Theo Epstein, Moneyball and culture shifts

Its true: Theo Epstein walks on water, moves items with his mind and was born with a World Series ring on his finger.Normally on WestSide Culture I would refrain from writing about Theo Epstein, the Boston RedSox and the Chicago Cubs. This is a rare exception, however as Theo is part of the Moneyball culture and one of many young General Mangers in the game trying to shift the focus from scouts and "feeling" to statistics.

As a former Web Analytics Consultant, I know a thing or two about making data driven decisions. As long as your data is compiled properly to begin with, there is no reason not to make your decision based on statistics. If, however your numbers come from random, unorganized theories and hypothesis, not based in fact, you will be faced with poor data and wrong answers. As they say, crap in, crap out.

So how can statistics change a culture and change sports? If you have not seen Moneyball yet, I encourage you to do so. Whether you like baseball or not, it is a must watch. My mom - who hates sports - loved the movie. Moneyball is one example of how you can make drastic improvements and reshape success in any field. I use data everyday on WestSide Culture to determine what my readers like. (Yes, I am watching where you go and what you read).

Furthermore there are impacts of every single decision that extend far down the road. You have no control over these. Focus on the choice in front of you and eliminate the "what if's". What does the data tell you? Make your decision from that. Eliminate the distractions.

For example (stick with me through this...), Billy Beane started Moneyball with the Oakland Athletics. Do you think at the time he chose whether or not to follow Paul DePodesta's (Peter Brand/Jonah Hill in the movie) statistical theory, he thought, "Will this lead me to another GM job, a bigger house, a new car or a cult-like following amongst the new breed of young GM's in the game?". I'll give you a hint: at the time nobody knew there would be a new breed of GM's.

Clearly, Billy Beane made his decision based on what he saw. He saw a loophole in the system. He just needed guys to get on base and he would win. That's it. There was his answer. There were huge implications as to what happened after he made his choice, but those things were out of his control, so they were not a concern. He was offered a GM job with the Boston RedSox, which he accepted and later turned down. Boston had to turn to their second choice, Theo Epstein (a moneyball believer) who went on to win 2 World Series and break the century-long curse of the Bambino. Other underlings in Boston took their belief in Moneyball and statistics and left, receiving their own GM jobs elsewhere. Among them, Josh Brynes joined the Arizona Diamondbacks and Jed Hoyer went to the San Diego Padres.

Now comes another large shake-up in the baseball GM world, as Epstein is headed to the Chicago Cubs. Who will he take with him from Boston? Who will be the new GM in Boston? Will it be Jed Hoyer, leaving the GM seat in San Diego vacant? Will Josh Brynes, now with the San Diego Padres leave to join his former boss in Chi-Town or will he be offered the GM position in San Diego? To confuse you even more, there are countless others in the mix, who were all former members of the original Moneyball Dream-Team in Oakland. I won't go there as I can already see your head spinning. (Yes, I see you. Remember, I'm watching).

The game of baseball has changed forever because of one man's decision to follow statistics and the belief of a young, Economics major from Yale. So I ask you, what decision will you make today, based in data, that will change the world? I assure you it's out there. Like, drawing walks to get on base, you just need to know where to look.