"It's going to take time," Antinoja says. "Don't think of it as a revolution. It's an evolution."
An entire brat pack of private-school-educated, khaki-wearing, fuzzy-cheeked intellectuals who never came close to playing a major league game are infiltrating front offices (page 64). They know the inferiority of batting average as the measure of a hitter ( Jason Giambi, for instance, was prolific last year—among the majors' top 10 in on-base percentage—despite a .250 average); why traditional stats, such as RBIs, can be as deceiving as a fun-house mirror ( Tony Batista, despite 99 RBIs last year, reached base on only 27% of his plate appearances); and how to calculate something called Raw Equivalent Average: (H + TB + 1.5 x (BB + HBP) + SB + SH + SF) divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH + SF + CS + SB/3).
Harvard grad Paul DePodesta, 31, who is the Dodgers' new general manager, last year gave a pointed speech to business executives, in which he spelled out a system for evaluating players based heavily on statistical information. The speech opened appropriately with a reference to Thomas Paine's Common Sense. DePodesta mocked the old myth-laden system, which he called Subjective 1.0. He said the baseball industry "is run by these old-time guys with leathery skin who chew tobacco," including scouts who "prized that tradition [of] no accountability at all in player evaluation."
"I was still waiting for the time I would be sitting in an organizational meeting," DePodesta said, referring to his tenure as an assistant G.M. in Oakland, "and I would ask a scout, 'Well, Bob, what do you think of this player?' and he would answer, 'Well, Paul, he had a good beat, I could dance to it, and I'd give it a nine!' "
Scouts, of course, recommended Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito—the star pitchers at the core of the As success—well before the franchise, as DePodesta says, "went after our scouting system" in a 2002 overhaul. Boston G.M. Theo Epstein, 30, considered one of the high priests of the new religion in baseball, still relies on 69-year-old Bill Lajoie for advice and admits that both disciplines are valuable. "Looking through two lenses to improve the focus" is how Epstein describes the use of subjective and quantitative analysis.
DePodesta's manifesto, however, carries the same emperor-has-no-clothes spirit of Paine's landmark pamphlet. Paine was 38 when in January 1776 he wrote that the colonies had no choice but full independence from the monarchy. "Time," Paine wrote, "makes more converts than reason." There was, he knew, no going back.