Moneyball

Moneyball

I picked up “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis last weekend and just finished it today.  The book was published in 2003 and the paper back came out in 2004 but only got around to getting it now because I had a 30-percent-off coupon at Borders.

And god only knows why I waited a damn year after the paperback came out.  If you are a fan of baseball (not just MLB) then do NOT go on another day without reading this book.  I would count this, along with Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” and anything by Bill James, as the most important books on baseball, period.

Michael Lewis, in his preface, writes: … the idea for the book came well before I had good reason to write it — before 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?

Lewis, a reporter who has written books focused on economics and the business sector, draws out the success of the Oakland Athletics under the direction of general manager Billy Beane, who produces winning teams with one of the lowest payrolls in MLB — almost one half of that enjoyed by the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox.  Lewis explains that in order to do that Beane had to analyze baseball talent in ways that old-school traditionalists scoffed at, while trying to get the most out of a limited budget.

This involved adopting a kind of baseball intellectualism that only existed before in the books of Bill James, the (once freebie) online articles of Rob Neyer and a host of fledgling internet websites.  Philosophies such as placing more value on on-base percentage rather than stolen bases was always in the public forum but never had been embraced by an actual general manager of a major league baseball team.  Until now.

Now we have Beane in Oakland, Theo Epstein in Boston, DePodesta (Beane’s former right-hand man) in L.A., and so on.  Yes, the revolution is here and “Moneyball” was a chronicle that somehow wound up on the best-seller lists.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 

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