January is always when I’m itching to find baseball books as I am impatiently awaiting for pitchers and catchers to report. This book did the trick. Here is my review of “A New Ballgame.”
“The New Ballgame” by Russell A. Carleton
4 of 5 stars (very good)
If I were to be told about a book on baseball analytics, I would think that it’s all graphs, spreadsheets numbers and acronyms for the various formulas used in modern statistics. This book by Russell A. Carleton does contain all of that - but it is not what I would think a book like this is all about.
Instead, Carleton uses his time as a clinical therapist to explain the thought process behind the shift to these statistics and their use by baseball teams.Something he refers to frequently throughout the book is that there are 5 basic facts about every person and he connects that to the topic of the chapter. At first it felt annoying but it was better as the book went along.
That was also the case as he presented his baseball topics. While some seemed to make sense from the start, such as the changes in the use of the sacrifice bunt and the decline of its use age, there were other topics that I felt he went in various directions. The best example of that was the chapter that asks if analytics “ruined” baseball. The information is good, but it jumps all over the place. That goes from the length of games to bunts to stolen bases to the low pay and poor working conditions for minor league players. Until the en of the chapter I couldn’t see how it tied all up.
However, that didn’t take away what made this book enjoyable- it was a normally dry topic that thanks to Carleton’s writing, it was a much more palatable item to read about. I felt that a fan will understand a lot more about the reasons why teams hire these data analysts and make decisions based on this data. Overall a very good read.