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The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed Paperback – February 26, 2008
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This book was absolutely fantastic and one that I would highly recommend to anyone that is either a fan of the game or loves statistics. Because the subject of the book is baseball, the regression analysis and formulas presented seem to flow naturally. The chapters are perfectly sized analysis in themselves that each make for an evening sit-down.
With chapters like "The Legendary Power of the On-Deck Hitter", "The Evolution of Baseball Talent", and "Scouts vs. Stat-Head" you know that you have something interesting in your hands. J.C. does a masterful job of laying statistical data to support his conclusions without losing the reader.
My personal favorite chapter, "The Extinct Left-Handed Catcher," looks at why there is no such thing as a left-handed catcher in baseball. J.C. looks for performance reasons and ultimately concludes "the benefits of using right-handed catchers are small, maybe the costs will yield some answers." These costs ultimately show their solution in the very simple revelation: "The biggest reason there is no left-handed catchers is natural selection. Catchers need good throwing arms. If you have a kid on your baseball team who is left-handed and has a strong arm, what are you going to do with him?" Any baseball person can easily answer this, he's going to pitch!
The entire book was filled with revelations similar to this! Every chapter brought statistical analysis into the equation to definitively prove relationships in baseball. Is any of this going to make me a better baseball player, coach, or fan? Probably not, but for anyone that has a passion for the sport I'm sure they will feverously consume this book with the same passion. It's obvious that J.C. also shares that passion and it carries through this work.
You can read my other reviews on my blog: [...]
As a final note, he quotes heavily from the book Moneyball, and I would recommend reading that book first before this one. (I did not)
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).