The Rundown

Forget the bunt, the hit-andrun,
and the stolen base. Get
used to the homeruns, the walks,
and even the strikeouts. This is
Moneyball now.

For as long as I can remember,
I have followed baseball. I
consider myself as having been
a fan of the game for most of my
adolescent life. However, I do
not consider myself as having
been a knowledgeable baseball
fan until about three years ago.
That is when I read Michael
Lewis’ book, Moneyball.

At the time, the book about
Oakland A’s general manager
Billy Beane was still stirring up
controversy and dialogue in the
baseball world. For many, it was
a radically different approach to
the game that most fans were
simply uncomfortable with.

Instead of old-time baseball
scouts, ivy-league graduates
were running the show – and
they were winning.

Their methods were highly
resisted at first but are slowly
becoming accepted into mainstream
baseball knowledge.

Stats like OPS (on-base plus
slugging) for batters and WHIP
(walks and hits over innings
pitched) are relatively new.
Both, and plenty other stats,
help to more accurately give
fans an insight into a players talent

Even today, though, there is
plenty of resistance against it.
But for a young, educated college
audience, such as the fans
at St. John’s, there is hardly any
reason not to accept “new”

You do not have to be great
at math or have an undying loyalty
to computers, as some
would have you believe. It really
is just a matter of logic and
some simple percentages.

For instance, on-base percentage
is now generally accepted
as a very important stat for a
hitter. It was not always so,
though. The reasoning for it is
quite simple: it measures how
often a baseball player is not
making an out. Not making an
out leads to more runs which
give the team a better chance to
win. And it is that simple.

Using similar lines of logic,
it can be proven that “smallball”
tactics like the sacrifice
bunt can actually decrease a
teams chances at winning a
game. Unless a player can steal
bases at a very successful rate, it
can be proven that it is not
worth it to go at all. Many
times, it is actually better to “sit
back and wait for the long

As a journalist, I have a
responsibility to my readers to
remain objective and accurate in
my reporting. In the same vein
of logic, I have a responsibility
to understand more fully what I
am writing about. It is not
uncommon to hear a radio personality
or newspaper writer
seem to imply that runs scored
portray a lead-off hitters ability.

But what is a run except for the
other members of the team getting
him in? Perhaps there is
some correlation but not a very
strong one. Would Jose Reyes
immediately be a worse lead-off
hitter if he did not have Carlos
Beltran around to drive him in?

Similarly, what does a “win”
for a pitcher say, except that he
left the game when his teams
lineup scored more runs than he
let up? Not many would argue
that Steve Trachsel and Mike
Mussina were comparable
pitchers last season, even
though they both had 15 wins. It
would be irresponsible for me
to give evaluation on a pitcher
based on a stat that obviously
does not have a strong correlation
to ability.

As a fan of the game of baseball,
especially one enrolled in
college, it seems a responsibility
to also be aware. Not every
fan has to read Moneyball
(though it does help) but simply
thinking about the game we
watch so often can lead to new,
perhaps surprising conclusions.
Just like in every other aspect of
life as a student, try to be open
and do not be afraid of learning
a few new things. Even if it is
about something that already
seems so familiar.