"Similar to investors, baseball coaches (and fans) navigate large amounts of quantitative data to make informed judgments on players and teams," strategists Robert D. Boroujerdi and Christopher Wolf said in a report for clients. "Sabermetricians leverage the data available to provide more nuanced and refined metrics deemed to have more informational value than traditional statistics."
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The Goldman takes the three aforementioned baseball statistical categories and uses them to select stocks.
Defensive efficiency ratio—defined in baseball terms as "a team's efficiency in converting balls in play into outs"—is correlated to free cash-flow conversion by Goldman's analysts.
Of nine total best baseball teams in that category, among them are the A's, the Seattle Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds. The three best stocks, using similar criteria, are KAR Auction Services, EMC and Wyndham Worldwide.
For value over replacement player—"the total number of runs a player contributes beyond that of a widely available replacement player"—the analysis finds a market correlation to cash returns on cash invested to a company's weighted-average cost of capital.
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The three best players: Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, Andrew McCutcheon of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins. The three best stocks: Gartner, Facebook and MasterCard.
Finally, for on-base plus slugging, which "captures a batter's consistency and power," Goldman uses dividend yield plus share buybacks.
The three best players in that category are Victor Martinez of the Detroit Tigers, Jose Abreu of the Chicago White Sox and McCutcheon. Their corresponding market leaders are Macy's, International Paper and Apple.
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Coming up with the list required mind-numbing formulas similar to the ones that baseball scouts use to find the right players. However, Goldman takes the process with at least some level of seriousness, noting that the exercise is part of "our departmental focus on high-returning stocks and strong free cash flow companies."