Saviormetrics: How Oakland’s Brandon McCarthy reinvented himself

From Eddie Matz at ESPN The Magazine on February 24, 2012:

“I didn’t want to suck at baseball anymore.” Brandon McCarthy is recounting how he was saved. How he and sabermetrics collided.


Sabermetrics, as [SABR member Bill] James’ musings became known, was at first a cryptic tongue spoken exclusively by stat-happy fans who analyzed the game but never played it. Then, in 2003, Michael Lewis wrote Moneyball, a behind-the-scenes look at how trailblazing GM Billy Beane and the small-market Oakland A’s used sabermetrics to assemble one of baseball’s best teams. In the decade since, the game’s decision makers, many of whom sprouted from the Beane management stalk, have taken a shine to the New Testament. Today, the majority of MLB front offices — from the A’s to the Yankees — rely on sabermetric analysis to evaluate talent.

What Billy Beane was to GMs, Brandon McCarthy is now to players. Despite Beane’s success and the proliferation of baseball executives who swear by James’ metrics, the list of players who do so is shorter than the rightfield fence at Fenway Park. Former pitcher Brian Bannister was a known disciple, as are current hurlers Zack Greinke, Brandon Morrow, Max Scherzer and, of course, Breslow, the Moneyball wingman. As for the other 745 big leaguers and 6,000-odd minor leaguers? Not so much. They are where McCarthy was in 2005: barely conscious of advanced statistics.

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Related link: Brandon McCarthy will speak at the inaugural SABR Analytics Conference on March 15, 2012. Learn more at

Originally published: February 24, 2012. Last Updated: February 24, 2012.