Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Using 'Moneyball' with stocks: Here's what happens

Kansas City Royals’ Billy Butler (16) hits an RBI single in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants during Game 2 of the 2014 World Series in Kansas City, Mo.
Getty Images

Here's where the stock market and baseball meet, just in time for the World Series as well as a likely volatile time ahead on Wall Street.

It's all about "sabermetrics," a term that became popular after it was used in Michael Lewis' best selling book "Moneyball," and the movie of the same name starring Brad Pitt.

In the movie, Bill James helps build the Oakland A's into a competitor by using metrics most other scouts had never heard of or given little regard—stats such as "defensive efficiency ratio," "value over replacement player," and "on-base plus slugging."

Goldman Sachs believes there might be a way to apply those measures to stock picking.

SF Giants CEO: In tech & content biz

"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."

Read MorePay to play: What baseball teams pay for each win

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.

Read MoreUnlike Lorde, series fan totally feeling Royals

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.

Read MoreThe World Series slugfest you don't know about

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."