This book, The Only Rule Is It Has To Work: Our Wild Experiment Building A New Kind Of Baseball Team by Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller tells the story of a fantasy that comes true as official baseball and numbers geeks, Ben Lindbergh, who is a staff writer for Five Thirty Eight and Sam Miller, who is the editor in chief of Baseball Prospectus are allowed to run the baseball operations for the Sonoma Stompers, an independent minor-league team in California.
I have read approximately half of the book and I find the honesty of the authors to be quite refreshing. This honest carries over into the use of sabermetrics and the psychology used to pick the roster for opening day. Even though the authors are supposed to run baseball operations, we see the struggles they endure in swaying the thinking of the general manager, Theo Fightmaster (awesome name!!!), the manager, Fehlandt Lenteni (are you kidding me!!!) and especially the players in accepting and, most of all, performing some of these out of the box things such as the different types of defensive shifts.
From page 18, the book attempts to answer these questions:
Can a creative, incisive use of numbers really sharpen the performance of players who’ve never been able to fulfill their major league dreams? Can we become as proficient at analyzing players’ personalities as we are at analyzing their stats? Or will the game’s human element build barriers that we’ll be too out of our element to break down?
The authors spend a good amount of time on team chemistry as well as psychology. I love this from page 80:
“…chemistry is not just about the individual personalities, but also about the composition of the group. It would mean chemistry isn’t magic but math.”
I find that extremely fascinating and worth delving into deeper!!!
I really enjoyed chapter eight, where Mr. Miller discusses cognitive biases such as the availability heuristic, confirmation bias and the Dunning-Krueger effect in deciding whether or not to use a particular defensive shift against the Pittsburg Diamond’s catcher, Nick Oddo. These biases are extremely helpful to me in other decision-making areas of my life.
Thus far, I have found this read to be truly enjoyable and very thought provoking. I encourage you to check it out if you are interested in sabermetrics and its effects on numerous areas such as sports and in my particular case, investing.
Some reviews about the book for your enjoyment:
A video about the Sonoma Stompers: