Jim's Reviews > The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First

The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri
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's review
Mar 01, 2011

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bookshelves: first-reads, baseball
Read from February 24 to 27, 2011

Let me begin by saying that I read an advanced uncorrected proof of this book. The version that eventually reaches the marketplace may be different.

This is the story of the turnaround of the Tampa Bay Rays, an expansion team with one of the worst records in baseball from their inception until 2007, finishing last in their division nine out of ten times. They were so bad that in 2003 while appearing on the David Letterman Show, Roger Clemens read the “ Top 10 Things Baseball Has Taught Me.” Number four was: “The best practical joke? Tell a teammate they’re traded to the Devil Rays.”

The task of improving the club was taken on by new owner Stuart Sternberg, new GM Andrew Friedman, new team president Matt Silverman and new manager Joe Maddon. The first three implemented a Wall Street style vision for the team, investing in the business infrastructure as well as the players to produce a better overall result. Their efforts are summarized in the prologue “The new Rays never missed a trick. No conversations would be wasted, no ideas ignored, no course of action embraced or dismissed without considering the costs and benefits, the reactions and consequences.” (pg. 11) This consistent, unwavering approach eventually yielded success because all involved learned to “trust the process” of change required to get there. The essence of the Rays player acquisition is a practice known as arbitrage in which a simultaneous purchase and sale is made and the purchase is less costly than the value received for the item sold. Joe Maddons’ managerial style proved complimentary to this approach, especially his ability to “trust the process” and when combined with occasional unorthodox moves (Once even calling for an intentional walk with the bases loaded….) increased his teams’ ability to win.

I thought the book was interesting and well researched; I especially enjoyed chapter 6 on Joe Maddon, but it needs additional editing. Too many points are repeated too often. If Goodreads allowed half stars I would have given this book two and one half stars, but faced with the whole star choice I rounded up to three.

Thanks Goodreads for another first reads win!

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