The MVP Machine: How Baseball's New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players

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Basic Books, Jun 4, 2019 - Sports & Recreation - 384 pages
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Move over, Moneyball -- this New York Times bestseller examines major league baseball's next cutting-edge revolution: the high-tech quest to build better players.
As bestselling authors Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik reveal in The MVP Machine, the Moneyball era is over. Fifteen years after Michael Lewis brought the Oakland Athletics' groundbreaking team-building strategies to light, every front office takes a data-driven approach to evaluating players, and the league's smarter teams no longer have a huge advantage in valuing past performance.

Lindbergh and Sawchik's behind-the-scenes reporting reveals:
  • How undersized afterthoughts Josť Altuve and Mookie Betts became big sluggers and MVPs
  • How polarizing pitcher Trevor Bauer made himself a Cy Young contender
  • How new analytical tools have overturned traditional pitching and hitting techniques
  • How a wave of young talent is making MLB both better than ever and arguably worse to watch
Instead of out-drafting, out-signing, and out-trading their rivals, baseball's best minds have turned to out-developing opponents, gaining greater edges than ever by perfecting prospects and eking extra runs out of older athletes who were once written off. Lindbergh and Sawchik take us inside the transformation of former fringe hitters into home-run kings, show how washed-up pitchers have emerged as aces, and document how coaching and scouting are being turned upside down. The MVP Machine charts the future of a sport and offers a lesson that goes beyond baseball: Success stems not from focusing on finished products, but from making the most of untapped potential.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - kcshankd - LibraryThing

Fun update from one of my favorite podcasters - Moneyball for 2019. Driveline is heavily featured - the story is that teams are leaning into development again, and actually creating much better outcomes than previously understood to be possible. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JeremyBrashaw - LibraryThing

Overall a pretty good book. Well-written. Could really use an update since the Astros figure so prominently. Read full review


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First Principles
A BottomUp Revolution
The 10000Pitch Rule
The Conduit
Amateur Ball
The AllStar PlayerCoach
PerformanceEnhancing Data
Soft Factors
If You Build Them They Will Come
No Ceiling

Perfect Pitch
Were All Astronauts

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About the author (2019)

Ben Lindbergh is a staff writer for The Ringer. He also hosts the Effectively Wild podcast for FanGraphs and regularly appears on MLB Network. He is a former staff writer for FiveThirtyEight and Grantland, a former editor-in-chief of Baseball Prospectus, and the New York Times bestselling co-author of The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team. He lives in New York City.

Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for FiveThirtyEight and regularly contributes to The Athletic Cleveland. He previously covered the Pirates for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Travis is the author of the New York Times bestseller Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak. Sawchik has won national Associated Press Sports Editor awards, and his work been featured or referenced on ESPN, Grantland, and MLB Network. Sawchik lives in Bay Village, OH.

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