For those of you who have read Michael Lewis’ excellent book on the Oakland A’s, Moneyball, Peter Gammons has written an excellent and very detailed 2004 MLB Draft Preview that goes beyond the normal “who will be selected when.” It talks about the philosophy that Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager has popularized, and the spread of that philosophy to the Boston, Los Angeles and Toronto franchises. He also talks a bit about the misconceptions that people who read the book may have come away with.
If you are a fan of Major League Baseball, you really owe it to yourself to read Moneyball. I can’t recommend it highly enough. It is the second best book I have read this year, with only a Science Fiction novel, Cory Doctorow’s well crafted Eastern Standard Tribe, beating it out to date. If you aren’t a fan of sports, you will still enjoy Moneyball. I’m not certain that you will take quite as much away from the book in that case, but I still firmly believe that you will find it enjoyable.
What *is* the philosophy?
Essentially, Beane and his crew brought a different philosophy to personnel decisions that his club made because it was the only way they could remain competitive in the face of the huge economic differences between the richer franchises (my beloved Yankees for instance) and the poorer ones. Instead of using the time honored, but statistically ineffective, conventional baseball wisdom, they use a combination of deep data analysis of what has been effective in the past and careful analysis of possible prospects to gain a competitive advantage. As a result, the franchise has been more effective than most in its economic neighbors.