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

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  2,380 ratings  ·  97 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
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published March 6th 2006 by Basic Books (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bucko
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
jeremy
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
Kevin
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
...more
max
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
...more
Michael
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
...more
rmn
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
...more
C
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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).
Ken McGuire
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
...more
Darin
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
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?!??!
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
...more
Claudia
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
...more
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
...more
여러분! 독서를 꾸준히 합시다!
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
Kevin
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
...more
Joe
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
...more
Shane
May 15, 2008 Shane rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Wayne
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
Greg
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
B
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
...more
Joel
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
...more
Belsherj
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
...more
Leonora
Nov 16, 2008 Leonora rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
...more
Jason Hall
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
C.E.
This is a great look at baseball from a purely statistical point of view. Chapters taking a critical look at conventional wisdom on everything from how to make a batting order to the benefits of bunting will challenge the perceptions of many a traditionalist, but will be of interest to any true fan. Although some of the conclusions are more easily digested than others, its hard to argue against the statistical evidence. As always these guys have REALLY done their homework.

All of this makes a fi
...more
Noah Dropkin
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
...more
Chad
Great book for baseball fans who want to understand the game beyond the traditional old-school stats. Chapters on clutch hitting, the RBI, stolen bases, and what a pitcher truly controls were fantastic. Unfortunately, the book lost just a bit of steam in the middle when it discussed topics that left the baseball diamond like player values. That article in particular seemed to use an obviously insufficient body of evidence to surmise whether players earn their salaries.

This book may be best suite
...more
Ron
While I liked it, it referenced statistics that I am somewhat familiar with, but, they didn't explain how those statistics were compiled and/or calculated. I get some of them are not easily calculated, but, at least a hint at how they came with the would be nice. I know many of them were arrived at using empirical data gained by perusing databases that store complete baseball statistics, using data mining methods. But, not all of them. Some were calculated values that they explained usage for bu ...more
Jwonnacott
I really liked this book. I found a lot of the concepts very interesting and have even gone back to look at some of the chapters years after reading them.
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