Michael Lewis’s instant classic may be “the most influential book on sports ever written” (People), but “you need know absolutely nothing about baseball to appreciate the wit, snap, economy and incisiveness of [Lewis’s] thoughts about it” (Janet Maslin, New York Times).
One of GQ's 50 Best Books of Literary Journalism of the 21st Century
Just before the 2002 season opens, the Oakland Athletics must relinquish its three most prominent (and expensive) players and is written off by just about everyone—but then comes roaring back to challenge the American League record for consecutive wins. How did one of the poorest teams in baseball win so many games?
In a quest to discover the answer, Michael Lewis delivers 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). Lewis first looks to all the logical places—the front offices of major league teams, the coaches, the minds of brilliant players—but discovers the real jackpot is a cache of numbers?numbers!?collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software engineers, statisticians, Wall Street analysts, lawyers, and physics professors.
What these numbers prove is 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 had 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. He paid attention to those numbers?with the second-lowest payroll in baseball at his disposal he had to?to conduct an astonishing experiment in finding and fielding a team that nobody else wanted.
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?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A book that’s obsessed with baseball stats might not sound particularly gripping, even if you spend a lot of time watching MLB games. But Michael Lewis’ examination of the Oakland A’s is fascinating whether or not you know your backstop from your bad hop. Moneyball follows the fortunes of charismatic A’s executive Billy Beane, whose number-crunching approach changed the face of baseball, emphasizing team dynamics over superstar salaries. Author Michael Lewis has a flair for transforming complex, niche topics into riveting stuff. He captures this against-all-odds underdog story with wit and sharp clarity.
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, "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.
Terrific book! Ten years after its publication, the ideas that were so controversial then are still being debated now. I will use the book as a reference as this year's playoffs are played.
In this book, the author criticizes my friend, Ms. Dani Mabry's father, John calling him a so called "bench player". This statement is false for he is an exuberant example of a ball player. Shame on the author for his use of wording.
I've read it twice. Extremely humorous and entertaining. Very thought provoking not only about baseball but about how it is possible to rethink concepts and views that have long been deemed to be definitive and valid beyond question. Highly recommended.