For generations, avid baseball fans have been able to recite the batting and earned-run averages of their favorite players and have known instinctively that the higher the former and the lower the latter would pave the way to victories. These statistics, like gravity, ruled their lives-that is, until financial writer Michael Lewis and his 2003 bestseller, Moneyball, challenged conventional wisdom by revealing a cadre of Major League Baseball insurgents within the Oakland Athletics' front office.
Led by General Manager Billy Beane, they held such heretical thoughts as "on-base percentage is more important than either batting average or slugging percentage" and "pitchers can only be effectively measured independent of the defense around them." This out-of-the-box thinking allowed Beane's Oakland club to win more regular-season games than any team except the Atlanta Braves, despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the American League. Beane looked at things differently and learned to do more with less money. Moneyball unintentionally suggested a new way to look at another American institution-the U.S. Navy.