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Percentage Baseball Paperback – March 17, 2003
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Earnshaw Cook knows more about baseball than anyone else in the world... baseball officials hesitate to consider his findings, and for a very good reason: if he is right, they have been playing the game all wrong for years.(Frank Deford, Sports Illustrated)
The most monumental, meticulous, and controversial analysis of baseball in the history of the national game...(Baltimore Evening Sun)
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Top Customer Reviews
Cook was a minor sensation in his time, after Franklin DeFord of Sports Illustrated gave him some publicity. Indeed, Cook was very close to a consulting deal with the then-Kansas City Athletics, but it fell through; too bad, as baseball history might have been very different otherwise. (Ironically, it was the Athletics, only now removed to Oakland and under new ownership and management, that first showed the practical uses of Cook's kind of analytic tools, much later to be called "Moneyball".)
Regrettably, Cook was his own worst enemy, being somewhat abrasive and testy when anyone didn't agree with him. Moreover, his writing style, as he himself readily concedes in the book, is not exactly pellucid, which kept his work from easy access by the everyday fan. But it's by no means particularly difficult material, and is eminently rewarding reading.
Although I'm not a statistician, after an additional four and a half decades of watching baseball, my sense is that Cook was right regarding all these strategies. I've never understood why a team will use the sacrifice (except when an extremely weak-hitting pitcher is up to bat), when it will almost certainly cost an out and will only advance a runner one base (when it works, which isn't always). Similarly, while the intentional walk occasionally works (especially when the next batter grounds into a double play), it puts an additional runner on base, and time and again I've seen that runner score. On the other hand, the hit-and-run play, by getting an infielder out of position, opens up a hole and, moreover, when executed properly, almost always gives the baserunner an extra base. (Plus, most of the time it eliminates the double play on a ground ball.) It is interesting that this strategy, which was common in the 1970s, has all but gone by the wayside.Read more ›