Moneyball is dead. Long live Moneyball.


Nothing makes me roll my eyes more than when something bad happens with the A’s and some clever wag — often a print sports journalist who still bases his Cy Young vote on wins — makes some crack about “well, I guess “Moneyball” isn’t helping anymore, huh?” This is usually followed by chuckling, snorting and picking up the Andy Rooney book he had been reading, highlighter in hand.

The response to this, which has been obvious to anyone who actually read the book for several years, is that “Moneyball,” is not a synonym for “whatever Billy Beane is doing,” nor is it shorthand for “take walks, hit dingers.”  Rather, it was a book that described the idea of finding market inefficiencies — which is something its author, the financial market experienced Michael Lewis, was exceedingly familiar — and applying it to baseball.

Anyone could do it, and for the past decade, everyone has been doing it.  And, not soon after “Moneyball” was published, the idea of “take walks, hit dingers” ceased to be a market inefficiency because the very definition of a market inefficiency is something which has not been widely published in a best-selling book. By then it has become big bright information which, as everyone knows, is immediately gobbled up by the markets as soon as it is made big and bright. Which, by the way, is why you should never take your investing advice from books you can buy at the airport, but that’s another subject.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t still market inefficiencies. There always will be because markets aren’t perfect and, at any given time, there will be ways in which the savvy can exploit those concepts which can’t be found in best-selling books.

I hadn’t read it until today, but Bill Barnwell tackled that topic over at Grantland last week. And, after making a longer and better argument out of the concept I mentioned above, set out to describe the many areas — aside from “take walks, hit dingers” —  that teams are or should be trying to exploit.  Like defense and bullpen usage and that sort of thing.

It’s a good piece if you have the time. But if you don’t have the time, at least enjoy this little nugget that would have been Quote of the Day fodder had I not wanted to write a little more:

Moneyball was about statistics and on-base percentage in the same way that the ‘77 punk revolution was about looking like Richard Hell; what was relevant and counterculture then is mainstream and comfortable now. Babies get mohawks now, and they come out of the womb knowing that Jeff Francoeur sucks. So what’s a small-market team to do now? Where are the market inefficiencies for them to exploit in 2011? What’s the new Moneyball?

Once again, Richard Hell shows us the way.  So forget that [blank] generation that likes to make the dumb and easy “Moneyball” jokes. They’re going, going gone.

Henderson Alvarez signs with Tigres de Quintana Roo

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Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.

The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.

That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.