Monday, April 6, 2020

Catching Up on Baseball Reading

I’m not exactly sure why I didn’t put something like this together in the past, but there’s definitely more time on all our hands as the world responds to a global pandemic. Baseball allows us to consume the sport in so many different avenues, and while I appreciate your readership both here and on Twitter @tlschwerz, there’s been more than a few great books on the game that have come out in recent years.

With the analytical age being almost entirely focused on the consumption of information, we are now being provided content that can act as an avenue for knowledge advancement. Still rooted within the confines of the sport, there are literature works of art that challenge the way we think and push the boundaries for what is to come.

These authors are well known within the baseball world, and some of them have worked directly on the biggest stages of the sport. In no particular order, here’s a list of some recommendations I would have:

The Arm – Jeff Passan
With the emergence of Tommy John regularity over the course of the past few seasons there has been no better depiction of what has taken place and why. Passan dives into doctoral recommendations and advice, while cataloging just how we got here.

Smart Baseball – Keith Law

Start with why bunting may be a dying art and add in how to squeeze the most out of the only finite parameter in the sport, your 27 outs. Law provides knew ways to think about execution and outlines solid arguments as to why they make sense.

The Only Rule Is It Has To Work – Ben Lindbergh & Sam Miller

What happens when you allow to analytically driven minds to completely architect and steer a professional team? This book has your answer. Two Baseball Prospectus minds are given the keys to do as they please and this blends real personalities with calculated decisions.

The MVP Machine – Ben Lindberg & Travis Sawchik

Much like Lindbergh’s previous entry on this list, The MVP Machine is a must for number crunching fans. While the book does highlight both the Astros and Red Sox World Series runs, the message is clear. It isn’t about finding the diamond in the rough as much as it is creating that player. Because of data, organizations now can do just that.

The Inside Game- Keith Law

Following a similar thread as the one explored in Smart Baseball, Law is out to find the why behind the what. Baseball produces decisions at a blistering pace, and some of them are more well received than others. Understanding why a choice was the correct one, why it wasn’t, and what drives it all is a fascinating case study that can reveal plenty about ourselves.

Swing Kings – Jared Diamond

After analytics paved the way as a new buzz word, it stepped back for launch angle to take over. As more balls than ever leave the yard Swing Kings is there to analyze the trend and what players are saying in regards to staying power. This isn’t as much of a wheel reinvention as it’s billed, and the positive results suggest there’s plenty of reason to buy in.

If you’re looking for more of a biography or story based read, here are some of my favorites in that category:

Papi – David Ortiz
The Phenomenon – Rick Ankiel
Juiced – Jose Canseco

What are some of your favorites?