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December 2, 2011

Baseball Prospectus News

Introducing Best of Baseball Prospectus: 1996-2011

by Ben Lindbergh

The last decade and a half has been good to us. Our little-read first annual (sans the St. Louis chapter) in 1996 spawned a best-selling series that's about to welcome its 17th installment. Our web presence began by publishing new pieces sporadically and has matured into a site that's updated daily with a back catalog well over 10,000 articles strong. The only downside to our prolific past is that being introduced (or introducing someone else) to BP now is a bit like starting Lost in season five. A new subscriber, or even one who has been around from the start, could be excused for wondering “How did they get here?”, “What did I miss?”, and “What do those numbers mean?” As Jack, Kate, & Co. discovered, in order to answer those questions (or, in their case, leave most of them annoyingly unanswered), we have to go back. We've tried to make our archives more accessible by freeing up our older articles and republishing selected pieces via The BP Wayback Machine, but now we're taking the next step by bringing the BP archives to your bookshelf, e-book reader, or hard drive.

With extensive input from Christina Kahrl, who knows a thing or two about BP's past, we've selected roughly 150 of the best articles BP has to offer, representing a comprehensive cross-section of the ground-breaking insight, astute analysis, and witty commentary that you've come to expect from us over the last 15 years. The collection features work by BP co-founders Clay Davenport, Gary Huckabay, Rany Jazayerli, Christina Kahrl, and Joe Sheehan, as well as popular alumni like Russell Carleton, Will Carroll, James Click, Dan Fox, Jonah Keri, David Laurila, Marc Normandin, Nate Silver, Michael Wolverton, and Keith Woolner, current columnists like Mike Fast, Kevin Goldstein, Steven Goldman, Jay Jaffe, Ben Lindbergh (third-person alert), Jason Parks, and Colin Wyers, and more.

We've divided the articles into nine themed sections. (Yes, as many sections as there are innings in a game. Go figure.) Once we'd done all our selecting and dividing, we realized that we had nearly 900 pages of content prepared, but we didn't want to leave anything out. Instead of leaving half the articles on the cutting-room floor or a trying to cram everything into one massive tome that would make the annual look like a takeout menu, we decided to publish Best of Baseball Prospectus in two soft-cover volumes. The first four sections appear in Volume One, while the latter five compose Volume Two, an arrangement that allows us to divide the material into a meaty 450 pages or so per book. All of the articles have been given a fresh edit, laid out in a design that's easy on the eyes (with headshots, since we know you only like us for our looks), and introduced with a blurb by the editor setting up what you're about to read.

Of course, as nice as it is to have some of BP's best work preserved in book form, we wouldn't expect you to dip into your baseball budget without some new content to sweeten the deal. In addition to my preface and forewords by friends of BP King Kaufman and Rob Neyer, we've also commissioned 11 essay-length chapter introductions and original articles by past and present BP authors distributed across the two books.

Both volumes will be available for purchase on Amazon.com in plenty of time for Christmas—late next week is our target—for $14.95 list price each. If you buy the matched set, you'll get free two-day shipping from Amazon. Our partners at Amazon generally offer our self-published books at a discount from list price, and we'll certainly let you know if they're discounting Best of BP.

As with all of our self-published books, PEV is also selling in the popular PDF document format—as always, without any DRM or crapware bundled in. If you buy the PDF, we don't have to print a book and send it to you, and we appreciate not having to do that. (Also, pricing a virtual product the same as a physical product is preposterous.) We'll be offering the PDF at $7.95 for each volume. We will also be making these books available in various e-book formats—stay tuned for an update on that.

So what does that $14.95 or $7.95 buy you? Here's what you get in each volume:

Best of Baseball Prospectus: 1996-2011
Volume 1

Foreword by King Kaufman
Preface by yours truly, in which I explain how BP is—and more importantly, isn't—like the rock band Breaking Benjamin

Part 1

OFFENSE

15 articles
80+ pages

 

Your guide, Jay Jaffe...

 

...explains how and why we went from the numbers on the back of the baseball card to advanced stats like VORP and TAv

And highlights from BP's past, including…

  • Jay Jaffe, Clay Davenport, and Will Carroll tackling the topic of what the all-time home run leaderboard would look like under different circumstances
  • The BP staff responding to Barry Bonds hitting homer number 756
  • Joe Sheehan and Dan Fox explaining how the stolen base can be used and misused and how we can measure a player's complete baserunning contributions
  • James Click's investigation into how much lineup order matters
  • Marc Normandin's in-depth player profiles

 

Part 2

PITCHING

22 articles
110+ pages

 

Your guide, Mike Fast...

 

...asserts that the rumors of the demise of baseball analysis have been greatly exaggerated and offers a look at the next sabermetric frontiers

And highlights from BP's past, including…

  • Vörös McCracken's landmark BABIP study, and follow-ups by Clay Davenport and Keith Woolner
  • Nate Silver examining why there's no such thing as a pitching prospect
  • Gary Huckabay's adventures in consulting
  • David Laurila talking to a quartet of cerebral pitchers
  • Mike Fast exploring the “real” strike zone

 

Part 3

FIELDING

10 articles
70+ pages

 

Your guide, Christina Kahrl...

