Winners: How Good Baseball Teams Become Great Ones (and It's Not the Way You Think)
Why does your team float around the .500 mark year after year while other franchises always seem to be in contention? How do some teams make that incredible leap from worst to first in just a season or two? If you could corner your team's owner and general manager—say in mid-October when neither you nor they have anything better to do—what advice would you give them so that you can spend next October at the stadium? Plenty of ideas, but you're not sure which ones really work? You need to read Winners!
In this raucous, entertaining, and sure-to-be-controversial guide for the dedicated fan and unpaid organizational watchdog, Baseball Prospectus columnist Dayn Perry dives deep into the stats and comes up with some mind-blowing answers to the most important question in baseball: How to winners win?
Analyzing record, lineups, defense, and pitching staffs of the 124 teams that made it to the playoffs between 1980 and 2003, Perry separates baseball myth from hardball reality, slays some sacred cows, and gives you new, more accurate ways to analyze both individual and team performance.
You'll discover why stats like batting average, RBI, and even OBP don't tell you what you really need to know about a hitter's contribution to the team; why that much ballyhooed trading-deadline pickup probably won't help your team move up in this year's standings; and why you need only one certified ace in the rotation to make it into the post season. You'll also find out why:
- A huge payroll doesn't guarantee success (but it helps)
- Slugging percentage is a hitter's most important traditional slat
- There's no such thing as a player who "knows how to win"
- Middle relievers are typically the most important people in the bullpen
- Speed helps, stealing bases doesn't
Perry backs up every one of his brash claims with solid statistical evidence. He illustrates each point with colorful, engaging stories about some of the most successful teams and admired players of the last quarter century, from dynasties like the Braves and the Yankees to one-season wonders like the '87 Tigers and the '01 Diamondbacks. He shows you how to identify the young players most likely to have long and successful careers; analyzes the achievements of such greats as George Brett, Rickey Henderson, Pedro Martinez, and Barry Bonds; and reveals how one of the greatest teams of all time managed an eleven-year winning spree using ten (count 'em—ten!) different closers.
Whether you're buttonholing the GM, dialing your local sports call-in show, or commiserating with your buddies as the local nine go down in flames yet again, Winners gives you a leg up in every baseball argument. maybe your team still can't win—but you can!