Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Review of "Hardball Retrospective"

If there is one thing that every baseball fan loves, it is statistics. The statistics that have been used to measure the worth of a player, however, has changed over the years.  With the recent growth of more advanced statistics, the question of how teams and players have done across era is now easier to determine. This book by Derek Bain does an excellent job of doing just that.  Here is my review of "Hardball Retrospective" (Note the cover - my favorite baseball player of all time, Rod Carew!)

“Hardball Retrospective: Evaluating Scouting and Development Outcomes for the Modern-Era Franchises” by Derek Bain

Baseball, history, draft, statistics

Publish date:
January 25, 2015

442 pages

4 ½ of 5 stars (Excellent)

Speculation about player trades and movement via free agency is always a popular topic of conversation between baseball fans. Often they wonder how their favorite teams would have done had they not traded away this player or if they had signed that one instead of letting him leave as a free agent. 

This book by Derek Bain will help answer that question. He takes all thirty current major league franchises and using advanced statistical analysis, he ranks each team by evaluating players with their original teams.  He then takes these revised rosters and determines their standings each season from 1901 to the present.  It makes for fascinating comparisons between the “original” team of a certain year or era and the “actual” team.

This may sound complicated, but once a reader actually studies the charts and analysis of his or her team, it will begin to make sense.  It took me a little while to catch on while reading about the Athletics, for example, but once I remembered that this analysis was done using players who originally signed with the Athletics, not the actual rosters for that season, then it began to make sense.

The statistical analysis uses primarily the advanced statistics of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Win-Shares for each player. This isn’t to say that the traditional statistics that many baseball fans are familiar with such as batting average, earned run average and runs batted in are not used. They are cited frequently in the narrative for each team. However, they are not the final determination for the rankings of each team – again, it is primarily WAR and Win-Shares.

One does not have to be familiar with these statistics to get the total value of the book.  As long as a reader can follow the charts and narrative sections for the teams, then he or she will get the intended value of the book. I do not consider myself to be fluent or knowledgeable on WAR or Win Shares, but it was a lot of fun to see how my favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, did with their “original” players over the years, including their time as the Washington Senators.  This book is recommended for any baseball fan who is interested to see how his or her team fared in finding talented players throughout the last century.

I wish to thank Mr. Bain for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Format Read
E-book (PDF)

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