Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game Paperback – March 17, 2004
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
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.
Top customer reviews
"Billy Bean was a really good baseball player, with great stats. Billy Bean choked in the majors. Billy Bean made a team out of players who were but statistically valuable but conventionally unimpressive." Ad nauseam.
Additionally, the narrative is extremely disjointed. It jumps around between the time when Bean was playing, and different periods of his coaching career, with little reference. If you aren't a big enough baseball fan to know who got drafted in what year, you have little chance of connecting the chapters of this book.
Michael does it again, with his great story telling approach to reporting. A recommended read for any baseball or business enthusiast alike.
Below are key excerpts from the book:
1) "The meetings, from their point of view, are all about minimizing risk. They can't afford to have guys not work out. There's no point in taking risks on players temperamentally, or legally, unsuited to pro ball."
2) "We're blending what we see but we aren't allowing ourselves to be victimized by what we see."
3) "When Alderson entered the game he wanted to get his mind around it, and he did. He concluded that everything from on-field strategies to player evaluation was better conducted by scientific investigation - hypotheses tested by analysis of historical statistical baseball data - than by reference to the collective wisdom of old baseball men. By analyzing baseball statistics you could see through a lot of baseball nonsense."
4) "Managers tend to pick a strategy that is least likely to fail rather than pick a strategy that is most efficient," said Palmer. " The pain of looking bad is worse than the gain of making the best move."
5) John Henry: "People in both fields operate with beliefs and biases. To the extent you can eliminate both and replace them with data, you gain a clear advantage. Many people think they are smarter than others in the stock market and that the market itself has no intrinsic intelligence - as if it's inert. Many people think they are smarter than others in baseball and that the game on the field is simply what they think it is through their set of images/beliefs. Actual data from the market means more than individuals perception/belief. The same is true in baseball."
6) "The important thing is not to recreate the individual," Billy Bean would later say. "The important thing is to recreate the aggregate."
7) "No matter how successful you are, change is always good. There can never be a status quo. When you have no money you can't afford long-term solutions, only short-term ones. You have to always be upgrading. Otherwise you're fu**ed."
8) "The day you say you have to do something, you're screwed. Because you are going to make a bad deal. You can always recover from the player you didn't sign. You may never recover from the player you signed at the wrong price."
9) "Know exactly what every player in baseball is worth to you. You can put dollar figure on it."
10) "Know exactly what you want and go after him." (Never mind who they say they want to trade.)
11) "Every deal you do will be publicly scrutinized by subjective opinion. If I'm [IBM CEO] Lou Gerstner, I'm not worried that every personnel decision I make is going to wind up on the front page of the business section. Not everyone believes that they know everything about the personal computer. But everyone who ever picked up a bat thinks he knows baseball. To do this well, you have to ignore the newspapers."
12) Bill James: "1) Every form of strength covers one weakness and creates another, and therefore every form of strength is also a form of weakness and every weakness is a strength. 2) The balance of strategies always favors the team which is behind. 3) Psychology tends to pull the winners down and push the losers upwards."
13) "I learned that if you look long enough for an argument against reason you will find it."
Given the buzz on the book, I was prepared for Lewis' discussion on how statistical science is changing the game, which he does so without losing the quick tempo he establishes from the leadoff page. However, his greatest achievement was a surprise to me--he gets us close in to meet the obscured, brilliant personalities that have contributed to the Little Paradigm Shift That Could, over the protestations of eight generations of baseball scouts and owners barking up the wrong mathematical trees to preserve traditions without foundation.
Most good baseball books are autobiographies, or written by insiders, or written by those obsessed with the game. Lewis is able to write effectively as an outsider, and also closely connect and earn the trust of the insiders.
Beyond the math, I hope that baseball insiders will use the truth of Moneyball to make MLB more competitive than it is today, instead of pleading with Congress to preserve a questionable status quo.