I got my copy of the Baseball Forecaster about 10 days ago, but closing the magazine meant not cracking it, even though I’ve got a short bit in it (which happened to run here first, about WHIP v. WH/9), until now.
Ron’s lead essay is very smart. It’s about how wrong we are about players, year after year, and he wonders why we pursue exacting but nearly always wrong projections. Then he comes up with something new, called the Mayberry Method.
There’s a lot to like about the way the MM summarizes a player’s skills in a descriptive way. Yet despite it’s simplicity, I’m not convinced it is going to catch on. New stuff often doesn’t, even when it has real merit. On the other hand, the benchmarks MM describes so succinctly are becoming increasingly entrenched as leading indicators, making me wonder why–if we’re getting better at defining leading indicators–we’re not getting better predicting breakouts.
As Ron says in the piece, we may be smarter now than we were 20 years ago, but that may not be such a good thing.
Steve Moyer always gives us so-called experts a copy of the hot-off-the-press Bill James Handbook at First Pitch Arizona, for which I am very grateful. Not that I wouldn’t buy it, I have many times, but this way it ends up in my hands even sooner.
The book continues to grow, with increased focus on the defense awards and rankings, focus on baserunning skills, and the ever useful park factors. I’m a great fan of baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com, both of which I use all day long, but I sit and read the Bill James Handbook, poring over its pages as if it were a ripping good yarn, which in many ways it is.
I’m glad for both these books and recommend them highly.