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Early life[ edit ] James was born in Holton, Kansas ; his mother died in when he was five. His father was a janitor and a handyman. He was the last person in Kansas to be sent to fight in the Vietnam War , although he never saw action there. Instead, he spent two years stationed in South Korea , during which time he wrote to KU about taking his final class.
He was told he actually had met all his graduation requirements, so he returned to Lawrence in with degrees in English and economics. He also finished an Education degree in , likewise from the University of Kansas. Many of his first baseball writings came while he was doing night shifts as a security guard at the Stokely-Van Camp's pork and beans cannery.
Unlike most writers, his pieces did not recount games in epic terms or offer insights gleaned from interviews with players. A typical James piece posed a question e. In an effort to reach a wider audience, James began self-publishing an annual book titled The Bill James Baseball Abstract beginning in The first edition, titled Baseball Abstract: Featuring 18 categories of statistical information that you just can't find anywhere else, presented 68 pages of in-depth statistics compiled from James's study of box scores from the preceding season and was offered for sale through a small advertisement in The Sporting News.
Seventy-five people purchased the booklet. By sales had increased tenfold, and a media conglomerate agreed to publish and distribute future editions. While writers had published books about baseball statistics before most notably Earnshaw Cook 's Percentage Baseball, in the s , few had ever reached a mass audience.
Attempts to imitate James's work spawned a flood of books and articles that continues to this day. Post-Abstracts work[ edit ] In , James ceased writing the Abstract, citing workload-related burnout and concern about the volume of statistics on the market.
He has continued to publish hardcover books about baseball history, which have sold well and received admiring reviews.
James has also written several series of new annuals: The Baseball Book — was a loosely organized collection of commentary, profiles, historical articles, and occasional pieces of research.
James' assistant Rob Neyer was responsible for much of the research, and wrote several short pieces. The Player Ratings Book —95 offered statistics and word profiles aimed at the fantasy baseball enthusiast. The Bill James Handbook —present provides past-season statistics and next-season projections for Major League players and teams, and career data for all current Major League players.
Results for the Fielding Bible Awards , an alternative to the Gold Glove Awards voted on by a person panel that includes James, are also included.
Playing off the name of the earlier series, Solid Fool's Gold: Detours on the Way to Conventional Wisdom was a mixed collection of both baseball-related and miscellaneous pieces, culled from the Bill James Online archives see below.
In , James launched Bill James Online. Subscribers can read James's new, original writing and interact with one another —- as well as with James —- in a question-and-answer format.
The web site also offers new "profiles" of teams and players full of facts and statistics that hope to one day map what James has termed "the lost island of baseball statistics. James proposed the creation of Project Scoresheet, a network of fans that would work together to collect and distribute this information.
James's publisher agreed to distribute two annuals of essays and data — the and editions of Bill James Presents The Great American Baseball Statbook though only the first of these featured writing by James.
|by Zack Hample||A Court in Germany ordered that access to certain items in the Project Gutenberg collection are blocked from Germany. Project Gutenberg believes the Court has no jurisdiction over the matter, but until the issue is resolved, it will comply.|
The organization was eventually disbanded, but many of its members went on to form for-profit companies with similar goals and structure.
A statistic intended to quantify a player's contribution to runs scored, as well as a team's expected number of runs scored. Runs created is calculated from other offensive statistics. Applied to an entire team or league, the statistic correlates closely to that team's or league's actual runs scored.
Since James first created the statistic, sabermetricians have refined it to make it more accurate, and it is now used in many different variations. Range factor.
The statistic is premised on the notion that the total number of outs that a player participates in is more relevant in evaluating his defensive play than the percentage of cleanly handled chances as calculated by the conventional statistic Fielding percentage.
Defensive Efficiency Rating. A statistic that shows the percentage of balls in play a defense turns into an out. It is used to help determine a team's defensive ability. Calculated by: 1 — Opp. Home runs. Win shares. A unifying statistic intended to allow the comparison of players at different positions, as well as players of different eras.
Win Shares incorporates a variety of pitching, hitting and fielding statistics. One drawback of Win Shares is the difficulty of computing it. A statistic explaining the relationship of wins and losses to runs scored and runs allowed.
In its simplest form: Pythagorean Winning Percentage equals Runs squared divided by the square of Runs plus the square of Runs Allowed.
The statistic correlates closely to a team's actual winning percentage. Game Score is a metric to determine the strength of a pitcher in any particular baseball game.
Major League Equivalency. A metric that uses minor league statistics to predict how a player is likely to perform at the major league level. The Brock2 System. A system for projecting a player's performance over the remainder of his career based on past performance and the aging process.
Similarity scores. Scoring a player's statistical similarity to other players, providing a frame of reference for players of the distant past. Secondary average. A statistic that attempts to measure a player's contribution to an offense in ways not reflected in batting average.
Secondary averages tend to be similar to batting averages, but can vary widely, from less than. A statistic that attempts to consolidate the various "clubs" of players with impressive numbers of both home runs and stolen bases e.
Approximate Value. A system of cutoffs designed to estimate the value a player contributed to various category groups including his team to study broad questions such as "how do players age over time".
When he introduced the notion of secondary average , it was as a vehicle for the then-counterintuitive concept that batting average represents only a fraction of a player's offensive contribution.
Some of his contributions to the language of baseball, like the idea of the " defensive spectrum ", border on being entirely non-statistical. Acceptance and employment in mainstream baseball[ edit ] Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane began applying sabermetric principles to running his low-budget team in the early s, to notable effect, as chronicled in Michael Lewis ' book Moneyball.
One point of controversy was in handling the relief pitching of the Red Sox. He wrote that it is "far better to use your relief ace when the score is tied, even if that is the seventh inning, than in the ninth inning with a lead of two or more runs.