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]

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Amari Cooper not a fan of New Orleans, thinks it smells

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence does Louisville chant at game

WATCH: Did Bret Bielema do ‘Horns Down’ gesture?

Devils unveil unique coaching by committee situation

Report: 49ers expect Jim Harbaugh to take Michigan job

Report: Johnny Manziel fined for being late to treatment

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Duke Johnson's mother says son will enter NFL Draft

Starlin Castro questioned following nightclub shooting

Report: Jeff Driskel thinking about transfer to Duke

Browns suspend Josh Gordon for final game of season

Report: Rex Ryan has already cleaned out his office

Clint Trickett retires due to concussions, hid two

WATCH: Nebraska safety pukes on field, keeps playing

WATCH: Kevin Garnett blows in David West's ear

Report: Jim Harbaugh to Michigan is done deal

WATCH: Frank Beamer busts a move after bowl win

Bears could clean house after season

Nebraska chancellor booed by Huskers players?

WATCH: Rory McIlroy trolled by 'Sweet Caroline' song

Auburn, Wisconsin players literally ate tons of food

Did Kobe Bryant respond to heckler with the rings count?

Doug Fister bought Starbucks for his Twitter followers

DeMarco Murray dumped over cheating accusations?

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

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.
RUMORS & GOSSIP

Amari Cooper not a fan of New Orleans, thinks it smells

Sometimes if you don’t have anything good to say, then it’s probably better that you just don’t say anything at all. Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper made comments on Sunday that could haunt him years into his NFL career. The Heisman Trophy finalist has placed himself at the center of controversy after being overheard saying that New Orleans–the site of the Sugar Bowl–stinks...
Via Thacover2
7 hours ago

WATCH: Jennifer Lawrence does Louisville chant at game

Most Louisville fans consider Jennifer Lawrence, a noted Cardinals fan, to be the perfect woman. Case in point? Check out the below video, which shows her participating in the team’s C-A-R-D-S chant and then eating a slice of pizza. Mark Blankenbaker of The Crunch Zone posted it to YouTube early in the first half of today’s UK vs. UL contest. Relevant. Swoon.
Via College Spun
12 hours ago

WATCH: Did Bret Bielema do ‘Horns Down’ gesture?

The internet was consumed Saturday with questions about whether Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema did the “Horns Down” gesture while shaking hands with Texas’ Charlie Strong. The two coaches shook hands Saturday ahead of Monday’s Advocare V100 Texas Bowl between the programs. Some photographs began circulating of Bielema appearing to do the gesture while shaking...Read More
Via Larry Brown Sports
4 hours ago

Devils unveil unique coaching by committee situation

Shortly after the New Jersey Devils fired head coach Pete DeBoer, the attention soon shifted to potential replacements for the vacated position. Scott Stevens and Adam Oates were a couple of the names discussed, but the Devils opted to go in a new direction. They hired both men. The club also announced that GM Lou Lamoriello would be behind the bench, overseeing things as Stevens...
Via Puck Drunk Love
15 hours ago

Report: 49ers expect Jim Harbaugh to take Michigan job

Jim Harbaugh to Michigan is looking more likely by the day. According to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, multiple members of the San Francisco 49ers staff and at least one other NFL source expect Harbaugh to accept Michigan’s offer as soon as the NFL season concludes. “That’s what everybody on staff believes is going to...Read More
Via Larry Brown Sports
9 hours ago

Report: Johnny Manziel fined for being late to treatment

Johnny Manziel is out for the remainder of the season with a hamstring injury, but that isn’t stopping him from screwing up. According to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Manziel has been fined by the Cleveland Browns for showing up late to receive treatment for his injury. As a player who is...Read More
Via Larry Brown Sports
9 hours ago

Duke Johnson's mother says son will enter NFL Draft

Twitter/@BernardJoints There has been a lot of speculation over the future of Miami running back Duke Johnson, but as many have expected, he will declare for the NFL Draft after today’s Independence Bowl. Matt Porter of the Palm Beach Post caught up with Johnson’s mother, Cassandra Mitchell, who confirmed that today’s game against South Carolina would be Johnson’s last...
Via College Spun
10 hours ago

Starlin Castro questioned following nightclub shooting

It seems like just yesterday that Starlin Castro was questioned (or not) after a nightclub shooting in his native Dominican Republic and deemed to be, simply, “in the wrong place at the wrong time”. Now, the Chicago Cubs All-Star is being questioned in connection with another nightclub shooting. Ok, again. #Cubs Starlin Castro was detained by the authorities for questioning...
Via Hall of Very Good
11 hours ago

Report: Jeff Driskel thinking about transfer to Duke

Jeff Driskel’s playing days in Florida are likely over. The Gators’ redshirt junior quarterback was replaced as the starter by freshman Treon Harris midway through the 2014 season and is now considering a transfer, according to reports.  According to Laura Keeley of the Raleigh News & Observer, Driskel might land at Duke. The redshirt junior has one year of eligibility...
Via College Spun
12 hours ago

Browns suspend Josh Gordon for final game of season

The Cleveland Browns have suspended Josh Gordon for the final game of the season this Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. Specifics aren’t yet known, but the suspension is for a violation of team rules.  Gordon, one of the best young receivers in the game, was suspended the first 10 games of the season for a failed drug test. He’s had multiple off-field issues since Cleveland...
Via Sportsnaut
12 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.