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OK, so now it’s in my house. Right next to me, in fact, on my couch, alongside “The Simpsons and Philosophy.” Why do I mention that latter book? If you were to buy ONE book this year, possibly I would recommend the “Simpsons and Philosophy.” I say “possibly,” because if I had only $18 to spend on a book, I’d still choose Baseball Prospectus. Heck, I did choose BP: I bought the book, I renewed my BP Premium subscription. I’m down with the program. So I’ll save the platitudes. What follows is a mini-polemic.

While I’ve only glanced through a few teams and essays, the writing, editing, and copy-editing are all not what we’ve gotten in the past. Style is visceral and unconscious, both in how we produce it and in how we react to it. Previously at BP it has been smooth and deep, rich yet fluid. In this year’s book, what used to be crisp, humorous blurbs now seem to be vehicles for using gobs of semi-colons. Semi-colons are the Cristo of the writing world: either you get them or you don’t. I use them from time-to-time, but mainly out of boredom; a period would work just as well 99 percent of the time, including for the semi-colon I just used. Style quibbles aside, there are numerous typographical errors, which, while they do not affect the content, after a while they do become annoying and distracting, just as all those semi-colons distracted me from the analysis of, just to pick a player at random, Bartolo Colon. Random, I swear.

You’re probably saying, “That’s the best you can do? Some typos and an increased usage of semi-colons? Dude, you've got issues.” Fair enough, but there’s more. (And remember, this is a polemic. I'm keeping away from the good stuff.) In general, the tone of the book has an unpleasant feel to it, the opposite of, say, reading F. Scott Fitzgerald. Say what you want about the stories, but the feeling you get from reading him is suffusive, intoxicating, alluring. It’s knowing you’re a sweet nectarine surrounded by rotten prunes. Using non-fruit examples, if I could use one word to describe the tenor of the book, it would be “defensive.” I’ll focus on one example, but there are many. And the example I choose is, sadly, an old one—namely, Derek Jeter. Over the years, as the debate between “Moneyball” and “Traditionalism” has roared, both sides have become more strident. It’s galling to hear Joe Morgan babble on and on and on and on and on, but it’s no less galling to read BP excoriating Derek Jeter again and again and again and again. We get it already: He’s not great defensively and didn’t deserve the Gold Glove; he’s not a great hitter, at least not A-Rod great; he wouldn’t be as over-hyped if he was in Florida. Etc. Blah. Yadda.

I thought the issue had been mostly resolved—Jeter was somewhat overrated by “traditionalists” and somewhat underrated by “stat-heads.” That’s an imperfect resolution, but you get the drift. But under Jeter’s blurb, BP once again launches into the “How good is Jeter REALLY defensively?” saga. Fine. Prove your point. For the 204th time. Now we can move on. Then, as I was reading the comments on D-Backs SS prospect Sergio Santos, along comes Jeter. Why Jeter? Apparently Santos is not going to make it as a shortstop. The scouts think he can, but BP does not. Fair enough. Scouts have been wrong before, and, believe it or not, so has BP. But being opinionated makes for interesting writing, and I’m as opinionated as the next person. So they laconically wrap up their commentary on Santos with “He’s got a chance to be a good one if he can find somewhere else to play.” Only, they weren’t done. “It’s bad enough we have to watch Derek Jeter play shortstop. Lord, save us from Santos.” Simply put, that’s a cheap shot. It adds nothing to BP’s point. Saying that Santos is stretched for the position is fine, and saying that Jeter is stretched for the position is fine. But using Jeter as a straw-man was old four years ago, just as every inane “Pro-Jeter” diatribe (and I’m not defending Jeter here) is old by now. Why not use B.J. Upton as an example? He's not going to wind up at short, either. What’s worse is that “It’s bad enough we have to watch Derek Jeter play shortstop,” aside from being patently untrue—the “bad enough” dig should be applied to Tim McCarver’s orgasmic drooling over Jeter—is not even funny, and BP used to be very funny. Now the legitimate humour is increasingly juxtaposed with sanctimonious quarter-jokes and meaningless barbs at the Devil Rays or Tigers—to say nothing, naturally, of the sniping at Derek Jeter. It's not all sniping, though, as the end of Jeter's comments proves: "Jeter is a Hall-of-Famer to be, a key player on a great team, an inspirational leader, a fine hitter . . . and he gives up a lot of singles with his glove. In light of the rest, why is that last part so difficult to accept?" Well said.

