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what Moneyball should have been
on October 13, 2011
Everyone in baseball knows the term "Moneyball" from the book of the same name. The problem with that book is although it brought to light the trend in baseball to look at statistics in a new way (actually a way that had been around for decades thanks to Bill James but a way in which pro baseball virtually ignored) in evaluating talent, it missed the larger picture (namely the main reason the Oakland A's made the playoffs three seasons in a row was two MVP players and a great starting pitching staff).
Jonah Keri does not fall into that trap of creating a theory and then only including facts that support that theory. He gives us a well-rounded look at how the Tampa Bay Rays became, well, a good team in a division with the big bucks Boston Red Sox and even bigger bucks New York Yankees. It's a totally engrossing book that doesn't just look at statistics. In fact it's more a book on the history of both the Devil Rays era and the Rays era in Tampa.
I won't spoil it for anyone but the stuff on their first owner is jawdroppingly stupid the way he ran that franchise. Keri also gets into how that led to fan apathy more than the losing and the problems with playing in a badly situated ugly domed ballpark (the Rays play in St. Petersburg). He also tackles how the Rays deal with having players leave once they get unaffordable for their budget. Basically, this book is everything Moneyball should have been. This goes to show that if you want to write a sports book with someone who has a bit of background in the financial world, hire Jonah Keri not Moneyball author Michael Lewis.