Looking over the stats of some of the great "golden era" Brooklyn Dodgers teams of the late 1940s and early 1950s, I was struck by how much they seem to resemble, offensively at least, the ideal Billy Beane team. Guys like Gil Hodges, Duke Snider, Roy Campanella, and Carl Furillo were mashers with great OPS numbers. Even those guys who didn't really hit for power, like Jackie Robinson or Pee Wee Reese, had excellent OBP skills. Perhaps most tellingly, the Dodgers were willing to go after "undervauled" players. Today, those players might be fat or short, but in those days, it was African-Americans who were undervalued. The Dodgers ended up with Robinson, Campanella, Don Newcombe, and Sandy Amoros, each of whom contributed greatly to those teams.
So what does everyone think? Was Branch Rickey on to something decades before Billy Beane implemented this strategy with the A's? Certainly, one can't aruge with Rickey's results.