Timeout for an Example: The Same But Different

When Billy Beane set out to improve the Oakland A’s baseball team, as discussed in Michael Lewis’ Moneyball, his first step was to learn which player skills or combination of skills and approaches amounted to greater success. Through statistical analysis, he learned that hitters taking more pitches and drawing more walks led to better run production, which led to more wins. He also learned that giving up outs through failed stolen base attempts and sacrifice bunts resulted in worse run production, which led to more losses. Using this data, he was able to focus on drafting players who specifically exhibited hitting traits (good pitch selection and plate discipline) that would translate to success, and he was able to instruct his coaches to teach the valuable hitting traits and to tell his managers not to attempt to steal bases or bunt.

This rational and statistics-based approach to player selection, player development, and coaching brought Beane and the Oakland A’s many years of success, even though they had less money to spend on player payroll than most of their competitors. Over the last few years, Oakland has not maintained the same level of success, as competitors started imitating these techniques and Oakland’s tight budget resulted in the loss of many successful players that Billy Beane and his team discovered. But that doesn’t change the validity and usefulness of the methods. First, you must find the keys to success. Gathering ...

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