Projecting X: A Must In Your Fantasy Bookshelf
May 15, 2013 | Ian Cumming
Right off the bat, in the introduction of his new book, Projecting X: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, Mike Podhorzer explains that “the forecasting process requires a combination of both art and science,” and from there, he had my ear. I’m not going to pen this piece pretending to be merely a neutral observer – in all honesty, I’m a baseball traditionalist. I gravitate towards the “art.” While I sincerely appreciate the values that the “science” of advanced statistics has brought to the game of baseball, I have a hard time truly buying into sabermetrics like WAR when nobody can even explain to me what goes into the formulation and calculation of that data point beyond blowing me off with an “it’s too complicated, you wouldn’t understand.” Podhorzer was like a breath of fresh air in this regard: he took the time to explain some of his most useful stats, their overall significance, and why they should be used to predict performances of your fantasy team’s players. Or, to borrow from Denzel Washington’s Joe Miller, he explains these concepts to me “like I’m a four-year old.” But in a good way. And in an articulate, readable way. And above all, in a convincing and ultimately practical way.
My favorite aspect of Podhorzer’s book – which, as an e-book that checks out at 52 printed pages and 7 chapters, is a very fast, entertaining, and easy read, even for a book discussing complicated statistics – were the spreadsheets to project pitching and hitting stats that every fantasy owner would generally consider to be of significance which he provides a step-by-step guide to create. He provides the formulas that the reader can use to plug n’ play, and the spreadsheet takes off from there. It is this sort of interaction that sets this book above many others – using it as an aid for my own team management, and adding and tweaking it based on principles I personally put at a premium, it has been an abundantly helpful guide that I’ll use throughout the season and into the future.
Podhorzer is an extremely meticulous when it comes to properly citing his sources, and he links at many points to various websites that extend his line of reasoning beyond the pages of his book. I found this interactivity to be greatly beneficial to my continuing education and would encourage any reader to closely follow through his citations.
I’m still a traditionalist, but with the help of people like Mr. Podhorzer, even I am willing to admit that his compelling arguments and predictive metrics will not only help my fantasy team management, but also help me to understand and appreciate the “science” as the Great Debate between traditionalists and sabermetricians evolves over the coming years. At $9.99, the book is a complete steal. Ultimately, Podhorzer does an amazing job of not only taking advanced stats and articulating them so a simpleton like me can understand, but also making it enjoyable to learn about those advanced stats.