The author: Joe Peta
The vital stats: Dutton Books, 396 pages, $27.95
The pitch: Peta’s ultimate goal — aside from becoming independently wealthy from betting on baseball — comes in a footnote on page 28. He says he someday would like to hear Vin Scully say this sentence: “For the Dodgers this year, it’s been a constant story of misfortune. They’ve persistently found themselves on the wrong side of cluster luck all season long.”
First, we pray that if Scully did utter that, he’d not get tongued tied during the wrong dangling participial. Second, it would legitimize a phrase that Peta could forever be given credit as creating, like Bill James’ “sabermetrics.”
To figure out why Peta desires some kind of number-related fame is to understand his transformation from stock trader to hospital-bed-ridden baseball stats cruncher, and then to creating a way to make his work pay off. Applying his risk-analysis skills to James’ theories, he, through no dumb luck, came upon the concept of “cluster luck,” complete with spread sheets. Critical reasoning plus risk management plus baseball equals a personal story of triumph from a wheelchair of otherwise despair.
If it’s a three-part book on baseball that you’ll eventually come to love, revile, and have your interest piqued — not necessarily in that order — then Peta has your number. It left our head spinning on many occasions, enough to where he had to put it down and admit we weren’t enjoying the process.
He doesn’t give away all his trade secrets. And they do come with some risks (compare his 41 percent success rate in 2011 to 14 percent in 2012).
But if you come for the baseball stories, and stay for the math homework and prepare to get some insight into why Lehman Brothers was at the center of the market meltdown, it’ll leave you stimulated.
More to know:
== Peta’s 2013 preview of the Dodgers (he loves Greinke, and says they could win 95 games, but will settle for 92-70 and first in the NL West) and of the Angels (as Mike Trout’s makes less than $1 million, it means “his production per dollar of salary negates every other inefficient contract the Angels are carrying,” and the team will win 88 games and take the AL West).
== A pitch on the book from Forbes.com
== A Yahoo!Sports radio interview with Peta
== A Peta piece in Bloomberg News on how Vegas can learn from Wall Street