The Extra 2%
Jonah Keri
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Buy *The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First* by Jonah Keri online

The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First
Jonah Keri
272 pages
March 2011
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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In 2005, Micheal Lewis published Moneyball, his take on how scouting and managing in major league baseball had shifted from on-field observation to analytics based on a playerís historical performance. Moneyball resulted in baseball cleaving into two distinct camps: the traditionalists, who still believed that there was no substitute for scouts observing and evaluating a player as he climbed the ladder from high school to college, and the gatecrashers, who were essentially people who relied on arcane metrics and formulas to evaluate talent and who stridently downplayed the importance of traditional scouting. Jonah Keriís book makes a strong case for the latter approach as he chronicles the amazing turnaround that erstwhile Goldman Sachs trader Stuart Sternberg achieved as the owner of the heretofore woebegone Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Sternberg embraced Moneyball (the word now stands not so much for the book as for the approach detailed by Lewis) simply because, as a trader on Wall Street, numbers and metrics meant a lot to him. Of course, owning the small-market Tampa team and competing with deep-pocketed divisional rivals such as the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox did not give him any other feasible choice. The Sternberg team embraced Moneyball both on and off the field to tremendous success. Attendance increased, the city embraced the team, and the team reached the 2008 World Series, falling one step short of the pinnacle.

It is clear that Keri had considerable access to the inner workings of the team as he recounts lengthy analytical sessions on player evaluation and intense debates among the decision-makers on the team. What ensues is a fly-on-the-wall look at how astute leadership can create magic even when the odds are stacked against success. This is a fine follow-up to Lewisís Moneyball, as it shows that the success of the Oakland Athletics chronicled in Lewisís book was not an isolated incident but one that can be replicated.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Ram Subramanian, 2011

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