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The Hidden Game of Baseball Paperback – March 19, 1985


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; Rev. and updated edition (March 19, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385182848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385182843
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,479,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mark Cannon on December 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was great for its time, and it's still very interesting and well worth a look. It was probably the first such comprehensive effort to evaluate and rank the players of all time using "sabermetrics," and for some years it remained the main such source and the main reference point for future efforts. I guess the high current prices for the book reflect this.

The methods have basic flaws, which have since been widely pointed out and (I believe) widely acknowledged. For example, the basic unit of measurement is "Linear Weights," in which each accomplishment, whether it be a single, home run, putout, assist, or anything else, is given a "weight," and then they are added together, and the total is normalized. But, as Bill James pointed out with an elegance that's hard to top, the method was doomed to be painfully limited, because "baseball offense isn't linear; it's geometric" -- meaning that the elements of offense combine in a way that goes beyond simply adding them together, plus that each event has an impact on the likelihood of the next event.

But the main flaw is that being "average" is used as the center for everything. Everyone is scored according to how far above or below average he is. The problem is that players who are "average" are assumed to have no value, and are given zero; players who are calculated to be below average are given "negative value." So, if someone has a long and successful career but is found to be below average (example: Bobby Richardson), he winds up with "negative value," which is as though he's worse than nothing, worse than someone who plays just a couple of innings and gets released. Obviously, this is wrong, even if he truly was below average (which Richardson wasn't).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By LF on October 12, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overall, this is a valuable book to a baseball historian. I learned what the actual lefty righty variations are in batting averages, homers, and walks. In other words, how lefty pitching affects lefty hitting, etc. And I learned how people hit when they have worked themselves into different ball-strike counts. The best batting averages come at the count of 3-1. There is a lot of emphasis on fielding range as measured by how many balls the fielders managed to get to.
In such a comprehensive book you want to believe everything in it and accept it as some kind of Bible. But you'd better not. The book has a few flaws in it.
For example, it ranks Sandy Koufax as a non-entity. While admitting that his pitching was good, it rips him to shreds because he couldn't hit, and wasn't a great fielder either. My reaction is so what if he couldn't hit. And as for his fielding, first of all, when you strike out so many hitters you don't get as many chances to field the ball, and second of all, pitchers handle so few batted balls to begin with that the sampling isn't that significant. If your system ends up saying Koufax was nothing, there is something wrong with your system. Koufax was among the elite of baseball history. I rank him as the second best pitcher who ever lived, behind Walter Johnson. He was God on the mound, and you don't just brush that off. He was more devastating than Randy Johnson. He had the best curve ball I've ever seen. If you went against him, you lost. The SF Giants didn't want to match Marichal against Koufax. Why waste Marichal on an automatic loss. Believe me, they would have matched Marichal against anyone else. To put my comments in perspective, I was never a Dodger fan.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By "beezle76" on April 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
This updated version of The Hidden Game of Baseball is a great addition to any baseball library, whether the fan be of the casual variety or the die-hard. It introduces the reader to a new and unique way of rating the players of today and yesterday and can even be used to compare players from different eras to determine who really was the best: Mark McGwire or Babe Ruth? A must read! Highly recommended!
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By dr on May 27, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nice academic book, great concepts, great discussion, this book is great, great analysis, five stars, moneyball concepts, new paradigms for baseball.
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