Title: Built to Win – Inside Stories and Leadership Strategies from Baseball’s Winningest GM
Author: John Schuerholz
Pages: 272

John Schuerholz is known as one of the best general managers of recent times. Whether it is a key free agent signing or an amazing trade, Schuerholz has helped improve his team many times over. And for those who want to know the inner workings of a major league front office, Built to Win offers an exclusive insight into one of the game’s brightest men and into the Atlanta Braves’ unprecedented run of division titles.

In his book, Schuerholz details how he joined the Braves organization after several successful seasons with the Kansas City Royals. He had to turn around a front office inflicted with apathy and an acceptance of losing. Schuerholz set goals for the organization and forced everybody in his front office to be confident in their work. This, Schuerholz argues, is partly responsible from the worst-to-first turnaround of the Braves in 1991.

And that’s half the book. Schuerholz shares with readers his theories on how any manager/worker relationship should work. It is vitally important, Schuerholz argues, that the manager supports his or her workers and pushes them to expect more and achieve. To prove that point, he uses several examples from the Braves’ front office and the relationship between manager Bobby Cox and his players.

That makes the book a great read even for those who aren’t into baseball. Everybody deals with the relational issues at work that Schuerholz address, and they are probably better off following the guidelines set forth in this book.

The other half of the book delves into the nitty-gritty work of being in a major league front office. Schuerholz discusses the economics of baseball; the relationship between agents and general managers (hint: sometimes it’s not good); and how a general manager should run the team, including an entire chapter on handling public relations disasters and how to motivate people as best they can. It is an invaluable read for anyone wanting to become a general manager.

And lastly, Built to Win explores the frame work for the Braves’ run of success. Schuerholz tells readers how close Barry Bonds was to being a Brave, how they stole Greg Maddux from the hands of the Yankees in free agency, and how the Braves finally agreed to a deal with Tim Hudson. Schuerholz takes an entire chapter to explain the Hudson deal, which is an interesting look into the interplay between a general manager and an agent.

Schuerholz also shares a few tidbits about his personal life, including a relationship with Rush Limbaugh when both worked in the Royals organization. All combined, this book deserves 3.5 balls out of four. It’s a well written look into the inner workings of a Major League Baseball front office, and it’s a highly recommended book.

AHP Rating: 3.5 balls

The AHP Rating System is based on a four ball system:
One Ball: Average. It has something to say but is nothing special.
Two Balls: Something men usually have - also means it’s a cut above average, and worth reading/owning.
Three Balls: Stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
Four Balls: More than just what two men have when hanging out together, it means it is an exceptional book that truly earns a walk - straight to the local book store to get a copy.