The way this is presented to readers, you'd think Beane and DePodesta accused Jesus of being a Jew. Lewis portrays Beane and DePodesta as among the earliest guys to see the world is round when the rest of civilization saw it as flat and do something about it. Lewis rightly credits writer Bill James as being among the earliest to pioneer these ideas, but Beane and DePodesta are among the earliest to put them to use in actually running a team. Perhaps the ideas are as revolutionary as these two think they are. Perhaps there was widespread resistance to these statistic-based models as a means of evaluating players. Perhaps those aren't the only reasons Beane has not been bathed in love by baseball people the world over. Maybe the fact Beane comes off as a micromanaging jerk plays a role, as well.
One benefit of reading the book five years later is that it allows us enough distance to see how the decisions they made about their club and players then have panned out. One player whose name is batted around a good bit is a catcher who played college ball for the University of Alabama before being drafted in the first round by the Oakland A's. Have you heard of Jeremy Brown? Me, neither.
Naturally it's absurd to invalidate an entire theory on one anecdotal example, but the evangelistic fervor in this book — be it on the part of the author or the central figures — might lead you to believe this method is foolproof. The Brown example reminds us sabermetrics is not Calvinism; statistical analysis is a tool for prediction, not pre-destination. Five years later, we also see baseball is being taught and managed differently as a result of the ideas in this book and the widespread notoriety of both the book and those ideas. What began as an experiment in Oakland has taken hold in numerous major league cities, again invoking the concept of scarcity. What was previously ignored has now become precious, and the price for OBP has gone up. Is OBP as important as Beane and DePodesta argue? The statistics (largely) indicate it is, but that has almost become irrelevant. Statistically sound or not, the sabermetric approach has almost become as intransigent as the prevailing wisdom it replaced.
A frequent criticism of sabermetrics and Oakland's approach has been the fact the team has not performed as well in the postseason as in the playoffs. What makes this odious is the way this aberration, if you will, is dismissed by Lewis, Beane, and DePodesta. Where the two Oakland honchos believe strongly in their ability to predict future results based on past performance and believe strongly in scientific methods, they dismiss their postseason failure and conversely the success of others as mere luck. It's the equivalent of claiming to be men of science while trying not to cross paths with a black cat. it's arrogant and intellectually dishonest. Sample sizes in postseason play may be smaller, but rather than saying they have yet to find statistical model that explains postseason success (or their lack thereof), they dismiss the idea that one exists and chalk it up to luck. The playoffs and World Series are reduced to little more than hocus pocus, but without the hard science they used to justify their approach. In this regard, they come across as aloof and ignorant as the 'baseball insiders' they feel they had to battle.