Saturday, September 21, 2013

Moneyball and the Lucas Critique



I liked numbers and economics, and Lewis is a great storyteller, so this book is recommended for lay readers of both the sporty and nerdy persuasions.

Reading this book, however, made me think of the Lucas critique: “ Given that the structure of an econometric model consists of optimal decision rules of economic agents, and that optimal decision rules vary systematically with changes in the structure of series relevant to the decision maker, it follows that any change in policy will systematically alter the structure of econometric models.”

Basically, there was a very small window where changing the paradigm on what is important in a baseball player and his statistics would give a team an advantage on the field.  Unlike the market twhere you have 250 trading days a year, you only have one draft a year, so there is a chance that the underdog can win.

The Oakland baseball organization had some success with this smarts and analytics over just looking at guys.  But they didn’t win the ultimate prize, and then a more powerful organization came and took the methods and leveraged their money plus the analytics into a championship.  Once this happened, the methods have spread and become utilized much more widely so there is no longer an edge to looking at a player’s defensive WAR because everyone looks at that and it is discussed in the sports pages.