Tag Archives: Moneyball

New-fan week: Baseball is boring. Baseball is not boring.

Editor’s note: A recent reddit post — this one to be exact — really stuck with me. The author is an Irishman who’s looking to get into baseball and, not knowing where to start, he asked for help. Well, this week at Infield Fly, we aim to help everybody’s who’s just getting into the game. If you’re a new fan, if you’re interested in becoming a fan or if you know somebody who think would love the game and you want to point them our way, hopefully this week will have something for you. We plan to cover the how and the why for new fans.

Read the first instalment, a basic stats primer, here. The second instalment, a quick guide on how to get the most out of watching the game, is here.

Today, we have a guest post from Ruhee Dewji of Double Switching. She’s been a ball fan for just over a year now and she’s sharing what she loves about the game and why she’s hooked. If you’re on the Twitter, give her a follow. She’s cool beans. Continue reading

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Filed under General baseball, Welcome to Baseball

Unfair comparison

I love the Giants.

It seems like there are a lot of people this morning making noise about how because the San Francisco Giants just won the World Series, Blue Jays fans should have a lot of hope now because it’s proof you don’t need to spend a lot to win.

Do not listen to these people!

While it is true that a team can win without a Yankees-sized payroll, saying “The Giants did it, so the Jays can, too!” is a gross oversimplification.

That book that Billy Beane wrote about computers sums it pretty well with the “my shit don’t work in the playoffs” line. No, I’m not saying that the Giants won this year on the strength of a Moneyball-style team philosophy — far from it, actually. What I am saying is that the point of Beane’s often-misinterpreted quote is that anything can happen in the playoffs.

To play in the National League West and be the benefactor of a massive collapse is one thing. To play in the American League East and hope for everything to go exactly right so you can finish ahead of at least two of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Rays is completely different.

That’s not to say that a Jays fan can’t look at the Giants’ success and be a little bit inspired. There is one important similarity: Home-grown pitching.

The Giants won largely on the backs of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner and Brian Wilson.

The Jays have excellent young home-grown pitching in Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and more. Kyle Drabek and Brandon Morrow weren’t drafted by Toronto, but we can lump them into this category, I think.

On top of the talent, the recent hiring of John Farrell as manager and the retention of Bruce Walton as pitching coach shows that Toronto is committed to winning the best way — with pitching.

On a somewhat related topic, I have seen MLB games in two cities: Toronto and San Francisco.

My first game in Toronto was in 1992 and the Jays went on to win the World Series. My first game in San Francisco was earlier this year and the Giants went on to win the World Series.

Coincidence? Hell no! (But probably yes.)

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Filed under General baseball, Toronto Blue Jays

Nothing groundbreaking

Given that I like to hang out in my mom’s basement pounding away on a keyboard and given the fact that I sometimes use said keyboard to pound out statistics instead of words like “grit,” it may come as a surprise that I’m just now reading Billy Beane’s book about just how great computers really are. Yes, I’m reading Moneyball. No, I can’t believe how long it’s taken me, either.

I don’t want to play the part of the guy who walks into a 4-hour meeting 3.5 hours late and wants to rehash everything he’s missed, so I’ll spare you from a review of the book. If that’s what you want, Google’s your friend, not me. All I’m going to say is that the book did two things for me: It solidified a bunch of foggy thoughts floating around in my head and it gave me an even better appreciation of the importance of stats.

Now, as someone who’s newly enamoured with the idea of moneyball, you might think that I would disapprove of Anthopoulos’s scouting-heavy plan to rebuild the Jays. It would be easy to say, “scouts can’t be trusted. Just look at the numbers, AA! Oh and by the way, Wells IS an awful centrefielder, no matter what your eyes tell you.” Yes, that would be easy. And even though I may have said those things in the past, I’m not going to right now. What I’m going to say is this: As a new moneyball convert, I’m excited about the plan to rebuild the Jays through superior scouting.

I know scouting may not count as a market inefficiency, but can a team like the Jays really get ahead by exploiting market inefficiencies right now? With Billy Beane still running the A’s, and the New Yorks and Bostons of the world using moneyball ideals backed up with, you know, a lot of money, I’d say that no, the Jays can’t compete in that arena.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t inefficiencies left to be found, and maybe the Jays will find some, but the easier approach is to do what you know and to do it well.

Now, I’m not going to go digging up links to back this up (and please correct me if I’m wrong) but AA seems to be using his history in the Expos organization to the extreme and bringing in as many staffers and scouts as he can from that defunct team.

What were the Expos good at? Drafting and developing some pretty awesome baseball players.

What were the Expos bad at? Being able to keep those players around because the team was being run into the ground financially.

If AA can create and nurture the scouting and development in Toronto that the Expos had in Montreal, the Jays will be in a position to be a dominant (or least competitive) team for a long, long time. Because, despite what many seem to think, Toronto is a big-market team and the money’s there to keep the talent around.

It’s not Billy Beane’s moneyball, but it’ll have to do.

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Filed under General baseball, Toronto Blue Jays