The Extra 2%
How Wall Street Strategies
Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First
by Jonah Keri
A Baseball Book Review
The Extra 2% is the history of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise, with emphasis on the current ownership group and their strategies to improve the financial and on-field results of the club.
The book recounts the Tampa/St. Pete area’s earlier failed attempts to lure an MLB franchise, the construction of Tropicana Field “on speculation”, the trials of the Devil Rays’ original ownership group, and the current ownership and operations of the club by Stuart Sternberg, Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman. Also included are a profile of Joe Maddon, background on the club’s sabermetricians, and insight into the politics and demographics of Tampa versus St. Petersburg.
This book compares favorably with Moneyball, although the subjects of The Extra 2% were apparently much more guarded as to what their strategies actually are. The author loves the term “arbitrage”, so almost all player evaluation and game-decision tactics are referred to as arbitrage even when they’re not adequately explained. I felt the Wall Street analogies were a stretch.
Keri is balanced in his treatment of MLB and team ownership, pointing out the pros and cons of topics such as revenue sharing, stadium financing, and opaque financials. The discussion of area politics and attitudes is enlightening – for instance, he posits that most Tampa folks are Yankees fans (due to the Yankees spring training site and the Steinbrenners’ base of operations being there).
Overall, this book has a great story to tell and does a good job of telling it. Any SABR member interested in the worst-to-first story of the Tampa Bay Rays will enjoy The Extra 2%.
Here are the key statistics:
Book: The Extra 2%
Author: Jonah Keri
Author’s Credentials: Co-author of Baseball Between the Numbers; contributor to Baseball Prospectus, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Investor’s Business Daily. Currently lead baseball analyst for Bloomberg.
Published: 2011, Ballantine Books/ESPN Books; ISBN: 978-0-345-51765-4
Length: 253 pages.
Price: Retail list – $26.00; Online – from $16.00 (new) + shipping.