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The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed Hardcover – March 15, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Based on seven years of reporting from over a dozen countries, writer Tom Wainwright takes you on an extraordinary journey into the business of being a drug lord. Learn more.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Subjecting recent baseball debates to plentiful regression analyses, Kennesaw State economist Bradbury gamely fuses our national pastime and the "dismal science" somewhat in the spirit of Steven Levitt (Freakonomics), Michael Lewis (Moneyball) and Bill James (Baseball Between the Numbers). Like the latter, Bradbury offers a front-office perspective on labor (that's the players), salaries, managerial influence, steroids, market size and the like. Like a scrappy role player, Bradbury's enthusiasm is evident (he's a Braves supporter); he offers a chapter on managers' ability to work the umps ("it appears that most managers don't seem to have any real impact in arguing balls and strikes") and investigates top pitching coach Leo Mazzone's contributions. A blogger at his Web site sabernomics.com (a play on the acronym SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research), Bradbury, while not forging new ground, shines in the closing chapters, in which he convincingly bucks the conventional wisdom that Major League Baseball behaves like a monopoly. While the numbers crunched are more of the Financial Times than the box score kind, the issues the book deals with are those discussed in many a barroom. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Bradbury would be the first guy to tell you that baseball fans are the most statistically minded sports fans out there. And he should know: he is an economics professor and a baseball addict (and a popular blogger, too). Here, he tackles some of the game's most cherished truisms and controversies. Is being left-handed really a disadvantage for a catcher? What role, really, do steroids play in being a home-run king? (You may be surprised at the answer.) How can we effectively evaluate a player's value to his team? Ball fans may be shocked at how relevant economics is to their favorite game, and economists may find an exciting new application for their specialty. Like John Allen Paulos, author of such "popular math" books as A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper (1995), Bradbury writes with a smooth, accessible style and makes the tricky game of numbers seem both straightforward and exciting. Like Bill James' Abstracts (2003), this volume could become essential reading for baseball fans. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (March 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525949933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525949930
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,862,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Economist J.C. Bradbury is Professor and Department Chair in the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management at Kennesaw State University in metropolitan Atlanta. From 2004-2010 he operated the baseball economics blog Sabernomics.com. He is the author of two books, The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed (2007) and Hot Stove Economics: Understanding Baseball's Second Season (2010). He has contributed numerous academic articles to the fields of economics and sport science (in journals such as Economic Inquiry, Journal of Sports Economics, Journal of Sports Sciences, and Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research) and is a frequent commentator on sports economics issues (in outlets such as The New York Times, ESPN Magazine, and Fox Business Network). He lives in Marietta, Georgia with his wife and two daughters, and is a life-long Braves fan.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bradbury is an associate professor of Economics. He wrote this book with an economists' viewpoint on baseball. He may have gone too in-depths in economics for some people's taste, but being an economics major in college, I enjoyed it and re-learned a few concepts. He covers some topics that have were previously discussed by folks like Bill James, Voros McCracken, Michael Lewis and Jay Gould (and gives them due credit). Topics that were new to me that I found interesting included the effect of "protection" by the on-deck hitter, managers lobbying for balls and strikes, and the baseball monopoly.

I enjoyed this book and I recommend it to baseball fans that are not afraid of charts, numbers and economic concepts. I would be the first in line to buy his second book if Bradbury expands his economic analysis and writing into other sports.
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Format: Hardcover
Very accessible, very interesting look at baseball. Bradbury tackles both high-profile issues in baseball (steroids, spending disparity amongst teams) as well as ideas you might not have even considered. (What can we learn from trends in hit batsmen?) I recommend this book to baseball fans with an interest in learning more about the inner-workings of the game as well as economists with even a passing interest in the sport.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I work with economic theorists all the time, but I am not going to tell you this is a good book. Pieces of it are. Bradbury dwells on the steriods issue, prattling on and on about the lack of evidence. Yet, no where does he accept the challenge of studying the relative performances of the individuals to determine the effect of steriods. Rather, he just says it has never been proven. He even blurs the distinction of taking steriods for performance reasons vs. health reasons (and he never considers the differences in the steriods themselves!)

Some of his economic observations are interesting, those where he really studies the game and statistics. I, for one, can find other, more rewarding but boring books to give me a Saturday afternoon snooze. And Bradbury should stick to his statistical analysis of the game (where he excels), not the policy points (where he only debates under the ruse of economic theories).
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Format: Hardcover
This quote starts chapter 13, and applies to this book as well. The Baseball Economist holds its own and then some when compared to most sabermetric stats books out there. It contains an ecletic but interesting collection of subjects like Freakanomics, presented within a baseball/economic context like MoneyBall. This isn't a book specifically about the economics of baseball, it is more about how the author applies economic methods to answer certain baseball related questions.

That sounds kind of dry, but the author is a better writer than I am, so the book is quite interesting. The first section I found particularly convincing, as it applies principles of economics to identifying why the DH promotes more hit batsmen, why there are almost no lefty catchers, and the over-ratedness of the protection afforded by the on deck hitter. Latter chapters discuss how baseball differs from a true monopoly, and how this has worked to the benefit of the fans.

In the Epilogue, the author writes that he considered calling this book, "An Economist Ruins Baseball", which I'm glad he didn't. That would have done a disservice to this book. Very interesting book to the general baseball fan, and not just a number cruncher book. Probably the best baseball book I have read since MoneyBall.
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Format: Hardcover
Economics is not just the study of money. The field has developed all kinds of analytical tools for looking beyond the obvious statistics to find underlying traits, causes, or simply new unknown information.

In this book Dr. Bradbury a professor of economics and a baseball fan looks at baseball through the eyes and science of economics. The result is some surprising findings in all kinds of areas such as the use of steroids, scouting practices, establishing a real value (as opposed to salaries) for players, why are there no left handed catchers, does location in a big city or small city make any difference.

To the baseball fan, the results of his analysis are going to be very interesting. To the more statistical minded, the approach to solving different kinds of problems is somethat could be used in a wide variety of situations where economics theory could provide insight not otherwise visible.

All in all, an easy to read book that brings economics theories to light with clarity and understanding.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is good at raising interesting questions and providing an analytical viewpoint. It suffers from the two main limitations of classical economics.

First, any analysis of a complex system with many interdependent variables requires making many assumptions. There is simply not enough data to control for everything. The author gets credit for effort, but almost every conclusion he draws could be seriously argued the other way.

Second, humans are not purely economic creatures. Sure, we respond to incentives, but we also behave irrationally. We get emotionally attached to teams and players, we live by superstitions, we are convinced that Brand X is better simply because we saw more ads for it. This book's old-style economic vantage point is ripe for challenge. Every conclusion here deserves a huge chunk of salt.

I am especially troubled about the author's treating of baseball like a physical commodity. Baseball is not a widget, it is entertainment. A more modern treatment would compare baseball to the music business or the movies, where network effects, brand, costless replication, venue, and fashion are the main drivers, not old-fashioned supply and demand for a limited product. There's another, better, book waiting to be written here by some other author whose specialty is the economics of modern media.

The book could be written better. In several places the logical introduction of ideas is misarranged, and in others the dryness parches the throat. Still, if you like baseball and your team has got lame announcers like most do, this book is worth a read. (If you live in San Francisco with the best play-by-play and color announcers in the business, then might as well save this book for the off-season.)
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