Picks and Pans Review: Baseball Abstract
by Bill James
James is a free-lance writer based in Lawrence, Kans. and an out-of-control baseball fan, partial to the Royals. In his sixth annual abstract, he uses his knowledge of statistics and his vast patience for trivia to compile all sorts of ratings, lists and musings on the major leagues. Want to know which team blew the most leads last season? (California: 28.) What player hit the most career home runs without ever driving in 100 runs in a season? (Bobby Murcer, 244.) At which ball park the fewest runs were scored per game in 1981? (The Astrodome: 5.33.) He could go on and does, with chatty analysis and excessive, if forgivable, speculation about front-office debates over player movements. Obsessive fans will love this book, and James is already working on elaborations. He has a formula for measuring pitchers' styles. For example, "R-AEFHM-OR-TX-115 +-A-FHN-J" means "He's a right-handed pitcher who starts his motion standing straight up and facing the batter with his legs spread wide apart..." Not everyone will want to pursue the calculations. (Ballantine, $5.95)
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