Category: Statistics

The Baseball Maniac’s Almanac


I have learned sometimes reading books for this blog becomes more like a job and not a hobby.  Trudging through books both good and bad is sometimes tedious, but my purpose with starting this was to help inform other readers.  For myself as a reader it is nice to have a change of pace when I find a book that is not making me think.  Today’s book is one of those books that has some serious value to the average fan but is still not to taxing on the brain.

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By:Bert Randolph Sugar -2012

The Baseball Maniac’s Almanac is a handy tool for fans.  It contains statistics and facts that are of interest to the average fan.  Along with team statistics it shows overall stats for certain categories and eras.  It will help fans increase their knowledge of the game’s history, along with being an entertaining read.  It is very comprehensive in its coverage of the game’s history and allows the reader to cover a broad period of time in a very small package.

Books like this are very interesting in an era where statistics rule the game of baseball.  While this book is based on statistics, it is still the basic categories and formulas we all grew up with.  Sabermetrics and the new way to analyze baseball has its place within the game, but so do the stats of yesteryear that are not in as much favor as they once were.

Baseball fans should check this out, if nothing else you will have a good time with the memories that these statistics can generate.  It may also generate a few spirited debates between you and your friends, and that might be worth the price of the book right there.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Sports Publishing

The Baseball Maniac’s Almanac

Happy Reading

Gregg

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Hardball Retrospective – Forcing You to Rethink Everything You Thought You Knew


Numbers are an important part of baseball history.  They tell us everything that has happened through the years, while also giving a basis on which to judge performance.  In the last two or three decades the ways in which players are measured have changed and it has ushered in monumental changes within the game.  But what if you use these current day formulas to see what the prior generations may have missed, what would change and who’s legacy would be changed forever?  Well today’s book takes a look at how these calculations would have changed the history of the game.

By: Derek Bain - 2015

By: Derek Bain – 2015

I don’t often do this, but if I had to sum this book up in one word it would be…..WOW!!!!!!  Hardball Retrospective takes statistical analysis to the next level.  It takes a look at every season and every team from 1901 through 2013 and reanalysed the data .  By using current standards it evaluates each individual teams scouting methods and the final outcomes for each season.  It shows how the standings may have been different, which really alters the entire baseball landscape as we have known it.

Derek Bain has done an incredible job of reformulating team statistics and analyzing each decade.  This book also does a nice job of explaining the terminology and methodology used in calculating all of these results.  That is important in the fact that it will not be overwhelming for the average fan.  Bain presents all of his results in easy to read charts and formats that makes it an inviting read.  With some of the other statistical analysis books that are on the market the reader can feel overwhelmed and a little put off.  Hardball Retrospective does a nice job of avoiding the pompousness that is sometimes contained in these types of books.  Plus, what is not to love about that 70’s era picture of Rod Carew on the cover.

Fans of the game should really put on their thinking caps and check this out.  It puts a whole new spin on the game we love and also makes you wonder what may have been for your team.  For myself being a Phillies fan and realizing they have stunk for most of their existence, this book changed the way I look at them and realize they may have been lucky more than good when the finally found some success.

The link below can lead you to where you can pick this up in either the Kindle of Print version, but I think you will want to get the print version just to use as a point of reference over and over again

Hardball Retrospective-Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises

Happy Reading

Gregg

Closer – The Inside Pitch on Saving the Game


The game of baseball is forever changing.  One could almost consider it some form of living organism.  The product is always changing and evolving into something much different from what you may have seen years before.  It could be the actual play of the game, rules or even subtle changes to position players that have become unique.  The role of the closer has been one such animal over the last 60 years or so, that has morphed itself to the forefront of the game.  If a team doesn’t have a great stopper in their bullpen, they are going nowhere quick.  Todays book takes a look at that changing role straight from the horse’s mouth.

 

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By Kevin Neary and Leigh Tobin 2013-Runing Press

This book takes a rather unique, but definitely effective approach to the role of the closer.  You get the information direct from some of the names that have defined the role throughout the years.  Starting in the 1950’s with the person whom many consider the original closer Elroy Face, to current day closing specialists like John Smoltz, you get the story of why these roles have become so important.  The book breaks down the closer role into three eras.  The beginning, the transition years and the modern era.  Each section has interviews with several of the pitchers that became closers in their careers during those periods, and how the changing role of the closer within the game affected them.

