Moneyball in the Mlb Playoffs

Michael Giberson

I’m not much of a baseball fan, but I am fascinated by the Moneyball story. On a simple level, it is the story of competition and the discovery and use of knowledge in baseball management. But rather than diving into a rhapsodic soliloquy about economics and the use of knowledge in society, let me get to the heart of the matter: the big-payroll New York Yankees are out, and middling to low payroll teams like the Detroit Tigers and Moneyball‘s-own Oakland As are still in.

For commentary, see blogs The Sports Economist, Wages of Wins, and The Volokh Conspiracy.

2 thoughts on “Moneyball in the Mlb Playoffs

  1. Of course, the big problem with crediting any of this to the “Moneyball effect” was obvious three years, just after the book was published. While Billy Beane’s teams had not, until this year, succesfully gotten past the first round of the playoffs, way back in 2003, the big money New York Yankees lost the World Series to the small money Florida Marlins. The Marlins, in fact, won it all that year with a payroll less than half that of the Oakland A’s.

    And what was the Marlins formula for success? Exactly the OPPOSITE of everything recommended by Beane in that book. They were built on power-pitchers drafted out of high school, speed, and defense, and had a batting order that struck out a lot and had poor on-base percentages.

    So, maybe, just maybe, Beane’s formula (which he has since changed significantly) wasn’t exactly what it was cracked up to be.

  2. Oakland 2003: .327 OBP, .417 SLG, payroll $50,260,834
    Florida 2003: .333 OBP, .421 SLG, payroll $49,450,000

    Of course, many people feel that the “true” lesson of Moneyball was that there were significant errors in the way the market was pricing players. At that time, OBP was the factor most misvalued. One would expect for the market to correct for that, and for a different attribute to be misvalued today.

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