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A Sports Economist’s Thoughts on Moneyball: A Guest Post by J.C. Bradbury

J.C. Bradbury is a long-time friend and contributor to the Freakonomics blog. An associate professor of economics at Kennesaw State University, Bradbury is the author of two books on baseball: The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed, and Hot Stove Economics: Understanding Baseball’s Second Season. For years, he covered the intersection of baseball and economics on his Sabernomics blog.

So with the new movie Moneyball out, we wanted to get J.C.’s thoughts on how well the book translates onto the big screen, and whether it does justice to the wonky, sabermetrics approach to baseball.

An Economist’s Thoughts on Moneyball
By J.C. Bradbury

When it was published in 2003, the book Moneyball generated a buzz in the field of economics because it covered several topics economists like, such as constrained maximization, market efficiency, entrepreneurship, and statistical analysis. To most people, economics is boring: it’s a class they took because they had to. Author Michael Lewis introduced important economic concepts through a venue that millions of Americans pay to watch. As a book, it succeeded, but I was skeptical that it could work as a movie. I was wrong. Even my wife, who only reluctantly agreed to see the movie with me, enjoyed it. Read More »





The Power of the President — and the Thumb: Full Transcript

Donald RUMSFELD: Oh, the President matters a great deal. Stephen DUBNER: You may recognize that voice. RUMSFELD: I’m Don Rumsfeld. And I’ve just written a book, Known and Unknown, a memoir. DUBNER: He’ s also a former Navy pilot, congressman, U.S. Ambassador to NATO, White House Chief of Staff, and two-time Secretary of Defense. RUMSFELD: Needless to say, our […] Read More »





How Best to Realign Major League Baseball: A Freakonomics Quorum

Earlier this summer, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Major League Baseball and the players’ association had recently discussed a form of realignment that would result in two leagues of 15 teams, rather than the current structure of 14 teams in the American League, and 16 in the National League. This sent the sports world into a tizzy as baseball geeks everywhere weighed in on how best to realign MLB. There are a lot of ideas out there: shorten the season so each team gets one day off a week (said to be a favored position of Commissioner Bud Selig), move the Houston Astros or Florida Marlins to the American League; create three divisions of five teams each; do away with the divisions entirely; add an extra wild-card team to expand the playoffs.

There’s also a discussion about finding ways to address the disparity in miles traveled. According to this neat interactive graphic put together by Paul Robbins at the New York Times, in 2009, the Dodgers traveled a league-high 59,742 miles, while the Nationals traveled less than half that, 26,266 miles.

Not to be left out, we decided it was a good time to convene a Freakonomics Quorum. We rounded up a handful of sports economists and asked them the following question:

What proposed realignment changes seem to make the most sense from a competitive and economic standpoint for Major League Baseball?

Read More »





The Downside of Playing Sports, and Watching Too

Two good questions from a reader named Harold Laski, who is the medical director of Southside Medical Center in Jacksonville, Fla.: “As a physician treating injured sportsmen, I understand (or at least I think that I do), the reasons that people get into sports. But two things have bothered me…” Read More »





The “Baseball Economist” Answers Your Questions

We recently solicited your questions for “baseball economist” J.C. Bradbury, author of the new book Hot Stove Economics. His responses show great range. The most fascinating answer, in response to a question about the agent Scott Boras’s dominating performance: “I have a theory that Boras sells his own insurance to players by promising players a minimum salary in return for waiting for free agency. This way, players get insurance against injury, more income if they reach free agency in good health, and Boras gets a bigger cut.” Read More »





Bring Your Questions for “the Baseball Economist”

Diehard baseball fans know that the season doesn’t really end with the World Series. It just downshifts a bit, as J.C. Bradbury explains in his new book Hot Stove Economics: “The final out of the World Series marks the beginning of baseball’s second season, when teams court free agents and orchestrate trades with the hope of building a championship contender. The real and anticipated transactions generate excitement among fans who discuss the merit of moves in the arena informally known as the ‘hot stove league.’” Read More »





How Much Does the President Really Matter?: Full Transcript

[Female voice] Hail to the Chief, it’s Freakonomics Radio from American Public Media and WNYC.  Here’s your host Stephen Dubner  Stephen J. DUBNER:  I’ve got a question for you but you’re not going to like it.  Most people, if you ask them this question, their heads explode, they sputter, they swear, they tell you you’re a […] Read More »





How Much Does the President Really Matter?

After a throw-out-the-Dems mid-term election on Tuesday, with Republican promises to unwind Democratic legislation like healthcare reform and an economy that refuses to break into anything more than a cautious jog, we use the Freakonomics Radio podcast to pose a tough question: How much does the President of the United States really matter? Read More »