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The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract

The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract

4.5 18
by Bill James

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When Bill James published his original Historical Baseball Abstract in 1985, he produced an immediate classic, hailed by the Chicago Tribune as the “holy book of baseball.” Now, baseball's beloved “Sultan of Stats” (The Boston Globe) is back with a fully revised and updated edition for the new millennium.

Like the


When Bill James published his original Historical Baseball Abstract in 1985, he produced an immediate classic, hailed by the Chicago Tribune as the “holy book of baseball.” Now, baseball's beloved “Sultan of Stats” (The Boston Globe) is back with a fully revised and updated edition for the new millennium.

Like the original, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract is really several books in one. The Game provides a century's worth of American baseball history, told one decade at a time, with energetic facts and figures about How, Where, and by Whom the game was played. In The Players, you'll find listings of the top 100 players at each position in the major leagues, along with James's signature stats-based ratings method called “Win Shares,” a way of quantifying individual performance and calculating the offensive and defensive contributions of catchers, pitchers, infielders, and outfielders. And there's more: the Reference section covers Win Shares for each season and each player, and even offers a Win Share team comparison. A must-have for baseball fans and historians alike, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract is as essential, entertaining, and enlightening as the sport itself.

Editorial Reviews

This much-anticipated revision of the classic bestseller -- now long out of print -- will have baseball fans drooling. Divided into two major sections, The Game and The Players, the book provides a detailed history of the sport, decade by decade, and backs it up with pages and pages of stats and quirky facts. This new updated edition includes key new features, such as a history of baseball in the 1980s and 1990s, rankings of the greatest managers, and rankings of the top 100 players of all time at each position.
Publishers Weekly
A premier baseball analyst and brand name, James (The Bill James Player Ratings Book, The Bill James Guide to Baseball Managers) releases a revised edition of his 1985 classic, with expanded player and team histories and reconsidered commentary. Divided into two sections, "The Game" and "The Players," this comprehensive and opinionated tome describes the evolution of the sport over the decades (uniforms in the 1890s, best minor league teams of the 1930s, the Negro Leagues, etc.) and the characteristics of its players (stats, injuries, habits and proclivities). The thumbnail player sketches in the second section (the 100 greatest players at each position) vary widely in content and tone: the entry on Lefty Gomez includes a page on his public-speaking abilities, while of Kevin Brown, James merely writes, "I don't root for him, either, but he is a great pitcher." (James has assigned the rankings according to a statistical rating formula he calls Win Shares, which he explains conceptually and mathematically.) The game section, though, is the standout. It may not contain detailed statistical leaders or standings for each year, or even who won each World Series, but it does offer information on new stadiums, the competitiveness of different leagues and shifts in the way the game was played. At the end of each chapter, a "decade in a box" lists major statistics and Jamesian awards, varying from the quantitative (the team with the best record) and the qualitative (the best switch hitter) to the quirky (the decade's ugliest player). (Dec.) Forecast: There are enough baseball and Bill James fans to ensure steady sales, and the pub date near enough to the World Series might encourage a few extrareaders. A uniquely personal, even iconoclastic guide, this belongs in baseball libraries to counterpoint The Baseball Encyclopedia and Total Baseball. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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Free Press
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7.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.80(d)

Read an Excerpt

from Part 2: Player Ratings and Comments

Introduction to the Player Ratings

There are three things that I need to discuss before I can explain how I arrived at the player ratings which appear throughout this section. Those three things are:

  1. Runs Created.
  2. Win Shares.
  3. The Meaning of Statistics.

Those three things will be the next three articles, after which we will get to:

  1. The Ratings System Used Here.
  2. Clutch Performance.
  3. Win-Based Analysis of Fielding.

Copyright © 2001 by Bill James

Meet the Author

Bill James made his mark in the 1970s and 1980s with his Baseball Abstracts. He has been tearing down preconceived notions about America’s national pastime ever since. He is currently the Senior Advisor on Baseball Operations for the Boston Red Sox. James lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife, Susan McCarthy, and three children.

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The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Sloe_butt_Thoreau More than 1 year ago
Having a nook has saved me alot of space, but this was one book, in hindsight, that I wish I had purchased in treeware so I could navigate back and forth in it easier. Mayhaps as I build my nook skills it will be easier. But I've got to say that if I'd had this nook 10 years earlier I would have alot more space on my bookshelves for other stuff. Bill, your work is impeccable. It motivated me to go and get the Strat-O-Matic's new hall of fame edition and I've been playing games with them ever since. So much so that I think I'm getting carpal tunnel syndrome. And you're sure not gonna cover my deductibles now are you? I love the seriously lighthearted way this book is written, and packed with so many interesting tidbits that non-baseball nerds could never in a million innings appreciate. If I had it to do over again I'd get a hard copy of this book rather than have nooked it. But i'd definitely buy it again. It is awesome in every respect. Thank you for all your hard work. Let's read 2!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Most baseball writers will tell you all about what the 'consensus' is when it comes to talking about baseball players throughout history. Bill James takes a much different approach, he looks at the basic raw statistics, comes up with methods to compare players across history and then, applies the 'consensus' and where available, the opinions of various contemporaries of those ballplayers. His revelations about comparing some players all-star, MVP, and Cy Young votes with their statistics in their time are sometimes mind-blowing. Yogi Berra, for instance, was great when he played, was recognized for it, yet, when he retired his accomplishments were belittled. This book is a great place to get some real information about players and their place in history. It may not give you all the answers, but, it forces you to re-think many pre-conceived notions. This book is NOT for someone who doesn't like to think.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bill James takes what the average baseball fan knows about the game, throws half of it in the garbage, and makes you see the other half in a whole different light. Was baseball in 1910 of a higher quality than today's high-scoring game? Was Nolan Ryan really a great pitcher? Does Ron Santo rank as a better player than several hall-of-fame third baseman? Is batting average important? Everything you thought you knew is proven wrong, while turning the average fan into a more savvy analyst of the game. Along with all the rankings, James includes brilliant articles which all do the same thing: they ask you to challenge what baseball 'authorities' have always told you to accept as gospel. The 1961 Yankees were an all-time great team? Don't count on it. Additionally, James's Decade in a Box sections allow you to create a mental picture of how the game was played in every time period this century. James's book is for the fan who is eager to see the game from a different perspective, and challenge the popular views that are mistakenly referred to as correct.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Built upon the foundation of his 1985 'Historical Baseball Abstract,' this new, improved, and updated version is Bill James' best piece of work to date. The decade by decade historical review of baseball borrows most heavily from the previous book, while the player and team ratings are updated based on the past 15 years, and analyzed using his newly formulated 'Win Shares' system. The Win Shares system allows for offense, defense, and pitching to be compared across positions and eras for player ratings and team contributions. Win Shares will be further developed in his next book, due out 25 March 02. My only regret for this already weighty tome, is that more pitcher rankings weren't included. The next Abstract update should include a ranking of the top players which has a parity of quality between the pitchers and position players ranked, not just a standard top 100 for each.
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darthpb More than 1 year ago
An amazing pick up any time and read book....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was designed for serious baseball fans. Who is better than who all time and by position...with the reasoning behind it. The steroids era was after publication have made some of the arguments moot. But I have read this book at least 3 times as well as had countless 10 minute baseball fixes. If you are serious, this book will be the most read in your library.
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