One of the great things about reading is that it can make you extremely interested in topics you otherwise would have never cared about. This is what happened to me when I picked up books on baseball, I suddenly became an avid fan of baseball books and appreciated the game much more than I ever had before. I recognize that I haven’t yet read all of the books on baseball that I plan on reading but I have read enough to list my seven favorite baseball books and what makes them such good reads.
Moneyball by Michael Lewis- If you haven’t ever read a book by Michael Lewis I think that you are doing yourself a great disservice. Lewis is one of the most entertaining writers of today and Moneyball is no exception. The book takes a look at the role of statistics in predicting player performance while interweaving the story of the Oakland A’s and their General Manager Billy Beane. Beane was a former can’t miss prospect who never fully lived up to expectations and now with the Oakland A’s he starts to use certain indicators to acquire the best players his team can afford and compete with the big dogs. Simply put there is a very good chance that you will finish this book in a day or two and will be left still wanting more of it and scrambling for another book on baseball to fill the void.
Baseball Prospectus is a yearly publication that previews the upcoming baseball season. You won’t just find the usual page or two write up on the teams and a possible line up. Baseball Prospectus goes deep into stats and projects how teams will finish and how players will perform providing full simulated stat lines for just about every player, even those who won’t sniff an at bat for the teams this season. There are usually articles that delve into some interesting use of statistics to see which players are underrated or who got paid way too much money for their services. Baseball Prospectus is a must if you plan on watching any baseball this year.
A False Spring by Pat Jordan- Pat Jordan’s memoir is a great look into the hopes and ultimate failure of a young man chasing his dreams of making it to the major leagues. You get to read about Jordan from high school when he was the guy all of the teams wanted through his minor league career that never seemed to get off of the ground. A False Spring provides great insight to life in the 50’s for the minor league players and therefore a unique look into baseball history.
Watching Baseball Smarter by Zack Hample- I really like this book for going into interesting facts and explaining all the mechanics that go into the game of baseball. If you don’t know anything about the sport this will give you a good look into what makes it great.
The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball– This book is a look at baseball using math and even more statistics. If you’re not already into the game I wouldn’t start here but feel free to advance towards this one.
Ball Four by Jim Bouton- Ball Four chronicles Jim Bouton’s 1969 season with the short-lived Seattle Pilots and then the Houston Astros. This book is really a landmark in baseball writing for the insides look it gives to what it is like playing on a major league ball club. Bouton is brutally honest and very often hilarious and when it first came out the league was not too happy. You however will be happy when you read this classic baseball book.
Eight Men Out by Eliot Asinof – First of this entire book is amazing. Eight Men Out tells the tale of the 1919 “Black” Sox the team that infamously threw the World Series that year. Gambling, crime, the personalities of the players, in this one you get it all. There is a reason this exploration of baseball history is still available nearly 50 years after it’s first release, Asinof’s book it just that good.
Whether or not you watch baseball everyday during the spring and summer months or you’re someone who couldn’t name a single team in the major leagues these books on baseball will provide you with many hours of fascination and entertainment. These baseball books are just the tip of the iceberg but some of the best and if you’re ready to dive into the topic are a great place to start.