Baseball Between the Numbers, edited by Jonah Keri: a review

The book is built around 27 questions (outs), organized into 9 chapters (innings)–questions like “Why are pitchers so unpredictable?” and “Is there such a thing as a quadruple-A player?” The 28th (extra innings) chapter is, unsurprisingly, about scouts and stats. The chapters usually have a single author, though there’s some obvious cross-fertilization and two have co-authors. Each chapter explores the title question, and often related subjects, in some detail, testing hypotheses and discussing the results. The precise tools they’ve used are not usually directly displayed, but the authors show enough data that you can do a parallel analysis if you’re so inclined. (Some of the tools are fully described in the Glossary or the notes, and it isn’t hard to find the details on the web.) The results are occasionally surprising (ignore the subtitle, folks; it’s a marketing ploy), but the explanation’s usually convincing.

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