It's the ultimate in fantasy baseball: You get to pick the roster, set the lineup, and decide on strategies - with real players, in a real ballpark, in a real playoff race. That's what baseball analysts Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller got to do when an independent minor-league team in California, the Sonoma Stompers, offered them the chance to run its baseball operations according to the most advanced statistics.
We tag along as Lindbergh and Miller apply their number-crunching insights to all aspects of assembling and running a team, following one cardinal rule for judging each innovation they try: It has to work. We meet colorful figures like general manager Theo Fightmaster and boundary-breakers like the first openly gay player in professional baseball. Even José Canseco makes a cameo appearance.
Will their knowledge of numbers help Lindbergh and Miller bring the Stompers a championship, or will they fall on their faces? Will the team have a competitive advantage or is the sport's folk wisdom true after all? Will the players attract the attention of big-league scouts, or are they on a fast track to oblivion?
"[F]un, breezy, and moving read." (Jonah Keri, author of Up, Up, and Away)
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Narrarators have never watched baseball. Ever!
This is a great story about two statheads running a minor league ball club. There's only one small problem.
The two narrators and the audio engineers HAVE NEVER WATCHED A BASEBALL GAME IN THEIR LIVES.
On one occasion, they pronounced Vin Scully as Vin SCOLLY. On another, they pronounced Whitey Herzog as WHITNEY Herzog. They're both in the Hall of Fame.It's a great book and a good performance, but the occasional pronunciation snafus take away from the experience.
Not many nuts and bolts of Sabremetrics
I thought the book was mildly interesting, and as a very casual Sabremetrician, I really thought there'd be more of the nuts and bolts of that.
They more alluded to it than explained the different things they did - they went through the hassle of getting all the equipment they needed for games and then only in the most general terms did they explain how they used the data.
They were quite candid in the summary of the limitations and the failures they had during the season, and where, frankly, a manager's "gut" fared just as well or better than their data based ideas.
A fun book but if you're a hard core baseball quant, you won't find anything really new here.
If you're interested in a human interest story with baseball as the environment, it's pretty good.