Paul DePodesta, when he was the 31-year-old general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Photo by Jon Soohoo, Associated Press. Copyright, Jon Soohoo, all rights reserved. Image used here as fair use for educational purposes.


Still in high school, Billy Beane was shocking all the baseball scouts.  Possessing all five of the "five tools" a scout looks for in a promising young player, he was destined for greatness in Major League Baseball.  He was willing to forgo a scholarship to Stanford (for the football program) to jump-start his dream.

But ... Billy wasn’t able to play professional ball.  At bat, he couldn’t stay loose.  In the field, he couldn’t stay focused.  Finally, after six years - including a stint with the Twins - he asked for a different job.  In 1990, at the age of 27, he became an advance-scout for the Oakland A's.

Paul DePodesta - "DePo" for short (and "Peter Brand" in the film Moneyball) - had a different start.  Although he played college football and baseball at Harvard, he wasn't MLB-player material.  Despite his cum-laude degree in economics, he signed a contract with the Oakland A's in 1999 - to be a scout - after working with the Cleveland Indians (for three seasons). 

By 2001, Beane had been the A's general manager four years.  When three of his key players - outfielder Johnny Damon, first-baseman Jason Giambi and relief-pitcher Jason Isringhausen - left the organization (because the A's couldn’t meet their free-agent salary demands), Billy needed to update his team.

Needing a new approach, because the A's owners would not give him enough money to fill his wish list, Billy talked with Paul.  Was there a way to find undervalued players who could become baseball stars? 

Both men were students of Bill James - the man from Lawrence, Kansas who produced a yearly abstract of Major-League Baseball statistics.  Could all those lists of numbers somehow give Beane and his colleagues the help they needed to build a winning team for 2002?

With Paul loading and crunching numbers on his laptop, Billy took a different path than he had the year before.  As the 2002 draft-day approached, Beane and his scouts evaluated their affordable prospects.  Their evaluations differed - sometimes markedly - for most players.

When the roster was finalized - including new prospects who would first go to the "farm club," then work their way up to the main team - many of the A's scouts had serious doubts about their team.  Whoever heard of picking stars-in-the-making by consulting numbers on a computer?

It wouldn't be the last time DePodesta was criticized for using stats to chose a team.  Later, when he became general manager of the LA Dodgers, local sports writers derisively called him "Google Boy."
What was the method Beane used to pick his 2002 team?  And ... who is Bill James, the baseball fanatic who developed a system which challenged an entire industry?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2011

Updated Last Revision: Jan 30, 2016

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"BILLY BEANE and PAUL DePODESTA" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2011. Mar 18, 2019.
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