I recently watched one of the most fascinating baseball movies. The movie was Moneyball starring, Brad Pitt, as Billy Bean, general manager of the Oakland A’s. I read the book first which I highly recommend in order to get some more indepth details. The Oakland Athletics finish a winning season and then end up losing all of their superstars; Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Jason Isringhausen to big market, big money teams. Billy needs to find out how to replace that talent on a small market, small money budget. Billy meets and hires an economics graduate who has developed a unique untested statistical approach for appraising players. While searching for budget players, Billy is taught to stop looking for the homerun hitters and just find players that get on base plain and simple. The only way to get runs is to get on base. It doesn’t matter how you get on base – you just need to get on base, period! A hit, a walk, a hit by pitch, it doesn’t matter. When you get on base, you can steal a base! It sounds simple, but is often overlooked by the more glamorous and exciting homerun. For example, in one of my club baseball tournaments, my twin sister Sophie volunteered to play because we were short a player. I think the opposing pitchers were nervous pitching to a girl. She got walked every time at bat, (batting 9th), stole bases and scored a run every time!!! We ended up winning because of her getting on base! It was also her patience and self control, two often overlooked skills, that got her on base. I hate to admit it, but they are lucky they didn’t pitch to her because she can crush the ball.
Billy can’t afford any top prospects and ends up recruiting a few players for their On Base Percentage stats. He only had $40,000,000 to spend on the entire team whereas the Yankess had over $100,000,000 to spend. It’s almost impossible to compete against this type of money. People think he’s crazy signing Scott Hatteberg to play first base since he was a former catcher-whose arm is shot, but he has a great OBP. Billy also picks up David Justice, a veteran at the end of his career, who the Yankees are dumping. With some other well maneuvered acquisitions the A’s end up winning their division and win more games that season than the previous year with the superstars. Billy went from “Crazy” to “Genius” when really it’s just simply “Elementary”……you need to get on base.