Moneyball

Change scares a lot of people, dare I say, most people. When statistics stared to run baseball, as shown in the movie Moneyball, people freaked out. The old men who had been scouts for years were suddenly becoming obsolete after decades of being at the forefront of recruiting and roster building. Instead newfound ideas were becoming more and more popular. The knowledge given to the teams from statistical analysis gave an advantage over the traditional methods which were often based on looks and a player’s star quality rather than a team makeup. It was not until Billy Beane and Peter Brand that general managers and team owners started to realize that it is not only important to have good players, but also a good team composition.

Imagine a library where people could go to read books but they cannot check them out. Now, imagine that library filled with books. Stacks upon stacks of books; shelves full to the ceiling. In the middle of the room there is only one table with a few chairs. There is not enough room for the patrons in the library because there are so many books, still, they are not allowed to take the books out of the space. So much space is wasted. Patrons will not use the library because of the lack of reading room. Since few patrons use the library, a majority of the books will not be read. Instead of the appropriate, calculated, balance of space, the improper use of the space of the library causes worse function than if the library had only a select collection of books.tokyo-bookstore3-1024x1024

This is very similar to the space of the roster in Moneyball. In baseball the active roster is limited to 25 players. For years leading up to the transition into statistical analysis, scouts built teams off of a handful of “full bookshelf” type players and filled the remaining 20-something spots with whatever players they could afford with the money they had left. Some of the wealthier teams had a larger number of better players but teams like the Oakland Athletics, who had a lower salary to work with, could not afford more than one or two, and the rest of the roster would be filled with low quality players (signified by the single table). These players would not contribute much to the game because they were not good enough. Likewise, the team would not win because the team was not good enough. So, while those one or two good players may not have been a waste of space themselves, they caused a waste of space due to the imbalanced roster. Only the perfect ratio of books to reading space, or in terms of baseball, player’s skill and team work with other players, will result in the best use of space, and this is what Moneyball focused on.

Along with a changed use of space, was a change in power. As statistical analysis became more popular, scouts began to loose their jobs. Old men with years of experience judging players’ skill levels had suddenly lost their place in baseball. This is similar to today’s power shift from traditional libraries to newer technology such as e-libraries and large data bases. Librarians as well as people who use traditional libraries feel as though the new technologies are taking away and ruining libraries and that they are losing power over them. They feel as though big data and other large stores of easily available information have completely taken control and could possibly cause physical libraries to go extinct. However, maybe there is another thing Moneyball is trying to show us. Maybe this change is inevitable and those who realize it first, like Beane and Brand, will be the ones who most benefit from it

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