Archive for the tag 'baseball abstract'

The Bill James Baseball Abstract 1988: a review

The team essays are, as in the 1987 edition, focused on the teams; most, frankly, are pretty dull. The Twins essay did a fine job of dissecting their success, though, and a followup essay skewered the notion that the Twinkies were unusually dependent on two pitchers. The Oakland chapter is largely devoted to trying to understand LaRussa’s quirks, which turned out to be an ongoing sabermetric theme. The excellent Cards essay triggered a second excellent essay which used Herzog as an excuse to examine the field manager’s job. And the Astros essay is one of the finest analyses of a team’s season anyone’s written.

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The 1987 Bill James Baseball Abstract: a review

This edition of the Abstract begins with two long essays–a rather dull 18-page project about ways to validate various analytical methodologies, and a fascinating 41 page essay which purports to be about Rookies but which is actually about comparing careers using similarity scores. Bill explores lots of possibilities in this essay, which has more breadth than depth, but enough substance to satisfy almost everyone.

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The Bill James Baseball Abstract 1986: a review

There’s some neat stuff in the team essays. The Blue Jays article begins with a discussion of how the information available shapes an analyst’s research, and ultimately his interests. Bill developed his interest in how teams work because he didn’t have the play-by-play data necessary to fully investigate player skills and habits; Craig Wright was similarly handicapped, despite his employer’s (the Rangers) interest in day-to-day baseball issues. Project Scoresheet, Bill knows, will change the face of sabermetrics. (That has indeed happened, though it took Pitch F/X and Retrosheet to make everything available; the real glory years for this sort of analysis seem to be just beginning.)

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Bill James’ Baseball Abstract 1985: a review

As James notes near the end of the book, this edition of the Abstract is the most technical book he’d produced to date. 1985 is the year Bill brought Major League Equivalencies of minor league players into Sabermetric discourse; comments are scattered throughout the text but the key discussion’s in the Dodgers section. Several of the team writeups were composed by Project Scoresheet participants, which lent some variety; in all cases, Bill added come critical comments. Strangely, Jim Baker seems not to have written any of the book, though he was still in James’ employ and is credited for some of the quoted research.

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The Bill James Baseball Abstract 1984: a short review

The best Baseball Abstract so far, partly because he hired an assistant (Jim Baker) who could assume part of the writing load. This edition’s largely about the things managers do, though of course there are excursions in other topics on nearly every page. There’s also a lot of discussion of “Victory Important RBIs” that I have difficulty taking seriously.

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The Bill James Baseball Abstract 1983: a short review

Part of the fun with these is knowing how things worked out. He predicted the O’s imminent demise, but probably missed by a year (he expected 1983, but hedged his bets. His evolving understandings of, say, Dennis Eckersley is intriguing. He’s absolutely nasty about Sparky Anderson, which probably (or partially) explains Anderson’s low opinion of James’ work.

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1981 Baseball Abstract by Bill James: a short review

One thing that’s obvious is James’ dependence on inadequate tools. Box scores just don’t have enough information to answer the questions he’s asking. That need will lead, ultimately, to Project Scoresheet, to STATS, to Baseball Information Solutions, to Retrosheet. But in 1981 none of these existed.

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1980 Baseball Abstract by Bill James: a short review

There’s still some refining to do, but this is the first edition that feels like the commercial versions. Great fun.

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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.

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1978 Baseball Abstract by Bill James: a review

The front-of-book and back-of-book essays which ultimately built the Bill James legend are only there in embryo. The most-discussed statistic seems to be opposition errors, with results which strike Bill as counter-intuitive; errors increase as the quality of opposition decreases. Perhaps the weaker teams are seeing weaker defensive lineups, he speculates. Wonder if he followed up. This is certainly checkable in these Retrosheet days.

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