Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

by Michael Lewis

Paperback(Movie Tie-in Edition)

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Billy Beane, the Oakland A’s general manager, is leading a revolution. Reinventing his team on a budget, he needs to outsmart the richer teams. He signs undervalued players whom the scouts consider flawed but who have a knack for getting on base, scoring runs, and winning games. Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball and a tale of the search for new baseball knowledge—insights that will give the little guy who is willing to discard old wisdom the edge over big money.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393338393
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 08/22/2011
Series: Movie Tie-in Editions Series
Edition description: Movie Tie-in Edition
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game, The Big Short, and Boomerang, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife, Tabitha Soren, and their three children.

Date of Birth:

October 15, 1960

Place of Birth:

New Orleans, LA


Princeton University, B.A. in Art History, 1982; London School of Economics, 1985

Table of Contents

Chapter 1The Curse of Talent3
Chapter 2How to Find a Ballplayer14
Chapter 3The Enlightenment43
Chapter 4Field of Ignorance64
Chapter 5The Jeremy Brown Blue Plate Special97
Chapter 6The Science of Winning an Unfair Game119
Chapter 7Giambi's Hole138
Chapter 8Scott Hatteberg, Pickin' Machine162
Chapter 9The Trading Desk188
Chapter 10Anatomy of an Undervalued Pitcher217
Chapter 11The Human Element244
Chapter 12The Speed of the Idea263
Epilogue: The Badger281
Postscript: Inside Baseball's Religious War287

What People are Saying About This

Garry Trudeau

A brilliantly told tale....Michael Lewis's beautiful obsession with the idea of value has once again yielded gold.

Tom Wolfe

Moneyball is his grandest tour de force yet.


An Interview with Michael Lewis

Barnes & Moneyball concerns Major League Baseball's Oakland Athletics and the team's revolutionary general manager, Billy Beane. What made you want to write this book?

Michael Lewis: The realization first that the Oakland A's were working with so much less money than the teams they were beating. That follows on the fact that for players to become an Athletic, the players had to have something wrong with them (because the team could not afford the more expensive players). If there wasn't something wrong with them, they would not have been on the A's. When I realized they were this glorious collection of underdogs, I completely fell in love with this story.

B& What was the most compelling thing about Billy Beane, the A's GM?

ML: That he had this disastrous experience as a pro player and had set out as a GM to find players who were the opposite of himself.

B& What did Beane do as GM for the Oakland A's that was so different from what other GMs did?

ML: Well, he embraced a very new idea of baseball knowledge. If you rethought the game, you could find secrets about it and find inefficiencies about the game and the way players were valued. It was his willingness to think like an innovator in what is a very traditional sport that gave him an advantage.

B& How did he compensate for the team's small payroll -- one of the lowest payrolls in baseball -- to build teams that competed with and could defeat most of the teams that had payrolls over $100 million?

ML: By finding undervalued players and by not paying the market price for superstars. Billy Beane makes his living off the misperceptions of baseball players that other general managers have. He is always selling players at a high price and buying them too cheaply.

B& How has Beane influenced baseball and the big-spending teams like the Yankees and Red Sox?

ML: The Oakland model has had two obvious consequences: The Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox are now reinventing themselves in the tradition of the A's. When the A's consider a player, they look closely at on-base percentage. So, on-base percentage is becoming something people are paying attention to. Also, they look at the hitter's discipline. Other than that, the Oakland attitude really has not spread to other teams. If you study it, you can find new knowledge, and you can do well. Most other franchises just do what they always used to do.

Baseball is actually a very screwed-up industry. I was a mole inside a front office and clubhouse. The response from other organizations to the Oakland method is outrage. Where else would that happen in any industry? Other industries would welcome the change. In baseball, there is resistance to the idea that someone knows something everybody else does not know. People who evaluate baseball players, the scouts, generally, are motivated by their desire to preserve their good standing within the fraternity. They don't want to make waves.

B& How did Beane use numbers in a way that was so revolutionary?

ML: The Oakland A's built a model to explain where runs came from. Lots of people outside baseball did this, but people inside baseball didn't do it. In their model, they said walks, singles, doubles, and triples each have a certain effect on run production. They assigned weight to each kind of event. They tested this model. If they have so many of this or that, they have so many runs by the end of the year. These various components have extreme value. Walks are a lot more valuable than people thought. The A's can find players who are otherwise unexceptional, except for walking, and insert them into the lineup. It's analysis, not numbers alone.

B& What was the most challenging thing about writing this book?

