Kahrl: Offseason joy with the new “Bill James Handbook”

From SABR member Christina Kahrl at ESPN.com on November 17, 2013:

With the season over and the hot stove league’s coals just heating up, if you’re like me, you’re probably moving into your offseason rituals. As a kid, that meant trying to get a copy of the December issue of Baseball Digest, to make sure I had complete year-end numbers. This was important for those of us struggling to decide whether Donnie Hill or Tony Phillips was the better answer for the A’s at second base without having the numbers readily available. Who says things were better in the old days? Not me, not when the past 25 years have meant getting the latest edition of Baseball Info Solutions’ “The Bill James Handbook” in November.

I know it’s silly to want something as concrete as a book when Baseball-Reference.com is there to answer almost any question you have. But it’s oft been said that books are the perfect technology — mobile, accessible, durable and usually easily replaceable — and the 2014 edition of the Handbook is a classic example. It’s a reference tool, of course, but just flipping through the pages prompts as many questions as they answer, perfect for a long winter of wondering what the spring will bring.

Take defense. Thanks to the work of John Dewan and his team, you can quickly find out which team netted the most runs with defensive shifts. It should surprise nobody that the always-clever Joe Maddon and the Rays led baseball in runs saved on defensive shifts with 16. But which team was second? John Farrell’s world champion Red Sox with 15. And which team led the NL? Dusty Baker’s Reds with 11, which should be interesting to follow next year now that former pitching coach Bryan Price is managing the team.

Read the full article here: http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/42347/offseason-joy-the-bill-james-handbook

Originally published: November 18, 2013. Last Updated: November 18, 2013.