• The Bill James Handbook 2010

    Posted by on November 14th, 2009 · Comments (5)

    The Bill James Handbook 2010 I’ve mentioned in the past that I’m a raving fan of the Bill James Handbook which is produced annually by the good folks at Baseball Info Solutions and Acta Publications.

    And, after perusing through the Bill James Handbook 2010 for the last two weeks (since it was released on November 1st), I can now share that this year’s edition has not lessened my opinion of this annual. In fact, if anything, it’s just made it stronger.

    As always, the Bill James Handbook 2010 is the perfect off-season companion for the baseball stat junkie. It’s a joy to curl up with a copy of this book and allow yourself to get lost for minutes or hours – immensely enjoying the journey as you cherry-pick on the snapshots of the data therein.

    Most times, I’m just happy thumbing through the pages and landing, at random, at a player and checking his career stats.

    Just the other day, I landed on former Yankee David Weathers. What an amazing career! Weathers is 40-years old and has pitched in the major leagues now for 19 seasons – for 9 different teams (at various times). He’ll never be a Hall-of-Famer, but, when a guy can play in the big leagues for 19 years and pitch in close to 1,000 games, he sure will be able to walk away from the game proud. Yet, if not for a book like the Bill James Handbook 2010, where you can randomly land on his career stats, would you even think twice about Weathers’ major league career?

    That’s just an example of the fun you have with the “Career Register” in this book. But, there’s more – including sections such as, but not limited to, “Team Efficiency Summary” (which tells you how efficient a team was with it’s hitting, pitching and run scoring), the “Fielding Bible Award” and “Runs Saved Plus/Minus Leaders,” how “Baserunners” perform, how “Relief Pitchers” perform, which teams are the best and worst at “Manufactured Runs,” tatics and usage patterns for skippers in the “The Manager’s Record” section, tons of Leader Boards from 2009, and, of course, career “Win Shares” data for every player in the majors last year as well as 2010 player projections for hitters and pitchers.

    That said, here’s some interesting Yankees-related data/facts from the Bill James Handbook 2010:

    • Over the last three season, Jorge Posada is the worst catcher at “saving runs” with a mark of -23. (During this time, Yadier Molina was the leader with a mark of +22).
    • In terms of “net gain” in baserunning, factoring in chances to go first to third, second to home, etc., and the amount of times the player was successful, as well as making outs on the bases, hitting into double plays, and net steals, the Yankees were the 22nd worst team in baseball with a mark of -9. (The best team in baseball here was the Phillies with a mark of +109 and the worst team in baseball was the Royals with a mark of -67.)
    • Also in terms of “net gain” in baserunning, Robinson Cano was the worst in baseball for second baseman (-23) and Chase Utley was the best (+50). This probably lends towards explaining the Phillies and Yankees overall team totals in this stat.
    • David Robertson allowed .36 of his inherited baserunners to score in 2009. For a point of comparison, Edwar Ramirez last season posted a mark of .33 here, Brian Burney’s number was .31, Damaso Marte posted a .19 and Phil Hughes’ fashioned a percentage of .06 – yes, point-oh-six.
    • In 2008, Joe Girardi had runners moving with the pitch 173 times (which was tops in the league). But, in 2009, Girardi had runners moving just 83 times. (What a difference not having Jason Giambi makes, I suppose.)
    • Nick Swisher had the second worst “BPS per OutZ” in the American League with a mark of .218 in 2009. What’s “BPS per OutZ”? It’s batting average plus slugging percentage on pitches outside of the strikezone. (Hey, Swishalicious, do yourself a favor and only swing at strikes!)
    • A.J. Burnett had the third “fastest” average fastball in the league at 94.2 MPH last season whereas Andy Pettitte had the third “slowest” average fastball in the league at 89.0 MPH (minimum 162 IP in both cases).
    • Among all players with at least 98 games played at 2B or SS, Robinson Cano had the 10th worst “2B Pivot %” in the league at .563 and Derek Jeter had the 10th worst “SS Pivot %” at .541 (whereas Dustin Pedroia led 2B at .789 and Yuniesky Betancourt was tops at SS with .735).

    O.K., that’s just a taste of the fun stuff that you can find thumbing through the Bill James Handbook 2010.

    As usual, the Bill James Handbook 2010 delivers. I highly recommend this book – and, not just for Yankees fans, – but for any baseball fan. If you like stats, this book covers all the bases (regardless of your favorite team or teams).

    Comments on The Bill James Handbook 2010

    1. Evan3457
      November 14th, 2009 | 11:25 am

      Re: the Yanks team running stats….

      They were the highest team SB % in the league, and they were 2nd best to the Angels in % in some of those 1st to 3rd and 2nd to home stuff, and 3rd in the league in % of extra bases taken on hits (source: Baseball Reference), so that running number mostly reflects the high percentage of GIDP. The Yanks were 2nd in the league in GIDP…

      …behind only the Twins, who as you know, specialize in solid, fundamental baseball, team play, small ball, moving the runners, and whose manager, Gardenhire, is vastly superior to Girardi, and will undoubtedly finish ahead of him in the Manager of the Year voting this year to prove it.


    2. Evan3457
      November 14th, 2009 | 11:34 am

      …and another thing..with all that great Phillies base running ability, and the Yanks’ being 22nd best (22nd worst would be 9th-best, by the way), the Yanks still beat the Phils in 6.

      I guess having only one good pitcher on the roster counts more than all that speedy fundamental baserunning stuff.
      Re: Cano. Yep, he’s a terrible base runner.
      Re: Robertson…maybe that’s why Girardi was so reluctant to give him a bigger role in the post-season despite his good performance.
      Re: the difference in Girardi moving runners…it’s much simpler than that. Last year, there were offensive breakdowns all over the lineup. This year, everyone was clicking. When you can score a lot without moving runners; when you hit a ton of homers, the thing to do is NOT waste outs on the bases by running yourself out of innings. I think you’ll find the 1961 Yankees didn’t move many runners, either.
      Re: Swisher swinging at balls out of the zone. He doesn’t do that much, at all. No, really. He was 9th best among 153 major league BAVG qualifiers in what Fangraphs calls “O-Swing”, defined as Percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone. Swisher’s O-Swing was 17.4%, lowest among the Yankee regulars.

      No, it’s simpler with Nick. His swing doesn’t let him make good contact as often as most hitters, whether the ball is in the K zone or not.

    3. cr1
      November 14th, 2009 | 12:36 pm

      I have to assume that all the folks who’ve written about how for once the best team actually won the World Championship must not have read the book and ‘learned’ how very far from best the 2009 Yankees were.

      Or else they don’t think stuff like ’22nd worst’ (reveal bias much?) tells them a lot about how games actually get played and won?

      Hard to know…

    4. November 29th, 2009 | 12:17 pm

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