The Extra 2% by Jonah Keri: a review

The Extra 2% is a well-researched account of the turnaround in the (Devil) Rays fortunes when the current management team took over. It’s largely focused on baseball operations VP Andrew Friedman (essentially the GM), team president Matt Silverman, and owner Stuart Sternberg, all of whom have finance backgrounds. There’s also a lot about team manager Joe Maddon, of course; there are also portraits of a bunch of ballplayers.

But the book’s mainly about the team’s management philosophy, which amounts to “do everything better,” with a large dollop of buy low/sell high. The management group is portrayed as both detail-oriented and willing to delegate, which is unusual but hardly unheard of. Basically, these guys set goals, execute them, then review and revise. Over and over again. Despite the book’s subtitle (How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Team from Worst to First), there’s nothing particularly Wall Street about what they do. The important point is knowing what you want to do and making those things happen. Many baseball teams–and many corporations–have difficulty doing that.

There’s a lot of good stuff here, but it’s an unexciting read, with more repetition than I’d like. There’s little specific discussion of particular trades, and the Maddon portrayal leans pretty heavily on his oddities without really convincing that those are his key qualities. Similarly, there are many mentions of a boardroom coup that displaced Vince Naimoli from the team’s general partner position without any details of the bargains and/or bloodletting which made the event possible.

All in all, worth reading. But hardly essential; I was hoping for more.

This review was originally published on LibraryThing.

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