     94-67
                            2003    96-66     90-72
                            2004    91-71     92-70
                            2005    88-74     83-79
                            2006    93-69     96-66
                            The A's won 664 games and averaged 95 wins from 2000-06. Twins won 609 games and averaged 87 wins. As for the Twins having "significantly more success" in the post season, well the record says otherwise. The '02 ALDS win over the A's is the only series win this decade for the Twins. The A's also have one playoff series win in the Beane era. The '06 A's returned the favor and defeated the Twin in the ALDS 3-0 by the way.

                            Postseason records (2000-06)

                            A's: 11-16 (.407)
                            Twins: 6-15 (.286)

                            Four of the five playoff losses for the A's went the full distance. The Twins four playoff loses were 3-0, 3-1, 3-1, and 4-1.

                            Again, I'll ask who has had more postseason success, the A's or Twins?

                            They apply the same concept to home grown talent being the primary way for them to have competitive talent and subscribing to a certain style of play, but its a style of play that has been proven over time to be successful when executed correctly, with the right players and coaches.
                            I think talent, not style of play, wins championships. Bad teams play "Twins baseball". Would anyone ever argue that bads teams are bad because of the style of play? My S.F. Giants played "small ball" in '08 and were awful. Where they awful because the played small ball or because they don't have enough good talent to win more games?

                            The other problem I have with moneyball is that it seems to really push the concept that the numbers are the whole key when it comes to looking at draft talent.
                            This is where I agree with you. I will add that this seems more to be Michael Lewis' view and not necessarily Billy Bean's view. I don't have the book in front of me, here but in one the annual Baseball America Prospect books, Billy Beane wrote the forward. And he spoke on how valuable a service an organization like Baseball America brings to all major league clubs and that he uses these handbooks extensively. When I get a chance I'll post what Bean wrote.

                            I like to use this analogy about using just baseball stats vs scouting. I work as an engineer. When were hire new college graduates there's always debate on how much a person's grade point average should count. Now some company's especially in the past put great emphasis on GPA as an indicator. But a great GPA tells you knowing about how this person will function in an actual work environment, how he/she will relate to their co-workers, how organized and dedicated they are to their job, etc. Often engineering grads with outstanding GPAs have very poor people skills. Also different schools have different work loads for their students so a 3.95 GPA from on university is not the same as a GPA from another university. How do we compare? A university LQ adjustment?


                            The problem with a number by itself is that it lacks the proper context in which to understand exactly what it represents and how that relates to what you are trying to do in your draft. When you look at the success (or lack of in reality) when it comes to the draft chronicled in book, to me it underscores the lack of meaningful evaluation that can be made when scouting via the money ball formula.
                            I don't agree with this. Beane and his staff take along hard look at "context". One hard look at "context". One thing that many people are trying to do is to try to interpret college baseball stats. It's difficult to do because of statistical "noise", widely varying levels of competition, aluminum bats, etc.

                            Go back and look at the A's picks in that draft and the names that Beane coveted. Then look at who drafted immediately behind the A's and look at their picks. It's an eye opening experience. For further proof of it look at some of the trades the A's have made over the past few years, mostly made in the name of restocking their minor league system, because of their failure in the drafts of the last few years. The A's minor league system is "an island of misfit toys" to paraphrase an expression from the book.
                            I don't think one can look at one draft as say what Beeans does works or does not. For every success that traditional scouting I can name 30 failures. As Beans said in the book (I'm paraphrasing), "We applaud ourselves when we hit on two prospects out of 50. In what other industry is 2 out of 50 considered a success?"

                            I have several criticisms with traditional scouting, some of which are addressed in the book. I don't want to get to detailed until we have reached those chapters but some of my criticisms are

                            1) Scouts greatly overgeneralize on their own personal experiences.

                            1) Scouts place far too much emphasis on "tools". The interesting part of the book is how Beane was scouted in high school and his failure to live up to his hype. Scout saw Beane as an athletic "god" with all the "tools" and just extrapolated that he would easily be a superstar.

                            The opposite happened to Mike Piazza. Piazza was undrafted out of high school and was drafted in the 62nd round out of college. I find it hard to believe hat the greatest hitting catcher didn't show so little potential that not one scout though he could be a pro ball player.
                            Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 11-10-2008, 01:55 PM.
                            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
                              Ah good some points to discuss.


