ESPN Wisconsin

A call for 'Moneyball?'

Apr 18, 2012 -- 8:54am

By DREW OLSON
dolson@espnwisconsin.com

What was "Moneyball" about?

Ask people in baseball and you'll get different answers. Some will say Billy Beane's ego. Others will talk about on-base percentage. Some will say it's about utilizing undervalued assets.

I think it's about all of those things, but the core of it was about bucking conventional wisdom.

Baseball has come a long way in that regard, but -- as Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated points out in this very fine story -- that it still has a long way to go when it comes to utilizing pitchers.

I thought about that article when the Brewers beat the Dodgers last night, scratching out two runs against closer Javy Guerra in the bottom of the ninth and winning on George Kottaras' two-run walkoff double. 

For L.A., which had won nine of its first 10 games, this wasn't a heartbreaking loss. It was more of a "We were due to lose one" or "They beat our best guy, so tip your cap to the other team" night.

In the eighth inning, Kenley Jensen shut down the heart of the Brewers' order, overpowering Ryan Braun along the way. Jensen didn't pitch the ninth, though, because that's how baseball works.

Closers pitch the ninth. They get the saves. They get the glory. They get bigger contracts. And, as Verducci points out, they often lose their jobs quickly.

Anybody remember Derrick Turnbow?

Exactly.

Baseball does need to reexamine the way it looks at pitching. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has proposed starting a game with relievers in the first three innings and then bringing in a starter -- the idea being that the best pitcher would be throwing in the highly-leveraged seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

The current system isn't working. Somebody will change the formula and everyone will copy it. It's just going to take someone with the gumption and job security to make a change.

 

 

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