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on November 7, 2012
Hundreds of baseball books have homes on my shelves. The book that most often comes off the shelf is The Bill James Handbook, the must-have annual that is the earliest, most comprehensive and most innovative review of the just-completed season.

The 2013 edition offers 550 compact pages - all the information I can find elsewhere and a whole lot of insight that I can't find anywhere else. Traditional stats and modern metrics. Every player, manager and ballpark, with layers of info, each revealing a deeper understanding of talent and tendencies. Projections for fantasy leagues. Lefty-righty breakdowns for my Strat-O-Matic play. And new this year: Productive/unproductive outs by team and player; a dozen new categories to analyze pitchers, and career totals for player baserunning efficiency.

As a baseball reference for the 2012 season, the Handbook is in a league of its own.

Instinctively, I'd say that this all-in-one book spares me the hours of moving between websites and other volumes. But the truth is, I spend more time with The Bill James Handbook, because it's cover-to-cover enjoyment.

Here's the handy register of every player who appeared in 2012, complete with minor-league data for recent Major Leaguers. I wish my old Sporting News and MacMillan registers had so many stat categories ... Here's the best of John Dewan's unique Fielding Bible - the modern-metric version of Gold Gloves, plus the leaders by position for runs saved and plus/minus performance, all backed up by the most comprehensive 2012 Fielding Register available anywhere ... Here are Leader Boards like you've never seen elsewhere: 90 categories each for AL batters, AL pitchers, NL batters and NL pitchers. Basic stats, situational stats, and such fun stuff as longest (and shortest) home runs, and swing-and-miss percentage ...

Here's a Handbook original: Individual-player breakdowns of baserunning efficiency (extra bases taken and baserunning gaffes) ... And such other Bill James specialties as Win Shares, Career Targets, Hall of Fame Monitor, and Team Efficiency (which teams over-performed/underperformed their stats).

If you share my passion for pitching, here's the mother lode: Every pitcher's performance hitting, fielding and holding base runners; the new Pitcher Analysis shows totals for groundballs, fly balls and line drives and how many times each pitcher got ahead or behind in the count; each man's pitch repertoire and how often they threw each pitch. (Top starters like Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Roy Halladay have four pitches each, while R.A. Dickey gets by, quite well, with 85 percent knuckleballs. Lights-out closers Aroldis Chapman and Craig Kimbrel rely on two pitchers. That may be a hint about whether Chapman will become a starter, or how effective a starter he will be if he gets the chance.)

There's more. But that's the fun of having the treasure box that is the Bill James Handbook. Everywhere you search, there's another gem.
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on November 8, 2012
I have every copy of the Bill James Handbook that has ever been printed for over 20 years. Each year they expand the coverage of statistics. Want to know about managers? Want to see projections? Want to see by ballpark? It's all here. Then, since the beginning, they publish the book by the Holidays. If you have a baseball fan, especially a stat person, this is a great Christmas gift! If you don't get this book for Christmas, you should put in your order with Amazon the day after Christmas. Personally, I can't wait, so I have pre-ordered this book for years! Bill James is the best Sabermetrician I've ever known. The Bill James Handbook is the single best stat book in print. It may not be the only stat book you'll buy this year, but if you only buy one, this is the book you need.
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Another in a long line of Bill James' handbooks. Publication of each volume tells us that a new baseball season is coming. And the statistics included in this volume always provide focus for the upcoming season.

One of the features that I especially like is the estimates of the most likely players to enter the Hall of Fame or to break key records. Hall of Fame? A scoring system is developed, with a score of 100 or more meaning that the player has a good chance of entering the Hall. Who are the 100-pointers? Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, Ken Griffey, Jr., Ivan Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Vlad Guerrero, and Albert Pujols. Will all of these make it? Most will, but we shall see. . .

Any likely 300 game winners? Not looking so good. Justin Verlander has a 37% chance and CC Sabathia a 36% chance. A lot less than 50-50 for the best bets. Are the days of 300 win pitchers done? What about the all time home run record? A-Rod's chances went from fairly good to less than 1% over the past few years. Injuries have taken a toll on him. Top shot? Pujols at a low 10% chance.

