Efficient Efficiency

My latest article at The Hardball Times is up: Moneyball and Efficient Efficiency.

The A’s focus on college players not because of a bias of stat-heads in thinking college players are superior to high school players; but because they are more predictable based on the statistical tools the A’s favor. A technological innovation in performance scouting, such as DIPS, can increase the efficiency in evaluating talent. DIPS ERA can be used to better predict a college player, but maybe not a high-school player.

As a result, the A’s are going to have a higher confidence when drafting from this talent pool. And if a technology can be employed in one area but not another, it’s no surprise that the A’s would concentrate on a talent pool where this new technology is useful. Just as the cotton gin caused southern farmers to switch to cotton farming, where the technological innovation could be used, so too did the A’s turn to the college talent pool where it’s inventions were useful.

If you have any comments, please leave them in the comments section.

4 Responses “Efficient Efficiency”

  1. JC (not the blogger) says:

    Here’s my comment: Awesome article JC. I think one could make the case that it be included in the appendix of the next edition of Moneyball.

  2. JC says:

    Thanks JC,

    I appreciate it, but I’m not expecting a phone call from the editor. 😉

  3. Marc Schneider says:

    Assuming, however, that some high school players would be better in the long run than some college players, doesn’t this mean that the A’s to some extent are sacrificing potential quality for statistical predictability? For example, this practice would lead them to draft, say, Jackie Jensen over Mickey Mantle. Given the constraints under which the A’s operate, this might make sense overall in that it maximizes the likelihood of any given player ultimately playing in the majors, but it seems to potentially ignore the very high ceiling player.

  4. Akira Motomura says:

    Very interesting argument. I wonder if the A’s pursue this logic further and take more chances on drafting HS or small college players, with their greater variance in quality estimates, in later rounds, when players’ expected value is lower. (You could even divide up the group of HS players and think in terms of taking more chances on those who’ve faced less elite competition in school or summer play.) At that point, I’d think that teams would be looking for the “diamond in the rough”, or speaking statistically, the player whose value is being drastically underestimated by the market. (for Econ geeks: I’m thinking about the Hendricks etal journal article about NFL draft selection)