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Baseball Hacks: Tips & Tools for Analyzing and Winning with Statistics Paperback – February 10, 2006

4.1 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Tips & Tools for Analyzing and Winning with Statistics

About the Author

Joseph Adler has years of experience working with lots of popular data mining packages, including databases (including Oracle, PostgreSQL, and MS Access), statistical analysis tools (SAS, SPSS, S-Plus, and R), and data mining tools (SAS Enterprise Miner, Insightful Miner, Oracle Data Mining, Weka, and SPSS Clementine). He is currently leading a project at Verisign to pick a data mining package for enterprise deployment.

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Product Details

  • Series: Hacks
  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (February 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596009429
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596009427
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #761,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Warren Kelly VINE VOICE on April 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you've ever been involved in a fantasy baseball league and gotten killed by people who seem to have time to do nothing but research obscure baseball players, Baseball Hacks is the book for you. In this book, Joseph Adler takes his love of baseball and combines it with an understanding of databases and data-mining technology to help fantasy-sports fanatics and baseball statistic junkies get their regular fix of the numbers that drive America's Game.

The great thing about this book is that the software used is all open source. Adler includes Access and Excel hacks for those who have Office at home or at work, but the main hacks in the book involve MySQL for database queries and R for graphic statistical analysis. I've used MySQL before, but R was new for me, and I really enjoyed using the program.

Adler also uses Perl. A lot of Perl. But he doesn't expect the reader to be Perl programmers; he shows how the program was written, and what everything does. More importantly, he includes the whole script so that it's a simple matter of copying, and making modifications if needed. He even shows how to modify the scripts.

Downloading a beginning stat database is as easy as 1-2-3. Hack 25 tells you how to spider websites for statistical data - including getting data from MLB.com. Detailed instructions on working with R are included in section 4 (hacks 31-39). Adler even includes formulas for calculating the more arcane statistics (at least to non-sports people like me) such as OPS (on-base plus slugging average) and ISO (isolated power - a measure of how well a player hits the ball).

It's obvious that Baseball Hacks is a book designed for fantasy sports fanatics.
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Format: Paperback
I recently purchased this book hoping to be able to apply some of my recent work-related statistics training to baseball stats. It promises step-by-step instructions that 'anyone' can follow. While the instructions are step-by-step, if you have no computer experience outside of Windows (like me) you will almost certainly be frustrated very early on.

My first hiccup was in hack #10, step 4, in which the author jumps to using Unix commands without mentioning that fact. Fortunately, I have a friend familiar with both Unix and MySQL who was able to get me through that particular hack by installing a GUI and importing the files through it. For those who are stumped on that particular step, jump to hack #18, install a GUI, and import the DataBank files as a script using the Query Editor.

I haven't proceeded much farther in the book, largely because I can already see the frustration to come from fumbling my way through Perl. The author gives very rudimentary instructions in the language, followed by more 'easy to use' scripts. The problem is the scripts are based on filenames and information that is more than a year out of date. This will require editing the scripts, something a programming illiterate such as myself will find challenging at best.

So after all these complaints, why did I still rate the book a 3? Because I'm trying to be fair. I've read through the rest of the book without trying to apply anything, and if you are at least familiar with MySQL, Unix, and Perl you'll probably get a lot out of it. The tools presented appear to be very powerful. Also, since I'm familiar with Access, the hacks for using it have been helpful. Unfortunately, the instructions in the book assume a basic level of programming knowledge on the part of the reader, despite the author's contention that they do not. If you can't tell a Unix prompt from a DOS prompt, this book is not the answer to your stat-processing prayers.
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Format: Paperback
While I'm not a diehard baseball fan, there is a certain appeal (or perhaps nostalgia) about "America's Pastime". And there isn't another sport around that takes their statistics as seriously as baseball does. So if you're a computer geek who loves baseball and statistics, what do you do? You get Baseball Hacks: Tips & Tools for Analyzing and Winning with Statistics by Joseph Adler. Even I, a non-baseball fanatic, can appreciate the appeal of this book.

Contents: Basics of Baseball; Baseball Games from Past Years; Stats from the Current Season; Visualize Baseball Statistics; Formulas; Sabermetric Thinking; The Bullpen; Where to Learn More Stuff; Abbreviations; Index

The author and his co-contributors have come up with 75 statistical "hacks" all related to baseball. In here, you'll learn how to keep a scoresheet in the traditional fashion as well as how to use a format that is generally used for computer entry and analysis. After showing you where to find downloadable stats and how to get them in a format you can use, they then take you through open source packages like MySQL and R (a statistical software offering) as well as standards like Access and Excel. By loading the data into these formats, you can then slice and dice with the best of them. Some of the hacks show you common statistical generation like batting average or on-base percentage, but there are more esoteric ones you can look into, like Park effect and Fan Save value. If you've always dreamed of combining your love of statistics and baseball into a single passion, this book will push you over the edge. Once you get done here, you should be able to figure out the batting average of Barry Bonds on Tuesday night games against left-handed pitching with two men on base... :)

Seriously, a very well-done book that will appeal to both the baseball fan interested in statistics, as well as the computer geek who loves his (or her!) baseball recordkeeping...
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