Sunday, February 12, 2006

Book review #2

As I mentioned before, I am a long time member of The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). As part of annual membership, you receive the publications The Baseball Research Journal (BRJ) and The National Pastime. The latter historically has been more of a history/photographic essay publication while the former has primarily been statistics and analysis.

A couple years ago, SABR got a new editor for their publications, Jim Charlton. The previous editor, Mark Alvarez, did a decent job but the publications were sort of stale. Charlton has brought some excitement back to SABR publications.

The most recent issue of the BRJ is the first that I read cover to cover. This is the 34th issue (I have 31 of them, I think) so that is saying something. This issue is geared towards analysis but does have a couple of historical National Pastime articles tossed in which gives a nice change of pace. The statistical pieces are really well done. Too often there are a number of pieces of contrived statistics where someone throws a mish-mash of numbers together to try and prove that Ty Cobb was the best player of all-time or Harland Clift belongs in the Hall of Fame or some such thing. Very little of that in this issue.

It is difficult to pick out which articles of the 23 are the best. Tom Ruane does his usual fantastic work with two pieces(!); one on the myth of clutch hitting, the other on whether reaching base on errors is a skill. The errors piece brings up more questions than it answers but certainly makes one think that it is a more likely skill than clutch hitting (not that that is Ruane's intent of writing the two pieces but the existence of clutch hitting is a topic that drives me nuts (it doesn't exist).

George Michael's Photo Mysteries are really cool. Cumulative Home Run Frequency by Gabriel Costa, Michael Huber and John Saccoman is also terribly interesting. Without getting into the morality of the steroid issue, it provides some measures that seem to indicate that something has been going on with the great power hitters of the 1990's-2000's.

Great articles abound in this publication and if you don't get a copy through SABR membership (if you're reading this blog, you should probably join SABR), at fifteen dollars, it is a bargain. That's 65 cents an article! I strongly recommend it.


Post a Comment

<< Home