Intro to player evaluation, stat-head-ism, and related good stuff
The Book. Contains analysis of many of the topics fans hash over: are hot and cold streaks real, when does it make sense to intentionally walk someone, is the sacrifice bunt ever worth it… and so on. Even if you read over it and skip the more dense proofs, you’ll learn a lot. There are excerpts available for two chapters: “Relievers and the Three Run Lead” and “Pitching Around Batters”
Baseball Between the Numbers. Covers some of the same ground as The Book, but also many, many other topics, branching even into baseball’s economics, examining each question through a specific frame (“Is David Ortiz a Clutch Hitter?”). Edited by friend-of-USSM Jonah Keri, it’s quite readable, it’s good for browsing and desk reference (“What’s the current thinking on….”) and hefty enough that you can kill even large, aggressive rodents with one blow.
It’s a little repetitive, but I recommend Curve Ball: Baseball, Statistics, and the Role of Chance in the Game by Jim Albert and Jay Bennett. It’s a great look into how huge random variation and luck affect statistics.
Dollar Sign on the Muscle. Learn about how scouting works and when it works, in this informative and enjoyable book.
Earl Weaver on Strategy, Earl Weaver and Terry Pluto. Last time I mentioned this, I wrote “One of my favorite books. Weaver was one of the smartest managers to sit on a bench, and despite his reputation, one of the most adaptable: he won with speed, without it, with power, with slap hitters, he won and won and kept winning. There are very few things in this book that have proven unsupported by evidence. People quote Weaver not because he’s Weaver, but because he’s Weaver and he’s right. Warning: may make watching games with some managers almost painful.”
Seattle Mariner Baseball
Out of Left Field, by Art Thiel. A unique look into how the team works under the local ownership group. Great insights into how some major events in team history unfolded. I have some dumb complaints, but if you read us, you should own this book. (update: here’s my review of it for the Seattle Weekly)