Jeffrey Keeten's Reviews > Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

Moneyball by Michael   Lewis
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it was amazing
bookshelves: baseball, book-to-film

“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.”

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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 Collins, who commands one of the best teams in the world, said in an interview after the World Series:

“I’m not sure how much an old-school guy can add to the game today,’’ Collins told USA Today. “It’s become a young man’s game, especially with all of the technology stuff you’ve got to be involved in. I’m not very good at it. I don’t enjoy it like other people do. I’m not going to sit there today and look at all of these (expletive) numbers and try to predict this guy is going to be a great player. OPS this. OPS that. GPS. LCSs. DSDs. You know who has good numbers? Good (expletive) players.”

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Terry Collins said: “Shit Happens” at a press conference. Billy Beane must have rolled his eyes.

The MLB network show Hot Stove was incensed that Collins would make such a statement in this day and age, especially since they could track several “gut” decisions he made during the World Series that probably cost them a chance to win it. The most glaring error was when he decided to pull the pitcher, Matt Harvey, in the 9th inning of game five only to change his mind and send him back out there after Harvey complained. Collins looked into the player’s eyes and saw what he wanted to see. It was the third time through the order. Harvey had pitched brilliantly, but statistically, that bad word that Collins doesn’t like. When you look at the Royals, they get to pitchers late. The Royals got to Harvey and knocked him out of the game, which left a mess for Jeurys Familia to come into the game to try and save.

Royals Win!
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Eric Hosmer going off the Billy Beane script for success, but man, was it dramatic. I about had a heartattack.

The Royals deviate from Billy Beane ball at many junctures. One being the most dramatic play of the series when Eric Hosmer steals home. Beane does not believe in stealing bases, too risky, and if you steal a base on a Billy Beane team, you better make sure you are safe. The Royals also occasionally bunt to move a runner, which doesn’t fit the Beane philosophy. He believes in managing outs and never giving up an out to advance a runner. The Royals have speedy wheels and frequently turn bunts into base hits, which would probably keep them from finding themselves subjugated to a Billy Beane lecture. You can go off script, but just be right.

The Royals are a homegrown team. Most of the players have come from the farm club system, although they are a bit too athletic and good looking for a Billy Beane ball club. One of the things that Beane talks about is getting away from players who could sell jeans. He should know; he was one of those players that looked like a Greek God in a uniform. He was drafted in 1980 along with another phenom that even those people who don’t follow baseball probably recognize his name...Darryl Strawberry. Beane was an interesting enough prospect that, for a while, the Mets were even considering taking him in the draft first instead of Strawberry. Both were amazing specimens of what we want athletes to look like. The Mets ended up taking Beane, too, but with the 23rd pick. Beane had all the physical gifts to be successful, but sports is not just about the body; it is about the mind. Billy had a lot of expectations for himself, and those expectations became insecurities that eventually evolved into a gifted player being unable to play the game.

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Billy Beane on the verge of a stardom that somehow eluded him. He is exactly the player who Billy now tries to avoid.

He asked for a job in the As front office, and that began an odyssey in search of those players who were ”ballplayers”, not pretty head cases, not players that hit home runs and created RBIs, but players that could control the strike zone. As he tore apart the As organization, he got rid of the scouts who were still insisting on signing Apolloesque ballplayers and sold off overpriced talent. Ownership wasn’t giving him much money to work with anyway, so instead of buying expensive talent, he had to sell expensive talent and replace it with a motley group of players whom no one else wanted, but who had the one important element he wanted most, OPS (on base plus slugging), i.e. these guys knew how to get on base.

These players had a menagerie of interesting things wrong with them that had other clubs looking to get rid of them, which made them perfect for Billy Beane. One pitcher had club feet. They were below average fielders. They were overweight. They threw sidearm pitches. They were older players on their way out. They were players too green for any other team to consider playing them.

You can’t win with players like this!

Well, maybe you can. Exhibit A: The standings at the end of the season in the American League West in 2002.

Wins Losses Games Behind Payroll
Oakland 103 59 ---- $41,942,665
Anaheim 99 63 4 $62,757,041
Seattle 93 69 10 $86,084,710
Texas 72 90 31 $106,915,180

Now the interesting thing is notice the payroll compared to the wins. The more money a team spent the fewer games they won. If I had been the Texas Rangers owner, I’d be looking at these results and think to myself, What am I paying for?

Baseball is in love with RBIs and Home Runs. They think those are the things about baseball that put butts in seats. As the Royals made their way through the playoffs in the American league in 2015, they encountered two teams that depended on the home run to win ball games. The Royals hit 95 home runs in 2014, which placed them dead last at 30th among major league baseball teams. In 2015, they improved to 139 home runs, but were still 24th in the league. Their opponent in the playoffs in 2015, the Toronto Blue Jays, were 1st in all of major league baseball with 232 home runs. Their other opponent, the Houston Astros, hit 230 home runs and were second in the league for home runs.

 photo jose-bautista-bat-flip_zpsl6yczxcj.jpg
Jose Bautista hit several dramatic home runs in the playoffs, including the famous bat flip home run, but despite those fence clearing bombs, they were unable to advance in the playoffs.

