Athletics

Billy Beane explains how A's, 'Moneyball' sped up MLB analytics revolution

Billy Beane explains how A's, 'Moneyball' sped up MLB analytics revolution

The book "Moneyball" -- and the movie it inspired -- is synonymous with the A's. And, well, that's because the movie is about how the 2002 Oakland A's brought about the baseball analytics revolution.

Numbers came in between the Jonah Hill fist clench and reminding yourself that there's always something romantic about baseball ... and numbers don't lie. Billy Beane himself said the book and the subsequent film stuck mostly to the script, so to speak.

"[I have] zero regrets because my life has changed because of it," Beane told Josh Lewin and Jon Heyman on the "Big Time Baseball" podcast.

There weren't any "secrets" the A's executive vice president of baseball operations was worried about giving away, and he credited the sabermetrics pioneers who came before him.

"What was in the book was really just taking the ideas of a Bill James and Pete Palmer," Beane said,  "some of the baseball academics who thought for years there were some baseball inefficiencies in the game, and we were evaluating some of the wrong skills."

It wasn't something the A's organization invented, by any means. All of that information and data had been out there, but the A's use of it created something great. 

"I do think it accelerated, to some extent, the analytics revolution," Beane said. "The fact that not only baseball teams but businesses, in general, had access to a lot more data."

Now, all teams have created their own proprietary analytics. That was stuff Beane and company didn't have to give away.

"At some point, people were going to figure it out and do it anyway," Beane said. "Once the book came out we were on to creating our own stuff, because we were able to keep that secret for a while."

He also credited the Houston Astros for their successes on the field with the team's use of analytics in player development. I mean, this is a team that took Justin Verlander, who is a great pitcher, and made him even greater. Which, I didn't think was possible, but here we are.

Beane added the Astros are the team that will cause the most difficulties for the A's, and for a while.

"The road to the division title will go through Houston for a few more years," Beane said.

[RELATED: Beane's plans for A's around trade deadline]

And believe it or not, he even brought the term "chemistry" into the conversation. The A's have it, and the confidence shown when the Green and Gold is winning is easy to see. But still, the "Moneyball" era was something special to Beane

From his standpoint, it was life-changing. 

A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award

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A's closer Liam Hendriks a finalist for AL Reliever of the Year award

A's closer Liam Hendriks is one of three finalists for the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award.

Hendriks is joined by Astros closer Roberto Osuna and Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman. The NL finalists are Josh Hader, Will Smith, and Kirby Yates.

Hendriks, 30, enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, recording a 1.80 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. The right-hander notched 124 strikeouts in 85 innings, an A's franchise record for relievers, compared to just 21 walks.

Hendriks took over closing duties from Blake Treinen in the middle of the season and finished with 25 saves, along with eight holds. His 124 punchouts led AL relief pitchers and his 1.80 ERA ranked second among AL relievers with at least 40 innings.

Osuna posted a 2.63 ERA and 0.88 WHIP, with 73 strikeouts in 65 innings. Chapman finished with a 2.21 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, striking out 85 in 57 innings.

[RELATED: Hendriks' energy a big part of A's success]

The voting will be conducted by a panel of eight all-time great relief pitchers: Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Lee Smith, John Franco, and Billy Wagner. Both the AL and NL awards will be presented on October 26, before Game 4 of the World Series.

Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

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Why A's should move on from Robbie Grossman in final arbitration year

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Robbie Grossman, OF

Contract: Final year of arbitration (projected to get $3.3 million after earning $2 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

Grossman provides versatility as a switch-hitter who can play all three outfield positions. He also has a strong record of reaching base, maintaining a .351 on-base percentage throughout his career.

The A's lineup is extremely right-handed heavy and they could certainly use another left-handed bat, particularly in the outfield. For $3.3 million, Grossman could add some value as a fourth or fifth outfielder.

Reasons to let him go

Grossman is coming off his worst season since 2015, hitting just .240/.334/.348 with six home runs and 38 RBI in 138 games. The 30-year-old has never provided much power, averaging just six homers per season in his career, with a high of 11 in 2016.

Oakland already has a crowded outfield with Ramón Laureano, Mark Canha, Stephen Piscotty, and Chad Pinder. The A's also have Dustin Fowler, Skye Bolt, and Seth Brown awaiting their opportunity in the minor leagues. Grossman isn't necessarily an upgrade over any of those names.

Final verdict

Due to their excellent outfield depth, the A's should move on without Grossman in 2020. That $3.3 million could be better spent in other areas -- relief pitching, as an example.

[RELATED: A's stay or go candidate for 2020 season: Josh Phegley]

If Grossman were to return, he would almost certainly be a bench player, and as we've noted, Oakland has plenty of other options to fill those fourth and fifth outfielder roles for far less than $3.3 million.