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

4.5 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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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 21.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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, Weekly Standard

"Ebullient, invigorating.... Provides plenty of action, both numerical and athletic, on the field and in the draft-day war room." --Lev Grossman, Time

"A journalistic tour de force." --Richard J. Tofel, Wall Street Journal

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
American baseball - I wouldn't even read a book about British cricket and I played that avidly as a kid. I do not know what a walk is or a strikeout or a home run but this book proved compulsive reading.

Oakland A are a small, unsexy US baseball team who consistently got to near the top of the baseball leagues on a fraction of the money and budget of the leading high profile teams like the Boston White Sox or the New York Yankies. When you think of intellectuals influencing the course of human affairs, you think of physics, or political theory or economics. You do not think of baseball because you don't think of baseball as having an intellectual underpinning. But everything does have an intellectual underpinning and when an original thinker applies his mind startling results can be achieved.

Billy James, a Kansas University educated pork and bean factory worker was fascinated by baseball and studied it assiduously. He published his first leaflet : 1977 Baseball abstract: Featuring 18 Categories of Statistical Information That You Just Can't Find Anywhere Else. Doesn't sound a best seller does it?

But his thesis was that people in charge of professional baseball believed they could judge players performance simply by watching it. In this conventional wisdom on which millions of dollars was lavished, they were deeply mistaken. It was only by measurement and statistics that you could distinguish the good hitter from the average hitter - it is simply not visible.

James theory was not original - many others had measured players' performance. But he lived in a time of radical advances in computer technology enabling him to analyse vast amounts of data.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
very detailed, an interesting read if you follow baseball.
If not really into baseball then the film is probably more suited than the book.
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everyone assumes Billy B is the hero, when its obvs Bill J
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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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