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Baseball Prospectus 2011 [Paperback]

Baseball Prospectus , Steven Goldman

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Book Description

24 Mar 2011 Baseball Prospectus
The bestselling annual baseball preview from the smartest analysts in the business The essential guide to the 2011 baseball season is on deck now, and whether you′re a fan or fantasy player—or both—you won′t be properly informed without it. Baseball Prospectus 2011 brings together an elite group of analysts to provide the definitive look at the upcoming season in critical essays and commentary on the thirty teams, their managers, and more than sixty players and prospects from each team. Contains critical essays on each of the thirty teams and player comments for some sixty players for each of those teams Projects each player′s stats for the coming season using the groundbreaking PECOTA projection system, which has been called "perhaps the game′s most accurate projection model" ( Sports Illustrated ) From Baseball Prospectus, America′s leading provider of statistical analysis for baseball Now in its sixteenth edition, this New York Times bestselling insider′s guide remains hands down the most authoritative and entertaining book of its kind.

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From the Back Cover

The 2011 Edition of the New York Times bestselling guide "THE BEST BOOK OF ITS KIND."—Rob Neyer, Now in its sixteenth edition, the Baseball Prospectus annual shows once again how it became the industry leader: the 2011 Edition includes key stat categories, more controversial player predictions, and the kind of wise, witty baseball commentary that makes a phone–book–thick tome worth reading cover to cover. Baseball Prospectus 2011 provides fantasy players and insiders alike with uncannily prescient PECOTA projections, which Sports Illustrated has called "perhaps the game′s most accurate projection model." Still, stats are just numbers if you don′t see the larger context, and Baseball Prospectus brings together an elite team of analysts to provide the definitive look at all thirty teams—their players, their prospects, and their managers—to explain away flukes, hot streaks, injury–tainted numbers, park effects, and overrated prospects who won′t be able to fool people in the Show like they have down on the farm. Nearly every Major League team has sought the advice of current or former Prospectus writers, and readers of Baseball Prospectus 2011 will understand what all those fans have been raving about. "If you′re a baseball fan and you don′t know what BP is, you′re working in a mine without one of those helmets with the lights on it." — Keith Olbermann "Witty . . . savvy . . . a rich snapshot of where the game and its reference books are today and where they′re going." — Sports Illustrated " Baseball Prospectus continues to raise the bar for innovative baseball analysis every year." — Mark Shapiro , President, Cleveland Indians "If a general manager hasn′t read Baseball Prospectus, he should be fired for incompetence." — Michael Lewis , author of Moneyball Baseball Prospectus 2010 correctly predicted: The collapse of 2009 stars Derek Jeter, Derrek Lee, Adam Lind, Pablo Sandoval, Ben Zobrist, Todd Helton, and Miguel Tejada Major comebacks for Kelly Johnson, Rickie Weeks, and Aubrey Huff Breakout seasons from Carlos Santana, Jason Heyward, Mike Stanton, and Pedro Alvarez That the Cubs′ aging, expensive stars would put the team not only out of contention, but into rebuilding mode That the Mets′ injury problems, poor starting pitching, and absence of corner outfield power or a decent catcher would sink them for 2010 (and probably for 2011), leading to a round of firings That Texas would put a great team on the field, a team well poised to compete for years to come

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed 25 Feb 2011
By Ben Roberts - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I couldn't wait for 2011 Baseball Prospectus to arrive, but this year's book fails to live up to the quality I have come to expect from Baseball Prospectus.

* PECOTA projections, updated on the Baseball Prospectus site, differ so materially from the book on many important players so as to make the numbers in the book an unreliable indicator. Really, BP knows the deadline for the book and the data is set with the end of the prior season, so this simply reflects a failure to get the job done on schedule. Revisions should reflect tweaks to the system or subsequent events, such as player movement, not major adjustments affecting large numbers of player forecasts.

* The narrative is simply poorly edited. The number of run-on sentences or sentences missing clauses or incorrectly formated tables creates the impression the book was rushed to press without even a proof-reading.

* In the past, I loved BP's insightful player write-ups. This year, the writing just isn't as good. It's almost as if the style of past years is being imitated but without the rich knowledge of unrelated fields that added color amd brought unique insights to player description.

* Ballparks (major and minor) are listed in an appendix, but park factors have been eliminated. Unfortunately, this makes the table fairly useless.

Having said that, the book made some advances: simplified the range of statistics, removing what was becoming a proliferation of redundant measures. The BP work on meusuring fielding performance is truly cutting edge. And the Top 100 Prospects section is perhaps better than ever.