ML: It was breaking down the resistance in the clubhouse and getting to know the players. Hanging around among naked men. I needed to get more than quotes, needed to visit them in the off-season. That was hard to do.

B& What was it like talking to Beane and the players?

ML: It was exhilarating, because I felt like I was seeing this completely novel approach in building a baseball team from the inside. I did it in a season. The team broke a 50-year-old record for consecutive wins in the American League (20). It was exhilarating. It took a while for them to understand what I was doing. Writing this kind of a book is a bit like dancing. You have to get used to your partner. It was awkward at first, but then it became natural.

B& What particularly impressed you about baseball culture, so to speak, in the Major Leagues?

ML: Nobody talks with anybody else. Huge amounts of communication are nonverbal. I could tell the front office things that it didn't know about what players were thinking, and vice versa. There is so much information that is not exchanged. This is what happens when muscular men gather. It is not cool to talk.

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Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 482 reviews.
tsmom1219 More than 1 year ago
Moneyball is way more entertaining than it has any right to be. It follows the story of the low-budget Oakland A's and their unorthodox general manager Billy Beane as they use statistics and the scientific method to succeed against teams with much larger payrolls. Lewis is a very entertaining writer, at times laugh out loud funny, who has turned what could have been a very dry subject into a real page turner. I read this in one day, which is unusual for me with non-fiction. Highly recommended, especially in the dead of winter when the beginning of baseball season seems so far away.
gvanmeter More than 1 year ago
I'm neither a fan of baseball or statistics, but Michael Lewis has the ability to explain both of them in such a compelling way, I couldn't put it down. I read it after watching the movie, and found a much more nuanced chronicle in the book. Well worth the read, especially if you enjoyed the movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Moneyball is about a professional baseball player, Billy Beane, who was a good player in high school and college. Out of college, he was drafted by Oakland Athletics. Beane decided he wanted to become the General Manager of the A¿s after he had played for them for a few years. As a player, he learned that he did not want to be an actual baseball player; he wanted to be the person who picked the players that would make the team. When he became the General Manager for the Oakland Athletics, he developed a strategy to form a baseball team out of players that other teams did not necessarily want. Beane used players¿ high school and college statistics to choose the good players that he wanted and ones that would sign for less money.
Though there were many parts that I liked and disliked, one of the big things that I liked about this book was that it taught me a new way to look at how baseball players are chosen for a team. It showed me what coaches look for in a strong player and that it¿s not necessarily all talent; it is how many runs they produce, bases they steal. Even though this book is really good, the language is not appropriate for young readers, it contains inappropriate words. The hardest part about this book was understanding all the numbers and formulas he used. Since there were so many numbers, it distracted me from what the book was actually about, how he built the Oakland A¿s. That was the only dislike I really had reading this book. Other than the numbers, the book was really interesting.
I believe the main message in this book is that you don¿t have to be the richest team to get the better players for your team. Even though the Oakland A¿s pay roll was really low compared to the Yankees huge pay roll, the A¿s knew the best way to make a good team without spending a lot of money on players. Beane used player statistics to find who the best players were and ones that would sign for less money.
I would suggest this book to a specific group, people who like baseball and math. This book is all about numbers, probability, playing and managing baseball. It was a great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rick489 More than 1 year ago
This was the best book relating to sports that I've ever read. It gives great insight into how one team (the Oakland A's) used unique decision making to compete against teams with grossly larger payrolls. I especially liked the behind the scenes look it gave to some of the tough evaluations that need to be made by a professional sports team's front office, and the untraditional formulas employed by Billy Beane and his staff to reach them. While I cant imagine any baseball fan not enjoying this book, I would suggest that it a good read for the nonsports fan as well, as many of the ideas discussed in relation to running a basball team can be correlated to just about any form of businees.
Charles F Canfield Jr More than 1 year ago
I am not a baseball fan at all, personally, I think the sport is downright boring. However, I throughlly enjoyed this book. It has rekindled my interest in baseball. I know find myself watching games anf paying attengion to stats.
Tony72 More than 1 year ago
I purchased my nook never having been much of a book reader at 38, but in the hopes of becoming one. This was the 1st book I downloaded and finished it in less than a week. It kept my attention that much and i have been known to have the attention span of a gnat. It's not just a book about baseball, but about business economics, evaluating talent and an individuals character as well. Inviting people to think outside the conventional wisdom. I would recommend it to anybody. Baseball fan or not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story, well written and an entertaining intro to baseball stats.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book teaches you the importance of baseball. Its very emotional and sensative.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books iv ever read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Whoever wrote boring most likely did not read it
