4/24/07

Moneyball Myth

The now famous book Moneyball by Michael Lewis has assumed near mythological status for its use of statistics for evaluating performance in baseball. Meanwhile Nero fiddles while Rome burns. I must admit I have read Moneyball twice and for a time became quite infatuated with the concept thinking that maybe baseball had come out of the dark ages. Even after the first read I felt the book missed the point in terms of injuries and conditioning. Injuries and conditioning factors like speed agility, strength and power are measurable. It also misses the point in term of long-term development of players. What can be improved? The stats don’t show that. Those factors are measurable and improvement in those qualities can be tracked. Just measuring a player’s production on the field is the end result it is not the whole picture.

Just measuring what the player does during the game can be misleading. It is important to know which injuries are long term and which are short term. How long will rehab take? What is the real cost per injury? For example in 1993 with the White Sox we looked at cost per injury in a minor league player who missed five days, it was $12,500. That factored in the players salary, the salaries of everyone that worked with that player. We were interested in measuring the effect of an injury in measurable terms. To my knowledge no one has done this at the Major League level. Get the picture, lets accurately measure all that can be measured accurately, not just the convenient game statistics.

Speed can be measured and it can be measured in the game with laser technology. Instead teams rely on a scout sitting behind home plate holding a stopwatch to get times from home to first. I keep hearing that range on defense is unmeasureable. That is untrue, if you can analyze movements during a game in rugby and soccer why not baseball? Scientifically it is definitely possible to measure how effectively a player can move in various directions.The fact is I am convinced that this is too much work for most people in baseball. This means they would have to work harder and make hard decisions on players that are no longer productive but still popular with fans. Moneyball is great for fantasy baseball but in real life you must go beyond Moneyball and look at the bigger picture. This would require a huge paradigm shift that I am convinced baseball is unwilling to take.

4 Comments:

At 4/24/07, 7:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vern
What your are...is a pain in the azz for baseball front office? WHY? Because you are right!!! And the baseball "guys" don't like guys that have never played the game to tell them how to do things because baseball guys always know more...so they think.

Like you have told me before, no one wants to be #1...because it takes hard work.

Vern Wanna-be

 
At 4/24/07, 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To win the Game is Great..."
"To play the Game is Greater..."
"To Love the Game is the Greatest of All..."
-unknown

 
At 4/24/07, 8:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Love the Game is the Greatest of All...until guaranteed bonuses, agents, handlers, super trainers, gurus...

Lao Tzu

 
At 4/25/07, 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Remind them. Sooner or later it will surface.

Play; exercise or activity for amusement or recreation.

 

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