Special thanks to Sasha, Stacy and Stef for sharing the Audible experience with me and being the best of company during my recovery.
Okay the title is a bit hyperbolic but in a sense is true. This book changed people's perception of the the way the game is played. Billy Beane was once a star high school player; a five tool guy (the ability to run, catch, throw, hit and hit with power.) He was the highest rated player in the draft. Alas it was not to be; he was never able to let his talent lead. He ended up a journeyman, borderline major leaguer. So to paraphrase Michael Lewis he went in search for the anti Billy Beane.
As Assistant General Manager his boss Sandy Alderson had recommended the works of Bill James. James was a baseball fan who had, on his own gathered more statistics than those generally released by MLB had worked a new formula for judging the effectiveness of baseball players. He had determined that the two most effective stats for judging everyday players was on base percentage and slugging percentage not batting average or runs batted in.
Now that wasn't totally new. Earl Weaver the manager of the Baltimore Orioles from 1968 through 1982 had preferred players who hit for power and got on base via the base on balls. For that matter Connie Mack the A's manager from the first year of the team's existence 1901 to the the early 1950's always at least one player who worked counts and took a lot of bases on balls. James went into more detail and published his findings building a core group of followers.
Beane; faced with a limited budget came up with the concept, if not the name Moneyball. With less capital available the A's needed to be more efficient with the money they spent on players. This book was written in 2002 and in the years since Beane and the A's have continued to be a playoff team despite being in the bottom five in payroll every year.
One of the major points in the book was Beane's legendary temper of which there were stories going back to his playing days in the Rookie leagues.
These days every team in the big leagues concentrates on things like base on balls, pitches seen per at bat, and running up the pitch count of the opposing teams starting pitchers. There was a huge backlash among many of the baseball insiders in the aftermath of the book's release but many of those attitudes have passed as the A's have continued to be competitive and successful. In short though the book's information is no longer startling or even unique it's still a good read or listen. Five stars.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
To begin, I was enthralled with this book from beginning to end. Narration is solid, the prose is entertaining and informative and there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment and wonder in this book. How, armed just with better knowledge, can a significantly poor team like the Oakland Athletics compete, consistently, with the super rich Yankees and Red Sox? That should just not be possible, but it is. And here you'll learn how.
It's a story about how a few people tore apart the baseball institutions and put them back together after examining every piece and - seemingly for the first time since the sport was invented - asking if we REALLY know what we think we know about it. For instance, how important are RBIs, walks, stolen bases and home runs? How can you measure the importance of fielding? And what if - just what if - every way we have ever measured baseball is plain wrong.
One moment in the book should illustrate how this book is not just fascinating but also transcendent of baseball. We learn that RBIs have been incorrectly evaluated for decades, errors make no sense, fielding isn't measured at all and walks are completely calculated incorrectly. At this point the author asks an amazing and interesting question, if we baseball has been watched live by tens of thousands of people in the stadium and by millions of more on television and YET the wrong things have been measured, then how likely is it that the more subtly things in our every day life have been incorrectly evaluated and weighted?
That one thought has actually made me re-evaluate aspects of my job and my life. This book is that good. You should buy it.
I don't write book reports.
I'm not as baseball fan, but I like the game of stats and trading players as if they were just cattle, but instead of feeding grass, they get big contracts. I remembered watching something on 60 Minutes on Bill James, "Stat Man".. I wanted to know more. As a non baseball fan, I kept reading this title because Micheal Lewis does a decent job as explaining the game without going into extra innings. Lewis also does an good job on telling the story on the players, like Chad Bradford and how he progress to the Major's and his struggle to stay on top. Bradford's story alone is worth the credit for this book. Wonderful story. Can't wait for the movie.
Forget all the bull about poetry of the game or athletic hunches. This book isn't about economics or even baseball so much as it is about life. What makes books by Michael Lewis so relatable is he uses an honest examination of each individual to show their character, beneath any facade. I don't like baseball, but I love this book.
I loved the story and how brilliantly Billy Bean used an unfair system to his advantage. Anyone interested in the practical application of economic principles will love this book.
I loved the book. It includes a much better discussion of the statistics that make baseball 'inefficient'. The performance is also excellent.
By the end of the book I was still very interested in Billy Bean in particular. And I do think the book was interesting and very well constructed, but in hind sight I am not the target audience. I am not sure I would change the book as much as I would change my expectations.
Yes! I like Michael Lewis' writing style and the in-depth approach he takes. I feel more knowledgable having read this and I am sure his other books would do the same.
Engaging, passionate, alive