Tag Archives: bill james

The Politics of Glory by Bill James: a review

This is both a history of the Baseball Hall of Fame and an examination of the apparent standards used by the voting populaces, with a lot of asides. The history is solid, and covers both the institutional side (how the Hall and museum came to be built, maintained, and ruled) and the election of the players (and others) who are honored there.

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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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1977 Baseball Abstract by Bill James: a short review

Most of the book contains then-unusual breakdowns and breakouts–monthly player stats, steal prevention effectiveness for pitchers and catchers, team age. More interesting, at least at this point, are his explorations of umpiring patterns (little difference, except for a couple outliers) and some early musings about evaluating fielding. Interesting, but really very early work.

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The Bill James Baseball Abstract, 1982: a review

In retrospect, Bill clearly intended the book as a sabermetric primer. It introduces many of his basic thought structures, sometimes in depth, but it’s directed at folks who haven’t given baseball statistics the in depth consideration he’s brought to the subject. Much fun, for all that.

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The Bill James Gold Mine 2008: a review

Guess we’re just supposed to value it for the nuggets. Those are definitely there, and for me that really is enough.

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