Moneyball by Michael Lewis

You may associate the term moneyball with baseball, but that would be a mistake. This book is not about baseball, it is a book about market inefficiencies and how to exploit them. It just happens to present the ideas through baseball.

The story is about a poor (relatively haha) baseball team, the Oakland A’s. They were not able to offer competitive contracts for high profile players. As a result, they looked for inefficiencies in the market that they could exploit. The general manager, a former major league player himself, hired a Harvard grad to help him take advantage of these market inefficiencies.

In the past, scouts based their opinions on potential draftees on how the players look and the feeling that they get watching them play. They did not pay much attention to stats, primarily because this was how it was always done. The A’s decided to base their decisions more on stats than visual impressions. They were able to identify several ways that they thought the market was not pricing certain attributes correctly. This led them to determine that getting walks is undervalued. This is partially because walks do not show up in the box score. Armed with this information, the A’s then targeted players that get lots of walks in both free agency and the amateur draft. This insight and several others allowed the A’s to compete with the high spending teams.

This book was written by Michael Lewis, who might be my favorite non-fiction writer. He can tell a very information dense story about something that happened in history with a storytelling flair.  I also reviewed his book The Big Short here. The audiobook is also narrated by Scott Brick, easily my favorite narrator.

I liked this book and I would suggest it for sports fans or stock market followers. I say stock market followers because the general manager was essentially buying low and selling high. I placed this book on level 2.

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