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Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  64,774 Ratings  ·  3,719 Reviews
Moneyball is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can't buy: the secret of success in baseball. The logical places to look would be the giant offices of major league teams and the dugouts. But the real jackpot is a cache of numbers collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software engi ...more
Audio CD, Unabridged
Published September 6th 2011 by Random House Audio (first published 2003)
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Matt McKenzie I watched the movie first,and am now reading the book. I have to say,I enjoyed the movie better. As someone with no interest in baseball,I found the…moreI watched the movie first,and am now reading the book. I have to say,I enjoyed the movie better. As someone with no interest in baseball,I found the movie very easy to follow. The book poses a few more difficulties...
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Jeffrey Keeten
“The pleasure of rooting for Goliath is that you can expect to win. The pleasure of rooting for David is that, while you don’t know what to expect, you stand at least a chance of being inspired.”

 photo Moneyball_zpsvyiu5cwi.jpg

This book came out in 2003, and the movie version came out in 2011; yet, it is amazing to me that despite the success shown by the Oakland As under the guidance of Billy Beane, baseball, for the most part, is still focusing on the wrong things. Just recently the manager of the New York Mets, Terry Colli
...more
Kemper
Apr 24, 2012 Kemper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 dol
...more
Jason
Jan 29, 2015 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-kindle, 2012, reviewed
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 more toward technical non-fiction than biography (I was hoping for more 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
...more
Matt
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journalism, sports
“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 swi
...more
Brina
Mar 18, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
4.5 I read Moneyball at a time when I wasn't reading too much besides preschool kids books. Because this focuses on nerdy box score stats that I have followed since I was a kid, I picked it up and read it in a few days. 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 hav ...more
Diane
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 a
...more
Riku Sayuj

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-simula
...more
Will Byrnes
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 sour ...more
Howard
Oct 08, 2014 Howard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 approac
...more
Alex Ristea
Apr 05, 2015 Alex Ristea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read the book and then immediately watched the movie, and I can confirm that (once again) the book is better than its silver screen counterpart, even when its written by the legendary Aaron Sorkin.

A little about why this book was important to me personally. I am not a baseball fan, but I do work in professional sports, and specifically deal with analytics to now measure things which used to be very hand-wavvy.

This book can actually be a nail-biter at times. Don't get me wrong, it's still a lot
...more
Shane
Jul 16, 2008 Shane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Moneyball is a book that shook the world of professional baseball, but not necessarily in the way it should have. Let me explain...

Moneyball is framed around the story of Billy Beane, a hot prospect who never panned out in the majors, who became general manager of the Oakland A's in 1997. Since that time, the A's, while consistently having one of the lowest payrolls in baseball, have been one of the best teams in the game. How is this possible? The book details how Beane and a few trusted associ
...more
Caroline
Apr 30, 2008 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Baseball fans of any level; Joe Morgan
A couple cons:

The writing’s a little heavy-handed in places, which might just be a hazard of writing about baseball. Ex: “The batter’s box was a cage designed to crush his spirit.”

Plus, as a poet, I always feel guilty reading books like this when I could/should be reading Proust or Shakespeare…

But:

Overall, I really enjoyed Moneyball, and I’m glad I read it. Even though it’s focused on the emergence of new baseball-thinking, Moneyball seems much more comprehensive, and much more narrative than
...more
Jason
Oct 09, 2008 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jason by: Jon Balmer
I fucking hate watching sports.
Hate it.
Then how is it that this book, about applying pertinent statistical analyis to creating baseball teams and playing basesball, so captivated me? It's a testament to a) the skill of the author, Michael Lewis, but also b) the unequivocal appeal of the underlying story: how hard it is to change the status quo (and how one can succeed despite that) and the man Lewis profiles, Billy Beane.
A fantastic narrative for fans of spectator sports or folks like me who'd
...more
Nancy
Feb 26, 2009 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know next to nothing about baseball, and less than that about statistics, but this book about applying new statistical thinking in baseball to the selection of a winning team (the Oakland A's) was absolutely riveting reading for me. Michael Lewis is just that good.
Ryan
Jan 24, 2012 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Boy did I read Michael Lewis' Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game at the right time: January.

(The off-season.)

Over the last two years, I've made a real effort to learn about sports. Hockey? Not a problem. The NBA? A gossipy league, but I think it's more popular because of it. The NFL? Short but sweet. No matter how hard I try -- I'll score the game, I'll eat the peanuts, but I draw the line at chew -- I just cannot develop an interest in baseball. I recently talked to a former ESPN writ
...more
Patrick
Dec 18, 2007 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball fans
If you're a baseball fan, you'll really appreciate this book. It is more or less a primer on the way the emphasis on statistics has come to prominence in many circles around the sport, and provides insight into some of the seemingly more arcane terms around the sport, such as OBP, OPS, VORP, etc. It's really quite valuable in that regard.

It has also come to represent the term for the organizations that embrace this approach to scouting, although that assessment is not entirely accurate. The book
...more
Scott Rhee
As a writer, Michael Lewis has that amazing ability to write about one thing but actually be writing about something else entirely. Sometimes it’s meanings within meanings, and it often requires a deeper read between the lines.

“Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” is, ostensibly, about the economics of baseball, how baseball can be looked at as a financial microcosm of the real world: the wealth inequalities between major league teams and how rich teams tend to win many more games than
...more
Joshua Guest
Oct 16, 2012 Joshua Guest rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you haven't already seen the movie, you ought to see the movie. And after you have seen the movie, you ought to read the book. I loved the film adaptation, it adds magic and melancholy to the story. This book stands out to me not because it's a good underdog story (though it is a very good underdog story), and not because it's a good non-fiction story (and it is a very good non-fiction story), but because of the symbolic power and universality of its core message: there is unseen value in eve ...more
Eric
Sep 29, 2011 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Baseball fans
Recommended to Eric by: Sean Cunningham
Shelves: sports
I found this book extremely interesting, especially since I didn't read it until eight years after it came out, meaning I knew how all the draft picks and other players mentioned in the book panned out (a topic on which a good deal has now been written). Only my rule of always reading the book before seeing the movie prompted me pick it up now, a decision I don't regret.

The book had some interesting tidbits I wasn't aware of, such as where the term sabremetrics came from ("The name derives from
...more
Kali Srikanth
Aug 01, 2013 Kali Srikanth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has an appetite for underdog stories.
Billy Beane raises his right hand up- “There are rich teams, there are poor teams, there is 50 feet of crap and then there is US.” reaches the table level.

Thirty pages into book I knew this book is going to be completely different from movie version only time to decide if it’s engaging or uncompelling. So I thought I would find a way to supply my patience fuel for another thirty pages or so, then I shall confidently decide on quitting or no because after all, this was not the story I fell in l
...more
Ben
Apr 17, 2009 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To most people, this book is about stats, how some stats are inadequate, and moreover, how important stats are ignored. But that's not why I like this book. The real story for me is how people with fewer means succeed. It is more than an undercurrent in the book, and it is sadly ignored by most readers. The Oakland A's took baseball's detritus--fat guys, skinny guys, short guys--and composed championship-caliber teams with them. Moneyball to me isn't about the stats, it's about making the best o ...more
Christopher
Every spring I tell myself it ought to be a yearly tradition: read a baseball book to celebrate the opening of the major league season. I've done it a few times (The Boys of Summer, October 1964, Say it Ain't So Joe, Babe: The Legend Comes to Life, etc.), although it's not quite the tradition I'd like it to be.

But this year I made good on that idea and, inspired by GR member Matt's recent, insightful review of Michael Lewis's Moneyball, I went out to track down the copy I had seen recently--very
...more
Angela James
Jan 29, 2012 Angela James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So here's the thing: before I started reading, this book had everything going against it for me. Despite my love of sports, I don't like baseball (at all) and I don't watch it. I know the basics of the game but otherwise, really don't know anything about the game and only recognize the names of really famous players. I don't like math or statistics (which are a big part of baseball and in a small way, this book) and I don't generally love nonfiction, though I do read it, it's not more than a cou ...more
Big League Manager
Well, its kind of about baseball. Its more really about Billy Beane and how terrific a GM he is and, as an extra bonus, he is so much like the swell guys on Wall Street who have it all figured out.

Well kinda.

You see, the Oakland Athletics were/are a "poor" ballclub. They do not have the cash of teams like the Yankees or Red Sox so they can not afford much in the way of scouting and even if they do scout they do not have the money to sign the best players (actually I mean the players the rich t
...more
Sera
Sep 15, 2010 Sera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Stat, math and baseball junkies
Shelves: non-fiction, library, own
This is a very cool book about how a bunch of nerds, led by the former major league jock Billy Beans, turned the game of baseball on its head through the introduction of non-traditional means of measuring player performance. Although the concept of using statistics to draft players, etc., was not a new concept, Beans and his gang relied upon certain tenants of probability so as to be able to effectively compete against the big money teams in the late '90s to early 2000s.

What I love about the boo
...more
AMP
Aug 22, 2007 AMP rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who thinks baseball statistics interfere with enjoyment of the game.
I've always found baseball fascinating, but have rarely admitted it publicly. That's because the revelation always seemed to be followed by someone trying to engage me in a conversation about the game. And that conversation would always, always end up revolving around statistics I neither cared about nor cared to learn.

Not because Math Is Haaaaaard, but because I always had a niggling suspicion that baseball-nerd numbers really weren't that important. Lewis proved me half right; some of the num
...more
Steve Kettmann
Apr 04, 2015 Steve Kettmann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
Lewis is a brilliant writer, and I give credit where credit is due: He sketches a memorable portrait of Billy Beane, maestro of the Oakland A's, and of his ideas and approach. My three main problems with the book are that it leaves people with the impression that more had changed than it really had; looking for guys others had missed who had a knack for drawing walks and getting on base was a long-standing passion of, for example, Sandy Alderson, Beane's mentor, here given short-shrift; two, it ...more
Alireza Hezaryan
It's a problem you think you need to explain your self ..DON'T ...TO ANYONE
Jason
Aug 13, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moneyball is well written, a little dry sometimes in the points it makes,and the points are made more than necessary. However the writing was very good. Michael Lewis does an excellent job breaking this subject down for those of us not familiar with baseball's finer points (me).

Side note: Interesting. I was one of the people who had a negative response to the idea of this book and thought I knew what it was about from the few trailers of the movie I had watched ( I have not even seen the movie)
...more
Jason
Jan 19, 2016 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports, nonfiction
I'm sure there are countless reviews pointing out that this is a book every bit as much about statistics as it is about baseball. It is, yet it is also just as much a book about epistemology: a meditation on knowledge from data and scientific experimentation as opposed to perception and intuition. In this way, the book works just as well as a philosophical treatise as it does as a book about sports or the life of Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane. And the book does work really well. Beane' ...more
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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 and three children.
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“The pleasure of rooting for Goliath is that you can expect to win. The pleasure of rooting for David is that, while you don’t know what to expect, you stand at least a chance of being inspired.” 72 likes
“Managers tend to pick a strategy that is the least likely to fail, rather then to pick a strategy that is most efficient," Said Palmer. " The pain of looking bad is worse than the gain of making the best move.” 33 likes
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