Friday, October 26, 2007

Market Failures in Everything: Baseball Edition

A while ago an excellent book came out called "Moneyball". Despite Joe Morgan's fervent protestations, it was not written BY Billy Beane but rather ABOUT him and the basic economic idea of trying to find underpriced assets in the baseball talent pool.

One of the most striking concepts in the book is that a lot of traditional baseball thinking, often summed up as "smallball" or "situational hitting" is wrong-headed. You only have 27 outs and it's generally not worth burning one to move a runner up a base, so bunting, the "hit and run to stay out of the double play", going the other way to move a runner are generally not winning maneuvers.

Apparently Ozzie Guillen hasn't gotten the memo, as he appears to be blaming the White Sox's disastrous 2007 season on not playing enough small-ball and is promising to have everybody doing a lot more counterproductive stuff next year.

You're going to see a lot of crazy stuff in spring training, regardless of the baserunning," Guillen said during a conference call. "You're going to see hit-and-run [plays] when it's not a hit-and-run situation. You're going to see people bunting when it's not a bunting situation.

The full article is here, the awesome deconstruction by the talented Ken Tremendous on FJM is here.


Anonymous said...

Fire Joe Morgan is, undoubtedly, a fun site. But one small fact. They regularly attack Yankee fans and the White Sox management for not using the Moneyball approach. That's fine, but what two teams have beaten the Red Sox in recent playoff series????? HMMMMMM, what teams? I can't, WAIT, the Yankees and White Sox? And what team do the writers cheer for????? Hmmmmmm. Are you guys cynical enough?

Mungowitz said...

1. I was watching the WS last night. The Red Sox were playing. Anybody (White Sox, Cardinals) can get lucky one season. But the Sox are dominant. And it is because they have the Greek God of Walks playing first.

2. FJM is the finest site on the web. Second is anything having to do with firing Nancy Grace. But FJM is the best.

Anonymous said...

Even better than KPC? Or EconLib? That is heresy and I'm assuming you didn't say it because you knew I would.

Angus said...

Dear Mr. Fundman: Yankees do NOT play smallball. A-Rod don't bunt. I am now assuming you have a shrine to David Eckstein in yr living room!


Mungowitz, we are at least second, aren't we??

Will Welch said...

I read the FJM article just before heading over here. There's not much that Ozzie Guillen says that shocks me anymore, but his assertion that he would willfully do things that he admits make no sense is unbelievable. What's stranger to me, as a diehard Braves fan, is that Ozzie claims to have learned so much from Bobby Cox. There could not be two personalities more different than theirs, and I've seen little evidence that Ozzie is modeling himself after Bobby in any way.