Customer Reviews: Baseball Prospectus 2014
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on January 27, 2014
I've got the past 13 editions on my shelf, and have been a subscriber of the website for at least a decade.

Is Baseball Prospectus what it once was? Of course not. It's always been a collective of smart analysts and writers (some of whom are also funny), and yearly turnover is merely evidence of what a fertile launching ground it has been. Pining for the days of Nate Silver and Gary Huckabay and Christina Kahrl and Joe Sheehan is a lot like saying that your wife doesn't cook like your mom did - it won't get you anything but heartbreak.

The fact remains that BP is an important platform - good work continues to be done there, by writers who take the opportunity seriously, and the value in this annual far outstrips what you pay for it. (The same goes for the website subscription). There will be bits in here that blow your mind, and bits that fail to engage you whatsoever. Turn the page on those, and enjoy the rest. At the end of the season, you'll be glad you had it next to whatever seat you sit in when you watch/listen to/stream/download the games.
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on February 23, 2014
I have been very unhappy with the brain drain from BP and their inability to replace the lost writers with equals (which is probably unreasonable of me, but still...).

Last year's edition was terrible. The essays were awful and there were lots of typos. This year, the essays are better and the book is a touch shorter. They do a nice job with their projection system and prospect rankings (they have even begun evaluating their own rankings on the website from 5 years ago to see how good their predictions are).

While it is not what is was 10 years ago, the book still has quality content and is extremely affordable (especially if you buy it on Amazon).
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on February 2, 2014
I'm relatively new to the Kindle platform, so it's possible that there might be ways to address some of the issues I have with the Kindle edition of BP2014. I also recognize that to match the experience of print with a title that features a variety of data presentation formats (text, various exhibits, tables, etc.) in a book that is probably more "random access reference" than it is "regular read" is asking for a lot.

Despite lowered expectations, however, the BP2014 Kindle edition still manages to underwhelm. Specific complaints from this Kindle Fire HD reader:

1) The basic player presentations, at first glance, are fine -- each player starts on a new "page" followed by their statistical chart and the commentary. But then you look at the statistical chart -- most players have 3-4 years of data to present, and this is presented broken down across three separate tables to accommodate the width limitations in portrait format. It's awful for anyone who is accustomed to any form of "normal" baseball statistics presentation, including BP's annual. And forget about flipping into landscape mode to overcome it -- the three tables are hardwired. (This is where my limited Kindle knowledge kicks in -- I have no idea what the "right" answer is, but I can tell you what was done isn't it.)

2) The "go to..." index is limited to the major articles (fine) and the team articles. Which means that to locate a specific player requires that you go to the team article and then page like mad to get to where you want to be. If you're looking for Matt Adams of the Cardinals, it's not too bad (he's the first hitter following the team article), but if it's Adam Wainwright (at the end of the pitchers, who are after all the batters), it's not so swift. And sure, I could go to the FOLLOWING team and work backwards, which is a wonderfully intuitive approach, isn't it, and there's still the "Line Drives" section to page back through. Which leads to...

3) The "Line Drives" presentation is just a mess -- bullets showing up intermingled with hanging text from the previous item, spaced randomly and unreadably. Yuck.

In general, it looks like a real slapdash job -- for instance, the index issue could have been fixed with just a bit of extra effort -- too much to ask that every player be given an entry? Fine. At least break each team down one layer into "Batters," "Pitchers," and "Line Drives."

I'm about a month and a half away from access to a hard copy version, so I'm probably going to have to grin and bear it, but I don't recommend it to you.

As far as the content within goes, it's up to BP's usual fine quality and insight. The team articles in particular have benefited by the wide range of authors responsible.
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on April 6, 2014
Great articles, in depth write ups on the teams, and interesting blurbs on all the players. If you love baseball and stats, this is a great read.

