Jul 02, 12
Read in May, 2012 — I own a copy
I was a huge fan of Michael Lewis’ book called The Big Short, which made sense since I have a background in finance. I also thought the movie The Blind Side (also by Lewis) was a very inspiring . So naturally, my expectation of the book Moneyball was: ”this would be great!”, but instead it was more “yea it was ok“, which equates to probably a 7 out of 10 rating.
The 7/10 rating was because I ignored 2 important facts.
First, I don’t know anything about baseball!!! Hmm, this should have been a big red flag to start with. I’ve watched one college baseball game and I thought it was really boring.
Second, Michael Lewis is a numbers guy. His background is in MA. Economics, and worked as bonds salesman in a Wall Street investment bank.
The whole book is about how a baseball team, Oakland A’s, with one of the smallest yearly budget can stay competitive against the big spenders like the Yankees or the Red Sox. And this “how” is explained almost solely using baseball statistics, so naturally not knowing anything about baseball really doesn’t help with reading the book. The book is heavy with baseball terminology, history, statistics, names, and etc. For someone who really doesn’t follow the sport, it would be really hard to follow what a .300 batting average is.
Furthermore, Lewis’ being a numbers guy becomes very clear in the book. Like I said before, the book is filled with statistical analysis of everything related to baseball game. He also manages to bring in a lot of comparison of baseball to wall street stock trading, which clearly shows where his influence comes from.
So unfortunately my expectation was that this book would portray Oakland A’s success story in more of a novel like story line, with some inspiring twist. Instead, the book is very quantitative and sectioned. Essentially each chapter mentions how the Oakland A’s found or traded players that nobody wanted based on some baseball statistics.
I think the most disappointing part of the book is the ending. Ok, so they end up with a new record in the season with the most consecutive wins (20 wins in a row), and end up in the playoffs, but they end up sucking at the playoffs, which they attribute to luck! Yes, I said luck. So the whole book spends time on how this underdog team does well because they use pure statistical science, and they end up coming up with “luck” as an excuse for why they did poorly in the play-offs.
Ok, so I’ve been pretty negative about the book so far, but I did give it a 7/10, which is not bad. Lewis still does tell a great story, and I did start getting the hang of baseball terminology and stats as I kept reading. I’m also a numbers guy (finance background), so it was interesting to see how the statistical analyses were used to evaluate a sport like baseball. Also, although it wasn’t The Blind Side inspirational, there were few stories of inspiring baseball players.
Overall, I think this book is perfect if you are a baseball fanatic, or you are into fantasy baseball, which it talks about a lot. Otherwise, I’d recommend that you keep looking for a book that is geared towards your interest.