Win Shares (book)
||This section appears to be written like an advertisement. (September 2010)|
|Author||Bill James and
As ESPN's Jim Baker put it, "we've been talking about Win Shares, the baseball metric Bill James introduced in .... a book titled, oddly enough, Win Shares. It explains the concepts of win shares, a baseball statistic. It takes a sabermetric approach to evaluating the contribution of individual players to their teams' overall performance, and focuses primarily on the many formulae involved in computing the final number of win shares accumulated, as well as presenting many lists of players ranked in various ways using the rating.
Baseball author and columnist Rob Neyer, writing for ESPN, called the book "groundbreaking". Glenn Guzzo echoed him in The New Ballgame: Baseball Statistics for the Casual Fan, calling it a "groundbreaking volume". In A Mathematician at the Ballpark: Odds and Probabilities for Baseball Fans, Professor Ken Ross describes the book as "erudite and interesting". John Erardi of The Cincinnati Enquirer referred to it, while discussing some of its, conclusions as James' "acclaimed book".
Leigh Grossman, in The Red Sox Fan Handbook: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Red Sox Fan Or to Marry One, called it "a book that statheads had been anticipating for years." In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, David Andriesen wrote of the book:
James, our foremost sabermetrician (a made-up word that means "guy who uses mathematics to study baseball"), has spent years developing a system called "win shares" a number that at its most basic level represents how many victories a player created for his team. His book on the system, titled "Win Shares," was recently published ... The result is a simple number. The method used to arrive at the number is enough to make John Forbes Nash pound his head against a brick wall.
The Oakland Tribune pointed out, however, that it took James more than 100 pages in the book to explain his formula. Bill Felber, in The Book on the Book: An Inquiry Into Which Strategies in the Modern Game Actually Work, compared James' philosophy as to use of relievers in the book, with those he endorsed as a Boston Red Sox executive.
Hardball Times noted that based on reader responses, it appeared that the book was well received, and detailed what it liked and disliked about it, and Dave Studeman wrote for it:
When Bill James rolled out his Win Shares opus, he included a chapter called "Win Shares and Replacement Level (Or...Pandora, shut your trap)." In that chapter, he conceded that the Win Shares work wasn't quite done, that Replacement-level Win Shares were a logical next step. But the extra work would be complex, and James wasn't quite ready to tackle it at the time. So this past winter, I gave it a shot.... I didn't address all the issues that Bill James raised in his book, but I think I came up with a decent approach.
Keith Scherer of ESPN measured the Chicago White Sox defense by it, writing: "Jorge Orta is the only second baseman in history to get an F for his defense in Bill James' book, Win Shares." In a later article for ESPN Scherer pointed out that "when Bill James published his book about Win Shares, he contemplated using the method to study the draft." The Concord Monitor noted that at a game "A few ultradedicated fans even sit in the back row with their Bill James books and calculators tabulating Mainers win shares".
In Practicing Sabermetrics: Putting the Science of Baseball Statistics to Work, by Gabriel B. Costa, Michael R. Huber, and John T. Saccoman, the authors discuss how James provides both a short form method and a long form method for calculation in his book, and that the easier short form method appears to work well for years after 1920.
Dayn Perry notes in Winners: how good baseball teams become great ones (and it's not the way you think) how James points out correctly in the book that when a first baseman gets an assist for throwing to a player other than the pitcher, it is almost always a vital play.
The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, 2001 edition, also written by James, uses win shares to evaluate the careers of many players, and to place them in contexts where they can be compared. The two books are effectively companions to one another.
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