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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Duff: Moneyball alone won’t add up to titles

Duff reaction: Carbon copy.

Brad Ausmus is an Ivy Leaguer.

In other words, he’s known guys with pocket protectors. He’s seen number crunchers up close in action.
And yet when you ask him about Moneyball, he’ll tell you it doesn’t add up.

“There is value in numbers,” admitted Ausmus, the Dartmouth product who manages the Detroit Tigers. “I think the important thing is you don’t want to inundate players with numbers.”
Ausmus doesn’t completely discredit Moneyball, sabermetrics, or fancy stats, whatever you might want to call it.

Nor should he.

Nor should anyone.

What he does point out – and again, he’s correct in this assessment – is that taken alone, it’s simply not a formula for winning baseball.

The Athletics are living proof of that.

...Ausmus is also a believer in sabermetrics, just not on a daily basis.

“There’s value in it, but on a day-to-day lineup basis, you wouldn’t use that,” Ausmus said.

“If you’re a general manager projecting what a guy’s going to do over the next 2-3 years, whether to give him a multi-year deal, what his age is, how that plays out in terms of success, from an analytical sense, there’s probably more value in that for a general manager than a manager.

“That doesn’t mean we won’t use some numbers in our decision-making process, whether it’s in making out the lineup or defensive positioning.

“I see the value in it, but I certainly don’t live and die by it.”

The A’s continue to live and die by Moneyball.

Living large in the regular season. Dying off quickly in the playoffs.

Repoz Posted: July 03, 2014 at 08:14 AM | 45 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: oakland, sabermetrics, tigers

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   1. JJ1986 Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4742507)
Living large in the regular season. Dying off quickly in the playoffs.


In stark contrast to Brad Ausmus, he of the playoff success.
   2. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:26 AM (#4742509)
Stupid Moneyball articles will never stop. They just never will.
   3. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:28 AM (#4742511)
“There’s value in it, but on a day-to-day lineup basis, you wouldn’t use that,” Ausmus said.

Except how are you to get the value unless you slog it out day to day? You don't get bonus points for simply being sabermetric you get your runs by grinding it out every single day of the year.
   4. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4742517)
Lazy sportswriters continue to live and die by half-assed Moneyball columns.

Living "large" on their regular paychecks. Dying off quickly in relevance.
   5. Dale Sams Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:45 AM (#4742518)
Guess I'll root for the A's this year just so the number of these articles will diminish. And who knows, maybe they'll film "Moneyball Two"
   6. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:46 AM (#4742519)
#3: I think what he's trying to say is that analytics are more useful tools for informing strategic decisions than for tactical ones.
   7. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: July 03, 2014 at 09:53 AM (#4742525)
Guess I'll root for the A's this year just so the number of these articles will diminish. And who knows, maybe they'll film "Moneyball Two"
"The A's won because they abandoned the misguided 'Moneyball' principles."
   8. BrianBrianson Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4742535)
Indeed, Ausmus seems to be saying pretty sensible things. The writer is being an ass, though.
   9. Astroenteritis Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:23 AM (#4742541)
I think what he's trying to say is that analytics are more useful tools for informing strategic decisions than for tactical ones.


That's how I interpreted his remarks. He's not going to decide who to play based on 17 at bats worth of information, for example, but he certainly understands the value of sabermetrics in roster construction and player acquisition. Ausmus is a bright guy, and he probably tries to incorporate a variety of approaches. One thing I remember reading about him when he was catching for Houston is that he sometimes disagreed with then manager Larry Dierker about walking the 8th place hitter with 1st base open to get to the pitcher. Dierker almost always wanted to pitch to the 8th place hitter, but Ausmus would favor the walk more often. Of course, he doesn't have that decision to make very often in the AL.

Also tired of these articles. It's one thing to have a sound criticism, but quite another to just keep spouting the, "A's haven't won the World Series, so....." argument.
   10. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:29 AM (#4742547)
#3: I think what he's trying to say is that analytics are more useful tools for informing strategic decisions than for tactical ones.

Sure but the soldiers in the trenches have to move forward in order for the strategy to work. You can't come up with grand plans and then not have your soldiers do the work.

Look at the next paragraph. If Ausmus believes that a GM can use sabermetrics to figure out who should be on the team then it stands to reason that the players need to perform in the way that the GM thinks maximizes their values. Which means day to day decisions have to be based on those same sabermetric based decisions the GM made. If a GM thinks player X has value becaue he'll be the right hand side of a platoon then the manager needs to incorporate that decision into his own decisions.
   11. Batman Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4742557)
Ausmus doesn’t completely discredit Moneyball, sabermetrics, or fancy stats, whatever you might want to call it.
In fact, no matter how hard the writer tries to make it sound like he does. Ausmus doesn't discredit them at all.
   12. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4742563)
he’s known guys with pocket protectors

Does anybody actually wear pocket protectors anymore? Do people even wear shirts with breast pockets anymore?

it’s simply not a formula for winning baseball. The Athletics are living proof of that.

