Baseball Prospectus 2013 Paperback – Feb 1 2013
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From the Back Cover
The 2013 edition of the New York Times bestselling guide
"The tip of the nerd spear."
Now in its 18th edition, the Baseball Prospectus annual shows once again how it became the industry leader: The 2013 edition includes key stat categories, more controversial player predictions, and the kind of wise, witty baseball commentary that makes this phone-book-thick tome worth reading cover to cover.
Baseball Prospectus 2013 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 ProspectusNearly every major-league team has sought the advice of current or former Prospectus writers, and readers of Baseball Prospectus 2013 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."
"Baseball Prospectus has become the standard by which all scouting guides should be measured."
Billy Beane, General Manager, Oakland A's
"For me, every year baseball begins with the big, brilliant, beautiful book you are holding in your hands right now."
Baseball Prospectus 2012 correctly predicted:
- Disappointing performances from Alex Avila, Jose Bautista, Josh Beckett, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeff Francoeur, Derek Holland, and Justin Masterson
- Better than commonly expected numbers out of Adam Dunn, Jason Heyward, Hiroki Kuroda, Jake Peavy, Buster Posey, and David Wright
- That the Washington Nationals were no longer a rebuilding sub-.500 team, and were ready to make the postseason starting in 2012
- A first-place finish for Cincinnati, with the Cards and Brewers losing their big bats
- That one season of big spending on free agents and a new ballpark might not be enough to completely turn around horrible attendance numbers in Miami
Baseball Prospectus is America's leading provider of statistics-informed scouting and analysis for baseball, combining entertaining commentary and accurate forecasting via books, blogs, articles, and a website.
Top Customer Reviews
At one time I considered it to be a fantasy baseball secret weapon.
Since Silver left the team I'm not sure it's quite as good a product.
There are a great many statistical numbers generated about any given player, but the "projection" is the 50% one, which usually means it doesn't have much relationship to reality.
You also see someone who might have been hurt the year before having a projection which is way below everyone else's. Why? Because they can't escape the number crunching.
In years gone by the player analysis was more hip and irreverent than it is now. Somehow it felt more sure-footed.
BP is a great deal of information without the focus I think it can have for its customers. It doesn't in simple terms tell me who are the up and comers on the team, why I should be interested in them, and who isn't. I'm sure the editors would argue that they do. But if you page through any team's player reviews, there are reams of numbers, but nothing in particular is highlighted. It's just numbers, which they would perhaps say is the point.
I think this is a product that needs a focus makeover.
I gave it 5 stars because I'm a long time supporter and you can't get this kind of analysis anywhere else. As I said, I'm just not sure the analysis is being put to its best use.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you are fairly new to sabermetrics you'll be scratching your head over the cursory explanations BP gives of the PECOTA system and other stats they use; you certainly won't get a good sense of what they really mean. Nor are all parts of the book itself adequately explained. What is the Lineouts section in each team report about? What do the subscript numbers in some of the IP lines stand for? Why is a manager credited for x number of stolen bases when his team actually stole 5x that number? Lots of examples where a new (or even more veteran reader) needs to dig through the intro again for clarity or be left to try and figure it out for themselves.
If you are part of the old guard you're aware that the actual analysis (and snark) keeps getting dialed back. True again for this year's book. I can find numbers anywhere online; I want to read more from BP about what that means to the player or the organization and I want it with the old-time BP humor. Oh well. There were some good one-liners in there at least.
I'll probably always buy BP's book to start the year, but I'll adjust expectations accordingly.
Then they got rid of the research articles, and spun them off into their own books. I was disappointed, but kept buying the annual, because the team essays often had some interting insights in them, and the player comments were interesting.
And then they dialed back the sarcasm and snark on the player comments, probably to try not to offend a bigger reader base. But hey, they still had Nate Silver's PECOTA, and the interesting team essays.
Then Silver left BP, and they revamped PECOTA, and more and more freely available projection systems that were just as good as PECOTA sprung up. But hey, team essays!
