In 2002, Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane had little money to spend on players, and his free agents were fleeing to richer teams. So, to take on the league’s better-funded kingpins, he combined statistical analysis with a dose of creative thinking. The story was famously detailed by Michael Lewis in his 2003 book, Moneyball, and the movie (starring Brad Pitt) comes out in September. Beane turned the struggling A’s around with the help of a computer nerd (played by Jonah Hill) and sabermetrics techniques pioneered by statistician Bill James. Here are a few of Beane’s key hires and the actors who play them.
Played by: Ari Zagaris
What other teams saw: A pitcher with a limp—the result of two club feet only partially corrected by surgery.
What Beane saw: A mean screwball that totally obliterated left-handed hitters.
Played by: Chris Pratt
What other teams saw: A catcher with a busted elbow and a so-so home run record.
What Beane saw: A guy who could consistently get on base—something Beane’s number crunchers calculated was three times as important as power hitting.
Played by: Stephen Bishop
What other teams saw: An aging player who was gradually losing his ability to hit home runs.
What Beane saw: A seasoned player who had the eye and the willingness to get himself on base by drawing walks—lots of walks.
Played by: Casey Bond
What other teams saw: Weird submarine-style delivery that made him look like “he belonged in a slow-pitch softball game,” as Lewis put it.
What Beane saw: Great stats. If no one can hit the pitch, who cares if your knuckles scrape the ground?