Title: Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong
Authors: The Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts
Editor: Jonah Keri
|via Barnes & Noble|
Baseball Prospectus is a stats website. Its writers devote their energies to probing the mysteries of the game to determine what, in fact, makes a player valuable to his team. The most well-known writer for Baseball Between the Numbers is Nate Silver who has since gone on to create the popular and astonishingly accurate political prediction blog, FiveThirtyEight (soon to move to the ESPN site so Silver can split time between his two loves). The book is structured much like Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner: conventionally held beliefs are examined in relation to available data. Some assumptions hold true: most free agents are overpaid and new stadiums are a shameful waste of public money. Others don't weather the stat storm so well: clutch hitting, for instance, is essentially nonexistent.
Baseball Between the Numbers is probably not worth much to anyone who is not a baseball fan. But for a sports and numbers geek such as myself, it's tremendous fun. I've been an avid fantasy baseball player over the past few years and while I had been thinking of scaling back a bit on that hobby, this book has helped stoke the flame. I'd love to toy around with the stats we use in order to be more saber-friendly. Of course, I said the same after I read Moneyball and nothing ever came of it.
If you're still reading and are genuinely a baseball fan, Baseball Between the Numbers has a lot to offer. On-field performance is explored in-depth, of course, but other topics are covered as well, including team finances and effective use of the amateur player draft. James Click even offers a crash course on the ins and outs of statistical analysis - correlation v. causation, regression analysis, standard deviations, sample size, etc. - in his chapter "What Does Mike Redmond Know About Tom Glavine?" If you're not a baseball fan but you are interested in what statistics can tell us about the world we live in, I highly recommend Freakonomics.
Please join us and share your own review of your best read from the past month. This month's link list is below. I'll keep it open until the end of the day. I'll post January's tomorrow. Meetings are the last Friday of each month. Next gathering is January 31st.