                              A weak division? I'm not sure that is an accurate statement. In 2000 the A's won 91 games (91-70) and won the AL West title by half a game over the Mariners (91-71). The third place Angels won 82 games and had a winning record.

                              In 2001 when the A's won 103 games they finished 13 games behind the 116 win Seattle Mariners.

                              In 2002 The A's won 102 games and finished just three games ahead of the 99 win Angels. The Mariners finished third with 93 wins. The A's had their 20 game winning streak in '02. During the streak the A's only increased their lead over the Angels by three games because the Angels went 17-3 during the A's winning streak.

                              In 2003 the A's won the AL West again while going 96-66 while the second place Mariners went 93-69.

                              In 2004 The A's finished second (91-71) one game behind the Angels (92-70). The third place Rangers finished just three games back of the Angels (89-73).

                              I would argue that the AL West from 200-04 was actually quite strong. The Mariners and Angels were quite strong and competitive.



                              It is true that the A's have not done well in the post season. But I don't see that as an inherent problem with how the A's plays baseball. I don't believe that any team is strictly a Moneyball team or a non-Moneyball team.Ttoday a good portion of teams have a staff of people who work the Sabermetric angle. However, if we look in depth at the A's playoff losses there are some interesting events that happened.

                              2000 ALDS vs Yankees (lost 3-2)
                              This was the A's first trip to the post season under Billy Beane. The Yankees were the two time defending World Series champions. The Yankees were highly favored. The entire series was a tight back and forth. I thought the A's showed some grit in Game 4. Being down 2-1 and facing elimination at Yankees it didn't look too good for the A's. But the A's blow out the Yankees 11-0 behind Barry Zito. The Yankees come back in Game 5 and score six runs in the first innings. Yet the A's fought back again and it was 7-5 Yankees after just four innings. Unfortunately, for the A's that was how the game ended.

                              2001 ALDS vs Yankees (lost 3-2)
                              This one was frustrating for the A's I'm sure. They win the first two games in Yankee Stadium and are in complete command. The lose Game 3, 1-0, on a Jorge Posada home run. The Yankees got two hits the entire game. The Yankees go on to win Game 4, 9-2, and Game G 5-3 to close out the A's.

                              2002 ALDS vs Twins (lost 3-2)
                              To most A's fans this loss id the most galling. The Twins were clearly an inferior team. The a's had the 20 game winning streak and won 102 games. The A's led 2-1 with Tim Hudson going in game 4. And Hudson just tanked it going just 3.1 inning and the Twins scoring seven runs in Hudson's final inning.

                              2003 ALDS (lost 3-2)
                              Another tough loss for the A's. The jump out to a 2-0 lead on the Red Sox, blow an 8th inning lead in Game 4 and lose game 5, 4-3.

                              2006 ALDS vs Twins (won 3-0)
                              Finally success as the A's sweep the Twins.

                              2006 ALCS vs Tigers (lost 4-0)
                              The A's get swept by the hot Tigers, 4-0.


                              You need to take a careful look at the actual records of both teams. You claim the A's play in a weak division yet you give the Twins a free pass? The Twins played in a much more weaker division. Also, how do you define "success". In the 2000-06 time frame here are the A's and Twins records


                              Code:
                              Year  Athletics   Twins
                              2000    91-71     69-73 
                              2001   103-59     85-77
                              2002   102-60     94-67
                              2003    96-66     90-72
                              2004    91-71     92-70
                              2005    88-74     83-79
                              2006    93-69     96-66
                              The A's won 664 games and averaged 95 wins from 2000-06. Twins won 609 games and averaged 87 wins. As for the Twins having "significantly more success" in the post season, well the record says otherwise. The '02 ALDS win over the A's is the only series win this decade for the Twins. The A's also have one playoff series win in the Beane era. The '06 A's returned the favor and defeated the Twin in the ALDS 3-0 by the way.

                              Postseason records (2000-06)

                              A's: 11-16 (.407)
                              Twins: 6-15 (.286)

                              Four of the five playoff losses for the A's went the full distance. The Twins four playoff loses were 3-0, 3-1, 3-1, and 4-1.

                              Again, I'll ask who has had more postseason success, the A's or Twins?


                              I think talent, not style of play, wins championships. Bad teams play "Twins baseball". Would anyone ever argue that bads teams are bad because of the style of play? My S.F. Giants played "small ball" in '08 and were awful. Where they awful because the played small ball or because they don't have enough good talent to win more games?


