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Moneyball [Hardcover]

Michael Lewis
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
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May 27 2003
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Billy Beane, general manager of MLB's Oakland A's and protagonist of Michael Lewis's Moneyball, had a problem: how to win in the Major Leagues with a budget that's smaller than that of nearly every other team. Conventional wisdom long held that big name, highly athletic hitters and young pitchers with rocket arms were the ticket to success. But Beane and his staff, buoyed by massive amounts of carefully interpreted statistical data, believed that wins could be had by more affordable methods such as hitters with high on-base percentage and pitchers who get lots of ground outs. Given this information and a tight budget, Beane defied tradition and his own scouting department to build winning teams of young affordable players and inexpensive castoff veterans.

Lewis was in the room with the A's top management as they spent the summer of 2002 adding and subtracting players and he provides outstanding play-by-play. In the June player draft, Beane acquired nearly every prospect he coveted (few of whom were coveted by other teams) and at the July trading deadline he engaged in a tense battle of nerves to acquire a lefty reliever. Besides being one of the most insider accounts ever written about baseball, Moneyball is populated with fascinating characters. We meet Jeremy Brown, an overweight college catcher who most teams project to be a 15th round draft pick (Beane takes him in the first). Sidearm pitcher Chad Bradford is plucked from the White Sox triple-A club to be a key set-up man and catcher Scott Hatteberg is rebuilt as a first baseman. But the most interesting character is Beane himself. A speedy athletic can't-miss prospect who somehow missed, Beane reinvents himself as a front-office guru, relying on players completely unlike, say, Billy Beane. Lewis, one of the top nonfiction writers of his era (Liar's Poker, The New New Thing), offers highly accessible explanations of baseball stats and his roadmap of Beane's economic approach makes Moneyball an appealing reading experience for business people and sports fans alike. --John Moe

From Publishers Weekly

Lewis (Liar's Poker; The New New Thing) examines how in 2002 the Oakland Athletics achieved a spectacular winning record while having the smallest player payroll of any major league baseball team. Given the heavily publicized salaries of players for teams like the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, baseball insiders and fans assume that the biggest talents deserve and get the biggest salaries. However, argues Lewis, little-known numbers and statistics matter more. Lewis discusses Bill James and his annual stats newsletter, Baseball Abstract, along with other mathematical analysis of the game. Surprisingly, though, most managers have not paid attention to this research, except for Billy Beane, general manager of the A's and a former player; according to Lewis, "[B]y the beginning of the 2002 season, the Oakland A's, by winning so much with so little, had become something of an embarrassment to Bud Selig and, by extension, Major League Baseball." The team's success is actually a shrewd combination of luck, careful player choices and Beane's first-rate negotiating skills. Beane knows which players are likely to be traded by other teams, and he manages to involve himself even when the trade is unconnected to the A's. " `Trawling' is what he called this activity," writes Lewis. "His constant chatter was a way of keeping tabs on the body of information critical to his trading success." Lewis chronicles Beane's life, focusing on his uncanny ability to find and sign the right players. His descriptive writing allows Beane and the others in the lively cast of baseball characters to come alive.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thinking outside the box July 19 2004
Format:Paperback
Michael Lewis deftly inserted himself into the A's front office to find out how a professional baseball team with a $40 million payroll can win 102 games and consistently 90 or more wins in subsequent years and compete with teams like the New York Yankees who have payrolls exceeding $130 million.
What he reveals is that by approaching baseball in a more rational, analytical way and doing away with all the traditional conventions, you can compete with anyone who doesn't do the same. Too many GMs and coaches are seduced by speed, home runs, and batters who swing at bad pitches when the simple truth of it is that in baseball the most precious thing you have are your three outs per inning. Anything that risks losing one or more of those outs is something you should avoid. As a long-time fan of the game, it's hard for me to swallow some of the anti-traditional things Lewis describes in this book. But the proof is in the pudding as they say and the A's success over the past several years is hard to argue with.
The focus of the book is A's GM Billy Beane, a former A's player himself who had a world of talent but could not transform that talent into a Hall of Fame career. He didn't have certain intangibles that are needed. Beane now recognizes those talents in the players he drafts, recruits and trades for. Beane's obsessive personality and unorthdox ways make for interesting reading. He's a man who seems horribly tortured by the game and yet thrives on his success in the game as well.
There are excellent mini-biographies in the book including one on A's first baseman, Scott Hatteberg, a Red Sox catcher who was thought all but done with baseball after he ruptured a nerve in his throwing arm.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story - Even for the Non-Baseball Fan Dec 16 2009
Format:Paperback
Let me start out by stating this: I'm not a baseball fan. Hockey is my game. But Moneyball transcends the game itself because it is a great story. The failed athlete and now General Manager of the poor and humbled Oakland Athletics must figure out a way to compete against the freespending New York Yankees who have triple their budget. With a rag tag team of defective players, GM Billy Bean takes on the big market teams and baseball traditionalists with a couple of Havard grads with laptops.

And baseball will never be the same again.

Sure it has baseball and statistical analysis for content, but the real story is about a group of underdogs that by wit alone figure out a way to win an unfair game.

Buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Lewis is a gifted writer who draws attention the great things that Billy Beane has accomplished in Oakland. This is really the first time that Beane has been given the credit he deserves in the mainstream, and it is long overdue.
When discussing Beane's player evaluation techniques, Lewis outlines a field of study known as "sabermetrics." For anyone who has not yet been exposed to sabermetrics or has only a passing familiarity with the subject, this will be an eye-opening book and could change the way you view the game of baseball. Many of the things you thought you knew about baseball will be proven incorrect, and you will be introduced to a number of new concepts that you will undoubtedly use in the future.
On the other hand, for anyone who is already quite familiar with sabermetrics (and more specifically, Billy Beane), you will not get much out of this book. Chapters 2, 5, and 9 will be informative, but the rest is either filler or a review of concepts you already know. You won't regret reading the book, but it may not be a particularly memorable one for you (it wasn't for me, hence the three stars). For people in this situation, it would be fine to wait for the book to come out in paperback and save a few bucks.
Overall, I would recommend reading Moneyball, but don't set your expectations too high if you're already familiar with the subject matter.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read... June 24 2003
Format:Hardcover
As an avid baseball fan, avid Seattle Mariner's fan, and avid Oakland Athletic's hater, I am in complete awe of this book. While I don't agree with every one of Billy Beane's philosophy's, so much of it makes sense. When you break it down, it's hard to dispute that it works for him. If every team used his thoughts would it work? Probably not, but that's the beauty of Billy and his team of computer nerds, they made a new way of thinking in baseball work.
Even if you're not a baseball fan, this book is a fabulous read. While he does go into great detail about many aspects of the game a casual observer wouldn't understand, he does it with such grace and elegance that it doesn't get the least bit heavy handed. Micheal Lewis is a master at turning in something that may seem dry to some, and making it a personal, touching story, with fabulous characters and incredible plot development. I highly recommend this book to anyone. It will be talked about for the next few decades for sure, if not beyond.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Business Of Baseball June 26 2014
By Patrick Sullivan TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Lewis is a great story teller, and this book is no exception. Lewis lays out the tale, of how a cash poor team succeeded against much richer teams. The Oakland A`s general manager Billy Beane, develops a unique approach to selecting baseball players. Traditionally baseball scouts, used a strong sense of instinct to select players. If the scout likes look of the player, they tended to favour the prospect. Billy Beane dismisses baseball tradition, and sets out on his own agenda.

Lewis details all of Beane`s methods of player evaluation. In particular, Beane is impressed with a players on base percentage. He feels getting players on base, is the key to generating runs and winning games. In his opinion, a walk is just as beneficial as a hit. The rest of the scouting community, never even consider a players ability to generate the base on balls. This new set of data, enables Beane to develop an edge in player selection. The other general managers, are unaware of this valuable information. Beane also finds these players carry a cheap price tag, because no one else recognizes the available talent.

Most readers will enjoy, the wheeling and dealing of baseball`s corporate backroom. Beane seems to skate circles around the other baseball general managers. Beane also deals with lots of personnel management issues. It all adds up, to make for a fun read.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book for baseball fans! Even some non-baseball fans might...
great book with a lot of fascinating insight into the world of professional baseball and how Sabermetrics has changed the game.
Published 4 months ago by benjamin
3.0 out of 5 stars It's Ok!
I am not a baseball fan, so I went into Moneyball with very little background information. That being said, the book was easy to follow and digest, and I found it to be enjoyable. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Russ Allison
5.0 out of 5 stars Bookworm Wayne's Short Review
Read this book if you want to learn about Sabermetrics or what it's like to be GM in MLB. Stats have changed baseball (but really I believe that football pioneered these... Read more
Published 10 months ago by bookwormwayne
4.0 out of 5 stars Over a decade later, its relevance remains
The passing of some time gives us some perspective on the real success or otherwise, of the A's. Not everyone that they picked in that 2002 draft turned out to be so wonderful. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Rodge
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
I love baseball and I in find stats interesting as well. I really enjoyed this book. It's just a great read. A great story.
Published 14 months ago by Sizzler
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book Easy read
I love Michael Lewis books. Well researched, well written with a touch of humor. All his books are a must
Published 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good Baseball book
I haven't seen the movie, but the book is terriffic. I'd recommend this book to anyone with a passing interest in the game.
Published 18 months ago by L. Behan
4.0 out of 5 stars Being where the other guy isn't and being there with everything you've...
"Moneyball" is a connoisseur's book. And not necessarily a baseball connoisseur; indeed a lot of baseball fans may disagree with its central theme, or see their eyes glaze over,... Read more
Published on April 8 2012 by Bob Delaney
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, great author.
Michael lewis has a way to tell the story that makes every subject interesting, and, when you give him a great subject, it makes a great book. Moneyball is one of those. Read more
Published on Feb. 13 2012 by delisle34
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
The novel Moneyball is a good book about an old sport. It addresses the issue of the use of statistical analysis in baseball. Read more
Published on Dec 4 2011 by Jimmyzzz
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