[ pdf ] Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair GameAuthor Michael Lewis – Vivefutbol.co

Billy Beane, General Manager Of MLB S Oakland A S And Protagonist Of Michael Lewis S Moneyball, Had A Problem How To Win In The Major Leagues With A Budget That S Smaller Than That Of Nearly Every Other Team Conventional Wisdom Long Held That Big Name, Highly Athletic Hitters And Young Pitchers With Rocket Arms Were The Ticket To Success But Beane And His Staff, Buoyed By Massive Amounts Of Carefully Interpreted Statistical Data, Believed That Wins Could Be Had By Affordable Methods Such As Hitters With High On Base Percentage And Pitchers Who Get Lots Of Ground Outs Given This Information And A Tight Budget, Beane Defied Tradition And His Own Scouting Department To Build Winning Teams Of Young Affordable Players And Inexpensive Castoff Veterans Lewis Was In The Room With The A S Top Management As They Spent The Summer Of Adding And Subtracting Players And He Provides Outstanding Play By Play In The June Player Draft, Beane Acquired Nearly Every Prospect He Coveted Few Of Whom Were Coveted By Other Teams And At The July Trading Deadline He Engaged In A Tense Battle Of Nerves To Acquire A Lefty Reliever Besides Being One Of The Most Insider Accounts Ever Written About Baseball, Moneyball Is Populated With Fascinating Characters We Meet Jeremy Brown, An Overweight College Catcher Who Most Teams Project To Be A Th Round Draft Pick Beane Takes Him In The First Sidearm Pitcher Chad Bradford Is Plucked From The White Sox Triple A Club To Be A Key Set Up Man And Catcher Scott Hatteberg Is Rebuilt As A First Baseman But The Most Interesting Character Is Beane Himself A Speedy Athletic Can T Miss Prospect Who Somehow Missed, Beane Reinvents Himself As A Front Office Guru, Relying On Players Completely Unlike, Say, Billy Beane Lewis, One Of The Top Nonfiction Writers Of His Era Liar S Poker, The New New Thing , Offers Highly Accessible Explanations Of Baseball Stats And His Roadmap Of Beane S Economic Approach Makes Moneyball An Appealing Reading Experience For Business People And Sports Fans AlikeJohn Moe It breaks your heart, A Bartlett Giamatti wrote of baseball in a piece called The Green Fields of the Mind It is designed to break your heart And so it does, year after year Baseball, as has often been noted, is a game predicated on failure The game s best hitters only succeed in roughly three out of ten at bats A 162 game season presents a tremendous sample size, which should iron out aberrations and yet year after year, entire seasons come down to a single bad bounce or mistimed swing or hanging curve or missed call You can spend an entire summer of lazy days drinking beer and cheering for your 100 win team, only to watch them sputter and die in a five game series in October It doesn t seem fair, sometimes Michael Lewis s Moneyball is about a man who tried to crack the code, to find the secret to winning an unfair game That man is Billy Beane, the general manager of the small market Oakland Athletics In 2002, the A s were coming off a tremendously successful season in which they d won 102 games After the season, however, they lost three key free agents, including all around masher and later admitted PED user Jason Giambi Beane wanted to replicate his team s success, but he had to do it on a shoestring budget Beane s approach was to find undervalued players with a knack for getting on base Instead of looking simply at the time honored statistics of batting average, home runs, and RBIs, he turned to obscure figures like on base percentage OBP He believed that getting on base closely correlated to wins than any other metric The baseball world largely doubted Beane s sanity Yet the 2002 A s ended up winning one game than their star heavy 2001 model Beane s revolution didn t result in a championship for which Beane is often unfairly maligned , but it help change the game of baseball, a sport that is historically resistant to transformation It s a testament to the impact of Lewis s book that the title has become a shorthand of sorts for the entire sabermetric movement that has altered the way players are watched, judged, and paid.Like all of Michael Lewis s books, Moneyball is addictively readable Getting my almost two year old to fall asleep every night has become an epic battle of wills If you leave the room before she is sound asleep, she will hop up in her crib and unleash a sound akin to the war cry of the orcs on the Pelennor Fields Then, once you get her to sleep, she will randomly wake up screaming as though her Daniel Tiger doll has caught on fire The only way to ease her into unconsciousness is to sit with her That s become my job I sit with her in a dark room reading with a headlamp Moneyball proved to be perfect for this task It is fast paced, perceptive, and filled with memorable character sketches Lewis has an uncanny knack for making his readers feel smart He