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Baseball Prospectus 2009: The Essential Guide to the 2009 Baseball Season Paperback – February 16, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Baseball Prospectus
  • Paperback: 648 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Original edition (February 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452290112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452290112
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.4 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,436,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The "Baseball Prospectus" is the best book of its type on the market. It carries on the tradition of the old Bill James "Baseball Abstract" much better than do similar books, including even the new "Bill James Gold Mine." The "Prospectus" contains an overview of every team, reviewing the 2008 season and looking ahead to the likely impact of offseason moves on the 2009 season. It also contains profiles of every player on each team's 40-man roster as well as the team's more promising players in the lower minors. "Lineouts" at the end of each team's entry give brief comments on more marginal players, such as minor leaguers who were once prospects, but whose careers have stalled because of injuries or poor performance. The conventional statistics are given for each player, as well as "translated" statistics that correct for the effects of playing in particular ballparks - such as the boost hitters get from playing in Coors Field in Denver - and several statistics that attempt to provide an estimate of the player's overall value. They also forecast what each player will do during the 2009 season using their PECOTA system. Finally, one fun thing is each player has a list of the four most comparable players in major league history. For instance, the four most comparable players to Ryan Howard are Mike Epstein, Cecil Fielder, David Ortiz, and Jim Gentile. What no Boog Powell or Frank Howard? Overall, it's hard to imagine a more complete overview of major league teams and players.

I have a few quibbles, however. Because different writers handle different teams, the assessments lack the single voice of the old Bill James "Abstracts." For instance, the comment on Edgar Renteria in the Detroit entry offers the opinion that: "The Giants surprised a lot of people by giving him $18.
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Format: Paperback
The Prospectus includes all MLB teams and players on 40 man rosters. This gives the reader a comprehensive look at stars, bench players, high prospects and even some organization players. The opening segment of the book explains the statistics that will be used in team chapters. In addition to the commonly used VORP (estimates the comparable value a player has over the average player), the Prospectus tries to quantify baserunning ability (EqBRR) and the impact a manger has on his team among innumerable other things. The authors also provide the "Pythagenport Record" for each team which estimates their wins and losses if luck were neutralized.

Prospectus writers do not always limit themselves to stats in their player analysis. Their description of the Angels' Bobby Abreu, for example, starts by admitting "our translations don't do justice to Abreu's brand of defense...You know those long drives that seem like home runs, only to die on the warning track? Abreu watches them bounce." The main thrust of the Prospectus, however, is that you can predict performance through numbers alone. White Sox first baseman Nick Swisher suffered through a drop in average in 2008 from 262 in his prior year in Oakland to a miniscule 219. The authors conclude "that it was the product of little more than bad luck." Since his walk rate, line drive rate and isolated power were in line with prior performance, he apparently did little wrong other than hit the ball at people for 6 months. I guess the breaks don't even out.

I am uncomfortable with the player projections for 2009 (PECOTA).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Web site probably deserves a quick review of the latest in the annual series called Baseball Prospectus.

It's easy to praise this year's book as well as all of the others in the series. The authors clearly have a pretty good track record when it comes to examining all aspects of the game. They achieved some level of fame in 2008 for predicting the rise of the Tampa Bay Rays, which put them in a subset of one. The authors also had one of their members, Nate Silver, become famous in politics for his Web site, fivethirtyeight.com. Silver was a great source of information through the election season, and got the final results almost exactly right.

Getting back to baseball, the book has the usual format as well as size (about as big as the phone book of a Triple-A baseball team's city). There is an introduction to each team, followed by a small section on virtually every player that matters on a particular team. The players are listed with their 2008 organization, which does make it a little tough to find a particular player if he moved over the winter. (Note to authors; bring back the index.) There are a few essays in the back of the book.

The writing always has been pretty fearless, and that's still the case in 2009. These guys aren't afraid to say when they think teams are making poor judgments or when players are headed for the scrap heap. It's striking just how few players out of the seemingly endless pool of talent ever make it to become major league regulars, and the authors are more than willing to point out that out -- even for prospects, who probably don't even know that their best case is of a left-handed relief specialist in the majors. It's also striking how many players get hurt along the way in baseball.
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