If you read Mychael Lewis’ Moneyball, you probably felt pretty smart afterwards. At the time, it was charting some new waters of baseball writing – a first hand look inside the mind of a major league general manager and what he looks for when scouting talent. Factor in that it had to be done on a relatively small budget, and in one of baseball’s smaller markets, and it established a benchmark when it came out.
However, it’s been three and a half years since Moneyball was published – and a new player has stepped to the plate with a detailed look into how teams acquire, budget and spend their money.
Diamond Dollar$ by Vince Gennaro is a college level textbook when compared to the eighth-grade level of Moneyball – it brings in factors that most fans seem to know about but probably couldn’t begin to quantify.
The book revolves around how to build a Major League roster – breaking it up into four overriding areas, which he then subdivides into 11 total chapters. Gennaro starts by looking at the power of winning – just how much more money does a team make for each win? More importantly, he shows how and why that revenue curve is different for every team in baseball – and it’s probably not why you think it is.
He then moves onto player dollar value – how do you determine a value for a player? Again – it’s much more complicated than how many homeruns or strikeouts a player racked up the year before. Genarro illustrates his point beautifully with an illustration of some top-level shortstops and where they fall on his four-pronged Player Value grid.
The book then moves into player development systems and building team brands – both of which factor into how your favorite ballclub both makes and spends its money.
You need to be either a pretty serious baseball fan to really get your teeth into this one, and some background in economics would probably come in handy – while not a requirement, Genarro goes into some more advanced mathematics to show how his models work.
If you’re up for a challenging read that will leave you much more informed about how ballclubs are built, Diamond Dollar$ is the book for you. It’s made it’s way to the top of my bookshelf so far this season – and I think it’ll probably do the same on yours.