                              This is where I agree with you. I will add that this seems more to be Michael Lewis' view and not necessarily Billy Bean's view. I don't have the book in front of me, here but in one the annual Baseball America Prospect books, Billy Beane wrote the forward. And he spoke on how valuable a service an organization like Baseball America brings to all major league clubs and that he uses these handbooks extensively. When I get a chance I'll post what Bean wrote.

                              I like to use this analogy about using just baseball stats vs scouting. I work as an engineer. When were hire new college graduates there's always debate on how much a person's grade point average should count. Now some company's especially in the past put great emphasis on GPA as an indicator. But a great GPA tells you knowing about how this person will function in an actual work environment, how he/she will relate to their co-workers, how organized and dedicated they are to their job, etc. Often engineering grads with outstanding GPAs have very poor people skills. Also different schools have different work loads for their students so a 3.95 GPA from on university is not the same as a GPA from another university. How do we compare? A university LQ adjustment?



                              I don't agree with this. Beane and his staff take along hard look at "context". One hard look at "context". One thing that many people are trying to do is to try to interpret college baseball stats. It's difficult to do because of statistical "noise", widely varying levels of competition, aluminum bats, etc.


                              I don't think one can look at one draft as say what Beeans does works or does not. For every success that traditional scouting I can name 30 failures. As Beans said in the book (I'm paraphrasing), "We applaud ourselves when we hit on two prospects out of 50. In what other industry is 2 out of 50 considered a success?"

                              I have several criticisms with traditional scouting, some of which are addressed in the book. I don't want to get to detailed until we have reached those chapters but some of my criticisms are

                              1) Scouts greatly overgeneralize on their own personal experiences.

                              1) Scouts place far too much emphasis on "tools". The interesting part of the book is how Beane was scouted in high school and his failure to live up to his hype. Scout saw Beane as an athletic "god" with all the "tools" and just extrapolated that he would easily be a superstar.

                              The opposite happened to Mike Piazza. Piazza was undrafted out of high school and was drafted in the 62nd round out of college. I find it hard to believe hat the greatest hitting catcher didn't show so little potential that not one scout though he could be a pro ball player.

                              As for playoff success, I do belive that the failure of the A's and the lack of any other stringent adhearant to the moneyball forumula to have anything remotely resembling playoff success is a strong indicator of its shortcomings. If this formula was so strong and so correct, it would be applied by far more MLB teams than it is. The fact of the matter is that its all about winning at that level, however you can.

                              The AL central was no picnic from 2000-2006. Cleveland had some excellent seasons as did Chicago in 06.

                              If you want to compare records, I think you should add the last 2 regular seasons to the results column. Add in the 07 and 08 Twins and the picture is quite different. The reason I hold up the Twins is admittedly a personal bias to some extent. I am friendly with a number of Twins scouts and front office people and I have a great respect for their knowledge, approach and understanding of the game. I also greatly admire their minor league system and the style of baseball that is taught at their minor leage level. And I think they are a fair counter argument to the A's in terms of budget, market size, etc.

                              You make an interesting point regarding context and I am just wondering if you see the same contradiction I do in a couple of your statements. You agree the focus on numbers is too strong in terms of their influence on the draft in the moneyball formula, yet you claim that Beane and staff does view them in a context, then you interject your own personal experience with the hiring process of young professionals and the struggle of how you put their GPA and college experience in the right context when viewing them as part of the hiring process. Seems to me that evidence and logic would suggest that just as you struggle with finding the right context for your profession, I think Beane struggles with context for his as well.

                              As for your brief observations on professional scouts, I'll admit another bias. My grandfather and uncle were professional scouts for several organizations over the years, serving in capacity ranging from amateur scout to crosschecker to professional scout to advance scout at the MLB level. I don't think the layperson can genuinely make an in depth observation of the role a scout plays and what it is exactly a scout does until they have either spent a tremendous amount of time in extremely close proximity or study of one or until they've done it themselves.

                              To me, without the scout interjecting his personal experience and observations, the scout is providing nothing but stats and rather meaningless observation. A good scout is able to put his observations into context (there is that word again) and relate them to other players who have played or who are playing in an organization, is able to identify players who will perform or who have the potential to perform well in the structure and methodology of the organization, who can fill a role or need, etc. It's not just the speed on the radar gun, or the pitchers time to home, or any of the other wide variety of data a scout selects. It's how does the player interact with others, what is his baseball knowledge like, is he coachable, etc. All important factors that are in many ways subjective.

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