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Monday, July 04, 2005

James Part III

Here is part III of Baseball Digest Daily's interview with Bill James. In this installment James says in reference to the previous installment regarding bunting:

"To me, the arguments against the sacrifice bunt are unconvincing. Base stealing helps you at a 75% success rate, hurts you at 55%, so the attempt very often IS worth it. What DOESN’T pay often is putting a player in the lineup because he can steal bases. A player who steals 65 bases and is caught 10, 15 times...sure, that helps you. But if you put Dave Collins in the lineup rather than Oscar Gamble because Dave Collins can steal bases, then that hurts you."

And this I think is closer to the heart of the message of Moneyball and Weaver's 10 laws than simply saying you're never going to sacrifice or steal bases. When Chuck Tanner installed Omar Moreno in the leadoff spot for the Braves in 1986, he did so apparently thinking that speed in the leadoff spot by itself somehow generated runs. More specifically, he probably concluded intuitively that Moreno's speed compensated for his failure to get on base by allowing him to put himself in scoring position more often. It did not and does not because of the opportunity cost of those additional outs that Moreno consumed. Speed is a strategic weapon you can use once you reach base. It seems obvious now but it wasn't ten to twenty years ago.

James also makes some interesting comments about the recent draft and his participation for the Red Sox. Great stuff and thanks to Joe Hamrahi for sharing the interview.

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