Hitter and pitcher projections for performance are also cool to consider (because one can check out the projections after the 2013 season is over). I'm a Chicago White Sox fan, so let's take a look at a couple of their players. Adam Dunn? 33 homers and a wretched .207 batting average. Is Paul Konerko going to begin a decline? His projection--30 home rune, 92 RBIs, and a .281 average. Not too shabby. Pitchers? I am intrigued by the potential of Chris Sale. His won loss prediction--14-8. ERA? 3.09. 214 strikeouts in 198 innings pitched. Let's see how well these pan out.

Another fine volume!
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on November 2, 2012
Each year at this time many baseball stat geeks, myself included, feel that temporary sense of depression that comes with the end of the season. The Bill James Handbook is that "port in the storm" that thaws that depression as it helps bridge the gap between the end of the World Series to the start of spring training. Bill, John Dewan, Greg Pierce and their staff at Baseball Info Solutions have again delivered the ultimate compilation of statistics derived from the recently concluded MLB season. All statistics, all the time! No opinionated player reviews here! If you are a baseball afficionado, a fantasy or sim player, or simply the aforementioned stat geek, this is the book you'll need to review the stats of every individual player who set foot on the field, hitters and pitchers, during the just concluded 2012 MLB season. Replete with current and season-by-season stats for 1000+ players, the book also offers other statistical analysis such as team stats, defense ratings (team and individual), pitching breakdowns (or breakouts!) and much, much more!

From a S-O-M player of 38 years and a baseball fan from the womb, I couldn't do without this book each and every off-season!
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on February 2, 2013
As everyone noted the book is full of every stat - relevant to arcane - that anyone could ever want and more than most will ever need. If you've never seen one in person I suggest you find a copy to look at before you buy it because parts of it can be excruciatingly difficult to read. I wish I had looked for a spiral bound copy but that's the past. I do wear glasses but I have no trouble reading fine print on web pages or other stats books like Baseball Prospectus Prospect Handbook. This book however really should be offered in digital format to make it easier to read.
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on January 23, 2013
If you are a baseball stats nut like me, you will absolutely LOVE this book! I especially love the hitters and pitchers projections for 2013-fun stuff! But the best part about this book? Man, it comes out like one week after the world series! I was in heaven when I discovered that. I used to buy the good ol' Who's Who in Baseball which gave me the lifetime stats of all active players and it sucked that I had to wait and wasit and wait until Feb. or in some cases March to get it. I was chomping at the bit. Then I discovered this book a few years back and now I am addicted and Who's Who is a thing of the past. Do yourself a favor...if you love baseball stats, this is for you and if you can't wait until Feb/March, grab it right after the WS ends!
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on January 11, 2014
It's not quite Baseball Prospectus, but the Bill James Handbooks are a good reference book for the hardcore baseball fan or baseball historian. It includes James' Win Shares system for player ratings (which I wish were more widely available, as Win Shares is far superior to WAR for accurate summation of player performance), and every stat you could possibly imagine plus a few dozen you never thought of. I recommend it.
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on December 5, 2012
This is the perfect companion to the conclusion of the baseball season. Every year I dig into this book and am amazed at how much I learn about baseball. If you love stats and want to be more informed on what you're watching, this book is for you.
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on February 17, 2013
Bill James and his co-writers continue to expand our understanding of the game using expert analysis which levels the playing field, literally! I especially look forward to the analysis of future Hall of Fame chances for existing players. (If only HOF selection were based solely on the player stats.) James punts when it comes to understanding how or if the sport writers charged with navigating the selection process will ever balance various PED accusations with those stats, which is a shame. It would also be more interesting to include the rankings for recently retired players and those already on the ballot against the chances of those still playing. Obviously it is a big rush for them to get the book out by the end of November so shortly after the season has ended, and Bill James is obviously being pulled in multiple directions with his main endeavor continuing to be his full-time employment with the Red Sox, and it shows. While the book leaves me wishing they put a little more time and effort as well as depth in the commentary sections, it is still a must-have for stats starved baseball fans.
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on January 11, 2013
i'm telling you this book has made me so smart. you want to know how mike trout is going to do in 2013? this is the right book for you. ron shandler and bill james forever. i am in a fantasy keeper league, and because of this book i can put a value on every player i own. the crazy thing is that most of the predictions of players stats in this book are very close to reality. check the 2012 stats and book. it has been an invaluable asset. i came in second in both my leagues. in the money but not on top. Maybe i'd do better if i didn't draft guys like miguel sano, but he will get to the bigs and once he does--boom. and Bill James will tell you the year before it happens.
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