Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling and Baseball

Joe Peta, Author
Joe Peta. Dutton, $27.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-95364-7
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 03/07/2013
Paperback - 369 pages - 978-0-451-41517-2
Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-101-60965-1
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A Wall Street honcho takes his analytic skills to the big leagues in this rollicking financial adventure. With time on his hands after losing his job and getting run over by an ambulance, Peta, a former Lehman Brothers stock trader, concocted a numerical model that he hoped would predict the outcomes of Major League baseball games better than Las Vegas oddsmakers did—and turned his betting on the 2011 season into a toy investment fund. His lark prompts a fascinating tour of the science of “sabrmetrics,” which translates individual players’ stats—home runs, strike outs, and more exotic performance measures—into win-loss forecasts and playoff picks. (The deftly explained math only enhances the ball-park drama, especially when the Minnesota Twins go on an unexpected winning streak that threatens to sink the fund’s returns.) The author applies his baseball-gleaned insights on the all-important difference between luck and skill to Wall Street’s betting parlors, probing Lehman Brothers’ disastrous risk-management failures and wondering why traders aren’t evaluated as shrewdly as pitchers are. Peta’s hardheaded but warmhearted narrative reads like a mashup of Liar’s Poker and Moneyball peppered with besotted evocations of emerald green outfields and sports-bar camaraderie. His is that rare finance saga that’s both smart and loads of fun. (Mar. 7)
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