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Baseball's All-Time Best Sluggers: Adjusted Batting Performance from Strikeouts to Home Runs Hardcover – February 27, 2005

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (February 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691115575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691115573
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,624,525 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Baseball fans, ever fascinated with statistics, should enjoy rifling through this information-packed work."--Library Journal

"Michael J. Schell has produced what may be the most rigorous effort yet to compare baseball players from various eras. And in the process, he has offered a tantalizing suggestion that steroids may not have affected the game as much as many people assume."--Christopher Shea, The Boston Globe

From the Inside Flap

"The way these things work, I don't suppose that Michael Schell's book will be the final word on ranking hitters. What I do know is that anybody who wants the final word will have to read this book first. And that will be the easy part."--Rob Neyer, ESPN.com

"Michael Schell has expanded on his original study of Baseball's All-Time Best Hitters to include all aspects of batting. He has written a well thought out and soundly based book, taking into account sophisticated time, age, park and positional adjustments to reach valid conclusions. There is plenty of math, but it is not necessary to understand the intricacies of the equations to appreciate the results."--Pete Palmer, co-editor of The Baseball Encyclopedia (with Gary Gillette) and co-author of The Hidden Game of Baseball (with John Thorn)

"Well-written and organized. Baseball's All-Time Best Sluggersstrikes the right balance between the statistical lingo of the professional statistician and the more familiar verbiage of baseball books."--Daniel Levitt, co-author, with Mark Armour, of Paths to Glory: How Great Baseball Teams Got That Way

"Some say it's impossible to compare hitters from different eras. In this book, Michael Schell meets that challenge head-on, using modern statistical methods to adjust for differences in eras, ballparks, and the level of competition. It may not settle every argument about the game's best all-time hitters, but it's sure to raise the quality of those arguments."--Tom Tippett, Principal Designer, Diamond Mind Baseball

"A significant contribution to the sabermetrics field. This book will be a fun read for any baseball fan."--Jim Albert, Bowling Green State University.

"Everyone knows that batting .300 in the major leagues is much harder than batting .300 in the minors. Although baseball rules and equipment change over time and parks differ, such differences in difficulty are ignored regularly by those who compare batters who played in different decades and/or in different stadiums. Michael Schell has painstakingly made the needed adjustments for eras, for park factors, for players' ages, and for variability in performances, so as to determine which batters really have been most dominant. There are many other treasures to be found here, and many methodological lessons to be learned and enjoyed by baseball enthusiasts and by those who think about player evaluations."--Carl Morris, Harvard University

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 6 customer reviews
Just a great approach with solid logic.
Mr. Schell has another book entitled "Baseball's All-Time Greatest HITTERS" in which he concludes that Tony Gwynn was the greatest HITTER of all-time.
J. Kyle Wellemeyer
The models that Schell develops in this book could be used to construct "statistical" answers to such questions.
Michael R. Chernick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Michael R. Chernick on February 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Schell is a professor of statistics at the University of North Carolina. I find that we have much in common. Like him, I work in biostatistics and also I am a great fan of baseball. An age old question in baseball is who is the greatest home run hitter of all time. Maturally Babe Ruth is usually the first name that comes to mind. At the time this book was written the use and affect of steroids on home run hitting was not as evident as it is today. The home run explosion of the 1990s with McGwire, Sosa and Bonds as the key sluggers was viewed as being based more on exceptional talent. We now know that all these players probably used steroids and steroid use may be a key factor in this performance.

Putting that aside Mike Schell uses classical statistical regression models to adjust home run total for effects that don't relate to talent. One of the most important factors is the nall park effect. Everyone knows that Boston's Fenway Park is far different in shape and home run potential than say Yankee Stadium or Dodger Stadium and before the idea of humidifying baseballs to compensate for the altitude Coors Stadium gave up the most home runs by far. Since ball players play half their games in their home park their home run total is naturally affected by the home field. So without adjustment for the home field it would be impossible to compare even contemporary sluggers among themselves. With DiMaggio being a right hand hitter playing in Yankee Stadium the ball park hurt his home run production. As a left handed pull hitter in Fenway park Williams did not reap the advantages of the left field Green Monster. Yankee Stadium favored left hand pull hitters thus helping hitters like Roger Maris but hurting the right hand power alley hitters like DiMaggio.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
One of the rules that I have lived by in my life is that time spent arguing baseball is by definition not wasted. Discussions over who was the best player ever are always subject to a myriad of scientific prejudices. It depends on your personal formulas in rating the relative values of the different kinds of hits, how you rate a walk and the value you associate with a stolen base. This book provides an enormous amount of analysis that assigns weights to those events and also incorporates other differences, such as the era of the player and the parks that he played in.

As all fans know, the home park makes an enormous difference in the batting statistics of a player. A right-handed power hitter has an advantage in Fenway Park, as does a left-handed batter in Yankee stadium. The Houston Astrodome is a major liability for all power hitters and Coors field is a friend to all. Schell incorporates these differences in his analysis and then uses a weighted formula that includes all possible offensive contributions to create a ranking of the top 100 batters of all time. The top five are in order: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, Barry Bonds and Lou Gehrig. He also computes clutch performance and adjusts for the effect of position on the field, including the designated hitter. While there are no surprises in the top ten, there was one omission that surprised me. All-time hits leader Pete Rose is not in the list and I didn't even find his name in the index of the book.

This is one of the best baseball books of all time, although you do need to know something about statistics to understand the presentations. There are many charts, tables and graphs that reinforce the points being made. From now on, this book is my reference bible when the discussion turns to determining who was the better player.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By RoyHobbs on May 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Schell states the problem, tells you how he's going to analyze the problem and then presents a great read. If you want the details, there included at the end of the book. Just a great approach with solid logic. Two additional points:

1. If you are playing Fantasy Baseball (especially "Old-Timer") then you need this book and the Bill James Historical Abstract. Any other book is a very distant 3rd.

2. For baseball statistics/methods, this book is the best book out there and is addictive. That's why I bought it and I've been spending hours reading this book.

It's an excellent reference and I can't find any fault with it.
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