Monday, March 26, 2012

Moneyball First Reaction

When I first read Moneyball, I found the beginning chapters to be the most interesting part of the book.  The story as a whole was fascinating, but the ending chunk of the book was least appealing to me because I am not a die hard baseball fan, and the statistical analysis and description of drafting players was more difficult for me to get through. Michael Lewis begins the book by discussing the way in which  scouts put players through tests and how the players are putting on a performance for them, which immediately got me thinking about relating the book to our class. These players are competing against each other to win the prize of being selected by a scout, and the scouts test them as if they are pawns in a game rather than real people. The fact that they players put on a performance for the scouts shows that the players are aware that they are in a game within the game of baseball, and that they think about their performance in order to cater it to what they have determined a scout wants. Furthermore, the scouts are in a competition with each other to see who can find and acquire the best player. I think generally another way this book ties in with the class is that the Oakland A’s strategy for scouting went completely outside the typical, accepted format; they stepped outside the unwritten rules of scouting and turned to using pure statistics to determine who they wanted to get on their team. They broke out of the magic circle of scouting and chose players by using a computer rather than by what they see by looking at them. One of the reasons this aspect of the book is so interesting is that Billy Beane himself was scouted, and understands the scouting process better than most, but he was scouted and turned out to be, well, a failure. He proves that scouting techniques are not solid and that what a scout sees in a high school player does not necessarily determine future progress. He is an example of how statistics are very relevant to a player’s value, because if scouts had looked at his statistics when they were scouting him they would have realized that he was likely to not succeed. I think the actual drafting process is also a type of game theory strategy because each team must factor in other team’s decisions and choices, and try to determine what other teams will do before they do it so that they have a plan for the rest of the draft.  Despite the fact that some sections of the book went completely over my head, I was surprised how into it I was since baseball is probably my least favorite sport to watch.  I was also surprised about how many small aspects of the story had me thinking back to concepts we learned in class.


  1. I also read Moneyball and I agree with the correlations you made between the book and class material. Moneyball opened my eyes to the idea that every aspect of sports can be considered a competition. It starts with the players competing with other players at the same level to receive a starting position. Once they receive the position then they compete to be the best player. Then there are scouts and the scouting process is a game within itself. Each scout competes with other scouts using certain tactics to get the top players to commit to their team. There is also competition among coaches. When there is an open coaching position coaches compete for the spot. Some coaches are better than others based on experience and coaching method. Clearly once the coach and the players come together then they work hard to compete to be the best team. It is amazing how each component of the sports process is a game. This is clearly portrayed in the book Moneyball.
    -Shannon Funsch

  2. I agree that the beginning of the book is the most interesting part. And deviating from the book I would like to mention that I was very disappointed to see the movie and realize how littler emphasis they put on this part of the book. They cut to the actual season much quicker than the book did. They didn't cover much of the scouting and the Bill James Almanac which were big parts of the book.