I've been a long-time fan of the Prospectus. For my money, it's the best of the baseball annuals. Probably nothing will ever quite match the old Bill James Baseball Abstracts of fond memory. But if you are looking for thorough and entertaining reviews of every player's performance from the 2007 season along with projections for the 2008 season, you will not find a better book. In past years, the Prospectus often had big time editing problems. This year the writing seems very clean with only a few very minor goofs. Last year there was also an inconsistency between the PECOTA comparables and the text discussion. That problem was avoided this year. Finally, although the book is still about as thick as the Manhattan phone directory, it appears to be printed on higher quality paper, thereby avoiding some of the blurred print that marred last year's book. In short: Buy and enjoy!
The new baseball season will soon be upon us, with hope breaking out all over. Those of us who are Chicago White Sox fan see our team starting off even with every other time and hope abounding. What will the season hold? Only 162 games will tell us.
This book is one of those compendia that come out each year, providing information on major league baseball players. This has a sabermetric element to it, so those who love statistics will enjoy this work.
There are some nice features, including a listing of the top 100 prospects this season, how base running turns into runs, projected leaders in a variety of categories (e.g., they project Ryan Howard to lead in home runs with 44, Albert Pujols to lead in batting average with .327, Jose Reyes to lead in stolen bases with 60, etc.).
Those projections are based on a technique called PECOTA, in which players are equated with many other players--past and present--with similar characteristics. Then, that data base is used to project how well the particular contemporary player is likely to do this year. As an example, let's take a look at one team, the White Sox. Many of the Sox' key players are aging, and projections suggest declining performance among such stalwarts as Jim Thome and A. J. Pierzynski. Paul Konerko and Jermaine Dye, on the other hand, are projected to perform in similar fashion to 2007. By the way, one of the nice features is that each player is compared to those whose career statistics define PECOTA. For instance, comparables to Joe Crede include Dave Roberts, Kevin Orie, Tim Wallach, and Tim Hulett. Just looking at comparables is fun! Jermaine Dye is equated with Dave Henderson, Joe Adcock, Jose Canseco, and Juan Gonzalez. Pretty good company (at least for statistics). Paul Konerko is compared with Kevin Millar, Gil Hodges, Jeff Conine, and Eric Karros. The mainstay of the pitching staff, Mark Buehrle, is linked to Ken Holtzman (the old Cubbie!), Greg Swindell, Jim Abbott, and Curt Simmons.
Enough comparisons. Another statistic is called VORP, value over replacement player. This statistic is created by assuming that a particular player would be removed from the lineup and replaced by someone of proven quality (the details are too lengthy to be presented in a line or two). The resulting figures are then used to estimate players who will rise and who will decline this coming year. White Sox fans might want to shiver a bit. Mark Buehrle is one of the projected 15 players who will decline the most.
A couple other figures to illustrate what the book provides. Jim Thome is expected to see his home run total decline from 35 to 29 and his RBIs from 96 to 79. If you're curious, by the way, his comparator players include Frank Thomas, Willie McCovey, Darrell Evans, and Cliff Johnson--some pretty good company!
Anyhow, this is a book that will be a lot of fun for baseball fans. It's a good way to start preparing for the new baseball season!
Not having seen a Baseball Prospectus guide before, I was assuming this hefty guide would be a dry, stat-filled directory. I was wrong. This is a fascinating, readable guidebook. Once you start looking at it you can't put it down. If you buy this, plan to lose many hours of your life reading it.
Each team gets its own chapter. An in-depth article covers the team's chances for the season, including recruits, injuries, strategy, even history. Plenty of tables and figures back things up. Each player gets a paragraph about his abilities and prospects for the 2008 season, with a stat table that reviews his past four years and projected numbers for this season. The chapter concludes with a similar analysis on the team manager.
At the end of the book are articles on different baseball-related topics, with a list of the Baseball Prospectus Top 100 Prospects.
For help in deciphering the statistics, an introductory chapter called Statistical Introduction very calmly and clearly explains what all the terms in the tables mean. For example, it explains that "VORP" means Value Over Replacement Level, a cumulative stat that estimates total player value over a period of time.
I wish there was a book like this for college football! Then when my 'Noles mess up another season, at least I would know why!
on February 20, 2001
This is my third edition of BP, and the book is consistently excellent. The player comments have softened overall across the years, but they're still not without their humor, and the commentary can be tough (e.g. on Al Martin's transgressions). They're getting closer to a good balance on being critical.
Team essays are not the garden variety review of offseason moves that are to be found in most preview magazines; rather, they often go into teams' philosophies of building, scouting, development and so on. I find this interesting in thinking about long-term health of franchises and looking forward to the new year.
Some of the material can be pretty high level. Past player stats are all translated to a baseline according to league difficulty, park effects and other factors. This can be a little unsettling or annoying at times when you want to know how someone did at a raw level, but there isn't room for everything. Predictions are given as expected numbers.
Such presentation probably isn't for everyone, so I'd suggest anyone looking to buy this book for the first time go to their website, [...] Check out some of the essays, transaction analyses and such. Be sure to look at the historical EQA cards page, because this also gives an overview of the way they do their translations and present their stats. This will give you the best idea of whether this book is for you.
But don't let the stat stuff scare you away. The detailed player comments and team essays alone make this worth the money for me.
on February 21, 2001
BP remains the standard for baseball annuals, with zillions of player comments both informative and entertaining, and team comments which are generally excellent.
They know more about more players than anyone else.
Minor quibble: Every year the back cover exhalts BP's predictive prowess and gives examples, yet for some reason the 2001 edition fails to speak of, for instance, the success of the Minnesota Twins and Jeff Kubenka. But that's just marketing, I suppose -- it is a great book.
on February 18, 2016
I like the analysis. One weak spot with Baseball Prospectus' for all years is that there is no evaluation of prior years' predictions. Each year should show the prior year's predictions for several stats (e.g., Total average, WARP, etc.) next to the actual for the year. Like many prognosticators (e.g., Paul Krugman for economics), there is no follow-up on how accurate their predictions turn out.
on February 15, 2001
There is no better book on the market for the analytical baseball fan or fantasy leaguer. Some people will be put off by the indepth statistical analysis but this book isn't for statheads only.
The Baseball Prospectus covers every player you need to know, period, from superstars like McGwire to 25th men like Jay Canizaro. It also covers important minor leaguers all the way down to rookie ball. It gives objective translations of every player's statistics over the last three years and projections of every hitter's real life 2001 stat line. This is a must have for any analytical baseball fan or anyone looking to win in fantasy baseball.
on March 24, 2008
This is my sixth edition, and this book is still a great way to get ready for the season.
But the writing has taken a distinct turn toward the serious. The essays and player profiles are still chock full of relevant numbers and piercingly well-considered arguments, but this year they are also somewhat...I really don't want to say it...tedious.
What was once a light-hearted romp through some serious baseball thinking is now rather dense and dry. I'll buy again next year, but I hope somebody sends them a keg of Lighten-Up.