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The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind… (2016)
by Ben Lindbergh, Sam Miller
Top Five Books of 2015 (764)
Top Five Books of 2016 (731)
No current Talk conversations about this book.
My only complaint is that there wasn't more nerdy analytic ideas that the authors got to try out. It really does make you realize though how much of modern team success is down to composition rather than tactics. Sure, aggregate managerial decisions could boost your WAR marginally, but really it's the ability to identify talent and roles (fireman) that makes such an immense difference compared to conventional wisdom.
An interesting read for those intrigued on what it looks like when you let two guys deep in the statistical analysis of baseball loose on a professional team.
To quote from their acknowledgements: "There's no wrong way to love the game."
Lindbergh and Miller are two journalists who firmly believe in the utility of statistical analysis for improving and managing baseball players and teams. They get the opportunity to essentially manage an independent minor league team for a season, and this book relates what happened. Their story is engaging and hits all the baseball high points: statistics reveal talent no one else sees, clashes with traditionalists, friction and friendship among teammates, victories and defeats. I devoured this book and recommend it to any baseball fan!
Best baseball book I've read. Insights into the future of baseball, but also the all too human side as well.
It's the ultimate in fantasy baseball: You get to pick the roster, set the lineup, and decide on strategies--with real players, in a real ballpark, playing in real time. That's what Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller got to do when the Sonoma Stompers, an independent minor-league team in California, offered them the chance to run the team's baseball operations according to the most advanced statistics. Their story is unlike any other baseball tale you've ever read. We tag along as Lindbergh and Miller apply their number-crunching insights to all aspects of assembling and running a team, following one cardinal rule: It has to work. We meet colorful figures like general manager Theo Fightmaster and boundary-breakers like the first openly gay player in American professional baseball. Even José Canseco makes a cameo appearance. Will their knowledge of numbers bring the Stompers a championship? Will the team have a competitive advantage, or is the old folk wisdom really true after all? Will the players attract the attention of big-league scouts or will this be a fast track to oblivion? It's a wild ride, as the authors' infectious enthusiasm and feel for the absurd make the Stompers' story one that will speak to numbers geeks and traditionalists alike. And in a new afterword, Lindbergh and Miller pick up the story in a new season to show how the team and its players continue to break new ground, on and off the field.
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An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.
It's about two baseball writers, Ben and Sam, who spend a season on the baseball operations staff of a team, the Stompers, in an independent baseball league. They have the idea that they will bring "major league" analysis to this team (normally independent leagues don't use a whole lot of metrics) and really use numbers to drive the management of the team i.e. crazy shifts, using five infielders, etc.
As a huge baseball fan, I thought this would be very interesting, but in the reality, Ben and Sam learned a lot, but not sure they learned a lot about using metrics to manage a team. What they learned is that baseball managers don't like being told how to manage much. And that if you recruit the best available baseball players, they get poached by better funded, more appealing independent leagues.
From the title, you think it's all going to work out in movie like fashion. But Moneyball it isn't.
To add to the issues, there's a lot of replication of spreadsheets in the book as well as texts which were all but unreadable on the Kindle edition. You may need a magnifying glass if you don't buy the dead tree version.
This book would have been a great 8 page article in ESPN Magazine, but as a book, it was not a home run. I will give the authors kudos for their total honesty, but while they seem extremely intelligent about numbers, I'm not sure they knew much about how to implement change effectively. The story was more about their thought process than a verdict on the success or failure of their theories. ( )