Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Book Review: Moneyball

The Basics: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game (ISBN 0-393-05765-8) is a book by Michael M. Lewis, published in 2003, about the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager, Billy Beane. Its focus is the team's modernized, analytical approach to assembling a competitive baseball team despite Oakland's disadvantaged revenue situation. Available on Amazon.com for between $1.00 and $6.25

Synopsis: The central premise of Moneyball is that the collected wisdom of baseball insiders (including players, managers, coaches, scouts and the front office) over the past century is subjective and often flawed. Statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in, and batting average, typically used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th-century view of the game and the statistics that were available at the time. The book argues that the Oakland A's front office took advantage of more empirical gauges of player performance to field a team that could compete successfully against richer competitors in Major League Baseball. Read More on Wikipedia.

Thoughts: This book is obviously several years old, but this was the first time I have read it. The revolutionary thinking brought to the game, by Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta, back in the late 90's forever changed the way the game is played and players are scouted and evaluated. Quite simply Billy Beane and Paul DePodesta are a mix of mad scientist and front-office genius. The current parity in baseball is due to a couple of things. First, is the revenue sharing, negotiated in one of the last collective bargaining agreements that basically, subsidizes smaller market teams. The second, is in no small part due to the theory originally put into practice by Beane and the Oakland A's. You see it being played out still today with franchises like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays who accomplished the once unthinkable last year by ousting the Evil Empire and their Nemesis and riding a young and talented team all the way to the World Series.

This book is a fascinating read and a must for any baseball fun. I can't believe I just got around to reading it but hey, it only cost me $1.


Gellman said...

One of my favorites of all time.

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