In Greg Mankiw’s favorite textbook (and one of the best-selling principles textbooks worldwide), he introduces students to the notion of “thinking like an economist.” Across the start of most economics textbooks exists a section about thinking strategically by using the notions of opportunity costs, scarcity, and rationality. Moneyball can be used as a starting point for discussing the assumptions of economic thinking.
In a scene from the movie, Billy Beane is seen in a boardroom full of scouts discussing replacing former players and evaluating potential draft picks. This scene serves as a great opening dialogue to economic issues of scarcity and rationality. While the A’s would like to keep Jeremy Giambi, they do not have enough space in their budget to keep him and must let him sign with other teams who are willing and able to pay more for his services. The resounding question that Beane poses to his scouts is a question that can be integrated throughout almost any economics course, “what’s the problem?”