This column appears in the Jan. 11 issue of ESPN The Magazine.
The best-selling book "Moneyball" made famous the Oakland Athletics' front office and its stat-driven philosophy. That same front office built a club that has finished a combined 33 games under .500 over the past three seasons, not the sort of performance that normally inspires a movie starring Brad Pitt.
But if you were to deem the strategy discussed by Michael Lewis in the 2003 book a failure because of Oakland's recent record, you'd be as wrong as those old-schoolers who rely only on wins to judge a pitcher's worth. Throughout baseball, a new breed of club executive is searching for ways to identify more precisely a player's value. Call these 21st-century hires -- and their more seasoned counterparts whose thinking has admirably evolved -- the Spawn of Moneyball.