Moneyball is an amazing multi-genre book that is changing the way that millions of people think about sports as well as other topics. The statistics used to evaluate baseball players were not an accurate portrayal of player value. When Bill James blew that wide open with his Baseball Abstract, most of baseball didn’t notice. Those who did shrugged.
Once Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane started winning against all odds by using sabermetrics as the basis for player selection, people finally started paying attention. Even then, it took a long time for baseball to come around.
People tend to think about things and do things the way that they have always been done. It is rare that people reevaluate the fundamental basis of anything and start over. This creates discrepancies between market value (the perceived value) and intrinsic value (the actual value). This is the basis of value investing, which has made Warren Buffett one of the richest people in the world. It is also what allowed Billy Beane’s $40 million payroll to compete with $100+ million payrolls in Major League Baseball.
Michael Lewis, in his always brilliant style of writing, shares the story of Billy Beane, his players and staff, and some other personalities like Bill James. He gets into the psychology of baseball as well as the game statistics to show what exactly makes a successful career in the sport. He examines techniques like studying derivatives instead of big events. This book makes the reader better equipped to reexamine which metrics are more important, and how much more important one is than the other.