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The 2007 Hardball Times Baseball Annual Review

by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
December 30, 2006

 
Just $13.95 when you click its image 

I’ve heard so many great things about The Hardball Times Annuals, but never got to read one myself. Finally, I received the 2007 Annual as a Christmas gift. I must say, this book is really good. I wasn’t sure if it would live up to the hype, but it certainly did. It’s filled with essays reviewing the 2006 season, historical essays, and mouth watering statistics that a SABRmetrician would die for. The batted ball data is amazing and is extremely useful. We learn that in the 2006 season, the average MLB player hit 7% more GB than FB, and struck out almost twice as much as they walked. The back of the book is filled with Win Shares, WPA, and a plethora of other stats.


We all know that THT is known for its stats, but a lot of the book’s essays were nothing short of spectacular. A lot of them were written by the regulars such as David Gassko, Dave Studenmund, and John Walsh. They also had special contributors, such as Rob Neyer and John Dewan. Dewan tackled the defensive statistics (surprise, surprise) and Neyer dealt with “Blunders” of 2006, or lack thereof. After we were treated to some 2006 commentary, there were tons of other historical and analytical essays. Some of my personal favorites were:

  • David Gassko’s essay on Tommy John surgery - Gassko does a great job of describing what actually happens during the procedure (Thanks Dave!). He then tells us that about 180 pitchers or so have had the surgery, including about 10% of active pitchers. We see that Odalis Perez, Ryan Dempster, Chris Carpenter, Steve Karsay, and Jason Isringhausen had the five biggest drops in their ERA’s after returning from the surgery. However, David didn’t list the 5 worst comebacks, which sort of disappointed me.

  • David Studenmund’s Net Win Shares piece - Basically, what David does is use Win Shares to see which players contributed the most for the least amount of money. There were 2,429 wins last year, and the players were paid a combined 2.3 billion dollars. So that means each win cost approximately 1 million smackers. In contrast, teams paid players who were eligible for arbitration less than half of what they paid free agents. Not surprisingly, the top four players who gave the most bang for their buck were young players were not yet eligible for arbitration. Four out of the five players who had the worst value were pitchers, which kind of surprised me.
  • Greg Rybarczyk’s “Which way did it go?”, my absolute favorite piece, presented amazing data, all provided from hittrackeronline.com. This essay is all about home runs, and it’s just so damn cool. Ambiorix Burgos led all relievers in HR allowed, as he surrendered 16. 12 of them were in the 9th inning. Matt Holliday hit the longest HR of the season, which traveled 496 feet. On the other end of the spectrum, Jason Lane hit a 328-foot Texas leaguer that happened to get over the wall. To me, the most interesting aspect of this piece was the part on Josh Beckett. He went from a pitcher’s paradise, Dolphin Stadium, to not-so-friendly Fenway Park. Last year, he gave up 12 HR at home. Since the average temperature in Dolphin Stadium was 84 degrees, and had a wind blowing in from CF at 10MPH, only 6 would have been big flies in Florida. Out of the other 6 balls, 5 of them would have been fly outs, and the other would have drifted foul. Amazing, eh?

Any criticisms? Yes, but they are few and far between. Their editing was a little shaky, but nothing too serious. The Most Valuable Pitchers essay was pretty bad, if you ask me. David Gassko’s league quality adjustments were too harsh, and when you use an entire country’s population when there are only 3 or 4 MLB players from that country is pretty dumb. You’d think that Gassko would realize this when Blyleven is number 7, ahead of Randy Johnson, and when Phil Niekro and Gaylord Perry are in his top 15.

 

All in all, this book is great. If you haven’t bought it yet, get your fanny out of that chair and get it…. NOW!         

 

The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 retails for $19.95, but you can get it $6 off at the Baseball Evolution Store.




Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.

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