The Blazer

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The Blazer

The Blazer

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Money Ball’s in the Red

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As the Oakland Athletics continue their legacy of failure, all within baseball-dom must finally come to the realization that Moneyball has failed. Billy Beane’s bouncing baby boy of the early 2000s was built on lies and failed when it mattered most.

The narrative goes that Beane was able to create one of the most dominant regular season teams in history by utilizing overlooked prospects based on On-base percentage and walk rates when the wealthier big-market teams dominated. While it’s good storytelling, it plays fast in loose with the facts. Baseball this century has enjoyed a nearly unmatched balance, with the small-market Angels and Diamondbacks winning the World Series in the two years before the book was released. 

What about the out-of-the-blue schmos that rocketed the A’s to those great runs? Ironically, the new age team was heavily dependent on talent scouted with old school metrics. Oakland’s success was due to the highly drafted pitching trio of Mark Mulder, Tim Hudson, and Barry Zito. Sluggers like Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez carried the offense with copious hits and homers, even if they never led in Beane’s favored skills like walk rate. 

Speaking of skills, the two Beane constantly neglected was base-running and fielding. The main reason the A’s could never win series clinchers? A series of fielding errors and poor baserunning that allowed their opponents to amount endless comebacks.

Beyond Oakland, how has Moneyball changed the game? Sabermetrics have proven helpful in explaining why certain players dominate. Even so, does Pete Alonso’s top three percent standing in barrel-percentage take precedence over his 53 homers? Is knowing Justin Verlander’s high spin-rate more important than his 2.53 E.R.A.? 

Perhaps the ultimate verdict on Moneyball’s assumptions is only a trip across the Bay to San Francisco, where the last championship dynasty was built on strong fielding and dominant starting pitching. Meanwhile, Oakland has failed to win a single playoff series.

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