Yeah, they just got swept by the Tigers, a team who dropped 2 of 3 to Houston! That's baseball, kids!
   13. Random Transaction Generator Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:54 AM (#4742572)
Does anybody actually wear pocket protectors anymore? Do people even wear shirts with breast pockets anymore?


/looks down

Yup, wearing one right now (shirt with breast pocket, not a protector).
In fact, most of my short sleeve business casual button down shirts have breast pockets.
   14. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4742580)
Do people even wear shirts with breast pockets anymore?

Pretty much every dress shirt has them, so yes. It's very convenient for carrying your phone.
   15. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4742582)
Pretty much every dress shirt has them, so yes. It's very convenient for carrying your phone.


That's exactly how I carry my phone. The only question is if lung cancer will get me, or if I'll get to be one of the rare males felled by breast cancer.
   16. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:16 AM (#4742594)

Pretty much every dress shirt has them, so yes. It's very convenient for carrying your phone.


You mean pretty much every cheap one does. Most of the high end, European, and designer shirts have no breast pockets.
   17. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4742598)
I like the convenience of a breast pocket. It's probably not stylish but I'm OK with that, the convenience more than makes up for it.
   18. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4742602)
That is what a suit jacket is for.
   19. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4742603)
I feel like a good number of mine have breast pockets; so I guess i buy cheap shirts. Though I basically never use the pocket other than to occasionally stash business cards I receive.
   20. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:30 AM (#4742605)
You mean pretty much every cheap one does. Most of the high end, European, and designer shirts have no breast pockets.

Ooh la la fancy boy with your EUR-o-PEEEAN DEEEE-signer shirts.
   21. McCoy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4742608)
Though to be totally honest you can have a pocket stitched on at an extra cost if one wanted the pocket. Pockets don't really go well with the slim look nor with the club scene style shirts and suits. Which now that I think of it I can understand why the primates have a pocket on their shirt.
   22. BrianBrianson Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:36 AM (#4742609)
Because I'm living in Europe, of course.
   23. JE (Jason) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4742620)
That is what a suit jacket is for.

I assume you're talking about the inside breast pocket, Poindexter.
   24. valuearbitrageur Posted: July 03, 2014 at 11:48 AM (#4742623)
Brad Ausmus is an Ivy Leaguer.


In interests of full disclosure, the author should have noted that this was many concussions ago.
   25. TJ Posted: July 03, 2014 at 12:27 PM (#4742660)
Brad Ausmus is an Ivy Leaguer.
In other words, he’s known guys with pocket protectors. He’s seen number crunchers up close in action.


Schools in the Ivy League- Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Brown, Dartmouth, Cornell, Columbia.

Top Ten Undergrad Engineering Programs- MIT, Stanford, Cal, Cal Tech, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Carnegie Mellon, Cornell, Michigan, Purdue, Texas. (US News & World Report, 2013)

Top Ten Undergrad Accounting Programs- Texas, Illinois, BYU, Notre Dame, USC, Michigan, Penn, Indiana, NYU, Ohio State.(US News & World Report, 2013)

So if Ausmus knows a lot of guys with pocket protectors and number crunchers, he must have partied at a lot of other schools during his college days, since it doesn't look like the Ivy League schools put a lot of emphasis on those skills. Maybe it's because they are too busy focusing on training future presidents, CEO's, and other liberal arts types...


   26. Srul Itza Posted: July 03, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4742673)
That is what a suit jacket is for.


If you wear one suit, brah. I no da kine.
   27. jobu Posted: July 03, 2014 at 12:42 PM (#4742675)
I agree that Ausmus comes off fine in the article, but the writer is a tool.

Number of World Series Championships while Billy Beane has been A's GM: A's 0, Tigers 0 (I guess the Tigers' s**t doesn't work in the playoffs, either. Let's not start $*%(ing Brad Ausmus's &#%( just yet)

Number of World Series Championships in expansion era: A's 4, Tigers 2

Number of World Series Championships: A's 9, Tigers 4

Arguably with the exception of the Bash Brothers Era, the A's have played some version of moneyball during their entire existence, in the sense that moneyball means figuring out a strategy that extracts unique value out of talent (or, said another way, uniquely exploits undervalued resources) in order to compete with fewer resources than the competition. It seems to work OK to me.
   28. filihok Posted: July 03, 2014 at 12:57 PM (#4742694)
That is what a suit jacket is for.

