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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traditionalists, including journalists, fans, and managers, stubbornly believe that the old way - a combination of outdated numbers and gut instinct - is still the best way.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

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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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Subject not conducive to an audiobook

Even with the enhancement I regret choosing an audiobook. Books about math should be a visual medium.

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Strips the game of every ounce of soul and beauty

If you love the game of baseball, give this a pass. To be fair, it gives some interesting analytical insights, as far as they go. But it goes too far. The incessant negativity is off-putting. The author is annoyingly condescending to anyone who disagrees with the new, enlightened sabermetrics, referring to them as idiots and luddites. Suffice it to say, he's very selective on what data he considers objective and what is highly context dependant. Moreover, the presentation is dull, and the attempts at humor fall flat. If I had to hear about Joey Bag'o'Donuts one more time, I would've ripped my earbuds out.

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A lot to ponder

Loved the book... a nice leap into stats for the baseball lover. A lot going on in this one, and I listened to it while driving, so Im already looking forward to hearing it all again.

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Excellent

Well thought out and well written, I really enjoyed it. Great insights on how to understand performance on the field.

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for baseball fans, this is a must read

As someone who is a fan but still learning the nuances of advanced statistics and how to apply them in understanding the game better, this book has been priceless. With chapters broken into explaining specific stats and their accompanying mythology, I am sure I will go back to this book from time to time to get a refresher. Thanks Keith, a great book!

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  • 08-07-17

slightly annoying but solid

an interesting take down of the existing, prevailing wisdom in baseball and how it should be calculated. that said, Law is arrogant about his beliefs and therefore comes off as smug. the performer plays to that smugness in his reading, which only makes it worse.

still, absolutely worth it for baseball fans looking to do a little deeper into the modern analysis of the game.

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Smart Baseball For Dummies

What did you like best about this story?

Kieth Law sums up advanced data and statistics methods well, making them accessible for average fans that may have felt past by by the modern game.

Any additional comments?

Law can, at times, be ideological, forgetting some very practical realities of the game in favor of theoretical models. RBI, for example, may not be good predictive metrics, and they are also team dependent, but that does not mean that they are irrelevant as a descriptive stat, nor that they don't require a specific skill or hitting approach.<br/><br/>This book is important for a lot of what it does to spread "good" information to fans, but Law's ideas are maybe not as perfect as he would like to think - no matter how stridently he may argue that they are.

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A truly great listen...

for baseball nerds, but I just wish he did not hate my team so much. Meow.