Downing Could Be A 'Moneyball' Buy | F365 Says
In some respects, Downing is a 'Moneyball' signing. Those of you that have read Michael Lewis's book will know that this approach is based on statistical objectivity, rather than subjective gut feelings or opinions. Instead of looking at a player's physical attributes, Billy Beane - the man around whom the book is based - would pay more attention to his statistics. Indeed, Beane would sometimes select players who his scouts actively advised against, as long as their numbers stacked up.No, no, no.
Beane adopted the 'sabermetrics' (a method of analysing baseball statistics objectively) approach with the Oakland A's, a baseball team towards the lower end of the financial spectrum in the MLB, because every dollar had to be spent wisely. Liverpool aren't exactly in the paupers section, but their resources are much more limited than many in the Premier League, so the same theory applies. John W. Henry and the Boston Red Sox won a couple of World Series on the back of that approach, and it looks like the theory is being carried over to Anfield.
In Downing, Liverpool are buying a statistically reliable footballer, who should in theory help get the best out of their current resources.
Downing is NOT a "moneyball signing". As fashionable as it is to try to attribute that approach to Liverpool's new ownership growth that hugely misinterprets what moneyball means and what they are actually doing.
Look, it's no secret what their plan is. The article even makes the clearest case yet for what that is:
Perhaps the only attacking player that one imagines being a permanent fixture in that system is Andy Carroll, largely because at present Liverpool don't have another centre-forward capable of leading the line...But the contention that Downing is a moneyball signing because he crosses the ball doesn't hold up because again, that's not moneyball. First of all, that's not finding hidden value in a player based on advanced statistics as opposed to what the naked eye reveals. That's just plain old-fashioned naked-eye work. Downing is a winger who crosses the ball a lot. I could tell you that and I can barely open a spreadsheet, much less interpret one. This is just team building 101.
Therefore, much of Dalglish's strategy will be geared around exploiting Carroll's talents. It doesn't take a tactical genius to spot that much of Carroll's best work at Newcastle was done with Joey Barton pinging crosses onto his piratey head.
Second, that's overlooking the "value" part of the moneyball equation.
[I]t's hard to contest that turning Downing into N'Zogbia and £10.5M doesn't represent a fantastic bit of business http://sbn.to/om9NNp
Liverpool overpaid for Downing. Explain it however you like - he's English, he solves a need, etc - 20million for Downing is over-the-odds. And it happened because it's SO CLEAR that he's English, and he solves a need. That's not moneyball.
The moneyball approach explains doesn't work for the Henderson signing either. Despite a surfeit of central midfielders Liverpool may have seen something in his cross rate when playing on the right side of midfield, or his successful pass ratio, that made them think that he can supply Carroll. But they still overpaid for Henderson. Adam too.
Looking at your needs and spending big to meet them isn't moneyball. Moneyball would have been saying that Gary McSheffrey looks statistically like another Frank Lampard and snatching him up relatively cheaply. And no, the moneyball approach doesn't always work out. But it's finding VALUE relative to more highly regarded, and paid, players and building a team around that value.
Downing isn't moneyball.