The book: “Baseball Prospectus 2011”
The author: Edited by Steven Goldman
The vital stats: Baseball Prospectus/Wiley & Sons, 600 pages, $24.95.
The pitch: The Wiley & Sons website, which published the book, has the slogan: “Knowledge for Generations,” and has listings of books that specialize in things like world languages, math and science, physics and astronomy and … well, you get the idea. Cramming this title into its fun and games section seems like the only way a Mensa person would find it.
So you know going in that the 16th edition of this New York Times bestseller is going to make you do more than think.
You can even get a little cocky.
The book actually offers its own “Top Ten Ways Your Friends Will Know You Haven’t Read Baseball Prospectus 2011”:
10. You think $86 million dollars sounds like the perfect price to pay for three years of Derek Jeter and Rafael Soriano.
9. You drafted Josh Hamilton or Ubaldo Jimenez in the first round of your fantasy draft this year.
8. The fielding metrics you’ve been looking at tell you Kevin Kouzmanoff and Matt Holliday were elite fielders last year.
7. You think this might be Chicago’s year.
6. You’ve never heard of Chris Carter, Jesus Montero or Steven Hill.
5. You’ve heard of Carter, Montero, and Steven Hill, but without BP’s “MLB %” playing time projection and scouting report, you overdrafted them in your fantasy league.
4. You think your team will be better than the Red Sox this year.
3. You’re not bleary-eyed from staying up all night reading hundreds of pages of smart stats and witty commentary.
2. The words “Vernon Wells traded” don’t make you giggle a little.
1. You’re Ed Wade.
Wait, did Tony Regans read No. 2?
“If you’re a baseball fan and you don’t know what BP is, you’re working in a mine without one of those helmets with the lights on it,” says Keith Olbermann in one of the jacket blurbs.
BP, for those still in the dark: Baseball Prospectus. Not batting practice.
The vital excerpts:
In its synopsis about the Dodgers: “For all the organization’s woes, its large-market advantages and track record for producing talent may see the Dodgers through this crisis, no matter who owns the team.”
And this is included about James Loney: “If Loney wasn’t a favorite son of assistant GM Logan White, who drafted him with the 19th pick in 2002, he’d be a priority for replacement.” And follow it up with Jerry Sands, the 23-year-old Triple-A first baseman: “Its easy to envision his getting the call if Loney continues to disappoint.”
And about the Angels: “While the Rangers are quite reasonably the hip pick to succeed the Angels in the AL West’s perennial top threat, the Halos aren’t likely to cede their ground quietly. They are on a stronger footing financially than the upstart Texas and have the resources on hand to treat their 2010 as a bump in the road rather than the beginning of the end of their run of success.”
And as for the aformentioned Wells, who in this book is still a member of the Toronto Blue Jays: “He still doesnt’ walk much, and he was one of the costlier double-play liabilities in the game. For the first time in awhile it was possible to think about Vernon Wells as something other than a latter-day Darren Driefort. The remaining $86 million will be owed by the Angels, so in some senses, Wells’ was one of the most successful seasons in Jays’ history.” Wells’ stat rating includes 44 percent “improve,” 3 percent “collapse” and 98 percent “MLB,” with “comparables” to Aaron Rowand, Torii Hunter and Kevin McReynolds.
How it goes down in the scorebook: Does your favorite baseball book have an iPhone app? This one does. That’s applicable to this situation.