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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the wittiest and most incisive commentary on baseball
Baseball Prospectus was already the best annual publication on baseball for thinking baseball fans, and in 2003 it got better in several ways. First, in the past it only contained Clay Davenport's translated stats, but this year it includes both actual (or untranslated) stats and translated stats (batting avg, OBP, SLG, ERA). That's useful because you can compare the...
Published on April 3, 2003 by Eugene Wei

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5 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars cyberstatnerds overdo analysis
I find this bill james inspired book pracitically useless. The stats don't even provide rbi, and the pitcher's stats don't have the won loss record. The written analysis of the players isn't bad though. I think it's time to take baseball stats away from people who worry them to death, and just rely on good old observation and experience.
Published on February 22, 2003 by roger kraminitz


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the wittiest and most incisive commentary on baseball, April 3, 2003
By 
Eugene Wei "eugene" (Santa Monica, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Baseball Prospectus was already the best annual publication on baseball for thinking baseball fans, and in 2003 it got better in several ways. First, in the past it only contained Clay Davenport's translated stats, but this year it includes both actual (or untranslated) stats and translated stats (batting avg, OBP, SLG, ERA). That's useful because you can compare the actual to translated stats to get a sense of where a player was helped or hurt by the competition and ballparks. Second, and perhaps most significantly, this version adds a new forecasting system from Nate Silver called PECOTA. This system compares a player to his most comparable historical peers in age, skills, and physical makeup and predicts the likelihood that his performance will improve, break out, or collapse. It's a unique predictive system that capitalizes on the fact that very few players are like a Barry Bonds, who overcome historical trends and forces to become statistical anomalies.
Some new contributors were brought on board this year to join an already excellent staff. Doug Pappas writes on the economic and labor situation of baseball better than anyone out there, and Will Carroll of the popular daily e-mail newsletter "Under the Knife" joins up to discuss player injuries. And lastly, the player coverage has increased this year to include even more minor league prospects.
Some of the book's best qualities remain. If you want a clear assessment of any team's current and future prospects and the quality of its management and farm system, absolutely read the introductions at the beginning of each team's chapter. They're brilliant. Secondly, the snippets on each player are as humorous as ever. The Baseball Prospectus writers enjoy flashing their wit. On Chad Bradford, the right handed Oakland A's reliever who is murder on righties: "In the future, as part of the Commissioner's strategy to speed up games, opposing right-handed batters will be permitted to simply throw a one-hopepr down to Eric Chavez rather than actually execute their plate appearance..." If anything, I wish they'd stay on topic in their player commentaries instead of straying to comment on random topics.
For me, it's not the best publication for your fantasy baseball draft because it doesn't include stats which are contextual rather than purely in the control of the player, such as runs or RBIs. Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster is better reference for that. Still, the commentary and PECOTA and projected 2003 stats are a very useful supplement and have helped me snatch some gems in my fantasy drafts. And the entire book is written so well I find myself leaving it on the coffee table all season just to revisit from time to time.
Don't take my word for it. Among those singing its praises are Rob Neyer, Billy Beane, J.J. Ricciardi, Peter Gammons, Jayson Stark, John Hunt, John Sickels, and anyone else who knows anything about baseball. ...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as funny as 2002, but an improved resource, April 24, 2003
By 
CGC (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
BASEBALL PROSPECTUS is one of the best sabermeticians' baseball resources out there, and thanks to witty, perceptive player commentaries, very accessible to the less numerically inclined. This should not be considered a resource for fantasy baseball players, but is useful for them as well.
In 2002, PROSPECTUS carried only "translated" player statistics--actual numbers adjusted for park and league effects. The theory is that without taking context into account, it is impossible to measure the value of players relative to one another.
The theory is solid, obviously, but the 2003 edition carries both the actual and the translated statistics, which makes it a much more useful all-in-one resource. You no longer have to go flipping through another book to find what a player actually did.
The player write-ups continue in the humorous but incisive PROSPECTUS tradition, though the humor seems to be a bit less sharp this year. It seems they've decided to be a little more serious and straightforward.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best BP Yet, February 14, 2003
By 
"rlockmed" (North Andover, MA United States) - See all my reviews
It's even better than it used to be. In addition to park adjusted statistics, there's raw, unadjusted stats for all the major and minor league players, which is great because Stats is no longer making the Red and Green Books. The graphic presentation of the statistics is better, too, with the adjusted stats clearly marked from the raw stats.
The writing is outstanding, and the separate essays on injuries and the forecasting system are really good. It's a gigantic book, and it's almost impossible to put down. I love it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOP NOTCH BASEBALL WRITING, March 6, 2002
By 
This review is from: Baseball Prospectus: 2002 Edition (Paperback)
I hope you have alot of time on your hands because you will not be able to put this great book down.
