The annual Baseball Preview review

March 31, 2015

Been waiting to get the Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview Issue before posting this. Today’s the day so…

There was an interesting conversation in the Facebook baseball book group. One gent wanted a recommendation for a good book about baseball stats. A book! Didn’t want a website! Old school.

That got us thinking: the beauty of on-line baseball stats is that you can pretty much find anything, no matter how old or new a stat there is. One group member suggested the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia, which has been out of print for decades. I countered with Total Baseball, which is also out of print but has some of the newer metrics.

The same “philosophy” carries over to print magazines. Athlon and The Sporting News ($7.99 apiece) released their publications over a ago, perhaps to give fantasy players a jump in researching their faux teams (each company puts out a separate fantasy issue). Their individual team analyses are amazingly similar: each consist of four pages; the vertical layouts for schedules and rosters are identical.,204,203,200_.jpg
Major Features “Food for Thought,” about lack of nutrition in minor leaguers’ diets

“Black Cloud,” about the paucity of African-Americans in the game

“The Long, Hard Road to Respect,” a very brief history of African-Americans in Baseball

“No Way Out?” how to get back to pre-steroids baseball

“Raising Arizona,” about spring training sites there

“Royal Resurgence”

Mixed Reviews,” an assessment of the first year of wider video reviews

“Short Hops,” brief amusing/insightful items

“Fifteen Things to Watch in 2015”

“A-Rod: A Con Man Returns to the Game” (Gee, Tyler Kepner, don’t hold back; tell us how you really feel)

“Maddon Mania Hits Chicago”

“October Ace,” Madison Bumgarner profile

“Penny Wise of Dollar Foolish,” an assessment of salaries

“2005 Draft Revisited”


Roster / Lineups Yes, with grades. Includes projected lineups, rotations, and depth charts Yes. Includes projected lineups, rotations, depth charts, and assessments.
Stats Team totals for 2014; five-year win trends; schedule; other stats appear in a substantial separate section Individual highlights for 2014; five-year win trends; schedule; other stats appear in a sparse separate section. Also, a “Beyond the Box Score” box.
“Opposing” Scouting report Yes, plus a “Down on the Farm” report and “Impact Rookie” Yes, plus “Top 10 Prospects” and “Impact Rookie”
Graphics Nothing special Nothing special
Misc. features Statistical “targets”; Farm System Rankings; College, junior college, and high school previews  College Baseball preview, including top 50 prospects (high school, too)Top 50 minor league prospects; brief fantasy section
Predictions Yes, for team finishes, post-season, and individual awards Yes, for team finishes, post-season, and individual awards
Covers Regional Regional


Trying to be more relevant, ESPN The Magazine (biweekly) and SI (weekly) wait as long as their editorial calendars will allow. Obviously they have the latest information available, given their production schedules. Not that that much has happened in spring training. With opening day about a week away, we haven’t seen the kind of trades we have in the past that make the preseason interesting.
Feature(s) “What is Giancarlo Stanton Thinking?” by Tim Keown”Pay This Man!” (Jonathan Lucroy profile), by Robert SanchezProfile of Daniel Norris, the Blue Jays’ pitching prospect who chooses to live in a van, by Eli Saslow  “Wait Till This Year,” by Tom Verducci (teams that could contend for championship)”Speed Kills,” by Verducci (Pitching)”Battle Mode,” by Ben Reiter (Hitting)”The Renaissance of Clint Hurdle,” by Albert Chen”The Man They Love to Hate,” profile on Bryce Harper by Verducci
Roster / Lineups  No  Projected starting lineup, rotation, Key bench for each team
Stats  “Contributing age,” a metric to gauge younger players vs. olderProjected WAR (best case, baseline, and worst case scenarios for two key players  Minimal
Scouting report  No  “Enemy Lines” by rival scouts
Graphics  Bar charts for WAR (See above)  No
Misc.  “The Health of Your Team,” a graph depicting how teams will perform based on “Contributing Age”MLB Confidential”: Survey of 117 players on serious and  frivolous topics
Predictions  Yes  Yes
 Covers  Just the one   Several regional editions
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