Issue 88
May 14 - 20, 2002
Volume 3
page 3
 

Stats Inc. Produces Three Vital Resources
For the Bettor, Fan, Fantasy Leaguer

By Howard Schwartz

Baseball has 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 upcoming season.

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.

Player Profiles 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 categories.

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.

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Which managers last year tended to be conservative or offensively minded? A special section on "Manager Tendencies" might help make you see them more clearly in regard to steals; sacrifices; hit and run; pitching out; intentional walks and defensive substitutions.

A small, but important section titled Projections for 2002 Batters shows how the compilers of the book see players performing this season; with a similar section for pitchers. Could help a sharp fantasy league player in the long run.

Overall, each book has something unusual to offer the individual seeking some sort of insight into what might happen in 2002 to a player or impacting an entire team. No one knows who'll be injured, perform way above expectations or have a terrible season and why, but that's why we watch with fascination--from season opener to World Series, hoping for the unexpected, a fresh contender, a surprise performance, a record eclipsing all others. Statistics books help us follow it all, make us feel a bit more comfortable knowing what's happened in the past may or may not happen again in the future.

These books are available from Gambler's Book Shop, 630 South 11th St., Las Vegas, NV 89101 by calling 1-800-522-1777 from 9 to 5 Pacific time, Monday through Saturday. Use MasterCard, VISA or Discover cards only or order via the store's web site at www.gamblersbook.com. You may order by fax at 702-382-7594 anytime using your credit card (include expiration date). The store has an 80-page catalog which you may view on the web site or by asking for a hard copy by phone, mail or fax, sent first class and free, listing 1,000 books on gambling, plus computer software and videos. The store is in its 38th year and located two miles from the Strip and about the same distance from the Downtown area.


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