Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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The perfect offseason companion
Posted Nov 17, 2009 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated Nov 17, 2009 at 08:38 PM
For baseball fans who long for spring training to begin, and who love to chew on statistics, “The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2010” (ACTA Sports, $21.95 paperback) is the perfect offseason companion.
Once again, this book provides solid information and thought-provoking history pieces. It’s a marvelous blend.
Some of the statistics about the Rays are eye-opening. For example, first baseman Carlos Peña walked or struck out in 45 percent of his plate appearances during the 2009 season. And 86 percent of his ground balls were outs, the highest rate of any major-league regular. Twenty-six percent of Jason Bartlett’s batted balls were line drives, a figure that led the majors.
David Price threw 128 innings, but only induced two double plays. And Jeff Niemann allowed six earned runs in his first start of 2009, but had an ERA of 3.75 the rest of the season.
The articles are top-notch, too. Chris Jaffe advances the theory that the 1972 World Series was the best ever played — not the most memorable, but the best. He breaks it down game-by-game, noting that six of the seven were decided by one run (a Series record), and that there were only two innings in the entire series where one team led the other by more than two runs.
It’s good stuff.
Craig R. Wright adds a piece about the effect Honus Wagner had on the pitching performance of fellow Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Sean Smith contributes a story about great relievers, past and present. He compares the brief shining moments of closers like Dick Radatz and Eric Gagne, and shows how Goose Gossage’s relief performance in 1975 ranks as the greatest in baseball since 1953.
Dave Studenmund chronicles the story of Jack “Lucky” Lohrke, a fascinating piece about the middle infielder’s near-brushes with death during the 1940s.
Because the book was released earlier than normal, there is no recap of the 2009 World Series. However, those who purchase the book can download that information.
Another solid effort by the guys at The Hardball Times. It’s definitely worth the read, and will make that wait for spring training seem that much shorter.