When asking the question whether the “Moneyball” philosophy really works, Fuson’s career arc makes an interesting answer. Saber-stats like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched) are bona-fide tools in player evaluation. But they are only tools, and tools are only as good as the people who wield them.
Jeremy Brown became a “Moneyball” poster boy, the pudgy catcher from the University of Alabama whom the A’s surprisingly selected with the 35th pick of the 2002. Coveted by Beane — and not so much his scouting department — for his power potential, his willingness to take a walk and his affordability, Brown spent six season in the minors, appeared in only five major league games and promptly retired in 2007.
Was Brown proof that “Moneyball’s” thinking is distorted? Hardly. But he makes the case that traditional scouting has not nor will it ever lose its value. Too ignore baseball’s new math is folly, but the clubs have come to learn that over-relying on either its time-honored scouting reports or sabermetrics, well, that’s fortune-cookie wisdom.