always been a game of numbers-hits, runs, errors, earned runs, batting
averages, bases on balls, runs batted in, and the like. But interpreting
the numbers for batters, pitchers and overall team performance is
a true art. While keeping up with the numbers is a true labor of
love for some but an excruciating chore for others. Whether you're
a bettor, fan, statistical enthusiast or fantasy leaguer, books
from Stats Inc., each year become must-have material for the fan's
A trio of new
arrivals at Gamblers Book Shop from Stats include The Scouting
Notebook (707 pages, paperbound, $19.95); Player Profiles
2002 (532 pages, paperbound, $19.95); and the Major
League Handbook 2002 (413 pages, plastic spiralbound $19.95).
Using the California
Angels as an example, we can show the value of The Scouting Notebook
2002. The home turf (Edison International Field) is analyzed for
its impact on offense, defense--who it helps or hurts the most and
how rookies and newcomers might fare there. "Hot summer days
make for dry infield dirt, which makes for an inordinate number
of tricky hops," and the 18-foot wall in right field is expected
to turn potential homers into doubles. Next there's a look at the
club's manager, in this case, Mike Scioscia, with a look at how
often he sent starting pitchers to the mound on how many days rest
in 2001. Batters and pitchers come next, with a glance at how each
did last year, how they might fare in 2002, along with where each
batter tends to hit the ball vs. lefties or righties, with a "scatter-diagram"
of the field so you can see where they cluster their hits. For pitchers
you'll see how often each hurls strikes (all pitches, first pitch,
when ahead or behind). You also get the birthdates and the correct
pronunciation and nicknames for players. Top minor league prospects
are listed for each team with statistics and analysis. A final section
titled Stars, Bums and Sleepers (nine pages) projects who's expected
to improve; whose production is expected to drop and who the "sleepers"
are at each position in each league. The section involving pitchers
is extremely important for obvious reasons. Players are in alphabetical
order in the index from Abad to Zuleta.
looks at each member of the team for all of last season and for
the last five years in more than a dozen categories which include
home-away; day-night; grass-turf; by month of season; as a starter
or reliever if pitchers; how they performed with three or less days
of rest; four days rest or five plus days of rest; vs. AL or NL
teams; before and after the All Star game.
For batters, you can see for last year or last five years, how a
player did vs. righties or lefties; in the first six innings or
seventh inning on; with runners in scoring position; in a close
game; when batting third of fourth in the lineup; on the first pitch;
with two strikes on him. Is the batter a flyball hitter or the pitcher
a groundball pitcher? It's indicated for each player.
The section on team/league profiles tells you how teams performed
by the month; on grass vs. turf; day vs. night and in many other
The Major League
Handbook shows how each player performed, pitcher or batter, since
he came up to the majors. Looking at Bobby Bonds, he came up with
the Pirates in 1986 and became a Giant in 1993. He's 37 (birthdate
July 24, 1964) and if you needvital batting, base running stats
for each year and a summary for his career, this is where you'll
find that information.
A section on team statistics looks at fielding by position in each
league; key numbers for each ballpark including stadium diagrams
(but no indication of N, E, S or W for those tracking wind direction)
indicating number of feet from home plate to various points of the
wall from left to right; an indication of special park characteristics
(with offensive or defensive biases by index-100 being a marker
for as park's neutrality); and a look back at one year and three
years in summary to help indicate which parks might be easier to
hit a home run at compared to others.
Which hitters do poorly or exceptionally well vs. righties or lefties
is contained in a special section, but looks back only to last season,
not lifetime. (Sammy Sosa loved hitting lefties, as did Paul Lo
Duca, with exceptionally high slugging averages). A following section
looks at which pitchers perform well against batters hitting from
the left or right side.