The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players

The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players

by Ben Lindbergh, Travis Sawchik


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Move over, Moneyball — this New York Times bestseller examines major league baseball's next cutting-edge revolution: the high-tech quest to build better players.

As bestselling authors Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik reveal in The MVP Machine, the Moneyball era is over. Fifteen years after Michael Lewis brought the Oakland Athletics' groundbreaking team-building strategies to light, every front office takes a data-driven approach to evaluating players, and the league's smarter teams no longer have a huge advantage in valuing past performance.

Lindbergh and Sawchik's behind-the-scenes reporting reveals:
  • How undersized afterthoughts José Altuve and Mookie Betts became big sluggers and MVPs
  • How polarizing pitcher Trevor Bauer made himself a Cy Young contender
  • How new analytical tools have overturned traditional pitching and hitting techniques
  • How a wave of young talent is making MLB both better than ever and arguably worse to watch
Instead of out-drafting, out-signing, and out-trading their rivals, baseball's best minds have turned to out-developing opponents, gaining greater edges than ever by perfecting prospects and eking extra runs out of older athletes who were once written off. Lindbergh and Sawchik take us inside the transformation of former fringe hitters into home-run kings, show how washed-up pitchers have emerged as aces, and document how coaching and scouting are being turned upside down. The MVP Machine charts the future of a sport and offers a lesson that goes beyond baseball: Success stems not from focusing on finished products, but from making the most of untapped potential.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781541698925
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 04/07/2020
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 89,787
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Ben Lindbergh is a staff writer for The Ringer and hosts the Effectively Wild podcast for FanGraphs. The coauthor of New York Times bestseller The Only Rule Is It Has to Work, he lives in New York, NY.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for FiveThirtyEight. The author of New York Times bestseller Big Data Baseball, he lives in Bay Village, OH.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Powering Up 1

1 Saviormetrics 5

2 A Natural Maniac, an Unnatural Athlete 20

3 Making Mules into Racehorses 40

4 First Principles 63

5 A Bottom-Up Revolution 87

6 The 10,000-Pitch Rule 104

7 The Conduit 121

8 Perfect Pitch 148

9 We're All Astronauts 163

10 SpinGate 199

11 Amateur Ball 208

12 The All-Star Player-Coach 237

13 Performance-Enhancing Data 253

14 Just Be Better 263

15 Soft Factors 286

16 If You Build Them, They Will Come 302

17 No Ceiling 317

Epilogue: The Residue of Design 335

Afterword: Copycat League 347

Acknowledgments 377

Glossary 380

Notes 385

Index 391

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