What’s The Best Way To Build a Major League Baseball Team?

by Rachel Baker on April 28, 2014

Here is an informative article from fivethirtyeight.com that looks at the best ways to build a MLB team. This should be of particular interest to NY Mets fans, since Sandy Alderson seems to be taking his sweet time building a winning team.

“Moneyball” told the story of a plucky Oakland A’s team that exploited market inefficiencies, overcame the loss of several excellent players and went on to have one of the best seven-year runs in franchise history. Today’s A’s have won two straight AL West titles and are in the hunt for a third. They also have fewer elite homegrown players than their predecessors did a decade ago — even the most hardcore baseball fans would have a tough time naming a single A’s superstar. Given their lack of top talent, and the extremely subtle methods they’ve used to build a winner, you could argue that today’s A’s are even more “Moneyball” than their forebears were.

The A’s lack of reliance on star players, combined with their recent success, has engendered numerous articles singing their praises and extolling the virtue of a team that uses balance, depth and versatility (and not star power) to win games. Hell, even the defending champion Boston Red Sox — a big-revenue ballclub with a $155 million Opening Day payroll — embraced the power of roster balance and depth to win it all.

It’s easy to praise that kind of balanced approach as shrewd. It’s equally easy to denigrate teams that spend a boatload of money on a few famous veterans, leaving the rest of the team fighting for the last few dollars left. But is one tack really more effective than the other? If you want to build a winning baseball team, which strategy works best — a balanced roster, or one made up of stars and scrubs?

To answer this question, we used a favorite tool of economists: the Gini coefficient. Typically, the Gini coefficient measures income distribution among a large group of people. We can apply the same principle to roster construction, by using wins above replacement. The Gini coefficient runs on a scale of 0 to 1, with the most unequal distribution coming closer to 1, and more balanced distribution shading closer to 0. A stars-and-scrubs roster would have more WAR variance among players and thus a higher Gini score. A balanced roster would have players bunched closer together by WAR, and thus a lower Gini score.

Read the Full article:
http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/whats-the-best-way-to-build-a-major-league-baseball-team/

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