go to MSN.com
Found December 31, 2012 on The Outside Corner:

Via The Outside Corner:

In 2002, the Oakland A’s relied on a concept of team-building that eventually led to the coined term, “Moneyball”.  It was a new concept to baseball, but an age-old concept in economics, finding what is commonly called ”market inefficiency”.  This is essentially the idea of finding value in products which your competitors have not placed value in.  In another sense, you could just say it’s the idea of staying ahead of the curve.  If player A offers the same value as players B and C combined, but player A costs 20 million and B & C cost 2 million collectively, the smart choice is to go with players B & C. 

The A’s accomplished this task by building a cost efficient team that relied on statistical analysis as a key scouting tool and placed a stronger emphasis on the ability to get on base versus collecting a hit.  While their competitors would spending tens of millions on free agents to hit the ball 400 feet, the A’s would instead spend hundreds of thousands on players that would get on base just as often, just not in as “sexy” of a way.   When you combine this philosophy with brilliant young starting pitching and a deep bullpen, it can result in a lot of wins.  To an extent, the A’s pulled it off again in 2012, upsetting the Angels and Rangers by assembling a deep young pitching staff, solid bullpen and a group of offensive weapons that were left on the scrap heap from their competitors.  No one is exactly sure what statistical analysis or scouting the A’s used to figure out that Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick would have breakout seasons, but it worked. 

So in reading the current economic market in major league baseball, where is the opportunity to uncover value that other teams have not yet picked up on?  It certainly doesn’t come from something as simple as WAR or OBP as it did in 2002, every team has picked up on that now.  But a strong argument could be made that such value does not come from potential free agents or prospects at all.  Rather, I believe constructing a team built specifically off of three other factors could become the new direction of efficient baseball clubs.  These three factors are:

  • Stadium/Park environment
  • Current defensive abilities
  • Types of pitchers.

Take the 2012 Detroit Tigers for example.  They’re essentially the “anti-NL” team.  Their defense is terrible, they don’t steal bases and they don’t bunt.  They rely on that one big strike, and by strike of course, I mean they rely on the three-run homer.  And no offense in baseball may be better equipped for the long ball than the Detroit Tigers.

According to park factor, they are the eighth most hitter friendly field in the major leagues.  But bad pitching or exceptional hitting can skew park factor.  In Detroit, they experience both.  The AL Central is notorious for having the worst pitching in major league baseball.  And Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the same lineup is what I’d consider “exceptional hitting”.  The Tigers saw this potential equation play out in front of them before the Prince Fielder signing and decided they were properly equipped.  By moving Cabrera to third base, they knew they would have a terrible defense, they had a poor defensive squad before the Fielder signing.  They also knew they’d score a lot of runs.  However, the most important factor here is why the Tigers in particular were more equipped for Cabrera at third base. 

Even the most optimistic among us would call Cabrera’s defense awful.  You’d think it would take exceptional defense at other positions to make up for Cabrera at third base but this wasn’t the case.  Detroit’s only “exceptional” defender was Austin Jackson in CF, and even he is still merely among the top five in his position in the AL.  The Tigers got away with poor defense at virtually ever position because of a “swing and a miss” type of pitching staff.  Their pitchers did not pitch to contact.  Verlander, Scherzer and Fister all particularly rack up the strikeouts.  When they brought in Anibal Sanchez, they brought in another starter who gets outs via the “K”.  But it isn’t as if every team in baseball isn’t interested in strikeouts, they love them, but teams also realize that inning-eaters can be just as important.  Some pitchers don’t need to strike hitters out, they rely on their ability to generate lots of ground balls.  Groundballs that would eat a third baseman like Miguel Cabrera alive.  But Detroit found success in high k/9 pitchers, bad defense and a hitter friendly environment to supplement their already monstrous combo of Cabrera and Fielder. 

Consider now the World Series champion San Francisco Giants.  They constructed their team around their stadium.  Just about any pitcher can limit the amount of homeruns he gives up in AT&T Park, but the expansive outfield is prime for doubles and triples and the Giants have a collection of fly ball pitchers.  So San Francisco traded away players like Jonathan Sanchez and Andres Torres for outfielders Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan before the 2012 season.  The goal wasn’t simply an offensive upgrade, but to grab two good defensive outfielders, combine them with another speedy outfielder like Gregor Blanco.  Suddenly the Giants have the right players to fit that huge expansion of grass they call an outfield and they did it for cheap.  So the Giants found success using a similar equation but opposing factors as the Tigers.  They combined fly ball pitchers, with faster outfielders in a pitching friendly environment.

All around the major leagues, you’ll see teams bring in pitchers, outfielders and infielders that fit their specific ballparks, their specific pitching staffs and their specific defenses.  Yankee Stadium is very hitter friendly, so it really doesn’t matter that their outfield defense was relatively poor.  Most non-catchable fly balls will leave that yard anyway.  A better point of emphasis was in finding good ground ball inducing pitchers or strikeout pitchers, which they did.  The Angels are in the same boat as the Giants headed into 2013.  In a pitcher friendly park, they intend to deploy Peter Bourjos, Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton in the same outfield.  At the same time they decided to bring in less expensive fly ball pitchers like Tommy Hanson, Jason Vargas and Joe Blanton but not because they’re under the impression these three are really good.  Moreover, these three pitchers will eat innings for cheap and those three outfielders will catch anything hit between the foul lines, or so they hope.

