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Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game Paperback – 13 Jul 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (13 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393324818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393324815
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 20.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Lewis was born in New Orleans and educated at Princeton University and the London School of Economics. He has written several books including the New York Times bestseller, Liar's Poker, widely considered the book that defined Wall Street during the 1980s. Lewis is contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and also writes for Vanity Fair and Portfolio magazine. He is married with three children.

Product Description

Amazon Review

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"?Moneyball is the best business book Lewis has written. It may be the best business book ?anyone;?has written." -- Mark Gerson "Ebullient, invigorating... Provides plenty of action, both numerical and athletic, on the field and in the draft-day war room." -- Lev Grossman "A journalistic tour de force." -- Richard J. Tofel

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A.D.M. on 29 July 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you love the underdog, you will love the story of the Oakland Athletics from the last few years. I enjoyed this book a great deal, racing through it in a couple of days. Lewis has done a great job of showing just why the Oakland Athletics have been competing with the New York Yankees the past few years. The revealing chapters on Oakland's draft strategies and approach to trading show their general manager, Billy Beane, to be a guy who is flying by the seat of his pants, trying to eke out any tiny advantage he can, getting the most from every single dollar he spends on his team.
Although this book will appeal to any disciple of baseball analysts like Bill James and Rob Neyer or the Baseball Prospectus team (all who receive positive mentions in this book), I found the moments where the book dwelled on the statistics and theory to be very dry and boring. Luckily, there was probably on 20 or so pages of this in the entire book, and the rest of the time it concentrates on the more human side, the psychology and the baseball. The chapters devoted to two individual players who became successful despite the odds were particularly enjoyable.
Overall this is an essential book for any baseball fan. Traditionalists may balk at some of the ideas and thoughts contained, but any baseball fan with an open mind will find it a joy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Peter L. Hurst on 5 Dec. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Moneyball is ostensibly a book about Baseball, superfIcially a book about the Oakland A's (equivalent of Bolton Wanderers under Sam Allardyce) and their General Manager (equivalent of a 'Director of football') Billy Beane in the late 90's/early Noughties and how a club with scarce financial resources consistently out-performed its more wealthy rivals and it is! But it is so much more than that, this book has more layers than an onion.

On one level this is a book about Baseball and a maverick who subverted the consensus view on how the game should be played and understood but on a deeper level this is a case study of an idea. It is behavioural economics as applied to sport.

The book demonstrates how Billy Beane used the insights of a Baseball statistician named Bill James (a cipher for Nobel winning behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman, author of 'Thinking, Fast and Slow'?) and the practical mathematical genius of Paul Podesta (a Harvard graduate with no Baseball experience) to outsmart his competitors.

'Reason, even science, was what Billy Beane was intent on bringing to Baseball...... Paul wanted to look at stats because the stats offered offered him new ways of understanding.....That was James's most general point: the naked eye was an inadequate tool for learning what you needed to know to evaluate baseball players and baseball games.'

On one level level this is an old-fashioned David vs Goliath story but on a deeper level it is a book about two competing views of human nature. The view being triumphed in this book is that of 'behavioural economics.' In short, that human beings are inherently irrational.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gs-trentham VINE VOICE on 22 Dec. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In 1990 I fulfilled a long-standing ambition and went to the first two games of the World Series. Cincinatti Reds were on their way to sweeping the Oakland As. The previous year, the As had won the Series for the ninth time, a total still exceeded only by the New York Yankees and the St Louis Cardinals. But in the 21 years since that defeat the World Series hasn't seen the As again.

In Moneyball, Michael Lewis suggests a simple explanation: the game's finances had gone stratospheric, leaving the As unable to compete for the superstars. At the same time, he explains how they remained seriously competitive without going bankrupt: they disregarded the gut instincts of scouts immersed in subjective assessment of players, adopting instead an analysis of statistics weighted in favour of certain key elements.

At first, the book looks at how and why the analysis worked, but it evolves into the story of a single season when it was the essential rationale that governed the way Oakland identified and signed players. So it becomes a human story, focussing on the unlikely heroes out on the diamond and on the General Manager who believes implicitly in the information emerging from the computer of his Number Two. The General Manager is Billy Beane, a former player who should have been a star but never quite made it, and is now a quixotic leader who prefers to be somewhere else when his team is playing. It will be a hard-hearted reader who fails to empathise with Beane as the season unfolds. Never mind the mathematics, the book is worth reading if only to sit beside him while he trades away his best players in order to sign unrated others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kuma on 22 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael Lewis is better known for his books giving an insider's view into the world of high finance and economics so knocking out a book on baseball may seem somewhat incongruous. However, a few pages in and the parallels between the two subjects seem suspiciously close - like Liar's Poker and The Big Short and their investors trying to make a killing on the markets by staying ahead of the game using information and careful blagging, Moneyball tracks cash-strapped baseball team the Oakland Athletics and their unconventional manager Billy Beane as they successfully compete against the wealthy teams by careful analysis of players' statistics and doing the complete opposite of what is generally expected. Picking up a rag-tag line-up of players that don't look the part for knockdown salaries - fat kids, kids that throw funny, kids that are scared to hit the ball, older players thought past their prime - they give the multi-million dollar players more than a run for their money, continually defying the odds season after season to finish near the top. This is a book packed both with wit and fascinating insight into the science of baseball (you don't need to be an enthusiast to start with but you may end up being one at the end!) and a very engrossing read, highly recommended!

I would suggest trying to pick up the edition with the "new afterword" which discusses the response to the book from the "baseball industry" which treated as arrogant bragadocio from writer Billy Beane, totally missing that it wasn't actually written by Mr Beane and was hardly boastful or arrogant. The baseball industry - the writers, scouts, managers etc - continues to perpetuate their myths even as other smaller teams (and some of the bigger teams) adopt the A's modus operandi with similar successful results.
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