Back to News

Drinks With The Deal: Author Christopher Phillips

Published: March 31st, 2021
Christopher Phillips, a history professor at Carnegie Mellon, discusses his book 'Scouting and Scoring,' on the long history of talent evaluation and data usage in Major League Baseball.

Michael Lewis’ 2003 book “Moneyball,” a profile of Billy Beane, the exceptionally successful general manager of the Oakland A’s, was almost immediately read as an economic parable with implications far beyond baseball. In telling Beane’s story, Lewis showed the possibilities of a quantitative approach to running an organization just as the term “big data” was coming into vogue as well as the deep institutional resistance to such management.

Christopher Phillips takes Lewis’ opposition between scouts and statheads as the starting point for his book “Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball,” which the Carnegie Mellon University history professor discussed on this week’s Drinks With The Deal podcast. Like Lewis, Phillips used baseball as a way of examining how organizations create and use data.

Statistics were an integral part of baseball from the time the sport was invented, Phillips said, but they took on greater importance in the major leagues with the advent of free agency in 1976, which made valuing players a far more important exercise for team management.

But statistics have their limitations, which is why major league teams continue to scout amateur players, as Phillips discussed. That scouting hasn’t improved much over the last generation; only about two-thirds of the first-round draft picks in baseball’s amateur draft make it to the majors. Even in a sport dominate by numbers, talent evaluation remains an impressionistic, uncertain exercise.

Here’s the podcast:

More podcasts from The Deal are available on iTunesSpotify and on

More From Podcasts

Mergers & Acquisitions

Drinks With The Deal: Mayer Brown's David Carpenter

By David Marcus
Published: April 15th, 2021
Carpenter, the co-head of Mayer Brown's New York corporate and securities practice, talks about his work for Nestlé, his love of wine and his involvement with SommTV in the latest episode of the podcast.

Activist Investing Today: Freed on Corporate Election Proposals, Risk

By Ronald Orol
Published: April 14th, 2021
The co-founder and president of the Center for Political Accountability discusses the growth in support for shareholder proposals urging companies to disclose election-related spending and why companies that don’t disclose these payments face political risk.

Drinks With The Deal: Duane Morris' Anastasia Kaup

By David Marcus
Published: April 8th, 2021
Duane Morris finance partner Anastasia Kaup talks about her practice, her work with the firm's diversity and inclusion committee, the importance of mentoring and her enjoyment of Krav Maga.