Billy Beane’s sports-management revolution, chronicled by the author in Moneyball, was made possible by Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.
Bill James argued that people who denounced his emphasis on statistics weren't free of statistics, they were just slaves to dumb statistics. But that was mostly true of their evaluations of players not on their own team. You know how at hockey games, the announcer comes on after the game is over and announces the third-best, second-best, and best player in tonight's game? They don't say that out-loud in baseball, but fans kind of do it in their heads, so if they listen to 100 games on the radio in the season, they have a pretty good idea in their head that in those 100 games Reggie Smith was the best player in about 18 of those games and Steve Garvey in about 12, so Reggie is the team MVP.
But league MVP awards are a pretty minor part of the game.
Remember how it drove sabermetricians crazy in 2001 that sportswriters gave the AL MVP award to elegant Ichiro Suzuki rather than lumbering Jason Giambi, who almost died a few years later from all the PEDs he was taking in order to get his Billy Beane-approved surfeit of homers and walks? (For some reason, those statistical geniuses never tried to figure out which players were on the juice.)
For example, who were the best players on the 2002 Oakland A's, the team featured in Moneyball, as ranked on Wins Above Replacement? Oddly enough, you can't answer that question accurately from reading Lewis's book. The main reason the team did well was little mentioned in the book: its three ace pitchers Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder were 15.4 wins above replacement. Three of the bad guys in the book for not taking enough pitches, Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, and John Mabry, were 10.8 wins above replacement. And the three heroes of the book, Scott Hatteberg, Chad Bradford, and David Justice, were 5.5 wins above replacement: useful acquisitions, but pretty marginal in the big picture of things, which is a pretty accurate evaluation of sabermetrics role in baseball: modestly useful.