Baseball by the numbers
Like any modern business, baseball utilizes increasingly sophisticated methods for assessing the abilities of its personnel and gauging the nature of success on the diamond. Statistical analysis as a baseball tool has grown primarily through the efforts of Bill James, whose series of published abstracts have examined player performance and plotted new paradigms for evaluating it. Newspaper editor and baseball researcher Bill Felber has the same interest, and with The Book on the Book: A Landmark Inquiry into Which Strategies in the Modern Game Actually Work he serves up a thoroughly credible deconstruction of the effects of the game's strategies and the ultimate value of a player's worth when it comes to winning and losing. Felber's text gets unrelievedly technical sometimes, with almost every area of the game reduced to mathematical formulas. It's hard to take issue with the conclusions, though, since Felber's methodology is well supported. Full-blown fanatics will probably read the book straight through, but casual fans will find plenty of reward simply browsing through selected chapters, such as The Decline and Fall of the Starting Pitcher, Highly Paid Irrelevance and Rating the General Managers. Useful appendixes lay out the facts in all their numerical glory.