"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Monday, September 26, 2011

Quick Thoughts on "Moneyball"

OK, I loved this movie.   I am a big-time stat geek as a baseball fan, and this film was right in my wheelhouse.   Brad Pitt was great as Billy Bean, the Oakland A's GM who was one of the first to use advanced statistical metrics (OBP, OPS, WAR) to judge baseball talent.   And Jonah Hill was even better as his nerdy assistant who crunches the numbers.  

But, but, but.... as much as I like it, I feel compelled to add:   ARE YOU KIDDING ME!   The 2002 A's had almost by accident struck gold in the form of three great young starting pitchers who were right at the top of their game that year in Barry Zito (23-5, 2.75 ERA), Mark Mulder (19-7, 3.47 ERA), and Tim Hudson (15-9, 2.98 ERA).   Forget about on base percentage and finding Scott Hatteberg to play first base (15 HRs, 61 RBIs).   Good pitching, which has very little to do with the type of statistics, was what won 103 games for the 2002 A's, and they were able to do it on the cheap only because Zito, Mulder and Hudson were young at the time, and were on their first contracts.   By the time they were ready for their second contracts, the A's had to trade them or let them go as free agents.   That ended up being a good deal for them:   Mulder ended up a Cardinal, had one good year, then blew out his arm;   Hudson has been a decent starter for the Braves since 2005, but nothing special and certainly not worth the $15 million per year they paid him; and Zito got a big contract with San Francisco and has proceeded to be terrible for five years.   But let's not confuse what made them a 100-win team in 2002.

Oh, by the way, in 2002 the A's also had Miguel Tejada at shortstop, who won the MVP and hit 34 HRs and drove in 131 RBIs.   I don't think the movie mentioned him more than once.  

And, oh, by the way again, the A's haven't been back to the postseason since 2006.  

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