• Solid Fool’s Gold: Detours On The Way To Conventional Wisdom

    Posted by on March 23rd, 2011 · Comments (13)

    Solid Fool's Gold: Detours On The Way To Conventional Wisdom I recently had a chance to read the new Bill James book: Solid Fool’s Gold: Detours on the Way to Conventional Wisdom.

    This book is a collection of articles from James that were previously published at BillJamesOnLine.com – sans one which was a reprint from the 1983 Baseball Abstract. And, it’s not all on baseball. Included in the book are some James features on topics such as tipping, advertising; measuring rainfall, stop lights and the TSA.

    Personally, I found the non-baseball stuff interesting. But, the meat of this one, of course, are the articles on baseball.

    The baseball articles that stood out the most to me were on “hot” pitchers, a better model for the minor league structure, the 33 best starting rotations of all-time, the worst teams of all time, the best pitching matchups of the 1980′s, and the “Expansion Time Bomb” that will hit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

    Solid Fool’s Gold: Detours on the Way to Conventional Wisdom is a quick read. But, it’s a nice collection of Bill James articles to digest – especially if you didn’t see them when they were at BillJamesOnLine.com (which is a subscription site – albeit just $3 a month to subscribe). Most baseball fans would find something in this new Bill James book to enjoy. It’s worth checking out.

    Comments on Solid Fool’s Gold: Detours On The Way To Conventional Wisdom

    1. MJ Recanati
      March 23rd, 2011 | 10:48 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Briefly, what does the book say about “a better model for the minor league structure” and “‘Expansion Time Bomb’ that will hit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown” because those two piqued my interest.

    2. March 23rd, 2011 | 10:54 am
    3. March 23rd, 2011 | 10:59 am

      And, from http://bezdomnybaseball.blogspot.com/

      Last year Bill James wrote an article called “The Expansion Time Bomb.” [Unfortunately it's behind the paywall on his site.] Bill argued that, as baseball has expanded since 1969, so too has the number of players reaching levels “historical achievement” that typically define a Hall of Fame career. In other words, in an expanded league, there will be more players with 3,000 hits, more players with 500 home runs hitters, more 300 game winners, and otherwise more milestones being reached. This seems intuitively true, but it is also very hard to argue, and harder to verify. Still, his main argument is an interesting one (which I paraphrase below):

      Most supporters want the Hall of Fame to be an exclusive club. This inherently means restricting membership to a small number of entries per year (or decade, or other time period). As expansion has led to more players with historical levels of achievement, Hall of Fame standards will tighten to levels much more narrow than those used in the past.

    4. MJ Recanati
      March 23rd, 2011 | 11:04 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      . In other words, in an expanded league, there will be more players with 3,000 hits, more players with 500 home runs hitters, more 300 game winners

      There are certainly more players with 500 HR, but that’s got as much to do with smaller parks, juiced balls, PED’s, better fitness and technological improvements as expansion.

      There may be more players with 3,000 hits, I’m just not sure who (after Jeter). I remember George Brett, Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs and a couple of others getting to the milestone but I don’t know who the next wave might be once Jeter joins the club. Ichiro could, but he’d have to play another long while. A-Rod? Manny? Dunno, I guess it’s possible.

      I don’t buy that there will be more players with 300 wins. Guys like Pettitte and Mussina pitched nearly two decades and only got as close as 20-40 wins away. CC Sabathia might be the guy that has the best shot of doing it since he’s winning a lot of ballgames a year and got an early start on his career. But, honestly, I think it’ll be a very long time before we see another 300 game winner. I think James is wrong about that one.

    5. MJ Recanati
      March 23rd, 2011 | 11:07 am

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      This may interest you:http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/article/making_minor_leagues_stronger/

      I agree with Tango’s criticisms of James’s idea but not with his proposed solution.

      Frankly, I think the system works well enough as it is.

    6. Raf
      March 23rd, 2011 | 11:08 am

      With the 5 man rotation, it’s harder to win 300 games now, isn’t it? Seems that players now don’t have the durability nor the career length to do it nowadays.

      I think Johnny Damon may be next in line after Jeter for 3k hits.

    7. MJ Recanati
      March 23rd, 2011 | 11:11 am

      Raf wrote:

      I think Johnny Damon may be next in line after Jeter for 3k hits.

      According to this, Pudge Rodriguez and Omar Vizquel are after Jeter. I figure both are too old and no longer regulars so they’re probably out. Seems like A-Rod, Manny and Damon are the next three and, due to A-Rod’s contract, he’ll probably have the best shot at it. Damon and Ramirez could honestly be out of baseball in two years’ time which would leave them both just short (at around 2800 each).

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/H_active.shtml

    8. Jim TreshFan
      March 23rd, 2011 | 11:21 am

      What I found interesting was James’s take on Mark McGwire’s HOF credentials in his 2011 Handbook. He said, steroids aside, McGwire really doesn’t look like a HOF candidate based on his accomplishments. He falls just short. This despite hitting 583 HRs and playing in 9 All Star games. Interesting.

    9. MJ Recanati
      March 23rd, 2011 | 11:41 am

      @ Jim TreshFan:
      I personally think McGwire belongs in the Hall but I can see James’s point. If McGwire hadn’t missed most of the 1993 and 1994 seasons, however, he’d probably be well into the mid-600′s in HR and I have a hard time seeing how the fourth or fifth ranking HR hitter would be left out (separate and apart from steroids).

    10. Raf
      March 23rd, 2011 | 12:27 pm

      It could be that McGwire is or was viewed as a one dimensional player. Dave Kingman with a better glove.

    11. MJ Recanati
      March 23rd, 2011 | 1:42 pm

      Raf wrote:

      It could be that McGwire is or was viewed as a one dimensional player. Dave Kingman with a better glove.

      Yeah, perhaps. But if you’re the best one-dimensional player (or one of the best) then that should get you into Cooperstown.

    12. March 24th, 2011 | 7:22 pm

      Is this the book where Bill James does his look at crime stuff? Or is that his next book?

    13. March 25th, 2011 | 6:35 am

      It’s not this book.

    Leave a reply

    You must be logged in to post a comment.