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Posts Tagged ‘moneyball’

Baseball story shows businesses how to compete with less

Moneyball hits theaters today.  If the book is any indicator, you’ll enjoy the movie and it will increase your baseball I.Q. – and your business I.Q. as well.

The story reminds me of the political campaign adage “if you can’t win at chess, turn the board over and play checkers.” That’s essentially what the Oakland A’s did in the 2002 armature draft.  They turned the board over and turned baseball on its head.

Money – or lack thereof – was the A’s problem (sound familiar?).  They simply could not afford the top-ranked talent.  Instead of accepting a fate of losing, they embraced an entirely new formula for evaluating baseball players.

For example, traditional scouts love 6’ 3,” left-handed high school pitchers because they could envision them becoming the next Chuck Finely.  But these kids did not have a track record for the team to study and often flamed out – flameouts the A’s could not afford.

Instead, the A’s took a research-based approach. They hired “computer geeks” to scour the records of college pitchers who had a track record of success. Short, overweight right-handed pitchers ranked higher on the A’s board because they were undervalued by other teams – meaning they required less money to sign.  Similar contrarian approaches applied to shortstops, outfielders and every other position.

The result:  the A’s acquired great talent in the 2002 draft at a fraction of the price other teams paid.  These other teams, who first ridiculed the A’s approach, soon hired their own geeks.

Like the A’s, Laer Pearce & Associates has had to turn a number of traditional practices over to compete and win with smaller PR budgets.  Glossy newsletters are now standard letters, and social media have replaced ad buys in some instances.  Changes like these have upped our wins and made us more effective for our clients.

One disclaimer:  Moneyball includes plenty of classic – well, tasteless – baseball humor that could cause you to lose the few of the I.Q. points you pick up from the business side of the story!