Jim & Bob's Palatial Baseball Blog

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Still Fighting the Moneyball Wars

It's five years on, and some people still don't get it. Today's clueless member of MLB's Ladies' Auxiliary is Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

Pedroia would be the ideal protagonist if author Michael Lewis wrote a sequel to Moneyball, a best-selling book that mocked old-school scouting while hailing the A's for their use of statistical analysis. Teams are more accepting of such analysis than they were when the book was published in 2003, but tensions between the two sides remain.

Forgive me if I'm being shrill, but Moneyball was not all about how swell the A's were because they used statistical analysis. It was about how a small-market team had to find inefficiencies in the talent marketplace because it didn't have the dough to out-spend the Yankees and Red Sox.

Oh, and if you can find anywhere in the book where Lewis mocked scouts, let me know. Granted, it's been a while since I read the book, but I don't recall any mockery...

For good measure, Rosenthal gets this boot in:

The scouts who derided Brown for being pudgy take satisfaction knowing that only two of the A's seven first-rounders have developed into quality major leaguers — the two who were the most highly regarded, Nick Swisher and Joe Blanton. Yet, the game is too humbling for scouts to be rigid with their judgments and analysts to be smug with their projections.

Cardinals first baseman Josh Phelps, once a darling of the statistical community, is with his sixth organization since appearing on the cover of the 2003 "Baseball Prospectus" annual; his career OPS is .820, but scouts say he lacks the bat speed to hit good fastballs consistently. Even some established players — Bobby Abreu, J.D. Drew, even Carlos Beltran — are viewed as less valuable than their stats might indicate.

Parsing these paragraphs a certain way, once could get the impression that Rosenthal is making fun of those dumb stat geeks who thought that fat-assed Jeremy Brown was a good prospect, or who thought so much of a bum like Josh Phelps that they put him on the cover of a book.

The lesson for today: mocking scouts is bad, mocking the stat geeks is OK. And they said irony died all those years ago...

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