Using these three factors, there are a number of different combinations organizations can use to field a winner, but there are specific preset conditions which will not play out in a team’s favor.  If you look at the unsuccessful teams in 2012, you can trace just about every team’s struggles back to this simple factor, their pitchers didn’t their outfielders or their park.  Large outfields with slow outfielders is a bad combo, no matter what type of pitching.  Having fast outfielders in a small park is a relative waste of money and talent and a move should be made.  Fly ball pitchers in a smaller park is also a bad idea, but similarly, ground ball pitchers in a larger park may be a waste of resources.  Regardless, this strategy allows teams to capitalize by saving money in non-valued pitchers or non-valued outfielders.  The idea is that no matter the free agent market, there won’t be a perfect balance and players that can help certain teams may be paired up in the right circumstances with the right team and result in a great value signing.

THE BACKYARD
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

RUMORS & GOSSIP

NFL totally drops the ball regarding Ray Rice suspension

When videos surfaced of Baltimore Ravens’ running back dragging his then unconscious girlfriend out of a hotel elevator back in February, common logic suggested that he would be facing a rather hefty suspension if said situation was proven to include assault.  One month later, Rice was charged with aggravated assault stemming from the incident. According to this ESPN report, the...
Via Sportsnaut
13 hours ago

Yankees reportedly in talks to acquire Padres' Ian Kennedy

The New York Yankees have been the most active team on the trade market. Over the course of the last month, they have acquired pitchers Brandon McCarthy, Jeff Francis and Chris Capuano as well as third baseman Chase Headley.  This hasn’t stopped Yankees general manager Brian Cashman from looking for even more upgrades, According to a report by ESPN’s Jim Bowden, New York is...
Via Sportsnaut
4 hours ago

Chris Paul discusses possible boycott with Doc Rivers

Chris Paul says he has talked with head coach Doc Rivers about a potential boycott if Donald Sterling remains the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers when the NBA season begins. Paul, who is a leader on the Clippers and president of the NBAPA, told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that it’s “unacceptable” if Sterling is still […]
Via Larry Brown Sports
5 hours ago

The Rock won't do MMA, doesn't like being punched in face

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is doing promotional work for his movie “Hercules,” which debuts on Friday. One such promotional interview he did was with UFC.com, where he also talked about the world of MMA. Though some famous wrestlers like Brock Lesnar have transitioned to MMA, The Rock says the combat sport is not for him. […]
Via Larry Brown Sports
13 hours ago

Parsons rips former teammate Harden for comments

In case you missed it, former teammates James Harden and Chandler Parsons have been caught up in a war of words over the last 24 hours. It started with Harden’s comments in the Philippine Star (note to James: there’s this thing called the Internet, and people can hear you, even halfway around the world) where he declared that he and Dwight Howard are the cornerstones of the Houston...
Via Next Impulse Sports
10 hours ago

Rory McIlroy spotted out and about with model Sasha Gale

Fresh off his commanding victory at the British Open, Rory McIlroy appears to be allowing himself some time to decompress a bit before refocusing on his suddenly dominant golf game by stepping out in Northern Ireland with yet another dashing, young model. After whooping it up with Jagerbombs out of the Claret Jug and mere […] The post Rory McIlroy spotted out and about in Belfast...
Via Sportress of Blogitude
17 hours ago

Josh Gordon may have checked himself into rehab

Mike Garafolo reported Thursday night on FOX Sports One’s evening show America’s Pregame that Josh Gordon checked himself into rehab after his July 4th arrest in Raleigh, North Carolina. Said on @AmericasPregame Josh Gordon checked himself into rehab following his DUI arrest. Still expected to report to camp tomorrow. — Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 24, 2014 Patient confidentiality...
Via Waiting For Next Year
8 hours ago

Marshawn Lynch tells former teammate he’s holding out

When the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks report to training camp, they’ll be without their Pro Bowl running back. Marshawn Lynch told his former teammate Michael Robinson that he will be holding out from camp. Speaking on NFL Network’s Inside Training Camp Live, Robinson said Lynch called him and broke the news. .@RealMikeRob: "Marshawn […]
Via Full Scale Sports
10 hours ago

Jordy Nelson wants $10 million a year from Packers

A few weeks ago I was told that the Green Bay Packers and wide receiver Jordy Nelson were close to agreeing on a contract extension that would keep him in green and gold for a long time. Since then, Nelson’s contract demands have apparently grown a bit and the two sides aren’t as close as they once were. A report on Thursday claims that Nelson is seeking “at least” $10 million...
Via Midwest Sports Fans
11 hours ago

OSU marching band director fired for fostering sexual culture

Ohio State Marching Band director Jonathan Waters has been fired for the Buckeyes' "sexual" culture.
Via Gamedayr
14 hours ago
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.