I am a huge baseball fan. I have been so since the 80s when the greatness of Don Mattingly tormented me on an annual basis because of his not-so-great Yankees' supporting cast (especially oh those pitchers!). A pennant never materialized for me back then, but through it all, every stat, pitching AND hitting, was etched in my brain. I thought that if I only studied the stats enough, I could show everyone -- even those Mets fans -- that the Yankees (and every player on the team, even third baseman Mike Pagliarulo) was the absolute best at his position in the major leagues. Of course, the stats to which I had access were only those in the newspaper and the backs of trading cards, namely the big ones: ERA, batting average, RBIs. My ground-shaking epiphany on how it all fit together never came.
Then came Billy Beane. Beane is a former professional baseball player and current front office executive for the Oakland Athletics. Beginning in the mid-90s, Beane began to apply statistical analysis to player evaluations. Beane was the subject of Michael Lewis' 2003 book on baseball economics, Moneyball, which was made into a 2011 film starring Brad Pitt as Beane. Not too shabby.
The essence of Moneyball was an emphasis on the numbers: