[By Nic Lindh on Sunday, 29 January 2006]
Michael Lewis’s Moneyball is ostensibly a book about baseball, how the Oakland A’s and their general manager Billy Beane used statistical data and computer models to cut through the myths of the sport. This enabled them to purchase excellent players that other teams overlooked and to compete successfully on a shoestring budget.
But baseball is really incidental to the theme of the book, which is the importance of looking at performance objectively instead of through the sometimes distorting lenses of “What everybody knows,” and the stress on an existing system that is caused by a brand-new approach.
As a person whose knowledge of and interest in baseball is—to put it mildly—sketchy, the portions of the book that discuss so-and-sos bunting average and that-guys bases stolen, and that-other-guys walks, etc. are utterly snore-inducing, but Lewis deftly mixes up those pieces with personal stories that make any subject interesting.
Moneyball is tightly and economically written, and provides a brilliant view into a schismatic time in the history of a major enterprise.