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February 28, 2013

BP Announcements

Baseball Prospectus 2013 is Now Available

by Cecilia M. Tan

Baseball Prospectus 2013 is landing in mailboxes and e-readers everywhere this week. I see the tweets popping up all over. I can now say to my friends, "Now you know what I did all winter."

In case you don't already know, Baseball Prospectus 2013 is this season's edition of the most complete guide to Major League Baseball you can buy. It's almost 600 pages of the data and projections for players and teams you need, whether you are trying to win your fantasy league, get a handle on what your team is doing (or failing to do), or just stay one step ahead of the color commentators trying to figure out what to say about that guy who got called up.

Building the annual is a little like building a baseball team. You spend all winter on it, sweating the details and hoping it all works, but until it gets out there, you don't know how it'll do. Well, the book hasn't even been out a week and, as this is written, is holding both the no. 1 and no. 2 slots on Amazon's baseball bestsellers list (with the paperback and the Kindle version), and is at no. 60 in all books (and climbing). Past volumes have reached the New York Times bestseller list as well, so I feel pretty good that we've got a winner on our hands.

We like stats, and chances are that if you're reading BP, you do too. So here are some numbers to note about this year's book.

  • Players included in the book: 2,210. Last year the book topped 1,600, or about 55 players per team. This year it's more than 70 per organization.
  • Page count: 592. Up 9% over last year. The book is basically as large as we can manufacture it without having to make it hardcover.
  • Authors on the BP team: 31. Every roster has turnover. Here at BP we lost some veterans and gained some hot rookies, and the team grew overall by eight members. I won't call them all out by name here, but these are the same folks you see day in and day out on the BP website, bringing the insights, analysis, and wit you expect. They're as snappy as an ulnar collateral ligament.
  • Non-team-specific essays: 2. In the olden days, the book used to contain miscellaneous essays not about any specific team. In recent years, those were cut and writers were instead encouraged to try to shoehorn their insights into the team essays, often resulting in clunky treatises that left some readers feeling that while they may have learned a lot, they didn't learn how their team would do. We decided this year to take the same approach with the team essays as we do with the individual player capsules, boiling the information down to the crucial elements of what the team does wrong, what it does right, what it can or can't fix, and what its outlook is for this season and long term. The two additional "big picture" essays we added, by Colin Wyers and Russell A. Carleton, examine baseball analysis itself.

But you want to know what's in the book. Last year we correctly predicted down years for Jose Bautista, Josh Beckett, and Jeff Francoeur, and playoff runs for Cincinnati and Washington. What are some of the subjects we're looking at this year?

  • Will the new-look Blue Jays live up to the hype?
  • Can the Dodgers spend their way to the top of anything but the highest-salary list?
  • Can 2012 upstarts Baltimore and Oakland continue their playoff ways?
  • Will things start to go right for the Twins if they stop relying on pitchers who can't strike anybody out?
  • What do you mean the Yankees signed more old guys and no catcher?

(I can't tell you the answers here: you're supposed to go look them up in the book. No spoilers.)

As I mentioned above, the book is available not only as a paperback, but in ebook form, and as a mobile app. I loaded the app onto my phone before I left for spring training last year, and it instantly made me a one-woman scouting department in the stands. I had a scouting report right at my fingertips for nearly every random replacement player who got a late-inning at bat after the star players had headed for the golf course. The same was true all throughout the season. Now I can't imagine living without it. Is that veteran my team just got as insurance washed up or does he have something left in the tank? What's that hot prospect's big weakness? Our rotation's in trouble... or is it? Whether I was sitting in the stands, or in a sports bar, or watching the game with friends at home, I no longer had to wait for the color commentator to tell me about a player, and instead of some factoid, I could see the stats that matter.

That's the reason the BP annual sits on the desk of many big-league general managers. One of them, Houston's Jeff Luhnow, wrote the preface to this year's book, in fact. I feel like the only thing snazzier than having BP on my phone would be Billy Beane's Blackberry.

The core of all the numbers we provide in the book is PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm). Developed by Nate Silver, whose prominence as a big data guru reached new heights in 2012 with his success in predicting the Presidential election, PECOTA is continually tested and updated. Each player in the book has a 2013 prediction in each of 19 different statistical categories. (If you have the app, and technology works as it should, you should even see these predictions change throughout the year, just like you do on the BP website.) Some of these are "traditional" stats like wins, batting average, and ERA, while others are advanced metrics like TAv, FIP, and of course WARP.

