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on December 7, 2012
This year's is another must-have for the more-than-casual baseball fan.

All of the articles are well written and informative, and run the gamut from math-oriented to history. There is the usual smart-aleck year-in-review, a great look at the 2012 A's which highlights the touch of Billy Beane, a (necessarily) sad article about the collapse of the Red Sox and a GM in-a-box of the White Sox' Kenny Williams, the same style as Bill James used in his book on managers.

You will also find an assessment of Satchel Paige's career, including MLE's for his last years in pro ball when he was (unfairly as the numbers indicate) stuck in the minors. Talk about a man poorly served by MLB . . . There's an interesting article on the effects of "Tommy John" surgery (I think Tommy should be in the Hall for this alone - the long career is a bonus!) on pitchers, and a lengthy one on Horace Stoneman's (when was the last time his name came up?)contribution to the game. How about an analysis of umpire's strike zones? Great!

There are so many articles, all of which I found interesting and having merit, that I must stress this is the tip of the iceberg.

The plethora of authors keeps things moving, and leads to at least one interesting difference of opinion: in the Tommy John surgery article the author concludes the Nationals were right in the Strasburg decision, while in the ethics article the author is highly critical of it. This gives you something to think about, and isn't that what we want from a baseball book?

Really, the complaint that I have is that I could easily justify paying more for an even longer book (maybe I am in a minority as things do need to be consumable to the masses); for example articles on every team like the ones on the A's and Red Sox.

That's the problem: no matter how much is here, I want more. Hey, if that's the complaint, they are doing great. I love it and I believe you will too. If you don't, it will give you something to think and argue about, and that works too! Great job, Hardball Times!
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on December 12, 2012
This is my video review of The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2013. If you don't like my voice, or can't watch video at work, I've summarized it here in the text.

This year, Hardball Times has teamed up with the best writers from FanGraphs for a double-play of analysis. The combo works.

Best improvement: The Word Series is in the annual. For the past few years, the Annual only covered the regular season (though you could download bonus post-season content). Come on, guys, some of us don't even pay attention until October! This year there's a full recap of the playoffs and the World Series. Good call, THT!

All right, favorite articles: First is easily Matt Swartz's follow-up to his great piece last year on free agents, "Bargain Hunting in the Free Agent Market." Matt made a convincing case last year that teams keeping players get better deals than teams acquiring players, likely due to information asymmetry (teams know the value of their own free agents better). This year, he looks back at the best free-agent bargains and suggests a way for teams to beat that asymmetry, particularly for pitchers, by focusing on DIPS.

Other favorites this year: "The Curious Case of the Washington Nationals," in which business and sports-management grad and college students compete to see who can best run the Nats at the trade deadline. "Ethics and Major League Baseball" is an engrossing piece that confronts a hard truth about baseball and society: Being an "ethical" baseball player means something different in each era. And next is a phenomenon about which I was totally ignorant--no, not ethics, I'm talking about the "The Stanford Swing," which gets an in-depth analysis to decide whether it's real or another baseball myth. Perennial funny-guy Craig Calcaterra's "The Year in Frivolity" usually makes me smile, but his running gag about Chipper Jones retiring "to spend more time with his knees" made me laugh so hard I snorted my morning coffee.

I also enjoyed the analysis of which umpires call the most strikes in "Examining Umpire Strike Zones." I'm intrigued by the idea (raised by another reviewer) of examining the same question with Pitch F/X, but that would be impossible for this piece because it stretches back before the invention of Pitch F/X. And the "GM In a Box" feature is back, and nice, but this year it's not about Theo Epstein. That's unfair, but there it is. Still, Kenny Williams was a good choice to put under the microscope, and I feel like I know him well enough now to fake my way through his next holiday party.

A few words about format: The new, smaller trim-size is more portable (easy to read on the train). The sidebars from last year are gone--I was a fan of those, but then I am the sort of person who reads academic papers for their footnotes. And the appendix of stats has been replaced by more articles; this is a good call, although the one thing I miss is the "quirky" stats. Here's hoping they return next year.

Finally, I have to say that I miss "Tuck Sez." Those comics always made me smile. Tuck, if you're reading this, come back to work!
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on December 30, 2012
Actually, the headline sums up my reaction. More than its predecessors, the 2013 Annual makes some of the supposedly difficult SABRmetrics accessible, enlightening, and fun.
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on December 20, 2012
Very enjoyable, liked the reviews and articles. These guys know what they're talking about and would buy a preseason book if they made one. This made me visit their website at least once a day now.
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on May 31, 2013
Well balanced and up to date. Whether your interests are on the personal side of baseball, the performance or in evaluating team management, this is invaluable.
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on February 9, 2013
Great reading for the off season. Items on things not always considered as well as plain old good reading. Really enjoyed it and always order it.
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on February 17, 2013
Good read. Lots of case studies about relevant contemporary topics in baseball. Provides an interesting prospective about the upcoming year.
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on December 9, 2012
This is the worst HBT since they started publishing in 2006. I finished with it in 20 minutes.

No stats, a trend started last year, and they got rid of Dewans team fielding stars this year.

The TJ Surgery article was mildly interesting albeit short , and was the best one IMO

I was interested in reading the article on umpires strike zones and was disappointed it was based on BB and SO and not Pitch F/X. The disappointment may have influenced my opinion of other articles.

The Bargain Hunting for Free Agents had promise but the data used in the analysis was limited to 2007-2011 and did not include the 2012 contracts. Still worth a read though.

Nothing else worked for me, but maybe I will go through it again later with lower expectations and see if it gets any better for me.

Still worth buying, but don't expect much.
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on February 25, 2014
This book is certainly a resource that I would recommend to baseball fans, but I feel that it lacks the depth of other publications such as Baseball Prospectus. It certainly has interesting statistics and it is chock full of information, but there is a certain element that I can't quite put my finger on that makes me prefer BP to this book.
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on December 29, 2012
Not very good. Very lightweight articles on fairly obscure topics. Be sure to read the table of contents before purchasing (I did not).
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