Moneyball: The must watch movie: Key Learning for every Aspiring Data Analyst and Data Scientist

Have you watched the movie Moneyball? No, then please watch if you are an aspiring Data Analyst or Data Scientist.

Today I am here to discuss about key learning on MoneyBall released in 2011 in US and Worldwide. This movie is considered as one of the must watch movie if you are an aspiring Analyst or a Data Scientist.

MoneyBall movie is the true story of Oakland’s Athletics known as Oakland’s A general Manager Billy Beane role played by Brad Pitt who challenges the old conventional system of selecting Base Ball Players for his team. He instead takes help of Yale’s Educated Economist Peter Brand role played by Jonah Hill Peter Analyzed the different baseball players data using Analytics. He gave the list of undervalued players who were there in the team’s budget and can become the wining team in the league championship.

I will discuss about this movie in 7 different components and in each component what are the key leanings for you.

1. Oaklands A’s challenge

2. Billy Beans Strategy

3. Players Data

4. Process to implement Decision by Billy Beans

5. Technology Used By Peter Brand

6. People

7. Communication by Peter Brand to Billy Beans

Lets begin

1.Oaklands A’s challenge:

Billy Beane the General Manager says 

“There are rich teams and there are poor team and there is 50 feet crap and then there is us. Its an Unfair Game.“

In 2002, the team lost 3 of their Main Players Giambi, Damon and Isringhausen to Boston Red Sox and NewYork Yankees and were in great trouble. When Billy Beanes asked for more Money to recruit new players, the owner refused to increase the budget. The team had a tight budget of around $38 million dolllors against Rich team Budget with $120 million dollors.

Key Learning for you: 

Being an Analyst it’s very important for you to understand what challenge or problem you are going to Solve.

2. Billy Beans Strategy:

Billy Beanes Met with Peter Brand an Economics Graduate from Yale University in a meeting. Peter did not believe in the conventional method used by the baseball scouts to evaluate and select the players. Peter Brand the Economist said 

“Your goal shouldn’t be to buy players. Your goal should be to buy wins. In order to buy wins you need to buy runs.”

Billy hired Peter as an Assistant GM who then used Predictive Analytics to find values in the players which nobody could see and came up with:

i) Projected Win% which Oaks can get if they scored certain number of runs where win% can be calculated as

Win% = (Runs Scored²) /(Runs Scored² + Runs Allowed²)

ii) Players were overlooked for variety of biased reasons and perceived flaws such as age, appearance, personality, average or ugly looking girlfriend etc, Peter used the formula given by Bill James the Mathematician to score the baseball players. Higher the score better the player. Scores were calculated as follows.

Score = (Hits + Walks — Caught stealing)*(Total Bases + 0.7 Stolen Bases)/(At Bats + Walks +Caught Stealing)

Key Learning for you: 

You must ask right questions while doing analysis. You must have an out of box thinking capabilities and should be able to challenge the conventional methods and give innovative solutions which may not exist till date.

3. Players Data:

Peter Said

“Out of 20,000 notable players for us to consider I believe there is a championship team of 25 people that we can afford because everyone else in the baseball undervalues them like an island of misfit toys.”

Peter talks about a Player named Chad Bradford, who is the relief pitcher in the movie. He said he is the most under- valued players in the baseball. His defect is that he throws funny. No body in the big leagues cares about him because he looks funny.

This guy could be best pitcher for our team. He is the most effective relief pitchers in entire baseball. This guy real value would be $3 million a year but we can get him for $237,000 ($0.2 million).

Key Learning for you: 

You must be able to explain your analysis with the data available and reject the myths.

4. Process to implement Decision by Billy Beans:

The Process of Decision Making of Recruiting the New Players and replacing with the Star Players was difficult one. Billy had to face lot of criticism from inside the team from scouts to team coach and from outside from media to critics. Everyone thought that Billy has become mad and critics even said that he has bought the tickets of Titanic.

But in reality what differentiated the Oaklands A’s under Billy Beane was the commitment to an evidence-based approach and a preparedness to question conventional wisdom rather than relying on gut instinct. He was so much convinced with Analytics led Decision making that he even took in confidence his team owner and said to have faith in his work.

He said to his team owner that he would get to see the winning matches by July 2002. The same thing happened. In between he also took players in confidence and motivated them time to time to mingle with each other and perform well.

Key Learning for you: 

You must have believe in what you and your team do and must be consistent with your work.

5. Technology Used By Peter Brand:

Peter Brand wrote a computer program to do year on year projection and he did scoring for each player. Time to Time he also visualized the performance of each player using Data visualization tool. He discussed with Billy and Players about how the performance of players could be improved, and which line up of players could lead to winning matches.

Key Learning for you: 

You must have knowledge of computer programming, statistics, business, and excellent mathematical and logical reasoning skills.


In the movie it was seen that the Peter Brand was an Economics Graduate with Excellent skills in handling numbers, He was also well versed with Computer Programming and had excellent Presentation and Communication skill.

Key Learning for you: 

It does not matter you are from which back ground. but if you are a graduate who want to have career in Analytics and Data Science and if you are good with numbers and you are open to learn then you can start learning now the skills required.

7.Communication by Peter Brand to Billy Beans:

Peter Brand was Excellent in explaining his findings to GM Billy Beanes. That’s why recommendations given by Peter were easily accepted by Billy. Billy then communicated this to different stakeholders, got the new players recruited and coached.

Key Learning for you: 

You must have excellent communication and convincing skills because you have to present your findings to different stakeholders and management team. Once they get convinced then only right decisions can be implemented.

Final Outcome:

  1. Oakland A’s had a record of 20 consecutive wins in a row in the 103 years of Baseball history.

2. Billy Beanes was called by Boston Red Sox. He was offered GM position with then highest salary of $12,500,000 ($12.5 million). Although Billy Beanes turned down this offer and he chose to stay with Oakland A’s.

Key Learning for you: 

Data Analytics and Data Science can make you take right decisions. You need have patience and perseverance to get the desired outcome and yes it can get you paid top salaries as well.

End Notes:

In 2008, 5 NBA teams had an Analytics team; but by 2016, all 30 teams had own data scientists on board. From football to tennis, golf to even little league baseball, Analytics and Data Science are now changing the game. Do you know that our Indian Cricket team also uses Data Analytics and Data Science?

Indian Cricket Team has on boarded Performance Analyst in their team who uses Analytics and Data Science to Analyze the Players data to give solutions such as:

  1. Players Talent Identification, Recruitment or Scouting of Players for the Team
  2. Players Performance Data Analysis
  3. Data Analysis for Workload, Injury Management, Well being & Conditioning of Players
  4. Players lining up for Different Matches Against different team etc

If you feel that this article is informative please like and share this article with your friends. For your information link of Moneyball back is given below if you want you can purchase from amazon website:


Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Hard Copy:

Moneyball — The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

About the Author

Dyuti is an Analytics Enthusiast. She is an MBA in Finance and B.E in Computer Science. She has years of experience in the field of Analytics and is also the Co-founder, CEO, Nikhil Analytics. She has prior worked with companies like HCL Technologies, Deutsche Bank ,WNS, Reliance Capital etc.

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