Moneyball (Michael Lewis) – Review

Moneyball : the art of winning an unfair gameMoneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
Age: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction / Sports / Economics – Statistics
Publisher: Norton
ISBN 9780393338393
301 pages

Find this book at your local library 

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….It began, really, with an innocent question: how did one of the poorest teams in baseball, the Oakland athletics, win so many games?

Thus the premise of Moneyball is laid out in a simple but direct first paragraph in the preface of the book. By now the concept behind Moneyball is pretty well-known thanks to the movie based on this look into the behind-the-scenes of the Oakland A’s. Lewis accomplishes his investigation by interviewing players, following Billy Beane around the clubhouse, studying the statistics of Bill James that laid out the foundational groundwork for Beane’s drastic overhaul of the major league draft system.

Lewis includes mini biographies of quite a few of the players: Scott Hatterberg, Chad Bradford, Billy Beane, etc. I really enjoyed these chapters because it added another element to the book. Despite all the numbers and formula’s Beane applies to his players, they are still human with human-interest stories.

Lewis doesn’t dwell on any topic for too long. He gives a little background history, makes his point then moves on. I really like this method. I understood what he was talking about without feeling bored. You don’t necessarily have to be a baseball fan to appreciate this book, although it helps to know at least some of the terminology and or stats currently used to rate the professional players. I had to reference my husband quite a bit with this book, as he is the biggest baseball fan I know.

Billy Beane is an incredibly odd, intelligent, likable, yet frustrating person. At least his representation his. A man, with a tremendous amount of energy that usually results in chairs being thrown across the room, manages to lead the A’s into winning 20 straight games (setting a new MLB record).

I enjoyed this book because of the quality writing, the location (Bay Area!), the personalities and the blend of biography and statistical analysis in an upbeat and enticing tone. This is also one of those books where you can appreciate both the book and the movie and not get too upset by the changes in the film rendition.

Book 61 of 2011

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  1. Fair Ball by Bob Costas
  2. The Bill James Historical Abstract
  3. Working at the Ballpark by Tom Jones

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