QUIET. THE GREAT GRANDMASTER OF SABERMETRICS SPEAKS:
On a funny note, myself, Paul, Dan Feinstein (video coordinator) and Steve Vucinich (Clubhouse Manager) four years ago all had a mock draft on the 1st day of the 1999 baseball season. The winner would be the lineup that had the highest combined team OPS
– Billy Beane, 2003
Wait, what the hell? OPS? 1999!?!!??! Billy Beane wasn’t supposed to find out about the merits of on base percentage until 2002, when Jonah Hill (pictured on the banner) swoops in and unveils the prophecies of thy holy book of Sabermetrics to him.
Fact is, some baseball front offices knew of sabermetrics way back in the 80’s and 90’s, although it’s true there were (and are) still some sabermetric principles that are still undervalued, the idea that Billy Beane and his crew came together to revolutionize the way we look at stats in baseball is largely a myth. Remember that scene in the movie with those scouts in the boardroom, looking dumb and useless as Brad Pitt pisses and moans about them trying to find Fabio?
Those idiot scouts drafted the likes of Barry Zito, Eric Chavez, Mark Ellis, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson, who together contributed to 22 WAR on the 2002, meaning 22 more wins then replacement level players would of contributed, something that is completely ignored in the movie.
Chad Bradford, who got a solid 10 minutes in the movie? 2.1 WAR
That’s not to say what Billy Beane and the rest of the front office has done in Oakland on a very low payroll isn’t excellent, it’s just that the story of the Oakland A’s has become so popular because of the hollywood movie and great Michael Lewis book and not necessarily on the uniqueness of their success.
I just don’t think we should disregard the other great successful teams that also did great things with data analysis. Take the recent story of the Tampa Bay Rays, perennial contenders in the AL East against heavyweight juggernaut of baseball like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. The data analysis work they’ve done on defensive metrics pitch f/x, and the success they’ve had with sometimes a 1/4 or 1/5 of they payroll of their competitors is far more impressive to me then the 2 to 3 year rise of the Oakland Athletics in the early 2000’s. Or how about the New England Patriots, constant Super Bowl champions despite a salary-capped league
I only bring this up on a soccer blog because of the sometimes messianic worship by a lot of the European and North American soccer communities and media for Billy Beane and the ‘Moneyball Revolution’. Look, Moneyball was just a thing, and it doesn’t have any sort of proprietorship over using stats and data to evaluate athletes.
So lets, as a soccer community, please stop talking about it so much, okay?