can take complex subjects and boil them down with such ease that you start to feel like you can learn anything Of course, one of the knocks on Lewis is that he is an over simplifier Perhaps But that s better than a needless confuser Lewis is a gifted storyteller As such, he tends to find idiosyncratic characters upon which to hang his story Beane proves to be a good choice He ia a former ballplayer, a highly touted 5 tool athlete who became a high draft pick and a major bust It is easy to see how his failures as a player made him eager to find a better rubric for evaluating talent In Lewis s hands, Beane is a passionate convert with a bucketful of neuroses, such as an inability to watch the A s play live Moneyball is partly Beane s biography Beane, however, did not create the sabermetric movement In this area, he stood on the shoulders of giants math nerds The godfather of advanced statistics is Bill James, founder of the self published statistical compilation Baseball Abstract Lewis rightfully devotes an entire chapter to James and his acolytes, many of whom were hired by various Major League teams They devised a new model Beane implemented it Moneyball was originally published in 2003, and has since been made into a motion picture It s interesting to read it now, in light of all that has transpired When the book first came out, it angered a lot of people in Major League Baseball There are, it seems, a lot of innumerate luddites in the baseball world who couldn t stand the way Beane and others like him viewed their game I mean, you got a guy like Dusty Baker a freaking manager who doesn t like walks because they clog up the bases This kind of wrongheaded institutionalized dogma makes it difficult for fresh views to gain traction The popularity of Moneyball helped bring the stat geeks into the mainstream Today, advanced statistics are the norm, and even casual baseball articles make reference to wins above replacement WAR , weighted on base average wOBA , and fielding independent pitching FIP Beane isn t a prophet or really even a pioneer Other teams were using advanced stats Beane just staked a lot on it He also had a great promoter in Michael Lewis In some ways, his tactics were pretty rudimentary For instance, one of the center pieces of Moneyball is Scott Hatteberg s transition from catcher to first base Hatteberg was an on base machine, so Beane plugged him into first base, despite having no experience playing there Today, with advanced defensive metrics, such a move would be even suspect than it was at the time As it turned out, Hatteberg ended up playing decent first base The point is that Beane s deprecation of defense now seems rather shortsighted for a value oriented GM He also undervalued the bullpen, which looks especially wrongheaded in the age of ace middle relievers and closers Many of the players mentioned in the book as Beane favorites never quite panned out including catcher Jeremy Brown, who plays a large role This isn t to say that Beane was wrong in the premises, only that the game of baseball will always remain unfair The term moneyball has outrun its original meaning Teams like the Red Sox and Cubs that are known for using sabermetrics also happen to have all the money in the world Small market winners like the Kansas City Royals use a different kind of moneyball, by utilizing young, cost controlled players, valuing defense, and utilizing outside the box thinking, such as their stocked bullpen which effectively shortens games to 6 innings The Royals and their manager Ned Yost did employ one quintessential Beane tactic refusing to bunt or steal Yost, of course, was disparaged throughout two playoff runs, right up until the moment he won the World Series In fact, baseball s wise men are still griping that the Royals won despite the man, rather than because of him This is par for the course in baseball Beane and the A s have not won a World Series since the publication of Moneyball As Beane himself admits, his tactics are great for the regular season, but don t mean squat in the playoffs That is the nature of baseball and life You think you have all the time in the world to get things done, and then suddenly you don t The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, A Bartlett Giamatti wrote When you need it most, it stops. This is one of the best baseball books I have ever read, and that is saying something Lewis focus is on Billy Bean, the GM of the Oakland Athletics Because Oakland is a small market team, Bean must use his brain to tease out the players who can help his team, at a reasonable cost This makes him a sort of anti Steinbrenner Lewis goes into some detail on how Bean manages to field competitive teams almost every year under dire fiscal constraints Must read for any true baseball fan, and a source of hope for fans of small market teams The film version was a top notch interpretation of the book, a lovely surprise 4 13 18 NY