Ben Reiter - The Transformation of the Houston Astros

 

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Ben Reiter

Ben Reiter

With the 2019 World Series in full swing, join Matt for his conversation with the brilliant and all-round nice guy, author of the New York Times Bestseller Astroball: The New Way to Win It All. Ben shares the inside story of how GM Jeff Luhnow and his team went beyond the stats to find a new way to win—and not just in baseball.

More about Ben Reiter

Ben is a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, which he joined in 2004. He has written 26 cover stories for the magazine. Reiter has also contributed to Time and The Village Voice, among other publications. Reiter’s SI feature ‘The Seeker: The Complicated Life and Death of Hideki Irabu’ won the 2018 Deadline Award for Magazine Profile, and his work has twice been named a notable selection in the annual The Best American Sportswriting series. He frequently appears on radio and television stations across the United States and around the world and is a regular commentator on the MLB Network. Reiter is a graduate of Yale and Cambridge. He lives in New York City with his family. Astroball is his first book.

Read the full transcript here.

Key Topics:

  • Introducing Ben Reiter. [00:28]

  • Finding inspiration from one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. [03:14]

  • An excerpt from Astroball. [05:23]

  • Integrating the positive aspects of the human factor with the power of analytics. [07:28]

  • Why analytics no longer offer a major advantage in baseball. [09:40]

  • Using innovation to maintain the Astros dominance. [10:30]

  • Getting the worst MLB team on the cover of Sports Illustrated. [12:26]

  • Deciding on 2017 as the target year for Ben’s prediction. [13:41]

  • The moments that pointed towards the tides turning in favor of Ben’s prediction. [15:05]

  • Jim Crane’s focus on process over outcome. [16:25]

  • Making hard decisions for long-term rewards. [17:37]

  • The public pushback from the level of transparency facilitated by the Astros. [19:26]

  • The Astros’ initial reaction to their Sports Illustrated cover. [20:02]

  • Defining growth mindset. [21:57]

  • José Altuve as a great example of the growth mindset of the Astros. [22:37]

  • How the Astros apply the growth mindset to player selection. [25:45]

  • Evolving towards valuing intellectual curiosity in players. [26:50]

  • The respect/hate response to the Astroball approach. [29:56]

  • Making continuous improvements in all aspects of the team. [32:02]

  • Ben’s journey to becoming a writer at Sports Illustrated. [35:40]

  • How writing Astroball has changed Ben’s life. [36:48]

  • Ben’s prediction for the next winner of the World Series. [37:20]

Mentioned in This Episode

  1. Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEighthttps://fivethirtyeight.com/



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