On the other hand, the whole situation reminds me of the time my dad was “laid off” from a job he really and truly enjoyed, and claimed, from the start, that he wasn’t bitter about being down-sized. None of us believed him. My mom and brother and sister and I kept saying to him, in various ways, “Don’t be upset, dad, these things happen. You’ll bounce back.” True enough. He found a job that he liked, if not quite as much, and he said he was happy. But since he had really liked the old job so much, we didn’t believe him. Gradually, though, it became clear that he was, in fact, happy at his new job. And it occurred to us that he wasn’t keeping the past alive. We were.

It’s here: BP 2005 is outta my dreams and into my car | 32 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Jim - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 07:08 AM EST (#104049) #
I've read through about half the National League section. I think what's become a little frustrating is knowing BP's position before I even read the section on the team or the player. What has Depodesta done to deserve the praise lathered on him in the Dodgers section?

I only glanced at the Blue Jays section, but it didn't look like a positive tone on their offseason. I wonder if JP thinks that BP has turned into talk radio as well?

Jordan - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 09:35 AM EST (#104056) #
Not meaning to pile on to BP here, but I didn't particularly like the tone or the quality of their 2004 edition, and I'm not buying BP at all this year (my shekels are going towards John Sickels' book and BA's Prospect Handbook). What Gitz reports about the 2005 version -- the lazy writing, the visible withdrawal of humour, the lack of affection for the subject, and the familiar ever-grinding axes -- was clearly emerging in the 2004 book. I thought it was the scouts and traditionalists who were supposed to be cranky old iconoclasts, not the sabrmeticians.

At its best, BP reminded me of Daniel Okrent's (and others') old Rotisserie League Handbooks from the '80s, but with actual insight added -- witty, enlightening, incisive and fun. When BP regains that form, they'll regain me as a reader too.
Cristian - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 09:50 AM EST (#104061) #
Did you order your book through or I ordered mine through and it still has not shipped.
Jim - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 09:54 AM EST (#104063) #
I ordered it through It never shipped so I just cancelled it and went to a Barnes and Noble.

For the second year I think I'm actually looking more forward to the BA prospect handbook.

Through 5 or 6 chapters I've laughed out loud once. I forget who's comment is was but the line was:
'You sir are no Paul Zuvella'.
3RunHomer - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 11:54 AM EST (#104077) #

I only glanced at the Blue Jays section, but it didn't look like a positive tone on their offseason.

That's an understatement. BP says that the Jays aren't really sabre-minded and make bad player decisions.

I got the book yesterday and read a few chapters. It's still enjoyable but the overabundance of music and film references is annoying.

Oleg - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 11:58 AM EST (#104079) #
Part of the BP problem is that for the most part a lot of us have assimilated the info and kept up with new ideas via the website, so the info in the book doesn't seem as fresh anymore. I remember when I was reading my first BP back in '99, despite being acquainted already with Bill James, there was still a lot of new, cool stuff and a fresh feel to the whole thing. Also, one of the added allures, was that it was pre-Moneyball and the general public was totally unaware of the whole thing. There was the cool feeling of being in the vanguard and knowing a cool secret relatively few others knew. I no longer get that feeling these days when wandering around the sabermetic forest.
Chuck - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 12:25 PM EST (#104080) #
It's still enjoyable but the overabundance of music and film references is annoying.

You should have tried reading Don Malcolm's Big Bad Baseball Annuals. He managed to work his film noir fetish into any number of his essays.

Wildrose - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 12:47 PM EST (#104084) #
I'm afraid nothing in my life with regards to reading will ever approach the pure joy and anticipation I got from tracking down the latest addition of the Bill James baseball abstract. It was absolute heaven when I finally had it in my hands. Baseball Analysts has a very good interview with James today, which touches incidentally, on many of the historic pitching usuage patterns, that Magpie alludes to in his fine piece today. I'm afraid Spring will never be the same for me......Baseball Prospectus is okay, but its just not the same.
costanza - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 01:07 PM EST (#104085) #
I'm afraid Spring will never be the same for me......Baseball Prospectus is okay, but its just not the same.

