RED SOX OWNERS KEEN ON STATISTICAL ANALYSIS FROM BILL JAMES BUT WARY THAT THE YANKEES, IN THEIR TYPICAL WAY, WILL OUTSPEND THEM IN THE SAME NUMBERS GAME -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY ON CBS
James, a Statistical Consultant for the Sox, Would Choose Mets' David Wright
As the First Player on his Dream Team
Baseball has always been a game about statistics, something the Boston Red Sox took to a new level when they hired baseball statistics guru Bill James in 2002. His "Sabermetrics" analysis of players' stats is a system Red Sox owners believe is an integral part of a winning formula that has brought two World Series trophies to Boston since he arrived. However, more teams are getting into the act, say Sox owners, who now worry that their dreaded enemy the New York Yankees will get into the same game with their always-bigger wallet. Morley Safer reports on James, his influence on the Red Sox and a bitter rivalry heating up early in a 60 MINUTES story to be broadcast Sunday March 30 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"[James'] reputation had preceded him," says Larry Lucchino, a partner in the Red Sox. "So we knew we were getting a guy who was unusual and I thought it was a giant step forward," he says. His partner in the Sox, Tom Werner, believes James' brand of analysis is crucial now. "The truth is, Morley, this is a very sophisticated business these days....When Larry and I first came into the business, the general manager relied fairly much on gut instincts...we've taken a much more systematic approach, which really comes from Bill," he tells Safer.
But everybody's getting into this act, says Lucchino, especially the New York Yankees, known in Boston as the "Evil Empire." "[The Yankees] are [utilizing an intense scrutiny of statistics] but there are several teams in baseball that are doing it," Lucchino says. "But the Yankees always tend to spend a little more money at whatever it is they're doing. So, we're concerned about our competition," he tells Safer.
The Sabermetrics James brings to the Sox as a consultant is defined loosely as analyzing baseball through objective evidence. He is credited with being among the first to look deeper into the numbers. Beyond a hitter's average is the amount of walks he draws, which not only hike his on-base percentage but also wears down pitchers. Pitchers are judged not just on wins versus losses but on the amount of home runs, walks and strikeouts.
There are a multitude of things to consider in a ballplayer that make him worth his salary and an asset to a team. Who would James most want to see on his dream team? "David Wright," he answers without thinking. "Because he does everything I like and he's very young."
Wright, 25, the New York Mets superstar third baseman, has his most productive years ahead of him and the Mets have him wrapped up under contract until 2013.