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Off Base Hardcover – February 1, 1999
Torrez, a Harvard-educated lawyer, begins his dressing-down of old-time baseball philosophy with a sentence designed to inflame the fan's emotions: "Everything you think you know about baseball is wrong." If the claim is incendiary, so is much of what follows. He picks apart the game's clichés (good teams do the little things effectively; pitching and defense win championships) and reassesses traditional statistical measurements to come up with new ones more apropos to the way the game is actually played these days. Take batting averages, for instance. If you want a real measurement of a hitter's contribution, according to the author, add his on-base percentage to his slugging average for an altogether new statistic that indicates how often a hitter fails against the types of hits he gets when he succeeds. Torrez then presents reasonable new ways to judge pitching and defense too, before reexamining the roles of the field manager and the GM.
So how did baseball wisdom get so out of joint? Torrez points his finger at an unholy trinity of media, management, and decision-making based on bottom lines. Power counts more, starters don't go the distance, relief pitching is at a premium--but the mythology perpetuated by the "trinity" would have us believe little baseball carries the day. "Most people don't understand the way baseball in the 1990s differs from baseball in the '60s, '70s, and '80s," he argues. Every page of Off Base invites you--even dares you--to argue back. And isn't that America's other national pastime? --Jeff Silverman
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Most importantly, this book is very readable. Not only is is written so that anyone can understand it, but Torrez's humor and wit make you want to see what's next. While many of his ideas are controversial, they all offer an intuitive logic. On par, Torrez is right on the money. this book should be required reading for all owners, managers, GMs and red-blooded fans! (Expos excluded.) It's a shame that Torrez dedicates most of his waking hours to practicing law, rather than writing more about the game.
This book is easy to read. I love the OPS statistic and using the A-F grading scale for a player's value is easy for a casual fan to calculate and use.
This book suggests and offers us the opportunity to discuss and debate the necessity to redefine our traditionally used baseball statistics.