The authors have done a nice job of showing the reader how the player viewed themselves within the game.  It shows how the pitcher really fit in the game both before and after they became a closer, and how it changed their careers.  There are several Hall of Fame careers that were actually saved by becoming a closer.  Some guys had fairly succesful careers before the switch, but everyone interviewed seemed to view the switch as a positive thing for their careers.

If you want to see how the game has evolved and read some really good interviews at the same time you should check out this book.  The authors did a nice job with it and should be proud of their work.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Running Press

http://www.runningpress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Baseball’s New World of Numbers


Baseball on the field rarely changes.  The bases are always 90 feet apart.  Sixty feet six inches is another norm.  Nine men on the field is another thing that hasn’t changed either.  What has changed, is the way we look at the game off the field.  I am not talking about media interaction or the fan experience at the stadium.  I am solely looking at the change in the way we view the importance of statistics.  Numbers have always been an integral part of the game, but now all decisions are based around what the numbers tell us.  Gone are the days of gut feelings, and hunches in player evaluation.  Now it is cold hard numbers that tell the tale.  There are so many new and different ways you are now able to analyze what you see on the field in this new age of baseball.

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Baseball Prospectus Wiley Publishing

Baseball Prospectus is one of the books that is out there that gives a different look at the game.  It is published on an annual basis, so you are always up to date on your favorite team.  Each team is broken down into their own section and gives an overview of the past seasons fortunes.  It shows the good, bad and ugly for each team and where the strengths and weaknesses are.  It also breaks down the roster of each team taking a look at the individual stats for the player and a brief synopsis of their strength and weaknesses.  It is a nice commentary on the players and you can get a real feel for what each team is bringing to the table this season.  The authors also give their own commentary on each team and projections of what the upcoming season will offer.  For the casual or fan this is a very informative book.  For the hardcore fan there is more.

 

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Baseball America 2015 Almanac

This book is strictly for the hardcore fan.  This book caters to the “stat-geeks” and offers an amazing amount of information.  The 2015 almanac has covered every major league team on all levels.  By that I mean they offer statistics on every level of the team organization.  You get the majors, the rookie leagues and everything in between.  It gives hardcore stats that analyze every aspect of the game.  This book also offers a look at the college level players we may see in the future as well as high school and then checks out the upcoming amateur draft.  It does do some review of the past season and some team overviews, along with the previous seasons statistical leaders.  What this book does offer is deep analysis that hard-core fans will find helpful.  If you are looking for baseball by the numbers this would be the book for you.

Each of these book may be considered statistical analysis books but the offer something totally different.  They each target a different level fan and present the information based on that specified audience.  While they offer the same general product they have hit the mark in being able to appeal to different level of fans.  As the game shifts to being even more numbers based, these books will only gain importance in the game we all love.  I always say knowledge is power in the game of baseball, and this only proves it.

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

 

 

 

Baseball Explained…………Finally!!!


Fans of the game are always in a perpetual state of learning.  Whether you have been a fan for seven days or seven decades, you can always learn something new.  In that learning process, sometimes things fall through the cracks, other times no matter how many times you hear something you just don’t get it.  Finally there is a book to help with the basics.

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Baseball Explained

By:Phillip Mahony – 2014 McFarland Publishing

Many times when fans miss a piece of the who, what, when, where and why of baseball we are either to embarrassed to ask for help, or don’t know where to find the information.  Phillip Mahony has undertaken the task of writing Baseball Explained.  It breaks down all the nuts and bolts of the game and explains it in a format that is easy to understand for even the casual fan.

The Preliminary section of this book addresses the basics of the game.  The playing field, the fielders, the line-ups and the basic format of the game itself.  It presents the basics in a way that even people who have never experienced the game before can get the general idea of why things are what they are on the field.  The next section covers objectives of the game and why things are done at certain times.  It gives a basic strategy for the field and what needs to be done when and where.  This gives some  new insight to the basic principles of the game to the reader.  We are accustomed to todays strategies which don’t always coincide with the games basic principles.  In that respect it almost becomes a refresher course on the basic in-game strategies.

The third section of the book covers statistics, and this to me is very important section.  It teaches why stats are so important in the game and the place they have in its make-up.  Both sides of the ball are covered in the book as well as teaching how to read a box score.  The part in this section that I found most important was how to fill out a score card correctly.  That is something that was lacking in my fan arsenal and now I am better off for reading this book.

Finally the author takes a look at today’s game of baseball, at both the major and minor league levels.  It ties in everything the reader has learned up to this point and you see some real-world applications to your readings.

