Economics and Sports

Moneyball by Michael Lewis is a classic. Lewis tells the story of the Oakland A’s succeeding with low budget and flawless insight, but also describes a statistical revolution in baseball that eventually became mainstream. One of the insights from the book is that many of the metrics in baseball are misleading. The only metric that really matters is a player’s on base percentage, whereas many scouts focused on good looks and were over focused on the ability to hit home runs. It’s interesting to see how a sport that produces so many statistics, overlooked the one that really mattered for so long.

By the standard of Moneyball, Soccernomics is a disappointment. The book mirrors the fad of applying ‘economics’ (or more correctly rational analysis) to everything.  Soccernomics also adds in some rash World Cup predictions. The result is interesting, but isn’t as robust as Moneyball. The regressions and unpublished papers that underpin the book feel flimsy, and unlike the Oakland A’s for Moneyball, there is no deep human story or any real demonstration that assertions in the book carry the statistical weight the authors suggest.

Don’t read Soccernomics, read Moneyball. And only if you really enjoyed Moneyball and really like soccer, should you consider Soccernomics.

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