Provides totally honest and intelligent team reviews, explaining why transactions were made and what were the good/bad ramifications.
Excellent and witty player insight, brutally honest at points.
Found myself laughing out load many times.
You won't believe what you've been missing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Baseball Book -- with no hesitation, February 28, 2002
By 
Adam Strasberg (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Baseball Prospectus: 2002 Edition (Paperback)
Whether you're interested in Fantasy baseball research or just love reading about the game and the players, the Baseball Prospectus is the best, most interesting book on the market.
There are general team comments which tend to focus on personal, economic and historical issues. Then come the player comments --the book is organized by league and team then by player dividing hitters from pitchers. It doesn't just write about players in the majors or top rookies, its breath of players is impressive and reason enough to buy it -- from the deep minors on up.
The writing is interesting, usually insiteful; although sometimes they try to get too funny (usually about a player who's perfomance needs more analysis than humor). Still that's a minor quible.
Would I use it for a fantasy baseball draft, yes (I do); although its probably more valuable in season as teams start adding players you've never heard of (the Prospectus has, don't worry).
Would I read it if I weren't in a Fantasy Baseball league -- yes without a doubt. In fact, I would say the book is geared to discussing baseball as a sport more than assessing fantasy value.
There are hours of reading here.
One word of warning -- the stats listed in the book are NOT the actual stats, but rather translations to a "normal" league environment (they list the past 4 stat lines). This translation makes it easier to compare a player's A Ball performance with another's AAA and another's Major league stats, but it can cause some confusion on the first read.
If you are looking for Fantasy Baseball books, also take a look at Shandler's Baseball Forcaster, which is probably better for draft preparation. Still, if I was buying only one baseball book, The Baseball Prospectus would be it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's all about the team, March 6, 2002
By 
Mark Armour (Corvallis, OR USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baseball Prospectus: 2002 Edition (Paperback)
The revolution in baseball analysis in the 1980s, led by the works of Bill James and Pete Palmer, spawned a boom in baseball writing. Unfortunately, most analytical baseball books begin and end with the measuring of player value, which is great for fantasy baseball players or who-should-be-in-the-Hall-of-Fame discussions, but ultimately leaves me feeling hungry.
The folks at Baseball Prospectus put the focus on the "team", stressing that focus even within the player comments. Arguing about whether someone is the sixth best second baseman in the National League, or merely the eighth best, is refreshingly missing here. Instead, the discussion rests on whether the player is advancing the cause of contending for a championship, what he has to do to contribute more, how likely he is to improve, how long he is likely going to continue contributing, what the team needs to do to be prepared for his decline, etc. The team comments focus on where the team is in the development cycle, what it has to do to advance to the next stage, and whether the people in charge are likely to do it. The essays in the back of the book challenge us to understand how this game works.
This annual has made me a better fan and has made my own conversations around the hot stove much more interesting. As a baseball researcher, what I wouldn't give for a complete set of BPs, beginning about 1871.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for any fantasy league owner or hardcore baseball fan, February 27, 2003
Not a pocket book by any means, this year's Prospectus reaches deeply into each system, covering not just players on each team's 40-man roster, but rookie ball players and players who might be missed otherwise. As an example, the Angels section covered 53 players, with a paragraph written about each, and statistics covering each player's last three seasons. Minor league statistics are translated into major league numbers, and Nate Silver's PECOTA system is used to make 2003 projections, including probability of improvement, collapse, or a breakout season. The PECOTA system is explained in an essay at the end of the book, and it's more detailed than most projections I've seen, and a lot of thought has gone into it.
However, the casual fan can still enjoy the book, in contrast to a lot of stat books found on the market. The book and its description of players doesn't take itself totally seriously, while keeping statheads happy with as much information as they can get. There are large articles on each team, going into detail how the teams got to where they are, and what to expect in the future. In addition, articles and essays on injuries, the new combined bargaining agreement, and a look at the book's top 40 prospects makes the Baseball Prospectus something you'll cling to for your fantasy draft, and keep going back to throughout the entire season.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining analysis for stat-headed baseball fans, March 5, 2002
By 
E A Glaser (Delft, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Baseball Prospectus: 2002 Edition (Paperback)
This is the second year that I've read Baseball Prospectus and it continues to be a great resource for analysis on both players and the strategies that each team is employing (or not employing, in the case of some teams). Every major-league player and all of the minor-league players that they consider notable are covered with a paragraph of commentary and "translated" stats for the previous three seasons (i.e. not the actual numbers, but stats normalized for league and park effects to make it easy to compare guys at different levels and altitudes). Each team gets a two-page commentary reviewing the direction the management has been taking the team. The book also contains articles on specific analytical subjects such as the continued efforts to measure pitcher abuse, defensive prowess and the projectability of minor leaguers, as well as the annual article on their top 40 prospects in baseball.
