I buy the Baseball Prospectus each year and I find that it provides what is easily the most comprehensive discussion of players and teams. But every year, I lament the fact that the book publishes with unnecessary errors. A book containing this much data and that needs to be published on a tight deadline is bound to contain some errors, but every year the book contains some serious gaffs that should not be there. This year, as other reviewers have pointed out, the biggest problem is the gap between the PECOTA player projections as published in the book and the ones on the BP web site. Given that they heavily promote PECOTA, they simply have to get the final versions cranked early enough to be included in the book. It's not as if players are adding to their stats in November and December.
One interesting change is that they dropped the Davenport Translations (DTs) that had been a staple of the book for years. In fact, they used to be criticized because years ago players' triple crown stats were only given as DTs. Then they moved to publishing translated and non-translated stats. They don't directly explain why they dropped the DTs other than making a brief statement that they wanted to make the presentation of the player stats seem less cluttered. Losing the DTs for major league seasons isn't a great loss because apart from players in a couple of extreme environments -- Colorado, San Diego -- they didn't make much difference. But losing them for minor league seasons is a significant loss. Knowing the rough major league equivalent of a season in the California League is useful. Many years ago, Bill James made the argument that there was a relatively stable correlation between a given level of performance in the minor leagues and performance in the major leagues, taking into account a player's age. It's too bad that BP decided to eliminate that information.
As a number of other reviewers have noted, this year the writing, which is always a little uneven, seems worse than normal. In general, writing in the BP suffers from two problems: 1) The book clearly does not receive a thorough edit; many of the player comments are unclear or awkwardly written. and 2) The comments are too snarky. Bill James set the tone for smart alecky baseball commentary nearly 30 years ago. But it takes real talent to pull off that type of writing without seeming to be obnoxious. Unfortunately, as a group, the BP writers lack this talent. Rather than provide a straightforward analysis of the player, too many of the comments strain to be clever and often end up with something that is neither funny nor relevant.
Finally, Steven Goldman, BP's editor in chief, really needs to come off it. Last year, he wrote a preface celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of BP in which he claimed that BP invented this kind of baseball commentary, which it clearly did not -- Bill James did more than a decade before the first BP was published. This year, he compares BP to the seven wonders of the ancient world and claims that writing it is so difficult that "once we pass from the scene, such a book will not be attempted by anyone ...." Really? BP has 13 contributors. Bill James, working largely alone in the early days, turned out the Baseball Abstract each year. Sure, the people at BP work hard, but they are clearly not a uniquely talented group, as the flaws in their product make very clear. Should BP cease publishing, its place will quickly be taken by another group producing a similar book.
Not to end on a sour note: Although the book has its flaws, if you are interested in an overview of nearly every player (they do miss a few, like Ryan Vogelsong), this is the place to go.