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Thursday, January 13, 2005
you're wrong
does anybody still think billy beane is looking for on-base percentage?

people definitely think jp ricciardi is. david pinto, for example. but isn't that kind of funny, considering that ricciardi learned from beane?

sabermetricians like to think that general managers are stupid. but isn't that a little presumptuous? these guys get paid. i mean get paid. would they really get paid like that if they were stupid? is everyone stupid? is that your argument? i see.

i'll get around to what i'm talking about in a second. the first point is it's time to admit that moneyball was based on a misunderstanding of baseball.

the second point: contrary to popular belief, there are not a bunch of first basemen sitting around languishing in the minors who can outhit shea hillenbrand. pinto thinks there are. it's funny to me because i anticipated this argument in my first base article a couple days ago. i used tino martinez instead of shea hillenbrand, but i was using him as a type. anyway it's not impressive that i anticipated the argument because it's standard sabermetrician party line. standard, but wrong.

to restate my point: shea hillenbrand has value as a hitter because he can hit good pitching. hitting good pitching is more valuable than hitting bad pitching because good pitchers produce low-run environments. runs created in low-run environments produce more wins than runs created in high-run environments. wins are important.

this was going to be a point-by-point dismantling of pinto's argument, but as usual it was a ramble. i only mention this because i wanted to find a way to restate oba/slugger guys as high-strikeout guys. it's a war of ideas. the weapons are words.
I think you may need to read Moneyball again (and David Pinto may have to as well). The point of Moneyball is not that OBP is the most important aspect of a player, it's that OBP was an undervalued aspect (the technical term was 'market inequality'). As a small-market GM, Beane could not afford to pay premium prices for power hitters, stolen bases, etc. At the time, he focused on OBP as a cheap way to build a winning team. Oddly enough, OBP has since become expensive, so Beane must turn to other aspects of winning baseball teams that are undervalued.
billy beane takes advantage of undervalued players. isn't that the same thing as saying billy beane is a good general manager?

moneyball is not theoretically interesting. moneyball is interesting because it provides a glimpse into billy beane. but it loses points for saying wrong things about baseball, and for trashing a group of people who are a wealth of baseball knowledge: the scouts.
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