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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

When Sports Illustrated declared on the cover of a June 2014 issue that the Houston Astros would win the World Series in 2017, people thought Ben Reiter, the article’s author, was crazy. The Astros were the worst baseball team in half a century, but they were more than just bad. They were an embarrassment, a club that didn’t even appear to be trying to win. The cover story, combined with the specificity of Reiter’s claim, met instant and nearly universal derision. But three years later, the critics were proved improbably, astonishingly wrong. How had Reiter predicted it so accurately? And, more important, how had the Astros pulled off the impossible? 

Astroball is the inside story of how a gang of outsiders went beyond the stats to find a new way to win - and not just in baseball. When new Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and his top analyst, the former rocket scientist Sig Mejdal, arrived in Houston in 2011, they had already spent more than half a decade trying to understand how human instinct and expertise could be blended with hard numbers such as on-base percentage and strikeout rate to guide their decision-making. In Houston, they had free rein to remake the club. No longer would scouts, with all their subjective, hard-to-quantify opinions, be forced into opposition with the stats guys. Instead, Luhnow and Sig wanted to correct for the biases inherent in human observation, and then roll their scouts’ critical thoughts into their process. The numbers had value - but so did the gut. 

The strategy paid off brilliantly, and surprisingly quickly. It pointed the Astros toward key draft picks like Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman; offered a path for developing George Springer, José Altuve, and Dallas Keuchel; and showed them how veterans like Carlos Beltrán and Justin Verlander represented the last piece in the puzzle of fielding a championship team. 

Sitting at the nexus of sports, business, and innovation - and written with years of access to the team’s stars and executives - Astroball is the story of the next wave of thinking in baseball and beyond, at once a remarkable underdog story and a fascinating look at the cutting edge of evaluating and optimizing human potential.

©2018 Ben Reiter (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Ben Reiter has written the definitive, untold story of the biggest turnaround in recent baseball history. This riveting behind-the-scenes account offers fresh insight into the executives who built the 2017 World Series champions - and the players who delivered. Astroball is Moneyball for the next generation, not just the baseball book of the year, but the business and ideas book of the year as well.” (Ken Rosenthal, two-time Sports Emmy winner for Outstanding Sports Reporter) 

“Reading Astroball is like being part of the Astros' Decision Sciences team or having a seat and a laptop in their Nerd Cave. Ben Reiter gives us an inside look at the state of the art of winning baseball: packed with cutting-edge technology, psychology and analytics, but allowing for the human element.” (Tom Verducci, bestselling author of The Yankee Years (with Joe Torre) and The Cubs Way)

“This book is the definitive look at the recent history of the Houston Astros and how they became the model franchise for the present and future of MLB. Ben takes you through the evolving blueprint that delivered both a championship in the fall of 2017 and a roster built to win for years to come. Reiter called it first, on the cover of SI in 2014. I wish he would pick my stocks.” (Joe Buck, three-time National Sportscaster of the Year and best-selling author of Lucky Bastard)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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More About the Story than the Process

This book focuses on the individuals who made the Astro's 2017 World Series win possible. 50% of the book is focused on the general manager and the analysts. 50% of the book is focused on the baseball players. The story of these individuals is told as their backgrounds, baseball experiences, and what they contributed to the Astros are covered. This person driven narrative makes for a great story.

This book doesn't spend much time actually covering the system that the Astro's employed to ultimately win the World Series. You will learn the basic principle (pair Moneyball's statistics with the scouts intuition), but that principle isn't developed much further than that. You will hear about how this principle was applied each time a major player was signed or developed as an Astro's player, so you do get a sense for how it improved the Astros.

This is a great book about people and their achievements. I'd recommend listening to this book in a handful of long sessions.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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For Baseball Fans, Houstonians, and ... Math Geeks

A peak behind the curtains of one the biggest turnarounds in recent sports history.

It hasn’t even been a year since the Astro’s seeming overnight success during the 2017 World Series and Astroball proves that it was neither an accident nor an overnight happenstance.

A must read for baseball fans, Houstonians, and ... math geeks.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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don't like baseball

but a lot of great info, the best quote, models aren't always right, but they are useful

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Tribute to the 2017 WS Champs

A great read going into the postseason. Inspiring for anyone who respects those who persevere. Have your kids read this. These gentlemen are role models. I ate up this book in a day. The lessons learned by Luhnow and Mejdal as recounted by the author and the impact of Carlos Beltran on every aspect mentioned getting to the World Series were my favorite parts. It’s not just a sports book. Houston teachers, read this to your students and have a discussion. Use real people, living examples of how to become smarter, have discipline, develop confidence. This book contains this.

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I love the Astros even more now

This book is the best thing I’ve read in a long time! I learned so much & gained a deeper appreciation for the “process”. It is so interesting! I’ve been recommending it to all of my friends & talking about it nonstop to my husband & son! I loved it!

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  • PS
  • Revere, ma United States
  • 09-16-18

Boring and lacks substance.

Boring and lacks substance. Nothing like Money Ball by Michael Lewis. Very disappointing despite the hype.

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not as good as money ball<br />

the book is not as good as Moneyball you can tell the author isn't really sabermetric inclined but other than that it was okay

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Astronomically Good Quality

I’ll write a much more in-depth review elsewhere from my computer, but this vivid description of the Astros’ historic turnaround showcases how excellent of a reporter Ben Reiter is. The man delved deeply into the backstories and psyche of not just players and coaches, but scouts, executives and analytics people. The depth and breadth of his reporting and research allowed him to tell each and every story with incredibly analytical and rich detail. I love how this book is about people and human nature as much as it is about throwing and hitting a ball with red seams.

His epic work here should inspire readers and fellow writers alike.

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Outstanding

I was taken back to not only the feelings I had during the playoffs & World Series, but my childhood! I cried, laughed & had constant chills through the duration of the book! Will be enjoyable for hardcore fans & bandwagoners as well!

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Lastros

Awesome book understanding the method to the madness. Lived in Houston from 2010 through 2014 and never never attended a winning game at Minute Maid Park. Now I see why. Also if you're a data nerd, you'll enjoy this one. I wish however, the author went more in-depth with that aspect.