However I only gave it 3 stars (instead of 4) because of it's poor performance on the iPad 1 Kindle app. It's almost unreadable due to the long render times and it's tedious to read. It takes forever to load the book. then it's very slow to move between pages. Between sections, e.g. a team review and the team's player sections, it has to reload again taking a minute or more. Don't flip between landscape and normal more, it will again take a long time to render. It's just not an enjoyable reading experience.

Is it the fault of the iPad 1 and it's old clunky interface? Maybe, but I also have other large books with graphics and charts and they have not suffered the same performance hit. Somehow, this is not just not formatted well as an eBook and it really suffers on the iPad 1. Probably deserves 2 stars because I really just can't read it any more, but I can't bring myself to rate it that low because the content is so good. Possibly it's just fine on other eBook readers or newer version of iPad.
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on May 27, 2014
As an avid baseball fan and rotissierie player (23 years now), this is my all time favorite book. It's the only thing I actually pre-order every year, religiously. I also prefer it in paperback, despite the fact all my other books are in Kindle form -- it's simply that kind of book.

If you don't know, this is a statistician's bible: it contains several articles on the state of statistical analysis then presents each team and over 2,2100 individual players. Each team section contains a few pages analyzing the team's performance and potential for 2014, and the players are divided alphabetcally by hitter and pitchers -- the last of the team section summarizes the manager's performance and includes minor league names and commentary as well. Each of the player section analyzes performance and offers predictions based on statistical analysis. Here's the best part: the text accompanying each player's stats is witty, insightful and just plain fun -- it's not dry but instead a good source of witty humor and observation from a qualitative perspective.

First, from the rotissiere baseball player perspective, it's a must have. But be clear: it's not a replacement for all your spreadsheets or online data. It augments it. Your spreadsheets will tell you so-and-so is in for a big season and this statiscal tome will tell you not to get too excited. I've often found this book's predictions to be noticeably lower than other sources, but it's all because of the nature of statistical analysis. The best value for roto owners is that you can use it to doublecheck your draft strategy and check to see if you really like the players you think you do! I bring it to the draft and throw out the funniest sarcastic lines from the book.

Second, any baseball fan will enjoy the articles and player notes -- while it's definately heavy on the math and prediction, the articles, team descriptions and player analysis are completely worthwhile, even if you don't give a whit about stats.

Finally -- I tried the Kindle Edition and it's not the same -- I LOVE the Kindle for everything else, but the charts in this book don't easily translate to the Kindle well, just not that kind of material. Stick to the paperback version!

Play Ball!
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on February 2, 2014
First, Baseball Prospectus 2014 is an amazing product. For instance, Will Leitch writes an excellent essay in the St. Louis Cardinals chapter that details how the Cardinal team-building philosophy evolved around the need to surround Albert Pujols with cheap young talent, instead of renting more expensive players. It succeeded in building a young cost-effective team in spite of the fact that it didn't succeed in retaining the centerpiece, Pujols.

Russell A. Carleton tries to prove in the Colorado Rockies chapter that the homefield conditions in Denver don't just make all hitters good, but they make good hitters proportionally better while making medicore players only modestly better. That's some thoughtful writing.

It also includes witty passages about baseball obscurity like: "During one April at-bat in Triple-A, (Tony) Campana stole second, third, and home. That was the moment baseball reached its Tony Campanian nexus.... if he can get on base by any means -- including asking the pitcher nicely -- then that speed can finally be put to good use."

It includes lots of gory mathematical analysis and prognosticating. It's well written, well informed, and... well... I give it three stars.

Okay, so this is also a review for the Kindle Edition. Let's say that you want to read the entry for David Wright on the Kindle app using an Ipad Mini. Here's what I tried:

Go to the table of contents, go to the New York Mets, and swipe over to the Wright entry. This took 65 seconds. And it was annoying.

Go to the table of contents, go to the New York Mets, and use the location slider to try to advance to the right location (101654 out of 177283). This also took just over a minute.

