A reader from Belgium emailed me the other day wanting to learn more about baseball. I gave him a few suggestions and then thought, what a great idea for a post. Why not make this information available in one place so that everyone can benefit?
This list is not comprehensive, but it represents some of the finest work I’ve seen covering various aspects of baseball. If you know of others, please feel free to add them in the comments and I’ll update as appropriate. Enjoy!
You’re all about the bottom line. What are players being paid these days, and how do their salaries fit into the bigger picture of baseball economics?
- Cot’s Baseball Contracts
- Need information on baseball contracts? For each team, the entire club’s payroll is given for the past several years. Current and past contract details are provided for the team’s general manager, manager, and players. Information includes length of contract, total dollar amount, year-by-year dollar amount, signing bonuses, options, clauses, and incentives.
- J.C. Bradbury is an economics professor, Atlanta Braves fan, and author of The Baseball Economist (aff link). This is his blog.
History is the fabric that connects past to present. How did baseball come into existence, and who have been its greatest players over the years?
- 19th Century Baseball
- This site examines the early history of baseball, including its origins in cricket, rounders, and other similar sports; the myth of Abner Doubleday as baseball’s inventor; leagues and players of the era; how the game was played in the 19th century; and more.
- Baseball Think Factory’s Hall of Merit
- Several respected analysts have created “an alternative to the Baseball Hall of Fame” that seeks “to identify the best players in baseball history and thereby identify the omissions and errors that can be found in the other venerable institution.” Although it lacks the Hall of Fame’s clout and nostalgic pull, this is a must-visit for anyone interested in learning more about the best baseball players throughout history.
Maybe you play fantasy baseball, or maybe you’re just intellectually curious. How will your favorite player(s) perform this year?
- SG at Replacement Level Yankees Weblog is introducing these for the 2008 season.
- Chone Smith runs these. The 2008 versions are now available for hitters and pitchers.
- Tom Tango makes these available but does not stand behind them (although they do quite well for such a simple system).
- Dan Szymborski releases his projection system team by team, so you may need to dig around a little to find what you need.
This is all well and good, but how do you actually play the game?
- Official Rules
- The official rules of baseball can be found at Major League Baseball’s web site. Each chapter comes as a separate PDF file, but for the excellent price of free, who’s complaining?
- Know your waiver rules
- ESPN’s Jayson Stark explains how waivers work.
- At last, a quick explanation of the Rule 5 draft
- Baseball America‘s Alan Schwarz examines the Rule 5 draft.
- Transactions Primer
- ESPN’s Rob Neyer covers all kinds of odds and ends, including the disabled list, minor-league options, players to be named later, and more.
Perhaps you aren’t satisfied with the same old stats that everyone spouts without thinking about whether they make sense or add to our understanding. The field of sabermetrics — defined as “the search for objective knowledge about baseball” — might be for you.
- Sabermetric Manifesto
- David Grabiner discusses in great detail the reasoning behind the “sabermetric” movement — what it is, why it is necessary, and so forth.
- Stats 101: The very basics of statistical analyses
- This article at Statistically Speaking delves into the philosophy behind and fundamentals of statistical analysis. It’s a great starting point, and once you’re done, be sure to check out the rest of the web site; I find it to be very useful.
- A PITCHf/x primer
- Mike Fast discusses one of the hottest new items in Sabermetrics, PITCHf/x data, which allows for unbelievably detailed pitch-by-pitch analysis. This one also is at Statistically Speaking. (I told you it was a useful site.)
- Goodby to Some Old Baseball Ideas
- Before Bill James came along, there was Branch Rickey. A catcher of little distinction who played for the St. Louis Browns and New York Highlanders in the early part of the 20th century, Rickey later became general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Pittsburgh Pirates. Among many other things, Rickey was a pioneer in using advanced statistical concepts to gain greater understanding of how baseball actually works.
- Tango on Baseball
- This is the research site of Tom Tango, a co-author of The Book, which also has its own blog.
- Bill James Baseball Abstracts
- Rich Lederer provides an overview of all 12 of the Bill James Baseball Abstracts published in the ’70s and ’80s: 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988. If you haven’t read James’ work and are curious to learn more, this is a great place to start. Rich and company do a fantastic job at Baseball Analysts (full disclosure: they’ve had me on as a guest a few times, although I enjoyed their work well before then).
- High Boskage House Baseball Analysis
- Site run by Eric Walker, who is mentioned in Michael Lewis’ Moneyball (aff link). If you haven’t read Moneyball, I highly recommend it and Alan Schwarz’ The Numbers Game (aff link) for some useful background information. If you’re already well versed in the work of James, Pete Palmer, etc., then much of this will be review material, but both books help provide context and are enjoyable reads. Anyway, the High Boskage site can be tricky to navigate, but two good places to start are the Overview and Probability and Baseball pages.
- Beyond the Boxscore
- Excellent general sabermetrics blog.
- Hardball Times
- I write for this site, but I was a fan long before I joined them. I learn something new almost every day from my colleagues here.
- Looking for research on a particular subject? Want to make sure you’re not duplicating someone else’s work before starting your project? It might help to give Baseboogle a spin.
You’re at the game, enjoying the action, but you want to keep track of what’s going on so you can refer back to it later or maybe share it with friends. You will need a scorecard and some idea of how to use it.
- Baseball Basics: How to Keep Score
- This is a very rudimentary explanation of how to keep score at a baseball game. The subject is complex enough that entire books have been written about it.
- Keeping Score
- Patrick A. McGovern offers a tutorial on how to score a baseball game, as well as free downloadable scorecards for printing and using at a ballpark near you.
- Guide to Scoring Baseball
- Christopher Swingley also provides a tutorial and free downloadable scorecards.
- Alex Reisner makes available several different types of baseball scorecards and scorebooks.
No abstract philosophy or complicated theories, just the facts.
- Saying that Sean Forman’s site contains a wealth of information doesn’t do it justice. B-R is a free repository of statistics dating back to 1871 that includes biographical information, lists of statistically similar players throughout history, play-by-play data from 1957, and more. Paid services offer even greater functionality, including sophisticated searches. I use this on a daily basis more than any other web site.
- Official site of Major League Baseball
- Stats, scores, and more. [Hat tip to Nick G.]
- News and commentary. Much of the content is available to subscribers only. [Hat tip to Nick G.]
- Baseball America
- All things prospects/scouting. Much of the content is available to subscribers only. [Hat tip to Nick G.]
- Baseball Prospectus
- News and commentary. Much of the content is available to subscribers only. [Hat tip to Rain Delay]
- Sabermetric Wiki
- Wiki developed by Tom Tango. [Hat tip to Rain Delay]
Whew, that was a long list. Anyway, these are some resources I find useful in my continued pursuit of baseball knowledge and enjoyment. May they serve you well…