Synopses & Reviews
Long before Moneyball
became a sensation or Nate Silver turned the knowledge hed honed on baseball into electoral gold, John Thorn and Pete Palmer were using statistics to shake the foundations of the game. First published in 1984, The Hidden Game of Baseball
ushered in the sabermetric revolution by demonstrating that we were thinking about baseball statsand thus the game itselfall wrong. Instead of praising sluggers for gaudy RBI totals or pitchers for wins, Thorn and Palmer argued in favor of more subtle measurements that correlated much more closely to the ultimate goal: winning baseball games.
The new gospel promulgated by Thorn and Palmer opened the door for a flood of new questions, such as how a ballparks layout helps or hinders offense or whether a strikeout really is worse than another kind of out. Taking questions like these seriouslyand backing up the answers with datalaunched a new era, showing fans, journalists, scouts, executives, and even players themselves a new, better way to look at the game.
This brand-new edition retains the body of the original, with its rich, accessible analysis rooted in a deep love of baseball, while adding a new introduction by the authors tracing the books influence over the years. A foreword by ESPNs lead baseball analyst, Keith Law, details The Hidden Games central role in the transformation of baseball coverage and team management and shows how teams continue to reap the benefits of Thorn and Palmers insights today. Thirty years after its original publication, The Hidden Game is still bringing the high heata true classic of baseball literature.
“I read the original so many times over the years that I wore out the binding and had to buy another at a premium years later.”
“The re-release of The Hidden Game of Baseball will expose a new generation of baseball fans to one of the most important baseball books ever written. Thorn and Palmer ranking Barry Bonds as the best player of all time in the new appendix just makes a great book even greater . . . and more ripe for fun debates.”
“As grateful as I was for the publication of The Hidden Game of Baseball when it first showed up on my bookshelf, I’m even more grateful now. It’s as insightful today as it was then. And it’s a reminder that we haven’t applauded Thorn and Palmer nearly loudly enough for their incredible contributions to the use and understanding of the awesome numbers of baseball.”
“Just as one cannot know the great American novel without Twain and Hemingway, one cannot know modern baseball analysis without Thorn and Palmer.”
“If you’ve always wanted to read this book, but had trouble finding it in second-hand bookstores, or you’ve never read it at all . . . go get it now. It’s a must-have in every stats-oriented fan’s library.”
“Credit should be given to Thorn and Palmer, who were using a novel battery of statistics way back in 1984, when the first edition of The Hidden Game of Baseball introduced sabermetric analysis of the sport. . . . This updated edition adds a new introduction by the authors that traces the book’s influence over the past three decades.”
Written by three esteemed baseball statisticians, The Book continues where the legendary Bill James's Baseball Abstracts and Palmer and Thorn's The Hidden Game of Baseball left off more than twenty years ago. Continuing in the grand tradition of sabermetrics, the authors provide a revolutionary way to think about baseball with principles that can be applied at every level, from high school to the major leagues.Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin cover topics such as batting and pitching matchups, platooning, the benefits and risks of intentional walks and sacrifices, the legitimacy of alleged clutch hitters, and many of baseball's other theories on hitting, fielding, pitching, and even baserunning. They analyze when a strategy is a good idea and when it's a bad idea, and how to more closely watch the inside game of baseball.Whenever you hear an announcer talk about the unwritten rule or say that so-and-so is going by the book in bringing in a situational substitute, The Book reviews the facts and determines what the real case is. If you want to know what the folks in baseball should be doing, find out in The Book.
Long before Moneyball, this book brought sabermetrics--the scientific measurement of baseball--into the popular realm. Whereas it used to be unquestioned that runs batted in, batting average, and pitcher wins were among the most telling of statistics, the sabermetric revolution revealed that subtler measurements such as on-base percentage, wins above replacement, and WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) could be used to find value in players. Thorn and Palmer here introduced key measurements and concepts, and they explained and promoted a huge range of considerations that had never been taken seriously and systemically into account by journalists, fans, players, scouts or executives. Their work also made possible much easier comparison of players across eras. The authors also provide the pedigree and history of various concepts and measurements, showing how our understanding of signal and noise in the available data has evolved. With a new preface by the authors and foreword by ESPNs Keith Law, this reissue brings back one of the most influential baseball books ever published.
About the Author
, a sports historian and author, has been the official baseball historian for Major League Baseball since 2011.
He is a co-editor of Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball.
He resides in New York.Pete Palmer is a statistician, baseball analyst, and a former consultant to Sports Information Center. He is a co-editor of Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball. He lives in New Hampshire and Florida.John Thorn, a sports historian and author, has been the official baseball historian for Major League Baseball since 2011.He is a co-editor of Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball.
He resides in New York.Pete Palmer is a statistician, baseball analyst, and a former consultant to Sports Information Center. He is a co-editor of Total Baseball: The Official Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball. He lives in New Hampshire and Florida.
Table of Contents
1. The Music of Sphere and Ash
2. Whats Wrong with Traditional Baseball Statistics
3. The New Statistics
4. The Linear Weights System
5. Theres No Place Like Home
6. The Theory of Relativity and Other Absolute Truths
7. The Good Old Days Are Now
8. The Book . . . and the Computer
9. Rising to the Occasion
10. 44 Percent of Baseball
11. Measuring the Unmeasurable
12. What Makes Teams Win
13. Great Single-Season Performances
14. The Ultimate Baseball Statistic
15. Rumblings in the Pantheon
Key to Symbols Used in the Tables
Tables: 1. Lifetime Leaders
2. Single-Season Leaders
3. Season-by-Season Records, 18761984
4. Complete Player Data, 1984
Appendix: Top 500 Players of All Time (through 2013)