Times How Do Athletes Brains Control Their Movements by Zach Schonbrun Fascinating article Maybe the next level in the expanding realm of the sort of baseball analysis someone like Billy Bean might employ to get an edge over wealthier franchisesIt would seem to have almost nothing to do with their biceps muscles or fast twitch fibers or even their vision, which, for most baseball players is largely the same It would seem to have much to do with the neural signals that impel our every movement It s like saying people who can speak French very well have a very dexterous tongue, John Krakauer, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, told me It would be the wrong place to assign the credit. Having the misfortune of being a Kansas City Royals fan, I thought I d had any interest in baseball beaten out of me by season after season of humiliation Plus, the endless debate about the unfairness of large market vs small market baseball had made my eyes glaze over years ago so I didn t pay much attention to the Moneyball story until the movie came out last year and caught my interest enough to finally check this out.Despite being a small market team and outspent by tens of millions of dollars by clubs like the Yankees, the Oakland A s managed to be extremely competitive from 1999 through 2006 They did this when their general manager Billy Beane embraced a new type of baseball statistics called sabermetrics that had been championed by a stat head from Kansas named Bill James James had pored over box scores and started seriously questioning the traditional ways of measuring the performance of players with his initially self published digests that eventually became must reads for hardcore baseball nerdlingers As the digital age made mountains of baseball stats available on line, fans with a mathematical frame of mind And there are a lot of them started coming up with ways of looking at the data that called the old ways of evaluating players into question.Beane had plenty of reason to distrust the old way of scouting since he had once been identified as a can t miss prospect who ended up quitting as a player to take a job in the front office after his career flamed out By coming up with new ways to grade performance and ignoring things that other teams deemed flaws like being overweight or having a peculiar throwing motion, the A s went after low dollar high impact players who made them one of the winningest teams with the lowest payroll in baseball.The sport has always had a weird intersection of nerd and jock, and this story illustrates that dynamic very well as Beane and his staff decided to trust the numbers rather than conventional wisdom The conflict between the two worlds is a fascinating story, and the brash Beane makes a great focal point It s a great book not just for sports fans, but for anyone who likes stories about people trying to shake up an established way of doing things And if you re a math geek or have a thing for hard nosed business deals, there s a lot to like here By framing the story in terms of the people involved, Lewis keeps it relatable in human terms and not just a dry recitation of on base percentages.The movie is also extremely well done and entertaining Hence the Oscar nomination for Best Picture ,but the Aaron Sorkin screenplay vastly simplifies the story and Hollywoodizes it to an extreme degree Still, it s a great flick for anyone who has a soft spot for stories about underdogs. In honor of the MLB postseason, I am resurrecting a book review that I wrote back in 2009.I hardly know where to begin in attempting a review of Michael Lewis Moneyball The Art of Winning an Unfair Game It isn t that I don t think that the book is well written, because it is It isn t that I disagree with the conclusions that are reached in the book, because, for the most part, I don t What bothers me, as a recovering baseball fanatic, is that I don t enjoy the game that utilizes the approaches that are proposed in this book.Moneyball describes how the general manager of the Oakland A s, Billy Beane, has been able to use sabermetrics statistical analysis originated by Bill James and others to intelligently draft players and win games.According to the proponents of this new approach 1 offense is important than pitching 2 defense hardly matters at all 3 the most important baseball statistic is on base percentage, followed by slugging percentage 4 stealing bases should not be attempted because it is not worth the risk 5 the same goes for the hit and run 6 never sacrifice because it is not worth giving up the out 7 scouts are unnecessary and 8 line ups and game strategy are dictated to the manager by the general manager and his statistical analysts, making managers almost as unnecessary as scouts.Beane and his statistical guru, and not the scouts, decide who should be drafted According to Lewis, the most important statistic to Beane and his statistician in determining