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Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  3,077 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
Since the baseball statistics revolution began in the 1970s, no one had written the book that reveals, across every area of strategy and management, how the best practitioners of statistical analysis in baseball think about numbers and the game. Until now. Baseball Between the Numbers covers every aspect of the national pastime, examining the subtle, hidden aspects of base ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2006)
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Jan 29, 2010 Bucko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you don't know much about baseball, but you're looking for a book to help you gain a better understanding of the sport, this is NOT the place to start. This is a book for a pretty advanced baseball enthusiast, someone who not only likes baseball, but is also generally interested in economics and thinking about numbers. It is a collection of essays, each dealing with a different topic, but using the same techniques to analyze how we understand what we are seeing when we watch a baseball game. ...more
Jun 29, 2011 jeremy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
baseball between the numbers, and sabermetric analysis of the game in general, has many proponents, but is not without its fair share of detractors. through advanced statistical examination (regression analysis, correlation studies, algorithms, etc.), there are many that believe baseball can be more clearly understood (with the implications being that individual player talent can be more accurately defined, and, thus, managers can use this information to increase the overall success of their res ...more
Mar 20, 2011 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball, non-fiction
At the risk of over-generalization and dredging up Moneyball arguments, I think baseball fans generally fall into three categories: stat-heads, traditionalists (for lack of a better term), and those who are somewhere in between. This book aims for those who are somewhere in between.

If you're a stat-head, this book presents nothing new. You'll probably still find it interesting, but you'll be wanting a deeper explanation behind the numbers and probably be frustrated by the simplification of some
Apr 30, 2016 Andrew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't think that everything I knew about the game was wrong but this was most definitely an interesting read. As a baseball junkie and die hard Dodger fan I occasionally found myself in a debate with the authors. Whether this is due to me leaning towards baseball traditionalists or simply data interpretation, these debates were entertaining nonetheless. The fact that the book was written in 2006 also provides an interesting perspective on steroid usage and the use of sabermetrics in general. I ...more
Mar 17, 2007 max rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
While much has changed in baseball since even 2006 when this book was published--including the return of the pitcher, fewer steroid-fueled home runs, and an increased focus on fielding--one of the most important developments has been the continued rise of statistical analysis in front office decision making.

In 2006, several clubs still held out against the crucial statistical terms discussed in this book, such as value over replacement level, on-base percentage, PECOTA, sample size, true outcome
May 11, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
One of the essential books for thinking baseball fans, Baseball Between the Numbers is a compendium of thoughtful and thought-provoking essays on multiple aspects of baseball's "conventional wisdom." The team at Baseball Prospectus tackles everything from the economics of a new stadium to the relative value of 100 RBI, the most effective ways to use a closer, four- vs five-man pitching rotations, and everything in between.

The opinions are all backed up with solid numbers, and the authors are ver
Mar 30, 2008 rmn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
This book should have been right up my alley. It is about baseball, numbers, and trying to disprove/find the truth in well accepted beliefs.

Given that, it is the only book I think i have ever started and not finished, except for maybe anything by Willaim Burroughs (maybe one day I'll try Naked Lunch again but but I am 0 for 2 in getting past page 10).

Anyway, the authors put forth interesting analysis but their writing is uneven to be charitable and they manipulate numbers so much that the numbe
Nov 14, 2010 C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found it very interesting even though I hate baseball. I feel like they went easy on Bonds though. But of course, anything short of poisoning him and burying the body in OJ Simpson's old lawn in Brentwood (the one by the guesthouse that Kato Kaelin was staying in) is too easy for Bonds. Really glad he got no rings. No rings! Ramiro Mendoza, with a staggering WAR of 10.3, got 4 rings. Barry Bonds ain't got nothing except a huge head. Also CajoleJuice made me read this book.
Dan Koulomzin
Mar 21, 2007 Dan Koulomzin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball geeks
A total stats geek's wet dream about baseball. This anthology of articles about statistical analysis of baseball players and strategy debunks a century's worth of misconceptions. Each article in the book asks an innocent sounding question (e.g., is David Ortiz a clutch hitter), and uses it as the impetus to explore the value of existing statistical measures (e.g., batting average) for evaluating concepts that are actually relevant to baseball (e.g., runs scored by a team).
Aug 13, 2008 Darin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do you think Derek Jeter is the best shortstop ever? Do you just love "small ball"? Still evaluating pitchers on their win/loss record? Do you like your favorite player because everyone thinks he is "gritty"? First of all, you should finish your Cheerios. Then, you should read this book.
Mike Angelillo
Sep 26, 2007 Mike Angelillo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
Is it too much to ask that Joe Morgan and Tim McCarver read a book like this and seriously consider some of the information??? Would Morgan then finally stop talking about the "little things" that makes a team win?!??!
John Lee
This is a very interesting book, especially coming from The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. It's essentially a collection of articles, each detailing one question posed by the chapter's title. For instance, "Why Doesn't Billy Beane's Shit Work in the Playoffs?" or "Do Players Perform Better in Contract Years?" The mix of articles ranges from defense to offense to economics, and every article is definitely enlightening in its own way. It does a good job of laying out the process behind ...more
William Johnson
I think the Baseball Prospectus writers are very intelligent and have access to a well of resources.

