Customer Reviews: Baseball Prospectus 2004: Statistics, Analysis, and Attitude for the Information Age
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on March 16, 2004
The 2004 edition of BASEBALL PROSPECTUS is still a winner, with more detailed analysis and perceptive player commentary than ever before--a resource for anyone who wants to go beyond the superficial and not very informed player analyses that get written in mainstream media. With all the numbers available, these guys understand which numbers are meaningful, and what they portend for future performance. Though not designed for fantasy baseball, it can be used in that context as well.
As in 2003, PROSPECTUS carries both actual and translated player statistics, making it an incredibly useful all-in-one resource. For the unitiated, "translated" player statists are the actual numbers adjusted for park and league effects. Some parks are friendly to hitters, while others are friendly to pitchers, for example. The theory is that without taking context into account, it is impossible to measure the value of players relative to one another. This book solves that problem, and has figured out ways of translating numbers from the minor leagues, as well as the Japanese league and the Mexican league. Invaluable.
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on February 26, 2004
Since 1997, the Baseball Prospectus team of analysts have come together to produce the best baseball annual on the market. And while the quality of their writing might have slipped a tad in 2003, they've come back with a vengeance in 2004 with their best book yet. It's simply outstanding.
This book has everything: thought-provoking essays on each of the 30 MLB teams, sharp-witted, irreverent humor, original back-of-the-book articles on (among other things) the influence of catchers on stopping the running game, and stats. And stats. And stats. And did I mention stats?
But these aren't your father's baseball statistics. As anyone who read Michael Lewis's "Moneyball" or visits [...] on a regular basis knows, the BP team is responsible for the most advanced baseball analysis going on today. Luckily, there are some well-reasoned explanations of these stats at the front of the book, which proves that the authors are more than your average number-crunchers, and actually have a feel for game that most people who deal with stats do not. I could hardly do justice to their explanations in this space, so I'll just say "see for yourself."
And yet, while stats are abundant throughout "Baseball Prospectus 2004," what really *makes* the book is the writing. Each team gets the full treatment of a ~2000 word essay, along with detailed player comments on at least 50 individuals throughout the organization. Player comments run from the fascinating and informative to the downright hilarious. The BP writers don't pull any punches in their analysis, and it makes for fantastic reading, whether you agree with their opinions or not.
I could go on about "Baseball Prospectus 2004," but I hardly feel like I'd be doing it justice. I wait eagerly for my copy of BP every year, and rarely have I been disappointed. "BP 2004" is the best sports book I've read this year, and I thoroughly expect to be able to make that same claim 9 months from now.
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on March 5, 2004
I bought the Baseball Prospectus 2004 thinking that it would be a beefed up version of a fantasy magazine. I was pleasantly surprised that it was much more. I can see why baseball GMs read it. It offers excellent statistical analysis of the past performances of players and gives educated PECOTA projections for the future. I would bet the first thought of first-time readers when they open this book is "Wow, this is cool. I can't believe they did all this." That was my impression.
I must admit that I bought this book to help me in my fantasy league. I am not a baseball statistics purist or registered sabremetrician. I know many readers are though. For people like me, the Prospectus does not give projections for the standard 5x5 or roto categories, but gives OBP and OPS type stats. I understand that these have greater predictive value, but I would still like to know how many RBI the writers think Sammy Sosa is going to get. So I was wondering how to translate the insights from the Baseball Prospectus for my league.
I also bought the Fantasy Baseball Strategy book which I see Amazon is offering with the Prospectus. This is a very good pairing. That book's valuation approach also uses iteration to compare players to replacement players, or the ones not expected to be drafted, in each scoring category. So the statistical approach is very much inline with the Prospectus'. What I think is interesting is that the author really emphasizes the strategic and competitive aspects of fantasy baseball over the valuation process (which is only one of 11 chapters), mainly because most people focus on that. There is a really good section using Michael Porter's Competitive Advantage (Cost Leadership vs. Differentiation) principles that illustrates why. The two books compliment each other well. The point is, if you buy these books to help you in your league, use the Prospectus to gain statistical insights (Cost Leadership) and use the other book to form a strategy (Differentiation) based on those insights so they give you a practical advantage.
Whether you buy the Prospectus for fantasy or not, if you are a baseball fan, you really should get it. You will view baseball from a more objective perspective.
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on February 28, 2004
This is not a fantasy guide. This is not a typical season preview magazine. It is however a fantastic book full of insightful and funny writing on everything baseball.
Some of the statistics can be hard to understand or figure out where they came from but they are useful once you grasp what they mean. I still don't know how to figure out things like Value Over Replacement Player (VORP) or Equivalent Average (EqA) but I know what they mean now and they are much more useful than the everyday RBI's and batting average totals you'll find everywhere else.
This book isn't just about the numbers though. You've got chapter reviews on every MLB team along with a paragraph or two on every significant player in every MLB organization (including minor leaguers).
Did I mention that besides being a very useful reference book that it is entertaining, too? The writers refer to all sorts of off-the-wall pop culture references within the articles making for fun reads.
If you really love baseball, you should get this book.
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on January 1, 2005
The team at Baseball Prospectus is absolutely the best at what they do. This book, hands down, gets the majority of my reading to prepare for the upcoming real and fantasy baseball seasons. I have purchased the last four years' worth of Baseball Prospectus books and am also a member at the online site. The info is great, the stats are great and the comments are accurate and at times, humorous.