what position players to draft is the ability of players to draw walks They look for players only college players for they never draft high school players who have exhibited the ability to work deep in the count and to draw walks.I can t speak for others, but I don t watch baseball games in order to watch hitters work deep into the count, draw a walk, camp out on the bases until somebody gets an extra base hit or two to drive them home The strategy utilized by Beane and his proponents may produce a efficient style of baseball, about that I am in no position to quibble It may be the only way that a small market team like the Oakland A s can compete with the deep pockets of the New York Yankees and other large market teams the unfair game mentioned in the book s subtitle However, to repeat, I find the emphasis on this approach to result in a game that is much less fun to watch. This is a good book, but not as good as I thought it was going to be Sometimes I find technical writing to be a bit repetitive and this definitely leans toward technical non fiction than biography I was hoping for of a human interest story here because even though Billy Beane takes up a large chunk of the story, it isn t really a story about Billy Bean per se Moneyball was published in 2003, only a year after John Henry bought the Boston Red Sox Before that time, very few people in baseball had ever heard the term sabermetrics, never mind tried to implement it into a strategy for drafting and trading players very few people, that is, besides Billy Beane What s fascinating about Beane is how much he had to struggle against the tide in order to apply the statistical approach of sabermetrics to his managing of the Oakland Athletics Of course, given the payroll of the A s in the early 2000s one might argue that he had no choice But still, he was the first general manager in baseball to attempt it, so his story is unique.But why the struggle Any baseball fan could tell you how important it is to get on base, that patience at the plate is in fact doubly rewarding as it wears down opposing pitching and draws walks And walks are huge They extend an inning by avoiding an out, and they put a man on base which statistically leads to a greater probability of runs scored The reverse is also true base stealing attempts and sacrifice bunts are no no s in the world of sabermetrics precisely because they have the effect of potentially shortening an inning, leading to a lower probability of runs scored It is simply not worth the calculated risk to try to advance a base runner So why were these concepts so difficult for baseball operations managers besides Beane to understand This is essentially what the author investigates here, and the easy answer lies somewhere in the fact that baseball managers are curmudgeons who are used to doing things a certain way and don t want any smart alec college boy with his pocket protector changin the way things er done.Also, Joe Morgan is a buffoon.I think this is basically old news, but I was still pleased to have my suspicions confirmed So the story here is definitely interesting, but like I said, the argument in favor of a objective approach to baseball decision making is something that I already subscribe to Yeah, Science , so the argument itself does become rather repetitive.Being a baseball fan, though, there are a few things I did enjoy, specifically Billy Beane trying to steal Kevin Youkilis out from under the noses of the Red Sox brass At first, even though I obviously knew how things would turn out, I was almost rooting for Beane who, by the way, was John Henry s initial choice for managing his new organization , but I quickly checked myself and did a Jersey Shore style fist pump when Theo Epstein refuses to let himself be outsmarted by that West Coast punk And now that I ve read this book, I think I ll see the movie. It was a better story before I knew the whole story Almost every book on randomness I have read had a reference to Moneyball and I had built up my own version about this story I had even told a few people that version and it imagined everybody doing what Billy Beane was doing, and Billy Beane doing some sort of probability distribution among all players and randomly picking his team, winning emphatically, and thus proving that a truly random pick of players is the equivalent of a true simulation of the market and just like how no considered selection of stock picks can ever outperform the market in the long run, a truly random representation of the baseball market cannot be outperformed by the interventionist methods of other teams over a long season That is the story I wanted to hear My apologies to anyone to whom I have spouted this story it is not true It is still probable though, when the next radical Billy Beane comes along in sports. Michael Lewis hit this one out of the park I love his writing style he is able to explain complex and insider ideas to