A's look like 90-win team

Updated: January 7, 2005, 10:17 AM ET
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
Just looking at the Oakland Athletics' roster, you might not guess it. But Billy Beane is playing moneyball again.

Nearly two years after Michael Lewis's Moneyball was published, it's still a touchstone. You see and hear it referenced in magazines, newspapers, on television. Everybody in baseball has either read the book, or brags about not reading it. And yet I wonder how many people actually get the book.

As Lewis told the story, Athletics general manager Billy Beane concluded 1) that on-base percentage is the most important statistic in baseball (which it is), and 2) that, in a happy coincidence, nearly every other organization undervalued on-base percentage. This made it fairly easy for Beane to acquire, for relative pittances, OBP stalwarts like Randy Velarde, John Jaha, Matt Stairs, and Jeremy Giambi. No, these guys couldn't catch the ball unless you gave them advance warning and they didn't have to move their feet. But they put runs on the board, and they were cheap. And that's still what a lot of baseball guys think Moneyball's all about. Cheap, slow, white guys doing their best impression of a championship Slo-Pitch Softball team.