Red Sox: Boston's Recipe for Success

Kyle JensenContributor IApril 10, 2008


Uh-oh, I used the "S" word. To baseball traditionalists (i.e. Joe Morgan), they would rather swear in church rather than using this word, especially talking baseball. Why is this method so heavily criticized though? It works, and it's been proven to work.

First, we have the Oakland Athletics. In the past decade, the A's have been one of the more successful teams in the regular season. The A's are also one of the poorest teams in the big leagues.

Why is this? Their general manager, Billy Beane, uses the method of sabermetrics to find players that are supposed to be as good as the players in the movie "Major League."

In 2001, the A's won 102 games. They had Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi, players they lost after that season to big market teams like the Red Sox and the Yankees.

How did they replace them? They found undervalued talent that could. Therefore, Billy Beane was able to keep his cost down and win 103 games in 2002. The biggest criticism for the A's? They apparently couldn't win a playoff game.

J.P. Ricciardi was Billy Beane's right-hand man. He took a job as a GM for the Blue Jays, and then proceeded to hire a Harvard Law graduate as his assistant.

The Blue Jays are in the same division as the Yankees and the Red Sox, so they keep coming in third at the end of the season behind those two teams. But they do keep finishing above .500 in the regular season.

Why can't they win the division? Well, there's a chance they never will.

And then there is the Boston Red Sox, 2004 and 2007 World Series Champions. After the 2002 season, the Red Sox almost got Billy Beane as their GM, but Billy turned the offer down. The Red Sox hired Theo Epstein, a Yale graduate that was as irrelevant to baseball as Harry Carey was to Microsoft.

Theo Epstein, a "sabermetrician," hired pioneer to sabermetrics Bill James as Special Advisor to the Red Sox.

Now, the Red Sox are definitely not a poor team. In actuality, they are one of the richest teams in baseball. So, the Red Sox have the science down to creating wins, and they have money.

You can almost say that science wins games, and money wins championships. But for that to be true, they would have to be together. You can't just have one or the other.

Billy Beane has science, and he is very good at utilizing it. What he doesn't have is money.

So the A's consistently have a top two team in the AL West during the regular season, but they haven't won the World Series since 1989 (Sandy Alderson was the GM of that championship team, Alderson is a sabermetrics proponent and Billy Beane's mentor).

The 2007 A's finished third in the AL West and only won 76 games. In 2002, when the A's won 103 games (they also won 20 straight games that year), the A's had the only front office that utilized sabermetrics.

There are more teams now that use sabermetrics, two of the teams are in the AL East: the Blue Jays and the Red Sox.

Since they use this method, they take some players away from Billy in the draft that he would probably also have liked, as well as with trades. The Blue Jays do not have near as much money as the Red Sox.

So if the Red Sox do not get a player they need, or a draft pick doesn't perform well in the minors, the Red Sox can just buy someone that the market says is better.

The Red Sox will be considered a dynasty, since they are the only rich team in baseball that utilizes a system that is proven to be successful through science.

The Yankees may buy their entire rosters every year, but because they don't create runs in the post-season, it will be harder for them to win a championship soon.

Sabermetrics predicts accurately how well a player will develop through the minors into the big leagues, and the Red Sox have money that will buy players that will help them even more.

The Red Sox will win another World Series within the next few years, and more after that. The Bruins had their dynasty teams, the Celtics had theirs, as well as the Patriots. Now it's the Red Sox's turn, and it makes me envious.