Barrabi: How Theo Epstein’s ‘Moneyball’ approach sparked Cubs’ NLCS run

From Thomas Barrabi at the International Business Times on October 21, 2015, with mention of SABR President Vince Gennaro:

Theo Epstein, architect of a ragtag group of young Chicago Cubs sluggers and resurgent veterans, has affirmed his reputation as baseball’s resident curse-killer–regardless of whether the Cubs overcome their 3-0 deficit against the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series. The 41-year-old executive used his data-based approach to bring the once-hapless Cubs within striking distance of ending their centurylong championship drought, just as he did for the Boston Red Sox in 2004.

Epstein, like longtime Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane, is a noted proponent of sabermetrics, or the use of nontraditional statistics — like on-base percentage — rather than old-school measures of production like home runs, to identify inexpensive, productive players. The 2015 Cubs are a prime example of data-driven roster construction, with their emphasis on young sluggers like Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber and bargain-level reclamation projects like ace pitcher Jake Arrieta.

But to characterize Epstein solely as a statistics guru is to oversimplify his multilayered approach to running a baseball team. Since joining the Cubs in 2011, Epstein, with the blessing of team ownership, has made full use of Chicago’s large-market resources to affect top-to-bottom, innovative change in an organization previously known for its traditionalist mindset. With a revamped scouting department and coaching staff to go along with his data-driven player analysis, Epstein has rebuilt the Cubs to suit his vision. For Wrigley Field faithful long bereft of winning baseball, the future is bright.

“I don’t brand Theo as the sabermetrics guy who remade the Red Sox and is remaking the Cubs on that basis. I think he’s much broader than that,” said Vince Gennaro, president of the Society of American Baseball Research, who consults MLB teams on roster construction and business efforts. “He’s a great leader, and a great leader looks at all the pieces.”

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Originally published: October 21, 2015. Last Updated: October 21, 2015.