 

...explains how defensive analysis is baseball's white whale and how we might not even know when we've caught it

And highlights from BP's past, including…

  • James Click's explanations of what makes evaluating defense so difficult and defensive park effects
  • Dan Fox's development of Simple Fielding Runs
  • Ben Lindbergh's explanation of why good fielders can provide more bang for the buck
  • Colin Wyers' reinvention of FRAA
  • Dan Fox and Colin Wyers tackling the most controversial topic of all: Derek Jeter's defense

 

Part 4

HISTORY

26 articles
160+ pages

 

Your guide, Steven Goldman...

 

...uses the story of Frankie Frisch and John McGraw to show that “Stats” and “Scouts” provide an incomplete picture without a third component, Story

And highlights from BP's past, including…

  • Classic entries in Christina Kahrl's “Transaction Analysis” series
  • Dan Fox's deconstruction of the myth of baseball's “Golden Age
  • Jay Jaffe's loving look at Rickey Henderson and investigations into league strength and climbing K rates
  • Steven Goldman repeatedly showing why you could (and should) look it up
  • Derek Jacques explaining what “Moneyball” actually means

 

Plus an original article by Geoff Young, who examines the fascinating career of the man they called “Camera Eye,” Max Bishop


 

Best of Baseball Prospectus: 1996-2011
Volume 2

Foreword by Rob Neyer
Preface by Ben Lindbergh

Part 5

SABERMETRICS

13 articles
70+ pages

 

Your guide, Colin Wyers...

 

...explains how sabermetrics is and isn't like “real” science and why if you want to bring another baseball nerd into the world, you should buy your kid a breadboard

And highlights from BP's past, including…

  • “Hilbert problems" posed by Keith Woolner and James Click
  • Nate Silver's explanations of how the Rays went from worst to first, how players age, and where replacement level should actually be set
  • Dayn Perry's treatise on why we need both stats and scouts
  • Joe Sheehan and Nate Silver explaining why statheads don't deserve a bad rap
  • Nate Silver's speculations about what's next for sabermetrics

 

Part 6

PROSPECTING

24 articles
150+ pages

 

Your guide, Jason Parks...

 

...relates the story of his scouting journey from message boards to back fields to Baseball Prospectus and beyond

And highlights from BP's past, including…

  • Rany Jazayerli's complete 12-part draft study
  • Kevin Goldstein's All-Disappointment Team and opinions on the slotting system and the Pedro Alvarez-Pirates showdown
  • Jason Parks' takes on the Futures Game and the life of a scout in spring training
  • Nate Silver's investigations into the value of draft picks and the advisability of going over-slot
  • David Laurila's in-depth discussion with Dodgers Assistant GM Logan White
  • Jonah Keri throwing himself into the scouting deep end

 

Part 7

POSTSEASON

13 articles
70+ pages

 

Your guide, Tommy Bennett...

 

...pinpoints what Cody Ross' brief burst of playoff heroics can tell us about the nature of postseason play

And highlights from BP's past, including…

  • How Ken Funck stopped worrying and learned to love October's small sample sizes
  • Jay Jaffe's study on whether a team's regular-season finish affects its playoff performance
  • The BP staff's favorite Fall Classic memories
  • Nate Silver's looks at the best pennant race comebacks and worst collapses
  • Joe Sheehan's response to Alex Rodriguez's playoff redemption
  • James Click and Doug Pappas tackling the question of whether the playoffs really are a crapshoot

 

Part 8

BUSINESS

11 articles
70+ pages

 

Your guide, Jeff Euston...

 

...explains that our national pastime is much more than just a game

And highlights from BP's past, including…

  • Doug Pappas' and Shawn Hoffman's picks for the smartest-spending teams and GMs
  • Shawn Hoffman and Joe Sheehan subjecting salary cap proposals to rigorous inspections
  • Christina Kahrl assessing the state of the sabermetric revolution within the game
  • Rany Jazayerli identifying the worst contract ever
  • Gary Huckabay conducting a revealing conversation with two opinionated executives
  • Keith Woolner outlining a revenue-sharing plan that could make almost everyone happy

 

Part 9

EXTRA INNINGS

15 articles
70+ pages

 

Your guide, Ken Funck...

 

...spins a yarn about the mysterious agents who protect us from the creeping menace of mother's basement dwellers to kick off a miscellaneous section with selections from BP's lighter side

And highlights from BP's past, including…

  • Keith Woolner's tongue-in-cheek sabermetric adaptations of “The Raven” and “Casey at the Bat”
  • Rany Jazayerli explaining the term “Three True Outcomes” and praising the powers of Strat-O-Matic
  • Will Carroll sitting down for an inside scoop with a member of the steroid underground
  • Gary Huckabay exposing the hypocrisy of the media's reaction to baseball's steroid controversy
  • David Laurila's insightful interviews with two very different skippers: Joe Maddon and Ozzie Guillen

 

Plus an original article by Gary Huckabay—his first new work for BP in over two years—who explains whether you'd really be better off working in baseball and what front-office jobs are actually like

 

At its, well, best, a “Best Of” book offers a career-spanning collection that simultaneously functions as a fitting introduction for someone who's new to the material and a welcome refresher for someone who's seen it before. We believe Best of Baseball Prospectus does both, and we can't wait to share it with you starting next week.

Ben Lindbergh is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

89 comments have been left for this article.

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