Moneyball

Paul DePodesta Character Analysis

For most of the book, Paul DePodesta is Billy Beane’s assistant and right-hand man. A Harvard graduate and economics scholar, Paul is responsible for introducing the new sabermetric approach to baseball management. Recognizing that the common wisdom on baseball is wildly misleading, Paul bets heavily on ballplayers with a high on-base percentage, and he encourages Billy to use a cautious, measured approach to managing his teams. Paul is, probably more than any single character in the book, responsible for the Oakland A’s incredible success in the 2002 season. While Michael Lewis doesn’t give us as much information about Paul as he does about Billy Beane, he suggests that Paul is an immensely pragmatic, intelligent, man, who doesn’t allow emotion and bias to cloud his decision-making. He essentially models the Oakland A’s after his own personality.

Paul DePodesta Quotes in Moneyball

The Moneyball quotes below are all either spoken by Paul DePodesta or refer to Paul DePodesta. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W. W. Norton & Company edition of Moneyball published in 2004.
Chapter 2 Quotes

There was, for starters, the tendency of everyone who actually played the game to generalize wildly from his own experience. People always thought their own experience was typical when it wasn't. There was also a tendency to be overly influenced by a guy's most recent performance: what he did last was not necessarily what he would do next. Thirdly—but not lastly—there was the bias toward what people saw with their own eyes, or thought they had seen. The human mind played tricks on itself when it relied exclusively on what it saw, and every trick it played was a financial opportunity for someone who saw through the illusion to the reality. There was a lot you couldn't see when you watched a baseball game.

Related Characters: Paul DePodesta
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

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"He's the only player in the history of the SEC with three hundred hits and two hundred walks," says Paul, looking up from his computer.
It's what he doesn't say that is interesting … He doesn't explain why walks are important. He doesn't explain that he has gone back and studied which amateur hitters made it to the big leagues, and which did not, and why. He doesn't explain that the important traits in a baseball player were not all equally important. That foot speed, fielding ability, even raw power tended to be dramatically overpriced. That the ability to control the strike zone was the greatest indicator of future success. That the number of walks a hitter drew was the best indicator of whether he understood how to control the strike zone.

Related Characters: Paul DePodesta (speaker)
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 12 Quotes

"I made one decision based on money in my life—when I signed with the Mets rather than go to Stanford—and I promised I'd never do it again." After that, Billy confined himself to the usual blather about personal reasons. None of what he said was terribly rational or "objective"—but then, neither was he. Within a week, he was back to scheming how to get the Oakland A’s back to the playoffs, and Paul DePodesta was back to being on his side.

Related Characters: Billy Beane (speaker), Paul DePodesta
Related Symbols: The 2002 Playoffs
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:

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Paul DePodesta Character Timeline in Moneyball

