There’s a scene in the movie “Moneyball,” based on the Michael Lewis book, where Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane chides his old school scouts for concentrating on the physical appearance of the players they’re considering drafting, rather than on the qualities Beane and his assistant Paul DePodesta had determined really matter, like on base percentage in hitters and limiting walks and home runs in pitchers.
Believe it or not, the idea that you can tell a lot about how good a baseball player will be in the future by how good he’s been in the past was once a controversial one. Actually, it still is in some quarters.
One place where the idea of statistical analysis has not yet taken hold is the National Football League. I read today that the New York Jets will hold a private workout session with Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield. Apparently, completing 71 freaking percent of his passes against élite college competition the last two years in a row and winning the Heisman Trophy, as, you know, the BEST PLAYER IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL isn’t enough for the Jets. They need to see him run and jump around in shorts and throw a football through a tire swing before they can be sure. In a related story, the Jets won five games last season, one more than Mayfield won in September. And November.
If the Jets want to determine whether Mayfield will be an upgrade, they need only hand him a piece of gum and tell him to take a walk. Actually, if they want to see if he’ll be a fit for their team, they should have him run ten yards backward and fall down several times.
A word of advice from one Baker to another. You might want to miss the tire swing on purpose.