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: Stephen Curry to be named NBA MVP

Milwaukee Brewers fire manager Ron Roenicke

Drafted player changes Twitter name to ‘Pick 245′

Chip Kelly: Tim Tebow is here to compete for a job

Report: Nigel Williams-Goss transferring to Gonzaga

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Philly store offering Eagles 'jersey insurance'

Chris Paul listed as questionable for Game 1 vs. Rockets

Mayweather beats Pacquiao by unanimous decision

Did Evan Mathis respond to Chip Kelly's slight with barb?

WATCH: American Pharoah wins Kentucky Derby

Report: Rams trade RB Zac Stacy to Jets

Here's why Mayweather-Pacquiao was business as usual

Floyd Mayweather Punch Out mock video game is great

WATCH: Tony Allen walks through children performing, gets booed

Lindsey Vonn and Tiger Woods have broken up

WATCH: Two games end with baserunners hit by batted balls

WATCH: Damian Lilliard delivers great graduation speech

Jets do not envision Bryce Petty starting in 2015

Clippers beat Spurs on Chris Paul shot in Game 7

Jimmy Kimmel's Manny Pacquiao T-shirt goes viral

Big fight packs airport, leaves no room for planes

Pete Carroll discusses Russell Wilson's contract status

Jim Harbaugh not happy Lou Holtz is out at ESPN

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: Stephen Curry to be named NBA MVP

This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock given his individual success on the best team in the NBA. Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry will reportedly be named the MVP. According to CSN Bay Area’s Monte Pool, the official announcement will come later this week, likely between the team’s Game 1 win against the Memphis Grizzlies and its Game 2 outing Tuesday night in...
Via Sportsnaut
7 hours ago

Milwaukee Brewers fire manager Ron Roenicke

After a humiliating 7-18 start to the season, the Milwaukee Brewers have announced that manager Ron Roenicke has been fired. The announcement came via a press release on Twitter. Roenicke relieved of managerial duties: pic.twitter.com/MKPngn9ykO — Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) May 4, 2015   This has been a difficult start to the season, something we definitely did...
Via Sportsnaut
5 hours ago

Drafted player changes Twitter name to ‘Pick 245′

Heading into this weekend’s NFL Draft, Tre McBride was pegged as possible third or fourth round selection. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as the wide receiver from William & Mary was chosen by the Titans in the seventh round. Now, McBride’s Twitter account is a reminder of when he was drafted. Having already chosen Marcus Mariota...Read More
Via Larry Brown Sports
6 hours ago

Chip Kelly: Tim Tebow is here to compete for a job

The Philadelphia Eagles almost literally have the biggest circus in town. It’s actually comparable to the Ringling Brothers with Chip Kelly running the show. It also consists of quarterbacks Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow and Matt Barkley. While nothing should surprise us when it comes to the Eagles’ offseason moves, many questioned why the team chose Tebow of all quarterbacks...
Via Sportsnaut
10 hours ago

Report: Nigel Williams-Goss transferring to Gonzaga

Nigel Williams-Goss, a rising junior guard for the Washington Huskies, will be transferring to Gonzaga, according to a report by ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman.  Williams-Goss, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard, had a sensational sophomore season for the Huskies, averaging 15.6 points, 5.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds a game.  He announced he was transferring out of the program earlier this...
Via College Spun
14 hours ago

Philly store offering Eagles 'jersey insurance'

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly may have indicated during the draft that it was safe for fans to buy Sam Bradford jerseys. In fact, Kelly went as far to indicate that the team never had any plans to trade Bradford during his appearance on NFL Network’s draft coverage. That’s fine and dandy, but one local sporting goods chain based in Philadelphia isn’t buying into...
Via Sportsnaut
14 hours ago

Chris Paul listed as questionable for Game 1 vs. Rockets

Chris Paul’s heroic efforts against the San Antonio Spurs helped propel the Los Angeles Clippers into the Western Conference Semifinals. But he also suffered a hamstring injury in the series and could miss Game 1 against the Houston Rockets. The Clippers officially list Paul as “questionable” for Monday’s contest, per the NBA on ESPN: JUST IN: Clippers have listed Chris...
Via Sportsnaut
13 hours ago

Mayweather beats Pacquiao by unanimous decision

Floyd Mayweather Jr. improved to 48-0 in his career with an easy victory over longtime nemesis Manny Pacquiao Saturday night at the MGM in Las Vegas. Mayweather employed his impenetrable defensive style to perfection and frustrated the Filipino fighter, who struggled to throw and land punches. All three judges gave the fight to Mayweather to...Read More
Via Larry Brown Sports
1 day ago

Did Evan Mathis respond to Chip Kelly's slight with barb?

The Philadelphia Eagles provide endless entertainment these days under head coach Chip Kelly, but Evan Mathis doesn’t appear to be amused. The stellar offensive guard has been the subject of trade rumors for the past couple of years, a fact Kelly didn’t hesitate to point out on Saturday, as Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News relayed on the final day of the 2015 NFL Draft...
Via Sportsnaut
1 day ago

WATCH: American Pharoah wins Kentucky Derby

American Pharoah won the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs. Jockey Victor Espinoza earned his third career Kentucky Derby victory. He also won last year with California Chrome. It’s also legendary trainer Bob Baffert’s first win since 2002. He also trained Dortmund, who led most of the race. California horses have won three of the last five...
Via NESN.com
1 day 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.