Book Review: Baseball Prospectus’ The Call Up 2012


Every year, Baseball Prospectus puts out a book that serious baseball addicts clamor for. Within its pages are detailed looks at all 30 major league teams, their players, what we’ve seen from them and what to expect going forward. For the long stretch between the book’s release and the start of the regular season, the book is revered, read through and regularly consulted. After that period of peak performance, however, it enters a decline. Many players have gotten injured or for one reason or another strayed from the path of their likely performance. Players have unexpectedly been called up, have over-performed, and have failed. The information is consulted less and less, it’s no longer as useful or relevant as the days go by. Even the correct prognostications are, well, no longer prognostications really. They have already occurred or are in the process of occurring.

Enter, “The Call-Up,” which puts the superb writing of Baseball Prospectus writers back into your hands, but in a much more manageable size than the annual. Broken up into 3 main sections, the first deals with outliers. Players that have underperformed, burst onto the scene and performed despite no previous MLB experience or are simply performing at a rate that goes against what past data would suggest. Players like Albert Pujols and Eric Hosmer, who were expected to be having better seasons than they are, get a look with an explanation of what happened, a reasonable assessment as to why it may have and what we should expect going forward. Guys that are here before their time and performing ahead of it like Mike Trout get the same treatment. From the White Sox end, a trio of first baseman by trade in Kevin Youkilis, Adam Dunn, and the man that actually gets to play the position every day, Paul Konerko are presented. Each player section is accompanied by stats from recent years in an attempt to form a picture of player progress, and a revised PECOTA projection for 2012.

In the second section is Kevin Goldstein’s top 50 prospects, revised for mid-season. All your favorite hopefuls listed with blurbs about potential futures, ceilings and tempering of expectations. It’s quick hit, so don’t expect to find a case study of each player, but as the editor suggests, feel free to reach out to Goldstein and ask him when your own #1 prospect will make it to the bigs.

Section three comprises of various Baseball Prospectus articles that have been published on the baseballprospectus.com website during the first half of the season. If you’re anything like me, there are certain articles that have been of interest, been clicked on, and then remained a tab in your browser window for days at a time with work or other distractions allowing for only a paragraph or so to have been consumed. Needless to say I was delighted to see Colin Wyers’ study on the effectiveness of the infield shift included (aaaand tab closed). It’s like they knew I was struggling to get started on this one; just needed a different venue. Thanks, Baseball Prospectus! Also included is a study about catcher pitch framing, the race to stay relevant as an MLB General Manager, and a few other finely written, informative articles that reflects some of the talent that exists at BP.

If you’re a subscriber to the site or a purchaser of the annuals, this book is a no-brainer. You’re looking to consume baseball knowledge, and here is some baseball knowledge. It could be that you keep away from the annuals, because they are huge, impossible to carry around and remind you too much of a textbook. Well The Call-Up works for you too, it’s BP material in a manageable dose, and the e-book format does not negatively affect the tables or charts presented. Fun for all ages.

You can pre-order an e-copy of The Call-Up 2012 at Amazon.com for the tiny price of $3.99. Expected delivery July 31st.

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Tags: Baseball Prospectus Book Review