Billy Beane, general manager of MLB's Oakland A's and protagonist of Michael Lewis's Moneyball
had a problem: how to win in the Major Leagues with a budget that's smaller than that of nearly every other team. Conventional wisdom long held that big name, highly athletic hitters and young pitchers with rocket arms were the ticket to success. But Beane and his staff, buoyed by massive amounts of carefully interpreted statistical data, believed that wins could be had by more affordable methods such as hitters with high on-base percentage and pitchers who get lots of ground outs. Given this information and a tight budget, Beane defied tradition and his own scouting department to build winning teams of young affordable players and inexpensive cast-off veterans.
Lewis was in the room with the A's top management as they spent the summer of 2002 adding and subtracting players and he provides outstanding play-by-play. In the June player draft, Beane acquired nearly every prospect he coveted (few of whom were coveted by other teams) and at the July trading deadline he engaged in a tense battle of nerves to acquire a lefty reliever.
Besides being one of the most insider accounts ever written about baseball, Moneyball is populated with fascinating characters. We meet Jeremy Brown, an overweight college catcher who most teams project to be a 15th round draft pick (Beane takes him in the first). Sidearm pitcher Chad Bradford is plucked from the White Sox triple-A club to be a key set-up man and catcher Scott Hatteberg is rebuilt as a first baseman. But the most interesting character is Beane himself. A speedy athletic can't-miss prospect who somehow missed, Beane reinvents himself as a front-office guru, relying on players completely unlike, say, Billy Beane. Lewis, one of the top non-fiction writers of his era (Liar's Poker, Next), offers highly accessible explanations of baseball stats and his roadmap of Beane's economic approach makes Moneyball an appealing reading experience for business people and sports fans alike. --John Moe, Amazon.com
"Lewis has hit another one out of the park... You need know absolutely nothing about baseball to appreciate the wit, snap, economy and incisiveness of [Lewis'] thoughts about it." The New York Times "I understood about one in four words of Moneybal, and it's still the best and most engrossing sports book I've read for years. If you know anyting about baseball, you will enjoy it four times as much as I did, which means that you might explode." Nick Hornby "What does it take to turn a subject like baseball statistics into a true-life thriller not even a baseball-loathing bibliophobe could put down? Answer: saturation reporting, conceptual thinking of a high order, a rich sense of humor, and talent to burn. In short, Michael Lewis. Moneyball is his grandest tour de force yet." Tom Wolfe "This delightfully written, lesson-laden book deserves a place of its own in the Baseball Hall of Fame." Forbes "Anyone who cares about baseball must read it." Newsweek" "Engaging, informative and deliciously contrarian." Washington Post
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