The Huskies In Relation to “Moneyball” Part Two


Last week, I compared the Husky baseball team’s performance to the ideas in the new movie “Moneyball.” I had some requests to do a follow up article on “Moneyball,” that includes my own opinions, which I avoided doing in the first post.

The first principle of “Moneyball” style baseball that I discussed last week is the importance of the on base percentage or OBP. I definitely agree that the OBP is an important part of the game. In fact, the run production in the Pac-10 last year greatly depended on OBP.

The Huskies, who had the lowest team OBP in the conference, also scored the least number of runs. On the other hand, Arizona led the conference in both OBP and runs. Arizona State came in second in the Pac-10 in both categories and Oregon State place third in both categories.

It is difficult to ignore this direct relationship between a team’s ability to get on base and its ability to score runs as proven by this sample. The Huskies need to get on base more consistently this year if they want to improve their run production.

The next idea from “Moneyball” that I mentioned last week is the emphasis on not getting thrown out trying to steal. Moneyball teams avoid this by making fewer attempts to steal bases.

While the goal of not getting thrown out makes sense, I do not entirely agree with

the philosophy. Having a runner attempt to steal a base is a gamble, but there are situations when the odds are in a runner’s favor so it makes sense to take advantage of these odds.

Last year, nearly 60 percent of runners who tried to steal off Pac-10 catchers were successful. On the other hand, batters hit only .254 off Pac-10 pitching. So, basically, the chance of a runner successfully stealing a base is over twice as good as his chances of getting moved to second by a hit.

In fact, there are situations when the defense is practically giving a runner a bag. This can come in the form of a pitcher with a slow move or predictable move count, a slow, lazy, or tired catcher, or a situation where you can anticipate an easy pitch to steal on.

Although the Huskies struggled to steal bases last year, they have some players that they can put in motion to steal bags from time to time.

The emphasis on pitchers getting strike outs and not giving up walks is another “Moneyball” priority that I discussed last week. These two strategies are pretty universal and self explanatory.

A final idea from “Moneyball” that I want to touch on is its approach to scouting. While scouting by Major League teams is different from college scouting, it still has the common denominator of evaluating players.

“Moneyball” scouting is centered on past results and is the epitome of the saying “stats never lie.” While depending on stats to determine talent makes sense, I believe that there needs to be a balance between the numbers- based scouting seen in “Moneyball” and the projection-based scouting prominent in organizations that do not subscribe to “Moneyball” ideas.

Projecting a player’s development by looking at his physical attributes can be important in determining how successful that player will be down the road. For the most part, “Moneyball” scouting ideas focus on what a player has done in the past rather than what the player can do in the future.

These are my opinions on some of the ideas presented in “Moneyball.” As I said in my last article, I highly recommend reading and watching “Moneyball.”  I also recommend you studying a source that counters “Moneyball” so you can better see other sides of the argument.

For a contrasting source, I would recommend the book “Built to Win” by Atlanta Braves general manager John Schuerholz.

I would love to hear whether you agree or disagree with my opinions.