Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, but be prepared for deja vu..., March 1, 2012
This review is from: Moneyball (Paperback)
If you're a true baseball enthusiast, there's a reasonable chance you enjoy statistics. Or at least, you're not afraid of them. Michael Lewis is certainly counting on this fact from his target audience, because while half of Moneyball is a story about Billy Beane and the Oakland Athletics, the other half is an often repetitive tale of the history of baseball statistics and scouting.

I would say about 75% of this book is well written and insightful. You get a thorough story of Billy Beane as the GM of the Oakland A's, but equally importantly you get his back story which explains how he came to be the man he is. You get an understanding of how the sport of baseball was run before Billy Beane's impact as a GM. You get the underdog story of a bunch of players whose hopes were all but lost, coming together to accomplish something incredible, even if it doesn't end in a championship. When the book is good, it's great.

Lewis only has one real stumbling point, as far as I'm concerned--he can repeat himself to drive a point home, well after the point is understood. One of the key aspects of this book is looking into the history of baseball statistics, involving the writing of Bill James and the various organizations that started to analyze the game better than Major League Baseball did itself. That's great, but there were times when Lewis simply kept writing when he didn't need to. There were chapters that I'd start to read, and think, "Am I in the wrong place? I'm pretty sure I read this exact same fact already..."

Now, I'm a baseball enthusiast. I'm a fan of math and statistical analysis. I loved the overview of how these organizations were changing baseball statistics as we know them. But when you're repeating the same statistics, or fawning over them in the same fashion, it can start to cause weariness. That's what I felt, in some of the chapters Lewis presented on the statistics of baseball. I'm not saying they weren't great; I loved them. I only loved them, however, until I felt like I was reading them twice.

Overall, this is a book I cannot strongly enough recommend to any baseball fan who's not deterred by the statistics that drive it. It's a story of a man who didn't accept the norms just because it was the standard. He challenged his team with success in the face of teams with higher payrolls by trying to reinvent scouting in Major League Baseball. Whether or not you agree that he and Paul DePodesta found success in their methods, this is a book worth reading. In 2002 I had a narrower view of baseball, being a grade school child rooting for one team and knowing little about statistics or any other teams. Now that I can appreciate these facets of the baseball, I can't recommend this book more to anyone interested in the sport.
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