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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bill James has nothing to do with Bill James Handbook-Red Sox official in interview

"From 1977 until 1988, Bill James published his Baseball Abstract on a yearly basis, utilizing many of the new-age statistical measurements he helped introduce or popularize. Nowadays there's another annual publication bearing his name, The Bill James Handbook, which offers projections for how each Major League player will fare for the upcoming season. Quite an undertaking, to be sure, one that might prove difficult given his responsibilities with the Red Sox. Still, that's his name there on the cover.

Not so much, apparently. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein spilled the beans on how the operation really works in a recent interview.

  • "According to Bill James, Adrian Beltre is going to have 17 home runs, 68 RBIs. Is that a satisfactory season?

  • Really?

  • Those projections are not his actual projections. He likes to read them to see what they are when they come out. We actually have — Bill is involved and [we] have others on staff who do more detailed projections that mean something but don’t mean everything to us. You’ll notice of that book with the pitchers’ projections because there is so much attrition in pitching virtually every pitcher you won’t find a pitcher projected for more than 15 wins or 170 innings because it’s the safe thing to do with projections."

It makes business sense for James to want to save his analysis for a professional team willing to pay him handsomely for it, rather than disseminating it to the world.

  • It works doubly well if you can sucker the public into thinking the work of your staff is reflective of your own.

So I wonder how thrilled James is going to be that Epstein essentially blew his cover. I'm just saying don't be surprised if next year the Red Sox, acting on a mysterious tip, make one heroic blunder in free agency."

by Michael Tunison, SportingNews.com 3/5/10, "Bill James Handbook not reflecting the actual predictions of Bill James" photo from SportingNews.com

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