PFR: The Baseball Economist Review

My good friend and intellectual collaborator Doug Drinen, posts his review of The Baseball Economist. Granted, it’s a biased review—he’s a friend and we co-authored some of the studies that I discuss in the book—but Doug probably knows more about the book than anyone since he watched it develop.

Most of you are probably not aware that I used to be as intensely into baseball analysis as I currently am into football. I wrote for a few sabermetric sites and publications and I like to think I came up with a few nifty little studies along the way and contributed a bit to the field. But it’s now clear that my biggest contribution (by far) was that I introduced John-Charles Bradbury to the existence of sabermetrics.

I could drone on about how much of a hero I am for leading J.C. out of the wilderness of RBIs and pitchers’ wins, but I’ll spare you. It is worth mentioning, though, that the fact that J.C. didn’t encounter sabermetrics until relatively late in life probably prevented him from becoming Just Another Sabermetrician. Rather than viewing things through a traditional sabermetric lens — as those of us who grew up with Bill James tend to do — he started to look at them in light of his training as a professional economist. When combined with the tools of sabermetrics, it leads to a fresh perspective.

I owe a lot to Doug for his contributions, as he tempered my thinking on many issues. And I’ll never forget watching the Aaron F’n Boone game with him. “What the hell are you doing, Grady? Take Pedro out!”

I am occasionally asked about using my approach in other sports. I point them directly to Pro-Football-Reference.com and his blog. I’m hoping that his work there will result in a book on football in the near future. If I were a literary agent looking for prospects, Doug would be near the top of my list of targets.

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