I haven’t written an article for The Hardball Times since November, and if you were wondering why (and you probably weren’t), it was because I was hard at work on The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009, our annual book previewing the upcoming major league baseball season.
This is the third year we’ve done this book, and it’s the third year that I can honestly say we’ve surpassed my every expectation. I know my opinion is biased, but our writers have done a fantastic job covering every aspect of the upcoming season.
The bulk of the Season Preview consists of team essays, player comments, and projections. In all, we have 1,050 player projections and comments in the book, meaning that we’ve covered just about anyone who might have an impact on the 2009 baseball season. In addition, purchasers of the Season Preview will have access to a spreadsheet with over 2,600 projections.
The projections include all the regular statistics you might expect, plus fielding ratings, three-year projections, a reliability score, projected fantasy values, and depth charts. In other words, no matter what you’re using these projections for, we have you covered.
But enough about the projections. They’re good, but they’re not so much better than any other system that I’m going to ask you to buy the book just for them. Instead, I want to talk a little about the lifeblood of the Season Preview—the writing.
The writers featured in the Season Preview are not just some random schmucks we pulled off the street (well, except for John Brattain), but some of the best bloggers on the internet writing about the teams they follow every day. Who better to tell you about the Arizona Diamondbacks than Jim McLennan? And who knows more about the Seattle Mariners than Jeff Sullivan?
Our writers can tell you more about the teams and players they’re covering than just about anyone else in the world, and as someone who has already read the book, and is completely and totally unbiased, let me tell you, they do a great job of it. If you want to be prepared for the upcoming season, you need to read what these guys have to say.
That’s not all the writing in the book, though; after you’re done with all the team essays and player comments, you’ll find three essays in the back of the book that will further help prepare you for the 2009 season, especially if you play fantasy baseball.
First, we have a piece by our injury expert Chris Neault, who runs down all the injury situations you need to know about in the upcoming season. Chris covers 40 players in-depth, and more than 100 overall. Injuries play a huge role every year, so this article is a must-read for just about everyone.
Following Chris, we have Derek Carty writing about rookies to watch in 2009. Rookies are notoriously difficult to project, but they can have a huge impact on both the real and fantasy baseball season. Derek will tell you about each rookie’s upside, and who he thinks is ready to make an impact this year.
Finally, we have a piece specifically for the fantasy baseball players among you. Victor Wang is our resident risk expert, and this piece, he tackles how to manage risk in your fantasy baseball draft. Risk can be a good thing—by definition, it involves a large potential upside—but too much risk can also cause your fantasy season (or the worldwide economy) to blow up. Victor will tell you how to balance these considerations.
Beyond that, the Season Preview includes our first shot at projection the 2009 standings (let’s just say the Yankees and Red Sox look like the elite teams in baseball once more), projected fantasy values, career projections based upon a tool I developed in last year’s Season Preview, and cartoons by Tuck!, who provides his own humorous take on the upcoming season.
All in all, we have produced a 296-page behemoth that is an essential buy for any big baseball fan. Please support THT by purchasing it from the publisher’s website. As a completely unbiased observer, you can trust me: You won’t regret it.
And for those who are still unsure, here are some sample pages from the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies team chapter: