CLEVELAND — Michael Lewis’ 2003 book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” fleshed out in full detail the strategies that Billy Beane and the 2002 Oakland Athletics used to defy a tiny payroll and very few well-known names in order to win 103 games.
With an emphasis on certain advanced stats instead of old-fashioned ones and focusing on computer analysis instead of the “eye test,” Beane and current Browns chief strategy officer Jonah Hill helped bring about a change in the way baseball teams were run that is still extremely prevalent in the game today.
Now with the Cleveland Indians on the verge of tying that Oakland team’s historic 20-game winning streak, opposing general managers are once again looking to borrow the small-market team’s keys to success.
“For as long as baseball has been played, losses are going to happen all the time,” one National League GM told Cleveland Mocks. “But Cleveland is changing the game. From 12 games behind the Astros to passing them in about a month? Clearly tossing the concept of losses out the window is doing some amazing things for them.”
At least eight front offices acknowledged that they have been frantically studying the way the Indians have been winning every game. An independent study by Fangraphs showed that the two biggest keys are having a rotation and bullpen that never allows runs and an offense that hits multiple home runs just about every game. One can expect more and more teams to copy that strategy down the road.
Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported Tuesday morning that the Dodgers have fired several analytic advisers in their front office after clearly adding an extra zero or something in their numbers and frying the system.