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Astroball

The New Way to Win It All
Written by: Ben Reiter
Narrated by: Ben Reiter
Length: 7 hrs and 51 mins
5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

When Sports Illustrated declared on the cover of a June 2014 issue that the Houston Astros would win the World Series in 2017, people thought Ben Reiter, the article’s author, was crazy. The Astros were the worst baseball team in half a century, but they were more than just bad. They were an embarrassment, a club that didn’t even appear to be trying to win. The cover story, combined with the specificity of Reiter’s claim, met instant and nearly universal derision. But three years later, the critics were proved improbably, astonishingly wrong. How had Reiter predicted it so accurately? And, more important, how had the Astros pulled off the impossible? 

Astroball is the inside story of how a gang of outsiders went beyond the stats to find a new way to win - and not just in baseball. When new Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and his top analyst, the former rocket scientist Sig Mejdal, arrived in Houston in 2011, they had already spent more than half a decade trying to understand how human instinct and expertise could be blended with hard numbers such as on-base percentage and strikeout rate to guide their decision-making. In Houston, they had free rein to remake the club. No longer would scouts, with all their subjective, hard-to-quantify opinions, be forced into opposition with the stats guys. Instead, Luhnow and Sig wanted to correct for the biases inherent in human observation, and then roll their scouts’ critical thoughts into their process. The numbers had value - but so did the gut. 

The strategy paid off brilliantly, and surprisingly quickly. It pointed the Astros toward key draft picks like Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman; offered a path for developing George Springer, José Altuve, and Dallas Keuchel; and showed them how veterans like Carlos Beltrán and Justin Verlander represented the last piece in the puzzle of fielding a championship team. 

Sitting at the nexus of sports, business, and innovation - and written with years of access to the team’s stars and executives - Astroball is the story of the next wave of thinking in baseball and beyond, at once a remarkable underdog story and a fascinating look at the cutting edge of evaluating and optimizing human potential.

©2018 Ben Reiter (P)2018 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“Reiter’s superb narrative of how the team got there provides powerful insights into how organizations - not just baseball clubs - work best.” (Wall Street Journal

"Colorful...Astroball plays like a giant crossword puzzle as pieces of the team are slotted in leading up to the franchise's historic moment." (USA Today

 
"Astroball is the baseball book of the year, essential for baseball executives at every level, accessible and fun for fans." (Star Tribune

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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A Very Entertaining Baseball Book

This book is a very entertaining mix of character studies and arguments for a mix of quantitative and qualitative measures in approaches to baseball management. The character studies are the greater contributions to discussions about baseball and are more likely to hook the casual fan. The argumentative parts of the book echo things that appear elsewhere and one can question them, but they are compelling explanations of the success of the Astros in particular and are well-grounded here in stories that should hook those new to the debates. Most importantly, this book is a lot of fun. I listened to it pretty compulsively. That is one of my main criteria for a good sports read and so I was glad to see this book fulfill it so easily. #Audible1

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Boyd Tschaggeny
  • 2018-07-16

More About the Story than the Process

This book focuses on the individuals who made the Astro's 2017 World Series win possible. 50% of the book is focused on the general manager and the analysts. 50% of the book is focused on the baseball players. The story of these individuals is told as their backgrounds, baseball experiences, and what they contributed to the Astros are covered. This person driven narrative makes for a great story.

This book doesn't spend much time actually covering the system that the Astro's employed to ultimately win the World Series. You will learn the basic principle (pair Moneyball's statistics with the scouts intuition), but that principle isn't developed much further than that. You will hear about how this principle was applied each time a major player was signed or developed as an Astro's player, so you do get a sense for how it improved the Astros.

This is a great book about people and their achievements. I'd recommend listening to this book in a handful of long sessions.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ammon
  • 2018-07-18

For Baseball Fans, Houstonians, and ... Math Geeks

A peak behind the curtains of one the biggest turnarounds in recent sports history.

It hasn’t even been a year since the Astro’s seeming overnight success during the 2017 World Series and Astroball proves that it was neither an accident nor an overnight happenstance.

A must read for baseball fans, Houstonians, and ... math geeks.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-06-13

A must read for any baseball fan

A little biased as a 'stros fan, but a great read for any baseball fan really.

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gary Guttenberg
  • 2019-05-31

excellent

excellent book. showed importance of statistics and human interaction and how the Astros combined them into a WS title. book flowed nicely, staying on point, with chuckle-like humor along the way.

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  • a. g.
  • 2019-05-14

The future of baseball has begun!

If you are an Astros fan, this is a must listen. Astroball is a fantastic narrative of the Astros journey to become a World Series winner. For Baseball fans, this story details the next step in the evolution of our favorite sport.

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  • Caleb Bryant Wills
  • 2019-05-07

Great insight to the Astros and analytics but...

Performance is awful. Read as if he’s in a hurry and “phoning it in”. B-

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  • Ron Lozano
  • 2019-05-01

Not just for Astros fans.

Very interesting insight to the evolution of baseball. The detail and intricacies of building and managing a baseball team in the 21st century could be frightening for people resistant to technological advancement.

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  • masino
  • 2019-04-27

Share with your teams

You don’t have to love baseball to get something out of this fantastic book. I do which made it a five star.

I shared with my sales leadership team that it will help us understand analytics which is a driving force in our digital transformation with our customers. Will help us understand how to drive change & create a culture within our organizations and lastly great ideas in building championship teams. Well done Ben...what’s next?

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  • Doobie Keebler
  • 2019-04-24

Narrator is terrible

He over-enunciates a lot, and you can hear the smile on his face, which is aggravating because it makes me feel like he’s speaking slowly to a small child. What’s strange is that he often slurs other sentences together so it’s hard to understand the individual words he’s saying. He is incapable of saying the words “regularly” and “particularly”.

The content was pretty interesting, so I listened to the whole thing though. Knowing that the smug narrator also wrote the book kind of ruined it a little bit though.

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  • Amazon buyer in FL
  • 2019-04-17

Nothing you haven't already heard

There wasn't much to this book that hasn't already been discussed in other books, talk shows, podcasts, and other media. Maybe it was because the Astros actually won the World Series that they got so much coverage, but the recap of transactions over the years became tiresome. Maybe I expected too much from this publication; multiple references to Moneyball seemed to show what was an influence for Astroball. Better baseball books are out there. Unless you're an Astros fan or diehard baseball book lover, I wouldn't recommend this.