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Baseball Prospectus 2013 Paperback – February 1, 2013

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Insights from the Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts

PECOTA's Bold Predictions (January 2013)

One of the most fascinating moments in assembling the Baseball Prospectus annual comes when we line up the first drafts of the comments with the first set of PECOTA projections. For most players, the projections simply provide some specifics that back up what scouting reports and recent history already suggest. Then there are the player projections that challenge the expert wisdom, or come down strongly on one side or the other for a player that everyone says is too hard to predict. Here are some of the players for whom this year's annual is predicting a surprising and sizable rise or fall from last year's WARP. Every player in the book comes with a few clarifying sentences blending insights from scouting reports with a deeper look at the numbers your fantasy league isn't toting up. However, if you're willing to take a few big bets that a computer knows a lot more about baseball than you, then here are the players to watch the most closely on draft day:

Potential steals: Albert Pujols, Brian McCann, Tim Lincecum, Jon Lester, and Josh Beckett

It's hard to imagine Albert Pujols (projection: .299, 34 HR, 104 RBI) being a "steal," but he got off to a rough start for the Angels, at least by his standards, posting the same WARP as Nick Swisher did for the Yankees. His 2012 career-low TAv marked a fourth consecutive year of decline. PECOTA, however, looks at the 33 year old first baseman and boldly predicts he's a lock to return to form, calling on him to lead the AL in WARP in 2013. For the first time in a long time, Brian McCann (projection: .265/.343/.461) did not look special, posting career lows across the board and riding pine while David Ross caught the first pitch in Wild Card Playoff Game history. He says he'll be ready for opening day, but PECOTA pegs him to see the fewest plate appearances of his career. Still, when he is playing, expect a return to his career (read: All-Star) production rates. Where all your friends see an ERA of 5.18, struggles with command and control, and more than 2 mph lost off his four-seam, PECOTA looks at Tim Lincecum (projection: 187 K, 1.15 WHIP, 2.95 ERA) and sees a guy who could still lead the league in strikeouts and should lop off thirty or so freebies on the way back to a sub-3.00 ERA. Jon Lester (projection: 3.51 ERA) was basically the same pitcher in 2012 as 2011 for the Red Sox, posting a similar WARP even though his strikeout rate dropped for the fourth year in a row and his homer rate rose. However, he was a disaster for fantasy owners. PECOTA sees a return to 2011 level fantasy stats with a 42% chance of improving on even that. Ditto for Josh Beckett (projection: 1.08 WHIP, 3.05 ERA), except all season he'll get to face pitchers a couple of times a game as well.

Don't pull the trigger too soon on: Mike Trout, Melky Cabrera, Austin Jackson, R.A. Dickey, or Wade Miley

Everyone loves phenom Mike Trout (projection: .289, 18 HR, 35 SB), and he's worth having on any team: fantasy, real, probably even the debate team. Still, two of his top comps, Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, serve as good reminders that kid power is unpredictable, and you could be using your first round pick on a guy with similar counting stats to Shane Victorino. Imagine if Melky Cabrera (projection: .282, 13 HR, 11 SB) hadn't been suspended last year, and hit for an average sixty points lower, but was otherwise the same. That's who he's been for most of his career. How much of his improvement can be attributed to using a banned substance? The Blue Jays' two-year, $16 million bet: not too much. PECOTA doesn't care where the regression comes from, just that it comes. Is Austin Jackson (projection: .272/.338/.411) a .300 hitter? Short answer: no. PECOTA's longer answer: hell no. R.A. Dickey (projection: 144 K, 3.57 ERA) is also headed to Toronto, to front their rotation, but our projection has the reigning Cy Young winner posting only the 42nd highest WARP for pitchers in 2013. Wade Miley (projection: 8-8, 94 K, 4.51 ERA) was fun while he lasted. He impressed in his Arizona debut, and only lost his shot at some ROY hardware because he had the bad luck to bow in the same season Bryce Harper. His 4.6-percent rate of fly balls clearing the fence trailed only Gio Gonzalez among NL frontmen, which is either a tremendous achievement, or only good luck about to run out. PECOTA thinks that missed ROY is his last shot any kind of seasonal award, as it's league-average inning-eating from here on out.

At least, this is what PECOTA's predicting. What do our experts say, having sorted the mechanics, scouted the tools, compiled the caveats, explored the extenuating circumstances, and crunched their own numbers? You'll have to check out Baseball Prospectus 2013 to see.

From the Back Cover

The 2013 edition of the New York Times bestselling guide

"The tip of the nerd spear."
—Ken Tremendous

Now in its 18th edition, the Baseball Prospectus annual shows once again how it became the industry leader: The 2013 edition includes key stat categories, more controversial player predictions, and the kind of wise, witty baseball commentary that makes this phone-book-thick tome worth reading cover to cover.

Baseball Prospectus 2013 provides fantasy players and insiders alike with uncannily prescient PECOTA projections, which Sports Illustrated has called "perhaps the game's most accurate projection model." Still, stats are just numbers if you don't see the larger context, and Baseball ProspectusNearly every major-league team has sought the advice of current or former Prospectus writers, and readers of Baseball Prospectus 2013 will understand what all those fans have been raving about.

