In the new movie Moneyball, the art of sabermetrics takes center stage, as this real-life saga of Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s unfolds. Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective, empirical evidence, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity rather than industry activity, such as attendance. By focusing on actual contribution to a team, use of this formula theoretically enables teams to hire undervalued players, in turn bringing salaries in line with affordability.
In Moneyball, author Michael Lewis examines the disparities between big market teams, such as the New York Yankees, who can fund a roster of big name, high-paid, free agents, and small market teams struggling to fill the stands. A prime example was the 2002 season, where the Yankees had a payroll of $126 million, and the A’s had a payroll of about $40 million. Despite the disparity, the two teams tied for the best record in baseball, each winning 103 games, though both lost in the playoffs. The A’s, as it happened, lost to the small-market Twins, who paid their players just an iota more than Oakland.
In addition to compensation, we will examine the following key characteristics of the successful team: