Baseball stats geeks love good baseball books. Here are some of my favorites from the past few years, along with a few classics and some upcoming ones that look good.
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- Smart Baseball: The Story Behind the Old Stats That Are Ruining the Game, the New Ones That Are Running It, and the Right Way to Think About Baseball by Keith Law. Releases April 25, 2017. ESPN analyst and senior baseball writer Keith Law takes a look at the old traditional statistics held up against the new “sabermetrics” statistics and argues for the latter.
- Baseball Prospectus 2017. Projections and commentary for the 2017 MLB season, this, the 22nd annual edition of Baseball Prospectus, is the go-to source for analytics and projections for over 2,000 major league players.
- Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. The granddaddy book on the implementation of modern analytics, told in a fascinating way by master storyteller Michael Lewis. An absolute must-read.
- Big Data Baseball: Math, Miracles, and the End of a 20-Year Losing Streak by Travis Sawchik. A chronicle of the Pittsburgh Pirates and their transformation from a small-market sub-.500 team to a small-market perennial contender, through the application of advanced baseball statistics.
- The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifelong Fascination with Statistics by Allen Schwarz. A journalistic “history of baseball statistics” book that takes the reader on a journey before the days of computerized data into “Baseball’s lifelong fascination with statistics.”
- The Book: Playing The Percentages In Baseball by Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin. With tons of stats, math, and examples combined with plain-English summaries of what they’re describing, the three statistician authors have created a technical yet readable classic in the baseball sabermetrics field.
- The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract by Bill James. This massive volume covers and analysizes the game of baseball from a wide variety of perspectives, all in Bill James’ inimitable style.
- The Hidden Game of Baseball: A Revolutionary Approach to Baseball and Its Statistics by John Thorn and Pete Palmer. Moneyball before Moneyball, this classic from 1984 is in its third edition and remains as interesting as ever to the student of baseball.
- Baseball Between the Numbers: Why Everything You Know About the Game Is Wrong by The Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts. This is the book that examines, across every area of MLB team strategy and management, how the best practitioners of statistical analysis in baseball (such as Bill James, Billy Beane, and Theo Epstein) think about numbers and how they should influence the game.
- The Extra 2%: How Wall Street Strategies Took a Major League Baseball Team from Worst to First by Jonah Keri. In 2005, three Wall Street experts bought the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and proceeded to apply their skills at trading, valuation, and management to a major league sports team. This is their story.