Monday, January 07, 2008
For those curious, the Handbook is very unlike the Baseball Abstracts that James used to write in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Whereas the Abstracts were full of little written blurbs by James on various topics, the Handbook is wall-to-wall information. There is very little in the way of actual writing, but it is, for me, the indispensable tool that I utilize to make this blog happen. There is information and new ways of looking at things that are vital to my blogging.
The main section, the player register, is largely unchanged from years past, listing hits, runs, RBI, Wins & Losses, etc. although with some sabremetric information (Runs Created for position players, Component ERA for pitcher, for example), before the book moves onto the stuff that really interests me:
Player Baserunning is in the book for the third year in a row and James continues to refine his research. James separates base-stealing from base-running (advancing from first to third, making outs on the basepaths, etc.) and actually gives us team totals, something that I complained that the 2007 book lacked. This is an interesting topic and I look forward to seeing where James goes with it in the future.
For the second year in a row, James has a discussion on the idea of Manufactured Runs, which looks at how many runs teams score off of Small Ball strategies like bunting and base-stealing (Type-1) and off of strategies like aggressive base-running and sacrifice flies (Type-2). This is an interesting section chiefly because James now notes how many Manufactured Runs a team surrendered and how many the Top 3 individual players contribute from each team. I hold out hopes that in the future James will give us the Manufactured Runs for each player individually.
After that, James made adjustments to the Manager Index, now noting how manager’s intentional walk strategies turn out (Good, Not Good, and Bomb). I think it is an interesting way of trying to give the reader concrete results of strategies that Managers embark on.
After that, player projections for 2008, park factors (always an interesting topic for Phillies fans because of Citizens Bank Ballpark), fielding stats, etc.
This is not a book for the average baseball fan. James is pitching this book to one market only – the hard-core baseball fanatic who wants to know how often Charlie Manuel utilized pinch runners in 2007 (A: 56, most in the National League). I find the information invaluable because it gives me real insight into the strategies of teams, what works and doesn’t work, etc. Without the Bill James Handbook, this would be a very dull blog.
Labels: Book Review