Book Review – ‘The Extra 2%’ by Jonah Keri

In addition to my typical fantasy and regular baseball readings around the web, I have decided to start reading books that I think can help build my analysis skills and baseball knowledge.  Afterwards, I’ll give a review of the book and apply some takeaways.

Leading Off

The book I chose to read first is The Extra 2%:  How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First. I chose the book for two main reasons:

  1. I’m a fan of Jonah Keri’s work elsewhere on the web.
  2. The title screams to me that there are surely strategies and mindsets that can be borrowed from the book and applied to fantasy baseball.

About the Author

I first became aware of Jonah Keri when I stumbled upon his podcast a couple years back.  Unfortunately he no longer produces new episodes, but I found him smart and entertaining, and he had great baseball guests like Rickey Henderson, Rob Neyer, and R.A. Dickey on the show.  Jonah has since made it big, appearing on Baseball Tonight occasionally and writing regularly for

Please note that I only recommend resources that I think are extremely valuable and that I use myself.  The link to The Extra 2% above are affiliate links, through which I earn a small commission if you were to purchase the book. The book will cost you the same if you directly go to Amazon and search for it or if you click an affiliate link. Think of this as a small way to support the site if you find SmartFantasyBaseball valuable.  Or if you prefer a generic link through which I receive no benefit, use this.

The Extra 2%

The backdrop of the book is a look into the history of the Tampa Bay Rays franchise, from the beginning battles the Tampa area fought to win a team to the inception of the franchise, its initial struggles, and then an ownership change in 2005 that gave the team  new life. On top of that historical account of the Rays franchise, Keri highlights the strategic and analytical approach the new leadership team brought with it in 2005.  As the title of the book indicates, the Rays turned to a team of Wall Street experienced businessmen and analysts with little or no formal baseball experience.  But it was the analytical and value-driven approaches learned on Wall Street that helped the Rays turn things around.

How They Did It

The book is full of specific stories and examples of how the Rays went about this transformation and the decisions they made.  From the stories, I observed three main themes the team applied to improve the Rays organization (and that you could apply to become a smarter fantasy baseball mind):

  • Strive for continuous improvement
  • Apply a consistent, methodical, and analytic process
  • Identify and take advantage of market inefficiencies (more…)