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Saturday, November 26, 2005

References to Moneyball philosophy

One of my first blog posts was about Michael Lewis's book Moneyball, an excellent work about baseball analysis informed by relatively advanced statistics.

SABR member Dave Black posted the following to SABR-L on November 17, 2005:
Moneyball is now a descriptor of a specific philosophy for building a baseball team.

As I re-read the book, I tried to identify specific quotes that would describe the Moneyball philosophy.
And here are the handy references Black provided:
p. 33 -- The ability to control the strike zone (meaning K/BB ratio) is the best indicator of future success (for a hitter).

p. 34 -- The larger the number of pitches faced per plate appearance, the more effective an offense is likely to be.

p. 37-38 -- College stats are better for predicting the future of players than high school statistics. For high school players the competition is too weak and the sample size it too small.

p. 57 -- The number of runs a team scores correlates closely to OBP.

p. 125 -- Closers are overpriced and rarely worth the investment of a large contract.

p. 129 -- The ability to get on base is undervalued. (NOTE: Is it now overvalued because of the book?)

p. 137 -- Hitting ability contributes far more to the success of a team than defensive ability.

p. 248 -- Player development follows similar, predictable patterns.

P. 274 -- Playoff results are essentially random because of a small sample size.
By the way, economists Jahn Karl Hakes and Raymond D. Sauer have authored "An Economic Evaluation of the Moneyball Hypothesis." Hakes and Sauer conclude that any market under-valuing of OBP (on-base percentage) was history by the time Moneyball was published. This is their abstract:
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 full paper is available for download at various sites. Just click the link for the abstract to obtain the link(s).

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