The Best 15 Moneyball Teams in Sports
What do you do when you have a team and no money to spend? Well, you better get creative, and fast.
Moneyball was the name of the game, and sabermetrics was its close technical friend. Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane wanted to change the way that people thought about how a team should be assembled.
From the players drafted to the ones you let walk, he knew that they game was not fair. Small market teams couldn't afford the luxuries of the Yankees or Red Sox, but he had a few tricks up his sleeve.
Here are the teams across sports that are beating an "unfair game" with innovative thinking and a little luck.
15. Texas Rangers
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Projected number of wins: 91
Payroll: $ 92,299,264
The Rangers are a team that has been built around young arms from the farm system and a middle infield of Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler.
After making it to the World Series in 2010, the team is on the rise. They are 6th in the game in on base percentage, an important stat in sabermetrics, and third in OPS.
14. Denver Nuggets
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The Nuggets have a small payroll for now, because they are yet to re-sign their best player, Nene Hilario, or acquire other players in the locked out offseason.
Even so, the team turned an unhappy, and expensive Carmelo Anthony into Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, the Knicks 2014 first-round draft pick, the Warriors' 2012 second-round pick, the Warriors' 2013 second-round pick and $3 million in cash.
This is small ball at its finest.
13. Washington Nationals
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Projected number of wins: 77
One day, the Nationals will have to pay Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper a lot of money. For the time being, they have went out and acquired cheaper options while relying on trading talented, overpriced veterans for prospects.
Last season, closer Matt Capps was flipped for Wilson Ramos, the catcher of the future. The team brought on outfield stud Rick Ankiel and Lance Nix, a patient, veteran hitter.
This has turned into a good season for a perennially horrendous team.
12. Cincinnati Reds
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Projected number of wins: 80
Joey Votto and the gang won their division in 2010 behind good pitching and even better hitting. They are relying on a core of young players, led by Votto to carry the load in a very competitive division.
The team ranks eight in both OPS and OBP, a sign of good hitters that like to work the count.
11. Cleveland Indians
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Projected number of wins: 82
The tribe are back and we didn't see it coming. Over the last few seasons they have unloaded big names such as C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, and Victor Martinez in exchange for a bunch of kids that we knew nothing about.
Years later, the team has used the model of buying low and selling high to stay competitive despite a bit of a rough stretch.
10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The team has the second most cap space in the NFL and has committed the least amount of money to their prayers from 2004-2008.
Now, behind a very young core of Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, and LeGarrette Blount, the team iss et up for success with room to grow.
9. Oakland Athletics
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Projected number of wins: 74
The architects of sabermetrics, the Oakland A's are using the same formula now, that they did in the early 2000s.
The cornerstone of their teams have been good young pitching and veterans who prefer to get on base than hit home runs. This has not been very successful for them over the last few seasons, but there has been a litany of talent that has flowed through Oakland over the last five seasons.
8. Oklahoma City Thunder
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The Thunder got better the smart way. Instead of going out and signing big name free agents, they drafted well, made smart trades, and re-signed their own superstars at discount prices.
The team that made it the Western Conference Finals has shown that they are going to be a contender for years to come, while keeping their original model intact.
7. Toronto Blue Jays
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Projected number of wins: 82
It is not easy being the fourth best team in a division that has three other perennial World Series contenders.
But, the Jays have gotten better the right way. The team has grown its farm system and invested in talents that others didn't believe in (Jose Bautista).
They have young pitching and some good power bats in the middle of the lineup. They would be one of the teams that greatly benefits from an expanded playoff format.
6. Pittsburgh Pirates
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Projected number of wins: 75
Just a few weeks ago, the lowly Pirates were leading the NL Central and taking the world by storm. They have since fallen out of the playoff race, but in the process have changed the mindset of many doubters.
After many questionable trades over the years, it looks as if the team has found the young group of players that they want to build around. It also doesn't hurt that their pitching staff's ERA is 13th best in the league.
5. Florida Marlins
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Projected number of wins: 73
This is the quintessential youth movement team. They always seem to have the best young players, who are then flipped for younger talent once they hit salary arbitration.
This formula has worked for them, culminating in two World Series Championships in their 18 year existence.
If not for losing 17 of 18 games in the middle of the season, they team might be a Wild Card contender.
It looks like they have found their next core of talent that could lead them to another title.
4. Arizona Diamonbacks
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Projected number of wins: 90
With the sixth lowest payroll in the game, most Diamonbacks fans are surprised that the team is fighting for a division title.
But, behind the play of five tool player Justin Upton, bargain closer J.J. Putz, and young talented pitchers, the team is in absolute contention.
This is a team on the rise that can be good for the next five seasons if they are able to keep their nucleus.
3. Atlanta Braves
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Projected number of wins: 96
The presumed NL Wild Card winner, the Atlanta Braves have shown that you can win from the fruit of the farm. Freddie Freeman, Jason Heyward, and Jair Jurrjens are the present and the future.
Management has been able to keep salary low, while keeping talent levels high. This formula has led to the third best team ERA in the bigs, and a potential playoff birth.
2. Tampa Bay Rays
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Projected number of wins: 88
They have the second lowest payroll and are on pace to win 88 games. This mind-boggling stat has made them the best Moneyball team in the league.
If it were not for the two monster teams in front of them, the Yankees and Red Sox, with big checkbooks, the Rays would be perennial division winnings.
Without the funds of their division rivals, they have had to let top talents such as Carl Crawford and Matt Garza walk. It appears that the team is well grounded and has a deep farm system.
They have perfected the craft and exemplify everything sabermetrics preaches.
1. New England Patriots
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The Patriots are the best team in the world when it comes to maximizing talent, stockpiling draft picks, and letting old players walk.
Bill Belichick has become a master at using players all over the field, and making matchups difficult for other teams. They have been able to stay successful by avoiding big contracts on players that they feel have the same production as undrafted rookies.
This formula has led to AFC East dominance and hair loss from every Jets fan in America