We’ve talked the “Moneyball” movie up to death. It’s a movie. It will bear some tangential resemblance to real events, but it’s there to entertain. Or not. It means very little to baseball other than for gossip purposes.
But we still talk about the concept of “Moneyball” all the time. And the thing is, most of us talk about it pretty ignorantly. As if there’s still some debate out there about whether to approach the game from a stats perspective or a scouting perspective. That debate is long since over. And it actually was never really a debate inside the game. It’s just about information and how to apply it, and no one inside the game seriously said “No! We don’t want this new information! Damn you and your infernal numbers!” They all were into it, just at different times. And they may have chosen to apply the concepts in different ways. The “debate,” such as it was, was really a phenomenon within a certain segment of fandom and the media.
Ken Rosenthal has a fabulous article about all of that today. He talks to people all over the game who pretty much say the same thing: “what debate?” Everyone talks about how stats vs. scouts is a false dichotomy. About how everyone was and is hungry for new information to help their teams win. To the extent there has been disagreement it has been in the details.
It’s a fabulous read that tells us just how divorced from reality the typical “Moneyball” debate as they’ve come to be had in comments sections and newspaper columns is a fantasy.
No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.
First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.
On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.
Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.