Book Review: The Baseball Economist

thebaseballeconomist Book Review: The Baseball EconomistI just finished reading  Book Review: The Baseball Economist the other night.  If you’re not a baseball fan then you can skip the rest of this post without offending me.  Besides being a book about something that I love, this book was written by a Wofford alum!  All the more reason to reason to read it!  The author J.C. Bradbury runs an interesting blog, Sabernomics, where he writes all sorts of interesting baseball articles. Sometimes they are specifically Atlanta Braves related articles, but they run the gamut from free agent player values to, and most recently, the steroid situation.

This book was absolutely fantastic and one that I would highly recommend to anyone that is either a fan of the game or loves statistics.  Because the subject of the book is baseball, the regression analysis and formulas presented seem to flow naturally.  The chapters are perfectly sized analysis in themselves that each make for an evening sit-down.

With chapters like “The Legendary Power of the On-Deck Hitter”, “The Evolution of Baseball Talent”, and “Scouts vs. Stat-Head” you know that you have something interesting in your hands.  J.C. does a masterful job of laying statistical data to support his conclusions without losing the reader.

My personal favorite chapter, “The Extinct Left-Handed Catcher,” looks at why there is no such thing as a left-handed catcher in baseball.  J.C. looks for performance reasons and ultimately concludes “the benefits of using right-handed catchers are small, maybe the costs will yield some answers.”  These costs ultimately show their solution in the very simple revelation: “The biggest reason there is no left-handed catchers is natural selection.  Catchers need good throwing arms.  If you have a kid on your baseball team who is left-handed and has a strong arm, what are you going to do with him?”  Any baseball person can easily answer this, he’s going to pitch!

The entire book was filled with revelations similar to this! Every chapter brought statistical analysis into the equation to definitively prove relationships in baseball.  Is any of this going to make me a better baseball player, coach, or fan?  Probably not, but for anyone that has a passion for the sport I’m sure they will feverously consume this book with the same passion.  It’s obvious that J.C. also shares that passion and it carries through this work.

13 Responses to “Book Review: The Baseball Economist”

  1. Says:

    Sounds like a fascinating book. I hadn’t heard of it before but I like baseball, so I think I would like this read.

    Does he talk at all about Billy Bean economics in this book?

    (a weak-throwing leftie who ended up at first base)

  2. Says:


    The book is a lot like Moneyball. Although where Moneyball only hits on the Oakland A’s this book looks at some statistically analysis of all organizations. I would definitely classify it in the same category.

    If you liked Moneyball another book similar is Scout’s Honor which attempts to analysis the Atlanta Braves exactly like Moneyball did the A’s. I’m a huge Braves fan, but that book was only alright. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND Built to Win a book by Atlanta Braves former GM and current team president John Schuerholtz. The stories of motivation, commitment, and hard work are much to be desired. I have so much more respect for the man after reading it and think that anyone who manages or deals regularly with people could gain a lot from his insight.

  3. Says:

    I’m going to have to get around to reading this one. The book sounds like a great companion piece to the Alan Schwarz book I’m reading right now. It’s called The Numbers Game: Baseball’s Lifelong Fascination With Statistics.

    There’s a lot of great Bill James’ stories in there in regard to his beef with the Elias Sports Bureau.

    As far as left-handed catchers go…I always thought it had to do with there being more right handed batters and righties getting in the way of the catcher’s throwing motion to second. Although the theory of good left handed arms being funneled into the pitching realm makes sense too. Lol, baseball is filled with these questions that we all have are own theories for.

  4. Says:

    Hey Tim,

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m a huge Bill James fan too, unfortunately I can’t claim any relation that I know. If you like Bill’s work and want to splash some economics and money into the equation to justify your numbers then you will definitely enjoy this book.

  5. Says:

    Wow, this book sounds like something I would love. I loved Moneyball. I will have to look for this book. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    Lane of

  6. Says:

    I’ve been wanting to read this book, glad to hear the good opinions now I’ll have to go get it.

    Your comment about the left handed catchers was neat, caught me off guard. I right away thought of Joe Mauer, who bats left, but then remembered that he still throws right-handed (pretty sure).


  7. Says:

    greenspan said that part of the reason why he was so good at getting a sense of the economy was because he was obsessed with baseball stats as a kid. its a good parallel

  8. Says:

    I just put this on my Amazon wishlist. I have recently become obsessed with advanced baseball statistics. I am learning about the crazy explosion of incredibly useful statistics like WAR and FIP. I’ll let you know what I thought about this book when I get a chance to read it.

  9. Says:

    Sounds like a great book.. I’m a huge baseball fan so I’m gonna have to give this a shot. I’ll def. pick this up by the end of the week..

  10. Says:

    Sabremetrics has completely changed the MLB and the game of baseball itself. It is mainly responsible for the Boston Red Sox return to glory after 80 + years. Great post!

    Evan from

    The Sports Picks Guru

  11. Says:

    I’ve been thinking about this recently, and I believe it’s a topic that the majority of people need to be focusing on. One can’t expect to get anywhere if we merely keep our heads hidden in the sand.

  12. Says:

    Great book. . i havent heard of this book intell i read you blog. . it sounds great and i love the game of baseball so i think ill go purchase this book and read it. . i wished i could have furtherd my career in baseball but my knee gave way anyways check out this hot tip..


  1. Review: The Baseball Economist « Ron Kaplan’s Baseball Bookshelf --> says:

    [...] Review: The Baseball Economist 18 02 From [...]