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Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  51,836 ratings  ·  3,127 reviews
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...more
Paperback, 317 pages
Published March 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2003)
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Community Reviews

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Kemper
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
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
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
Howard
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
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
Shane
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 4 of 5 stars
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
Ryan
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
Nancy
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.
Patrick
Dec 18, 2007 Patrick rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Jason
Oct 09, 2008 Jason rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
Eric
Sep 29, 2011 Eric rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Ben
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
Angela James
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
Kali Srikanth
Aug 01, 2013 Kali Srikanth rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Anika Palm
Aug 22, 2007 Anika Palm rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Jason
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
Caleb Gibson
Sometimes you read the book then watch the movie. For me I watched the movie then had to read the book. And I have to say, this is one of the best reads out there. I think for a while I came to a place where I just did not like baseball anymore, it was something that I loved as a child but lost my love as my understanding of the money involved bothered me. The MLB needs a stricter salary cap because without it, the big teams will win and the others will not (Astros). Oh yeah, except for the Oakl...more
Paul Donahue
Reading Moneyball, now nine years after it was first released, confirms for me that I, a fanatical baseball fan, am an idiot for having spent the last nine years not reading Moneyball. It's the equivalent of a huge physics and astronomy nerd blowing off reading Stephen Hawking for nearly a decade. Of course, I'm a tool on top of being an idiot since I'm part of the "read the book because of the movie" crowd. Fortunately my new Kindle saved me the disgrace of publicly reading the copy with Brad P...more
Tony Gleeson
If you're a modern baseball fan or a self-described "student of the game," this is a must-read textbook on the recent important "re-think" of how to build and run a major league baseball team in an era of exploding costs. Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane arguably revolutionized the game by introducing a new kind of analysis (I'd suggest following this up with "Building the Monster," a study of how a bigger-market team uses these principles to better advantage). The approach outlined here...more
Jane Stewart
4 ½ stars. The author is fascinated with his subject, and that makes this nonfiction book fascinating and entertaining.

This is true stuff – nonfiction – a genre I rarely read. I am not a baseball fan. I never pay attention to it. The author mentioned dozens of different player names that I had never heard of. But that wasn’t a problem. I loved the idea of the entrenched bureaucracy of owners, managers, scouts, the press, and other insiders being stupid, doing the same thing for decades, and not...more
Joshua Guest
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
Mark
As a person who enjoys baseball a lot, and writes about it, everyone talks to me about Moneyball. So having to say I'd never actually read the book often made me feel a bit sheepish. I recently saw the movie and felt a bit unsatisfied by the explanation it offered, which prompted me to finally read the book and see what was left out.

It turns out quite a lot. People other than Billy Beane are given much more space to breathe in the book version, and all the exposition that people might find borin...more
Giovanni Gelati
I have stated here in the past that I am not a big fan of non-fiction. I had received this novel as a gift and felt obligated to give it a try. Once I got into it nobody had to twist my arm to finish it. Moneyball was my first exposure to Michael Lewis but it will not be my last. He brought life to a very dull subject. Baseball stats are boring at best, unless you have a deep interest in them. Maybe it is your favorite player, favorite team, etc., but he created an entire novel on a system nobod...more
Optimism
Absolutely a fantastic book. Doesn't matter what you're interested in, read this.

If you're a businessman, read it to get insight into targeting undervalued overperformers. If you're in academics, read it to see what happens when new ideas are brought forth and how the old guard tries to ignore them. If you like math and numbers, read it to see how statistics (and a healthy dose of creativity) can actually make a difference in the real world. If you like sports--doesn't even have to be baseball--...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 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Stat, math and baseball junkies
Shelves: library, non-fiction, 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
Steve Kettmann
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
Jodi
How they ever made a movie out of this book is beyond me. The movie was abut Billy Bean, manager of the Oakland A's. The book is about baseball and statistics and why and how they matter. In some chapters the stats just rolled over my head but when they were wedded to the players, the story was fascinating. It's well read - the reader is there to read, to enhance the text with subtle excitement but not overwhelm it by making it an emotional story. The point of statistics is to take the emotion o...more
Daniel
As a person who has never played baseball seriously or fallen victim to it's superstitions, this book was not as moving as it could have been. Mr. Lewis illustrates to false economy of baseball drafting and the unwillingness by many organizations to take a second look at how they spend millions of dollars.

I enjoyed the book in the same way that I enjoyed social science books and not much for it's relation to baseball. It amazes me that such a technical book could be turned into a movie that man...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.

His latest book, Flash Boys, was published on March 31, 2014.
More about Michael Lewis...
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game Liar's Poker Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

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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.” 50 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.” 24 likes
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