Billy Beane is taking on a new role as an advisor to a UEFA soccer club.
Billy Beane, the architect of the Oakland Athletics’ overachieving baseball franchise over the last 15 years, is taking his expertise across the pond, sort of.
Beane, it was announced on Thursday, will fill the role of “club advisor” for Alkmaar Zwembad “De Hout”, a soccer (futbol) club in the Netherlands.
Beane was the primary character portrayed in the documentary-type book, Moneyball: The Art of winning an unfair game by Michael Lewis in 2004. Lewis’ work documented a year in the life of Beane and his Oakland Athletics during the 2002 season.
The book was turned into a movie, just Moneyball, featuring Brad Pitt in the leading role of Beane. Both book and movie portray Beane as somewhat of a psychopath, and even more as a control freak.
The main premise was Beane being a general manager unafraid to take chances and think outside the box. By thinking out of the box, Beane and his staff compiled a roster in 2002 devoid of big names who would go on to claim the American League Wild Card.
“Moneyball” as Lewis deemed it was based on the idea that baseball can be seen in much the same way as any other business. There are “market inefficiencies” essentially begging to be taken advantage of by a wise manager.
Beane, along with his most trusted advisor, Paul DePodesta, realized they could make up for the loss of slugging first baseman Jason Giambi and do-it-all leadoff hitter and centerfielder Johnny Damon by adding a number of players with similar traits but wouldn’t cost near the price.
They elected to sign such players as Terrence Long and Scott Hatteberg, almost eschewing defense for a market inefficiency–the ability to simply get on base, as well as see a high quantity of pitches while at the plate.
Henceforth, Beane and his new advisors, have come up with new formulas and found new market inefficiencies. And though all of baseball (mostly) now subscribes to on-base percentage as an important tool for evaluating hitters, Beane and his staff have found creative ways to stay ahead of the pack.
For that reason, Alkmaar believes Beane can be effective as a club advisor to their soccer club. “We’ve had a lot of contact with Billy in the last few months. His knowledge and ideas are impressive”, said AZ’s director of soccer Earnest Stewart. He added, “Also Billy’s soccer network is impressive.”
Almost certainly AZ is primarily looking for Beane to help them think through how to apply advanced metrics (known in baseball as “sabermetrics”) to the game of soccer in order to gain an advantage in comprising their roster and winning on the field.
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