There's also the Top 101 prospects feature, which used to be written by Kevin Goldstein. Since he has been lured away to a job in The Show by the Astros, Jason Parks took over curating the list this year, with input from six more of BP's brightest.

I had a fantastic time co-editing the book with King Kaufman. I couldn't be more excited that now it gets to be in your hands, and be your companion all season long. A huge thanks to everyone on the team. Now it's time to play ball.

Buy Baseball Prospectus 2013 from Amazon.com

http://bbp.cx/b

Buy Baseball Prospectus 2013 from BN.com

http://bbp.cx/bn

 

Related Content:  Bp2013,  Baseball Prospectus 2013,  Annual,  Bp Annual

23 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

jnossal

Can't say I like the new team essay format. I actually liked the meandering commentaries. They were thoughtful, touched on multiple points and often raised intelligent and interesting questions. The new format is dry and uninformative, too short and restrictive to really capture the shape of the teams' past season.

Feb 28, 2013 09:58 AM
rating: 14
 
tannerg

Agree with this completely, and "meandering" is the perfect descriptive word, which I also mean to be complimentary.

Feb 28, 2013 15:42 PM
rating: 1
 
dianagram

Happy for the new book, but I too loved the old "team essay" format. It showed me in many cases WHY the team did or didn't do what it did the prior year, in ways I might not have thought of.

Feb 28, 2013 10:06 AM
rating: 6
 
toanstrom

Any idea when the Ipad app might be available? Thinking about getting that (instead of the Kindle - but in addition to the paperback) because I love the idea of having the stats update as the season goes along.

Feb 28, 2013 10:35 AM
rating: 2
 
Sean

I'll echo this. Bought last year's at the promotional price. Enjoyed it for the most part, though hoping for some aesthetic improvements this year.

Feb 28, 2013 13:02 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Cecilia Tan
BP staff

I know the submission of the app took place a while ago, but I don't know what arcane process Apple uses to approve the apps submitted...

Feb 28, 2013 21:48 PM
 
Michael
(736)

At least you won't get any complaints about the team essays not being attributed to a specific author this year!

I preferred the old team essays too; they were less formulaic. I did like the year of sabermetric developments in review essay though.

Feb 28, 2013 10:52 AM
rating: 5
 
Russell Jones

I hate to pile on but the new shorter team essays aren't very good! I read the Braves essay last night and I found very little information that I didn't already know about the team. I honestly enjoyed the long essays much more than the player write ups in the past. It seems that you have devalued the book to long term readers. Oh well. Still love BP but count me as disappointed in this year's version.

Feb 28, 2013 11:55 AM
rating: 6
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

Thanks for letting us know what you think, everyone. Please keep it coming--we are taking notes for BP2014.

Feb 28, 2013 12:11 PM
 
BP staff member Cecilia Tan
BP staff

Ditto. What Dave said.

Feb 28, 2013 21:50 PM
 
Sean

Good book as always, but a few of the comments have gotten me a bit concerned about how much I can trust them. Take Ethan Martin (Phillies): Just watched him pitch two innings on TV today, and he threw a great fastball, slider, and curve. But I then take a look at his player comment, and it says that he's ditched the curve for a slider. (If this is not what was meant, it was heavily implied.) From what I saw today, he's still very much using it, and the Phillies Top 10 also lists it as a plus pitch. I know there's a lot of incomplete information with minor leaguers (and I'm not expecting to agree with all opinions), but this one for a fairly major prospect surprised me. I hope that the increased prospect coverage can cover some of these holes next year.

Feb 28, 2013 13:37 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Thank you for this comment. Sometimes there is a difference between sources, and since the book work is generally done well in advance of the extensive top 10 work, there might be an odd disconnect from time to time. Hopefully not often. In any event we appreciate the comment. If Jason Parks has a chance, I'll ask him to clarify all the reports so that we at least have consistency.

Feb 28, 2013 14:57 PM
 
Sean

Thanks, Joe. Really appreciate the answer. I bet it's not that often and still love the work. I can't imagine Jason can read many prospect comments, and I wouldn't expect him to have to take on more than he does. I guess in this whole discussion, I'd like to say that for me, the quality/accuracy of player comments is most important. More so than PECOTA or the essays.

Interesting to note that an MLB.com article says Martin *had* moved away from his curve but that the Phillies had him mix it back in last August. So perhaps it was just a case of working off old information here.

