This is an "oddball" movie (no pun intended) in that it is based on a true story. However, because Billy Beane has created much of his own legend, it might even be hard to know what is true. It's hard to know how much to commit to when watching it. One of the last scenes in the movie has Beane being offered a ridiculous amount of money from the Boston Red Sox owner John Henry to be the new GM. He turned it down. That much is true. The irony in Boston is that the Kraft family and John Henry's group used this philosophy to build championship teams. The Red Sox later hired Bill James, the father of Sabermetrics, as a consultant and built a championship team.
Yesterday, Bill Belichek and Tom Brady just surpassed Shula and Moreno as the winningest coach-QB combo in history. That's a little of what Moneyball is about. A team has less to do with individual players and coaches as wins. You get wins from runs (or points in football) -- or keeping points from happening.
I know almost nothing about the fine details of football, but I saw in 2001 why the Patriots could beat supposedly better teams on the way to a Superbowl. Montana had Jerry Rice. Manning had Marvin Harrison. Yes, Brady went to the Superbowl throwing most of his passes to Troy Brown. Troy Brown? Bill Belichick was 42-58 as a head coach before Brady. On paper it makes no sense. The reason why they won in 2001/2002 is that they eeked out enough extra points from their special teams to win those games. But "on paper" those are the type of statistics that don't usually show up. A lot has to do with the combination of statistics with certain players on the field (and coaches) rather than individual statistics. Most of the time, the best coach is simply the guy who sticks to the winning formula long enough.
What Billy Beane did with baseball was to ignore all the usual statistics. He popularized the idea of OPS (the first time I saw that I said, What the heck is that?) -- on base plus slugging percentage. He realized that in a 162 game season, it matters more how a whole team plays rather than three or four superstars. He would substitute the average OPS of three players over a whole season to replace the OPS of one superstar. He would trade players who were popular with the fans who had high numbers in every category, but who did not walk a lot. He taught that outs were bad, steals were bad, sacrifices of any type (because they resulted in outs) were bad. He cut across the grain of a century of conventional wisdom. He took a bottom tier team to the post season and broke a record with 20 consecutive wins in 2002.
This is also exactly the reason the Red Sox and Patriots won five World Championships in the last ten years. Neither team has ever been the best team on paper (with the exception of the 2007 Pats of course) for the past ten years, but the experts often look at the wrong statistics.