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The Bill James Gold Mine 2009 Paperback – March 17, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Baseball's most celebrated scholar. --USA Today<br /><br />Bill James is quite certainly the most influential baseball writer of the twentieth century; it's not even close. --Alan Schwarz, The New York Times<br /><br />Mr. James, the statistical oracle. --The Wall Street Journal

Bill James is quite certainly the most influential baseball writer of the twentieth century; it's not even close. --Alan Schwarz, The New York Times

Baseball's most celebrated scholar. --USA Today

About the Author

Bill James made his mark in the 1970s and 1980s with his mind-blowing Baseball Abstracts. He has been tearing down preconceived notions about America's national pastime ever since. He is currently the Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox.
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Product Details

  • Series: Bill James Gold Mine
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: ACTA Publications (March 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879463694
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879463694
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,979,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Reviewing the book for what it is and not what some people would prefer it to be (i.e., a revival of the Abstract): it's hand's-down a 5-star book.

Like last year's model, this year the book contains data from the Bill James Online site and nuggets of analysis provided by Bill and astute readers. The book also has an end-chapter of dialogue lifted from the Ask Bill section of the website:

- On why Bonds wasn't on a major league team: "He has one-dimensional skills and a poor reputation as a teammate."
- On why Bonds wasn't on a major league team even though he had the best OPS+ the previous year: "Somebody asked me why he wasn't in the majors and I gave an honest answer. It's not my fault the man can't run, field, throw, or get along with people."
- On giving baseball players a hard time for foot-in-mouth disease: "I am reluctant to place onto baseball players a burden that we do not place on ourselves. And yes, baseball players sometimes say stupid [stuff] because they don't realize the world didn't start the day they were born, but then, so do I, I suspect. I think everybody does."

The meat of the book, though, for most readers, will be the essays. What's special about the essays, and what makes the book a must-have, is that they are truly essays that you wouldn't find anywhere else -- not just because they have Bill's voice and clarity, but because they have Bill's unique perspective. Simply put, things often occur to him that don't occur to other analysts, and he has a talent for taking a slightly idiosyncratic perspective and crafting it until it applies to a broader sabermetric and historical appreciation (and application).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nothing can duplicate the thrill of a baseball fan stumbling on the "Bill James Baseball Abstract" back in the early 1980s. Who knew that Steve Garvey wasn't really such a good hitter? That Larry Bowa's defense wasn't all that good? That Billy Martin had probably slagged some young arms with all those complete games? Reading the "Abstract" in those days made you feel that you knew things that most other fans - and sportswriters and broadcasters - didn't. Plus James wrote in a refreshingly irreverent style. Of course, these days with a very crowded field of sabermetricians covering every aspect of the game, it's way too much to ask James to come up with the same kind of fresh insights he made his reputation on almost 30 years ago. And with the dozens - hundreds? - of web sites out there filled with snarky commentary, his style is no longer fresh. So, although this book is a decent read, it has no chance of being as enjoyable or eye-opening as the old "Abstracts."

The book consists of entries on every major league team with about 15 essays interspersed among them. The essays appear to be reprinted from his web site (to which I don't subscribe). The team entries are not systematic appraisals of the past year or forecasts of the coming year, but consist of statistics - some standard, some not - and "nuggets" that provide facts about players on the team. The nuggets were apparently gathered by James's staff and edited by him. The nuggets are quite a mixed bag. It's not even clear if many of them are meant to be taken seriously. For instance, what are we to make of the fact that the A's Brad Ziegler "induced 20 ground-ball double plays in only 59.2 innings, for a rate of 3.0 per nine innings, a full 50% more than any other pitcher who threw at least 50 innings.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Bill James Gold Mine returned here back for its second year of publication. Feelings of ambivalence returned as well.

In 2008, James and John Dewan started a Web site called billjamesonline.com. It was designed for avid baseball fans, filled with essays and information, polls and statistics. There was also a price tag attached. Last year's book was something of an ad for the Web site, which was still developing.

A year later, the authors tried again. If you read last year's edition, you'd recognize this year's effort.

The format is quite similar. Each team gets a chapter, containing some basic information about the starters and team, and then filled out with little facts called "nuggets" for the purpose of sticking to the gold mine theme. In the New York Mets' case, the authors (and there are several of them, although all but James are uncredited) points how out Jose Reyes led all major league batters in leading off innings, how Johan Santana pitched very well against very good teams, and how Luis Castillo was baseball's most patient hitter. This comes with some charts.

The format is interrupted by essays by James on a variety of subjects. The topics usually aren't exactly topical but they are frequently very interesting. James comes up with a way to grade catchers, measure pitch load, see if Gold Glovers are better hitters than their contemporaries, etc. My favorite this year was sparked by a letter from a reader on the subject of Tim Johnson, the Blue Jays manager who was fired for lying to his team about his life experiences and essentially blackballed from baseball. James gets into related issues about forgiveness, human nature and compassion, and will certainly make you do some thinking.
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