February 27, 2006
State of the Prospectus
Now Serving Beer...and Tacos!Of all of the sentences that I've written on behalf of Baseball Prospectus, these are the two that I regret the most:
The pace of discovery…will slow as more and more data is analyzed and more and more conclusions have been proclaimed. Baseball, while a wonderfully complex game, is nevertheless a closed system, and the returns on further research efforts are likely to diminish.I became convinced of the wrongness of this particular statement while working with Dayn Perry on a chapter--"Why Doesn't Billy Beane's Sh*t Work in the Playoffs?"--for the upcoming book Baseball Between the Numbers. The chapter is about whether there are any qualities that make a baseball team more successful in the playoffs than they might be during the regular season. The analytical consensus had long been that there aren't, that if the A's or any other team turns in disappointing performances in the post-season year after year, it amounts to nothing more than bad luck.
Dayn and I found that the playoffs aren't entirely about luck. On the contrary, the old bit of conventional wisdom is exactly right: pitching and defense do tend to prevail in the postseason. We had to look at the data carefully to make this discovery, and we had to be willing to reexamine a piece of the "new wisdom" that we had once adopted as our own. But once we made this leap, the conclusion rang out loud and clear.
You can make plausible arguments for the death of the novel, or the sitcom, or the great American rock band, but the genre of baseball analysis is far from exhausted. In fact, I now believe that we're really just at the beginning stages of the discovery process, and that destinations like Baseball Prospectus are poised for a breakout year. With every fan, beat writer and general manager who becomes familiar with who we are and what we do, we not only add a pair of eyes that gets to see the game of baseball in a new and exciting way, but also a fresh voice that can enhance both the scope and tenor of the debate.
It is in this context that I have an important announcement to make. Beginning this Wednesday, Kevin Goldstein, formerly of Baseball America, will become a contributor to Baseball Prospectus. Kevin will be writing for Baseball Prospectus Premium four to five times a week during the regular season, and three to four times a week during the offseason. He'll cover the full range of the player development beat, from daily coverage of minor league goings-on, to pointed assessments of individual prospects and organizations, to amateur and international baseball, to the usual assortment of Top 10 and Best Of lists.
I can't express how thrilled we are to add Kevin to our team. It is, more literally than you might think, a wish that a lot of us have had come true. We wouldn't be adding Kevin if we didn't appreciate the "product" that we were getting. In Kevin's case, that means someone who can speak fluently to both the scouting and statistical sides of the player development discussion. We are no longer satisfied with being participants in the debate--we want to be its host. Starting Wednesday, we are going to be serving both beer and tacos.
If you're a longtime subscriber to Baseball Prospectus Premium, I wanted to personally express my gratitude for your patronage. We recognize that there are an inexhaustible number of ways to spend your finite time and money, and we appreciate the choice that you've made. If you're just coming around to us, I'd encourage you dip your toes in a little bit deeper, whether by signing up for a one-month subscription ($4.95), picking up one of our books, or just keeping an eye out for us over the course of the baseball season.
Within the past week alone, Baseball Prospectus has set records for traffic, media hits and new subscribers. We'd like to think this is because of our natural charm, but we know that it's the result of more than a decade of hard work by a small, dedicated and slightly crazy group of people who love both baseball and this business and have built the latter from the ground up. We'll do everything we can to ensure that Baseball Prospectus continues to give you the most possible bang for your buck.
Happy Pitchers and Catchers!