As recent as the late 1970′s, in common baseball circles, concepts such as recognizing the value of “On Base Percentage” (say, compared to “Batting Average”) were as foreign as the concept of indoor plumbing is to Borat Sagdiyev today. However, progress can be made – after all, it was just three years ago that “On Base Plus Slugging Percentage” began to appear on the backs of baseball bubblegum cards.
Related, I am a firm believer that, someday, mainstream baseball – in the collective sense of more teams, players, agents, media and fans than not – will learn to embrace the usage of such (presently cutting-edge) baseball statistics such as Win Probability Results and Batted Ball Type Results.
It may take five years for this to happen, or thirty, or even another century – but, when it does occur, it will be (in part) thanks to the good folks at Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) and The Hardball Times (THT) as they have been championing this type of progressive baseball analysis for a while now.
As an example of how BIS & THT are helping to blaze this new trail for baseball statistic appreciation, I highly recommend reading The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 – as I have just completed reviewing The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 and can share (that, in my opinion) it is the new standard by which these types of sabermetric-themed baseball annuals should be judged.
Actually, I should take a step back and qualify that last statement with some further perspective. Last year, I had an opportunity to review The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006 – and, at the time, said (about it): “I’ve read many books like this over the last 25 years and this one is right up there among the best of the group.”
Therefore, The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006 actually set the bar for my expectations leading into reading The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 – and it was a very high bar. Nonetheless, the annual this year cleared that bar with daylight galore.
The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 provides commentary and study covering what happened in the 2006 baseball season as well as baseball’s past. And, it contains pages and pages (and pages!) of unique and telling baseball stats. If you’re a baseball stat-junkie, The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 will provide you with a fix that’s good right up until Opening Day 2007 (and perhaps beyond).
In particular, I very much enjoyed the features (in this year’s edition) contributed by THT Staff Writers John Brattain, Chris Constancio, David Gassko, Dave Studenmund, and John Walsh – along with the guest contributions from John Dewan, Will Leitch, John Burnson, Greg Rybarczyk, and Mac Thomason.
Do you want to know who are the best prospects in baseball? Who are the most valuable pitchers of all-time? What was the story behind the Federal League? Who had the best and worst outfield arms of our time? What’s the history and impact of Tommy John Surgery? Which baseball team had the best defense in 2006? How much do ballparks and weather impact hitting? What types of players develop power as hitters? What’s the difference between line-drives and strikeouts in terms of run impact? Who controls the batter-pitcher match-up? Then, you owe it to yourself to get The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007. All this, and more, can be found therein.
You know, as antiquated as “Batting Average” is in terms of being a useful tool in determining a batter’s worth, it does still hold one truth that cannot be denied: If you’re batting 1.000, you’re perfect.
The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 is batting 1.000 – in terms of providing great and ground-breaking baseball analysis. It’s a worthy pick-up.