Indeed, James' annuals are sorely missed. My enthusiasm for BP has really waned, too... I remember eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first book (The White Album?), and I'd always order right away, hoping to get it ASAP.

I still haven't ordered this year's book... I probably will, eventually, but I never actually finished going through last year's. I'm wondering if there's a reason for my lack of enthusiasm... I think a few here have hit on some of the reasons...

Chuck - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 01:20 PM EST (#104088) #
To jump on the James band wagon, I too recall fondly the great anticipation of his Abstracts in the early 80's.

I think the lack of similar anticipation now for BP only partly reflects on what BP has become. I think that there is very little we're going to read any more that is terribly groundbreaking. Given the year-round access to the saber mindset, something like Voros McCracken's DIPS revelations, while nice, hardly compare with the once-a-year insights Bill James offered a then very uneducated readership. The gap between James and his readers was far greater than the gap between BP and their readers.

We're getting tougher to impress and BP isn't bringing a whole lot of new stuff to the table (no fault of theirs, necessarily -- the low hanging fruit has all been long ago picked).
Mike D - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 01:53 PM EST (#104091) #

Now the legitimate humour is increasingly juxtaposed with sanctimonious quarter-jokes and meaningless barbs

So true. Sooooo very true. A teacher once told me that the key to persuasion was "Show, don't tell." Balanced analysis, when BP employs it, works so much better than ridicule -- especially tired, unfunny ridicule. And I still don't get the sanctimony. Well said, Gitz.

BP suffers from the same problem that you find with Gregg Easterbrook's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" column -- clever lines and valuable insights become institutionalized in-jokes, which in turn become stale, repetitive throwaway lines. Bill Simmons avoids this problem because of his self-effacing (rather than self-righteous) tone, his increasing access to the world on which he comments, and his extremely wide latitude to write about anything that interests him -- unlike, say, the more pigeonholed TMQ or BP.

I think one of the best examples of this is the "Week In Quotes" feature, which has been written by a few different BP authors (so I'm not singling anyone in particular out). It's a useful feature for baseball fans -- or at least would be, if they did what they used to do and combined funny quotes from the world of baseball with excerpts of interviews that lent real insight into a club's (or player's) strategic thinking. Instead, it's turned into a litany of "Look at Stupid Manager -- he wants to steal bases this year," or "Look at Stupid Low-OBP Player -- he says he can help his new club," combined with an open-mike session for guys BP likes, such as Beane, Bonds and Epstein. Like Gitz said so eloquently, we get it!

Chuck's surely correct with his "low-hanging fruit" comment. BP offered so many fresh, compelling insights in such a short period of time that not only have we gotten up to speed -- we've been spoiled with high expectations. BP is still a valuable enterprise for thoughtful baseball fans, and can be really useful again. Lots of smart, talented people still write for Prospectus. Let's hope this plateau is merely temporary.

Dave Till - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 03:25 PM EST (#104101) #
I remember the joy I felt when Bill James's yearly Abstracts came out. It was the 1983 Abstract, and the rise of the Blue Jays that year, that turned me into a baseball fan.

Just got my BP in the mail. Some comments:

- I found, surprisingly, that this year I agree with most of the talent evaluations found in the Jays' section. This may be a sign that BP has jumped the shark. :-)

- BP has always been obsessed by prospects (which, presumably, is why they're not called Baseball Veteranus or Baseball Established Majorleaguerus). In their book, some of the worst sins a team can commit are (a) blocking oncoming young talent, and (b) throwing away draft picks. For that reason, BP condemns the signing of Koskie, as that costs them a #2 pick, blocks Hill, and throws away money when the team is not good enough to contend.

The point that the BP writer misses is this: teams need to collect talent in order to win. Ideally, you want a star player at every position, and nobody who deserves to play that is trapped behind somebody else. But, it's better to have an extra player at a position than nobody at all - after all, players get hurt sometimes (as any Jays fan can tell you). And, having only one solution at each position may lead to complacency: how many of the Ash era Jays were confident that they had no chance of losing their jobs?

