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 castoff 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 nonfiction writers of his era (Liar's Poker, The New New Thing), 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
From Publishers Weekly
Lewis (Liar's Poker; The New New Thing) examines how in 2002 the Oakland Athletics achieved a spectacular winning record while having the smallest player payroll of any major league baseball team. Given the heavily publicized salaries of players for teams like the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, baseball insiders and fans assume that the biggest talents deserve and get the biggest salaries. However, argues Lewis, little-known numbers and statistics matter more. Lewis discusses Bill James and his annual stats newsletter, Baseball Abstract, along with other mathematical analysis of the game. Surprisingly, though, most managers have not paid attention to this research, except for Billy Beane, general manager of the A's and a former player; according to Lewis, "[B]y the beginning of the 2002 season, the Oakland A's, by winning so much with so little, had become something of an embarrassment to Bud Selig and, by extension, Major League Baseball." The team's success is actually a shrewd combination of luck, careful player choices and Beane's first-rate negotiating skills. Beane knows which players are likely to be traded by other teams, and he manages to involve himself even when the trade is unconnected to the A's. " `Trawling' is what he called this activity," writes Lewis. "His constant chatter was a way of keeping tabs on the body of information critical to his trading success." Lewis chronicles Beane's life, focusing on his uncanny ability to find and sign the right players. His descriptive writing allows Beane and the others in the lively cast of baseball characters to come alive.Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Before Bill James, baseball junkies, even those selecting players, were relegated to assessing players and teams using only mundane statistics. Then, the Oakland Athletics, under General Manager Billy Beane, adopted James's radical methods--and philosophy--with dramatic success. Michael Lewis tells the surprisingly fascinating story behind the success of the A's, whose choices of players were often derided by other teams. Lewis's reading is excellent; he loves the story and the people, and the joy he experienced writing MONEYBALL comes through as clearly as any fastball. Not just for baseball fans, this story will impress anyone who understands that the way things are done can always be improved, even the seemingly subjective process of picking star athletes. D.J.S. © AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Unlike professional football and basketball, Major League Baseball has no cap on the amount of money a team can spend on its players, which makes it nearly impossible for "small market" clubs to compete with the behemoths in Gotham and L.A. On the other hand, as Lewis shows us in his engaging saga of the Oakland Athletics, there are always ways to win on the cheap. The hero of Lewis' tale is Oakland General Manager Billy Beane, a bust as a player but a deft judge of talent. Lewis was granted what appears to be unlimited access--he often found himself in the Oakland executive offices when a big trade was going down--and his book reads like it. He also does a wonderful job of picking the brains and explaining the motives of the baseball statistics geeks who are helping redefine the way the game will be played in the twenty-first century. With so many baseball books to choose from, it is difficult to single out a few as must-haves, but this one comes pretty close. Kevin Canfield
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
May be the best book ever written on business.
Wall Street Journal
Another journalistic tour de force.
Engaging, informative, and deliciously contrarian.
New York Observer
Stunning....[Lewis's] explanations of the science of baseball...are spellbinding.
A brilliantly told tale....Michael Lewis's beautiful obsession with the idea of value has once again yielded gold.
Anyone who cares about baseball must read Moneyball.
San Jose Mercury News
An extraordinary job of reporting and writing.
You have to read Moneyball...Amazing anecdotes...an entertaining, enlightening read.
Ebullient, invigorating...provides plenty of action, both numerical and athletic, on the field and in the draft-day war room.
The New York Times Book Review
One of the most enjoyable baseball books in years.
"One of the best baseballand managementbooks out....Deserves a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame."Forbes Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball. Following the low-budget Oakland Athletics, their larger-than-life general manger, Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts, Michael Lewis has written not only "the single most influential baseball book ever" (Rob Neyer, Slate) but also what "may be the best book ever written on business" (Weekly Standard). 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 itbefore 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? With these words Michael Lewis launches us into the funniest, smartest, and most contrarian book since, well, since Liar's Poker. Moneyball is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can't buy: the secret of success in baseball. The logical places to look would be the front offices of major league teams, and the dugouts, perhaps even in the minds of the players themselves. Lewis mines all these possibilitieshis intimate and original portraits of big league ballplayers are alone worth the price of admissionbut the real jackpot is a cache of numbersnumbers!collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software engineers, statisticians, Wall Street analysts, lawyers and physics professors. What these geek numbers showno, proveis that the traditional yardsticks of success for players and teams are fatally flawed. Even the box score misleads us by ignoring the crucial importance of the humble base-on-balls. This information has been around for years, and nobody inside Major League Baseball paid it any mind. And then came Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland Athletics. Billy paid attention to those numbers with the second lowest payroll in baseball at his disposal he had toand this book records his astonishing experiment in finding and fielding a team that nobody else wanted. Moneyball is a roller coaster ride: before the 2002 season opens, Oakland must relinquish its three most prominent (and expensive) players, is written off by just about everyone, and then comes roaring back to challenge the American League record for consecutive wins. In a narrative full of fabulous characters and brilliant excursions into the unexpected, Michael Lewis shows us how and why the new baseball knowledge works. He also sets up a sly and hilarious morality tale: Big Money, like Goliath, is always supposed to win...how can we not cheer for David?
