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The Bill James Handbook

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The nice people at ACTA Sports sent me a copy of the Bill James Handbook. Baseball books are my favorite thing in the world. Free ones are better yet. 

The main part of the book is the career register that gives career stats for every batter and pitcher that played last season. It also has fielding stats and the Fielding Bible voting.

One of the interesting bit they have is a listing of what each player did on the bases, all the baserunning stats:how many times a player goes from 1st to 3rd on a single, 2nd to home on a single, 1st to home on a double. How many times they are doubled off a base. How many baserunning outs they make. How many times they ground into double plays and how many chances that they had to ground into double plays. They list the net gain or loss of bases due to their baserunning. 

So do you think the Blue Jays are a good baserunning team? Yeah they are. They were the 3rd best baserunning team in baseball with a net gain of 89 bases. They had the fewest baserunning outs in baseball with 27. I guess since we all remember the bad ones, that comes as a surprise. We only had 6 players doubled off base on fly balls. The worst baserunning team in baseball was the Royals, with a net loss of 67 bases. Anyway, we ran the bases pretty well. 

Another of my favorite parts of the book is the Manager's Record. It gives a count of some of the things a manager does. For example, Cito Gaston used 105 different lineups last year, a very large number for him, usually he likes to use the same lineup day after day. He used just 48 pinch hitters on the season, tied for fewest in the AL. and 36 pinch runners, exactly league average. He used 18 defensive subs, league average was 28.

It also lists how he used his pitchers. He made 36 'quick hooks' of his starting pitchers, league average was 42 and 47 slow hooks, league average was 43. So he was fair closer to 'normal' with the use of his starters than he used to be. In past years he rarely had a quick hook and sometimes led the league in 'slow hooks'.

Gaston ordered 32 sac bunts, league average was 44. He still doesn't like to 'send the runners'. runners were moving on the pitch 64 times for Cito, which was the league low. 

They also list league leaders in pretty much any batting or pitching category you could want, for example Aaron Hill was 2nd in the league in home runs hit at home. Adam Lind was tied for league lead in road homers. Pitching? Roy Halladay was 4th in the league in Quality Starts with 22 and had the single game with the most pitches thrown, the game he threw 133. He also had the best strikeout to walk ratio, 5.94 in the AL. Ricky Romero had the highest GB/FB Ratio in the AL 2.03.

They also list the players most likely to make it do different career milestones, Bill James used to call this his 'favorite toy'. The active pitcher most likely to get to 300 wins? Roy Halladay with a 33% chance. He figures Alex Rodriguez has a 24% chance of getting to 800 homers and Derek Jeter has a 6% chance of getting to 4000 hits.

Anyway it is a great little reference book.