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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: 1.4 x 0.2 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,838 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

"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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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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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Olly Buxton on 28 April 2004
Format: Paperback
Being a British naturalised Kiwi, I could not possibly know (or, to be honest, care) less about baseball. Nonetheless, I found this to be a fascinating book, and have been recommending it to everyone I meet. It contains a fundamental truth of investing that anyone could use, useful precisely because most people (like the low-scoring reviewers on this site) think they know best:

If all armchair sports fans think they know better than the others, it stands to reason that most of them are wrong.

The fact that the Oakland A's never won the world series is absolutely not the point. If the market was functioning efficiently, on their budget, they should never have got within cooey of it: The buying power of behemoths like the Mets should have ensured that. What is remarkable - and important - is that the A's consistently, massively, exceeded *their own* expectations.

Sport is a business. I mean that figuratively as well as literally: profit can be measured in dollar terms but also in percentage of wins to losses. Fans seem to forget that. In business, consistently exceeding expectations is an even better thing than winning the World Series, because it necessarily means you've made MONEY. If you're the favourite and you win the World Series, you have only met expectations, and you may even have made a loss.

If baseball were a perfect market, it wouldn't be possible to exceed expectations over a long period. Over a few games, maybe - that could be a fluke. Over two seasons, it almost certainly couldn't be. That means two things: (a) conventional wisdom about the value of certain baseball players and certain attributes is wrong; and (b) The Oakland A's have worked out what is right, or at any rate their model is better than the conventional wisdom.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. J. Morledge on 4 April 2008
Format: Paperback
Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, takes as its central focus the exploits of the Oakland A's and their svengali general manager Billy Beane. Ignoring conventional baseball wisdom, he and Paul DePodesta have developed a whole new strategy, using the groundbreaking work of the likes of Bill James, for competing in the big leagues on a fraction of the budget of teams like the New York Yankees.

In essence this very readable book can be divided into two distinct styles, the personal and the scientific. When Lewis addresses the history and use of baseball theory, that is to say statistical analysis in the judging of players and games, he creates a sense of an almost academic approach to a national passtime. While this could be utterly confusing to a non baseball fan, to anyone with an interest in the game his discussions come as something of a revelation and can only serve as a starting point to further reading.

But where this book really comes into its own is in the personal stories and psychology of Billy Beane and his team. While it is made abundantly clear that Beane is no ordinary GM, the insight this book provides into the workings of a front office and its relationship with both the playing staff and management is utterly compelling.

All in all, for a baseball fan this is an absolute must read and for everyone else, you are guaranteed to find something of interest.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By John E. Davidson on 17 Jan 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a good book about a fascinating story. In a nutshell it is the story of Billy Beane and how he defied conventional baseball wisdom. Billy Beane was (is) the general manager of the Oakland As, a relatively poor, small market team attempting to complete with the big boys (the New York Yankees) with only a small fraction of the budget.
How could he compete? His approach was to eschew the conventional view of what a good baseball prospect is and to use the statistical methods developed by Bill James et al to help him get good players at a reasonable price. The story is made more poignant because Billy was a 'great' prospect' who only managed a fairly mediocre career - essentially his method means that he is only interested in players who are not like him. For example: he favoured college players over high school players (for one thing they have played for longer so there are more statistics, for another they are statistically more likely to succeed); he believed that on-base percentage was the fundamental baseball percentage and was not something that could be easily taught. Finally he had the nerve to put it into practice.
The style of the book is highly anecdotal, which works well most of the time, particularly in the chapters about the unlikely success of certain players, but it does occasionally grate. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I think that he includes just about the right amount of statistical detail - enough to be interesting; not so much as to become tedious.
In many ways the most interesting thing about the book is the reaction from the Club (as he calls the collection of baseball 'insiders') - who seem to a) not really understand the book and b) hate it because they are the custodians of conventional wisdom.
Highly recommended for baseball enthusiasts and sports fans in general
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