Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong

Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong

by Jonah Keri

In the numbers-obsessed sport of baseball, statistics don't merely record what players, managers, and owners have done.

Despite this fundamental change in the way we watch and understand the sport, no one has written the book that reveals, across every area of strategy and management, how the best practitioners of statistical analysis in baseball-people like Bill James, Billy Beane, and Theo Epstein-think about numbers and the game.

In separate chapters covering every aspect of the game, from hitting, pitching, and fielding to roster construction and the scouting and drafting of players, the experts at Baseball Prospectus examine the subtle, hidden aspects of the game, bring them out into the open, and show us how our favorite teams could win more games.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Sports
  • Rating: 4.00
  • Pages: 518
  • Publish Date: February 27th 2007 by Basic Books
  • Isbn10: 0465005470
  • Isbn13: 9780465005475

What People Think about "Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong"

Example: Ask a baseball fan if he could tell the difference between a .300 hitter and a .250 hitter and he would say "Of course!" A .300 batting average has been the hallmark of excellence for over a century; .300 hitters are rare and exceptional, players who have long and storied careers. A baseball fan has trained himself to think a .300 hitter will look excellent when he is at bat, while a .250 hitter will look mediocre. A baseball fan thinks he can recognize the difference between a .300 hitter and a .250 hitter very easily, but what he really recognizes is the context the statistic gives him. The purpose of this book is to look at all of the statistics we have been using over that century and seeing if they actually help give us the best concept of a player's skill level. This book gives the baseball fan new statistics to help him understand the game a little better.

in baseball between the numbers, the writers (or experts, as the title page so modestly deems them) at baseball prospectus consider some of the game's most contentious and long-held presumptions and attempt to discern the statistical truths from a bewilderingly broad swath of data. the authors, amongst other topics, consider the undue attention paid to the rbi and a pitcher's win total, arguing that neither of these statistics are accurate gauges of a player's prowess. most of the criticisms i have read about the book (and, again, sabermetrics in general) seem to suggest that these advanced statistics somehow devalue the game.

I loaned this book to him and he couldn't make it through a single essay before he just shut down and started arguing with me about clutchness not being quantifiable and how numbers can't tell you what's going to happen in any given at bat. I tried to point out that this book contains an essay about clutch hitting and whether its a statistical anomaly or a tangible skill, but he had already given up by the time he saw WAR, BABIP, and the other assorted acronyms of advanced baseball metrics.

The books writers make the common sense point, backed up by statistics, that it would make much more sense to use the closer in high-leverage situations (runners on base with a lead of less than 3 runs) in the 6th, 7th, or 8th inning.

I don't think that everything I knew about the game was wrong but this was most definitely an interesting read.

In 2006, several clubs still held out against the crucial statistical terms discussed in this book, such as value over replacement level, on-base percentage, PECOTA, sample size, true outcomes, and marginal wins.

Given that, it is the only book I think i have ever started and not finished, except for maybe anything by Willaim Burroughs (maybe one day I'll try Naked Lunch again but but I am 0 for 2 in getting past page 10).

Really glad he got no rings.