January 4, 2010
State of the Prospectus
The Year and the Decade to Come
First off, I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season. As it turned out, 2009 was a successful year for Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, but this coming year has the potential to be the biggest for us since the year we went to a premium product, and I'd like to share with you all some of the things we are working on. For our readers and subscribers, Baseball Prospectus means two things; great content, and leading-edge statistical work. I'd like to talk about some exciting developments on both fronts that push us even further forward in 2010.
Since the founding of Baseball Prospectus in 1996, many other outlets have arrived to give readers a variety of choices when it comes to cutting-edge statistical analysis, and we appreciate and respect the great work that's out there. At the same time, it's come time for us to not only improve our current offering, but to better present what we have and communicate to both existing and potential readers why what we do is the best it its class.
We've added some of the best minds out there to meet these goals. You've already seen their work in the past month here at BP, and their names should already be familiar to many of you. Russell Carleton (known to many on the web as "PizzaCutter") and Colin Wyers are two of the best statistical minds contributing content on the internet, and now their work will be exclusive to Baseball Prospectus. Beyond the featured analysis they will provide on a content level, both are working behind the scenes to enhance our statistical offering, including the development of new metrics, which we will share with the public as they become perfected, with an explanation of why they should become the new standard.
While you have seen his name for a few months here, I would also like to talk about the work that Eric Seidman is doing that will be revealed in the coming months. In 2010, you will see new searchable, sortable player cards with career statistics, all of the BP family of stats, PECOTA projections, and more on a single easy-to-use, easy-to-read page. This is the one encyclopedic tool that many of you have been waiting for, and I think our readers will be thrilled with the results. Eric is also taking on a role as our statistical evangelist. We have a lot of great metrics out there, many which are unfortunately buried within our current public offering. That is going to change, and Eric will be spending a lot of time talking about our numbers, as well as many of the new metrics currently in development, and explaining the nuts and bolts around them, and why they are the best out there at accurately measuring team and player performance.
Some specific projects our entire stats team is working on (but are hardly limited to) include:
As always PECOTA will be an important part of our product offering. Once a series of complicated Excel spreadsheets and thousands of lines of Stata code residing on Nate Silver's laptop, we've moved PECOTA to a more stable and sharable development environment with the assistance of Nate, which will allow PECOTA to continue its growth as the most detailed projection system available. With our fearless statistical leader Clay Davenport at the helm, we expect to share with you many new and exciting developments concerning PECOTA in 2010 and beyond.
As aggressive as we will be on the numbers side of things, our content will also see a significant number of changes that in the end means better and much more content for our subscribers. The increase in the amount of information we will be pushing to our subscribers will not be measured by a small percentage, it will be in multiples.
First, the new faces. Another name that has already been on the site a few times, Tommy Bennett, is becoming a BP-exclusive contributor. We've had our eyes on Tommy for quite awhile, as his work at Beyond the Box Score combined excellent analysis with highly entertaining writing, and we're confident you'll come to enjoy his work as much as we have.
In addition to Tommy, Jeff Euston is coming aboard. If that name doesn't ring a bell, I could instead refer to Cot's Contracts. Yup, that's Jeff, and Cot's Contracts is coming over to the Baseball Prospectus family. The product as you all know and love will now be hosted at baseballprospectus.com with a variety of visual improvements, and will remain a free product. We will also be developing a premium version for our subscribers with a variety of in-depth searching and sorting tools to better mine this fantastic data. Jeff will be staying at BP as the manager of the product, while also writing about contracts and other economic aspects of the game.
There are also some faces you well know who will be taking on new roles in 2010. First up is Christina Kahrl, who for years has held a dual role as a feature writer, primarily on transactions, while also serving as the website's editor-in-chief. In 2010, Christina will focus solely on writing, not only on transactions, but on all aspects of the game, and of course, expect lots of obscure reference to 16th century Belgian military tactics. We've always loved Christina's writing, and now that she's no longer a two-sport star, we firmly believe that it will become even better (and more regular). In addition, Christina will be working on a pair of book projects, but we'll have much more information on that for you in the coming months.
As far as our new Editor-in-Chief, luckily the perfect candidate fell into our laps as John Perrotto will be joining BP on a full-time basis. With over two decades of newspaper experience, John brings us new angles on content management, and he'll remain one of our feature writers as well. I've known John personally for years beyond my time here, and I couldn't be happier about this, as he's one of the most dedicated workers I know and I'm sure everyone here will learn much from him. We are excited for John in his new endeavor, and look forward to him meeting the challenges ahead.
One of those challenges will be the deluge of new content that we anticipate we'll be providing to readers and subscribers. Our feature content that you all know and love isn't going to change in any way, other than the addition of all the new faces, but we are adding a whole new layer to our writing in the formation of blogs that go far beyond Unfiltered. We will have blogs for all of our subject categories (analysis, transactions, news, prospects, injuries, etc.) that allow our writing to provide instant analysis with our commenting features creating some of the smartest conversations out there. If Will Carroll sees a pitcher leave a game, he can blog what he saw, with more details in the next UTK. A scout calls me on the road at 1 a.m. to talk about what he saw in a Cal League game, no need to wait for a scouting notebook or ranking to share that information. No longer restricted to feature-length pieces only, we can provide more in-depth statistical material, while also having a little fun with it as well, while also share interesting conversations culled from our private e-mail list. Our goal is to overwhelm you with information, and keep you returning to the site several times throughout the day.
Since I mentioned Will, it's important to note that Will Carroll is returning in 2010, with a commitment for 2011. Peter Gammons called him the industry standard for a reason, and we couldn't be happier about his return, as well as what he can accomplish with all of our new content layers. Will is also bringing back BP Radio, and we'll be adding to our audio products as Joe Hamrahi, our CFO and founder of Baseball Digest Daily has begun the planning and development of a weekly podcast, with BP's team of experts discussing the game's current events.
Unfortunately, we do have one departure that needs to be addressed, as Joe Sheehan is moving on to other things. Joe's one of the founders of BP, and his iconoclastic work has been a stalwart here to a point where I have little difficulty in saying that without Joe, none of us would be here. We wish him all the luck and happiness in the world with his future endeavors, and hope to work with him again in the future.
This is really just the opening salvo for BP moving forward, and there will be much more news to share with all of you in the coming weeks, once we catch our breath after the conclusion of our work on Baseball Prospectus 2010. I hope everyone is as excited as we are about what lies ahead this year and beyond. It's our subscribers are the people who drive us to be better, and many of the things that we are executing on came from ideas suggested by you, our readers. I make no secret of how to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I read every e-mail I receive, while trying my best to respond to every one as well. If you want to discuss things a little more publicly, I'll be chatting today at 2pm ET, but hopefully we'll talk some prospects as well. As you all know, this is all very exciting, but in the end, it's all about baseball.
Here's to the end of the decade, and more importantly, the upcoming one.