In 2002, Oakland Athletics, a team in the US’s baseball league, Major League Baseball, adopted a new strategy under general manager Billy Beane. Far poorer than marquee teams such as the New York Yankees, the Athletics switched from depending on the wisdom and instincts of coaches and scouts, as well as conventional statistical measures of performance, to find and field undervalued players based on new methods of rigorous statistical analysis. It worked; the team was able to match its fancied rivals. A book and a popular film called Moneyball followed.
The player auction for the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) season, held on Monday, followed the usual pattern: vast sums of money splashed out on players whose past performances don’t always justify the price, and lower profile players who might have been handy left on the sidelines. Not that all the buys were irrational, of course—the teams’ brain trusts do their homework.
But here’s an intriguing thought: what would IPL teams based on the Moneyball kind of analysis look like?