GerrardIJSF2007 - Is the Moneyball Approach Transferable to...

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Is the Moneyball Approach Transferable to Complex Invasion Team Sports? Dr Bill Gerrard (Leeds University Business School, UK) May 2007 Abstract This study analyses reasons for the successful of the Oakland Athletics in Major League Baseball as described in the bestseller, Moneyball . Benchmarking analysis is conducted to quantify the extent of Oakland’s achievement. The use of player performance analysis to develop a knowledge-based David strategy is investigated. The difficulties of applying the Moneyball approach in more complex invasion team sports are discussed. A hierarchical structural model of an invasion game is proposed as a conceptual framework and its application illustrated using data from English Premiership soccer. The technological, conceptual and cultural barriers to the transferability of the Moneyball approach to other sports are assessed. Key words: Moneyball ; benchmarking; player performance analysis; David strategy; invasion team sports; hierarchical structural model. 1. Introduction Michael Lewis’s bestseller, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (2003), tells the story of how the Oakland Athletics in Major League Baseball have achieved 1
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a sustained competitive advantage over an eight-year period despite being one of the lowest wage spenders. At the core of the Moneyball story is the systematic use of player performance data to guide player recruitment, player valuation and field tactics as championed by Oakland’s General Manager, Billy Beane. Moneyball has attracted an international audience and, inevitably, raised questions on the extent to which the approach of the Oakland A’s can be replicated in other team sports. For example, the transferability of Moneyball to association football (i.e. soccer) featured recently as the cover article in a leading UK sports monthly (Runciman, 2007). The objective of this paper is to explore the degree to which Moneyball represents transferable knowledge. Specifically, the paper poses the question: can Moneyball be transferred to complex invasion team sports such as the various codes of football? It is argued that atomistic striking and fielding team sports such as baseball are most conducive to the systematic exploitation of player performance data because of the high degree of separability of individual playing contributions. However the approach can be applied in more complex invasion team sports. This is illustrated with a benchmarking analysis of team performance in English Premiership soccer. The structure of the paper is as follows. Section 2 provides a statistical analysis of the Moneyball effect, measuring the magnitude of the Oakland’s A’s competitive success over the period since Billy Beane’s appointment as General Manager in 1998. The results of benchmarking using both structural regression models and payroll costs per win are presented. Section 3 analyses the Oakland’s knowledge-based “David” strategy that involves utilising the insights of the statistical
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This note was uploaded on 09/21/2011 for the course ECON 33974 taught by Professor Barbaraross during the Spring '09 term at Hawaii.

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GerrardIJSF2007 - Is the Moneyball Approach Transferable to...

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