Advanced statistics and new terminology have taken hold of baseball today, but do they accurately reflect the reality of the game? A baseball lifer states his case.
America’s favorite pastime is enduring an assault of new thoughts and ideas. In recent years, the sabermetrics and analytics craze has infiltrated Major League Baseballfrom its front offices to dugouts to clubhouses to media covering both, inciting a baseball culture war. New phrases like “launch angle,” “spin rate,” and “pitch framing” have entered the vocabulary, often with little real meaning when it comes to how the game is actually played on the field. No more.
In State of Play, twelve-year Major League veteran, Emmy Award–winning MLB Network analyst, and bestselling author Bill Ripken breaks down these modern statistical methods to explain which ones make sense in the game’s historical context, bringing them together with proven old-school strategies. He simplifies those sabermetric terms hastily added to the baseball lexicon without being fully realized, taking new-school confusion out of old-school baseball’s tried-and-true common sense. In the end, he unites the teachings of each school to show fans of both how to listen to and understand the game as it’s played today and how it should be played moving forward.
From a true baseball lifer and member of baseball’s first family, State of Play offers a fascinating insider’s look at how to reconcile years of historical tradition with the rules and trends of the new millennium. As Ripken sees it: the game inside the game cannot be measured by a spreadsheetbut it can be measured by a qualified, crusty baseball man. Play ball.
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About the Author
Bill Ripken is an MLB Network studio analyst, appearing on MLB Tonight and other programs. A twelve-year Major League veteran, he began his career in 1987 with the Baltimore Orioles and later played for the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, and Detroit Tigers. Ripken and his brother, Cal Jr., run Ripken Baseball, which owns or operates four youth baseball complexes as well as The Aberdeen IronBirds, the Class A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. They also co-founded the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, which brings baseball to underprivileged communities. Ripken lives in Maryland.
Table of Contents
Foreword Ken Rosenthal xi
1 Cal Ripken Sr. 1
2 The Ripken Way 11
3 Pitch Framing 21
4 Launch Angle 29
5 Spin Rate 39
6 Pitching Wins 47
7 Tunneling 55
8 Batting Average Versus On-Base Percentage 61
9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) 67
10 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) 79
11 Overshifts and Defensive Positioning 87
12 Errors 101
13 Automated Strike Zone and Ball-Strike Umpires 109
14 Runs Batted In (RBI) 117
15 On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS) 121
16 The Designated Hitter 127
17 The Game Being Played 135
18 The Control Group 141
19 Positional Versatility, Bench Players, and Platooning 147
20 Unwritten Rules 153
21 Run Differential 159
22 Lineup Construction 163
23 Weather and Baseball 177
24 Phrases of the Game 181
25 The Future 189
About the Author 197
Photo Credits 199