Grayle Kendall More than 1 year ago
I really like this book. Great for baseball fanatics.
TwinsfanLR More than 1 year ago
A look at one of the poorest teams in baseball, the Oakland A's, and how their general manager Billy Beane makes them contenders every year. It shows you how they scout, draft, and play the game, only to name a few things. He does things his way, and nobody is going to change that, and he does them well. One of the most criticized books in the baseball world since Ball Four, and a real winner. Lewis is an extraordinary writer who should do sports as much as he does Walstreet. A MUST read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the film so thought I'd try the book. Great for fans of baseball everywhere!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If your a baseball fan with an outsiders perspective of the game, its a must read. My only concern is that we only received insight to part of who Billy Beane really is.
JoeVerde More than 1 year ago
Baseball, I love. Statistics... I could leave. Lewis somehow makes both halves of this book interesting. Don't get me wrong, it's not really a book about crunching numbers... it's a story about the science behind a sport, the brains who take that science to the next level, and the brawns who sometimes dogmatically resist them. A very interesting read.
MAINEiac4434 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book, really top notch baseball book. Lewis rights this book perfectly, and it just makes you want to keep reading and reading and reading, almost like a fiction story. It reads like a fiction story, even though everything explained in the book is 100% true.
_________jt_________ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Entertaining, but tilted -- the author is clearly trying to put over the Billy Beane way of doing things rather than offer a balanced look. And no doubt, it's remarkable what he's done, and I don't mean to set myself against it, but as a contrarian, I can't help myself wanting to check out the other side when some standpoint is so strongly forced on me.
figre on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a book for any baseball fan. And for anyone who enjoys statistics. And for anyone who likes to see a group take on the status quo, the old boys¿ network, concretized wisdom. Really, this is a book that can be enjoyed by more people than may first be imagined.And there is no time like the present to say that I am firmly convinced that Michael Lewis cannot write a bad book. (Not true ¿ I know. But he has the ability to, book after book, even when I think I don¿t really care about the subject, draw me in and enthrall me. Note to self: Go back and read his books you didn¿t think you cared about.)This book ostensibly tells the story of how Billy Beane, in the 2000¿s, took a team with no payroll (the Oakland A¿s) and managed to take it to the playoffs year after year. But, really, that isn¿t the main story. (Quick aside ¿ I have not seen the movie, but I have the feeling that this is the focus of the movie; the focus that would have to be there to make a movie. And I am further willing to bet that, if you saw the movie and hoped for it to be reflected in this book, that will not be the case. Read the book because of what it contains, not because of what was in the movie. Okay, not that quick an aside.)The real story is about how groups of people who love the game of baseball, who dig into the statistics of the game, realized that the current measures of success used by all teams were skewed. But baseball is a game of tradition, and the powers that be do not want to hear that their gut feel and baseball acumen can be trumped by groups of number crunchers.And the reason Michael Lewis is so good at this is that he brings us the human side of the equation. He introduces us to the number crunchers (the baseball geeks), the has-been players given a second chance, the college kids no one else wants, and, of course, to Billy Beane and his cohorts.A fascinating book that I found to be a page turner. Yes, a term more often saved for mysteries and thrillers, but true in this instance nonetheless. Although I could put this book down, I returned to it at every possible opportunity.
jclemence on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great book on the topic of sabermetrics. Lewis uses Billy Beane and the Oakland A's as his test case, arguing that the proper use of statistics in baseball can overcome any financial limitations a team might have. In the early 2000s, Beane had one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, and yet his teams managed to win 100+ games multiple seasons in a row. How did he do it? He realized that the game of baseball was a process, in which the output was to score runs. He also found the world of sabermetrics (study of baseball statistics) and used the key stats/metrics that factored into generating runs to build his roster. Luckily for him, it just so happened that his "key stats" were worth very little money on the open market. He thus aggressively sought after players who other teams overlooked, paid them their "market worth" and used them to build a winning ball club.Since I have an interest in baseball and work in the field of quality, I really enjoyed this book. It's a great piece of objective evidence that taking a process- and fact-based approach to a task can generate great results. It was also very interesting to see the history of Billy Beane, and how he turned what many would consider a failed career as a player into an exceptional career as GM. The only downside to this book is that it ends somewhat abruptly. I felt like it needed two or three more chapters to round out the story and tie up loose ends.In any case, anyone interested in baseball, statistics, or quality in general should pick up this book.