Jacking up home runs might equal playoffs, but it doesn’t seem to equal winning world championships.

Even the Mets hit 177 home runs for 9th in the league. They did win the pennant, but still fell short of winning a world championship. To my eye, they are a more complete offensive ballclub than Houston or Toronto and will be contenders again this year, but not because they hit a lot of home runs.

So why is major league baseball so reluctant to embrace the philosophy of Moneyball? ”Anti-intellectual resentment is common in all of American life and it has many diverse expressions.” For instance, preferring high school players in the draft over college players, even though statistically college players do better. College athletes have played against stiffer competition. They have honed their skills. They have more reliable stats to give a general manager a better clue to how they will perform at the next level.

I admire the Mets. They are a terrific team. I still have a lot of nostalgia for Gary Carter and the Miracle Mets of 1986, and if the Royals hadn’t been playing against them last year, I would have been rooting for them in the World Series. I have to say that Terry Collins’ comments about basically comparing statistics to voodoo was disappointing to me. I don’t mean to pick on Collins, but his comments came after he made several decisions in the face of a pile of data to the contrary that probably cost his team at least a better chance to win the World Series. He is not alone. Baseball is still filled with owners, GMs, and managers who believe that home runs and RBIs are the most important statistics and the best way to win championships.

The Royals, after all, are an anomaly, right?

It was the same things teams were saying about the As in the early 2000s.

I think of all those ballplayers who really know how to play the game, who are stuck in the minor leagues because they hit too many singles or walked too many times, and didn’t launch enough missiles over the back fence.

I loved this book because I’m a fan of baseball, but the book had a much bigger impact on me. I started thinking about and applying Billy Beane principles to my own business. We are a company mired in traditions and traditional thinking and long overdue for an overhaul in philosophy to meet new challenges. Like all companies, we need to become more efficient, more lean, more targeted to what wins ball games rather than what creates a big splash. I’m buying copies of this book for the rest of the management staff, and we are going to talk about singles and doubles and managing our outs. Maybe we, too, can get our Royal on.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Reading Progress

February 24, 2016 – Started Reading
February 24, 2016 – Shelved
March 4, 2016 – Finished Reading
May 4, 2016 – Shelved as: baseball
June 29, 2016 – Shelved as: book-to-film

Comments Showing 1-50 of 52 (52 new)


message 1: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Love this Jeffrey, and just perfect timing for the new baseball season. Of course I have no idea what to expect from the Red Sox this year, but I'm hoping for lots of fun. And I do like bunts and steals...by competent players. I like that element of surprise.


message 2: by Jim (new) - added it

Jim Great review...and another addition to the TBR!


message 3: by Lee (new)

Lee Foust Great review Jeffrey, but as a life-long A's fan and Moneyball afficianado (I'm even in the film--an extra in the stands lamenting at the playoffs' last out), I must take exception to your characterizing Beane's "rules" as "a script." There is no script, per se, no real rules, merely data, its interpretation, and then application. Stealing, for instance, is done all of the time--it's one of the major strategies of baseball. Yes, even by the A's. BUT, it's done by those with a higher statistical possibility of not getting caught. Situations change statistical analysis as well. Stealing with two outs, for example, is much more statistically viable--the odds increasing so much of scoring a run from a hit with a runner on second base make it worth the risk because you might have only one more at-bat to do it rather than three.

The Royals are successful because they play to their talents--which is also using stats to know one's own strengths. You tell a home run threat to swing away at 3-2 but you tell a .200 hitter to take the pitch. You let a player with better than average success rate steal when he sees the opportunity because he's fairly likely to succeed.

The A's WERE successful (during the period you cite above) not because they got ugly, fat, and awkward players, but because they got ugly, fat, and awkward players who were undervalued by other teams but were, according to the numbers, perfectly respectable ballplayers. The A's would have loved to have had A-rod (who was behind most of that payroll of the Rangers you quote above) but that would have been overspending hugely on a single position to the detriment of the rest of the available funds--the Rangers' downfall in those years. Beane found undervalue (based on statistics, which had no eyes to see what a player looked like) whereas other teams overvalued players who were not really as good based on the fact that they looked athletic, or pitched overhand, or had a high BA but a crap OBP (see the world's most overrated hitter, Kirby Puckett).

I like applying Moneyball to other sectors of life as well. Especially when dealing with gut issues. Although anyone would "feel" safer with a gun in their hand, for instance, statistics show us that gun owners are far more likely to be shot than non gun owners. Owning a gun actually puts one in more danger, statistically speaking. The numbers show what the gut can't feel--impulse killing within the home, accidents, curious children, an intruder's response to seeing or being threatened with a gun...

