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Free Content An Economic Evaluation of the Moneyball Hypothesis

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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.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2006

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  • The Journal of Economic Perspectives (JEP) attempts to fill a gap between the general interest press and most other academic economics journals. The journal aims to publish articles that will serve several goals: to synthesize and integrate lessons learned from active lines of economic research; to provide economic analysis of public policy issues; to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas among the fields of thinking; to offer readers an accessible source for state-of-the-art economic thinking; to suggest directions for future research; to provide insights and readings for classroom use; and to address issues relating to the economics profession.
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