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Move over, Moneyball -- a cutting-edge look at major league baseball's next 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 the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox used cutting-edge technology to win the World SeriesHow undersized afterthoughts José Altuve and Mookie Betts became big sluggers and MVPsHow polarizing pitcher Trevor Bauer made himself a Cy Young contenderHow new analytical tools have overturned traditional pitching and hitting techniquesHow a wave of young talent is making MLB both better than ever and arguably worse to watchInstead 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.Show more
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was old school and stubborn. But after twenty straight losing seasons and his job on the line, he was ready to try anything. So when he met with GM Neal Huntington in October 2012, they decided to discard everything they knew about the game and instead take on drastic "big data" strategies. Going well beyond the number-crunching of Moneyball, which used statistics found on the back of baseball cards to identify market inefficiencies, the data the Pirates employed was not easily observable. They collected millions of data points on pitches and balls in play, creating a tome of reports that revealed key insights for how to win more games without spending a dime. They discovered that most batters struggled to hit two-seam fastballs, that an aggressive defensive shift on the field could turn more batted balls into outs, and that a catcher's most valuable skill was hidden. Hurdle and Huntington got to work trying to convince the entire Pirates organization and disgruntled fans to embrace these unconventional, yet groundbreaking methods. All this led to the end to the longest consecutive run of losing seasons in North American pro sports history. The Pirates' 2013 season is the perfect lens for examining baseball's burgeoning big-data movement. Using flawless reporting, award-winning journalist Travis Sawchik takes you behind-the-scenes to reveal a game-changing book of miracles and math.Show more