A Reader posted a review at 2008-09-02 08:52:59.
Good writing. Lewis delves into the Oakland A's franchise. Why have they been successful when they have spent so little money, he asks. The answer is their GM BillyBeane and his unorthodox approach to evaluating the merits of players and strategies. He employs Paul DePodesta, a sabermetrics guy. The really fascinating thing is the angle taken on it all. Baseball is a business to Beane (though he himself played it back in his day). He has only so much money and needs to maximize what he can get out of it. Given limited resources, what is the best way to spend those? It is to take advantage of inefficiencies. BillyBeane competes with better-funded franchises by being more efficient than they are. So this is, in the end, a book on efficiency. Understanding what the problems really are, finding the real solutions. If you understand the problems than anybody else and can find the solutions better than everyone else, then you can make yourself more efficient than everyone else. And if you are more efficient, than you can win. I am not sure that I buy all of their theories. There is a list of the top prospects in the 2002 draft in the second chapter. Only one of them made the big leagues and he wasn't doing all that well. And there are traps in using statistics to evaluate performance. One must always remember that statistics are history, not reality. If one forgets that and begins thinking of statistics as laws, one starts getting things wrong. (Really, the way to exploit the greatest inefficiencies are to do the things that have never been tried but are better than anything that has been. Those things cannot show up in statistics.) Moneyball also contains some interesting psychological portraits. Lewis tries to get into Beane's head, both when he was himself a hot prospect in the minor league system, and now as GM. And Beane lets Lewis into the heads of other people.