Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane changed the way MLB teams analyzed players by replacing traditional metrics with metrics that – in his view — more accurately evaluated and ranked players. The result was an improved record and a best-selling novel.
According to this article in Inc., however, he may be abandoning the principles:
Beane contradicted these Moneyball principles by trading a reasonably priced young outfielder, Yoenis Cespedes, for Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester, a pricey veteran whose contract expires at the end of the season. Moreover, this was the second time this year Beane had peddled affordable youth for pricier veterans with short-term contracts. In July, he shipped two of the A’s vaunted minor leaguers to the Chicago Cubs for two more experienced pitchers: Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Jeremy Gordon in the Wall Street Journal observed: “Beane is no longer some guy you associate with Brad Pitt in Moneyball but a risk taker going all in on his hopes of a World Series.”
Or is he?
Nobody understood “sabermetrics” at first, so everybody assumed Beane had lost his mind. Because they didn’t know what he was doing, they assumed he was doing it wrong. In reality, he wasn’t lost: he’d found a better way.
Is that the case with these latest decisions?
Unfortunately, we won’t know if he’s discovered a better set of “Moneyball” metrics until he decides to tell us. (And Michael Lewis decides to write another book.)