Sabermetrics – Oakland Athletics and Moneyball

It’s THROWBACK THURSDAY so here is a little story all the way from the city of Oakland in the state of California, USA.

In there 2002 season the Oakland Athletics, and their then General Manager Billy Beane changed the world of sports and professional baseball forever.

By the year 2001, Billy Beane had been Oakland’s GM for four years and the club had a very limited budget in contrast to bigger franchise teams.

Oakland were working on a budget of $39,000,000 while the richest team the New York Yankees enjoyed a budget of $130,000,000.

During the off-season Beane and Oakland lost three of their key players: Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon and Jason Isringhausen. It was Billy’s job to turn what he believed was an unfair game into a fairer one, and so he, along with his assistant Paul DePodesta, used a roster selection system based on mathematics and science using statistical data, commonly known as sabermetrics created by Bill James.

Bill James, on paper, is a baseball writer, historian, and statistician, each year producing an annual abstract of Major League baseball statistics.

In reality though, Bill James is the man who challenged the entire American baseball industry.And in the 2002 season, many would say that he won.

That season the Oakland Athletics went on a 20 game winning streak. In the realms of baseball, this is unheard of, and on a $39,000,000 budget it was something of a miracle.

‘Moneyball’ was taking the sport to greater places.

Oakland lost the division series that year to the Minnesota Twins, the team who also ended their 20 win game streak, however following the success of sabermetrics the New York Mets, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays have hired full-time sabermetric analysts.

Many in baseball will never accept the premise of ‘Moneyball’, and value only traditional methods of scouting and selection.

However, it is very clear given the success of the 2002 Oakland Athletics on such a small budget and the impact that the system has had on teams that possess great wealth that baseball was changed forever.

Thanks to Bill James, Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta an unfair game was made that bit fairer.

Video below of the 20 game winning streak. I realise it’s long but for sheer entertainment value and one of the greatest American sporting moments you will ever witness watch the final game on 23:30. One of the greatest come backs in sports history, and one of thee greatest and harshest wins. A golden sporting moment.