These are hard lessons. Instincts surely have their place, but the mind is stronger if used correctly. I think this is why Lewis claimed that Moneyball was his most important book. It's a life lesson in getting beyond instinct and thinking above and beyond the box of received ideas based so often on false assumptions--what so often passes for common sense.


message 4: by Lee (last edited Mar 05, 2016 11:36PM) (new)

Lee Foust PS And the real reason the Royals won last year is because they pawned off that dead-weight Billy Butler on Billy Beane! I swear he produced more outs than he had at-bats last year by hitting into double plays every single time he came to bat with a man on base. I prayed all winter long for his retirement. no such luck!


Jeffrey Keeten Lee wrote: "Great review Jeffrey, but as a life-long A's fan and Moneyball afficianado (I'm even in the film--an extra in the stands lamenting at the playoffs' last out), I must take exception to your characte..."

I'm sorry that you took exception to my use of the word SCRIPT. I was merely referring to the way that Beane and his statistics would like each player to play to their strengths. I guess I could have used a different word, but I don't think that I was in any way insulting Billy's system by referring to his preferences for each player with the word SCRIPT.

I think baseball is a sport that most anyone can play. I was going to talk about a softball team of non-athletic people that we put together from a bookstore staff in Tucson. I ran out of room in the review. We beat teams that were infinitely superior to us in talent because we stuck with fundamentals of fielding and hitting. We went from being in the D league early in the season to the A league. We won the A league coed softball championship in Tucson with a lot of players that would resemble the type of players that Billy found value in.

I thought it was odd that the As spent the money to bring Billy over to their team. He had some good years with the Royals, but it was evident that he was declining. Maybe the As thought they could resurrect him. I do feel bad for all those years he gave the Royals and missed out on the championship.


Jeffrey Keeten Jim wrote: "Great review...and another addition to the TBR!"

Thanks Jim! There is much to ponder in this book.


Brina I loved this book. I recommended it to my dad and he loved it as well. And then Brad Pitt was great as Billy Beane. Teams win with players like this and of course that's why they're ridiculed in the media. I don't think the Royals are anomaly. More teams are catching on and attempting to follow their model. Granted it still depends on other factors- draft picks panning out, players having career years- so we shall see what this season brings us.


message 8: by Lee (last edited Mar 06, 2016 12:17AM) (new)

Lee Foust Jeffrey wrote: "Lee wrote: "Great review Jeffrey, but as a life-long A's fan and Moneyball afficianado (I'm even in the film--an extra in the stands lamenting at the playoffs' last out), I must take exception to y..."

Jeffrey, please don't take exception to my taking exception (ha!). I really love your reviews and welcomed this chance to return to a book I also love but read long before I was on Goodreads and could write about it here. Understand, too, that as a fan of Moneyball and Bill James's work even before Lewis's terrific expose of Beane using James's analysis to actually form a team and govern that team's play, I've suffered through years of not very bright commentators bastardizing the theory as "Beane says you can't bunt or steal." The truth is James noted that, statistically, with a runner on first and no outs sacrifice bunting the runner over to second base actually lowers your chances of scoring. However, other stats--Bully Butler's proclivity for double play balls, for instance--can mitigate any given situation. There are no hard and fast rules, only more information as to the risks and gains involved in a given action. (The smart gambler plays blackjack because the odds are better of winning than they are in roulette, but you have to have a will of iron not to take a hit on 16.) Baseball, like life, is too complex for most hard and fast rules or scripts. This is why I can always watch a baseball game--it just never gets old for me.

I also took exception to the film using the voiceover of that hack Joe Morgan--even though, he, like me, is from Oakland and was a terrific player, as an announcer he did more to denigrate Billyball than anyone--saying that there was more to baseball (heart and soul) than numbers over the slowmo image of the Twins catching the last out of the playoffs, re-enforcing the belief we all want to have that Goliath always wins and that stats are powerless to change an outcome without said heart and soul. (Also that's the scene I am in, a dark figure grabbing his head in agony in the stands as the catch is made, well in the background.)

As a fan you might enjoy this blog from the early part of the century--it was once a great comfort to me. Three Red Sox fans produced it. It's called "Fire Joe Morgan" and for about 5 seasons, I think, they railed against all of the statistically stupid things teams did and commentators said and they were also witty and often hysterical in their approach to commenting on the state of baseball back in the early days of the century.

http://www.firejoemorgan.com/

I know I'm a bit of a loudmouth but my heart's in the right place (I hope). Rock on!


Brina Lee I am going to check out your site. I was elated when Sunday night baseball decided to go in a different direction. As a third generation Cubs fanatic, Joe Morgan's treatment of Ron Santo's Hall of Fame candidacy left me disgusted. Its too bad we can no longer fire Joe Morgan from ESPN because I would have personally loved to be the one to give him the slip. That aside, I still love Moneyball and root for low budget teams to succeed provided its not at the Cubs' expense.