Hard to trust anyone who wears a jacket in the summer.


http://allenhardwick.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/inside_house.jpg
   29. Moeball Posted: July 03, 2014 at 01:15 PM (#4742717)
Arguably with the exception of the Bash Brothers Era, the A's have played some version of moneyball during their entire existence, in the sense that moneyball means figuring out a strategy that extracts unique value out of talent (or, said another way, uniquely exploits undervalued resources) in order to compete with fewer resources than the competition. It seems to work OK to me.


Hadn't really thought of it like that before. I guess Connie Mack was sort of doing the same thing BITD? Sometimes it worked really well and sometimes it didn't.

To me, the following things come to mind every time I hear the whole Moneyball schtick, pro or con:

1)I couldn't believe people made such a big deal about the book back in 2002 or 2003, whenever it first came out - like it was something no one had heard of before. Get batters with high on-base percentages because most teams undervalue these types of players? Gee, I guess Bill James and Pete Palmer never said anything like that back in the early eighties, 2 decades before Moneyball came out. This must be a new idea!

2)Speaking of James, he's been in the employ of the Red Sox for at least a decade now - and while it is true that they have more $$ to throw around than the A's do, they have clearly also changed their approach to player personnel decisions during this period, and I think you can see some of James' influence on these decisions. Get players who get on base and can hit with power; get pitchers who don't walk a lot of batters. 3 championships later, I think they may be on to something there.

When you hear a writer say that Moneyball doesn't work, what he's really saying is that he still doesn't buy into the idea that HRs, RBIs and Batting Average aren't the best measures of offensive performance or that Pitchers Wins aren't the best measures of pitching performance...and that he's never going to change his mind about that. Dinosaurs apparently do walk among the humans, and all we can do is wait for them to die out.
   30. jdennis Posted: July 03, 2014 at 01:48 PM (#4742744)
If the A's are going to win it in any year, it would be this one, with its absolutely ridiculous parity. Is anyone even at 50 wins or losses yet, and we are at about the 85 game mark? If nobody does anything ridiculous at the trade deadline, the A's are taking it.
   31. Al Kaline Trio Posted: July 03, 2014 at 02:26 PM (#4742766)
I hope the A's do something crazy like get David Price.
   32. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4742792)
That would be a ####### A Trade.

In reference to #29: Bill James, by way of reminding us that his fundamental role in the universe is that of relentless contrarian, has lately taken up the mantle of Defender of Pitcher Wins in various things he's written on his website.
   33. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 03:02 PM (#4742793)

When you hear a writer say that Moneyball doesn't work, what he's really saying is that he still doesn't buy into the idea that HRs, RBIs and Batting Average aren't the best measures of offensive performance or that Pitchers Wins aren't the best measures of pitching performance


I don't think so; I think it's become code for "Moneyball is the idea that a guy with little knowledge or experience of baseball but who knows math and computers can run a team better than baseball lifers."
   34. Dale Sams Posted: July 03, 2014 at 03:42 PM (#4742814)
3 championships later, I think they may be on to something there.


The 2007 team would beat the 2013 team like a rented mule.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 04:41 PM (#4742841)
What he does point out – and again, he’s correct in this assessment – is that taken alone, it’s simply not a formula for winning baseball.

The Athletics are living proof of that.


I know anti-moneyball articles are, by their very nature, full of outright stupidity, but a comment like this has to rank as one of the dumbest ever made. We bag on Tim McCarver, and even he has said "The post season is a crapshoot." The point is that most people know that the most important thing to win in the post season is to make it to the post season.... since 2000 the teams A's have made the post season 7 times in 14 years, while generally speaking being in the bottom 1/3rd in payroll... That is impressive. The A's since 2000 have to rank as one of the ten best franchises in baseball if not top 5(I imagine any ranking would have Yankees/Red Sox/Cardinals and Braves at the top then you can debate with about another half dozen teams depending on a lot of factors)
   36. cardsfanboy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 04:48 PM (#4742845)
In reference to #29: Bill James, by way of reminding us that his fundamental role in the universe is that of relentless contrarian, has lately taken up the mantle of Defender of Pitcher Wins in various things he's written on his website


Prior to 1980 or early 90's, I think pitcher wins is a perfectly decent stat, but now with the advent of relievers, and people touting win percentage, it's usefulness is waning. In the modern age, starting pitchers win percentage is going to go up, thanks to the usage of relievers. I still like wins(Wainwright is leading the NL in wins) but it's only a slightly useful stat and mostly a fun stat. Quality starts is a much better stat for the current pitcher usage than wins. (Mind you qs should be modified on a per year basis to represent different scoring environments....and should be a yes/no stat...meaning once you get the quality start qualifications, you shouldn't lose it with subsequent performance)

for the record, the funny thing about wins and rbi, even though they are relatively useless stat as a seasonal indicator, it's still one of the first things I will look at on the box score,.
   37. madvillain Posted: July 03, 2014 at 04:54 PM (#4742850)
Billy Beane should really get royalties for all these articles about that book he wrote.
   38. cardsfanboy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 05:12 PM (#4742856)
Billy Beane should really get royalties for all these articles about that book he wrote.