And then, this year, they gutted the team essays. The team essays were often inconsistent - some clunkers, some mediocre, but every annual had at least a couple really interesting team essays. They're all gone this year, with the detailed team essays replaced with a few bland paragraphs briefly describing what happened in 2012, and what's likely to happen in 2013. The insight is gone, along with everything else that made the annual interesting.
I own every Baseball Prospectus annual, going all the way back to 1996. But the 2013 annual will probably be the last one I buy. It's sad to see a great franchise dumbed down and gutted of everything that made it interesting to appeal to a wider audience.
My problem is with the kindle version of the book. This is the first year I moved away from the bound version and the product I received is borderline unreadable. The player charts are broken up in such a way so to make them nearly useless and I was finding so many errors (Aroldis Chapman pitched 712 innings in 2012? Not even Dusty Baker is that sadistic) that I just stopped looking at the charts all together. Sometimes, moving backward and forward changes the formatting of the charts altogether.
I'm disappointed not with the content, but with the product. I sincerely hope they decide to release a .pdf version of the book or something similar. I will not buy this on the kindle in the future until these issues are resolved.
***UPDATE March 3, 2013: I contacted Baseball Prospectus regarding my issues with the Kindle version. I had a prompt response from Baseball Prospectus customer service who referred my issue to the publisher. Within 48 hours the publisher had contacted me and provided a solution that completely satisfied me. The customer service from both BP and the publisher were top notch. Given my complaint was with the product, not the content, I have amended my rating.
BP burst upon the scene in 1996. I discovered them in 1999 when Rob Neyer touted them in his ESPN column. Absolute intellectual and analytical heavyweights wrote for the annual and the website over the years: Gary Huckabay, Joe Sheehan, Christina Kharl, Nate Silver, Steven Goldman, Jay Jaffe, Kevin Goldstein, Voros McCraken, Will Carrol, Keith Law, Jonah Keri, Rany Jazzeryelli (I never spell his name correctly) and a host of others. Sadly, they have all moved on to other things (the brain drain was especially strong over the last 2 1/2 years).
The first 10 annuals had new essays with all kinds of different findings and theories. The essays disappeared (they are back, but alas, there are only 2 of them). The player comments have grown shorter, less biting and less analytic. The team essays were usually stellar, but now they have been diminished as well (they are much shorter and basically a summary of what happened in 2012).
BP was small and had a hard-core, very bright readership that watched a lot of baseball. As they've grown, their best people moved on to try on new things and make more money. They had every right to, and it is ridiculous to think that those giants would be easily replaced. Readership has expanded, and BP focuses more and more on fantasy every year (which is fine, but some fantasy players watch very little baseball). They used to be baseball outsiders, but because of their great insight and analysis, they became baseball insiders. And then they grew less snarky and less analytical. The business model of BP has been a success, but the product has suffered. It's a real shame.
The annual is still good, and probably better than almost everything else on the market, and I'll probably continue to buy their products. Until something else comes along.
If you don't know, this is a statistician's bible: it contains several articles on the state of statistical analysis then presents each team and over 2,2100 individual players. Each team section contains a few pages analyzing the team's performance and potential for 2013, and the players are divided alphabetcally by hitter and pitchers -- the last of the team section summarizes the manager's performance and includes minor league names and commentary as well. Each of the player section analyzes performance and offers predictions based on statistical analysis. Here's the best part: the text accompanying each player's stats is witty, insightful and just plain fun -- it's not dry but instead a good source of witty humor and observation from a qualitative perspective.
First, from the rotissiere baseball player perspective, it's a must have. But be clear: it's not a replacement for all your spreadsheets or online data. It augments it. Your spreadsheets will tell you so-and-so is in for a big season and this statiscal tome will tell you not to get too excited. I've often found this book's predictions to be noticeably lower than other sources, but it's all because of the nature of statistical analysis. The best value for roto owners is that you can use it to doublecheck your draft strategy and check to see if you really like the players you think you do! I bring it to the draft and throw out the funniest sarcastic lines from the book.
Second, any baseball fan will enjoy the articles and player notes -- while it's definately heavy on the math and prediction, the articles, team descriptions and player analysis are completely worthwhile, even if you don't give a whit about stats.