Jeffrey Keeten Sue wrote: "Love this Jeffrey, and just perfect timing for the new baseball season. Of course I have no idea what to expect from the Red Sox this year, but I'm hoping for lots of fun. And I do like bunts and s..."

I'm so ready for the new season to start Sue. I bet the Red Sox have a better season this year. I don't remember where Pecota projected them this year not that I think Pecota is worth a damn. They had the Royals finishing last in their division last year and again this year. Uhh guys the Royals are World Champions!! Baseball is such a wonderful game!


message 11: by Jeffrey (last edited Mar 06, 2016 05:08AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jeffrey Keeten Lee wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "Lee wrote: "Great review Jeffrey, but as a life-long A's fan and Moneyball afficianado (I'm even in the film--an extra in the stands lamenting at the playoffs' last out), I must tak..."

There is so much more to be discussed about the book Moneyball. I only covered the quick hit aspects for the purpose of the review. My normal reviews I try to keep to 1000 words or so, but my baseball reviews have been closer to doubling that total. haha I hope you do write a review of Moneyball and cover the Bill James stuff and maybe discuss where the As go from here. I was a bit miffed at the As for trading Donaldson to the Blue Jays...ergh, but I was elated that they sent Zobrist our way who became the X factor Z factor of the later part of the year.

I understand your frustration with Joe Morgan. Despite the results he used every opportunity to knock Beane/James Ball.

Are you keeping Butler another year?

It was really cool seeing the nation getting behind the Royals (David), but it will be interesting if there starts to be a transition if the Royals have another good year. People like teams to succeed, but not TOO much. :-)


message 12: by Kemper (last edited Mar 06, 2016 09:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper When I did my Moneyball review back in 2012 I moaned and wailed about a being Royals fan. Your version is a lot more fun.

It's interesting that the Royals deny being a moneyball team and almost act like it's an insult. It's true that they don't follow a lot of the A's style like stealing and not taking a lot of walks.

On the other hand I think they do share some things like looking for undervalued players. And while the Royals don't walk a lot, they do swing a lot, and that often translates into long at bats with lots of foul balls which boosts the pitch counts of the opposition. I think this is a big part of why they can get to pitchers later. Except for Madison f-ing Bumgarner...


Jeffrey Keeten Kemper wrote: "When I did my Moneyball review back in 2012 I moaned and wailed about a being Royals fan. Your version is a lot more fun.

It's interesting that the Royals deny being a moneyball team and almost ac..."


A great example of finding an undervalued player who came up big was Kendrys Morales and how about Chris Young or Maddog Madson. Zobrist was such a great pickup even though he was a short term rental. I hope that Infante can get out of his own head and remember what a great batter he used to be. Raul Mondesi might see a lot of time if Infante can't get back to the player he was.

Dayton Moore added the pieces the Royals needed last year. I'm a little more leery about the additions this year. Ian Kennedy on paper doesn't look like he is worth the money, but maybe Moore can sprinkle him with some Royals fairy dust and he'll become a five to six inning pitcher.

Bumgarner must have sold his soul. There is a really ugly painting in an upstairs attic of one of him mansions that got uglier with every Royals batter he got out.

Moneyball hybrid or whatever they want to call it. I love the way the Royals play ball. I love the fact that there are no SUPERSTARS on the team. They flat wear pitchers out. I can remember thinking as I watched the drama with Harvey and saw him come springing out of the dugout for the 9th inning...that we were going to dig into him. Again statistically Collins made the right call to pull him.


message 14: by Jesse (new)

Jesse yh its a really good bookk


message 15: by Kemper (last edited Mar 07, 2016 09:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kemper Ian Kennedy on paper doesn't look like he is worth the money, but maybe Moore can sprinkle him with some Royals fairy dust and he'll become a five to six inning pitcher.

Yeah, I think they're hoping that he'll be an average, but reliable innings eater. He should get a bit of boost just from playing in Kauffman with that defense. They overpaid for him, but it's not my money so I can live with it.

And I had the same feeling about Harvey when he came back out in the 9th in the WS. I immediately thought the Royals were gonna win it then.


Jeffrey Keeten Kemper wrote: "Ian Kennedy on paper doesn't look like he is worth the money, but maybe Moore can sprinkle him with some Royals fairy dust and he'll become a five to six inning pitcher.

Yeah, I think they're hop..."


The Royals defense definitely helps the ERA of the pitching staff. They can pitch with more confidence knowing that anything hit close to a fielder is going to get covered up.


Jeffrey Keeten Donald wrote: "I love the review and especially enjoyed reading someone who knew the game well. There were two very minor disagreements.

On a larger level I am curious in what seems to be your complete acceptanc..."


