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Publisher's Summary

Predictably Irrational meets Moneyball in ESPN veteran writer and statistical analyst Keith Law's iconoclastic look at the numbers game of baseball, proving why some of the most trusted stats are surprisingly wrong, explaining what numbers actually work, and exploring what the rise of Big Data means for the future of the sport.

For decades, statistics such as batting average, saves recorded, and pitching won-lost records have been used to measure individual players' and teams' potential and success. But in the past 15 years, a revolutionary new standard of measurement - sabermetrics - has been embraced by front offices in Major League Baseball and among fantasy baseball enthusiasts. But while sabermetrics is recognized as being smarter and more accurate, traditionalists, including journalists, fans, and managers, stubbornly believe that the old way - a combination of outdated numbers and gut instinct - is still the best way. Baseball, they argue, should be run by people, not by numbers.

In this informative and provocative book, the renowned ESPN analyst and senior baseball writer demolishes a century's worth of accepted wisdom, making the definitive case against the long-established view. Armed with concrete examples from different eras of baseball history, logic, a little math, and lively commentary, he shows how the allegiance to these numbers - dating back to the beginning of the professional game - is firmly rooted not in accuracy or success but in baseball's irrational adherence to tradition.

While Law gores sacred cows, from clutch performers to RBIs to the infamous save rule, he also demystifies sabermetrics, explaining what these "new" numbers really are and why they're vital. He also considers the game's future, examining how teams are using data, from PhDs to sophisticated statistical databases, to build future rosters - changes that will transform baseball and all of professional sports.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2017 Meadow Party LLC (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great intro for rookies, nice brush up for vets.

I've followed Keith's work for a long time, this book doesn't disappoint. It's got all the snark you're used to along with a bit of humor and a ton of knowledge. While there wasn't a lot of knew information for someone who follows baseball and sabermetrics it's still essential reading because it looks at how statistics have taken over the game and driven out the old, illogical ways of the past. You'll learn a bit about sabermetrics and a lot about the state of the game itself. Great read, thanks Keith!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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If you sorta like baseball--save your money

I could only make it through eight chapters but I couldn't take the negativity any longer. It's one whining reason after another why the stats used to narrate the game are criminal. Instead of focusing on all the injustices of one player being labeled better than the other for over significance placed on certain stats, I would have rather heard more historical stories about how things came to be, inside how the stats have evolved or even players personal reactions to the changing times. (He gives a little of this but very limiting) Instead we get in his opinion how misuse of certain a stats robbed Roger Clemons of a cy young award or how Magglio Ordonez stole a batting title and much more. I like Keith Law's voice in other places but this read is not educational or enjoyable.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • JSK
  • Charlotte
  • 07-15-18

So Tedious

What a chore to finish. Condescending, pretentious, and patronizing. Made me happy to have stopped following major league baseball; and watch it even less than the few times a year that I do now. Seemed like the narrator himself was also numbed by the text.

Skip this one.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful Baseball

I went from Moneyball to this book, and neither disappointed. It was a great listen, and "the enhancements" Law refers to are included in the download if you want to view them. Law wrote a fantastic book and Mike Chamberlain is one of my favorite narrators, so it was like the best of both worlds. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND to any baseball nut!

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Must Read For Any Serious Baseball Fan

Keith Law does a great job of explaining many facets of the game of baseball in this book. I'll admit that I found it difficult to accept that many statistics that are common place in baseball may not have as much merit as I previously thought. Batting average for example is something I valued greatly in players and after reading this book, I can honestly say that that has changed. If you call yourself a serious fan of baseball, you need to read this book. This is where baseball is going, and knowing the information behind team's decisions is important for die hard fans of the game. I would highly recommend this book to any fan of America's Pasttime.

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  • JBC
  • NJ, USA
  • 05-14-18

Surprisingly Insightful

I went into this thinking I wouldn’t learn anything particularly new. However Keith Law’s unique experiences working for MLB teams situated him perfectly to give some very insightful commentary on the state of the game today. If you liked Moneyball this is for you.

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A must for modern analytical fans (and haters)

This book takes you through the modernization of the baseball stats, from average to statcast.

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Data-driven Baseball

This book is a must read for any baseball fan, especially if you're a stat geek. It covers the useless and mis-leading traditional stats and the newer stats that do a better job at measuring player and team success. I particularly liked the sections on which players deserved to get into the Hall of Fame and on the future of statistics.

The narrator of the audiobook is clear and engaging. The audiobook lacks the diagrams and charts, but I was still easily able to follow all by listening, which made me believe that the visuals are only supplemental to the writing. Overall, I highly recommend it that book.

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very numbers dense.

this book is really for serious baseball fans who have spent time debating who should be in the baseball hall of fame and why. it makes some good points about how some stats are not helpful and how things need to change, and the last 2 chapters that focused more on recruitment and scouting and how stats will change how baseball is managed, were more broadly interesting. But mostly, the book is for baseball geeks.

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A good Sabre-metric glossary

First of all, I am not really a huge Keith Law fan but a friend whose opinion I respect seemed to like it. So I thought I would give it a shot. It was a good book and easy to listen to. Lots of cynical commentary as well as "asides" (He insists on putting "trade mark" after every utterance of "Proven Closer" which I agree with).

But the book is probably best used as a "glossary" of Sabre metrics. It gave a good explanation of the state of the game when it comes to advanced statistical analysis...at least as far as those of us outside of MLB front offices have access to. He gave a good explanation of what different stats measure and how they do it (formulas, etc.).

My main complaint was that this book wasn't so much polemical as it sounded like a book length rant. While I agree with him on most things I couldn't help but think some of his versions he was "disputing" were caricatures or "straw man" type arguments putting other's thoughts into their worst light and then try to come across as the "voice of reason." Again, I agree with him on just about everything--or maybe everything--but it just felt like his version of what those who disagreed with him were saying sounded silly in a way that felt fishy.