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The Beauty of Short Hops: How Chance and Circumstance Confound the Moneyball Approach to Baseball [Paperback]

Sheldon Hirsch , Alan Hirsch

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Book Description

March 19 2011
Sabermetrics, which evaluates baseball through largely objective methods involving statistics, has taken over the sport in recent years. This critical text exposes the fatal flaws of sabermetrics, demonstrating how it fails on its own terms, as it cannot evaluate baseball in terms of social science and offers only limited guidance for assembling a team and managing games. Drawing on examples from baseball past and present, and taking particular note of odd plays and personalities, baseball is presented and examined as a compelling and vibrant sport--a vision that has been blocked by the obsession with numbers ushered in by sabermetrics.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland & Company (March 19 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786462884
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786462889
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #700,476 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
57 of 73 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The authors seem to have never read Moneyball or anything by Bill James March 13 2011
By Franklin J. Rabon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The whole premise that stats based analysis tries to fully predict all outcomes in baseball is absurd and nobody, especially not Billy Beane or Bill James, holds it.

The funniest thing is that when stats based analysis of baseball first came out, it was ridiculed precisely BECAUSE they liked to say a lot of baseball is pure luck. The old school train of thought was that there was little luck in baseball and that a .300 hitter was almost always better than a .285 hitter.

The writers of this book seem to be mainly writing for a crowd of individuals who don't understand statistics, don't like anything that's not pure "gut instinct" and hate, without ever having read, Moneyball.

Basically this book is the equivalent of the following conversation:

Stat person: well, ERA isn't a good measure, because a lot of it is based on luck. We should use this other stat that takes into account only things that the pitcher can control, so that we can better understand what is skill and what is luck.

Short Hop person: Wait, you're not taking luck into consideration with your statistical analysis!

Stat person: Did you listen to anything I just said?

Short Hop person: what about when a ball hits a pigeon? How do your stats take that into account?

Stat Person: *walks away, shaking head*
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A flawed rebuttal of Sabermetrics...but worth reading with an openmind Jan. 3 2012
By Matthew Ng - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Really, this book is two books. The first is an academic criticism of how the Sabermetric community has gone off the deep end in their use to advanced data to try to predict and simulate baseball outcomes. The second is diary of the 2009 season from the perspective of two Red Sox fans of why the game of baseball is unique and wonderful...but Tim Kurkjian, George Will or Bob Costas, they are not.

Half of this book is written as criticism of using a Social Science approach in studying baseball. Unlike books written by baseball "lifers" like John Scherholtz's Built to Win, which praises tobacco-stained, traditional methods and scouting...This criticism from two academics looked promising. Their attack of the collection and classification methods used to input data in advanced fielding metrics has merit. But those who create and use these methods, don't claim their new tools are infallible, they are just trying to bring more information in a game of uncertainty and incomplete information...Bill James, the Godfather of this movement states as such, to paraphrase "Just because a new metric isn't perfect, doesn't mean we should stop trying to search for more knowledge." The discussion of the LaRussization of the bullpen and how even Sabermetrically inclined GMs have to designate an established closer is also worthwhile.

Yes, we get it...baseball, sports, like the weather is unpredictable. But to close your eyes to new avenues of information, technology and data, the authors instead suggest an approach that would be akin to saying that all meteorologists should just embrace the uncertainty of the weather and not try to find scientific trends, reasoning, technology and analysis and just give limited forecasts.

Also, to many Sabermetrically inclined baseball fans, they lose a lot of credibility when there are glaring errors in the book...There are plenty mistakes in the book that an editor or baseball fan would notice. For instance, The Detroit Tigers did not win the 2006 World Series...St. Louis did. Also while attacking Jeremy Brown, the pot-bellied catcher that Billy Beane coveted in Moneyball, he didn't go to Arizona State as they stated, he was the catcher for Alabama.

Their diary, musings and observations of the 2009 season amounts to fodder that you could find in average baseball blog.

Overall, you want a well-written book about baseball..this is not it. So to the casual fan or causal reader..save your time. If you are a well-educated fan who regularly plays Fantasy Baseball and spends plenty of time pouring over WAR, VORP and UZR numbers, this is worth your time, so that you can properly understand the applicability and limitations of data. Also this will help you carve out good counter-arguments to those who have Dinosaur-like resistance to Sabermetrics.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anti-Moneyball, love it Oct. 22 2013
By gridmarks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a statistician & baseball fan I don't buy the whole Moneyball thing. I'm happy there are people out there willing to disprove it
38 of 57 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars There's a 99.47% chance that this book is total nonsense. March 13 2011
By Jim O'Hara - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
How did this naive, poorly argued and illogical book get published? The basic premise of this book seems completely wrong. It's not that statheads ignore chance, as this guy claims, but that statheads *stress* the role of chance in ERA, batting average and esp pitchers' wins and RBI. The laws of probability still apply even when a large number of random events are included. Old-school guys lament that X or Y didn't drive in enough runs; intelligent baseball fans know that there is a lot of luck involved in any RBI total. Old-school guys say that Bert Blyleven didn't win enough games, and that Jack Morris was a big winner; intelligent baseball fans know that Morris was pretty good, but lucky, and that Blyleven was great. This book reminds me of one of Ronald Reagan's more notorious sayings: "Facts are stupid things." The book argues against things that no one believes: the classic "straw man" approach. Don't waste your money.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great baseball Feb. 12 2013
By Aaron Schroyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Starts off slow with all the stats but really enjoyed the second half of the book with all of the inner quirks of baseball in just one season

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