"Complete acceptance" is a way overstatement as to how I feel about sabermetrics. For one thing as I outlined in the review I love the way the Royals play baseball. They bunt and steal bases. Last night they swiped two off the Yankees in the first inning. This does not conform to Billy Beane Ball or sabermetrics. I think there is much to be seen in sabermetrics that is ignored by too many teams. I really believe there are a lot of great players languishing in the farm system because they don't hit home runs. The Royals are one of the few teams that are much more interested in other production numbers than home runs. I think Terry Collins believing that sabermetrics is a bunch of mumbo jumbo is naive. So no I don't have complete acceptance that sabermetrics is the only component to make decisions, but it should be part of any major league baseball teams decision process in my opinion. Small market teams could use the process to be competitive.

1. I don't know if sabermetrics is taking credit for inventing anything, but they do weigh that data heavier than what many ball clubs do. As I've stated I think baseball has fallen in love with the home run ball and a guy who could hit 20 HR may be given too much consideration compared to a guy who has a better on base percentage.

2. Getting to the World Series is SOOO difficult. 2014 is a perfect example of teams who had great seasons and were knocked out of the playoffs by a redhot Royals team who basically squeaked in when the door was closing. Look how great the Cubs look this year and odds on, people will say they are a shoe in to win the World Series, but this is baseball. I think the real value of sabermetrics to Oakland is that it made them competitive with no payroll. Fans still came out to games expecting them to win. I like the idea of how sabermetrics can give a guy a chance to play baseball who doesn't have the flashy numbers, but he does the things that help win ballgames.

So you saying that a trip to World Series seems reasonable? Oh man, yes I can see how you might feel that way, but I've been watching baseball for a long time and the best teams don't win or make it as much as you would think.

3) Joe Morgan was a great player from another era. I don't have any issues with Morgan or how he feels about sabermetrics.

4) I agree it should be part of every teams decision making process on the true value of players. We have several small market teams who struggle to compete with the big payroll teams. The Royals are a great example of a team, a hybrid sabermetrics team, who found a way to build a nontraditional team and compete.

"It's only another experiment." I think it goes beyond that. I don't believe a team needs to worship at the oracle of sabermetrics, but using those numbers might allow them to find a player with the "wrong" stats who is right for what they need.

I want to be clear that I'm not advocating that teams rely completely on sabermetrics, but I think a team that doesn't use it is rejecting useful information. I know in my job I look at a lot of data that is probably nonsensical to other people, but it helps lead me to make informed decisions.


Jeffrey Keeten Donald wrote: "Thank you, Jeffrey. For whatever it's worth, I think we actually agree.

1) Yes, I too think that MLB over-values the 20 home run guy. But, if you turn that up a few notches to the guy who hits 30 ..."


To one of your points which also reinforces how hard it is to win world series even if you have the best team, over lunch I was listening to High Heat and one of the commentators made the point that if the Mets make the playoffs in a five game series with those big arms they have they could steal a series from the Cubs. Are the Mets a better team than the Cubs? No Could the Mets beat them in 5? Absolutely possible.

I also like the rise of the utility players. The Royals have several who can play more than one position. It sure expands a 25 man roster. Cuthbert, Mondesi, Colon, and Merrifield also have speed and are not liabilities in the batting lineup. Few outside of the Royals fans know their name, but they help win ballgames.

As you can probably tell I'm not a big fan of the home run. It is exciting and it certainly entertains the casual fan, but for me I like small ball. I like seeing hits strung together and movement on the bases. Nothing gave me more pleasure last year than watching the Royals beat the Astros, Blue Jays, and Mets who all rely heavily on home runs for their offense.


Michael Perkins I have lived in the Bay Area since the early 60's. Went to see Mays, McCovey and Marichal when they always seemed to come in second every year. The A's moved here in 1968, so we started attending their games, as well. And, of course, they had the fabulous early 70's teams that won three titles in a row. But they had a cantankerous owner who would not keep the team together. I'm convinced they could have been the Yankees of the West Coast if he did.

In the years ahead, the A's had to be more resourceful. This book is an excellent example. But I agree with my son, who played college ball as a starting pitcher, that Billy Beane gave away the keys to the kingdom by cooperating in this book. The immediate beneficiaries of this were the Red Sox. The organization combined moneyball with actual money and won three championships. Meanwhile, it's notable that the A's franchise has struggled mightily since the book came out. Everyone has the secret sauce now.


Jeffrey Keeten Michael wrote: "I have lived in the Bay Area since the early 60's. Went to see Mays, McCovey and Marichal when they always seemed to come in second every year. The A's moved here in 1968, so we started attending t..."

These tell all books should be told after one retires. It would seem prudent. The Red Sox had the perfect storm in place to take the principles of Moneyball and turn it into a storied program.

I still have fond memories of those As days with Canseco, McGwire, and Rollie Fingers. I saw the Royals play out there a few times when George Brett was smacking the ball all over the stadium. The As had some characters playing for them, now it seems like most of those "unusual" players have migrated across the bay to the Giants.


message 21: by Luke (new) - rated it 5 stars

Luke Michael wrote: "I have lived in the Bay Area since the early 60's. Went to see Mays, McCovey and Marichal when they always seemed to come in second every year. The A's moved here in 1968, so we started attending t..."

I think the front offices of other teams would have eventually caught on to Beane's Moneyball process whether the book was published or not. The landscape of the game during Beane's rise to prominence was one in which on base percentage (OBP) was a criminally underrated statistic, and therefore he was able to pounce on players who possessed that ability for pennies on the dollar.

There are very few general managers who no longer see the value in reaching base safely, or to put it in even more practical terms, players who do not make as many outs as others.
OBP is no longer a market inefficiency, which is more to the point of the book, as opposed to embracing a strict formula of OBP + no attempted stolen bases + less emphasis on defense (in fact sabermetricians are coming to believe that quality defense is more of an underrated skill rather than the overrated skill Beane believed it to be) = more wins.

Let's take a look at Jeffrey's example of last year's Kansas City Royals team. At .322, they finished the season a notch above league average in team OBP, the cornerstone of Beane's renaissance. While much of the league was focusing on getting on base and hitting home runs, the Royals were avoiding strikeouts and putting the ball in play, forcing opposing defenders to make more plays. I can't tell you how many times I heard opposing fans say something along the lines of, "The Royals got so lucky! If it weren't for a few of those cheap hits or an error or two that our players made in the field, we would have won!" Sorry, but that's what the Royals do. They put the ball in play and put pressure on the opposing defense. Conversely, they had a nearly airtight defense of their own, preventing other teams from beating them at their own game and then some. The jury is still out on whether this was all a part of general manager Dayton Moore's grand master plan, a whole heap of luck, or a little of both (I tend to believe it was the latter), however, the fact remains that in the run suppressed environment of the last few years, this formula hit on things other teams were not taking advantage of, with spectacular results, netting the Royals back to back American League pennants and a championship.

This brings us back to Beane, and the point of this rambling comment, which is that I don't think the publishing of Lewis' Moneyball has a whole lot to do with the A's lack of recent success; although if you recall, they were the toast of baseball for much of the 2014 season before an epic second half collapse, just barely squeaking into the AL Wild Card game, and losing to, you guessed it, the Kansas City Royals. It is more likely that Beane is simply having difficulty adapting and targeting the new market inefficiency, or at least taking advantage of it better than other clubs.


Michael Perkins Jeffrey wrote: "These tell all books should be told after one retires." I agree. And I stand by my point that the differentiator for the Red Sox is that they had the money to match the moneyball strategy, which was the combo that translated into 3 championships in a small timeframe. And as we know from the book, Red Sox ownership tried to woo Beane to Boston before they settled on the much less experienced Theo Epstein who undoubtedly studied Moneyball very carefully. And now with the Cubs where they have both strategy and money.

I read all the local coverage of the A's. Money is still the main problem. The owners won't invest in the franchise. They've traded away one all-star after another instead of match salary. Two recent examples are Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes. And they have the dumpiest stadium in MLB. The A's need new owners who will expand the payroll to hang onto talent and build a privately-financed stadium (in Oakland) the way the Giants did.


Jeffrey Keeten Michael wrote: "Jeffrey wrote: "These tell all books should be told after one retires." I agree. And I stand by my point that the differentiator for the Red Sox is that they had the money to match the moneyball st..."

That Cubs thing kind of worked out Michael. :-)


Brina One of my favorite books.


Jeffrey Keeten Brina wrote: "One of my favorite books."

It is a great baseball book!


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ I've got to remember this one. It sounds like something my husband would love. Thanks for the thoughtful review!


message 27: by Vessey (new)

Vessey Thank you so much for re-posting this great review, Jeffrey! I love you <3


message 28: by Jodi (new)

Jodi Champagne Good job!! this is just one out of a ton of wonderfull reviews you have wrote!!
:) =)


Jeffrey Keeten Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ wrote: "I've got to remember this one. It sounds like something my husband would love. Thanks for the thoughtful review!"

If you husband loves sports he will love this book. It gave me different perspective on the game. Thanks Tadiana!


Jeffrey Keeten Vessey wrote: "Thank you so much for re-posting this great review, Jeffrey! I love you <3"

You are welcome!


Jeffrey Keeten Jodi wrote: "Good job!! this is just one out of a ton of wonderfull reviews you have wrote!!
:) =)"


Thanks Jodi! I do like to write!


message 32: by Kurt (new)

Kurt Nice review. My Twins did it twice in 97 and 91. However, now you have teams like the Red Sox who use sabermetrics and have unlimited spending and the playing filed is extremely tilted towards big money once again.


message 33: by Kurt (new)

Kurt That should read 87 and 91.


Jeffrey Keeten Kurt wrote: "Nice review. My Twins did it twice in 97 and 91. However, now you have teams like the Red Sox who use sabermetrics and have unlimited spending and the playing filed is extremely tilted towards big ..."

