If circumstances only allow you to purchase and/or read one baseball book this spring, you cannot make a better choice than “The Bill James Gold Mine 2008.”
In this book, James provides fun and informative statistical analysis on every big league team – in addition to 17 new essays that are a treat to read.
Among my favorites were:
“Three to Five Run Records” – which shows you the best and worst teams when they scored or allowed three to five runs in a game.
“The Dave Kingman Award” – where James uses “HR/[RC+10]” to show us which batters over the last 30 years were the “best” at “hitting home runs without doing anything else positive as a hitter.”
“The Turk Farrell Award” – which identifies good pitchers who had terrible records because their team stunk.
“The Nolan Ryan Award” – given to unreformed power pitchers via James’ formula of “[W*L*SO*BB]/IP.”
“End Game” – which identifies “the moment at which it ain’t over, but it’s over” for a team with respect to their place in the standings. (This essay suggests that the three greatest collapses in baseball history belong to the 1951 Dodgers, 1964 Phillies, 2007 Mets, and 1978 Red Sox – in that order.)
“Closer Fatigue” – where James shows how fatigue level of a closer impacts success for his team.
“Strength Up the Middle” – that confirms good teams are strong “up the middle” – and it’s more true that bad teams are weak in this area.
“Bullpens and Crunches” – that establishes teams with good bullpens “tend to exceed expectations” in one-run and close games. But, it also shares that there’s no definitive evidence that teams with strong bullpens do well in the post-season.
“Herbie” – where James introduces a stat that identifies “a more reasonable candidate for the league’s best pitcher than the actual ERA leader.”
Brass tacks, if you were a fan of The Bill James Baseball Abstracts, you will enjoy this book. And, if you’ve never read James’ Abstracts, and always wondered what the fuss was about, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book.
“The Bill James Gold Mine 2008” is the type of baseball book that’s so much fun, and enlightening, that you’ll want to re-read it, again, the minute you finish reading it for the first time. And, there’s a good chance that you’ll want to read it a third time after that – as there’s so much good stuff in it.