It’s the Hardball Times Annual 2012by Dave Studeman
October 24, 2011
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.
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...
- 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
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.
- 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.
Bottom line, the THT Annual will be shipping in mid-November and I really, really think you should order it now.
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.
Dave was called a "national treasure" by Rob Neyer. Seriously. Comments about this article can be sent to him through the miracle of e-mail.