a layperson, and he makes it interesting That skill is as valuable to a reporter as a baseball player s on base percentage was to the Oakland Athletics.The story follows the Oakland A s during the 2002 baseball season, which was when their general manager, Billy Beane, was following a different set of principles for assembling a team than the majority of the league Beane and his assistant, Paul DePodesta, were applying sabermetrics, which meant they were looking for players with certain qualities that the rest of the league had undervalued This was critical because the Oakland A s had very little money back then their payroll was about 40 million, compared to the New York Yankees payroll of 126 million The stats Beane and DePodesta were most interested in were a player s on base percentage and slugging percentage The A s experiment worked and the team had a historical 20 game winning streak and made it to the playoffs By now, the A s analytical tactics have widely been adopted by Major League Baseball, but back in 2002, the strategy was mocked by almost everyone inside the league In addition to explaining baseball stats, Lewis makes the story compelling by bringing in sports psychology, game theory and sharing the stories of statistician Bill James, Beane, and a few key players Beane had himself played in the major leagues, but he lacked the skills to be a consistent hitter Beane was recruited out of high school and had to decide between a pro baseball contract or going to Stanford I made one decision based on money in my life when I signed with the Mets rather than go to Stanford and I promised I d never do it again After several disappointing seasons as a player, Beane decided he would rather be a scout, and quit playing to work his way up in the A s front office.Another interesting story was that of A s first baseman Scott Hatteberg Hatte had been a catcher for the Boston Red Sox, but after suffering nerve damage in his elbow, he could never catch again Beane and DePodesta saw in him the potential to be a good hitter and trained him to play first base One of my favorite chapters in the book was about Hatte and how thoughtful he was about his hitting In a great scene, he s in the team s video room watching footage of pitcher Jamie Moyer, who Hatte will be facing later that day Moyer was a tough pitcher and Hatte was trying to figure out a strategy Moyer was one of the few pitchers in baseball who would think about Scott Hatteberg as much as Hatteberg thought about him Moyer would know that Hatteberg never swung at the first pitch except to keep a pitcher honest and so Moyer might just throw a first pitch strike But Moyer would also know that Hatteberg knew that Moyer knew Which brought Hatteberg back to square one He was knee deep in game theory, and he had only an hour before he had to play the game I would highly recommend this book to baseball fans, even if they ve seen the movie version, because the book is in depth and has great stories that didn t make it into the film I think readers who like stories about underdogs would also enjoy it, because it shows how a poor team was able to change the institution of baseball. I read Moneyball at a time when I wasn t reading too much besides preschool kids books and reread it for the baseball book club I am a part of on good reads Michael Lewis follows the story of general manager Billy Bean and his 2002 Oakland As, a low budget baseball team that managed to win their division going away What is remarkable is that Bean built his team focusing on sabermetrics, not home runs and RBIs He knew he did not have money to compete with the Yankees of the world and assembled a team of Harvard brainiacs to read stats in order to then assemble the best low cost baseball team his money could buy An amazing thing happened the As team of damaged players won 20 games in a row on their way to a division title The east coast establishment took notice and offered Bean a job at season s end He declined and these years later his heart is still with the As determined to win in their crumbling ballpark with a lower budget team than before Postscript teams are focusing on sabermetrics and big budget teams like the Yankees are floundering The last World Series champion, the Royals The best two up and coming teams with stocked farm systems who have entire teams of Harvard brainiacs at their disposal running stats the Cubs and Astros Even the Yankees are building their team around up and coming players Sabermetrics is here to stay even if it isn t as fun to watch as a home run I have tried to read Lewis other books but did not got get into them because they are about money, not baseball Maybe I will try again because Lewis writes in a manner that makes his subject accessible to all readers Highly recommended to all. This just didn t wow me like I thought it would I guess I just like the play on the field better than the behind the scenes action.