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Bill James on the Rays in Gold Mind 2009

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Baseball analyst legend and Red Sox front office employee Bill James has a new edition of his popular Gold Mind series coming out extremely soon. The folks at ACTA Sports were kind enough to send me an excerpt, detailing five of the factoids covered in the book. Two of them seem meaningful -- Evan Longoria's pull tendencies and Scott Kazmir's shrinkage in slider usage -- both have been covered here this off-season, but the other three items are interesting, if not a wee bit trivial. 

Remember, if you like what you see to purchase Gold Mind here.

  • "Matt Garza may well have been the Rays best pitcher in 2008—but the Rays, who went 22-11 with Shields on the mound, 20-12 with Sonnanstine and 19-8 with Kazmir, had a losing record with Garza. When Garza was good, he was very, very good, posting a 0.64 ERA in games that he won—the best in the majors."

  • Last year Carlos Pena had *nine* bases-loaded walks. "If that sounds impossibly, insanely high, that’s because it is. It’s a full 50% more than anyone has had in a single season any time in the last 20 years, except for one year when D’Angelo Jimenez had seven."

  • "Scott Kazmir threw one-half as many sliders last year (9.6%) as he did in 2007 (18.8%) and one-third as many as he threw in 2006 (28.6%).

  • "Over half of the fly balls Evan Longoria pulled to left field were home runs last year—22 of 43. No other qualified major league batter can say the same thing."

  • "Tampa Bay in 2008 scored only 71 first-inning runs, one of the lowest totals in the majors. They were outscored in the first inning 83-71, and were behind more often than they were ahead after one inning. They were still behind more often than they were ahead after five innings; after five innings they were ahead 68 times, behind 73. Akinori Iwamura, although he had a fine year, did very poorly when leading off the game, hitting .243 with few walks when leading off the first inning. "The Rays had a great year because they dominated the late innings—both offensively and defensively. While many teams score more runs in the first inning than any other, Tampa Bay scored 85, 89 and 96 runs in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings."

  • Again, thanks to the kind people at ACTA Sports, here's what you can expect from the full copy.

ACTA Sports

  • The 96 Families of Hitters (groups hitters with the others most like themselves)
  • Trammell (a comparison with Ozzie Smith based on Win Shares/Loss Shares)
  • Gems (the first real definition of what it means to say, "He threw a gem today")
  • Know When to Walk Away, Know When to Run (the value of a stolen base varies by type of team you have)
  • Catcher Pride Points (13 things catchers can take pride in, and who have been the best at them in baseball history)
  • Triple Crowns (greatest, weakest, shoulda-been triple crown seasons)
  • U-Scores (ten unusual statistical events and who has the most of them; hello, Barry)
  • Clutch Hitter of the Year (spoiler alert: just Manny being Manny)