If you are a sabermetric junkie - you simply cannot go without this book. And, quite frankly, you should become a member on their website - they have excellent articles and the content is updated regularly - one of my favorite baseball websites.

I could tell you that I won my fantasy league last year (which is true) and that I used this book to prepare for the draft and during the year (which is true), but in reality the reason I buy this book each year is because I have learned to trust and really enjoy the reading that I do on their website. Go to and look around - then join and buy the books.

I am a major baseball stat junkie and a statistics professor to boot, so I absolutely eat this stuff up. This is one of three books that I would be uncomfortable preparing for a Fantasy Draft without. I'll let that speak for itself. Go buy it.
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on March 7, 2004
Anyone wanting to know why most baseball announcers have no idea what they are talking about should buy this book. Every fantasy leaguer should own a copy of this book They stick with the stats you will want to know and their analysis is spot-on. In the tradition of Bill James they take on the stats that no one else talks about. Need to know how to analyze stats from Mexico and Japan? Do you want to know if new stadiums really help? You should read their review of A-Rod before he was traded to the Yank's, excellent foresight. Maybe you just want an idea of what kind of year Milton Bradley, Bobby Crosby or any of 1200+ other MLB'ers and prospects might have. If any of this interests you then this is the book for you.
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on February 27, 2004
This book wasn't at all what I expected. I ordered it looking for a fantasy baseball guide, but got a book on baseball like nothing else I've ever read instead. The writing's sharp, the numbers seem really complicated at first, and some of the comments seem awfully negative, but boy has it changed the way I think about some of the players today. The foreward at the beginning of the book does a really good job explaning what all the analysis is about too.
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on March 8, 2004
This book is what any hardcore baseball fan wants. The stats, profiles, and even the extras are great. Could have arrived earlier but a great book like this makes you live with it. At 17.95, it is a bargain. So buy it if you are a hard core fan.
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on February 26, 2004
I thought the 2003 book was very good, but it was not as good as previous years. This is much better. Much more professional looking, better writing. The size of the book is almost to the point where you can't really haul it around, and the paper stock isn't as thick, making it feel kind of airy, but I think they did that so the book wouldn't weigh so much that you would sprain your wrists holding it. Its really kind of hard to work with because its so big.
The bad parts about the book are that it took me until February 25th to get a copy, and that even then, I had to pay to have it sent by Fed Ex. I have my roto auction in two days, and I just spent all night reading the book. In the specialty essays, the tables of numbers get kind of hard to read.
The good parts about the book are that the writing's so good. The best chapters are the Stealing essay in the back, the Seattle Mariners chapter, the Pittsburgh Pirates chapter, and the Chicago Cubs chapter. The best player comment is definitely the one on Edgar Martinez. There's not really a bad chapter in the book. Even the really bad teams make for very good reading. Detroit and Tampa Bay are very bad teams, but they're very good chapters. It is obvious that the writers now have a lot more contacts in ballclubs, and I miss some of the more funny and nasty comments and thats probably a result of doing the work they do and now they don't go too hard on the teams they like.
Overall, I'm very happy with the book, but I wish I'd known I wouldn't get it until the end of February. I still would have bought it, but I wouldn't have been so frustrated waiting for it.
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on March 4, 2004
What is the difference between "BP 2004" and "BP: Stats ..."? Whatever the difference Amazon is sooo unhelpful.
The book is a great reference tool the whole year long.
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