Go to the table of contents, go to the index, and swipe over to the "W" section. This took 75 seconds.

Use the search feature. This took (I am not kidding), 4 minutes, 35 seconds.

Considering that this is a reference book intended to be read nonlinnearly, it's really frustrating that a computer can't access the information faster than a human holding a printed version.

I haven't arrived at the worst part yet: The tables. The tables are hacked into three seperate parts and stacked one on top of the other. So trying to compare how many strikeouts and plate appearances a player had may require looking at two separate tables. The whole point of a table is to put all of the info on one line, right?

Buy the Kindle version if you have to have this wonderful resource in your pocket. Otherwise, get the physical book.
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on January 29, 2014
As a braves fan this is a must. Lots of information for the next season and what to be ready for. Baseball Prospectus 2014 provides fantasy players and insiders alike with 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 Prospectus brings together an elite team of analysts to provide the definitive look at all thirty teams—their players, their prospects, and their managers—to explain away flukes, hot streaks, injury-tainted numbers, and park effects. Victory, after all, could come down to choosing between the supposed sleeper and the overrated prospects who won't be able to fool people in the Show like they have down on the farm.
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on April 27, 2014
I've purchased this book for at least a decade, but only the Kindle version the last two years. The good part of the Kindle version is that I can more easily cart the book around with me - easier to read, especially while traveling. But the Kindle version continues to have some major problems, as articulated very accurately by Bret Hern's review of the Kindle version. See his Amazon review for details. It's very discouraging that Baseball Prospectus has not addressed these concerns. I probably will revert to the paper version next year. (I subscribe to the website but I am not a fantasy baseball participant.)
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I really enjoy this volume's arrival each year. It is filled with sabermetric analysis. Statistics beyond ERA, batting average, slugging percentage, etc. add a deeper dimension to sensing how well a player did. Also enjoyable is PECOTA, a system to project a player's performance in the upcoming season--in this case 2014.

Normally, I immediately go to see how my favored team, the Chicago White Sox, is represented here. Last year was not a good year, as the statistics show (1st in unearned runs allowed, # 1 is fewest runs scored) and their talent cupboard (major and minor league) and their finances and management rate 29th in baseball. Not auspicious for the coming season.

The player by player analyses are always interesting, and I especially like the projections. For instance, Adam Dunn. A hitter with a lot of power (let's forget a dreadful 2011) and a low average (the last three years: .159, .204, .219). 2014? A .214 batting average and 28 home runs. Not sure the home runs counter the miserable projected batting average. There is a 0% chance he will improve his performance dramatically, a 22% chance of improvement, only a 7% chance of a collapse (major decline), and a 17% chance of attrition (having performance decline--but not dramatically). Paul Konerko has had a career that is worthy of appreciation. However, he has been slowing down. Last year--a .244 batting average, just 12 home runes, and just 54 RBIs. A career in decline. This will be his final year. Projections? 19 homers, 68 RBIs, and a .269 batting average--a mild comeback from last year. We shall see what actually happens.

Pitching? The projection is for Chris Sale, a terrific pitcher by a variety of statistics, to have some problems winning. He is projected at 11-7 (last year, he had as fine year by most metrics, but was only 11-14 in wins and losses, due to a lack of support). He is projected to have a 2.70 ERA.

And on it goes, team after team.

Each year, this book brings me smiles as I look at team after team and wonder how the projections actually play out.
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on February 8, 2014
I have heard of the BP Annual before but never bit the bullet because there is plenty of baseball writing for free online. I have been listening to the BP Podcast, Effectively Wild, with Sam Miller and Ben Lindberg for over a year now, and I wanted a way to contribute to BP without signing up for their monthly membership. I cannot set this book down, I am already halfway through it, it is filled with usefull projections and fun little bios for every player! Wish I could buy a time-machine from Amazon so I could go back and read BP in my childhood, I would have been a smarter baseball fan sooner.
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