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I need some abuse, so here is another baseball post

It’s probably poor sportsmanship to do another Oakland A’s post at a time when the A’s have now sunk to a record of 17-31 and are ahead of only one team in the American League.

But I feel like I am still misunderstood when it comes to what I have been trying to say about Billy Beane. So I keep trying to marshal a little more data to make my point more clearly than I have before.

If you tally up the average number of runs the A’s scored per year between 1999 and 2004 relative to their opponents, they averaged an extra 107 runs a year. The question I wanted to look at is how much of that was because of strong hitting and how much because of good pitching.

The answer: three-fourths of the A’s success was because they allowed fewer runs than the typical team, and only one-fourth is due to the fact they scored more runs than the typical team.

So it seems to me, if you want to search for a secret to the A’s success, you want to look at pitching much more than hitting. (And this is especially true, since if you go back to my earlier post, I showed that the A’s score runs using the same mix of OBP, HR, and slugging that the other teams use…if they were primarily exploiting the mispricing of OBP, that would not be expected. In economic parlance, if they thought they faced different input prices than other producers, their mix of inputs should differ as well.)

But if you read Moneyball, you see almost no mention of the great starting pitchers (except that it notes two of them unexpectedly developed new pitches that made them much more effective) that have been the heart of the A’s success, presumably because that doesn’t make for a very good story.

To save people who are going to post comments time, let me also make clear what I am not arguing:

1)I am not denying the A’s have been remarkably successful in the recent years.

2)I am not denying that their success is even more remarkable given their limited budget, especially in the early years.

3) I am not denying that they were innovators in using statistics to evaluate performance.

4) I am not denying that Moneyball was a fun book to read.