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Moneyball Audio, Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook
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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
The plot is simple, Billy Beane was a baseball player that had superstar written all over him. He over thinks about being a ball player and pretty much is out as a player. He comes back and re-invents himself as a General Manager of the Oakland A's and piggybacking from Bill JamesWho is the father of saber metrics), Sandy Alderson, the GM before him who believe in putting numbers to player on efficiency. The mantra was on base percentage. Even if the guy was blind, if he had great OBP, Beane will try to get him. Oakland with no money and in the low rent district had to compete with the likes of the Yankees( who one player made more then the whole Oakland time worth around 120 million). But compete they did, Beane made it a science, his assistant Paul Deposta from Harvard- gleaned the most of players no body wanted. No team was calculating or running the numbers, the way the Oakland did( now each team has several number analyst running the numbers).
It a great book. See the movie first then read the book- if you do it reverse you will be disappointed. The book explains it so that most people could understand this phenomena.
If you are a Met fan and you can't make sense out of the moves Sandy Alderson has made this offseason, you need to read this book! Also, it gave some insight into Paul DePodesta, who was Billy Beane's right-hand man in Oakland and is now one of Alderson's deputies with the Mets.
Also, as a politics buff, I found it funny how the panel assembled by Comissioner Bud Selig included George Will and Paul Volcker, where the conservative Will lobbied for the maintenance of socialism in baseball while Volcker, an Obama advisor, was the one skeptical if small market teams were really suffering under the current structure.
Lewis, as he does in his other famous books on finance, dispels many myths that somehow perpetuate themselves due to ignorance and tradition. Baseball, due to its popularity and long history, undoubtedly caused him more exasperation from insiders than his other books. Reading his Epilogue describing the storm of protest from baseball's aristocracy, my first reaction was surprise. In hindsight, though, it's only natural that the "Club" or "Women's Auxiliary", as he puts it, would be indignant when the little boy said the "King had no Clothes". I'm surprised he wasn't burned in effigy.
To a long time fan like me, though, it was a tour of infinite wisdom and innumerable "Eureka!" moments. The idea that you shouldn't bunt? On base and slugging percentage over batting average? Really? Now that I've "drank the Kool-Aid", though, it seems so logical that the only wonder is that baseball was allowed to meander its way aimlessly so long. As usual, Lewis gives deserving credit to those who cried foul on overrated baseball statistics long before he took his pen in hand.
Now, it seems, most of professional baseball has bought the wisdom at least in principle. My casual observations of the change in terminology during broadcasts and at the game has now been validated and explained. There's just so much one can do, though, with a careless billionaire hellbent on spending his money foolishly on a shiny bauble.
Anyone who has an interest in professional sports, particularly baseball, will find this book fascinating. Lewis is a master of non-fiction storytelling and this one describes a true paradigm shift that has forever changed the game.