Fair or Foul?

Abstract:The Moneyball system pioneered by Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane has been looked at with interest by other businesses. In Moneyball, potential recruits' hitting is rated by a statistician on their on base percentage (OBP), which counts all times on base rather than simply tracking hits. The authors examine data from the pre-, during-, and post-Moneyball eras to determine whether a different tracking scheme would have produced better results for Beane's A's. The analysis shows that while the A's were the only team using Moneyball, the correlation between payroll and OBP lessened. Oakland's performance during these years led them to the playoffs, but never to the World Series. Modeling of the teams that did reach the World Series shows that while OBP is enough to make a team perform well, it is pitching that determines whether the team will rise to the top. Beane's methods, while not enough to allow his team to dominate, improved his team's performance. By focusing on a simple metric …

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I really enjoyed seeing the analysis. Very well written and presented.
--Mike Nichols, 04-14-2012

Really good read.
--Jude Shellito, 04-09-2012

I think the key point is the last one: No competitive advantage lasts. Someone will figure your method out and use it against you, particularly in self-correcting systems such as business or sports.
--Stephen Stanley, 04-03-2012

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