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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over: The Baseball Prospectus Pennant Race Book

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over: The Baseball Prospectus Pennant Race Book

1 rating: 3.0
A book by The Baseball Prospectus T

From the authors of the popular statistical analysis site BaseballProspectus.com comes a rare bird, a sports book that's both thoughtfully written and brimming with drama. Dissecting 13 of the most compelling, down-to-the-wire pennant races in baseball … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: The Baseball Prospectus T
Genre: Sports
Publisher: Basic Books
1 review about It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over: The Baseball...

Stat geeks feast compares races for the ages

  • Nov 27, 2010
Rating:
+3
Author listed as:  "The Baseball Prospectus Team of Experts"

Baseball Prospectus is part of that intense underworld of baseball statisticans created by Bill James, popularized by Moneyball, and populated by sabremetricians and new young General Managers all around the Major Leagues.  Here, the "Team of Experts" braintrust turns its attention to rate the best of the past pennant races and make meaningful statistical statements about who won, who should have, and why.   

Along the way, plenty of numbers are bandied about, worked and reworked into comparisons across positions, teams, leagues, and generations.  The heaviest statistical explanation is reserved for the end notes, so most baseball fans will be able to follow the math, and find it interesting.  Just fair warning, of course, this is a baseball fan's book, not for casual sports fans or those new to the game.  

Perhaps the most interesting use of statistics, and the best melding of it with the historical and sociological impact of the game, is the analysis of the impact of
  • integration:  positive for those teams who adopted it,
  • racism:  negative for those teams that clung to it,
  • league expansion:  cause or effect of the expanding talent pool?
  • minor league development:  overwhelming positive for those teams that pursued it, and
  • playoff expansion with the institution of the wild card teams:  overwhelmingly lucrative fot the owners.

These overarching themes are more interesting than the individual seasons, and in fact this might have been a higher rated book had the editors pulled these themes out and grouped them into a final longer essay on the place of these societal effects in the game of baseball and how they so directly impact the standings on the field so well described by the statistics here.

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November 30, 2010
Perfectly timed review! I was literally just wondering what to get my fiance (who is a HUGE baseball fanatic) for Christmas. Thanks for giving me my answer in such a thoughtful and well-organized review!
 
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