Need a baseball fix to carry you over from Super Bowl madness to the start of Spring Training? Or, are you always up for checking out a unique baseball book? In either case, I recommend The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2012.
First, this year’s edition is much more “handy” as they’ve gone from a “8 1/2 x 11” inch format to a “7 x 9” inch format. This makes the book much more portable. But, more so, the book is full of commentary, analysis and historical features.
To be candid, some of the sabermetric stuff in the book is over my head. (O.K., most of it is over my head.) But, that’s more of a reflection on me than the authors. Yet, you don’t need to understand the math – at least I don’t – to enjoy what’s in there. (I’m fine with leaving the egg-head confirmation and debate tasks to those who are more into that type of metric-exercise.)
For example, in Michael A. Humphreys’ “Simple Fielding Runs Estimates” feature, in the sidebars, it lists the “Defensive Regression Analysis” (DRA) all-time leaders for each position. And, I don’t need to know how the math works on these to appreciate the fact that Paul Blair and Gary Pettis are listed as the 4th and 5th best center fielders, respectively, after Andruw Jones, Willie Mays and Tris Speaker. I saw Blair and Pettis and it’s great to see them get their due in a study. (Ditto seeing Roy White as the 4th best left fielder – per DRA – after Rickey Henderson, Willie Wilson and Barry Bonds.)
Also, in Max Marchi’s “People Will Most Definitely Come” study, I don’t need to waste time trying to follow that the “adjusted R-squared is a statistical coefficient measuring the proportion of variability accounted for by the model” to enjoy that the results tell us that, from 1947, more people attended games when Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver or Vida Blue were pitching.
There’s something for every baseball fan in The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2012. For the hardcore sabermetric crowd, there’s more than enough math in there to give their minds a rush. And, for those who just enjoy baseball commentary and or interesting revelations on baseball history, that’s there as well.