If you have too much talent at a position - especially a skill position - you're always going to be able to find a team that lacks talent at that position. If Hill winds up blocked, the Jays will be able to trade him, or the player that is blocking him, for something useful. If somebody gets hurt, or doesn't pan out, the Jays have a Plan B, and aren't left with a hole to fill. This is why I think that the Koskie signing was a reasonable move.

Besides, there has to be some reason to come to the park this year. The future is a long way off, and may never happen, and none of us are getting any younger.

- For what it's worth, this year's BP doesn't seem snarkier or shallower than that of previous years. There's always been a few low blows in the book, and some overstretched metaphors. Either you like that sort of thing, or you don't, I guess.
Pistol - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 05:04 PM EST (#104118) #
I may be in the minority, but I always look forward to getting it in the mail and this year was no different.

I've only read the Jays chapter so far, and cherrypicking player comments, and I don't notice a significant difference between this year and other years.

The differences I find are that there's more injury discussion in the player comments (likely from Will Carroll being part of it) and the player profiles seem to be a little more 'scouty' than they've been in the past. Before you might have seen discussion of a pitcher's great ratios, now you might see other things in there like the particular pitches a pitcher throws.

I do also agree with many of the points raised in this thread, but it's not making me not want to read it. And for $15 it's a bargain to me.

One thing to consider is that the people that originally wrote the book and the people that write the book now aren't the same people. Generally the people that are most likely to leave are the most talented ones and that would impact the quality.

And as someone else noted there aren't quite as many findings these days as there might have been before so it seems like old news when you read it. Rob Neyer started to get the same way a few years ago (although I don't pay to read him now).

One thing the book has mentioned several times is that GB/FB ratio is a better predictor of future HR rate than last year's HR rate. Maybe I missed it, but I hadn't heard that before.
Oleg - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 05:14 PM EST (#104120) #
"BP has always been obsessed by prospects (which, presumably, is why they're not called Baseball Veteranus or Baseball Established Majorleaguerus)"

There is at least one more compelling reasons not to call your book Baseball Veteranus than an obsession for prospects.
Jordan - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 05:19 PM EST (#104122) #
There are aspects of the Koskie signing you could criticize, but I'm not sure "blocking Aaron Hill" is the most glaring of them. Hill won't be ready for the big leagues till September 2005 at the earliest, and summer 2006 may be a more plausible arrival date. There's also no guarantee that 3B will be his best major-league position -- indeed, if his power remains moderate, the hot corner may not be for him. Of course you want to plan for the arrival of your best prospects, but you don't want count your chickens either -- I'm a big Hill fan, but a lot can happen at Triple-A.

Koskie fills a need for at least one season and probably two, at a decent price; there are injury and age issues, but that's why he was available for $5M-$6M per season rather than $8M-$10M. Hill will arrive in his own time, and the Jays will use him as best serves the ballclub's needs at that time. There's no sense planning too far ahead.
forest fest - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 06:12 PM EST (#104126) #
While I don't have my BP 2005 yet, I'm disappointed to hear they trash the Blue Jays.

I always thought I could count on BP to look at the process not the results.

The Jays may have lost (a lot) more games this year than last year but they are undergoing the same process.
It'll be neat to see if they take it all back in BP 2006 if(when!) the Jays win more than 50% of their games this year.

I bet BP is heaping praise on Cleveland this year but will dump on them next year as they regress slightly to the mean.
Or canned KC after jumping on their band-wagon last year.
VBF - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 06:45 PM EST (#104129) #
In the intrasquad game today, Halladay was solid, in a 3-0 win for team Mattick, over team Cerutti. Catalanotto was hitting the ball well.

Ted Lily's MRI came back negative and is set to start pitching again on Thursday.
Pistol - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 06:46 PM EST (#104130) #

While I don't have my BP 2005 yet, I'm disappointed to hear they trash the Blue Jays. I always thought I could count on BP to look at the process not the results.

The essay on the Jays has next to nothing to do with their 2004 season. A majority of the chapter were their reasons why they didn't like the Koskie signing.

