It’s the Hardball Times Annual 2012

It’s gone, out of my hands—sent away to be forever committed to paper. There’s nothing I can do about it anymore. What is it? It’s The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2012, our eighth Annual in a row. And this year, it’s different.

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Some quick background: In 2004, we decided to publish an Annual even though we were just a motley crew of baseball writing nuts. We all felt a void in our baseball lives; we wanted something like the old Baseball Abstracts that recounted the season just past, added in some commentary, history and analysis, and gave us something basebally to read in the dead of winter. Our first effort was self-published and it seemed to go over well, so ACTA Sports came along and offered to publish it, giving the Annual a higher profile. They’ve been our publisher ever since.

The Annual remained the same size and format through the years: 300+ pages in a 8 1/2 by 11 book. The past couple of years, however, we’ve picked up a bit of disenchantment with the format. We heard that it was too big, too hard to read on the train and some such. People liked the stats in the back, but they generally looked at them just once or twice. They really bought the Annual for the articles.

Well, I heard that cause, I gotta tell you, the stats were a pain in the butt to typeset. If people didn’t value them, then I was willing to look at alternatives. So we did.

The THT Annual now comes in a smaller, more convenient size. This year’s edition is 7 inches by 9 inches. That’s the same size as the Bill James Handbook. It’s the same size as a typical Rob Neyer book, or Bill James’ manager book. It works because it’s wide enough to handle the occasional big graphic or table, but small enough to read on the train. Plus, the width gives us some opportunities to play with extra content in the side margins.

Bottom line, I’m pretty happy with the way it looks and I think most of you will be too. The Annual consists of 25 “main” articles and a number of “extra” articles in the margins on the side. Allow me to provide some details.

We’ve expanded our division views to include an overview of each team’s minor league system as well as a special “PITCHf/x” sidebar for each division. The PITCHf/x sidebar consists of a case study in each division, using the PITCHf/x data as collected and modified by Harry Pavlidis and our other PITCHf/x experts. Some examples are investigations into the breakout seasons by Justin Upton and Jacoby Ellsbury and an in-depth analysis of the Royals’ promising young bullpen.

In addition, Jeff Moore has provided an overview of the state of each team’s minor league system. These are in the margin of the division views, and I think it makes the reading more compelling and interesting. When you get the book, let me know what you think.

We’ve still got sections devoted to Commentary, History and Analysis. Some specific highlights are…
{exp:list_maker}Rob Neyer has written a “GM in a Box” feature (a staple of THT Annuals) and he chose Theo Epstein as his subject. Required reading for Cubs fans.
Craig Calcaterra reviews the “year in frivolity.” Craig is always entertaining.
I do my usual bit with WPA highlights of the year, including that crazy last day of the regular season.
Speaking of the last day of the season, Steve Treder provides his own perspective on late-season flops
Jack Marshall addresses the “baseball year in ethics” and Brian Borawski addresses the “baseball year in business”. We put the two next to each other in the book for you Occupy Wall Street types.
And this is really fun—Jamie Holzhauer reflects on his short but successful career betting on sports: Diary of a Mad Sports Bettor {/exp:list_maker}
In the history section, Chris Jaffe lists the all-time managers in quick and slow hooks (the quickest hook of all time was a Blue Jays manager—can you guess which one?), Frank Jackson has an excellent remembrance of Hank Thompson’s on-field accomplishments and off-field troubles and David Wade recalls how the designated hitter came to be.

