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The Runmakers

, 272 pages
March 2011



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The Runmakers

A New Way to Rate Baseball Players

Statistics are the lifeblood of baseball. Managers pore over batting averages to determine game day lineups and batting orders; high number of runs batted in and low earned run averages receive praise from the press, higher salaries from the front office, and love from fans; and the fate of fantasy baseball players rises and falls with each statistical change. The prominence of the RC/27 and other more complex, formula-driven stats has made numbers even more important to understanding and appreciating the game. For all these baseball buffs and more, Frederick E. Taylor provides a new measure of hitting prowess that just might be a game changer.

Taylor's potential runs per game (PRG) measure accounts for batters getting on base, advancing runners, and driving in runs, and it separates leadoff and second batters from those in the middle of the order. Taylor introduces the measure, explains how it works, and applies it to players past and present. He breaks the history of major league baseball into eight eras based on differences in runs scored per game. He systematically—player-by-player and position-by-position—compares the results of the PRG measure to those drawn from other statistics, such as on-base percentage and slugging average. Taylor shows that PRG is more accurate and that career clutch hitting is a myth.

Sabermetricians, baseball fans of all stripes, and anyone who earns a living from the sport will find a wealth of information and a whole new set of stats to obsess over in The Runmakers. Measuring baseball will never be the same.

Frederick E. Taylor is a lifelong baseball fan and player. A retired professor of American government, he also worked for the United States Department of Commerce and Department of Defense. This is his first book.

"A deeply old-fashioned treatise in which a statistic of Mr. Taylor's devising (potential runs per game) is used to rate the top hitters in history by era, position and role... Charming."

"This book recounts the careers of hundreds of baseball players and measures their performance according to different yardsticks. It is nostalgic for me because I knew many of them from my playing days and many others from my subsequent days in organized baseball. It should be an invaluable aid to those interested in the players of the past and how they compare with the players of today."

"What an intriguing read! Of all the measurements that have been incorporated to determine value over the last 20 years, The Runmakers, with its 'bases per plate appearance,' in my opinion, is the closest formula to define the greatness of hitters. From Babe Ruth through the dead ball era, lowering of the mound, and the emergence of Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, and the 70–home run seasons, Taylor gets it right."

"Most baseball statistical analysts believe that 'traditional' measures of player performance—batting average, runs batted in, and so on—are lacking... In Taylor's model, the key measure is 'bases per plate appearance'... This is a compelling model."

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