Moneyball Ap Statistics Assignment
Answer Key to Lesson Plan for Moneyball - Part 1
DAY 1 – 4 Discussion Page
- Read Chapters 1-2; 3; 4-5; 6-7. Pay close attention to the Issues/Questions to Ponder in the various chapters.
- Writing - Paraphrasing
In your own words, write what is meant by this sentence: "Baseball statistics, unlike the statistics in any other area, have acquired the powers of language."
Student answers are written here. Answers will vary. The following is an example:
Baseball statistics are available for every conceivable aspect of the game. Fans - in addition to major-league baseball clubs - are able to learn much about the teams, and the players, by analyzing those statistics. The numbers are like language, in that setting, because they speak to individuals about the performance of teams and players.
3. Write 4 facts and 4 opinions from the story here.
Student answers will vary. Here are examples:
|1. Billy Beane was the general manager of the Oakland A's major-league baseball team in 2002.||1. Although he had "five-tool" potential, Billy Beane was washed-up as a baseball player. |
|2. In 2002, new owners of the Oakland A's reduced the budget available to the general manager to pay the team's players.||2. Selecting major-league baseball players by using numbers on a laptop computer is not a good way to build the team.|
|3. Bill James invented a system called "sabermetrics" to evaluate baseball players.||3. Sabermetrics is a very valuable tool for both "rich teams" and "poor teams."|
|4. In the summer of 2002, the Oakland A's had a 20-game winning streak.||4. Art Howe, who managed the A's during the 2002 season, was an excellent manager.|
Write the supporting details here:
Who - The Oakland A's - a major-league baseball team whose budget is drastically reduced from the prior season
|What - A major-league baseball team accomplishes much by working together in spite of a drastically reduced budget|
|When - 2001-2002||Where - Oakland, California (and elsewhere in the US where the Oakland A's played their games)|
|How - Using a combination of "sabermetrics" and skill in selecting team members, Billy Beane and his managers re-built the Oakland A's of 2002 into a winning team.||Why - When the owners of the Oakland A's reduced the payroll budget, three top players left, creating a significant talent gap in the team's line-up|
DAY 1: What are some of the facts which explain why Billy Beane had a major problem at the beginning of the 2002 season?
With a greatly reduced budget, Billy Beane could not pay his three top players the salaries they demanded. When they left the team, he had to find other players to fill the empty slots. Although Oakland had seven "picks" for the 2002 amateur draft, Beane did not have enough money to sign his favorites. He had gone from leading a "rich team" to managing a "poor team." To cope with the new situation, he had to find a different way to build his team. Many of his scouts did not agree with his new selection method.
DAY 2: What did Bill James do with the various statistics he accumulated about Major League Baseball?
Bill James self-published his first "book" of statistics, numbering sixty-eight mimeographed pages, which he called 1977 Baseball Abstract: Featuring 18 Categories of Statistical Information That You Just Can't Find Anywhere Else. He published an annual edition of his statistics and narratives until 1982. Thereafter, Ballantine Books published his work in a yearly book called The Baseball Abstract.
DAY 3: What feat did the Oakland Athletics accomplish during the 2002 Major League Baseball season?
Despite their significant budget shortfall, and the use of players who were either inexperienced or past their prime, the Oakland Athletics had a twenty-game winning streak during August and early September of 2002.
DAY 4: Select one member of the Oakland Athletics team, of 2002, and describe what happened to him in succeeding years.
Cory Lidle, who had an outstanding pitching record during Oakland's twenty-game winning streak, went to the Yankees late in the 2006 season. After the Yankees finished the playoffs, that year, Cory and his flight instructor planned to fly Cory's plane to California. Before they left New York, they wanted to fly over the Statue of Liberty. During that trip, the plane crashed into a New York building, killing both Lidle and his instructor.
EXTRA: Do you think that "sabermetrics" played a role in the outcome of the Oakland Athletics' 2002 season? Why/why not?
Students' answers will vary. An example:
Sabermetrics played a very helpful role in the outcome of the Oakland Athletics' 2002 season. Players who were selected, using that method, significantly contributed to the A's winning season and to the team's twenty-game winning streak.
ANSWER KEY - MONEYBALL, Part 2
Sabermetrics? No, it isn't a cross between a sword and the metric system. It's a specialized type of data analysis that uses statistics to understand the sport of baseball. And it has completely changed how people view the game. The movie Moneyball tells the story of how Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane used the power of statistics to gain an advantage in assembling and managing his baseball team.
In the movie, Beane is unable to re-sign Oakland's best 3 players after the 2001 season due to a limited payroll. He uses sabermetrics in an attempt to find undervalued players that can make up for the loss. He meets heavy resistance from his scouts, who argue that their years of baseball experience and knowledge mean far more than any statistic. Beane ignores their objections and builds the team his way.
The 2002 Oakland Athletics did not start the season on a good note. At one point they had a record of 20-26, good for last place in the AL West. In the movie, Beane claims this was due to a small sample size and was not proof that his system didn't work. Let's see if Minitab agrees! I'll use a 1 Proportion test to see if the A's record of 20-26 (winning percentage of 0.435) is significantly different than their record at the end of the year (winning percentage of .636).
The p-value is less than 0.05, meaning the two records are significantly different. It is unlikely the slow start occurred because of a small sample size. So if the team's last-place standing wasn't random, what was it?
In the movie, Beane insists on having Scott Hatteberg play first base instead of Carlos Pena because he thinks Hatteberg is more likely to get on base.* Beane also gets upset with Jeremy Giambi's clubhouse antics. Pena and Giambi were traded at the end of May, when the A's record was 20-26. Oakland went 83-33 the rest of the season. By the looks of it, these trades helped!
During that run of 83-33, Oakland set an AL record of 20 consecutive wins. What were the odds of that? Oakland finished the season with a winning percentage of 0.636, so to find the answer I could multiply 0.636 by itself 20 times....ooooooooor I could be lazy and have Minitab do it. I'm going to go with lazy.
Note: In order to meet the assumption of the binomial distribution, I'm going to assume the probability of Oakland winning each game was a constant 0.636. The answer won't be exact, but it'll be close enough for our purposes.
So the answer is 0.0001173, or about 8,525 to 1! Eat your heart out Red Sox!
At the end of the regular season, the Oakland Athletics tied the New York Yankees for the most wins in major league baseball. They did this despite having a payroll $84 million less than the Yankees. But that wasn't all that mattered to Beane. Toward the end of the movie, he states that he really wants his method to matter. He wants it to make a difference in the game of baseball. And has it ever! Ten years ago, if you uttered the sentence "Just look at his VORP, it's through the roof!" people would have probably thought you were a Trekkie speaking Vulcan. But mention it today, and people know you're a baseball stats junkie (though non-baseball fans probably still think you're a Trekkie). But the fact is the power of statistics has changed the game of baseball forever.
The question now is, which game will it change next?
*This thinking was correct. In 2002 Hatteberg finished with an On Base Percentage (OBP) of .374, greater than Pena's OBP of .316.
Photo "Moneyball Movie" by pursuethepassion used under Creative Commons 2.0 license.
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