The timeline below shows where the character Paul DePodesta appears in Moneyball. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: How to Find a Ballplayer
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...didn’t approve of his method of choosing players, and he’d been talking with his assistant, Paul DePodesta, a Harvard graduate who was using a new, mathematical way of analyzing the draft... (full context)
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Months before the 2001 draft picks, Paul had identified a prospective player named David Beck, whom no other scouts thought was worth... (full context)
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...A’s because the team had seven first-round picks. Billy needed to seize his opportunity, using Paul’s methods. (full context)
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Billy, Paul, and the team of scouts begin weeding through the prospective players. Erik Kubota, the head... (full context)
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...result in him signing with another team. Swisher is one of the only players who Paul, Billy, and the scouts agree is worth signing. (full context)
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...college baseman. The scouts protest that Teahen’s name hasn’t come up once all year; however, Paul, looking at his computer, pulls up Teahen’s statistics, and finds that Teahen rarely hits home... (full context)
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...interested in Brown, since Brown barely made the cut to be considered for drafting. However, Paul argues that Brown has had a huge number of walks in his career. Paul has... (full context)
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The disagreement between Paul and scouts exemplifies a basic disagreement in finding major league ballplayers. Scouts believe that finding... (full context)
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Billy and Paul assemble a list of eight college ballplayers, none of whom are particularly popular with the... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Jeremy Brown Blue Plate Special
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...that college players were a far better investment than high school players, and his assistant, Paul DePodesta, had made a statistical study of the matter and concluded more or less the... (full context)
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...of the amateur draft, Billy Beane contemplates some of the unlikely players that he and Paul have identified. One, a lightweight center field named Steve Stanley, is so unimpressive-looking that no... (full context)
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...his year, and in 2002, it appears to be the worst. As Billy shouts expletives, Paul mutters, “I think Swisher will get to us, but I’m not going to say that... (full context)
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...Billy realizes that he might get Swisher after all. He starts doing the math with Paul: there’s a chance that the Detroit Tigers, who are ahead of the A’s in the... (full context)
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...historically, have a high chance of failing to live up to their potential. Billy and Paul aren’t reckless gamblers anymore: they’re shrewd card-counters. (full context)
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...pick Nick Swisher. For the next rounds of the draft pick, Billy consults frequently with Paul and Erik. To their amazement, nobody takes Joe Blanton, another talented pitcher; as a result,... (full context)
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...rest of the morning, the A’s acquire most of the players from their wish list. Paul is especially proud of picking a first baseman named Brant Colamarino, who “might be the... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Science of Winning an Unfair Game
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...a third of the budget of the New York Yankees? Before he got to know Paul, Billy had concluded that there was no way to solve the crisis: the richest teams... (full context)
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...bigger. The problem with the commission’s conclusions, voiced by the ex-chairman of the Federal Reserve, Paul Volcker, was simple: if rich teams had such a huge advantage, then why did the... (full context)
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In 1999, Billy Beane had presented to Paul Volcker, arguing that his own team’s success was, in essence, a fluke. He told Volcker... (full context)
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...fans—and the scouts—believed, especially not as a center field defense or a leadoff hitter. When Paul crunched the numbers, he realized that on-base percentage was a much more important statistic for... (full context)
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In order to understand Paul DePodesta’s sabermetric methods, we need to understand a few things about Wall Street. In the... (full context)
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...runs. Everything a player did represented a fraction of a run—in effect, a derivative. When Paul DePodesta interned for the Cleveland Indians, he met Mauriello and Armbruster. In 1998, he convinced... (full context)
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Another lesson that Paul learned from AVM Systems was to minimize the role of luck in calculating a player’s... (full context)
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In short, Paul Depodesta’s methods took much of the randomness out of baseball. While statistics couldn’t predict exactly... (full context)
Chapter 7: Giambi’s Hole
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...the game, Michael Lewis arrived at the Oakland clubhouse and found David Forst, one of Paul DePodesta’s assistants, and Dan Feinstein, who prepared videotapes for the A’s. (full context)
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From Forst and Feinstein, Lewis learned about Paul’s personality. Paul didn’t drink, because alcohol killed brain cells. He played football at Harvard, but,... (full context)
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...pieces of Giambi’s statistical record (his walks, his hits, his on-base percentage, etc.). Billy and Paul tried to replace the aggregate on-base percentage of the three players they’d traded, .364, with... (full context)
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...outfield. A Yankee hits the ball toward him, and Jeremy runs after it, embarrassingly slowly. Paul watches the game on a TV screen, emotionless. (full context)
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...Oakland. Giambi, a seventeen million-dollar-a-year hitter, stands against Oakland’s 237,500 dollar-a-year pitcher, Eric Hiljus. As Paul watches Hiljus, he notes that Hiljus isn’t pitching well. He doesn’t throw to the inside... (full context)
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It’s Oakland’s turn to bat. Paul has kept a list of the probability that each hitter will hit at a ball... (full context)
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...walks: he’s patient, and he doesn’t swing at bad pitches. Justice has no idea that Paul wanted him for the A’s because of his walk ability—“at no points were the lab... (full context)
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...up to bat, and Michael Lewis goes back to watch the game on TV with Paul. The A’s pitcher, Jim Mecir, limps up to the pitcher’s mound, and Paul explains that... (full context)
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...and asks to see the videotape of the game. Hatteberg is the third “defective part” Paul assembled to replace Jason Giambi—he can’t throw, which made him very cheap, but he had... (full context)
Chapter 8: Scott Hatteberg, Pickin’ Machine
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...than the average player. He was also good at wearing out pitchers and avoiding strikeouts. Paul realized that the ideal hitter didn’t strike out, but also didn’t adjust his hitting style... (full context)
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...pitches. This statistic may seem trivial, but it’s very important, because it reflects his self-control. Paul estimates that, in theory, if Hatteberg were the only batter for the Oakland A’s in... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Trading Desk
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...Mike Venafro to another team—he calls the Mets, asking them about trading someone for Venafro. Paul, listening to Billy’s phone call, quickly compiles a list of potential Mets players that the... (full context)
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After fifteen minutes of conferring with Paul, Billy calls Steve Phillips, the GM of the Mets, and asks him for 233,000 dollars... (full context)
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...A’s new winning strategy, Billy traded Jeremy for John Mabry, a decision that many, even Paul, thought was irrational. However, Jeremy’s play was inconsistent, and, more importantly, he had problems with... (full context)
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...calls Mark Shapiro and tells him that he’s ready to acquire Ricardo Rincon. He tells Paul to tell Mike Magnante that he’s off the team, and, in all likelihood, done with... (full context)
Chapter 10: Anatomy of an Undervalued Pitcher
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Unbeknownst to Chad, Paul DePodesta took great interest in his abilities. Anther one of Paul’s secret fans was a... (full context)
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When Paul applied McCracken’s findings to Chad Bradford’s career, he realized why scouts didn’t like Chad. His... (full context)
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In 2000, Billy Beane, acting on Paul’s advice, called the GM of the White Sox and asked him about trading one of... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Speed of an Idea
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...Red Sox for 12.5 million dollars over five years—the highest sum ever for a GM. Paul DePodesta was set to become the next GM for the A’s. As part of the... (full context)
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...Red Sox, and none are “terribly rational or ‘objective.’” Back with the A’s, working alongside Paul, Billy had a new problem: he wanted to prove to the world of baseball that... (full context)