Book Review: Baseball Prospectus’ “The Call-Up 2012”

In this age of 24/7 sportsradio, Internet, Twitter, Facebook and texting, good solid writing on time-sensitive topics tends to be at a premium.  When the Baseball Prospectus annual book becomes available in late-February, its already at least six weeks behind the latest transactions.  The forward-looking aspect in some team essays suddenly becomes obsolete.

Furthermore, the shelf life of 2012’s player statistical projections is rather short.  Certain players get off to unexpectedly hot (or cold) starts.  They gain (or lose) roles/playing time.  Players who were given only a cursory glance in the annual suddenly flourish . . . youngsters on prospect lists take a huge leap (or fall).

With the timely publishing ease of ebooks, BP decided to address these issues by offering “The Call-Up 2012“, available July 31.  As noted on the cover, it is “the essential guide to the rest of the 2012 baseball season.”

Inside are updated comments on 55 players (like Trout, Harper, Pujols, Frieri) who have either surpassed or underwhelmed BP’s projections so far this season.  There are also revised “PECOTA” projections for the rest of 2012.  Batters are listed first, apparently in team city order (Anaheim to Washington, across both leagues), and then pitchers.

Unfortunately, the Table of Contents at the front of the book doesn’t list which players are to be found within, or on what “page” you might find a particular player.  Additionally, some of the “metrics” shown within the projections are not defined for the reader (as they are in the annual).  There is no description of “FRAA”, “BRR” and the like.  A glossary or “statistical toolbox” would be great for new readers (or for veteran readers in need of a refresher).

One aspect of the annual that draws a lot of attention is Kevin Goldstein’s “Top 101 Prospects.”  In “The Call-Up 2012”, Goldstein updates the rankings, giving us a new top 50, with up-to-date comments on which prospects have impressed or regressed from their preseason standard.

Following that are six recent articles reprinted from the website.  They vary from discussions of the new amateur draft rules, analyzing the “defensive shift”, and admiring Kerry Wood’s career.  This is a nice addition for those who aren’t readers of the site, or who just might have missed them when they were originally published.

With a retail price of $4.99 ($3.99 through Amazon), “The Call-Up 2012” is a nice mid-season “snack” for Baseball Prospectus fans.  For long-time readers of the site, its an easy purchase to make.  For those new to Baseball Prospectus, there might be a bit of a learning curve, and perhaps a introduction to the site and its vernacular might be in order.

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