Monday, October 3, 2011

Moneyball Review: The 3 Unsung Heroes

A big reason the Moneyball A's of 2002 (and even the 2001 A's) were successful was because of their pitching. The movie focuses mainly on the bullpen when it comes to pitching, but the Athletics had an extremely talented starting staff, headlined by 3 young pitchers: Zito, Mulder, and Hudson. 2001 and 2002 were the first full seasons for Barry Zito (the first round pick in the 1999 draft), and he threw well over 200 innings both years. In 2001 he posted a 4.3 WAR and -1.578 PE. In 2002, he had a -1.036 PE and a 6.5 WAR. Because minimum salary was less than it is now, he posted a mind-blowing 49 WASP (you could even double his salary to adjust for salary changes and its still 99, which would make him one of the top in the league). Mark Mulder was the first round pick for the A's in 1998, and 2001 and 2002 were also his first two full years in the Majors. He was really impressive too, posting a 9.5 WAR, 109 WASP, and 1.129 PE over that time. Tim Hudson was the 6th round pick of the A's in 1997, and had already started 53 games by the time 2001 rolled around. In 2001 and 2002, Hudson was spectacular, posting an 11 WAR, 127 WASP, and -0.494 PE. The story of Moneyball is great, and Billy Beane changed the way many teams operate and forever revolutionized the way we evaluate baseball, but we aren't even talking about Pena over Hatteberg, Chad Bradford, and Rincon if the A's didn't have Zito, Mulder, and Hudson. They were high round draft picks that the Athletics hit on, giving them great starting pitching (and as the Rays are showing), that is how to best build a team with no money. You have to draft well, and you have to have starting pitching.

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