If he did, then he could invest in the team, and negate the Moneyball concept... :)
   39. bjhanke Posted: July 03, 2014 at 05:38 PM (#4742872)
IMO, Moneyball is a one-trick pony: You can locate guys who will take walks at the minor league, or even at college level, because taking walks is a 6th tool, not a trainable skill. Since (at the time the book was written), very few organizations paid any attention to walks at any level below MLB, this gave the early Moneyball teams an advantage. However, nowadays, every GM has read the book, and so the value of walk-takers has gone up, once again leaving the teams with money able to take over.

On quality starts: I'm a Vanderbilt Alum. Vandy just won the College World Series, the first time a Vandy men's sports team has won a national championship ever in any sport (a women's bowling team has also won). A large part of that was that the Commodores had a great, deep bullpen. They needed it, because in the entire CWS, Vandy's starters did not throw even one quality start. So, that's made it down to the college level already. If you'd suggested, five years ago, that a team could win a CWS without even one quality start, you'd have been laughed out of town. Any town. - Brock Hanke
   40. cardsfanboy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4742873)
On quality starts: I'm a Vanderbilt Alum. Vandy just won the College World Series, the first time a Vandy men's sports team has won a national championship ever in any sport (a women's bowling team has also won). A large part of that was that the Commodores had a great, deep bullpen. They needed it, because in the entire CWS, Vandy's starters did not throw even one quality start. So, that's made it down to the college level already. If you'd suggested, five years ago, that a team could win a CWS without even one quality start, you'd have been laughed out of town. Any town.


really? with aluminum bats, I just assumed that allowing 3 runs in 6 innings was pretty much a given.
   41. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: July 03, 2014 at 06:12 PM (#4742883)
Prior to 1980 or early 90's, I think pitcher wins is a perfectly decent stat, but now with the advent of relievers, and people touting win percentage, it's usefulness is waning. In the modern age, starting pitchers win percentage is going to go up, thanks to the usage of relievers. I still like wins(Wainwright is leading the NL in wins) but it's only a slightly useful stat and mostly a fun stat. Quality starts is a much better stat for the current pitcher usage than wins. (Mind you qs should be modified on a per year basis to represent different scoring environments....and should be a yes/no stat...meaning once you get the quality start qualifications, you shouldn't lose it with subsequent performance)


James' main point in support of wins as I understand it, which I think is a valid point, is that run context doesn't merely change from era to era, year to year, league to league, park to park; it changes day by day. And wins are the only pitchers' stat that inherently adjusts for run context (both pitchers in the same game are always pitching in the same run context). The stat is seriously handicapped by its complete lack of adjusting for run support and defensive support and bullpen support, but it's still useful--much more so over careers than over seasons--because of its inherent adjusting for run context.
   42. Walt Davis Posted: July 03, 2014 at 06:16 PM (#4742884)
Step 1: Find a town where people know what the CWS is.
Step 2: Realize you're in Omaha and leave of your own accord.

:-)
   43. cardsfanboy Posted: July 03, 2014 at 06:20 PM (#4742889)
James' main point in support of wins as I understand it, which I think is a valid point, is that run context doesn't merely change from era to era, year to year, league to league, park to park; it changes day by day. And wins are the only pitchers' stat that inherently adjusts for run context (both pitchers in the same game are always pitching in the same run context). The stat is seriously handicapped by its complete lack of adjusting for run support and defensive support and bullpen support, but it's still useful--much more so over careers than over seasons--because of its inherent adjusting for run context.


I like that argument.
   44. Mike Emeigh Posted: July 03, 2014 at 06:46 PM (#4742902)
with aluminum bats, I just assumed that allowing 3 runs in 6 innings was pretty much a given.


The NCAA took steps to deaden the trampoline effect of aluminum bats in 2011, by mandating what are called "BBCOR" bats. It's worked pretty well; there have been only 25 home runs hit in the CWS in the four years that it's been played at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, including just three this year, and offense in general has been down in college baseball since the BBCOR bats were adopted.

-- MWE
   45. Bug Selig Posted: July 03, 2014 at 10:28 PM (#4743032)
The Athletics are living proof of that.


That whole best-record-in-baseball thing is quite a stinging indictment.

Is logical consistency even a thing in writing school?

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