In Moneyball, the just-released movie about the 2002 Oakland Athletics, General Manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) is put in the unenviable position of being expected to build a championship-level team with a third of the money the Yankees or Red Sox have available to pay salaries. Despite this handicap, Oakland reaches the playoffs, finishing the season with as many wins as the Yankees — 103. But Oakland paid under $400,000 in salaries for each win, while the Yankees paid over $1.2 million. To accomplish this feat, Billy Beane developed an entirely new method of assessing talent, one that would revolutionize almost every team’s approach to baseball.
Retired lieutenant general Paul Van Riper, one of our country’s foremost strategists, is fond of telling junior officers, “When the money gets short, it’s time to think.” Confronted with a shortage of money, but still expected to build a first-class team, Billy Beane was forced to think about baseball in ways no one had previously considered. And for a time it worked. In fact, it stopped working only after everyone else began adopting Beane’s way of thinking.
Keep reading this post . . .