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Baseball Prospectus 2005: Statistics, Analysis, and Insight for the Information Age Paperback – February 14, 2005
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On the other hand, there are a couple of problems...
The first is the authors' theological insistence on not allowing the stats for Runs Scored, RBIs, Wins-Losses, or Saves to show up anywhere. We all get it, these stats are problematic and subjective and don't always reveal the true contribution of a player to his team. But hey, those are all stats that every single fantasy league in the country counts. So the tens of thousands of guys with fantasy teams who are looking for some insights into some of the key statistical categories will be disappointed. This book, open alongside of the Bill James Handbook, should give you all the data you need.
The second problem is really about the format. The Bill James Handbook lists all the players alphabetically, and that makes sense for fantasy coaches. The Baseball Prospectus, however, lists the players by team. But even where a player has changed teams and the authors note that fact, the Prospectus insists on listing him with his old team.
I think the Bill James Handbook --because it uses the stats and format most convenient to fantasy owners-- will be a better buy if you're only getting one book. Fantasy owners are less interested in the collection of talent on any particular real-life team than in being able to assess the whole universe of players. So the Bill James book is better-suited to fantasy owners.
On the other hand, the Prospectus --because it groups players by team and doesn't bother with some of the key fantasy stats-- is probably more suited to the guy watching a game on TV who wants to read about the specific players on one team. The Prospectus's statistical analysis showing the value of a particular player to the team and park he plays for, and vice versa, also support the notion that this book is better-suited to someone focused on one team or game.
In short, both books have strengths and weakneeses. I bought them both and enjoy them side-by-side. But it depends on what is your primary interest.
What makes BP so good? Well, first it provides wonderful analysis of the game, breaking down how teams succeeded or failed in the past year, pointing out not only what they did right or wrong last year but how their organizational philosophy over the last few years has affected their progress. The BP crew delight in overturning conventional wisdom, kicking sacred cows and stimulating thought. At least a couple of times every volume, I put it down for a few minutes and say, "Huh! I never thought of that! But it's so obvious!"
Second, they break down 1600 individual players, including any minor leaguer they think might make the majors. They make predictions, own up to muffs from last year, point out a player's flaws or strengths. As a tool for drafting your fantasy team, this is wonderful (and they have some great fantasy content on their website). But it's far more interesting as a fan to just see what they make of a player's potential. And what's best is they use not only the best prediction tool out there to project a player's future, but understand the limitations on that approach and try to see if a player likely to beat or fail his projection based on scouting, attitude, health, etc.
All this come wrapped up in a fan's delight in the game. You can tell these guys are huge fans. Sometimes, they like a player more than they should because he's just fun to watch. And sure, they lean heavily on the stats. But they always make it clear what the limitations of stats are.
For six years, my baseball season has started with the arrival of this book. This year's volume does not disappoint.
The Series ends late October (and for the writeups on at least 2 teams, this is a critical point).
It takes a significant amount of time from the end of the season to:
* process the data on 1600 players from the Majors and Minors
* consider the subjects to write about in the team essays, and then do the background research on them
* allow for the free agency signing period to pass, which allows for better commentary on expected valuation of players on their new teams
Also consider that the BP crew is also still producing daily commentaries and analysis for their website, and that for many of them, BP is NOT their "real job". So .. let's cut them a little slack.
I noticed the foreword was written on January 10 (just days after the end of the FA signing period) ... and the 600+ page book arrived on shelves a little more than 7 weeks later ... in MY mind, that's NOT a bad turnaround time ...
As for roto drafts being held just as pitchers and catchers report, well, THAT seems a bit foolhardy.
Its a balancing act between the timeliness and relevance of the data, and the publisher's desires as to when to get the book out. From the publisher's point of view, there is really little reason to get a baseball book out in late January/early February ... not enough potential buyers are thinking of baseball.
Anyway, as for this year's edition of the BP, its everything I've come to expect from the gang, and their PECOTA system has been a godsend for my drafting strategies.
I subtracted a star for the numerous typos ... yeah, its a petty gripe. Perhaps they didn't have enough time to proofread?