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The Hidden Game of Baseball: A Revolutionary Approach to Baseball and Its Statistics Hardcover – April, 1984

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 419 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (April 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038518283X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385182836
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,119,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This statistical treatise is one of the best early books on the statistical analysis of baseball - despite some time-worn flaws. Authors Rod Thorn and Pete Palmer wrote this book in 1983, as the home computer was coming in, and following on the heels of statistical guru Bill James. Unlike most sportswriters and ice-age baseball men, the authors understood why on-base-percentage and slugging percentage are keys while batting average means little. The authors examine the statistics of several key players, and show us what to look for. I mention flaws because their linear weights system of measuring players is rather flawed - Roy Smalley Jr. was NOT one of the top 100 players of all time. Despite some flaws in methodology, the authors were on the right track, and improved with their TOTAL BASEBALL books that followed.

Readers of this book should also look at just about anything written by Bill James.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Cannon on December 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book was great for its time, and it's still very interesting and well worth a look. Contrary to what is said in another review, this book didn't "start" anything, and Bill James came first. But 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.

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 "below average" are given negative value. So, if a player has a long and successful career but is found to be "below average" by the method (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 he wasn't).
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael on August 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This was probably the first book to deal with Baseball from an anlytical standpoint and challenge "the book" (Ie., accepted strategies in MLB) and ask do the strategies managers use really work? It inspired the now famous Bill James and others to start their analytical inquiry into baseball. While not as humorous as Bill James work, it was the book that started the stathead phenomenon. Well worth reading if you're not already a stathead.
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