I just think the sabermetric community works in small quantities and basing an entire book on debunking the romanticism of the game kind of. . .well. . .sucks.

There are two problems with Sabermetrics:

1)Sometimes the equations used are really 16 steps removed from a result we already know anyway. Barry Bonds was great. It can be determined by his 'mundane' stat line and by mathematical equations th
Jul 16, 2008 Kevin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
Alphabet soup and then some. It had been years since I've read a baseball book of any kind, and with Baseball Prospectus seeming to be a knowledgeable group I thought this might be a decent read.

The writing is mediocre at best as the BP "team of experts" loves to quote their own research from previously published articles. There is a tendency by BP to say "should have" and "could have" in reference to a game that is in their own words, unpredictable at best.

Interesting theories abound and it w
Zach Koenig
Aug 25, 2014 Zach Koenig rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are so many questions inherent in every professional baseball game: Which pitcher should start (and when)? Should the sacrifice bunt be laid down? Is the closer best saved for the ninth inning? What more important: on-base or slugging percentage? The list could go on and on. This book takes a purely statistical approach towards answering those questions, using averages and complicated (to the layman) formulas to parse the facts.

For the baseball junkie, almost every chapter in this book rai
Brian Sison
This collection of Baseball Prospectus (BP) articles is a great intro to sabermetrics. There are discussions on Value Over Replacement Player, Win Expectancy, Equivalent Runs, and many other statistics that the BP team developed to get a deeper, more accurate understanding of how measurable metrics reflect actual player value.

They demonstrate the error of trusting some of the traditional statistics that have been used to value players for years. Stats such as RBIs & batting average for hitte
Apr 22, 2008 Shane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Baseball fans, statisticians
Shelves: non-fiction
A truly excellent collection of a variety of deeply statistical investigations to answer such questions as "What's the matter with RBI?", "Why are pitchers so unpredictable?", and "How much does Coors field really matter?" Each "chapter" features three related individual questions that are addressed. What's fantastic about this book is the way in which it is written - this isn't really about statistics as numbers, it's about analyzing the game of baseball in the most accurate methods as possible ...more
Sep 18, 2011 Claudia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
Thought-provoking. I'm the first to admit that I can't really follow the math (I understand the theory behind a regression analysis, but I couldn't run one, given a bunch of numbers), but I'm very interested in the ideas that flow from it. I'd suspected certain things--public financing of stadiums is a bad idea for everyone but the team owners, for example, or closers should be used at times other than the ninth inning--but it's nice to see actual evidence on them.

I'm also a bit lucky to be read
Matt Ely
Mar 02, 2016 Matt Ely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
This book is precisely what it purports to be: baseball numbers put into their proper context. It's a very deep read, going into levels of detail that most people (myself first among them) cannot process. That said, the numbers are not the point.

The authors are very purposeful in translating the mass of statistics into reasonable conclusions. What I'll say is this is best read as a reference book, one where you can find unorthodox answers to common questions. But you don't need to worry if you
Apr 12, 2012 Wayne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Not for baseball beginners. This book is basically an introductory course into advanced baseball statistics, or Sabremetrics. Anyone who has read Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis knows about the new wave of measuring players and the game itself by advanced statistics. This book is split into, strangely numbered, chapters that explain why classic statistics like ERA, W-L record, and RBIs are ridiculously bad at showing/measuring performance. It also introduces a bevy ...more
Brent Soderstrum
Jan 04, 2017 Brent Soderstrum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I love baseball and this book reminded me so much of Bill James book I would buy every year. The book looks at the numbers and tends to dispel many of the myths even big baseball fans believe because they have been chirped in our ears so much over the years. If you don't like the new stats such as WAR, OBP or SP, you won't like this book. The writers show that these are the most important hitting stats. More so than BA, RBI or HRs.