The single biggest thing BP could do better is simply get better organized to put out a complete, higher quality product on time.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sadly disappointed 11 Mar 2011
By James Crabtree - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As I've been reading my Baseball Prospectus 2011 I've noticed some shocking errors, especially when you consider how smug and condescending some of the BP types can be. The first is right in the preface when the editor, Steven Goldman, writes in the very first line, "The art deco lobby of the Empire State Building in New York City contains a display of the seven so-called wonders of the ancient world - the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon..." What? I had to read that three times to make sure I was seeing that right. What a mistake to start off with and from the editor.

Then I started spotting errors with the stats. For example, in the Diamondbacks section it says Mike Hampton threw 41 innings for them last year and allowed only three hits, one walk, and no earned runs. WHAT?

Then in the Braves section on pitchers I began to notice that the games and games started numbers are messed up. Tommy Hanson pitched in 34 games, but started 40? Tim Hudson pitched in 34 games and started 36? What is going on? Very strange for a publication that prides itself on accuracy. Am I missing something?

Do you want an example of the smug condescension that runs throughout these pages? How about this on page 37, "Unless a stint as a talking head on ESPN's Baseball Tonight taught Showalter the secret of baseball alchemy, enabling him to turn Baltimore's diluted and watery roster into wine - which would seem unlikely, considering the intellectual and analytical powers of his cohosts- we should proabably...." That is about as smug as it gets and it turns me off from wanting to read more. On another page a political shot at Pres. George W. Bush seems out of place, too. I don't want my baseball and politics mixed together. I won't be buying anything from BP again.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Last Time I Will Purchase This 28 Feb 2011
By Allan E. Coon - Published on
I agree with a number of the other reviewers that this is just not the Prospectus that I used to know and love. I have basically been alternating the past few years between BP, Shandler and not purchasing any full stat books at all, so decided to try BP again after being somewhat disappointed the last time I bought it (2008 or 2009). I was very disappointed, for the following reasons:

1) In many instances, the comments in the text of a player evaluation are directly contrary to the PECOTA projection for the player. For example, the text says that the player is declining and in danger of losing usefullness, while the PECOTA shows a significant bounceback from a down year.
2) In most instances, the PECOTA does not even attempt to project an accurate playing time for a player, often showing clear utility players with 400-500 plate appearances. Sure, I can extrapolate or divide, but why should I have to?
3) The PECOTAs are ridiculously conservative, even for someone with a full understanding of regression to the mean. And, in the case of pitchers, there are many cases where the projected ERA for a pitcher (not one who is 38 years old, either) is higher than any of his past three years. And--see # 1 above--in at least one instance, that's despite a textual evaluation that the player is basically an elite level performer who should be expected to stay that way (Ubaldo Jimenez).
4) The occasional witticisms seem forced, inapposite and, rather than adding to the enjoyment of the reading, clearly detract from what ought to be the mission of the book.
5) The team essays are of variable quality; many were just not that interesting in terms of the facet of the team performance that the writers chose to focus upon.
6) Although the stat capsules are cleaner, there is a definite absence of advanced-level metrics. If BP is actually looking at things like line-drive rate, etc., they are not providing that information for us to see as Shandler did last year. If the stat projections appeared to be better, I would probably be willing to just trust in the evaluative tools, but they haven't earned that benefit of the doubt this time.
7) I can't tell if the fielding measures are better or not. Unless I've mistaken, what they say they are doing is throwing out all zone ratings becuase there are potential flaws in the reporting and semi-subjective aspects of that methodology and just reducing it all to a measurement of the subject player against some average figure of plays that should be made. It's hard for me to see this as a step forward; it looks like they have just thrown in the towel here (which may not be a bad idea come to think about it).

There are probably more negatives, but that's all I can think of off of the top of my head. Frankly, the only thing I liked about the book was the solid writing/evaluation in the Top 101 prospects section. But I can find material of a similar quality on that subject in a lot of places.

The bottom line is I feel like I wasted my money and will probably now go get the Shandler book instead.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still the best book of its kind, but they need a good editor 11 Jun 2011
By Hal Jordan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 15 Mar 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on
I posted this as a comment, but I wanted to give an actual rating...

This was the first year that I bought BP, but I doubt that I will buy it again. I noticed the same errors as others have pointed out...Gardens of Babylon, Games Pitched/Started, Inaccurate Stats...

Also in the Statistical Introduction where they explain PECOTA they leave off the MLB % explanation that is listed for every player. I was able to look up the 2010 edition on Google Books where you can see that after attrition there is another bullet point: "MLB is the percentage of playing time spent in the major's by the player's comparable list." Maybe they just figured their audience would know this, but I suspect it was an error.

Also throughout the book they have superscripts of a 1 or a 2 next to the innings pitched. I could have missed it, but I did not see where these are ever explained.

I like the format and it is a good premise for the buildup to baseball season, but the editing needs to be better.
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