What the neo-conservatives of the Bush Adminstration are to foreign policy, the sabermetric movement is to major league baseball: a movement that has existed and gradually gained steam for years, and now has finally broken through and more or less been accepted by those in power. The sabermatricians' Weekly Standard is the Baseball Prospectus; their Scoop Jackson Bill James, and their Axis of Evil is baseball's traditional scouting establishment. And their George W. Bush is Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane: a longtime insider who has embraced the movement's long-held ideas and applied them on the main stage.
Ostensibly a look at Beane's A's and how they've managed to beat baseball's large market/small market structure, Michael Lewis' book "Moneyball" is the first major work to chronicle the influence the sabermetric movement has had (and will continue to have) on the national pastime. While certainly not perfect by any means, "Moneyball" manages to be a highly important book, while remaining readable and entertaining throughout.
Lewis spent parts of the 2002 season with the A's in the quest to figure out how they were able to break the 100-win barrier nearly every year despite operating on a low budget that caused them to regularly lose key players to free agency and left them unable to bid competitively for other teams' players. The answer lies in the theories of the legendary baseball statistician and best-selling author Bill James, who began writing in the 1970s and inspired a generation of baseball/math geeks to expound on his philosophies. Yet Beane (who became GM of the A's in 1997) was the first man to apply James' thinking to the actual running of a big-league team. As a result he turned the A's around, into a team that has reached the playoffs three years in a row, including two straight 100-win seasons, and a 20-game winning streak in July and August of 2002. The theories have begun to take hold around the major leagues as well, as Beane protege J.P. Ricciardi is now running the Toronto Blue Jays, while James himself and pitching statistician Voros McCracken have both been hired as consultants by the Boston Red Sox.