Boy, do I miss Kirby Puckett, what a unique player. Totally agree Kurt! Money has found a way to tilt the balance back in their favor. Look at the money the Cubs spent to buy a championship! Although it has been so long that desperate measures were needed. :-) I'm glad the gorilla is off their back. Thanks Kurt!


message 35: by Sweetwilliam (new)

Sweetwilliam "Like" but the Royals success probably had to do with their pitching. Look how many fire ballers they could throw at you. Look at their pen. If you were trailing after 5 you most likely lost. Do poorly for several years and get the best draft choices. Get the first pick of the guys that can throw 100 mph. Great review. I want to read this!


message 36: by Glenn (last edited Mar 31, 2017 01:49PM) (new)

Glenn Russell Great review, Jeffrey! Baseball continues to be such a passion for many people. Just look at all the detailed posts on this thread!

BTW - my favorite all-time player: the one and only Roberto Clemente.


Jeffrey Keeten Sweetwilliam wrote: ""Like" but the Royals success probably had to do with their pitching. Look how many fire ballers they could throw at you. Look at their pen. If you were trailing after 5 you most likely lost. Do po..."

We had a really good, solid bullpen, but our starting pitching was suspect at times. Not anything like the lineup the Mets could put out there, but the Royals were frustrating to opponents. If you ask Mets fans what was most annoying about playing the Royals it was the small ball. The doinks, the ground balls with eyes, the ability to keep moving runners one base at a time. You are right with a lead after five the Royals were nearly unbeatable, but their batting had to get them the lead in the first place. So a unique combination of pitching and small ball won them a World Series and nearly two. Thank you!


Jeffrey Keeten Glenn wrote: "Great review, Jeffrey! Baseball continues to be such a passion for many people. Just look at all the detailed posts on this thread!

BTW - my favorite all-time player: the one and only Roberto Clem..."


Clemente was a model person as a player and as a civilian. You've got a great favorite player Glenn. I'm glad to see this love for baseball because unfortunately I'm running into too many twentysomethings who think the game is slow and can't pay attention long enough to see and understand the duels that are going on during every single play.


Steve Clearly it was my loss going all these months without having read this fabulous review. You're an insightful and true-blue fan, Jeffrey. And speaking of colors, have you ever noticed how close Royal blue is to Cubbie blue? The baby bears could be your National League team. They're driving distance away, and would not qualify as in-state rivals like that team in red at the other end of I-70.

Sadly, it seems like taking those same Billy-ball principles and coupling them with far bigger budgets has been the most effective formula lately. I say "sadly" for your benefit. I'm actually a Red Sox fan (despite their deep-pocketed overdog status) from way back as the AL correlate with my Cubs.

BTW, did your company benefit from taking more pitches?


Jeffrey Keeten Steve wrote: "Clearly it was my loss going all these months without having read this fabulous review. You're an insightful and true-blue fan, Jeffrey. And speaking of colors, have you ever noticed how close Roya..."

My neighbor, who I am pretty good friends with, is a Cubs fan as well and I believe he has a sports package that allows him to watch every game. When the season is on he is rarely seen when a game is on.

I see all the activity around Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and all the money that teams are expected to tie up to sign one of them. If the point is to win championships, how many championships have they won with their current teams? I just don't see how spending all that money will ultimately get a team what they want. Now if the Phillies figure out a way to sign both and put together a good pitching staff around them...maybe. The Royals won with great pitching and basically no name hitters.

We sold the company six months ago. I've been a free agent with no intention of signing with another team. Working on the writing full time. Unfortunately I found that the best way to put Billy Ball in place would be to bring up new players and with the move towards a sale that was not going to happen.


Steve I think you're right that a team can win with a smaller budget and smart, stats-driven choices that don't necessarily stand out as stars. Those teams often do it with younger players who aren't in their high-compensation years, it seems. However, there's something to be said for money to lure the likes of Chris Sale and J.D. Martinez, too. And a quick look at the payrolls at the start of the 2018 season does show a pretty strong correlation with win percentage, I think.

1 Boston Red Sox $235.65M
2 San Francisco Giants $208.51M
3 Los Angeles Dodgers $186.14M
4 Chicago Cubs $183.46M
5 Washington Nationals $181.59M
6 Los Angeles Angels $175.1M
7 New York Yankees $168.54M
8 Seattle Mariners $162.48M
9 Toronto Blue Jays $162.316M
10 St. Louis Cardinals $161.01M
11 Houston Astros $160.04M
12 New York Mets $154.61M
13 Texas Rangers $144.0M
14 Baltimore Orioles $143.09M
15 Colorado Rockies $141.34M
16 Cleveland Indians $134.35M
17 Arizona Diamondbacks $132.5M
18 Minnesota Twins $131.91M
19 Detroit Tigers $129.92M
20 Kansas City Royals $129.92M
21 Atlanta Braves $120.54M
22 Cincinnati Reds $101.19M
23 Miami Marlins $98.64M
24 Philadelphia Phillies $96.85M
25 San Diego Padres $96.13M
26 Milwaukee Brewers $90.24M
27 Pittsburgh Pirates $87.88M
28 Tampa Bay Rays $78.73M
29 Chicago White Sox $72.18M
30 Oakland Athletics $68.53M

Of course, the outliers are interesting to consider. How were the Giants and Orioles so bad? And how were the Brew Crew and Rays so good?

