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Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game Paperback – March 17, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (March 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393324818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393324815
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,022 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

More About the Author

Michael Lewis, the author of Boomerang, Liar's Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game and The Big Short, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Tabitha Soren, and their three children.

Customer Reviews

This book is well written.
big_matt_phx
The next time that you hear someone say `I just know' or `this is the way we have always done things' an alarm will go off in your head - and with good cause.
David Land
This book tells the story of the Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane and his team building philosophy/approach.
Omar Halabieh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

146 of 149 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I never understood nor really liked baseball. I bought the book mostly to read about the inspired use of statistics, and the creative thinking that went into looking for the real keys to victory. I can safely say that while I may not have fallen in love with baseball, I will never find it boring again. If you have someone you want to turn into a fan, this book a superb gift option. The amount of detail in this book--for example, just the description of the strike zone and what different pitches and batters do to narrow the zone, what can be known about specific individual propensities and vulnerabilities associated with that little box, are truly inspirational.

This is a really excellent book. If we managed the national security budget the way Billy Bean managed the Oakland A's, we'd have faster better cheaper military hardware, and a lot more plowshares. I was also impressed by the way in which Billy Bean built a team, in which players who might not have been individual stars excelled at setting up others in a true team effort where the group as a whole is stronger than the sum of the parts. Others have written better reviews from a baseball fans point of view--as a non-baseball fan, I can attest to this book's being an "aha" experience.

See also:
Watching Baseball Smarter: A Professional Fan's Guide for Beginners, Semi-experts, and Deeply Serious Geeks
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220 of 236 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 4, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lewis, who previously wrote some of the best books on Wall Street's go-go '80s (Liar's Poker) and Silicon Valley's go-go '90s (The New New Thing), here turns his attention to professional baseball. Now, I should preface this by saying that I used to love baseball and these days it doesn't interest me much at all. There was a time when I was a total stats geek, I bought all the Bill James abstracts, played tabletop games, etc., but a combination of playing in college and the escalating money completely turned me off to the game. I knew this was supposed to be a good book but had no intention of reading it until Nick Hornby's rave review in his column in The Believer. I figured if one of my favorite British novelists liked the book, there must be something to it. I picked it up and within ten pages I was totally hooked.

The basis for the book is the question of how the Oakland A's, one of baseball's poorest teams as measured by payroll, managed to win so many games in the first few years of the new millennium. Lewis's potentially boring answer revolves around inefficiencies in the market for players, but he weaves this story around the A's General Manager, Billy Beane. Now, if you have some axe to grind with Beane, you might as well not read the book, 'cause Lewis tends to be rather fawning in many places. Still, Beane's own background and mediocre career form the perfect framework upon which to build this story about evaluating baseball talent. Beane was a hugely athletic, "can't miss" prospect, who turned down a joint football/baseball scholarship from Stanford to sign with the New York Mets out of high school. His pro career turned out to be utterly undistinguished, and this disconnect is what drove him to seek new methods of scouting and evaluating baseball talent.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By William Carroll on May 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I can't recommend this book highly enough. Not only is it the first look inside the most successful franchise - sure, there's the Yankees, but when historians look back, it will be Beane's A's that are remembered as the innovators. Even non-baseball fans will enjoy the crisp writing and phenomenal story-telling. Lewis' previous books are a high standard, but Moneyball may be even better. I'm still amazed that Beane allowed so much access - either Lewis is every bit as persuasive as Beane or Beane has something up his sleeve! The true star of the book may end up being Paul DePodesta, who will likely be the next great GM, following JP Ricciardi and Theo Epstein as "Beane Counters" and likely the men that saved baseball. I can't speak for the rest of Baseball Prospectus, but this has to be the best baseball book not written by us in the last decade.
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72 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Michael R. Chernick on March 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
For a former baseball player Billy Beane is a rare bird as a baseball GM. He used real baseball statistics, the kind the sabermetricians use to make great trade and bring a strong team back to Oakland. He had a great advantage over other GMs because he took advantage of their ignorance and tendencies to rely on the somewhat biased eyes of basebll scouts. What Michael Lewis did with this book was to show the world of baseball how Billy Beane did it and now I am sure that other GMs like Brian Cashman at New York and Theo Epstein in Boston are catching on. I don't know how much Steve Phillips put into action when he was the Mets GM. His lack of great success there indicates that he [robably didn't follow it enough. But now as an ESPN commentator he definitely mentions it. This book si so good that the term moneyball now means the strategy that Billy Beane used. So the title of this book became a baseball term! This book is a must for managers, general managers and owners of professional baseball teams. It is also great for the fans and the fantasy baseball enthusiasts.

Along with Mike Schell's books and the ones like "Curve Ball" written by Albert and Bennett this is one of the most thoughtful and scientific books on the game of baseball, how to win at it and how to build a successful team. The other books I mentioned were written by professional statisticians. It is the great success of the statistical science of sports, sabermetrics that we are now witnessing a scientific and statistical approach to baseball and other sports that had been lacking for many years.
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