Does MSU Win with Moneyball?


Well, I know the Diamond Dawgs don’t win with “money”ball. At least I hope they don’t or we’d be in for some trouble with the NCAA. But do they win with Moneyball? As in the book, the movie, the principles of sabermetrics?

I thought about this after I watched the movie Moneyball a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t read the book, but after a brief study of sabermetric principles this is what (I think) I know: don’t judge players by traditional (subjective) measures such as batting average, stolen bases, RBI, and home runs. Use things like on-base percentage and slugging percentage in an effort to gain what really matters — runs.

As far as pitching goes, I would have to say that E.R.A. is as good of a measure as you can get. I mean, if we’re figuring for runs, what is better than earned run average? You’ve got to figure a team built like MSU – excellent pitching and mediocre hitting – would be best suited for sabermetrics. If you’ve got some big boppers, you’re always one swing away from a run, and OB% isn’t the most critical factor.

MSU is 11th in the SEC in batting average at .253, 11th in hits (455), 10th in RBI (229), 10th in home runs (20), 11th in total bases (609). The offensive stats are not too impressive, State has the 2nd most strikeouts (378) as well. Now, the Dawgs are only 9th in OB% (.359), but they walk a lot (2nd/222) and get a lot of hit by pitches (2nd/89). They also don’t have too many stolen bases (9th/39), but they are 2nd in sac bunts (53) and 6th in sac flies (21).

I’m not so sure that John Cohen is applying sabermetrics with this team or not. I’m not even sure I fully understand all that sabermetrics entails. But maybe it says the Diamond Dawgs know who they are – and they are making the most of it. With all the injuries that have occurred (Brownlee, Bradford, Norris, Rea), and the youth on the team, State just isn’t a good hitting team. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be patient at the plate, find a way to get on base, and and do whatever they can to scratch across a run. With the great pitching staff MSU has – that may be all we need.

Here’s a quick look at the pitching success MSU has had in 2012: 1st in team E.R.A. (2.64), 3rd in opponent’s batting average (.239), 2nd in batters struck out (475), 3rd in saves (16 – Reed is 6th with 8, Holder is 10th with 6), 3rd in runners picked off (14), 1st in least home runs allowed (12). Mississippi State also turned 59 double plays this year – more than any other SEC team by seven.

Chris Stratton was the only 10 win pitcher in the SEC, and led the league with a 2.16 E.R.A. Kendall Graveman was 7th in E.R.A. and both Stratton and Graveman were in the top 6 in innings pitched.

SEC Tournament starts tomorrow vs. Arkansas. Despite all the setbacks, I’m hoping for big things this postseason.