Just finished reading Michael Lewis' Moneyball..

...was unputdownable. Had a lot of drama.

The book had a number of themes from Taleb's Fooled by Randomness such as "process vs outcome", "trouble with using small sample sizes" & "underplaying the luck-factor" etc. The author was also drawing parallels between Warren Buffet's/Benjamin Graham's value-investing principles and Billy Beane's strategies. However, structure-wise I feel it could have been better. After reading the book one has to make a real effort to summarize the "winning strategies of Oakland A's" (which I am going to attempt below).

The other problem was I didn't know most of the baseball lingo - had to constantly refer to online baseball glossary & still had trouble understanding them. All the characters were strangers to me. Barring the very famous ones such as A Rod, Jeter, Manny Ramirez & Jason Giambi (of course mostly Yankees!), the other names didn't mean much to me.

Here's the gist of what I gleaned & liked.

Draft/Selection stage
- Billy Beane & Paul start from the end & work backwards. They determine how many games they need to win, then work out the runs they need to score in order to win that many games, and then determine what kind of stats the "team" needs to get there.
- They focus on the team's aggregate stats requirements and do not get fixated on individual players.
- And then they go on to assign a quantifiable value for each of the attributes (tools as they call it) that are needed to get there. Not just absolute value but relative value. For example, they determine "on base percentage" is 3 times as important as "slugging percentage" & so on...they work out a mathematical equation to determine the relative value of these winning attributes.
- Next step, they figure out which "tools" are overvalued in the market & which ones are undervalued and go after the undervalued ones.
- As it happens in every sphere of life, thanks to biases & prejudices, some totally irrelevant attributes were overvalued. Whenever scouts veer off, Billy Beane keeps them in check by asking "are we selling jeans?"
- Billy Beane doesn't stop here. He also figures out when the overvalued players lose their value. Typically their price is the highest during pre-season when there is a bidding war.

Mid-season trading
- He does not consider his job done after the initial selection process. He has big plans for trading in the middle of the season when some of the players' values drop. He has a list ready to go after. He literally waits for this second chance, takes it as seriously as the pre-season selection process.
- I reckon most teams use this trading opportunity to get rid of the picks that didn't work out as planned. However Oakland A uses this as an opportunity to get the players they want at a discount.
- Billy B doesn't offer what he can for a player, instead he first gleans how low the other side is willing to go. If he can get a player for a deeper discount (than what was originally estimated), then he shrewdly capitalizes on that opportunity.
- He gets into 3-way/4-way trades to get what he wants. And in some occasions getting more than what he wanted to begin with.

Overall, Moneyball is a great story about collecting data, observing patterns, using rationale to derive meaningful insights and then finally applying those insights to execute a winning strategy. The execution part, as one can imagine is no mean feat either given all the obstinate non-believers and hence this is a story of grit, conviction & persuasiveness as well.

Can't wait to see the movie & watch a ball game!

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