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The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers: An Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers, and Pitches Paperback – June 15, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; First Edition edition (June 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743261585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743261586
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,057,236 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bill James made his mark in the 1970s and 1980s with his Baseball Abstracts. He has been tearing down preconceived notions about America's national pastime ever since. He is currently the Senior Advisor on Baseball Operations for the Boston Red Sox. James lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife, Susan McCarthy, and three children.

Rob Neyer has written about baseball for since 1996 and appears regularly on ESPNews. He has written four baseball books, including The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers (with Bill James) and Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Lineups. His website,, contains additional material related to this and his other books.

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Customer Reviews

It's all very well organized.
Mark Cannon
The bulk of the book I haven't read yet, but have used if some for reference, the majority of the pages (about 500) are the Pitcher Census.
T. Chamberlin
Rob Neyer is a talented writer but basically interchangeable with 1,000 other journalists.
K. Graham

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Mark on June 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
First of all, the price is definitely right. There is a lot of valuable information in this book and it's fairly inexpensive.
The first section of the book consists of some interesting biographies of some very good pre-war pitchers that baseball fans should probably know more about, as well as some lists of who threw the best types of each pitch and definitions of different pitches. Best pitch I've ever seen? Has to be Mariano Rivera's cutter.
The second section is a census of pitchers with 1000 IP or 400 games, showing what pitches they threw. This section can get a bit dry at times. It is interesting to see, in certain cases, how pitchers threw differently pitches at different times in their careers.
The final section is a collection miscellaneous Jamesian-style essays that we know and love. There are some trivialities, such as the essay on "unique records" (i.e. only one pitcher has ever gone 24-5) but I enjoyed this section. James also tries to shoot down pitcher abuse statistics, but I didn't find this very compelling since the data set seemed too small and had the potential of serious biases (as mentioned in the follow-up article).
My one major criticism about this book is that a lot of the information in the pitcher's census part (which comprises at least 2/3 of the book) is more useful from a historical records point of view rather than an interesting read. It's an incredible research job, no question, but reading that some pitcher in the 1920s threw "1. Fastball 2. Nickel Curve" does not do it for me.
I would definitely recommend this book overall though. I'm sure I'll be dipping in and out of it for most of the summer. It's something you can come back to again and again, not something that you are necessarily going to read cover to cover. The essays are very good as always and the book has a "replacement-level" price and "all-star" (though not "hall-of-fame", to be sure) content :)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mark Cannon on September 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
I judge a book not by what it doesn't have, but what it DOES have. And this book has all the things you'd expect in another great book from Bill James or Rob Neyer.

It has information you can't find anywhere else and probably never thought you could. Where else could you find accounts of exactly HOW all these pitchers pitched, all in one volume? It's the result of a decade of research by the two authors and their assistants.

In additional to the basic information, there are the usual essays, plus the usual Bill James digressions and asides. It's all very well organized. There's no trouble knowing where to find what you want.

And, as usual, it makes you THINK, and it makes you realize things that are relevant not just to baseball but to everything. One of the opening chapters focuses on how much the subject depends on linguistics and vocabulary, and how we might think a source tells us something but it doesn't really, because we don't understand the meanings of the words and phrases that are being used. Usually this is because the language has evolved over time, but sometimes it's because the language is used arbitrarily or sloppily. This is true about "knuckleballs" and "sliders" and "curves." But we readily realize that it can apply to anything.

The introductory chapter includes some duelling between the authors about things, some of which would seem to be "facts" but which are hard to pin down. It's interesting to see how much remains debatable about such a seemingly straightforward subject, even after years of research, and how much it will forever be arguable.

Especially interesting is the material about how the mechanics and strategy of pitching have evolved over the years, and WHY.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By K. Tarvin on February 11, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The kindle version is missing a majority of the "Pitcher's Census" portion of the book. It stops at the "B's". Calling Amazon support got it refunded, but the support rep didn't sound as if this issue would be resolved.

So basically, don't buy the kindle version. You wouldn't buy a real book with pages missing, would you?
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Richard L. Goldfarb on February 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" has this to say about the Earth: Harmless

But don't worry, the next edition will include much more information. Earth will be listed as "Mostly Harmless".

In "The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers", you will learn about Jack Morris that he threw a fastball and a slider, added a change in 1982 and dropped the change for a forkball "after 1982". And that in 1982 someone said his fastball was clocked at 94 mph. And that's it. The words "split-finger" don't appear, despite a reference on p.50 to Roger Craig teaching the pitch to "most everybody on the Tigers' staff." One guy he taught it to won 254 games and pitched until 1994, but you'd have to make the connection yourself. Mostly harmless, indeed.

A lot of the modern stuff is merely rehashes of information in annually produced "Scouting Notebooks", with idiosyncratic quotes like the only quote about Denny McLain, which comes from Ted Williams who never faced him and managed him when he was a wreck of his former self.

These guys are great writers. I've been reading James for 22 years and Neyer as long as he's been writing. Nearly every one of their other books lies dog-eared and broken-backed in my bathroom from countless re-readings. But the data in this book would have been better left to a website where it could be updated and corrected as time went by, and there could have been more articles on near-great pitchers and more description of how pitches were thrown and developed, as well as the authors' thoughts about the pitchers, rather than just "Fastball Slider Curve".

But really, if Neyer feels good about writing a book "describing" Kaz Sasaki's pitches without mentioning that he called his splitter "the fang", well, that's his choice.
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