What is Moneyball?

Ok so I read a lot of complaints about our recruitment and retention strategy and the word, Moneyball gets thrown around a lot. But what exactly is Moneyball?

A quick Google definition suggests that Moneyball "is a term used to describe a data-driven approach to recruitment and team decisions on the transfer market - leading to improved on-field results."

Every club uses analysis these days. Des Hasler apparently can't get enough of stats and analysis. I'm sure BA also uses analysis but anyone critical of his 'chasing the collision' game plan surely can't accuse BA of being overly analytical. 

The movie, Moneyball shows the Oakland A's assembling a roster for many millions cheaper than the big baseball clubs, focusing exclusively on metrics and stats in order to compete. Given that every NRL club spends (allegedly) the exact same amount of money on their roster I can't see how the Eels can be accused of playing Moneyball??? 
Every NRL club is trying to extract as much value as possible out of its $9.6m cap. Unlike baseball, where the term was first used, no NRL club is trying to build a cheap roster and still compete with the big clubs. That's not even legal under the NRL rules. Getting the very biggest bang for your buck is not Moneyball. It's the unavoidable reality we work in. Thankfully we also now have young players emerging who are ready to step up (finally). 

Now don't misunderstand me. The Eels have made some recruiting errors. Reed being by far the biggest and most unexpected loss. However every player we have lost has gone for much bigger dollars elsewhere. It an environment of higher demand (17th team) all clubs are vulnerable to losing experienced players. And that's exactly what is happening not merely at the Eels but every Top 8 club. 
So definitely feel free to criticise recruitment and retention decisions but the term Moneyball simply doesn't make sense. 

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  • Perhaps the use of the term "hardball" has led some to inadvertently confuse it with "moneyball".

    • But that's still not what Moneyball is. 
      Moneyball from the movie isn't offering overs to established stars. It's assembling a roster of cheap misfits and therefore having a roster that is on paper worth significantly less than top sides. 
      If the Eels only spent $6m on the cap and still made the finals THAT would be Moneyball. 

      • It's more finding players that no one values, and using them, because they are effective, and have hidden value.

        Think of Manu Mau from 2014. That was moneyball. A hidden gem from NSW cup that would be cheap, but his production was far higher than his contract would suggest. 

      • Yeah the Norman, Sandow examples were not moneyball. They were the opposite - chasing the market and panicking to overpay a player.

        I would argue the Bulldogs landed a good deal for Reed though.

    • Reed was definitely NOT a moneyball situation for the Bulldogs. They paid market value in a hot market, and if you take into consideration stats like how many games he's missed due to injury, propensity for injury recurrance etc I'd say that the Bulldogs have potentially paid overs.

      Definitely not moneyball. There is no latent value in Reeds offer from the Bulldogs. I'm not saying it was a bad decision, but it was definitely valued correctly or slightly over - not moneyball.

      Ice on the other hand - we are paying $150k for someone who has added extreme value. In 2023 the Tigers are paying $600k for that same person. That was moneyball by us - we unlocked latent value. And now it's market payment or slight overs by the Tigers. 

      • I completely disagree. I think Reed is special.

        If the Dogs paid him 700k, and he goes on to be an MVP candidate, he is worth more than 700k, and they got him for a steal. Sure, it's not cheap, but I reckon by the time he's 28, with a rising salary cap, he will be worth more than 700k.

        They landed him for 4 years, his prime. His best years. Spin it anyway you want, Reed will come back to bite us. Hodgson is the epitome of a bad deal. Buying a guy turning 34. Jesus christ.

        • I'm not saying it won't come back to bite us. I'm not commenting on what WE did. I'm saying the Dogs move wasn't moneyball - it was paying market value. Sure IF Reed dramatically raises his ceiling then I'll stand corrected. But that's a bloody big "if" at 700k a year. 

          I agree Hodgson is not a good buy.

          • Well said.

            It's clear I rate Reed much higher than most. To me, he already raised his ceiling in 2021. I'm willing to bet he will continue to do so, which is where my position comes from. The salary cap rising is another factor that will make his deal more of a bargain over time, maybe not in 2023, but by 2026 he will be considered a bargain.

            When I did the 2021 stats, Reed was actually the player that surprised me most. He was outstanding, and I'm surprised most don't see it.

        • Disagree, if we get Hodgo sooner the deal is a beauty - Hodgo would bring more to the table than Reed.

          • If we could have BOTH then now you are talking.

            Reed at 9 with Hodgson at 14 is a wet dream.

            However, it will never happen.

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