This book belongs in every baseball fans library.  No matter what level you think you are at as a fan, you will find something that gets clarified or explained in a way that gives the game a new meaning for you.  I learned how to do a score card correctly, and finally someone explained to me the damn infield-fly rule in a way I understand.  It only took 35 years for someone to explain it so I could understand it!  So to Phillip Mahony, I say thank you for that one.

No single fan knows everything, and this book proves it.  Everyone should check this book out.

You can check the authors web site for more information about the book

http://www.baseballexplained.com

Or you can order direct from the nice folks at McFarland Publishing

http://www.mcfarlandpub.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

Houston Baseball – The Early Years 1861-1961


There was a point in time in the United States, that you could throw a stone and hit some sort of baseball team.  Prior to the late 1950’s Major League Baseball was fairly regional, with no team calling anywhere west of St. Louis home.  That led to the opportunity for small towns and larger forgotten towns to have their own brand of baseball outside of the Big Leagues.  Unfortunately relocation of existing teams westward generated by the Dodgers move to Los Angeles, and the ensuing expansion in both leagues killed some of the small time baseball in those towns.  Lucky for all of us, at least one of those towns history before big time baseball arrived has been preserved in print.

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Houston Baseball-The Early Years 1861-1961

By:Mike Vance/SABR-2014 Bright Sky Press

Prior to 1962 Houston never had a Major League team.  The Colt 45’s were the first time Houston got invited to dance with the big boys.  For the century prior to 1962, Houston was not forgotten by the baseball gods.  They had the opportunity to see their fair share of talent pass through town and entertain the locals.  From amateur ball, to the negro leagues and even minor league baseball, Houston was a big time player in the history of the game.

Editor Mike Vance and the Larry Dierker chapter of SABR have created a very informative and entertaining book.  It takes an in-depth look at what transpired in Houston during the 100 years prior to the arrival of the Houston Colt 45’s.  It covers everything from the very early years of organized baseball in the city to the transition to major league baseball.

The contributors to the book have made sure that every facet of Houston baseball gets covered.  Ballparks through the years are covered in the book.  Seeing drawings of the makeshift fields to formal stadiums you see how the game grew and progressed in the city.  They also show some of the Major Leaguers that made stops in the early careers in Houston on their way to stardom.  Each of the various minor league teams that called Houston home are also remembered in this book.  Owners, semi pro leagues as well as the Negro Leagues in the Houston area are not forgotten either.

The research in this book has been painstakingly done and it shows.  They went above and beyond in creating a really comprehensive book that showcases Houston’s history within the game.  Students of the history of the game really should take a look at this book, because almost everyone is guaranteed to learn something from it.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Bright Sky Press

http://www.brightskypress.com

Happy Reading

Gregg

 

Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide


The thing I have really enjoyed about having my own blog is I can read whatever books I feel like and have a purpose for reading them.  I have forced myself to get out of my normal comfort zone of baseball autobiographies and look at all the other types of baseball books out there.  Today’s book is one of those instances where I get out of my comfort zone and jump deep in to the history of the game that is often forgotten.

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Sol White’s Official Base Ball Guide

By Sol White/Gary Ashwill-2014 Summer Game Books

I will be the first to admit my knowledge of the Negro Leagues is weak at best.  The information out there on its formative years is somewhat limited Quite honestly the league records were more word of mouth than official statistics.  But thankfully due to Sol White’s foresight over 100 years ago, some of the information has been saved for generations to come.  There have been a few reprints of this book throughout the decades but Summer Game Books has put a new spin on this classic.

With an introduction by baseball historian Gary Ashwill you take a journey into the almost forgotten history of the early Negro Leagues.  Sol White wrote this book with the idea of preserving the history of the league and showcasing its stars.  It gives detailed information of the people and teams that made up the early years of the league.  From players to owners it gives some in-depth information on a very important time in the formation of the league.

The book contains statistics and advertisements of the time that were included in the initial publication of the guide as well.  The thing I found most interesting was that there are only four verified copies of the original publishing of the guide known to exist.  You would think that something with the importance of this book and its initial publishing, would have fared the passing years in greater numbers.

If you are trying to learn about the early years of the league this book is a great source of information. You can see what it was really like for an upstart league trying to make a go of it in a time when segregation was the norm.  Baseball history buffs will really enjoy getting a glimpse in to this time period and seeing how things have really changed.

You can get this book from the nice folks at Summer Game Books

http://www.summergamebooks.com

Happy Reading

Gregg