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Stumbling On Wins: Two Economists Expose the Pitfalls on the Road to Victory in Professional Sports by Martin B. Schmidt, David J. Berri

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7. Inefficient on the Field

Once upon a time, the home run was a relatively rare event in a baseball game. Consequently, teams often resorted to stealing to score runs. In the early part of the 20th century, it was not uncommon for a team to attempt to steal more than 100 bases a season. The arrival of Babe Ruth and similar sluggers, though, led teams to rely more and more on home runs.1 As a consequence, as Figure 7.1 illustrates, from 1925 to 1973 the average team never attempted to steal more than 100 bases in a single season.

In recent years, the stolen base has made a comeback.2 With the comeback came a clear change in efficiency. Figure 7.2 illustrates the gap between the average number of stolen bases and the average number of times a ...

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