There are a few differences I found between BP 2002 and 2001. The new book is only 500 pages compared to 550 for its predecessor. This looks like it's partly because they cut out the page for each team listing the support-neutral and adjusted stats for the pitching staffs, which is a shame, and also because they aren't covering quite as many players, which is fine -- they still talk about over 50 players per team. A new addition to this year's book is the "Stuff" stat for pitchers, based on their rates for strikeouts, walks, and homers (if I remember correctly, don't have the book in front of me), which should help measure a pitcher's effectiveness independent of the defense behind him. Because of the recent, (in)famous research implying that on balls in play (i.e. anything aside from Ks, BBs, HRs and HBPs) defense and luck contribute to the results more than the pitcher, it's natural to concoct a new stat which encapsulates the things a pitcher is guaranteed to have control over.
I also felt this year's book wasn't *quite* as critical as last year's book. The BP writers can be, frankly, somewhat arrogant at times. I agree that many of the guys who run baseball teams are deserving of scorn, and the criticism from BP is usually backed up with reasonable arguments, but they still can come off as know-it-alls. It would be great for them to have a section in the book where they review the unequivocal statements from the previous edition; they say things like "Player X will flop in the bigs" or "Pitcher Y is definitely going to blow out his arm" and I would wager that their accuracy is good, but not 100%, on these claims. Anyway, I was pleased to get the impression that the criticism is tempered a little in the 2002 book. For instance, they managed to praise ex-Pirates GM Cam Bonifay, one of their favorite whipping boys, for the things he did do well even as they recognize that on the whole he built a pretty poor Pittsburgh team. In general the authors did a nice job of recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of different GMs, which lends more credibility to BP and is interesting in its own right. Face it, every fan thinks that they're capable of building a championship team (witness the insane popularity of fantasy leagues), so it's great to read about how actual GMs might be good at building a pitching staff or a minor league system, but stinky at trades and free agent singings. Being a general manager is a more complicated job than it appears.
I will definitely use BP 2002 to help with projections for my fantasy league, but even if I wasn't a roto-nerd I'd still read the book (and check out their web site every day) for the new insights they bring to the game. The 2002 book is smaller than the 2001 version but contains virtually as much content and is meaty throughout -- I recommend it for any serious baseball fan. (I should note that their web site (baseballprospectus.com) warns of a pretty egregious error in BP 2002 -- in the stat lines for all of the pitchers, the ERA and PERA columns were transposed. Adjust accordingly.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better in some parts than others., February 22, 2002
This review is from: Baseball Prospectus: 2002 Edition (Paperback)
I always get BP. It covers more players than any other book, and the writing is always outstanding. This year there are some chapters and comments that are not as good as in books from earlier years. The chapter on the Braves is actually very bad. Some of the player essays are not as clear as they used to be.
There are still great essays for teams and players. The chapters on the AL West teams are best. This book is better than any of Benson's books, and is fun to read whether or not you play roto. If I could make one change it would be to spend less space on financial and business discussion.
It is very entertaining. They should spend more time evening out the writing. But it is still awesome. These guys should buy a team.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Both pedantic and funny, April 29, 2002
By 
CGC (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Baseball Prospectus: 2002 Edition (Paperback)
If you are a trained statistician, you will probably love this book. For each major leaguer, it takes his actual numbers and washes out park effects. Then it compares the value (in runs) of the player's production to the league average. There are fielding and pitching "stuff" statistics invented by Baseball Prospectus that attempt to account for all the variables that contribute to performance. For minor leaguers, it calculated "major league equivalencies"--i.e., what numbers the player would have put up if he had played in the majors.
The problem is that the bewildering array of new terms and statistical explanations will mean little to the casual fan. Even an experienced roto player who has a healthy respect for such methods, such as myself, will have an extremely difficult time putting it all together.
Fortunately, the player write-ups are as compelling a reason to buy the book as the statistical analysis. They are hilarious--inventive, creative, and full of oddball references. Baseball Prospectus can be a little too opinionated at times, and a little subjective for a group of people that professes to believe only in the data, but that's part of what makes them so funny. It's unbelievable how many different ways Joe Sheehan & Co. can find to say that a player is worthless.
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Baseball Prospectus: 2002 Edition
Baseball Prospectus: 2002 Edition by Joseph G. Sheehan (Paperback - Feb. 2002)
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