Moneyball the art of winning an unfair game by michael lewis fascinating book has value for non-baseball fansDocument Transcript
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis Charlie Finley Was The First Practitioner Of "Moneyball"Billy Beane, general manager of MLBs Oakland As and protagonist ofMichael Lewiss Moneyball, had a problem: how to win in the MajorLeagues with a budget thats smaller than that of nearly every other team.Conventional wisdom long held that big name, highly athletic hitters andyoung pitchers with rocket arms were the ticket to success. But Beaneand his staff, buoyed by massive amounts of carefully interpretedstatistical data, believed that wins could be had by more affordablemethods such as hitters with high on-base percentage and pitchers whoget lots of ground outs. Given this information and a tight budget, Beanedefied tradition and his own scouting department to build winning teams ofyoung affordable players and inexpensive castoff veterans. Lewis wasin the room with the As top management as they spent the summer of2002 adding and subtracting players and he provides outstanding pl ay-by-play. In the June player draft, Beane acquired nearly every prospect hecoveted (few of whom were coveted by other teams) and at the Julytrading deadline he engaged in a tense battle of nerves to acquire a leftyreliever. Besides being one of the most insider accounts ever writtenabout baseball, Moneyball is populated with fascinating characters. Wemeet Jeremy Brown, an overweight college catcher who most teamsproject 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 clubto be a key set-up man and catcher Scott Hatteberg is rebuilt as a firstbaseman. But the most interesting character is Beane himself. A speedyathletic cant-miss prospect who somehow missed, Beane reinventshimself as a front-office guru, relying on players completely unlike, say,Billy Beane. Lewis, one of the top nonfiction writers of his era (Liars Poker,The New New Thing), offers highly accessible explanations of baseballstats and his roadmap of Beanes economic approach makes Moneyballan appealing reading experience for business people and sports fansalike. --John MoeFeatures:
This book burst on the scene in 2003 to spark an intense debate abouthow and why some Major League Baseball teams succeed and othersseem hapless in their efforts to build a winning franchise. Using as hismodel the Oakland As, author Michael Lewis emphasizes the efforts ofGeneral Manager Billy Beane to use sophisticated statistical models todraft, trade for, and employ talent on a tight budget. This approach assertsthat baseball is a business and that the conventional wisdom of how tocreate a successful MLB franchise is incorrect for teams without extensivemonetary resources. At the time Lewis was writing, of course, the As werean exceptionally successful team, making the playoffs each year between2000 and 2003, and again in 2006, with one of the lowest payrolls in MLB.The message of "Moneyball" was clear: the old adage that large marketteams would dominate was outmoded--read the New York Yankees as theposter child for large market teams and the Kansas City Royals as theposter child for small market franchises--and the As broke the mold.Of course, the "Moneyball" approach of cagey signings, clever trades, andstrategic dumping of established stars for handfuls of prospects becamethe cause célèbre of MLB management in the middle part of the decadejust passed. It all seemed so new and remarkable. Indeed, the fact that anumber of small market teams won the World Series between 2001 and2009 suggested this approach might have salience. After all, during thatperiod the small market Diamondbacks (2001), Marlins (2003), andCardinals (2006) won the World Series. But then so did the Angels (2002),Red Sox (2004 and 2007), White Sox (2005), Phillies (2008), and Yankees(2009), certainly not small market teams.No question Michael Lewis pinpointed an important trend in the strategicprocesses of building winning MLB teams. "Moneyball" has receivedconsiderable discussion, appropriately so, but was what Lewis describesall that new? Let me suggest that much of what "Moneyball" documentedhad been pioneered nearly three decades earlier by Charlie Finley, ownerof the Oakland As, who with the rise of free agency in the 1970s sold andtraded his star players to restock his farm system with excellent prospects.While the As won three straight World Seri es between 1972 and 1974, histeam collapsed as he sold off or saw players leave through free agencythereafter. Then by 1980 he was back with a new crop of players just offthe farm, the great of them was Rickey Henderson.Charlie Finley probably deserves some credit for pioneering the"moneyball" approach of small market teams in putting winners on the fieldin the 1970s. Like the later celebrated As management, Finley scouted,signed, and developed young talent that can then compete successfullyagainst richer competitors. Using the rules of player compensationestablished in MLB, he grew young superstars and pay them onlymodestly until the players seniority in the system allowed them to departas free agents. Before their departure, however, he often dealt them for topprospects to restock their farm system. Absent the emphasis on ornate
statistical analysis undertaken in the more recent "moneyball" era, CharlieFinley was the godfather of this approach to running his franchise as freeagency became the norm. He deserves credit for pioneering this approach."Moneyball" is a fascinating book; a benchmark in the study of history ofMLB as a business. Enjoy! For More 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis - 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price!