"If you're a baseball fan and you don't know what BP is, you're working in a mine without one of those helmets with the lights on it."
—Keith Olbermann

"Baseball Prospectus has become the standard by which all scouting guides should be measured."
—Billy Beane, General Manager, Oakland A's

"For me, every year baseball begins with the big, brilliant, beautiful book you are holding in your hands right now."
—Joe Posnanski

Baseball Prospectus 2012 correctly predicted:

  • Disappointing performances from Alex Avila, Jose Bautista, Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeff Francoeur, Derek Holland, and Justin Masterson
  • Better than commonly expected numbers out of Adam Dunn, Jason Heyward, Hiroki Kuroda, Jake Peavy, Buster Posey, and David Wright
  • That the Washington Nationals were no longer a rebuilding sub-.500 team, and were ready to make the postseason starting in 2012
  • A first-place finish for Cincinnati, with the Cards and Brewers losing their big bats
  • That one season of big spending on free agents and a new ballpark might not be enough to completely turn around horrible attendance numbers in Miami

Baseball Prospectus is America's leading provider of statistics-informed scouting and analysis for baseball, combining entertaining commentary and accurate forecasting via books, blogs, articles, and a website.


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Product Details

  • Series: Baseball Prospectus
  • Paperback: 600 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118459199
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118459195
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.4 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #580,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By cavscout on February 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with some others who have lamented the decline of the once great BP annual. It's a maddening book in the sense that it doesn't appeal as much to the hardcore anymore, yet isn't really that friendly to neophytes either.

If you are fairly new to sabermetrics you'll be scratching your head over the cursory explanations BP gives of the PECOTA system and other stats they use; you certainly won't get a good sense of what they really mean. Nor are all parts of the book itself adequately explained. What is the Lineouts section in each team report about? What do the subscript numbers in some of the IP lines stand for? Why is a manager credited for x number of stolen bases when his team actually stole 5x that number? Lots of examples where a new (or even more veteran reader) needs to dig through the intro again for clarity or be left to try and figure it out for themselves.

If you are part of the old guard you're aware that the actual analysis (and snark) keeps getting dialed back. True again for this year's book. I can find numbers anywhere online; I want to read more from BP about what that means to the player or the organization and I want it with the old-time BP humor. Oh well. There were some good one-liners in there at least.

I'll probably always buy BP's book to start the year, but I'll adjust expectations accordingly.

Collapse: 35%.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used to eagerly look forward to Baseball Prospectus every spring, to get me in the mood for the upcoming baseball season. The combination of interesting research articles, detailed essays for each team exploring some sabrmetric aspect related to the team, and witty and insightful player comments.

Then they got rid of the research articles, and spun them off into their own books. I was disappointed, but kept buying the annual, because the team essays often had some interting insights in them, and the player comments were interesting.

And then they dialed back the sarcasm and snark on the player comments, probably to try not to offend a bigger reader base. But hey, they still had Nate Silver's PECOTA, and the interesting team essays.

Then Silver left BP, and they revamped PECOTA, and more and more freely available projection systems that were just as good as PECOTA sprung up. But hey, team essays!

And then, this year, they gutted the team essays. The team essays were often inconsistent - some clunkers, some mediocre, but every annual had at least a couple really interesting team essays. They're all gone this year, with the detailed team essays replaced with a few bland paragraphs briefly describing what happened in 2012, and what's likely to happen in 2013. The insight is gone, along with everything else that made the annual interesting.

I own every Baseball Prospectus annual, going all the way back to 1996. But the 2013 annual will probably be the last one I buy. It's sad to see a great franchise dumbed down and gutted of everything that made it interesting to appeal to a wider audience.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've been an avid reader of the annual since 2001 and have been subscribing to their site for almost as long. I love the substance and material covered and, while I too miss the research articles, don't think the material included has been "dumbed down" or limited relative to past annuals.

My problem is with the kindle version of the book. This is the first year I moved away from the bound version and the product I received is borderline unreadable. The player charts are broken up in such a way so to make them nearly useless and I was finding so many errors (Aroldis Chapman pitched 712 innings in 2012? Not even Dusty Baker is that sadistic) that I just stopped looking at the charts all together. Sometimes, moving backward and forward changes the formatting of the charts altogether.

I'm disappointed not with the content, but with the product. I sincerely hope they decide to release a .pdf version of the book or something similar. I will not buy this on the kindle in the future until these issues are resolved.

***UPDATE March 3, 2013: I contacted Baseball Prospectus regarding my issues with the Kindle version. I had a prompt response from Baseball Prospectus customer service who referred my issue to the publisher. Within 48 hours the publisher had contacted me and provided a solution that completely satisfied me. The customer service from both BP and the publisher were top notch. Given my complaint was with the product, not the content, I have amended my rating.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his essay in the back of this year's annual, Russell Carlton posits that by having to write about analysis every day, it's made the product weaker. You can't write new, cutting edge analysis on a regular basis. You've got to come up with a hypothesis, gather data and then test it. Or for those articles that are less quantitatively based, it's nigh impossible to write a fresh piece everyday (Gary Huckabay, Joe Sheehan and Steven Goldman did an awesome job with their daily writing, but even the three of them had their usual topics that they hit over and over again).

BP burst upon the scene in 1996. I discovered them in 1999 when Rob Neyer touted them in his ESPN column. Absolute intellectual and analytical heavyweights wrote for the annual and the website over the years: Gary Huckabay, Joe Sheehan, Christina Kharl, Nate Silver, Steven Goldman, Jay Jaffe, Kevin Goldstein, Voros McCraken, Will Carrol, Keith Law, Jonah Keri, Rany Jazzeryelli (I never spell his name correctly) and a host of others. Sadly, they have all moved on to other things (the brain drain was especially strong over the last 2 1/2 years).

The first 10 annuals had new essays with all kinds of different findings and theories. The essays disappeared (they are back, but alas, there are only 2 of them). The player comments have grown shorter, less biting and less analytic. The team essays were usually stellar, but now they have been diminished as well (they are much shorter and basically a summary of what happened in 2012).

BP was small and had a hard-core, very bright readership that watched a lot of baseball. As they've grown, their best people moved on to try on new things and make more money. They had every right to, and it is ridiculous to think that those giants would be easily replaced.
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