Baseball books offer the fantasy league enthusiast, trivia buff or bettor an informational edge, and their popularity remains steady year after year. With the 2009 season less than a month away, hereHoward Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," is the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he has held since 1979. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry. Howard's website is www.gamblersbook.com are some fresh resources packed with unusual information about players and teams which should whet everyone's appetite:
Always popular, Who's Who in Baseball (360 pages, paper bound, $9.95), is back with its 94th edition, and it contains the lifetime, regular season and post-season record for 775 players and includes photos with birthdates and nicknames and injury listings along with trade data from Abreu to Zumaya.
Baseball Prospectus 2009, edited by Christina Kahrl and Steve Goldman (628 pages, paper bound, $21.95) examines past performances and tries to project what more than 1,600 players might do this year. It answers questions such as which teams lack offense; how have trades impacted opponents; which are "hitter's parks" and which players are about to blossom as stars. It's an excellent resource for fantasy league players looking to isolate "sleepers" and those on the downhill side of their careers. The book examines top prospects, managers and their approach to the game and how new faces might impact teams expected to improve this season.
Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster (271 pages, paper bound, $24.95) is a highly sought-after fantasy league guide. Edited by Ray Murphy and Roger Truesdell, this 23rd annual edition goes five years back for players, offering their strengths and weaknesses, ratings of their health and consistency and a look at first half vs. second half of season in 2008, It offers advice on who to bid on cautiously and whose value will fade. This is excellent material combining off-season jury reports and (believe it or not) a five-year injury log!
One of the most valuable sections is titled Bullpen Indicator Charts including a "Close Volatility Chart" looking as far back as 2002 indicating how players performed up to four years back with men on base and their pitch counts. It includes super on participating in a fantasy league and how to use the book's data to find an edge.
The Hardball Baseball Annual (377 pages, paper bound, $21.95) analyzes each team statistically, but its real strength is in its variety of mind-stretching essays.
Included are trade analyses; a look at the ethics and business of baseball; a variety of ways team performance can be measured statistically; some history of the game; the importance of defense and which players are likely to be over-valued or under-valued at fantasy league's moment of truth.
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