Randyflycaster on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm no longer much of a baseball fan, but I loved this book, especially the way a few individuals came to see the game and its statistics in different and revolutionary light. I know this is a stretch, but the book reminds me of the way Einstein, Darwin and other scientists changed the way we see the world.I also loved the mini-biographies of several players who made it to the major leagues even though most scouts thought they wouldn't. Their stories are inspiring.So to me, this book is a beautiful blend of statistics and personalities. In the end, I saw that the two go hand in hand.I did, however, have mixed feelings about the book's central character, Billy Beane. I found him interesting, but I can't say I liked him, even though I appreciated that he tried to run an organization in a new way, a way that was partly born from his own failures as a player. In fact, that¿s what I found most interesting about this book: the way the ideas of two men who experienced failure and rejection, Beane and Bill James, came together and brought the team with the lowest payroll within a game of the World Series.There are several compelling themes to this book. It's certainly multi-dimensional, as there are different levels to it.
yeremenko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great but misunderstood book.
JonArnold on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This isn¿t, at heart, a book about baseball. On the surface it¿s about the how the Oakland A¿s, who should be the equivalent of the kid in the old Charles Atlas adverts getting sand kicked in their faces, live with the big financial bullies of the league. How they compete in the only major American sport that doesn¿t have a salary cap to provide a level playing field. The difference is this kid didn¿t send off to get the muscles, he simply got smart instead. This book is about how being smarter than your opponents can work. Even if you¿ve got zero interest in baseball, it¿s an absorbing, intelligent read.There are two real threads to this book. The first is the rise in sabermetrics, which tried to take the elements of luck and judgement out of baseball statistics and actually measure a player¿s performance ¿ for example, fielders being judged on how few errors they made when an error was obviously a subjective call. And the second is how Oakland¿s general manager Billy Beane, originally a can¿t miss prospect who missed, determined that the conventional methods of building a team were wrong and set about some unorthodox methods of constructing that team.The threads intertwine as Beane, with the help of his assistant Paul DePodesta, uses the sabermetric system, rather than the conventional league approved ones, to analyse the truly important underrated stats and pick up cost effective players who performed well in these categories. In short, he takes advantage of crucial data that other teams ignore in favour of the more gaudy stats. It¿s fascinating to see Beane rebuild the organisation using these stats as a basis. He fires the scouts, who look only at what they want to see - who looks good and athletic, who pitches the fastest, who runs the swiftest. These scouts, who¿ve been trained by convention and accepted wisdom, are all booted in favour of those who¿ll look beyond the appearances and to actual performances. And with the help of his new scouts and sabermetrics Beane takes the equivalent of rescue dogs from Battersea Dogs Home and transforms them into stars. And if they don¿t work out, or work out too well he trades them to his advantage. And as the book clearly shows the methods are wildly successful ¿ the A¿s consistently have one of the league¿s lowest payrolls yet consistently make the playoffs.Beane¿s a fascinating central character, a GM whose own experiences of being the can¿t miss prospect who missed lead him to question the whole system of talent evaluation. He¿s an intriguing mixture of gambler, thinker and horse trader, even not watching his own team¿s games because it might bring cloud his judgement on players. It¿s clearly his failure to make it that drives him to prove how wrong the league is when it comes to selecting players, and use that failure to outsmart the rest of the league. Michael Lewis clearly conveys the passion that drives him and the pleasure he derives from building his team. He doesn¿t shy from portraying Beane¿s ruthlessness either, mixing the fairytale pickups of Chad Bradford and Scott Hatteburg with Mike Magnante, who¿s cut immediately before a game his wife and children had turned up to watch, effectively ending his career four days short of receiving his full pension benefits. By the end of the book a couple of other teams have started to cotton on and follow Oakland¿s methods, rather than dismissing them as a freak situation. Only a few though, the majority of baseball still cling to their received wisdom. When you finish reading this book the new afterword will give you the impression that the powers that be in Major League Baseball are like the Spanish Inquisition trying to silence anyone who tells them the world isn¿t flat or the centre of the universe, suppressing and ignoring knowledge that might improve them and their teams.It¿s a great story which Michael Lewis tells fluently and clearly, meaning the baseball stats and often complex trades are rendered clea
mmtz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I¿m not sure why, but this non-fiction tale about building an efficient baseball team was fascinating. Maybe the attention paid to supporting characters inside and outside of baseball by author Michael Lewis is what grabbed and held my interest.Published in paperback by W. W. Norton.