The Oakland A's set the new American League record for consecutive wins, with 20. The all-time Major League record is 26, set by the New York Giants in 1916, including one tie. Without ties, the record belongs to the 1935 Chicago Cubs (21 straight wins).
All but one of the scouts in the movie were played by actual Major League Baseball scouts. Tom Gamboa, who played "Scout Martinez", is perhaps best known as the Kansas City Royals first base coach who was attacked on the field by two fans during a game against the Chicago White Sox on September 19, 2002. The father and son, highly intoxicated, ran onto the field unprovoked, tackled Gamboa, and threw several punches before being restrained by players and security. As a result of the attack, Gamboa ultimately suffered permanent hearing loss.
Billy Beane is portrayed as a lonely divorcé in the film, though in real life he had actually remarried. Scenes were actually shot with Kathryn Morris as his second wife, Tara, that didn't make the final cut (but can be seen as Blu-ray extras). However, Brad Pitt's character still wears a wedding ring throughout the film.
David Justice is played by Stephen Bishop, a former pro baseball player. Bishop was a career Minor Leaguer, and as a Braves prospect was nicknamed Young Justice due to his physical resemblance and similar playing style to David Justice.
When Chris Pratt auditioned for the role of Scott Hatteberg, he was told he was too fat. Pratt decided to lose weight before the role was cast. "I'd check, maybe, once a week," he recalls. "I'd say, 'They cast it yet?' And I would just keep working out. Finally I got in good enough shape that I took a picture of myself and sent it to my agent." He won the role.
Bennett Miller told a screening audience that A's assistant GM Paul DePodesta did not wish to have his real name used in the movie, but was very generously helpful during its making. While the filmmakers had no obligation to change his character's name (to Peter Brand), they did so willingly.
Bill James, noted as the statistical influence for the main characters' analysis, is regarded by many to be the father of sabermetrics. This study of advanced baseball statistics is named after the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), an organization to which James and other sabermetrics pioneers belong. The film puts a heavy emphasis upon on-base percentage (OBP), though concepts like wOBA, FIP, and BABIP are not mentioned.
The film's original director, Steven Soderbergh, intended to have all the baseball players portray themselves. When Columbia Pictures dropped the film, the script was later rewritten and the new director, Bennett Miller, hired real actors.
When Aaron Sorkin agreed to rewrite the screenplay, he stated as a condition that Steven Zaillian name would not be removed from the credits, because his draft was great and Sorkin didn't really feel he could improved it much.
Several of the actors playing the ballplayers have baseball experience. Casey Bond spent time in the Giants' organization, Stephen Bishop played for three years during the '90s (including one season where he played with David Justice, who he portrays in the film), Royce Clayton played 17 years in MLB and Derrin Ebert played five games for the Braves in 1999.
At one point, we hear that Miguel Tejada has struck out to end a game. In the original book, Tejada's free swinging ways and relatively high strikeout rate was something of a point of contention, with the Dominican shortstop telling Billy Beane and other Athletics' members that "You can't walk your way off the island".
Of all the Oakland players from the season represented in the movie (2002), only one played for Oakland in the season that the movie premiered (2011): Mark Ellis, and he was traded away in the middle of the season.
Director Bennett Miller was so impressed by Kerris Dorsey when she sang "The Show" by Lenka during her audition that he not only cast her as the protagonist's daughter but showed her sing the 2008 song during and at the end of the movie which was set in 2002, sacrificing its historical authenticity.
The crew had only one day to shoot the scenes where Billy Beane visits Fenway Park in Boston and it was raining that day, and the gloomy weather in those scenes was kept intact in the final product of the film.
Grady Fuson, the scouting director whose termination is depicted in the film, returned to the A's in 2010. According to him, he enjoyed this movie, but "The only thing that didn't fare well with me was dropping an F-bomb on my boss. I don't think I can take my grandson to see it yet."
Production of the movie was set to begin on June 22, 2009, but it was surprisingly dropped by Columbia Pictures. Studio co-chairman Amy Pascal axed the movie after objecting to changes which original director Steven Soderbergh made to Steven Zaillian's script.
Several of the Oakland A's radio announcers are heard throughout the movie, but are not credited: The legendary Bill King - whose signature line "HOLY TOLEDO" punctuates the Royals rally to tie the A's from an 11-0 start during what would become the 20th win in a row - is foremost among them. At various points from the 1950s until his death a few years ago, King called Oakland Raiders, Golden State Warriors, A's and early on San Francisco Giants games. Current Oakland Raiders announcer Greg Papa was also the television play-by-play announcer for the Oakland A's from 1989 to 2003 and is the host of the San Francisco Giants pre and post games shows. Also heard are Ken Korach, then King's second fiddle who later took over the #1 play-by-play role, and color man Ray Fosse, a veteran of the 1970s Oakland championship teams who continued to call games for the A's through the 2013 season. Scott Hatteberg sometimes fills in for Ray Fosse as a color commentator.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The A's won the AL west again in 2012 with the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball and a record setting 54 wins by rookie pitchers. The season has been informally called "Moneyball 2" by fans and the press.
To win the 20th consecutive game during the streak, the A's' closer Billy Koch blew the save in the top of the 9th by giving up the tying run. He then earned the win when Scott Hatteberg hit a walk off homer in the bottom of the 9th. Koch saved 9 and earned the win in 3 games during the 20 game winning streak.