Moneyball is a system of evaluating baseball players developed principally by Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane in the early 2000s as a response to the enormous gap in team payrolls: some wealthy teams could spend upwards of $100 million to hire their star players, but the A's maxed out at around $40 million.
Before Beane's brainstorm, managers competed to buy players who best matched baseball's traditional statistics (homeruns, stolen bases, batting average) and dated forms of physical evaluation (how muscular a player looks, how fast they run). Instead, Beane sifted the statistics for tiny, unnoticed, but telling details—rather than look at how often a player gets hits, moneyball looks at how often he gets on base. He saw value where other teams saw only a second-tier athlete.
You probably don't work for a professional baseball team. You might not even be able to throw a baseball. But the principles of moneyball can still be put to work for you with the power of measurable, controllable choices that dodge the obvious. Here are six tips to implement off-kilter, statistical evaluation into making better decisions in your social life:
- Over one month, calculate the average time your friends are late to meet up. The friend with the lowest number is your pick to grab you from the airport. After a long flight, you don't want your most conversational friend—you want the one who will make you wait the least amount of time.
- Do you typically split the restaurant check with friends? If so, calculate the average amount each friend spends on drinks. Who prefers Coors and who veers toward highbrow scotch? Don't go to pricier restaurants with the friends with higher numbers.
- Periodically, ask a friend to help you rearrange some of your heavier furniture. Don't judge them by generosity—judge them by exertion. When you need help moving to a new apartment or house, you don't want your nicest friend; you want your strongest friend.
- Find out which of your friends requires the least amount of drinks to get drunk at a bar. This is the one you have the best chance of convincing to open a tab halfway into the night. Buy them their first round as an investment in a good Friday night.
- Note how many times per conversation your friends stop talking in order to send a text message. You're not selecting for rudeness—c'mon, we all text—you're evaluating who has the lowest score and therefore won't get you yelled at or kicked out of the movies.
- Make sure at least one person in your social circle has some sort of degree in psychology, or at least reads advice columns or watches Dr. Phil. Why pay hundreds of dollars for a therapist when you can just discuss your problems over dinner for the price of a hamburger?
Like this piece? Check out Boxoffice Weekly on the iPad.