1979 Baseball Abstract by Bill James: a review

Here, in the third edition, Bill James finally finds the voice we all love (or hate). And the Abstract’s rapidly moving toward its mature format. Every team gets an essay, most of which are interesting; a couple are used to demonstrate concepts. And there’s a long essay, purporting to compare Guidry’s season with Rice’s, which puts all the basic sabermetric tools on display. There’s also considerable exploration of the limits of the available defensive statistics.

This book, like the earlier editions, is just full of little testable theses the Bill didn’t find an opportunity to follow up before sending the pages to the printer. Some could be more easily tested, these days; not sure how many remain unresolved. Perhaps someday I’ll sort through those.

For the first time, Bill directly addresses the shortcomings of accepted wisdom. For the first time, he challenges the decision styles of various teams’ managements. Great fun.


This review was originally published on LibraryThing.