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The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players
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The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  1,828 ratings  ·  212 reviews
Move over, Moneyball -- a cutting-edge look at major league baseball's next revolution: the high-tech quest to build better players.

As bestselling authors Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik reveal in The MVP Machine, the Moneyball era is over. Fifteen years after Michael Lewis brought the Oakland Athletics' groundbreaking team-building strategies to light, every front offic
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Basic Books
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Average rating 4.32  · 
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 ·  1,828 ratings  ·  212 reviews

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Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a much more technical tome than The Only Rule Is It Has To Work (which Lindbergh co-authored with Sam Miller), but it’s just as fascinating.

If you’re into the effect of stats and tech on the baseball world (and if you’re fascinated by Trevor Bauer and the Driveline approach), this is a must-read.
While it is clear the authors know their stuff about the role of analytics in baseball, it pains me to read about all this praise yet again about an organization like the Houston Astros who not only flaunted established rules to win, but treat certain employees so badly. When I read about thier dismissal of traditional scouts who wanted to learn more about modern methods that was the end of my objectivity for this book.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you want to understand what is going on in baseball today, this book is a primer. The authors who have previously written in this genre offer a very up to date insight on the changes revolutionizing baseball.

Whether you like the new approach or not, it is here to stay. This book will give you the insight and understanding to appreciate the groundbreaking changes cycling through the baseball industry. Well written with many timely examples,
it will not disappoint ardent baseball fanatics.
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most essential baseball book since Moneyball. A must-read.
Michael Martz
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'd love to be able to recommend 'The MVP Machine' to everyone, but unless you're a baseball fan who's embraced (or at least tolerated) the 'new stats' and technology that have been introduced into the game over the past few years it won't do much for you. However, if you are such a fan......

'The MVP Machine' explains a lot about the origins of the changes to the game that are quite noticeable today. Defensive shifts, exit velocity, launch angle, tunneling pitches, spin rates, 3 outcome players-
Oct 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Good read, but enough with the Trevor Bauer.
Kevin Deal
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Intriguing from start to finish. The authors’ ability to breakdown complex metrics in an accessible way offers such great insights to the current state of player development. As an educator, the thread of mindfulness (citing Dweck’s work) offered a fascinating parallel between the MLB and the world of education. Any fan of baseball should read this book.
Richard Iurilli
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball, nonfiction, 2020
Definitely too much Trevor Bauer but I got post–sign-stealing scandal Astros lols and learned a lot too
Mark Stevens
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
On the surface, the game of baseball is perfection. It’s the sheer beauty of the way the game is structured around athletes who are attempting to do two of the hardest things in sports.

Pitching a ball past a major league batter.
Hitting a ball hurled by a major league pitcher.

Baseball is conflict. Pitcher versus hitter at least 54 times per game.  

If you want to dig deep into the current state of Major League Baseball—and how players today are working to get better at those two very difficult ski
Allen Adams
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing

One of the longest-standing truisms in the athletic realm is that nothing is more important than inborn natural talent; while practice can make you better, there’s no amount of practice that can compensate for a lack of inherent ability.

But in baseball’s brave new world, with reams of data available at the press of a button, perhaps that truism isn’t quite so true after all.

“The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists are Using Data to Build Better
Harold Walker
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! I should’ve expected nothing less from two of the brightest baseball minds writing today. Just like their previous books, The MVP Machine changed not just the way I think about the game of baseball but also the way I think about how I pursue my own work and passions.

I couldn’t recommend this book more. If you love baseball and want to know what is happening on the cutting edge of the sport you need to read this.

Thank you Ben and Travis for all of the work that went into this book and
Caleb Friginal
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
What a great read! People have called this book the “Moneyball” for this generation. It opens the door to the new revolution in professional baseball. One of my favorite things about baseball is that people continue to try and push the sport forward even though it’s been around for over 100 years. These authors get fascinating insight into the people who are on the group floor of the player development movement. From Trevor Bauer to Kyle Boddy to Doug Latta to Brian Bannister. It was interesting ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Outstanding new book highlighting the fourth (or fifth) wave of Moneyball. As time has passed since the publication of that historic book with all baseball front offices looking at the same inefficiencies in drafting and signing free agents, a new wave has begun wherein front offices and the players themselves try to generate a new edge through player development. Baseball writers Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik take you on this journey telling stories about baseball mavericks, changing the gam ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
While quite technical at times, there is enough of a story to keep your interest if you’re a baseball fan. This is where the sport is heading and it is quite clear that some teams and players are way ahead and others are WAY behind.

