The Moneyball Braves

Thanks to Brad at No Pepper, everyone in the baseball blogoshpere seems to have tacked onto Perfect Game’s interview with Braves Scouting Director Roy Clark. Based on one of Clark’s comments Tom at Balls, Sticks, & Stuff (via Offwing) makes an interesting observation regarding the Braves market response to a new market inefficiency.

Eager to copy what works, many teams have begun to focus particularly on college players in the draft. So what was once an undervalued commodity, is now possibly overvalued, and so by focusing on high school players, the Braves are taking advantage of what has become a market inefficiency.

Like the story of Billy Beane told in Moneyball, John Schuerholz (as well as all other good GMs) is always on the lookout for the next great bargain. To most Braves fans this is old news. Schuerholz has been the master at picking up formerly overrated veterans after they swing to being underrated (see Bonilla, Franco, and now Mondesi and Jordan). And what he does with pitchers under the watchful eye of Leo and Bobby no one else has yet to figure out. One Braves commentator often touts the Atlanta approach as proof that the sabermetric Moneyball stuff is garbage. I didn’t get it when I first heard it, and I still don’t. Does JS do things deferently than Beane? Of course, all GMs do. The other officially licensed Moneyball GMs — DePodesta, Ricciardi, and Epstein — do things different from each other, too. The point is, for the past few seasons the Braves have not gone after any standard big free agents, yet they keep winning with teams that look like losers to the masses on opening day. JS isn’t just stumbling onto these guys. His approach is unique and it works. And though it involves scouting, it is also clear that JS is quite stat savvy.

6 Responses “The Moneyball Braves”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good work. I’m glad to see somebody else realize that Moneyball is not about OBP and college grads, but value for the dollar.

    Is Beane’s offseason realizing the value/cost differential between multi-inning relievers vs. veteran starters. With the contracts handed out this year – Beane can’t even think about keeping Hudson and/or Mulder. Cashing in for some young players while stacking the pen sounds like a good allocation of resources based on market conditions.

    To go on an aside – the biggest issue brought to light in Moneyball is the arrogance of Beane – taking Brown in the first round is an example. Bragging that Colacino is the best hitter in college. He never comes across as likeable and rather than saying he’s a jerk -but I agree, people just react negatively.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I do agree that Schuerholz knows the economics of baseball just as well as any GM. It is true that the major part of the Moneyball philosophy is value and other economic principles. What I will say though in regards to John Schuerholz’s policy on selecting the next bargain is that he is not as efficient when weighing his oppurtunity cost and other elements as the other Moneyball GMs. I believe this is probably because he is not as stat oriented. But you still got to admit that Schuerholz has put a fine team together full of bargains with players like Kolb, Giles, Jordan and Mondesi. The only negative part of his roster is the amount of players signed to long-term deals during the inflated market; being Hampton, Smoltz and both of the Jones.

    One quick note: I love what Beane had done by trading Hudson and Mulder. It was a great way to take advantage of the inflated market for starters right now and he is setting up a young team for the future.


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