As for your full-time writing, I think that's fantastic! I'm not sure what the best moneyball analog is there, but I'll sure hope you score plenty of runs!


Jeffrey Keeten Steve wrote: "I think you're right that a team can win with a smaller budget and smart, stats-driven choices that don't necessarily stand out as stars. Those teams often do it with younger players who aren't in ..."

How about those Brewers with that small payroll? Or as I call them Royals East. They gave the Dodgers all they could handle for a fraction of the payroll. They came damn close to going to the World Series.

I finished my first novel. I've got it with a beta reader right now. I'm not really sure how good it is. It was damn fun to write. I'm trying to teach myself how to write novels. You'd think a reader would make a good novelist, but alas it doesn't quite work that way. Everything seems done before to me. :-) I'm in the middle of a second and third novel. I won't fail for lack of hard work. Thanks man. I appreciate your well wishes.


Steve I suppose the quantity and quality of your reviews should remove any surprise, but a finished draft plus two half-finished ones over such a short window seems pretty amazing. That's like scoring 8 runs in the first inning!


Jeffrey Keeten Steve wrote: "I suppose the quantity and quality of your reviews should remove any surprise, but a finished draft plus two half-finished ones over such a short window seems pretty amazing. That's like scoring 8 ..."

At my advance age I need to be in a hurry. :-) I put aside my creative endeavors to make money, raise a family etc. and it is now or never before the synapses quit firing.


Steve Oh, I think you might have sparks up there for a while longer. I sure as hell hope so, since you're younger than I am.


Michael Perkins As a lifelong Giants (and A's fan) I can answer your question, Steve, about what happened to the Giants. It rather proves your point.

Some years ago, they got a nice core (Posey, Bumgarner, Matt Cain, et al) from there minor leagues. But they got a new GM a few years ago who decided the minors were not important any more. It's clearly reflected in the lack of young talent on the Giants in recent years. He thought he could just buy established talent and kludge together a championship. Hasn't worked. Evan Longoria had his worse season ever and Andrew McCutcheon was with the Yankees by the end of the season.

Now the Giants are looking at a very long down cycle. The fans, including many bandwagon, have been spoiled; beginning with Bonds and the new stadium and into the Posey years they've been a sellout franchise.

Across the Bay, the fact that some of the most diehard A's fans didn't show for their exciting new team this year bodes ill for both Oakland, and the Giants, who are probably looking at their future where once certain fans move on they don't come back


Steve Thanks for the further analysis, Michael. I certainly remember those incredible years (even numbered ones, if I recall) when the Giants dominated. It was a pretty quick fall from grace, but as you said, a new GM can make a big difference. Even so, it looked like there was some bad luck with injuries last year, too. Bumgarner, who I was surprised to see is still only 28 pitched well, but he logged only 129 innings. And Cueto missed nearly the whole year. As for star batters, Posey and Brandon Belt missed a lot of games, too. I'm not saying a healthy squad this year will make them contenders, but maybe they aren't quite as bad as their 2018 record makes it seem. Anyway, the off-season is more fun when we can all speculate. Thanks again for weighing in!


Michael Perkins True, those injuries were unfortunate and definitely had a negative impact. But this also reminds of an expensively bad move by the GM in question.

In the first half of the 2016 season, the Giants had the best run differential of any NL team before the All Star break. After that, they plummeted and barely made it into the playoffs by beating the Mets in a wild card game, only to go on to lose to eventual world champion Cubs.

It appeared that the main problem was having a reliable closer. So they paid a king's ransom for Mark Melancon who ends up out all the next season and in the early part of the 2018. He is not the closer. They put him out there for an inconsequential inning or so

But the bigger problem remains a lack of young talent. Posey and Belt are now referred to as "aging veterans."

Let's contrast the Giants to the Red Sox. The Sox last won a title in 2013 before this past season. When I compared that roster to the 2018 one, it's completely different except for Pedroia and Bogarts. They even have a new manager.

At the beginning of 2018, the Giants have the second highest payroll to the Red Sox, but the outcomes of the two teams for that season are radically different. Why? Better management by the Sox.


Steve You make a great case, Michael. I'm convinced the Red Sox are handled a lot better than the Giants at this point.


message 50: by mr cyrillemiot (new)

mr cyrillemiot sounds like an awsome book 好看


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