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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The inside story of the Houston Astros, whose relentless innovation took them from the worst team in baseball to the World Series in 2017 and 2019
“Reiter’s superb narrative of how the team got there provides powerful insights into how organizations—not just baseball clubs—work best.”—The Wall Street Journal
Astroball picks up where Michael Lewis’s acclaimed Moneyball leaves off, telling the thrilling story of a championship team that pushed both the sport and business of baseball to the next level. In 2014, the Astros were the worst baseball team in half a century, but just three years later they defied critics to win a stunning World Series. In this book, Ben Reiter shows how the Astros built a system that avoided the stats-versus-scouts divide by giving the human factor a key role in their decision-making. Sitting at the nexus of sports, business, and innovation, Astroball is the story of the next wave of thinking in baseball and beyond, at once a remarkable underdog tale and a fascinating look at the cutting edge of evaluating and optimizing human potential.
About the Author
Ben Reiter is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, which he joined in 2004. He has written 25 cover stories for the magazine. He lives in New York City with his family.
“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."
"Vivid... Reiter delivers the goods."
"Astroball is the baseball book of the year, essential for baseball executives at every level, accessible and fun for fans."
“[Astroball] will of course be of interest to sports fans and Houstonians, but the message (man + machine = success) should also resonate in business settings and the fields of medicine and education… The story isn’t just that the Astros won the World Series, it’s [that] the road they took getting there has value.”
“What happens when Big Data analytics proves an insufficient foundation for success in business? How can the so-called ‘human factor’ be integrated into a framework that enhances a statistical approach? These are the questions Ben Reiter grapples with in Astroball, a persuasive study of the making and rise of the Houston Astros… Few scribes today can match Michael Lewis’s ability to just plain write, whether about sports, politics, or economics. But Reiter’s engaging account adeptly blends a journalist’s nose for a good story, a writer’s nuanced sympathy for his characters, and an industry trend-spotter’s analysis of important new developments. A worthy update of Moneyball indeed.”
—CLAREMONT REVIEW OF BOOKS
“Ben Reiter has written the definitive, untold story of the biggest turnaround in recent baseball history. This riveting behind-the-scenes account offers fresh insight into the executives who built the 2017 World Series champions—and the players who delivered. Astroball is Moneyball for the next generation, not just the baseball book of the year, but the business and ideas book of the year as well.”
—KEN ROSENTHAL, two-time Sports Emmy winner for Outstanding Sports Reporter
“Ben Reiter’s incredible access to the World Series champions makes for narrative as riveting as a Game 7. But Astroball is so much more. It is a look at the future, and not just of baseball. For all the talk of computers replacing human judgment, the most complex problems are often best addressed when computers supplement human judgment, rather than supplant it. The Astros’ human/algorithm partnership turned a historically bad team into a champion in six years. Other industries, take note.”
—DAVID EPSTEIN, bestselling author of The Sports Gene
“Reading Astroball is like being part of the Astros' Decision Sciences team or having a seat and a laptop in their Nerd Cave. Ben Reiter gives us an inside look at the state of the art of winning baseball: packed with cutting-edge technology, psychology and analytics, but allowing for the human element.”
—TOM VERDUCCI, bestselling author of The Yankee Years (with Joe Torre) and The Cubs Way
“This book is the definitive look at the recent history of the Houston Astros and how they became the model franchise for the present and future of MLB. Ben takes you through the evolving blueprint that delivered both a championship in the fall of 2017 and a roster built to win for years to come. Reiter called it first, on the cover of SI in 2014. I wish he would pick my stocks.”
—JOE BUCK, three-time National Sportscaster of the Year and bestselling author of Lucky Bastard
“Astroball is a superb and unfettered look at how a championship baseball team is constructed. Analysis and algorithms might be the new baseball card numbers but Ben gets close enough to Jeff Luhnow and his staff to understand their incredible forward thinking when it comes to the human factor. This book is readable rocket science.”
—RON DARLING, former New York Mets All-Star and bestselling author of Game 7, 1986
“Astroball is Moneyball 2.0, a fascinating dissection of the processes by which the Houston Astros rose from perennial cellar dwellers to World Series champions. Ben Reiter systematically uncovers the crucial elements to success in baseball; as a fan of the game and as a major league pitcher, this book forced me to look at my sport through a wider lens. Detailing the ascension of the Astros while entertaining with colorful anecdotes, Astroball is a must-read for those looking to improve in any industry.”
—CRAIG BRESLOW, twelve-year Major League pitcher