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An Economic Evaluation of the Moneyball Hypothesis


  • Jahn K. Hakes
  • Raymond D. Sauer


Michael Lewis's book, Moneyball , describes how an innovative manager working for the Oakland Athletics successfully exploited an inefficiency in baseball's labor market over a prolonged period of time. We evaluate Lewis's claims by applying standard econometric procedures to data on player productivity and compensation from 1999 to 2004. These methods support Lewis's argument that certain baseball skills were valued inefficiently in the early part of this period, and that this inefficiency was profitably exploited by managers with the ability to generate and interpret statistical knowledge. Consistent with Lewis's story and economic reasoning, as knowledge of the inefficiency became increasingly dispersed across baseball teams the market corrected the original mispricing.

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  • Jahn K. Hakes & Raymond D. Sauer, 2006. "An Economic Evaluation of the Moneyball Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 173-186, Summer.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:20:y:2006:i:3:p:173-186 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.20.3.173

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    1. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2008. "Experientia Docet: Professionals Play Minimax in Laboratory Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 71-115, January.
    2. Brown, William O & Sauer, Raymond D, 1993. "Does the Basketball Market Believe in the Hot Hand? Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1377-1386, December.
    3. McCormick, Robert E & Tollison, Robert D, 1984. "Crime on the Court," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(2), pages 223-235, April.
    4. Kahn, Lawrence M, 1993. "Free Agency, Long-Term Contracts and Compensation in Major League Baseball: Estimates from Panel Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 75(1), pages 157-164, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Pfann, Gerard A., 2009. "Markets for Reputation: Evidence on Quality and Quantity in Academe," IZA Discussion Papers 4610, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Thomas Peeters & Steven Salaga & Matthew Juravich, 2015. "Matching and Winning? The Impact of Upper and Middle Managers on Team Performance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 15-115/VII, Tinbergen Institute.
    3. Young Lee, 2011. "Is the small-ball strategy effective in winning games? A stochastic frontier production approach," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 51-59, February.
    4. Martin Schmidt, 2011. "Institutional Change and Factor Movement in Major League Baseball: An Examination of the Coase Theorem’s Invariance Principle," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 39(3), pages 187-205, November.
    5. Jahn Hakes & Chad Turner, 2011. "Pay, productivity and aging in Major League Baseball," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 61-74, February.
    6. Hamrick Jeff & Rasp John, 2011. "Using Local Correlation to Explain Success in Baseball," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 7(4), pages 1-29, October.
    7. Wiseman Frederick & Chatterjee Sangit, 2010. "Negotiating Salaries through Quantile Regression," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports, De Gruyter, vol. 6(1), pages 1-15, January.
    8. Justin M. Ross & Robert R. Dunn, 2007. "The Income Tax Responsiveness Of The Rich: Evidence From Free Agent Major League Baseball All-Stars," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 25(4), pages 639-648, October.
    9. Bill Gerrard, 2014. "Achieving transactional efficiency in professional team sports: the theory and practice of player valuation," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics of Professional Football, chapter 12, pages 189-202 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Fort, Rodney & Maxcy, Joel & Diehl, Mark, 2016. "Uncertainty by regulation: Rottenberg׳s invariance principle," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 454-467.
    11. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:2:p:1104-1118 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Stephen Shmanske, 2007. "Austrian themes, data, and sports economics," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 20(1), pages 11-24, March.
    13. Kelly M. Hastings & Frank Stephenson, 2015. "The NBA’s Maximum Player Salary and the Distribution of Player Rents," International Journal of Financial Studies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(2), pages 1-9, March.
    14. repec:eee:csdana:v:119:y:2018:i:c:p:19-38 is not listed on IDEAS

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