Saturday, January 9, 2010

Phugo Profile - Michael Oher, Michael Lewis and Billy Beane

2009 Topps #342 Michael Oher RC (click to enlarge)

Today the NFL Playoffs will commence. One of the teams I will be rooting for this weekend is the Baltimore Ravens. This years edition of the Ravens will feature at rookie Right Tackle named Michael Oher. As many of you know Oher is feature in the film "the Blind Side". I am sure that Oher will get plenty of coverage from the major networks if the Ravens go deep in the playoffs.

The Blind Side was based off a portion of the book "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game" by Michael Lewis who many of us Baseball Junkies know as the author of "Moneyball: The Art of Winning and Unfair Game"

Looking back I am not sure a lot of people got the right message out of Moneyball. As it turns out the A's were largely successful because of their stacked starting rotation of Hudson, Mulder, and Zito. This is mentioned in the book, but how the three landed in Oakland is somewhat marginalized in the book. On the other hand Lewis spends an entire chapter on Jeremy Brown who only ever played 5 games for the A's in 2006.

Here is a look at the A's 2002 Draft featured in Moneyball. The top two picks are Nick Swisher and Joe Blanton, both of whom have had pretty good careers albeit not with the A's. In fact the two faced each other in the 2009 World Series and each has a World Series ring (just not with the Athletics). After them the 02 Draft is pretty mediocre. Jonathan Papelbon would have been a good pick had the A's been able to sign him.

In the 02 Draft the Phils picked up Cole Hamels right behind Swisher. Hamels is unmentioned in Moneyball.

A lot of folks took away On Base Percentage as the way to win Baseball games, but that isn't what Moneyball was trying to point out. Lewis and Billy Beane were trying to find out what winning traits and stats that other teams were over and underpaying for. At the time Beane thought Major League Baseball was undervaluing players that got on base. But that has come more into vogue now and perhaps teams are overpaying for OBP - perhaps teams can now win by picking up cheap players that steal bases. It will always be in flux and I am sure a lot of GMs are looking at those numbers as they build there teams during this off-season.

Michael Lewis
Contrary to my analysis of Moneyball above I did enjoy the book as with all the Lewis books I have read including "the New New Thing", "Liars Poker", and "Trail Fever"

For The Collector
The Chrome version of the Michael Oher Card above has sold as high as $4.25 on ebay. His bowman RC has gone for as low as $1.24.

His Autos are going in the $30 to $50 range. An 09 Rookie Threads Letterman (Letter H #d to 30) went on Christmas day for $25.50. That was the cheapest available card auto. Similar letterman autos went as High as $55.00.

One last comment - while researching this I discovered a minor error on the Blind Side (book) wiki page and corrected discrepency. It is the first time I have ever edited a Wikipedia page and it was kind of a thrill.

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a thousand words

a thousand words
2008 World Champions