“The problem we’re trying to solve is that there are rich teams and there are poor teams. Then there’s fifty feet of garbage, and then there’s us. It’s an unfair game.”
This quote is from the 2011 sports drama, Moneyball, which is based on Michael Lewis's book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game.
It stars Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, a baseball coach, who uses the help of a young economics grad student, Peter Brand, to convert Oakland's baseball team into a winning team.
Let’s now gaze through Billy Beane’s bio, the character played by Brad Pitt in the film.
Billy Beane – A Short Biography
Right from Beane’s early years of high school, he achieved a batting average of .501, which declined to .300 during his senior season, despite which his ability was held in high regard.
Impressed by Beane’s skills, the New York Mets baseball team considered selecting him. He chose to sign up with the Mets, over attending college at Stanford.
Nearly a decade later, Beane wasn’t quite happy with his career and decided to take a scout’s job, in which he was promoted to assistant general manager in 1993.
In 1997, he finally became manager and began utilizing sabermetrics principles, shaping the Oakland ‘A’s’ into one of the most cost-effective baseball teams.
Before getting into Moneyball, let us scope the basics of baseball.
Baseball has a total of 9 players on each team. It is played for 9 innings, each split into two halves.
It emphasizes only two important points as predictors of a player’s abilities:
● ·Slugging percentage: Can the player hit?
● On-base percentage: Can he make runs?
Moneyball – The Success Algorithm
What did Moneyball do, you ask? Here’s what it achieved.
● Oakland A’s, to which the Moneyball theory was applied, became the first team to win 20 consecutive matches.
● Moneyball is still used today; teams with lower budgets can select players and create a level playing field with big-market teams.
● Moneyball wasn’t a triumph limited to baseball, or just to sports for that matter. Moneyball changed the way we look at data.
Moneyball is basically Data Science
● This graph bar chart below clearly highlights how Moneyball allowed the A’s to be successful within the constraints of a smaller budget.
● Data Analytics wasn’t new in the early 2000s. It’s just that no one believed in its results.
● Beane took a leap forward and managed his team based on the results of the data analysis.
● Beane and Peter performed data mining on baseball players and came up with marketing patterns that helped them decide the player line-up.
5 Business Lessons as Quotes from the Movie
“Now, I'm not paying you for the player you used to be - I'm playing you for the player you are right now. You're smart; you get what we're trying to do here. Make an example for the younger guys, and be a leader. Can you do that?
"I think the question we should be asking is: Do you believe in this thing or not?”
“And I hate losing, I hate it. I hate losing more than I even want to win.”
“When your enemy’s making mistakes, don’t interrupt him.”
“Hard work may not always result in success, but it will never result in regret.”
So, if you haven’t seen the film, Moneyball, we highly recommend you do. It does a great job at making the concept of Moneyball accessible to even casual moviegoers.
Also, with the emergence of new-age data-based technologies, the importance of big data analytics has skyrocketed over the past few years, making the story of Billy Beane timely, important, and inspiring for all data enthusiasts.