The story of a small group of undervalued professional baseball players and executives who turned themselves into one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball; the Oakland Athletics. Author explores the secret of success in baseball, looking in all the logical places, and shows how the real source might just be a cache of numbers.
About the Author
Michael Lewis is the author of the bestsellers Liar's Poker and The New New Thing. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Tabitha Soren, and their two daughters.
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
FROM THE PUBLISHER
The Oakland Athletics have a secret: a winning baseball team is made, not bought.In major league baseball the biggest wallet is supposed to win: rich teams spend four times as much on talent as poor teams. But over the past four years, the Oakland Athletics, a major league team with a minor league payroll, have had one of the best records. Last year their superstar, Jason Giambi, went to the superrich Yankees. It hasn't made any difference to Oakland: their fabulous season included an American League record for consecutive victories. Billy Beane, general manager of the Athletics, is putting into practice on the field revolutionary principles garnered from geek statisticians and college professors. Michael Lewis's brilliant, irreverent reporting takes us from the dugouts and locker rooms-where coaches and players struggle to unlearn most of what they know about pitching and hitting-to the boardrooms, where we meet owners who begin to look like fools at the poker table, spending enormous sums without a clue what they are doing. Combine money, science, entertainment, and egos, and you have a story that Michael Lewis is magnificently suited to tell.
About the Author
Author of the bestsellers Liar's Poker, The New New Thing, and Next, Michael Lewis is also a columnist for Bloomberg News. He lives in Berkeley, California.
FROM THE CRITICS
[An] ebullient, invigorating account of how an unconvential general manger named Billy Beane rebuilt the A's, a team with the second lowest payroll in baseball, into a team that won 103 games last year -- as many as the filthy-rich Yankees.
The New York Times
Whether Billy Beane is a prophet or a flash in the pan remains to be seen. In either case, by playing Boswell to Beane's Samuel Johnson, Lewis has given us one of the most enjoyable baseball books in years. — Lawrence S. Ritter
The New Yorker
The Oakland Athletics have reached the post-season playoffs three years in a row, even though they spend just one dollar for every three that the New York Yankees spend. Their secret, as Lewis's lively account demonstrates, is not on the field but in the front office, in the shape of the general manager, Billy Beane. Unable to afford the star hires of his big-spending rivals, Beane disdains the received wisdom about what makes a player valuable, and has a passion for neglected statistics that reveal how runs are really scored. Beane's ideas are beginning to attract disciples, most notably at the Boston Red Sox, who nearly lured him away from Oakland over the winter. At the last moment, Beane's loyalty got the better of him; besides, moving to a team with a much larger payroll would have diminished the challenge.
Lewis (Liar's Poker; The New New Thing) examines how in 2002 the Oakland Athletics achieved a spectacular winning record while having the smallest player payroll of any major league baseball team. Given the heavily publicized salaries of players for teams like the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees, baseball insiders and fans assume that the biggest talents deserve and get the biggest salaries. However, argues Lewis, little-known numbers and statistics matter more. Lewis discusses Bill James and his annual stats newsletter, Baseball Abstract, along with other mathematical analysis of the game. Surprisingly, though, most managers have not paid attention to this research, except for Billy Beane, general manager of the A's and a former player; according to Lewis, "[B]y the beginning of the 2002 season, the Oakland A's, by winning so much with so little, had become something of an embarrassment to Bud Selig and, by extension, Major League Baseball." The team's success is actually a shrewd combination of luck, careful player choices and Beane's first-rate negotiating skills. Beane knows which players are likely to be traded by other teams, and he manages to involve himself even when the trade is unconnected to the A's. " `Trawling' is what he called this activity," writes Lewis. "His constant chatter was a way of keeping tabs on the body of information critical to his trading success." Lewis chronicles Beane's life, focusing on his uncanny ability to find and sign the right players. His descriptive writing allows Beane and the others in the lively cast of baseball characters to come alive. (June) Forecast: Lewis's reputation, along with extensive national promotion, first serial in the New York Times Magazine and a 13-city tour should help the book hit bestseller lists throughout the baseball season. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
How the Oakland Athletics stay on top in baseball without a lot of dough: Norton's biggest book this season. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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