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January 31, 2006

Baseball Hacks: Baseball--Game, Obsession, and Statistics

Sebastopol, CA--Baseball players, fans, and commentators seem obsessed with statistics. If it's not a pitcher's ERA, it's a batter's home run count. Into this obsession comes the latest in the O'Reilly Media "Hacks" series, Baseball Hacks (O'Reilly, US $24.99) by Joseph Adler.

With more than one hundred years of recorded baseball data, America's favorite pastime is also a goldmine for anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. Adler explains, "It's never been easier to get free data and free tools to understand baseball and play fantasy baseball. Sabermetric analaysis has gone mainstream thanks to Michael Lewis's book 'Moneyball,' the Baseball Prospectus web site and books, and the success of the Boston Red Sox."

Adler loves baseball. "I love going to baseball games and watching games on TV. I love studying player statistics in newspapers and checking them on the Internet. I love reading books about baseball," says Adler. "I wrote this book because of this love. Many people have written beautifully about baseball. For example, Bill James wrote about baseball statistics, Jim Bouton wrote about what it's like to play baseball, and Michael Lewis wrote about what it's like to run a baseball team. But I don't know of a book that teaches how to take advantage of the many free baseball resources on the Internet. So I decided to write one."

Baseball Hacks shows readers how to find and use Major League Baseball stats and how to load this data into a database for analysis. With tutorials on using freely available software and statistics packages, readers will be on their way to finding and storing data, generating statistics, and forecasting the results of games. Learn how to calculate and interpret the most common formulas used to describe and rank baseball players, and then learn how to apply these formulas in new and different ways to gain the knowledge needed to enjoy baseball more. Beat the Money Line, pick the best players for a fantasy team, or find answers to the classic stats problems of baseball.

The book covers how to:

  • Play and win fantasy baseball
  • Build a historical statistics database
  • Calculate the odds of the best team winning the World Series
  • Solve the classic stats problems in baseball
  • Make your own stats book
  • Joe Adler continues, "I wrote Baseball Hacks for the modern baseball fan: the fan who knows how to use a computer, has access to the internet, and has the curiosity to try things out for him or herself. Readers will be able to easily answer questions themselves. If an announcer on TV says something that sounds funny, they can check it. If they have an idea on how to win their fantasy league, they can test it. In the same way that open source software projects like Linux, MySQL, and Apache have made great free computer software available to anyone with a computer, public projects like Retrosheet and Baseball Databank have made great free sports data available."

    Baseball Hacks is not just a guide to analyzing stats from past games, it also offers fun and practical tips for watching and following live baseball games. If you're craving information about your team and looking for a fun way to learn more about statistics, then get off the bench and get this book.

    Early praise for Baseball Hacks:

    "The game was born in the 19th century, but the passion for its analysis continues to grow into the 21st. In Baseball Hacks, Joe Adler not only demonstrates that the latest data-mining technologies have useful application to the study of baseball statistics, he also teaches the reader how to do the analyses himself, arming the dedicated baseball fan with tools to take his understanding of the game to a higher level."
    --Mark E. Johnson, Ph.D., Founder, SportMetrika, Inc. and Baseball Analyst for the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals

    "Baseball Hacks is the best book ever written for understanding and practicing baseball analytics. A must-read for baseball professionals and enthusiasts alike."
    --Ari Kaplan, database consultant to the Montreal Expos, San Diego Padres, and Baltimore Orioles

    Additional Resources:

    Baseball Hacks
    Joseph Adler
    ISBN: 0-596-00942-9, 448 pages, $24.99 US
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

    About O'Reilly

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