Oh, No! 'Bill James Handbook' Produces Walk-off Edition


By Dan Schlossberg

Say it ain’t so, Joe. After 34 years, the best-designed, best-written, and most comprehensive baseball annual has rounded third and headed for home.

The information-packed paperback, which feared year-by-year player records, projections for the next season, and even the odds against future 300-game winners, will always occupy a place in the game’s literary Hall of Fame.

Last in a series after 34 years: the Bill James Handbook Walk-Off Edition.Photo byACTA Publications

Its final version is called the Bill James Handbook Walkoff Edition but ditches the stats for stories, including a half-dozen penned by the legendary sabermatrician himself. There’s also a Q & A with James an essay on his impact, and pieces on shifts, defense, and the red-hot rookie class of 2023.

Writer Rob Neyer, a regular contributor, has all 34 Bill James Handbooks, including the 1989 first edition called the STATS 1990 Major League Handbook.

Published by ACTA Sports, the book concedes that the instant information provided by Baseball-Reference, Baseball Almanac, FieldingBible.com, and other sites has made the Bill James Handbook obsolete. Things change every second these days but typography — no matter what handsome font it takes — just sits still.

On the other hand, looking up the record of a player, listed in alphabetical order, is so much better in print form than it is online. Maybe that’s just me but hey, I’ve been doing this (covering baseball) for more than half-a-century.

Perhaps the best part of the new book, aside from the James essays, is the Baseball Glossary. It explains it detail many words from the still-relatively-recent analytics lexicon, from runs created to win shares, and should foster better understanding among fans still learning the nuances of the science.

Bill James, perhaps the godfather of analytics, has been writing about baseball since 1975 and even spent some time as Senior Baseball Operations advisor to the Boston Red Sox.

Sports Info Solutions, which produced the contents for the book, provides accurate, in-depth, and timely information, including cutting-edge research and analysis, designed to educate teams, officials, media members, and fans.

To order the 252-page, $24.95 paperback, visit www.actapublications.com.

Here’s The Pitch weekend editor Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn relies heavily on the Bill James Handbooks and appreciates their role in expanding baseball knowledge. He covers the game for forbes.com, Memories & Dreams, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, and other outlets. Dan’s email is ballauthor@gmail.com.

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