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4 March 2010
By Howard Schwartz
Spring training games have begun, and it's less than a month until the 2010 baseball season begins. What better way to prepare for fantasy leagues or proposition bets than plowing through the Baseball Prospectus? Edited by Steven Goldman and Christina Kahrl the 652-page paperbound tome sells for $24.95, a bargain for the size. This annual beauty of a resource helps predict who might have a "breakout" season, where to expect major comebacks and how free-agency might impact the season for the perennial contenders like the Red Sox and Yankees. It also covers stuff like park effects (who you might expect will be a run-scoring machine), who the overrated prospects might be and how managers impact the game.
Find out why the compilers think Seattle will improve even more this season (perhaps surprise in some areas) and why the Angels are due for a slide due to loss of key personnel. (The Mariners made big changes in the off-season, plus they are soon to play in an advantageously designed ballpark.)
Fantasy league players will find value here as career statistics are shown and analyzed. Fans who don't bet but who want to become mavens in a bar or group of guys who sound knowledgeable will glean a mountain of interesting angles or things to watch for as the season progresses.
This is the 15th annual edition.
True fans of baseball who wonder about records, by team or player or lifetime and how they came to be compiled and by whom, from the game's earliest days to present, plus the origins of fantasy league play will surely enjoy Alan Schwarz's The Numbers Game (270 pages, hardbound, $24.95). It's about everyone who ever loved the numbers of the game, who ever kept statistics by the pitch, game, season and about the controversies about who "owned the rights" to baseball statistics; how Bill James impacted the analysis of player performance; controversies about managerial strategies like lineup formation; sacrificing; the "100-plus pitch count" and some crookedness in the early days in regard to helping pitchers and batters in career and seasonal numbers.
Peter Gammons called the book "one of the most original and engrossing histories of baseball you could ever read." I agree.
Copyright Gambler's Book Shop. All books reviewed in this article are available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club), located at 630 South 11th Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101 and online at www.gamblersbook.com.
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