I enjoyed the essays on managers letting their closers go to wast
Oct 14, 2012 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
This book presupposes a reasonably high degree of knowledge in, say, baseball history, basic player value and evaluations and traditional baseball statistics. With that said, you do not need advanced knowledge in sabermetrics or statistical theory, as this book intends to demonstrate their usefulness and convince you that the average commentator, manager and former player is wrong about what determines value on the baseball field.

In any case, this is a great place to start your initiation into t
Mar 11, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book, goes into some interesting discussions. However, the book wreaks of intellectual property and trade secrets. Every time the authors have a chance to explain something in detail, they instead defer to explaining it in general layman's terms as if we cannot possibly be intelligent enough to follow some of the gritty details involved in the thought process that went into generating some of their statistical measurements. The authors stay annoyingly predictable in their descriptions of t ...more
Dec 29, 2013 B rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, westend
The real problem with this book is time. Not that the examples are old, but that the controversial thoughts are all conventional among a certain "smart set" who would be most interested in reading this book.

I mean, to pick on the most egregious examples, how interested could you possibly be in essays titled "Are Teams Letting Closers Go to Waste?" "Did Derek Jeter Deserve the Gold Glove?" "Is Alex Rodriguez Ovepaid?"

Yes. No. No.

The problem is that there are a lot of fans -- especially in 2006
Ken McGuire
Jul 31, 2014 Ken McGuire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw the movie "Moneyball" and saw it making some good points, but grossly oversimplifying things (IMHO). Of course, to fit it into a Story that can be told in two hours, you would have to, but that is a different subject. Anyway, went to the Library to get the book to read it, and picked this up instead.

As other reviewers noted, if you want a book to teach you the basics of Baseball, go elsewhere. Heck, if you want an argument for advanced stats, look elsewhere. But if you are a baseball fan a
Mar 20, 2008 Leonora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: baseball fans, stats nerds
Shelves: baseball
Well not everything I knew about baseball was wrong, but that's cheating because I already read Baseball Prospectus/The Hardball Times/etc online.

Baseball Between the Numbers is a statistical look at several baseball issues (Was Alex Rodriguez worth the money Texas paid him? How do managers affect the game? Does clutch exist?) with answers that are meant to be surprising to people who don't already read the writing of Baseball Prospectus and their ilk. I think it comes on a little strong because
Dec 26, 2007 Belsherj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How can you not give a book at least four stars that was written by a "team of experts"?

Baseball Between the Numbers has much better writing than books like this usually do (I read it over a 4 day period). The chapters are structured around specific questions like "Did Derek Jeter Deserve the Gold Glove?" that are used to discuss larger issues like evaluating defense, the value of a stolen base or the most effective method of using closers, etc...I found the chapters about evaluating pitching t
Jason Hall
May 08, 2012 Jason Hall rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: baseball
This is a terrific introduction to advanced statistical analysis, and how a better objective understanding of how baseball games are won can lead to better player evaluation and projection. Baseball Between the Numbers also does a great deal to diffuse the manufactured argument of "stats versus scouts." As the authors of this book point out, a successful team needs both stats AND scouts. Each of these methods make up for the weaknesses and limitations in the other. Thankfully, most MLB organizat ...more
Nov 08, 2010 Joel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned
It may be easy for me to give a baseball-related book 5 stars, and I may have already known most of the things talked about in this book, but it doesn't make it any less of a necessary primer on sabermetrics for any intelligent baseball fan.

I originally gave "The Book" five stars, but after reading this, I realize that was a bit ridiculous. "The Book" is practically the textbook it's filled with so many numbers and formulas. Baseball Between the Numbers balances actual writing with numbers much
Noah Dropkin
Jun 17, 2009 Noah Dropkin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book for anyone who is at least a casual baseball fan. While the book contains tons of numbers and statistics, you do not need to be a statistician to read this. Much of the complex analysis is not part of this book.

BP has made an incredible contribution to baseball and stats such as OBP, VORP and WXRL are becoming more commonplace.

From my perspective, the greatest contribution by Sabermatricians is that the game is coming around to rewarding the players that really do make the great
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