Ben Lindbergh & Sam Miller - The Only Rule Is It Has to Work

I like non-fiction books that contain stories rather than facts and figures. What I knew from The Only Rule Is It Has to Work before I started, was that this was a story-kind of non-fiction book. I was happy to start reading it and overall I'm quite happy that I did!

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Data: that’s basically what this book is about. Can you create a good team, in this case a good baseball team, by choosing players based on data? That’s the experiment Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller wanted to do. When the opportunity arrived, they said “yes” immediately. But there’s a catch.

First of all, they were promised to have full say in the choosing of the players. Yet, they only had a small role. They found about one third of the players their team would eventually have. Then they were too nervous to interact with their coach, letting him leave their players on the bench.

During the season they learn that there’s more to a good team than just data. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, so to speak. But why? Because empathy and teamwork have a lot to do with building a great team. I think that is one of the lessons Ben and Sam learnt, but one I already knew before reading this book.

In the end, they are unsure whether their strategy would have worked, given the final stats of the players over the entire season. But I think they give up too fast. If they’d really done the experiment they wanted to do in the beginning, the outcome would have been different. Because not only do they choose their team based on data, they would also change it during the season based on data. In their story, they hardly ever did.

What I like a lot about this story is its ending. It takes guts to go through what these guys did and then publish a book about it. Being open and transparent. I like that. For that reason, I rate it ✩✩✩.

Have you read The Only Rule Is It Has to Work? What did you think of it? Let’s get this discussion started!