The Replacements

If you consider yourself a baseball fan, you have probably seen Moneyball by now. In the following scene, Billy Beane (aka Brad Pitt) is discussing possible free agents with his scouting staff:

He mentions that they must think differently, instead of taking a classic, conventional style approach of scouting players. They must replace 3 pieces of their lineup for the upcoming 2002 season. Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Olmedo Saenz are all leaving Oakland. While the scouts debate which potential free agent they want to examine, Beane offers a better proposal. After he is persuaded by Peter Brand (“Your goal should be to buy wins, and in order to buy wins you need to buy runs”), he mentions to the scouts that what they need to do is simple: replace the average OBP of Giambi, Damon, and Saenz.

This is where the Pirates come into play. This offseason, Ryan Doumit, Xavier Paul, and Ronny Cedeno all moved on to different cities to play in 2012. The Pirates needed to fill the holes at catcher, shortstop, and fourth outfielder. To do so, Neal Huntington and his staff brought in C Rod Barajas, SS Clint Barmes, and OF Nate McLouth. Using the Moneyball approach, we decided to do a few calculations…

In 2011, the three former Pirates had the following on-base percentages:
– Ryan Doumit .353
– Ronny Cedeno .297
– Xavier Paul .292

In 2011, the three current Pirates had the following on-base percentages:
– Rod Barajas .287
– Clint Barmes .312
– Nate McLouth .344

At first glance, Doumit has a marginal lead over Barajas, Barmes is a decent amount better than Cedeno, and McLouth has a marginal lead over Paul. Now let’s calculate the average OBP of the players…

.353 +.297 + .292 = .942 / 3 = .314

This shows that the three former Pirates had an average OBP of .314 for 2011. Now let’s check the other three players…

.287 + .312 + .344 = .943 / 3 = .314

This shows that the three replacements had an average OBP of exactly .314 in 2011.

Are we concluding that the Pirates front office used a Moneyball-esque approach to the offseason? Not at all. It could simply be a total coincidence. Still, it is a little crazy that the average OBP came out to be the exact same for both sets of players. Although the offense was quite lackluster for the Pirates in 2011, it is still a good thing that we haven’t downgraded players, even though staying status quo might not be the best thing for the Pirates lineup. After checking these calculations and seeing the additions of Erik Bedard and A.J. Burnett, we’d say that the Pirates front office has done better as the offseason progressed, and has done a pretty good job overall.

Go Bucs

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From Forbes to Federal is not affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates or Major League Baseball.