At this point in the Oakland A’s amazing season I wanted to express my excitement for everything that’s gone right for them thus far. Despite being hit by the injury bug, as is generally the case for them, this has been a season of good fortune, pleasant surprises, and general feelings that anyone who comes to the squad is going to play well. They’ve been lights out on pitching and supplying the HR power reminiscent of the Bash Bros (or at least the John Jaha, Matt Stairs, Jason Giambi days).
As the saying go, “Luck favors the prepared man”. I think this is true . . . well what I’m trying to say is that they’ve had a good amount of luck with timely hitting and mostly winning close games (it’s been good for the whipped cream pie industry too). That and Billy Beane has been a great GM, finding value as usual in odd places.
There’s a lot of talk out there how the A’s own the 4th best record with the 2nd lowest payroll. Just how important has salary been this year in team performance? Turns out, the A’s aren’t the only team performing well on a meager salary.
The A’s, along with the Rays but also the Nationals and Reds are sitting up in that upper left quadrant of respectability. Overall, though, the data doesn’t suggest there’s any correlation between winning percentage and salary this year.
I heard, anecdotally, that when the A’s employed their Moneyball tactics 10 years ago it only took a season for other GMs to catch on to the techniques they were using to analyze players. By the next season, everyone was paying for OBS. Are we witnessing Moneyball 2? You’d think in this statistically inclined world where data is everywhere, announcers are (starting) to wise up, and weird acronyms are being tossed around to the casual fan on ESPN that we’d know if there was another statistical revolution going on in baseball that small market teams were exploiting. I honestly don’t think we are. . . so what would explain this graph?
And if you are curious about the statisitical relationship of salary to winning percentage this season, here are the results from the above linear regression (blue line). The variable ‘salary’ has a positive effect on wins but it’s not statistically significant. I guess with all the knowledge these clubs have, they still aren’t moving towards anything that looks to me like an efficient market.