In 2002, the Oakland Athletics set the American League record for consecutive wins with 20 in a row. The team finished the season with 103 wins and won the American League West division, and they did so after losing three of their biggest stars. How did the A’s accomplish such a feat? Some would call it luck; some would call it a fluke. When compared to other MLB teams, the 2002 A’s bankroll was tiny. But the A’s succeeded that year because they assembled a team of low-cost achievers. The players who they acquired throughout the season were not superstars; rather, these players were guys who could get on base and could score runs. Without runners on base, it’s impossible to win baseball games.
In Moneyball, A’s general manager Billy Beane and assistant GM Peter Brand employed statistical analysis to discover which players provided the best production for the lowest cost. Traditionally, players were judged based on statistics like batting average, runs batted in, and home runs. However, using statistical analysis, Brand displays that on-base percentage and slugging percentage are better indicators of offensive production. Beane takes Brand’s advice and acquires new players—many who appear to have little value to other teams.
Beane was supposed to be a superstar himself; he was drafted out of high school in the first round for his ability to run, to throw, and to hit for good batting average. However, his professional career did not pan out. I found it funny when Beane asked Brand to use his statistical analysis to predict what round of the draft Beane should have been drafted. His results displayed that Beane should have been drafted in a much later round. After hearing this, Beane realizes that Brand’s method could be really useful. He experienced failure first-hand, and he was one of the expensive players who 99% of scouts loved. Perhaps the cheap players with modest statistics are the best ones to have on your team.