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Solid Fool's Gold [Kindle Edition]

Bill James
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Since he first began publishing his Baseball Abstracts in the 1980s, Bill James has constantly challenged conventional wisdom by asking simple questions like, "Is that really true?" or "What if we looked at the question this way?" He has sparked a virtual revolution in the way the game of baseball is understood and played, from how players are evaluated or positioned to whether or not they should attempt to bunt or steal a base. In Solid Fool's Gold James continues his lifelong work with new analyses of:*Hot pitchers, clutch pitching, and "late career" players*The predictability of RBI*A better way to organize the minor leagues*The 33 best starting rotations and the worst teams of all time*The best pitching matchups of the 1980s (and 2010)*How the "Expansion Time Bomb" will affect the Hall of FameBut it is not just baseball that draws James inquisitive eye. He discusses the growing expectation for tips and decreasing effectiveness of advertising; his new method for measuring rainfall; the counterproductive use of physical stop lights and red-light cameras; and the statistical inefficiencies of the federal Transportion Security Administration.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bill James has been writing about baseball and compiling reference books about baseball since 1975. He is currently the Senior Baseball Operations Advisor for the Boston Red Sox.

Product Details

  • File Size: 7399 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: ACTA Sports (May 20, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0053PDVJO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #620,970 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Hodge-Podge May 9, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is tempting to write "If you like Bill James, you'll like this" and leave it at that, but that would be misleading and, well, kind of cheap.

Most readers will likely come at this from their interest in, and / or love of baseball. Much of this will satisfy them, assuming they like Bill James. However, there is a good deal here that isn't concerned with baseball in the least.

Now, most of us who love baseball and are interested in it also have other things on our minds from time to time and several chunks of this book address other things on James' mind. Your use for those essays will depend upon how wedded you are to an ostensible baseball book being ONLY about baseball topics. It may also depend upon what you think of James as a casual essayist.

All of these essays have appeared previously on James' website, which I do not subscribe to. Thus I had not read them before, save a big section of "Shakespeare and Verlander," which was run on Slate a few weeks ago. This one is actually a nice bridge piece, using these two rather disparate individuals to look at how societies work to foster some talents while short-changing others. It is a witty and thoughtful essay that won't do a thing for making your fantasy team better, but will give you a thing or two to think about, should you choose to do so.

And so on. I like James' conversational writing style, both on and off the field, as it were, and I was happy to digress into topics like the insidiousness of traffic light cameras, airport security and the power of ignorance as a force for knowledge. I also like James' analysis of the minor leagues, the future of the Hall of Fame viewed in light of expansion, and the best pitchers' duels of the 1980's.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Idiosyncratic--but still interesting April 6, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Odd book from Bill James, baseball guru and sabermetrician. This book? He says that (Page 8): "Some of these articles could be considered serious baseball research, . . .Some of them are not."

The very first essay is on an approach to predicting RBIs (runs batted in) from other batting data. Voila! A simple formula that appears to predict well. Torii Hunter's actual RBI total=90; his predicted total=90! Alex Rodriguez drove in more than expected; Ichiro less than expected. Fun reading, trying to make sense of baseball statistics.

Another section addresses what the best starting rotations of all time are from 1 through 33. Number 1? 1903 Giants: Joe McGinnity, Christy Mathewson, Luther Taylor, and Hooks Wiltse. Number 33? 2002 Atlanta Braves: Greg Maddux, Kevin Millwood, Tom Glavine, and Damian Moss.

And now for something completely different. James' ruminations on a cousin--Supreme Court Justice James McReynolds--racist and anti-Semite (he would not shake hands with Louis Brandeis, for example). Interesting reflections, including how old Negro League legend Buck O'Neil might interact with Justice McReynolds.

A lot of fun, but not much focus. I guess that when you've made the big time, you are allowed some openness for an idiosyncratic book!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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I've been reading Bill James' material since "The Baseball Abstract" of the early '80s, and I still peruse my old copies every winter when I'm missing the baseball season. I bought this book simply because it was by Bill James, and I don't want to miss anything he does, even if this includes a lot of reprints of stuff he's done online.

It's a disappointment for the high bar set by Bill James, though it's still entertaining. It's pretty much all reprints of material he had published elsewhere (with some updates), and so you lose some of the charm of reading his revelations and musings for the first time.

The pieces about starting pitchers, losing teams, and the impact of baseball's expansionary era on the Hall of Fame are vintage James research -- microscopically detailed looks at data over decades. But you also feel a bit of "what's the point?" in the pitchers' analysis, and there are some logical flaws in the HoF piece. And there are typos throughout the book, which is a surprise for something that you wouldn't think had to be produced on a tight timetable.

Anyway, it's a decent addition to a baseball library, but it's not a "must have" book.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars James Should Hang It Up April 24, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Growing up with Bill James' original abstracts in the 1980s, I couldn't wait for his newest books to come out each spring. Then he stopped writing the abstracts annually, and I searched for some other tome to fill the void. When Baseball Prospectus finally started being available to mainstream America I found my replacement for the Abstracts, but the memory of Bill James' solid run of books kept me yearning for the sporadic efforts that would come out every so often.

Sadly, after reading this effort, I realize that Bill James is no longer worth my dime. This book has two fantastic articles by James. Two. These two articles harken back to the days of yesteryear when everything he wrote seemed to be worth my consideration. This book also has articles on traffic lights, a poem comparing Wiki Leaks to Rickie Weeks (3 pages are devoted to this one-stanza, four line poem), and a piece attempting to determine if TSA is worth the effort.

I don't recommend this book to anyone, but wish fervently that Mr. James stop putting out books like this. Stick to baseball please!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars James' work is to be savored like a fine wine
Having been an avid read of James' Baseball Abstracts in the 1980s, I have forgotten what a terrific writer he really is. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Edward Kless
4.0 out of 5 stars a pretty interesting book if you like wrapping your head around ...
a pretty interesting book if you like wrapping your head around numbers. Probably not a good book for everyone, but he gives insights into an analytical mind interested in mining... Read more
Published 2 months ago by DR
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Fools Gold
Surprising in that it shows Bill James noodling around with ideas some cogent; some arcane
Would not think a true baseball fan of James will be impressed if having already... Read more
Published 11 months ago by bob kerico
3.0 out of 5 stars Thinking Outside the (Batter's) Box
Bill James made his reputation challenging the conventional wisdom behind Major League Baseball through his statistical analyses of the sport and its players, sabremetrics. Read more
Published on March 4, 2013 by Drew Shaw
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I had never read Bill James before but was enthusiastic to hear from the man who basically changed the way the game of baseball is being analyzed. Read more
Published on June 26, 2011 by Firat Inceoglu
2.0 out of 5 stars Too Much Politics
As a geeky teenager in early 80s, I stumbled upon Bill James Baseball Abstract in the book store. I was enthralled. It changed my life, well ... Read more
Published on April 24, 2011 by W. Doran
3.0 out of 5 stars Mash Up
I love reading Bill James's thoughts on baseball. Some of these essays represent James at his best ("Random vs Responsive Pitching Performance by Starting Pitchers,"... Read more
Published on April 21, 2011 by J. Runde
2.0 out of 5 stars Half good half eh
Half this book was what I expected from the much respected Bill James; great baseball analysis. The other half was really out of place and non-interesting commentary on random... Read more
Published on April 16, 2011 by NSR
5.0 out of 5 stars Must-have artifact
Full disclosure: I am a colleague and friend of Bill James and the people at Acta who produced this book.

The book is drawn from essays published at Bill's website. Read more
Published on April 15, 2011 by JagBag
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