Astroball Insights 8/2018

I wanted to share some thoughts I have after reading two books:

Astroball: The New Way to Win it All by Ben Reiter

Thinking in Bets: Making Smatter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts by Annie Duke

The blurb I would write for Astroball is:  Astroball is the natural evolution of the Moneyball process.  In Moneyball the concept behind the book is that Billy Beane found a way to find under rated talent that others in the business were overlooking.  He was able to do this by being a thought leader on examining players using a variety of statics to help him pick ones that were underappreciated or overlooked.

As others caught on to what Billy Beane was doing the rewards for using these systems diminished as they competed to pick up these types of players in drafts or the free agent process.

In my opinion Atroball has evolved the process by also bringing the human element into the process.  It reminds me on how Mr. Buffett emphasizes just how important a high-quality CEO can be to a company – it’s likely that they will add billions of dollars in value over what another more modestly talented CEO could do.  He has mentioned as examples how much added value Tom Murphy of Capital Cities and Ajit Jain and have added to their respective operations.

On the key people highlighted in the book is Jeff Luhnow and the following quote exhibits a way of thinking that I think people would do well to use and it also ties into the other book in my next blog post, Thinking in Bets:

“…There was always a right answer.  But true success would also mean peering beyond that which was already known.  Luhnow wanted to be exposed to thinkers for whom there was never a right answer, at least never an easy one, which was usually the case when humans become involved.” (page 20)

I also think this quote from another key person in the book, Sig Mejdalis very useful as it shows how people can be tripped up when they don’t apply and 2nd level analysis when choosing among available options:

“Ok, so Jed Lowrie is short.  He doesn’t look like a major league player.  He doesn’t even look like a college player.  But he wasn’t taller last year, nor the year before, and he’s outperformed every one of those guys.  Mayberry Jr. was the first baseman, the athletic son of a big leaguer…  If he’s outhit that guy, there must be something invisible that makes him good, buy reveals itself in the performance numbers.”

I think the big contribution was when Mr. Luhnow combined the evaluation of players using statics and the experience and direct observations made by his scouting department.  Humans make flawed decisions, but their input could help improve any decisions made solely based on statics alone.

Stayed tuned for my next blog post to read about Thinking in Bets!