Monday, February 15, 2016

Review of "The Cardinals Way"

With today being President's Day, that means only one thing - the three magic words all baseball fans love to hear during this week - "pitchers and catchers."  Since baseball will soon be on many people's minds, I am catching up on baseball reading.  I received this ARC a while ago, but waited until it was closer to the publication date of February 23 to read it.  It was worth the wait - here is my review of "The Cardinals Way."

“The Cardinals Way: How One Team Embraced Tradition and Moneyball at the Same Time” by Howard Megdal

Baseball, Cardinals, history, scouting, statistics

Publish date:
February 23, 2016

304 pages

4 ½ of 5 stars (excellent)

The St. Louis Cardinals have been one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball. With 12 World Series titles, only the New York Yankees have had more success on the field. How the Cardinals have been able to maintain this continued success over the decades is the subject of Howard Megdal’s fine book on the innovations and methods of the team’s player development.  

From the development of a minor league system by Branch Rickey to the scouting methods of George Kissell and the use of statistical analysis by Jeff Luhnow, the book covers all aspects of the “Cardinals Way” of scouting, developing and drafting players. One very interesting aspect of this is that the Cardinals don’t always look just for the best players. If a player does not appear to be one who will have major league level talent as a player but has the proper knowledge and thinking for being a coach, then the club will groom that man to be successful in that field.

Megdal writes with a passion for this subject and it shows with the depth of his information. Using extensive interviews with men who have held various positions with the team, he is able to paint a picture through his words of the marriage between traditional scouting methods and advanced statistical analysis that is used extensively today. Leaving no stone unturned, the reader will learn why a player is drafted because a field scout trusted his gut feeling as well as one who was drafted after the computer crunching.

The team’s draft in 2014 makes up a significant portion of the last chapter before the epilogue and at times, it felt that it dragged out for a long time. That same feeling can be felt when watching the draft on television so it is at least a realistic picture of what is going on. But the reader does feel the drama play out while reading this section, and the following chapter when the main part of the book concludes with how those players are faring. 

This is an excellent book that every Cardinals fan will want to add to his or her bookshelf. Other readers who are interested in how players are evaluated and developed will also appreciate this book.

I wish to thank St. Martin’s Press for providing an advance review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

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