While players are only a few weeks away from reporting to Spring Training and are undoubtedly hard at work in the weight room, baseball fans who think that there is more to baseball than what h-appens in between $8 beers and wiping your kid’s nose will want to check out The Hardball Times’ Baseball Annual 2009.
It’s not fair to compare this to say, the Bill James Handbook, but it is crafted in the same vain – trying to provide analysis of the game that will give everyone from MLB executives to fans new and improved metrics by which to evaluate players and their performance.
What is different about this from James’ book is simply the sheer volume of text. I like to consider myself a fairly quick reader, and this seemed to take me quite a while to get through – and don’t even think of jumping into it without having had a stiff cup of coffee prior and eliminating any and all distractions and interruptions. This is some serious heavy lifting.
But that’s not all bad provided you’re up for the task of taking it on. There are articles that will have more relevance to you than others – depending on how much you want to read about your favorite team versus other teams, or take on topics such as Mike Piazza’s career numbers and his Hall of Fame credentials, or an in-depth look at Pat Gillick, former GM of the Phillies, Blue Jays and Mariners.
The bottom line here is that if you read the book – or even just parts of it, you will learn something, which is something I require of almost every book that crosses my path in order to get a recommendation. There is a wealth of information and insight in its 380 pages – some might even say there is too much, or at least too much for one sitting. This is closer to the equivalent of a college course than a day read, if you ask me. Just be glad they don’t require quizzes and a final exam at the end of it.