“We haven’t done anything yet to compare with potentially what we could do.”
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most interesting books that I've ever read about baseball. It gives me a new appreciation for how players try to improve themselves using the latest technology and analytics. ...more
Andrew Wolgemuth
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, audio, sports
A fun read for baseball fans interested in the dramatic player development improvements of the last five years or so.
Peter Reo
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You'll never look at baseball the same way again. ...more
Paul Elliott
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
A really interesting look at how teams are using analytics to re-think player development.
Rich W
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Great book - much bigger than baseball.
Wesley Robert Zurovec
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book chronicles the innovative ways in which data analytics and non-traditional approaches to player development are elevating the game of baseball. The chapter focusing on the Astros is particularly interesting, all the more so as it relates to the sign stealing scandal, which was revealed after the publishing of this book. Recommended read for any fan of the great sport of baseball!
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Great insight on new trends in player development and really interesting material. But I got annoyed about half way thru with how much the book seemed to be about Trevor Bauer. Like OK, I get it, Trevor Bauer bucks traditional training methods but damn, did so much of the book need to revolve around him?
Jim Blessing
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: baseball
This book started very interesting, but got bogged down and I wasn't able to keep reading after the mid-point of it. ...more
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019
I got about a hundred pages in and simply got bored. It functions as a history of the current baseball "revolution" and does an okay job telling the history but not that well explaining it. The writing is pretty dry and often feels really repetitive in style and tone ( perhaps the lack of Sam Miller is really felt here). Mostly follows Trevor Bauer, who some may find interesting but I find him mostly annoying. Then it gets packed with the shallow "growth mindset," "grit," and other Gladwell bull ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. It could lose about 40 pages, and it is overly reliant on Trevor Bauer (think the early series asshole version of Sheldon Cooper, but in baseball) especially when the other reclamation stories are better (Rich Hill, Ottavino, etc). Still, very interesting book, and like me you don’t even have to watch much of any baseball to appreciate it
Danny Knobler
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great topic handled well

The growth of analytics has changed baseball, but it has also divided many fans and many of those in the game. It shouldn’t, and the more Travis Sawchik and Ben Lindbergh write, the less it will. They take difficult topics and make them sound simple, interesting and not threatening. A very worthwhile book.
Mar 02, 2020 rated it liked it
So many issues with this book. I'm the target audience for this book in so many ways. I read this author's columns regularly, find the topic very intriguing and am actually one of the few Indians fans that really and truly appreciate Trevor Bauer. However, there are some errors of commission and omission that really undermine this book's premise.

First is the omission. The central figure is Bauer and the premise is that he is undersized and not athletic, so how did he become a solid MLB SP? The t
Mark Mitchell
Mar 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sports
The thesis of Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik’s book is that until recently professional baseball organizations made efforts to obtain the most talented players (viewing their abilities as fixed), but that they are now making much more significant efforts (aided by technology) to improve the players in their organizations. The authors argue largely by anecdote, using Trevor Bauer, Justin Turner, and other players who were once considered “fringe”, but have used “new-school” approaches to transf ...more
Colin Cox
Jul 24, 2019 rated it liked it
The MVP Machine is a timely and necessary intervention that explores newfangled player-development practices in baseball. Within a generation, the way to win has changed. On the whole, teams have transitioned from plucking older, expensive players from the free-agent market to enhancing young, inexpensive talent in their farm system. By doing so, teams are not only allocating resources differently; they are also shifting organizational priorities. That is to say, this new understanding of effici ...more
Chris Esposo
This book was alright, although too general. Despite having a subtitle claiming to explain "how" a group of nonconformist are leveraging data to create champions, the "how" in this case is a very broad and qualitative "how". Which is fine, but my expectations were that this would be a bit more of a hybrid journalistic/technical treatment of the material.

For what it is, the book is good. It is a a history of the current (circa 2019-20') domain of interests for data scientists, and other analytic
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik's The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players is an excellent, if slightly too long, baseball book. They argue that lots of people have noted the shift toward more granular ways of evaluating players, but few have looked into how data is used to development them, to actually change and shape them.

With the ever-annoying but driven Trevor Bauer as a major case study, they dive into the world of high speed cameras, pitch
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Ben Lindbergh is a staff writer for The Ringer. He also hosts the Effectively Wild podcast for FanGraphs and regularly appears on MLB Network. He is a former staff writer for FiveThirtyEight and Grantland, a former editor-in-chief of Baseball Prospectus, and the New York Times bestselling co-author of The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team. His ne ...more

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