Co-author Alan Hirsch was kind enough to answer and respond to questions and criticisms of his new book, The Beauty of Short Hops: How Chance and Circumstance Confound the Moneyball Approach to Baseball. Alan co-wrote The Beauty of Short Hops with is brother Sheldon Hirsch.
Q: Billy Beane didn’t/doesn’t watch A’s games because, in your words, “He can’t bear seeing the damn players muck up what should be a perfectly predictable contest.”
Don’t all GM’s wish their moves would work out as planned and wish the game was predictable in some sense? And is the wish and goal of GM’s and sabermetrics in general actually to make things perfectly predictable or to just gain as much insight as possible into who players are and what they are capable of?
AH: Yes, GMs are in the business of winning, and when they hire sabermetricians they try to improve their teams’ chances via statistical study. There’s obviously no problem with that. We were on the Bill James bandwagon early, and we hope the teams we root for find edges wherever they can.
It’s the excesses we argue against, and the failure to recognize limitations.
Here’s Moneyball’s description of Billy Beane’s perspective: ‘The game can be reduced to a social science…It is simply a matter of figuring out the odds, and exploiting the laws of probability’ because ‘baseball players follow strikingly predictable patterns.’ As for other GMs, I can’t speak for them but I know that many of them watch the games!…
Hirsch: Why Moneyball Doesn’t Always Work
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