A predominant theme in Michael Lewis’ book “Moneyball” was Oakland using statistical analysis to contradict “standard” baseball strategy. Most notably, the A’s essentially stopped trying to steal bases after they decided the risk of stealing bases outweighed the reward. Oakland started a trend which lead to a league-wide decline in stolen base numbers.
But perhaps followers of Oakland’s strategy should reconsider. As power numbers have decreased in the post-steroid era, Oakland’s number of stolen bases increased rapidly, with the team adding players like Rajai Davis and Cliff Pennington to their starting lineup. Next season, Oakland plans to add basestealer Coco Crisp.
By abandoning the strategy they helped popularize, Oakland remains on the “cutting edge” of baseball strategy. The risk/reward formula has shifted, but many teams are still following the “2005” gameplan. Therefore, Oakland apparently believes players who steal bases are available at below-market prices.