Moneyball by Michael Lewis tells the story of baseball’s Oakland Athletics. One of the most low-paid teams in Major League Baseball (MLB).
Despite their small payroll, the A’s consistently managed to make the playoffs and set an American League (AL) record of 20 consecutive wins in 2002.
Management’s unconventional but statistically supported, analytical approach to selecting players was key to their success. Players most didn’t have any faith in.
The strategy was inspired by the thoughts of Bill James (baseball writer), who advocated a statistical approach for baseball in the 1970s. He called it sabermetrics.
This strategy had its center in Oakland Athletics General manager Billy Beane. Beane became a highly successful general manager because of his willingness to embrace sabermetrics in baseball.
Here are three important takeaways Moneyball are:
- The MLB’s growing salaries made it difficult for small market teams such as the Oakland Athletics to retain star players
- Billy Beane was the first manager to implement a stats-driven management approach for an MLB team.
- Statistical analysis suggested that two valuable statistical categories, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, were better indicators of a player’s future success
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Lesson One: The MLB’s growing salaries made it difficult for small market teams such as the Oakland Athletics to retain star players
Catfish Hunter was born in 1974. When he joined the New York Yankees, he began baseball’s modern era without the need for free agency.
By doing this, he was the highest-paid baseball pitcher ever.
There was a power battle between the team owners and the players about salaries. Six player strike after that.
The salaries of mid-90s workers grew faster than ever. Alex Rodriguez from the Yankees had a salary at one time that exceeded the annual average entire player roster The Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
The small-market teams simply couldn’t compete.
After the end of the 2001 season, Oakland’s Jason Giambi was named American League MVP, only to leave the A’s to play for the New York Yankees.
Oakland was a small market team and had to be cautious about signing unrestricted agents. Oakland had to restrict their choices to those players that everyone thought were undervalued. They could also choose players that people were having a problem with.
Lektion Two: Billy Beane is the second general manager who fully implemented a statistical-driven management system for managing an MLB team
The process was initiated by Sandy Alderson, the previous GM. However, the A’s seized the full potential of using statistics when Beane was in charge.
Beane’s life experiences cultivated his ability to take an analytical view of baseball.
Beane, a junior player of high repute who was believed to have it all by all Scouts, was highly regarded.
However, it didn’t pan out that way. When he became unfit to play, he was either traded or let go by several teams. Stanford University also released him and gave him a new athletic scholarship.
Beane’s own experiences as a player may have contributed to him being able to view baseball with a neutral and objective perspective.
Lesson Three: Statistical analysis suggested that two valuable statistical categories, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, were better indicators of a player’s future success
The book shows that the Oakland Athletics did not engage in aggressively running bases, hit-and run plays or sacrifice plays. This was what most baseball players believed was crucial to win games.
They encouraged walking and getting to first base.
The Athletics played a more team-oriented style, with a greater emphasis on creating base runners than hitting.
To ensure more runs, the Athletics placed emphasis on base runners.
This strategy allowed Oakland Athletics to make the playoffs in 2001 with one of the lowest payrolls.
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Where the A’s could strike gold was to value parts of baseball that others didn’t care about.
Give it a thought. Which part of your business or life do you hold the most value?
Odds are, there’s a KPI or a benchmark that you don’t even look at which could be a gamechanger.
It is my passion Moneyball.
I love both the book and the film. I also love all the messages.
This is a great story about how you can be great at your job.
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