Moneyball is a quest for the secret of success in baseball. Following the low-budget Oakland Athletics, their larger-than-life general manager, Billy Beane, and the strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts, Michael Lewis has written not only “the single most influential baseball book ever” but also what “may be the best book ever written on business.”
Michael Lewis launches us into the funniest, smartest, and most contrarian book since, well, since Liar’s Poker. Moneyball is a quest for something as elusive as the Holy Grail, something that money apparently can’t buy: the secret of success in baseball. The logical places to look would be the front offices of major league teams and the dugouts, perhaps even in the players’ minds. Lewis mines all these possibilities―his intimate and original portraits of big-league ballplayers are alone worth the price of admission―but the real jackpot is a cache of numbers―numbers!―collected over the years by a strange brotherhood of amateur baseball enthusiasts: software engineers, statisticians, Wall Street analysts, lawyers, and physics professors.
These geek numbers show―no, prove―that the traditional yardsticks of success for players and teams are fatally flawed. Even the box score misleads us by ignoring the crucial importance of the humble base-on-balls. This information has been around for years, and nobody inside Major League Baseball paid it any mind. And then came Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland Athletics.
Billy paid attention to those numbers ―with the second-lowest payroll in baseball at his disposal he had to―and this book records his great experiment in finding and fielding a team that nobody else wanted. Moneyball is a roller coaster ride: before the 2002 season opens, Oakland must relinquish its three most prominent (and expensive) players, is written off by just about everyone, and then comes roaring back to challenge the American League record consecutive wins.
Michael Lewis shows us how and why the new baseball knowledge works in a narrative full of fabulous characters and brilliant excursions into the unexpected. He also sets up a sly and hilarious morality tale: Big Money, like Goliath, is always supposed to win; how can we not cheer for David?