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Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (2003)

by Michael Lewis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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5,0601251,801 (4.21)101
This book explains how Billy Beene, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, is using a new kind of thinking to build a successful and winning baseball team without spending enormous sums of money. The author examines the fallacy behind the major league baseball refrain that the team with the biggest wallet is supposed to win. Over the past four years the Oakland Athletics, a major league team with a minor league payroll, have had one of the best records in the country. General Manager Billy Beene is putting into practice on the field revolutionary principles to build his team that have been concocted by geek statisticians and college professors, rather than using the old scouting technique called "gut instinct." The author takes us behind the scenes with the Oakland A's, into the dugouts, and into the conference rooms where the annual Major League draft is held by conference call, and rumor mongering is par for the course as each team jockeys for position for their favored player.I wrote this book because I fell in love with a story. The story concerned a small group of undervalued professional baseball players and executives, many of whom had been rejected as unfit for the big leagues, who had turned themselves into one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball. But the idea for the book came well before I had good reason to write it, before I had a story to fall in love with. It began, really, with an innocent question: how did one of the poorest teams in baseball, the Oakland Athletics, win so many games? This book is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can't buy: the secret of success in baseball.… (more)
  1. 10
    Dollar Sign on the Muscle: The World of Baseball Scouting by Kevin Kerrane (bostonian71)
    bostonian71: A good look at how baseball scouts work and what they look for, and an interesting counterpoint to the stats-based approach described in Moneyball.
  2. 10
    The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First by Jonah Keri (tmarlow05)
    tmarlow05: Details the rise of the Tampa Bay Rays. Shows how techniques used on Wall Street can be utilized to put together a competitive baseball team.
  3. 21
    Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall (zhejw)
    zhejw: Both books are stories of outsiders changing the conventional way of approaching a sport. Both authors write compelling narratives that draw the reader into the stories of the individuals who are at the center of this new way of looking at their sport.
  4. 00
    Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey--and Even Iraq--Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport by Simon Kuper (chazzard)
    chazzard: The authors of Soccernomics frequently refer to Moneyball, and apply similar statistical methods.
  5. 23
    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt (tcarter)
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Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
Non-fiction about how Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane used sabermetrics to develop winning baseball team at less expense than the wealthier teams in the industry. Published in 2003, we can see much of Beane’s philosophy being practiced now throughout the game. There are fewer sacrifices, hit & runs, and steals, and more emphasis on walks and reliance on statistical probabilities in making decisions. On base percentage plus slugging has upstaged the traditional measurements of RBIs, runs scored, and batting average.

The book is part biography of Billy Beane, part homage to Bill James (the father of sabermetrics), part explanation of the (at the time) unorthodox strategies employed by the A’s, and part a case study in resistance to change. Personal stories of a few A’s players are also included. In 2002, the baseball season covered in this book, the A’s won 102 games and finished first in their division.

Lewis has strong opinions about the effectiveness of past methods, and makes no bones about criticizing scouts, managers, general managers, and pretty much anyone that disagrees with him. This can, at times, be grating, as the former regime has certainly had successes in developing star players. Of course, most of this work occurred prior to the computing age, so they did not have the same tools, and, therefore, it is not a level playing field (pun intended) by which to judge. I did not see the need to come down so hard on some individuals, who are hard-working baseball people with good intentions.

Moneyball is written such that a person does not need any in-depth knowledge of statistics, as the author explains the mathematics in a straight-forward manner, possibly over-simplifying to reach a wider audience. With the benefit of hindsight, it is obvious that baseball has adopted some of the concepts put forth in this book, such as drafting college players more frequently than those in high school and establishing an Analytics Department to evaluate the numbers.

This book will appeal to those interested in the history of baseball or the application of statistical methods to the game. It is a good example of “out of the box” thinking. It will be interesting to see what is next in the drive to gain a competitive advantage now that “analyzing the numbers” is more widely embraced. ( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
The million dollar question was, how could one of the poorest teams in baseball become one the biggest success stories of the year? Not all the teams in baseball have the same resources; there’s a huge discrepancy between them. So it comes down to making the best out of what you have, and nobody does that better than Billy Beane. Beane was a talented baseball player with lots of promise himself before he quit. Where he failed in playing the game, he excelled in recruiting and managing. Using new baseball knowledge and theories that needed testing, Beane was able to cobble together a winning team out of misfits. Before the end of the book, you’ll be pulling for this team of eccentric players.

The Bottom Line: At times riveting and other times dry, this book encourages the reader to think outside the box. It presents information about baseball and statistics in a way that was new at the time. Following the challenges and triumphs of one of the poorest teams in baseball is fascinating. You will be amazed at what can be done with limited funds, and you will be rooting as the team tries to break a record. Recommended for sports fans and those interested in statistics.

For the complete review including Book Club Notes, please visit the Mini Book Bytes Book Review Blog. ( )
  aya.herron | Sep 30, 2022 |
The book was a bit turgid so I switched to watching the DVD (Brad Pitt played the MC, Billy Beane). Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill) was my favourite character because I liked the geeky draw of using the stats ('Sabermetrics') to evaluate impartially signing major league baseball players. Brand's character didn't come across in the book as well as in the film. The premise of the written story was great, though my star rating reflects the book, I'd give the film 4-stars! ( )
1 vote SandyAMcPherson | Aug 12, 2022 |
Baseball ... it's so interesting on so many levels ... ( )
  donhazelwood | Mar 11, 2022 |
Moneyball is way more entertaining than it has any right to be. It follows the story of the low-budget Oakland A's and their unorthodox general manager Billy Beane as they use statistics and the scientific method to succeed against teams with much larger payrolls.Lewis is a very entertaining writer, at times laugh out loud funny, who has turned what could have been a very dry subject into a real page turner. I read this in one day, which is unusual for me with non-fiction. ( )
  tsmom1219 | Feb 24, 2022 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Lewisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Neugarten, RobertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Lately in a wreck of a Californian ship, one of the
passengers fastened a belt about him with two hundred
pounds of gold in it, with which he was found afterwards
at the bottom. Now, as he was sinking-- had he the gold?
or the gold him?
--John Ruskin, Unto This Last
Dedication
For Billy Fitzgerald
I can still hear him shouting at me
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The first thing they always did was run you.
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This book explains how Billy Beene, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics, is using a new kind of thinking to build a successful and winning baseball team without spending enormous sums of money. The author examines the fallacy behind the major league baseball refrain that the team with the biggest wallet is supposed to win. Over the past four years the Oakland Athletics, a major league team with a minor league payroll, have had one of the best records in the country. General Manager Billy Beene is putting into practice on the field revolutionary principles to build his team that have been concocted by geek statisticians and college professors, rather than using the old scouting technique called "gut instinct." The author takes us behind the scenes with the Oakland A's, into the dugouts, and into the conference rooms where the annual Major League draft is held by conference call, and rumor mongering is par for the course as each team jockeys for position for their favored player.I wrote this book because I fell in love with a story. The story concerned a small group of undervalued professional baseball players and executives, many of whom had been rejected as unfit for the big leagues, who had turned themselves into one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball. But the idea for the book came well before I had good reason to write it, before I had a story to fall in love with. It began, really, with an innocent question: how did one of the poorest teams in baseball, the Oakland Athletics, win so many games? This book is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can't buy: the secret of success in baseball.

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W.W. Norton

3 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393324818, 0393057658, 0393338398

 

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