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Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract

4.53 of 5 stars 4.53  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Paperback, 723 pages
Published March 12th 1988 by Villard
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3 1/2. Before the NEW edition, a 5.

This is a (now) a MINOR LEAGUE book in my baseball library.
Availability. OOP. Available used (cheap), new (expensive).


This book appeared in 1985. At the time it was definitely a Major Leaguer, All Star, Top 10 -type baseball book. I lost myself in it for countless hours. If you have it, you probably agree with my (original) 5 rating, especially if you don’t have the NEW Bill James Historical Baseball Abst
Nov 05, 2007 Gail rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: baseball lovers; statistics freaks
Shelves: nonfiction
I used to read all the Bill James books when he published the Abstracts every year. Even though I'm not good with statistics and had to have the "magic number" (i.e., games left that in some combination must be won by your team or lost by the oppsoing team(s) in order for your team to win the pennant) explained to me several times, I loved these books and would pore over them, absorbing baseball lore through the ink rubbing over my fingers. I was very sad when these were no longer published. Jam ...more
There was a time I thought I was going to be a sabermetrician. Yeah, didn't happen. I was trying to teach myself and thought I needed to step back to the beginning. To that end, I was going to pick up all of Bill James' books and read them so I would be able to appreciate how the science developed. That is how I came to this book. I purchased it used off of ebay. I recall it smelled of smoke. Yuck! Years in our basement seems to have cured it of that.

Now it has been added to the To-Read pile. I'
Gary Geiger
IS this better than the 2001 updated new Historical Abstract? I think so. James doesn't use an ultrastat like Win Shares when ranking players. Rather, he ranks them by career value and peak value instead of trying to combine the two. I like that better conceptually than boiling everything down to one number, be it WAR, Win Shares, or for the old guys in the basement, Total Player Rating.
The Godfather of modern baseball thought and analysis.

This book completely and irrevocably changed me from someone who thought that RBI were an important measure of a players ability to someone who regularly argues that there is no such thing as the 'clutch fairy'. While some of James' ideas weren't yet fully formed, you could see where it was headed.

This is the old 80's edition, someday I will buy an updated edition.
Fill Corey
I've had mine for about 25 years, now held together by rubber bands, and I wouldn't part with it. Many (most?) of the best discussions do not appear in "The New HBA". One of the best is the "2-dimensional" analysis of HOF membership: you just can't get around it. If you're a baseball fan, and not just a homer, you MUST read this.
Miles Rose
Truly a nerd's baseball book. I'm sure this made a baseball fan out of many curious young nerds (and older ones) after reading through. When I read it (and even now) I was never a total baseball nerd, but I've read through it cover to cover, and flip through it every now and again. Good stuff!
Robb Todd
Nov 30, 2009 Robb Todd added it
Shelves: nonfiction
Bill James taught us to look at baseball differently. His abstracts absorbed me. I got lost in the numbers and, more importantly, the ideas. The questions. The quest for answering the questions.
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George William “Bill” James (born October 5, 1949, in Holton, Kansas) is a baseball writer, historian, and statistician whose work has been widely influential. Since 1977, James has written more than two dozen books devoted to baseball history and statistics. His approach, which he termed sabermetrics in reference to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), scientifically analyzes and st ...more
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