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Behind the Numbers: 'Moneyball'

New film details how solid statistical analysis can create a winner on the baseball field

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September 27, 2011 | by Brendan Cosgrove

AUDIO: Listen to Prof. Luis Amaral talk about "Moneyball"

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Brad Pitt’s new baseball feature film “Moneyball” came in second place at the box office in its opening weekend and has garnered mostly favorable reviews from critics. But just how statistically sound are the player evaluation methods touted in the film by Pitt’s character, Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane?

To figure that out, Northwestern News sat down with Luis Amaral, professor of chemical and biological engineering. He uses statistical data and computer modeling to examine complex systems such as performance in sports. He says Beane and his colleagues are smart in their use of so-called “sabermetrics."

“They are not doing anything unusual,” says Amaral. “There is no question that a lot of those analyses were done competently and solidly.”

In this audio commentary, Amaral discusses using different statistical methods to evaluate baseball talent and why all MLB general managers aren’t using “sabermetrics.”