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Review: Baseball Between the Numbers

Mike SteffanosThursday, April 20, 2006
By Mike Steffanos


I need to start this review with a disclaimer. I am not someone who has a long background in statistical analysis of baseball. I became a fan long before sabermetrics became a part of the lexicon of baseball. If you are someone that is fairly advanced in your understanding and use of this type of analysis, this review isn't for you.

If, however, you are someone like me who is late to this party and is looking to catch up, I'm talking to you. Over the past couple of years I have lost some of my skepticism about statistical analysis, and have developed a real interest in the subject. This past Christmas I received a gift subacription to the Baseball Prospectus web site, and I am also a regular reader of the Hardball Times. Although I retain a healthy skepticism towards those that believe statistics can tell us absolutely everything about the game of baseball, I couldn't even imagine going back to looking at the game through the narrow, imperfect lens of the "traditional" baseball numbers.

Unfortunately, the problem in being late to the party and trying to catch up is lacking understanding of the fundamental basics that make up statistical analysis. It's like walking into a movie part way through and trying to piece together what you have missed while you're sorting out the plot. You can do it, maybe, but chances are you missed something important.

Baseball Between the NumbersThat's why I was excited when I heard about Baseball Between The Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong, by the Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts. After reading the synopsis of the book, I felt that I had found a resource that would help catch me up on some of the basics that I had missed. I went ahead and ordered the book, and was eager to start reading it when it arrived.

I wasn't disappointed. The book is a series of essays on various topics, beginning with What's the Matter with RBI? ... and Other Traditional Statistics, and covering all aspects of the game, including hitting, pitching and fielding. Along the way you'll receive plenty of information about the new stats that are revolutionizing understanding of the game, put forward in an entertaining manner that never makes you feel like you're back in your least favorite high school math class, trying desperately to stay awake.

If you're looking to enhance your understanding of modern baseball analysis, you'll find Baseball Between the Numbers an invaluable addition to your baseball library.

Baseball Between the Numbers
Author: Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts
Hardcover, 454 pages, Basic Books

Buy Baseball Between the Numbers on Amazon.com

Comments (2)

Didn't they make a documentary about this? I thought it was awesome. I recall it saying that the out is so valuable a sacrifice should not be used. Do you recall who did the video?

...ed

I've never seen the documentary specifically on the book. I did see something on the Science Channel last year where they talked about Sabermetrics and baseball.

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