Moneyball: The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game Paperback – Mar 30 2004
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I thought I understood baseball, but reading Moneyball taught me so much more about the game than I had known before. A must for every baseball fan.Published 9 months ago by Kurt Gayle
great book with a lot of fascinating insight into the world of professional baseball and how Sabermetrics has changed the game.Published 22 months ago by benjamin
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 morePublished on Nov. 29 2013 by Russ Allison
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 morePublished on Sept. 17 2013 by bookwormwayne
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 morePublished on May 27 2013 by Rodge
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 on May 23 2013 by Sizzler
I love Michael Lewis books. Well researched, well written with a touch of humor. All his books are a mustPublished on March 19 2013 by Amazon Customer