Feb 28, 2013 15:43 PM
rating: 1
 
ThreeSix

Great book, although I agree with some of the other comments about the team essay, I enjoyed the old ones. Other than that, great job. Also, it seems like 95% of players are predicted to get worse. You even have a proud list of players who had down years, but none that were predicted to have big ones. Surprisingly, one of the few who are expected to have a good year is Lincecum. It seems like PECOTA likes players coming off bad years more than career ones.

Feb 28, 2013 15:59 PM
rating: 2
 
SaberTJ

I love the essays by Colin Wyers and Russell, but I am in agreement with the crows. Please go back to the old team essay format. It was the highlight of the annual for me.

Feb 28, 2013 20:45 PM
rating: 2
 
SaberTJ

crows = crowd

Feb 28, 2013 20:46 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Thank you for the feedback everyone. We really do appreciate it and will certainly take everything into consideration as we plan for next year's book. The focus this year was on providing more player capsules than before since the majority of the people we talked to were more interested in those than anything else. But the book will continue to evolve, and we'll do our best to give our readers what they want. Thanks

Feb 28, 2013 21:17 PM
 
Tipman

The annual release date of BP is one of my favorite days of the year, and I felt extra excited when a couple brick and mortar book stores told me it was available on Saturday. So I rushed over to pick it up, and to echo what everyone else earlier has said, that the team essays leave a lot to be desired. I've been reading the annual for 6+ years, but if you hadn't mentioned it was 9% larger than previous years, I would've thought it was 10% less content. There was nothing the team essay added to my knowledge for the 8 or so teams I've looked at thus far. Thanks to everyone for all your hard work and dedication to making baseball so enjoyable for us all!

Mar 01, 2013 03:47 AM
rating: 3
 
Schaffpa71

I'm in agreement with most. The formulaic new team essay format was generic and pretty awful. It used to be you didn't know what to expect when you turned to a team essay, but it was almost always informative and interesting in its own way. Following the generic "2012 review" "2013 preview" and "State of the organization" format really stifles the creativity. "Bigger" doesn't always mean "Better" and I believe this was the worst effort yet.

And so many inconsistencies. For example, in the team "report" (I refuse to call it an essay) for the Cincinnati Reds, its says "Todd Frazier...will man third base." But in Frazier's player comment it says "he doesn't have a position." Oh and it says Frazier can "play all 4 corners". Hmm...don' think he's ever played RF...3 corners, yes. And in Billy Hamilton's comment, he said he moves from SS to centerfield "last season." Should say "in the Arizona Fall League." He played SS in the minors all season. Just shoddy editing.

Oh and the Pecota system needs some refinement. Whatever changes were made makes the projections skew way too heavily to past performance. It also needs to take into account likely playing time. Or I guess a ton of players will have exactly 250 plate appearances this season.

As a long-time subscriber to this website and buyer of the BP annual and the other books produced by the BP team, I'm extremely disappointed and frustrated with the overall nosedive of the content in the BP annual the last few years. It's taken more and more thought each year before I renew my subscription, and now I'm going to pause before I buy the Prospectus in 2014.

So my advice is...

"This ain't Bleacher Report, step up your game!"

Mar 02, 2013 16:02 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Joe Hamrahi
BP staff

Points well taken on the essays. We appreciate the feedback.

As for the inconsistencies, we will make note of them, but just to point out, Todd Frazier played 73 games at 3B, 39 at 1B, 7 in LF, and 1 in RF. Now I realize he only played one game in RF, but he did play there. Nevertheless, I understand your point.

Regarding PECOTA, "book" PECOTA doesn't take into consideration projected playing time or depth charts (and never has as far as I can remember). We just don't have that information available at the time of publishing. The book projections use baseline data based on historical information. That's why we run PECOTA again and again on the SITE leading up to the season using playing time estimates. You can find updated PECOTA numbers on the depth charts and the player cards.

Thank you again for your thoughts. I promise I take comments very seriously.

Mar 02, 2013 16:18 PM
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

Just to follow up on what Joe said, I can confirm PECOTA does attempt to project playing time based on previous performance, but it has no access to depth chart data--the book is at the printers before many of those decisions are made. We implement a 250 PA floor so there aren't a bunch of double-digit plate appearance projections for guys that aren't projected to play very much.

Mar 02, 2013 20:51 PM
 
patnkeren
(529)

I received the book today, went to my favorite team, the Rockies, and I see one glaring omission already...No TODD HELTON?? Is he being punished for his DUI?

Mar 06, 2013 21:11 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff
(2)

Who?

Production error, sorry about that. Helton's 2013 player comment and statistical workup will be freely available on his player card soon.

Mar 10, 2013 18:37 PM
 
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