go to MSN.com
Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/17/14

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. [follow]

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Bulls management anxious to fire Tom Thibodeau

Teammate: Zach Mettenberger sees himself as Titans starter

Maybe Austin Rivers is good at basketball

Mayweather reportedly willing to give rematch to Pacquiao

Eliminate Hack-A-Player: Don't reward violating sports rules

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jon Jones’ manager: Former champ may never fight again

No easy solution to the problem of early NFL draft entrants

Josh Smith: Rockets played ‘hero ball’

Pacquiao to have surgery to repair 'significant' shoulder tear

Chris Paul ruled out for Game 1 against Rockets

Stephen Curry thanks father in touching MVP speech

Tiger hasn't slept in three days since Lindsey Vonn breakup

David Blatt: ‘No excuses’ for Cavaliers’ Game 1 loss to Bulls

The 2015 NBA Draft big board, first edition

What’s next for the San Antonio Spurs

Five players on the block after the NFL Draft

Five overhyped NFL Draft storylines that didn't play out

WATCH: Chris Johnson wants to play for the Cowboys

WATCH: Chewbacca throws out 1st pitch at Red Sox game

WATCH: Kyrie Irving carves up Bulls' defense for layup

WATCH: Metallica goes Jimi Hendrix for national anthem

Brandon McCarthy shares disturbing info about himself

Ole Miss fan got pregnant because of upset over Alabama

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
RUMORS & GOSSIP

Report: Bulls management anxious to fire Tom Thibodeau

With a healthy Derrick Rose, the Chicago Bulls look like a team that is poised to make a run at a championship. Even if they do, their head coach could very well be headed elsewhere this summer. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Bulls management “can’t wait to rid itself” of Tom Thibodeau. It...Read More
Via Larry Brown Sports
30 minutes ago

Teammate: Zach Mettenberger sees himself as Titans starter

The Tennessee Titans threw some people for a curve when they settled on selecting Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota with the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. One member of the team who might not have been happy with that choice is their starting quarterback from last season, Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger will likely be sitting behind Mariota as a backup this fall....
Via Sportsnaut
43 minutes ago

Maybe Austin Rivers is good at basketball

You clicked me? Don’t duck out yet. This is a (kind of) serious column about Austin Rivers possibly going from being just above bad to possibly good. It isn’t clickbait, I promise. Austin Rivers is only 22 years old. I think we forget that. There was a time when being so young meant we would not judge someone’s NBA career so harshly this early in the process. Whether it...
Via Crossover Chronicles
2 hours ago

Mayweather reportedly willing to give rematch to Pacquiao

  It took forever for Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to finally come to terms on their first fight, but it sounds like Round 2 might quickly come together.   Mayweather-Pacquiao wasn’t the thriller so many hoped it would be, but the overhyped bout between the two men pushing 40 made record amounts of money. So it should come as no surprise that both fighters...
Via NESN.com
1 hour ago

Eliminate Hack-A-Player: Don't reward violating sports rules

Yes, it’s convenient that we’re writing about Hack-A-Player at this specific point in time. Yet, the argument against allowing the practice existed far before the 2015 NBA Playoffs. Even before the Hack-A-(DeAndre) Jordan employed by the San Antonio Spurs over the past two weeks; even before Monday night’s sorry spectacle of the Hack-A-Jordan dueling with the Hack-A-(Dwight...
Via Crossover Chronicles
3 hours ago

Jon Jones’ manager: Former champ may never fight again

Have we seen the last of Jon Jones inside the Octagon? The former UFC light heavyweight champion’s manager is not ruling it out. On Monday, Jones’ manager Malki Kawa told Ariel Helwani of The MMA Hour that Jones has not decided if he will return to fighting when his suspension is lifted. “It could very...Read More
Via Larry Brown Sports
2 hours ago

No easy solution to the problem of early NFL draft entrants

The NFL Draft is supposed to be a celebratory event. It’s about young men who are realizing their dream to play in the National Football League. However, what about the players who have their dreams shattered? Eighty-four (84) players declared early for the NFL Draft. The first two days were a boon for many of them, as 43 were selected in the first three rounds. That left...
Via The Student Section
5 hours ago

Josh Smith: Rockets played ‘hero ball’

The Houston Rockets had their chances against the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 on Monday night, but they were badly outplayed in the second half. Selfishness on offense was one of Houston’s biggest issues, according to Josh Smith. Smith, who hit just 3-of-12 shots from the field and 1-of-5 from beyond the arc, said...Read More
Via Larry Brown Sports
3 hours ago

Pacquiao to have surgery to repair 'significant' shoulder tear

Manny Pacquiao is the new Kevin Love. Pacquiao immediately went public with an alleged injury following Saturday night’s loss to Floyd Mayweather. In doing so, Pacquiao was criticized for coming up with an excuse after the loss, but it seems the injury is real. Pacquiao’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, confirmed that an MRI on Monday revealed a “significant tear”...
Via NESN.com
13 hours ago

Chris Paul ruled out for Game 1 against Rockets

Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul will miss the team’s Game 1 outing against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Semifinals on Monday night, according to head coach Doc Rivers. Paul suffered a hamstring injury during Game 7 of the Clippers opening-round series against the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. While he was able to power through the injury to hit the game...
Via Sportsnaut
16 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.