The Moneyball Revolution
The newest sports movie, Moneyball, is an adaptation of the popular business book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. Brad Pitt stars as Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, whose sabermetric (objectively analytical) approach to drafting a low-budget baseball team changed the way that many athletic scouts measure players’ potential.
The revolutionary ideas behind Moneyball were originally not well-received. Baseball’s more traditional scouts criticized Beane’s methods, preferring to use established criteria like batting average and bases stolen to gauge player performance, rather than more cheaply-obtained qualities like slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Despite these scouts’ objections, many teams have hired full-time sabermetric analysts, including the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, and New York Mets (who have become known as the ‘Moneyball Mets’). Beyond baseball, basketball’s Dallas Mavericks have used Beane’s approach to win the NBA title.
In 2007, the International Journal of Sport Finance published a special issue that focused on Moneyball and whether its lessons can be applied outside of baseball (as with the Mavericks). The issue suggests that the innovative concepts in Moneyball could be applied not only in other sports, but in industries like film, academics, and general management.
[For further reading, see Volume 2 Issue 4 of the International Journal of Sport Finance.]