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Articles Tagged Moneyball 

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July 24, 2014 6:00 am

Painting the Black: The Selling-the-Closer Myth

7

R.J. Anderson

It's not so easy to bamboozle teams looking for summer relief.

Among the lessons taught in Moneyball, the one that crops up every July is what Michael Lewis designated "Selling the Closer."

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At one position, the A's are still Moneyballing like it's 1999.

For the most part, pitch receiving operates on a level that’s easy to overlook. Over thousands of pitches, certain catchers establish an edge, and those edges add up in a way we can’t see without looking at a leaderboard. Every now and then, though, framing on a small scale comes to the fore, usually when it leads to a larger event. Brett Lawrie, let’s say, strikes out looking out a pitch that appears to be outside, hurls his batting helmet at the home plate umpire, and gets ejected from the game. Our first impulse, like Lawrie’s, is to blame the umpire who blew the call. After reviewing the video, though, we realize that the real culprit was Jose Molina, in the catcher’s box, with the catcher’s glove. The ump was a red herring, a patsy, or maybe an unwitting accomplice.

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December 18, 2013 6:40 am

More Moneyball

35

Andrew Koo

In addition to exploiting lefty-righty matchups, the A's also have a significant edge in the air.

The Oakland Athletics finished 2013 with baseball's fourth-lowest payroll, fourth-best offense, and best clubhouse chemistry. Debate has centered on whether the latter two are related. There’s nothing objectionable about “good guy” genes—it’s a solid organizational goal to have. But chemistry alone doesn’t put runs on the board, and if a team is missing the talent, they better find the runs elsewhere. The 2002 Athletics discovered them in walk deities and college arms; once those methods pervaded front offices, the A’s slipped back into losing. Was chemistry the only undervalued commodity of their recent resurgence?

As the baseball community obtains more knowledge, roster construction strategies evolve. Previously undervalued talents like walks and defense are now accepted constructs. The A’s are Hollywood-infamous for adopting them before their competitors while prices were low. After a 74-win 2011, they cheaply signed Brandon Inge and Jonny Gomes, who Brandon McCarthy claimed bolstered the clubhouse DNA to the tune of 20 wins. But Inge and Gomes were two of several players who also bolstered a less-visible statistic: fly ball-to-ground ball ratio.

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September 12, 2012 5:00 am

Punk Hits: What Billy Beane is Doing Again

19

Ian Miller

OAK is A-OK!

Everyone loves an underdog, and we’ve had some great stories this year. The Pirates were great while they lasted, and the Orioles... well, we project Baltimore to go 9-13 the rest of the way and miss the Wild Card entirely. But it was fun, wasn’t it?

And then there’s the Athletics. The lowly A’s, the least-valuable of the 30 MLB franchises at “only” $321 million. They of the skinflint ownership, endless stadium struggles, and ridiculously low ticket revenues. None of this is news, of course. We all saw that movie based on the book that Brad Pitt wrote about the guy from Parks & Recreation. That crafty Billy Beane always finds a way to do more with less! It’s the feelgood story of the year.

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Oakland's success this year is all the more surprising considering they have departed from the small-market blueprint perfected by Tampa Bay.

The Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays, two AL Wild Card contenders who looked like long shots at the All-Star break, are one game into a strangely scheduled Thursday-Saturday series. The two teams have a few things in common, in addition to both being AL Wild Card contenders who’ll be playing tonight in Tampa Bay. In fact, they might have more in common than any other two teams in baseball. This article isn’t actually about the ways in which they’re the same. It’s about one way in which they’re different. But I’m going to start with the similar stuff just to make the different thing more meaningful, which is pretty manipulative of me.

The first thing the A’s and Rays have in common is success in the second half. The A’s were the hot team in July, when they went 19-5. They’ve cooled off lately, but they’re 24-14 in the second half, and their playoff odds have risen by roughly 25 percentage points over that period. The Rays are the hot team in August. They’re 16-5 this month and 25-14 in the second half, which has raised their playoff odds by roughly 50 percentage points.

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March 30, 2012 3:00 am

Pebble Hunting: Moneyball: The Prequel

22

Sam Miller

Decades before Billy Beane and Ricardo Rincon, there was Steve Boros and "computer baseball."

I spend a lot of time going through archives, and any time spent in archives inevitably leads to more time in archives, because an awful lot of things found in archives seem ironic or significant in retrospect. Like this:

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A short sabermetric take on last year's best picture, according to the Academy.

Thomas Langmann, producer of the movie The Artist, was heard speaking the following words before Academy Awards night.

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How can we reconcile Oakland's Yoenis Cespedes signing with the team's latest rebuilding efforts and its surplus of Stepford outfielders?



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February 14, 2012 3:00 am

Painting the Black: Examining the Beane Stock

12

R.J. Anderson

Does the recently-extended Billy Beane's reputation deserved to be tarnished after five seasons without playoff baseball in Oakland?

Baseball lends itself to retrospection. Its rules tend to remain constant, and the limited number of ways in which one can throw or hit a baseball leaves room for today’s players to resemble yesterday’s players in one respect or another. Even baseball contracts beget retrospectives. When a player signs a new deal, we look to his past for hints about his future. The same goes for general managers, and you can bet that Athletics fans are feeling hopeful in the wake of Billy Beane’s reported upcoming pact with Oakland, which is set to run through the 2019 season.

Beane remains one of the league’s most recognizable executives—thanks in no small part to Moneyballs silver screen adaptation—despite the A’s last postseason berth coming in 2006. All of Oakland’s losing since has given Beane’s critics—those who question whether he’s more interested in soccer than baseball—a louder voice. Those who support Beane point to the A’s socioeconomic status while crediting his resourcefulness in avoiding the 100-loss mark; meanwhile, the Beane critics finger his regime’s inability to draft and develop players and insinuate that his inefficiency act no longer works. Consider the quotes John Perrotto gathered in his latest column if you believe those statements to be exaggerations.

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February 9, 2012 3:00 am

On the Beat: The Best of the Rest of the Free Agent Market

8

John Perrotto

Soliciting scouts' takes on the four remaining free agents who made significant contributions to their teams last season.

Spring training is barely more than a week away, and the free agent market has all but been picked over.

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The Michael Lewis book (and major motion picture) suggests that the deck is stacked against the A's, but do they want it that way?

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

Tommy Craggs is a senior editor at Deadspin. Email him at craggs@deadspin.com.

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March 22, 2011 9:00 am

Prospectus Hit and Run: I Don't Wanna Go Down to the Basement

50

Jay Jaffe

Contrary to what you might hear from more retrograde members of the baseball establishment, sabermetrics and storytelling don't have to be at odds.

As Opening Day approaches, hope springs eternal all around the majors. Some teams' bids at contention are founded upon the presumed maturation of exciting youngsters. Others rest their hopes on their stars' ability to turn back the clock and play as though their time had never passed. You could be forgiven for thinking that the latter was the strategy of the Anti-Sabermetric Brigade, a constellation of writers who insist upon fighting a war that has been fought and largely settled. Yet, signs of their resurgence keep popping up.

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