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Astroball

The New Way to Win It All
Narrated by: Ben Reiter
Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (462 ratings)
Regular price: $24.50
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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

“Reiter’s superb narrative of how the team got there provides powerful insights into how organizations - not just baseball clubs - work best.” (Wall Street Journal

"Colorful...Astroball plays like a giant crossword puzzle as pieces of the team are slotted in leading up to the franchise's historic moment." (USA Today

 
"Astroball is the baseball book of the year, essential for baseball executives at every level, accessible and fun for fans." (Star Tribune

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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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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Essential for Astros or Baseball Analytics Fan

As an Astros fan, this book was a great way to re-live one of the best baseball season’s of my life. It pulled all of the stories I knew about the team, and some I didn’t, into a single spot.

Analytically, it didn’t go into a ton of detail, but does serve as continued inspiration for baseball analytic dreamers. Similarly, some of the thoughts work their way into non-baseball business as well. It’s also a reminder that businesses much change to grow and that failure to adapt will lead to the death of the business.

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Peel Back the Curtain

Great story of how the Astros built their championship team. Not a deep statistical book. More of a light-hearted story. Very enjoyable.

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Go 'Stros

I'm a life long fan, so I really enjoyed this one. Even for a casual observer, the story is pretty interesting considering Reiter called it two years out. He does a great job describing players, situations, and back-office support. Description of the "x-factor" in cyber-metrics is really what made this team incredible. He emphasizes Beltran, and the impact he had in the club house and with hitters. You have to wonder if he is what brought it all together as they fell short in 2018.

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Terrific read for any baseball fan...

Great behind the scenes look at the process that helped the Houston Disastros become World Champions. Engaging performance and terrific pacing. Highly recommended.

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Earned History!!!

Great book that gives amazing insight to the Astros Championship!!! Would recommend for anybody who wants to learn how this happened.

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GREAT!!!

great story behind one of the best teams in mlb history. easy to listen to and follow, even if you don't support the Astros and root for an inferior franchise. my only complaint is that the book is too short and the author kinda just skimmed right over the world series. he spent almost as much time, if not more, discussing trivial players from other teams, as he did the 7 game series. otherwise, it's a great book

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Decent book

Decent book. I wish he would have gotten deeper into the analytics and not focused as much on the players and people. You didn’t need to start the book with a history of the Astros or the life story of the owner or GM. It felt like he was fluffing the book because of that. Also, he should have let a professional read his book. His narration was poor and it definitely felt like he was reading a book to you in mostly monotone.

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An incredible look into an incredible team

Such a wonderful read of a team that means so much to me. So cool getting the backstory of the hard work and and dedication that it took to build this team.