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Baseball Prospectus 2006: The BP Team of Experts on Baseball Talent Paperback – March 7, 2006
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Described as "the fantasy baseball bible," this annual publication offers preseason analysis of 30 teams and more than 1,600 players plus essays on the top 50 prospects, the true costs of injuries, and more. Prediction for the 2005 World Series-winning Chicago White Sox: "They'll be right back in the thick of it." You have to love statistics to make it through these pages, but what serious baseball fan doesn't? Mary Ellen Quinn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
“Fearless heir... [to Bill James’s Baseball Abstract]. This book swings so hard for the fences that even its whiffs are interesting.”
— Esquire magazine, in naming Baseball Prospectus 2005 one of the six best books of the year (Esquire )
“Perhaps the game’s most accurate prediction model”
—Sports Illustrated (Sports Illustrated )
“The überforecast of every player’s performance”
—Alan Schwarz, the New York Times (The New York Times )
Fearless heir... [to Bill Jamess Baseball Abstract]. This book swings so hard for the fences that even its whiffs are interesting. Esquire magazine, in naming Baseball Prospectus 2005 one of the six best books of the year
Perhaps the games most accurate prediction model Sports Illustrated
The berforecast of every players performance Alan Schwarz, the New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As usual, the most enjoyable part of the book is the player comments. It's always surprising how much information the BP gang can cram into a few sentences, and they manage to do so without making the comments dry and boring. While they may sometimes seem more than a little smug, they also exhibit some pretty great humor, and I've found myself laughing at these comments on many occasions. The team pages are also excellent, providing a great synopsis of the 2005 season and a preview of '06, with little in the way of wasted words or filler. It's nice to read a publication that credits its audience with having at least some sense of baseball knowledge, which I can't say is the case in many mainstream publications.
Since this is a BP publication, the stats are obviously critical, and they've again done an excellent job of presenting their usuals (VORP, etc.) while also trying to investigate better ways to measure traditionally difficult areas like the value of speed. And while I know that the SABR crowd might not be happy about it, I think it's important that they've finally decided to include RBI for each player. I know that it's not the most meaningful stat, given that so much of it depends on other factors. However, it's criticalfor most fantasy leaguers, which is a demographic towards which this publication is aimed. I admit that RBIs aren't my favorite, either, but I think their inclusion is justifiable.
Another new item that I find fun are the player comps. For each player, the writers give 3 "comparable" players based on their analysis. You may not necessarily agree with their comps, but they're definitely enjoyable, and they give you the chance to think things like, "Come on, Halladay is better than Gubicza ever was!"
As for the faults, they're pretty minor. The first is one that seems to be a problem with every edition of this book - the poor editing, which includes both spelling and grammatical errors. A few mistakes are to be expected, but there are many throughout the book. There are no horrible, book-long errors like putting stats on the wrong line, but these little typos and poor grammar are quite noticable. The second complaint I have - and I might be in the minority here - is that I believe there should be more essays. I know that it's tough to work on the book, their web site, and essays for this book at the same time, but I would have appreciated some more 5-7 page contributions from these excellent writers.
I'd recommend this to any fan, regardless of whether or not they're heavily into stats. The player comments alone are worth the price of this book, which is incredibly low for the information contained within. If you're looking for a combination of good writing and an excellent stats-based approach, it's difficult to beat this effort from the gang at BP.
As usual, there is excellent coverage of all the teams. I especially like it when they go in-depth on a specific topic, rather than preview the teams' 2005 season. Some good tidbits can always be found on the sections on the individual players.
If you are interested in player projections for fantasy league purposes, they have a great system (PECOTA) that is well thought out, well researched and is multi-dimensional. They don't just list what they think the players' stats will be, but they have projections on the likelihood that the player will Breakout, Improve & Collapse. This is useful information for the late-round draft picks or the $1 auction pick-ups.
Overall, this is a must-have for all baseball fans, especially for the nice price on Amazon.
That said, the editing and production this year are frustratingly bad. It's not just typo problems. Many sentences are missing verbs or have vague meanings, and entire sections are really tough to read. Some parts are weighed down with so much data it distracts the reader from the analysis. For example, there's a section in the Philadelphia chapter that comments on the Phillies' inability to develop players through their farm system, along with data to prove the point. I swear to you now that after three readings I still don't understand what that data (table 2, page 346) is supposed to show. It's literally 143 numbers that appear to be randomly ordered in an 11x13 table. At first glance I couldn't detect a trend, and the prose failed to describe the table at all. The first sentence of the description reads: "Players shown by organization that developed them;organization is credited with developing a major league player if they originally drafted or signed him, unless they released him before he first played in Double-A or Triple-A;Regular season = 100 games for position players; "w/Club" totals reflect the Games/IP/Seasons played with the parent club that developed the player" Yes, there is no period at the end of that "sentence." Look, some number bending is par for the course with a book like this, but if you are expecting the type of production you see on the website, you'll likely be disappointed. I like the numbers, but in order to be useful they need to be organized properly and explained. I don't want to spend my free time sifting through a core dump. That's what's so boggling - the daily stuff from these guys/gals is so darn interesting, and the past annuals have been such a joy to read.
Even the player comments, which normally range from solid to sublime, are spotty this time around. I imagine that if I were writing player comments for a book like this, I'd start by studying the player, analyzing his statistical trends and similar players, and jotting down short notes as I went along. Well, that's how a lot of the player comments read to me - like they're bullet points masquerading as sentences. There are some good moments, but the quality is unusually inconsistent.
I'm giving this 3 stars, which is a tribute to the extremely valuable statistical data in this book. But next year I hope the authors start earlier or spend more time on formatting and comipiling the information in the book.