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Chapter 5. Baseball: Thinking Outside th... > Moneyball and Billy Beane

Moneyball and Billy Beane

Billy Beane is the General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team. He does things differently than the stodgy old-line baseball managers. He makes his baseball decisions on the “numbers.”

Billy Beane doesn’t have a fancy stadium or a wealthy owner. In fact, this small-market team’s payroll is one-third that of the New York Yankees. However, the Oakland A’s are routinely among the best teams in major league baseball, having reached the playoffs four years in a row (2000–2003). What happened? Billy Beane became the Oakland A’s general manager. In “The Buffett of Baseball,” the old school perspective on what constitutes a winning baseball team (familiar truisms about talent, character, and chemistry) is compared with the new scientific approach based on numbers. This new approach is based on extensive scientific research into baseball statistics. It is often called sabermetrics, after SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, and has proved almost all of the old truisms to be false. The genius behind sabermetrics was a mechanical engineer named Earnshaw Cook, who, in the early 1960s, compiled reams of data that overturned baseball’s conventional wisdom. But when he presented the data to executives at a handful of struggling teams, they shooed him away. So Cook wrote a book called Percentage Baseball, based on statistics that were irrefutable.[13]


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