It’s The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006!

It’s now official. The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2006 has been printed and shipped, which means that you no longer have an excuse for not purchasing it. Please support the site and order it from us directly. We don’t mean to be greedy, but we publish the Annual in order to support this little baseball habit of ours, and we make very little money from sales on other sites. We’re positive you’ll find it’s worth every penny.

The Annual is a review of the past season, just like last year’s, only this time we’re reviewing the 2005 season. This year’s book is also 42 pages longer, with more stats and no reprinted articles from our website. That’s right. Every word is fresh and new, with contributions from THT’s writers as well as a number of well-known guest contributors. Here’s a look at each section …

The 2005 Season
  • “Ten Things I Learned This Year” by Dave Studeman
  • Division Reviews:
    • “American League East” by Ben Jacobs
    • “American League Central” by Aaron Gleeman
    • “American League West” by John Brattain
    • “National League East” by Brian Borawski
    • “National League Central” by Greg Tamer
    • “National League West” by Steve Treder
  • “Postseason Review” by Aaron Gleeman and Dave Studeman

Aaron and I did something unique in the postseason article. We reviewed the postseason by using Win Probability Added to describe the key points of the Championship Series and every game of the World Series. We think you’ll find it very interesting.

2005 Commentary

Our 2005 Commentary section includes a number of interesting angles on the game, such as Rob Neyer’s review of the biggest management mistakes of the year, Brian Gunn on St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty and Jon Weisman on the brief DePo era in Los Angeles, Matt Welch on what makes the Angels successful, and Alex Belth’s reflections on life as a Yankee fan.

Also, David Cameron talks about players who made the biggest leaps in the minor leagues in 2005, Craig Burley covers Japanese baseball, and Brian Borawski and Maury Brown cover the business side of the game, including Maury’s overview of the issues leading up to the expiration of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Finally, John Brattain checks in with a perspective piece on the steroids scandal, and Craig Burley and Thomas Ayers give an overview of the upcoming World Baseball Classic, country by country.

Here’s the specific list of articles:
image

  • “For Want of a Nail …” by Rob Neyer
  • “GM in a Box: Walt Jocketty” by Brian Gunn
  • “Getting with the Program” by Matt Welch
  • “The DePo Era” by Jon Weisman
  • “Never a Dull Moment” by Alex Belth
  • “Leapers” by David Cameron
  • “Japanese Baseball in 2005″ by Craig Burley
  • “The Steroids Scandal” by John Brattain
  • “Business of Baseball Year in Review” by Brian Borawski
  • “Crystal Ball: The 2006 CBA and the Battles within It” by Maury Brown
  • “The World Baseball Classic” by Craig Burley and Thomas Ayers

History

Can’t have a baseball book with a look back at its rich history. We’ve got four great articles in this section:

  • “Night Sky: The 2005 Season in Historical Perspective” by Steve Treder
  • “Young Pitchers” by Bill James
  • “The Hall of Merit” by Joe Dimino
  • “The Nasty Dutchman” by Bill James

We purposely put Bill James’s review of Bert Blyleven’s Hall of Fame credentials right after Joe Dimino’s developmental history of the Hall of Merit. Tremendous reading in all four cases.

Analysis

We’ve packed a lot into our analysis section. There are five research articles in the middle that focus on batted ball data, as I described last week. Those articles are sandwiched at both ends by two articles that analyze other hot baseball issues.

  • “What’s So Magic about 100 Pitches?” by John Dewan
  • “Are You Feeling Lucky?” by Dan Fox
  • “What’s a Batted Ball Worth?” by Dave Studeman
  • “They Play in Parks” by Dave Studeman
  • “Batted Ball Fielding Stats” by Dave Studeman
  • “Do Players Control Batted Balls?” by J.C. Bradbury and David Gassko
  • “Giving Players Their PrOPS: A Platonic Measure of Hitting” by J.C. Bradbury
  • “Around the Bases One More Time” by Dan Fox
  • “Net Win Shares Value” by Dave Studeman

John Dewan, the founder of Stats Inc. and Baseball Info Solutions has a look at pitch counts and Dan Fox follows with a review of a fairly common topic this past season: luck. At the end of the section, Fox has another article in which he quantifies the baserunning prowess of each major league player (as described here) and I’ve got an article that analyzes the monetary definition of valuable, as we discussed two weeks ago.

The analysis section is really just a big lead-in to the second half of our book…

Statistics

After the five-page intro and glossary, you’ll find 148 straight pages of wall-to-wall graphs and stats. Here’s a list of what I consider to be the highlights:

  • All the basic team stats and graphs for both leagues
  • Extra team stats such as BABIP, throwing vs. fielding errors, and batted ball stats. Also, team Win Share stats, including batting, pitching and fielding Win Shares, career Win Shares by team and Win Shares Age.
  • Leaderboards for both leagues, including all the common stats and some uncommon ones as well.
  • Player stats grouped by team (four pages per team) that include team graphs and breakouts by month, and all the basic individual batting, pitching and fielding player stats we could think of. We’ve thrown in Dan Fox’s baserunning stats for every player, and we’ve got Win Share stats for most players, including breakouts, career Win Shares and Net Win Shares Value.
  • There are two big lists at the end of the book. First, we list David Gassko’s “Range” for every player who played at least 600 innings at a position. And we also have the batted ball breakouts (that is, how often each player hit a line drive, groundball, etc. etc.) for every batter with at least 400 plate appearances and every pitcher who faced at least 300 batters.

Finally, when you purchase the book you will have access to detailed spreadsheets that include the fielding, batted ball and Net Win Shares Value of every major league player.

That’s our Annual, the best of what we’ve got. I seriously doubt you’ll find anything else quite like it.

Here’s the link to order the book.

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