And then there’s analysis.
{exp:list_maker}Adam Dorhauer has a perfect analytic approach to estimate the best hitters, at their peak, in baseball history.
Matt Swartz follows up on his initial work at Baseball Prospectus with an in-depth analysis of whether teams know their own players best.
Max Marchi has some excellent work on the pitchers who drew the most fans to the ballpark. Guess how many extra fans Mark Fidrych drew to baseball games in 1976.
John Dewan presents fielding and pitching runs allowed, based on the terrific work of the folks at Baseball Info Solutions
Speaking of fielding, Michael Humphreys has some new thoughts on what makes an excellent system for judging fielders.
And Brian Cartwright has a fantastic new take, using HITf/x data, on whether groundball pitchers should be treated differently when it comes to those BABIP projections.{/exp:list_maker}That’s not everything. We also do have some stats tables in the back of the book. We’ve included just “unique” stats this time, instead of listing as many stats as we could fit. We will make more stats available on a special webpage for purchasers of the book. Plus, Tuck has toons, Brandon Isleib has “fun with other numbers” and there are a couple of other things I can’t remember. You’ll just have to buy the book to find out what they are (such a tease).

Bottom line, the THT Annual will be shipping in mid-November and I really, really think you should order it now.

The Deal

We make this book for ourselves, but we also make it hoping that you’ll find it valuable, pay for it, and support the Hardball Times by doing so. The best way to support the Hardball Times is to buy the book at ACTA Sports—but only by using this link. Let me repeat: Use this link.

Once you’re there, you can also purchase the Bill James Handbook, which works as an excellent statistical reference companion to the THT Annual. When you check out, you can enter “DPD” in the Promo Code and receive 20 percent off the total order. It’s a good deal for you and for us. An extra benefit of ordering from ACTA Sports is that you’ll get the Annual very quickly, a week or so before Amazon customers get it. Should be on your bookshelf by Thanksgiving.

We know that books are less expensive at Amazon.com, and if you can’t afford to purchase the Annual from ACTA Sports, we understand. However, please know that pretty much the entire difference in price comes out of our pocket. When you pay extra at ACTA Sports, you receive their excellent service and you also support THT directly. We barely make anything off Amazon sales.

I’ve suggested to some folks that they could perhaps buy the Annual from Amazon and then make a donation directly to us. If you’d like to do that, there is a donation button on our home page, in the lower right-hand column. Donate what you can.

Also, I believe an e-book will be available soon, but I don’t have any details yet. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.

Regardless of where you buy it, we think you’ll find it’s worth every penny.

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Comments

  1. Mark F said...

    Dave

    Nice going, i will head to ACTA and order both.  By the way, your Tweeting is coming along, Go Studes!

    Mark F

  2. Dave Studeman said...

    Don’t know yet, Matthew.  I’ll post something here when I do.

    Mark, thanks.  I’m still trying to figure out how best to use this here twitter thing.

  3. Dave Studeman said...

    By the way, I totally forgot to mention a couple of other articles.  David Golebiewski has a really nice piece on Mike Stanton, projecting where his career eventually might go.  And Richard Barbieri has contributed his traditional “Annotated Year in History,” which is always a fun read.

  4. Shane Meredith said...

    Can’t wait!!! I have every version of the annual back to 2004. They’re always great books and a few years from now when I retire, I look forward to re-reading them along with all my B.J. Baseball Abstracts to re-live the individual seasons.

  5. Alec Rogers said...

    Dave – these changes sound like they will be a big improvement. No need to waste paper reprinting the same stats easily accessible on line, esp. as we all become more remote capable with tablets, phones, etc.  Thanks for working to make one of my favorite baseball products even better.

  6. Shimi Goodman said...

    as an avid reader of your annuals since 2006 i have to say great job!  however, i am wondering why you moved up the printing schedule in the last few years. one of my favorite parts of the old annuals were the postseason recap. by the time i’m reading the current edition the world series is long over and something is missing reading about the season before its important conclusion.  this is just a minor complaint and i really enjoy the insightful articles. keep up the good work!

  7. Dave Studeman said...

    Thanks, Shimi.  Our publisher wanted to get the book into bookstores more quickly, so we moved up the production schedule so that the book would be sent to the printer before the World Series had ended. Hopefully, you saw that we made downloads of the World Series coverage available on the special webpage created for Annual purchasers.

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