And the KC essay (the other one I read) was more along the lines of 'they made what seemed like good moves and they didn't work out'.

Craig B - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 07:00 PM EST (#104132) #
If there's a problem at BP, I think it's that some of those who contributed more heavily to the books in years past are no longer doing as much writing, and they've brought in a number of new writers who are simply not up to their old standard.

I was rather hoping that Jim Baker would do a considerable amount of writing in the new annual; the comments I'm hearing indicate that that's not likely the case. Too bad.

BP the site still has a large amount of info you can't find elsewhere; it's irreplaceable, no matter how much I've tried to replace it. :) But the quality of their features has been suffering a decline. I think they're smart enough to address it in the near future.
VBF - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 07:12 PM EST (#104134) #
In the intrasquad game today, Halladay was solid, in a 3-0 win for team Mattick, over team Cerutti. Catalanotto was hitting the ball well.

Sorry, Gerry posted that in the weekend one.

StephenT - Tuesday, March 01 2005 @ 10:38 PM EST (#104150) #
I'm still upset that BP dropped EqA in favour of junk like "EQBA" a couple of years ago.

(I've just now ordered the 2005 book from (thanks Jim for confirming it is sending). Unlike, sends via Canada Post, bypassing the customs fees ($5 I think). Of course, would bypass the fees, but it says it's not shipping yet (thanks Cristian for confirming that)).
Jim - Wednesday, March 02 2005 @ 07:17 AM EST (#104157) #
Santos was in the section of the BA top 100 on Tuesday around ~60 or so. The NL Scout quoted says that he can stay at shortstop because he can make all the plays.

Pepper Moffatt - Wednesday, March 02 2005 @ 09:05 AM EST (#104160) #
I think they're smart enough to address it in the near future.

This sounds to me like "I'm in negotiations right now to join their team, but I can't say so publicly, so I'll just make a vague prediction knowing full well that it's about to become true". :)

TangoTiger - Wednesday, March 02 2005 @ 10:18 AM EST (#104165) #
Pistol: MGL introduced "virtual HR" several years ago, where he'd predict the number of HR based on the length and number of flyballs hit, as well as the previous years' HR rates.

i.e., you regress the HR hit towards your flyball pattern.

IIRC, it was pretty much 50/50 in terms of impact, which is a huge deal.

Craig B - Wednesday, March 02 2005 @ 10:45 AM EST (#104167) #
I am not joining BP. Sorry, Mikey.
Matthew E - Wednesday, March 02 2005 @ 10:50 AM EST (#104168) #
This sounds to me like, "I'm secretly joining Baseball Prospectus, but I can throw them off by saying that I'm not joining British Petroleum."
Craig B - Wednesday, March 02 2005 @ 10:53 AM EST (#104169) #
"We've found a witch, may we burn her?"
studes - Wednesday, March 02 2005 @ 11:38 AM EST (#104174) #
I am not joining BP. Sorry, Mikey.

Glad to hear it!
Jim - Wednesday, March 02 2005 @ 12:11 PM EST (#104179) #
If anyone from BP is out there.

Can you please add some basic info to the players (please).
High School/College/International
Year/round draft
Year international signing

Greg Tamer - Wednesday, March 02 2005 @ 11:46 PM EST (#104250) #
Jim Baker isn't even listed as an author on the inside title page.
Chuck - Thursday, March 03 2005 @ 11:27 AM EST (#104270) #
If anyone from BP is out there.

I think you're better off just sending them an e-mail. They are quite good about reading them and responding.

I'm not sure how interested they are in turning into TSN's Baseball Register (does that even exist any more?). They show age because of it's impact on performance analysis. Some of the stuff you want is just FYI.

Jim - Thursday, March 03 2005 @ 05:02 PM EST (#104312) #
Hey, Baseball America gets it done.

They are huge proponents of college vs. high school. Why not show where each individual prospect came from so I don't have to research it on my own. It's not like it's difficult information to come up with.

David Purcey, 1st round (Toronto) 2004; U. of Oklahoma.
It’s here: BP 2005 is outta my dreams and into my car | 32 comments | Create New Account
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