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).