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. So, naturally, I was thrilled when The Bill James Handbook 2011 arrived in the mail last Monday.
On last year’s edition, I wrote:
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.
And, that’s no different with this year’s edition.
In fact, I was reading Jane Leavy’s The Last Boy when The Bill James Handbook 2011 arrived – and Leavy’s book, so far, is excellent! – and I stopped reading about Mantle because I can’t put The Bill James Handbook down. (I was reading When the Cheering Stops – which was good in a reminiscing way – when I got Leavy’s book. And, I stopped that one to start the Mantle story. So, actually, The Bill James Handbook 2011 has now pushed Mantle into the on-deck circle and the football Giants into the hole while it’s up at the plate.)
This year’s edition has a new Bill James’ Hall of Fame Monitor and both Plus/Minus and Runs Saved fielding data for every player. Cool new stuff, indeed. And, its got all the neat data that we’ve seen in past editions like the Fielding Bible Awards, Park Indices, Pitcher/Hitter Projections, Manufactured Runs Analysis and career data for every 2010 big leaguer (including select players from Japan).
Granted, sure, many probably are thinking now “I can get a lot of the information in an electronic format.” And, that’s true. But, as Steve Moyer writes in his introduction to The Bill James Handbook 2011, this book is something that you can add to your home bookshelf and touch and turn with your fingers.
It’s Tangible baby, with a capital “T”! (That’s me talking, not Moyer.)
As I mentioned last year and repeated here earlier, in a strong way, having this book is like playing a great baseball fan game. Thumb through the pages and land, at random, at a player and check his career stats. You can get lost for an hour, easy, each day, doing that.
And, the timing of this book is perfect too. Peter Gammons calls it “The prize of our winter hibernation” and he’s spot on with that label. There’s no big league baseball being played now. This book is a safe baseball “fix.” And, it’s the Hot Stove now where players and their worth are debated. What better source to have at your finger tips at this time than The Bill James Handbook 2011?
I highly recommend this book – for any baseball fan. If you like baseball stats, The Bill James Handbook 2011 allows you to ensconce yourself with them. It’s like a sabermetric leaf pile. Just jump in and roll around in the stuff. It’s a great way to lose yourself for a bit, have some fun, and learn some things in the process.