Hirsch: Without a Clue.
All told, there is zero evidence to support one of Moneyball’s pillars: Beane’s unique ability to identify and draft undervalued prospective stars. Indeed, Beane’s weak track record drafting players clearly contributed to the team’s disastrous performance in 2011. Many low-budget teams fared better – not just this year but over the past several years.
In Lewis’s telling, the A’s use of advanced statistics also produced superior game management. The team adhered to a key tenet of the advanced statistics crowd: outs are too precious to give up with sacrifice bunts or to risk with aggressive base-running. There are various problems with this overly tidy analysis, and both pre- and post-Moneyball many teams thrived by ignoring the admonition against risky base-running. Beane himself came to see the light – his A’s have become an aggressive base-running team.
Asked about the change in tactics, Beane cites the intangible effects that mathematical formulae cannot capture. His teams take chances on the bases because of the cascading benefits of what Beane calls the “mentality of aggressiveness.” Beane deserves credit for changing course, but that doesn’t change the fact that another key insight attributed to him by Moneyball did not stand the test of time.
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