Friday, February 21, 2014

Review: Baseball Prospectus 2014

Edited by Sam Miller and Jason Wojciechowski

I believe I'm just about out of comments, and more importantly complaints, about "Baseball Prospectus 2014."

This series has been coming out for 19 editions. I haven't bought all 19, but I've come close. They quickly became the successor to the Bill James Baseball Abstract of the 1980s, filled with good information mixed with a slightly smart-alack attitude.

The format, for those new to the book, consists of an essay on the entire team, followed by capsules and projections about every single player who is likely to make any sort of impact on the major league team, as well as a few others. There are a few essays and a list of the top 100 prospects at the end, but it's the player descriptions that are the meat and potatoes here. I believe I've describe this as phone-book size, and this again checks in at more than 500 pages.

The deadline pressures must be enormous on a book like this. They do have a large writing staff; this is the first time that the authors have gotten a byline. It is interesting to see the mix of people on the payroll. I'm sure there are some mistakes; there always are in a volume this massive. But I can't say I've seen any reported in reviews or noticed any personally. By the way, several people have gone from this book to employment for teams, as the race for analytic information becomes more intense each year.

If I had to make a comment that's a bit negative, well, the manager descriptions aren't particularly helpful - they basically recite a few statistics about tendencies such as bunting and stealing. That's pretty minor. I'll make the annual warning, too - while there are good projections for fantasy stats, there probably are better sources for that sort of information elsewhere.

If you are interested in knowing what might happen in the 2014 season, "Baseball Prospectus 2014" is the obvious starting point. It's been a long winter up north, so its appearance in the bookstore this month was particularly welcome. Those who want to be a smarter fan who aren't intimidated by some relatively new statistics should definitely pick this up if they haven't already.

Five stars

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