Saturday Book Review: Graphical Player 2007

There are literally dozens of baseball annuals flooding the market today appealing to all manner of baseball fan. Some are retrospectives of the past season, others look forward to the coming season. Some are minor league symposiums, others are dedicated to fantasy baseball. It's safe to say that John Burnson's Graphical Player is quite unique among its peers, as it offers very little in the way of written commentary and elects to present its information almost exclusively in the form of graphs and charts.

=> Vitals

# of Pages: 205
Publisher: Shandler Enterprises LLC
Suggested Retail Price: $21.95
ISBN: 978-1-891566-52-3

=> What's Inside?

Graphs, and lots of 'em. This is the fourth edition of the Graphical Player (GP2007), and the first to include batter graphs (the three prior editions were simply called Graphical Pitcher. Some of the graphs are downright intimidating at first glance, so it's pretty important to read the introduction in order to get a full understanding -- and appreciation -- of the information that each graph purports to illustrate.

As he has for the last three years, Burnson provides a one-line comment for every pitcher with at least 65 innings pitched in 2006, as well as for 45 others who "distinguished themselves in limited play". With the addition of batter graphs Burnson had to spread the workload out a bit, so he wisely enlisted the help of the proliferous Marc Normandin (of Baseball Prospectus, Beyond The Box Score, and Heater), the ubiquitous Jeff Sackmann (of Hardball Times, Brew Crew Ball, Beyond The Box Score, and others), and Craig Brown (of Baseball Digest Daily, Royals Authority et al).


click to enlarge

Pictured above is the graphical player box for Shawn Green. While confusing at first glance, once you understand what each graph and its notations seek to explain it becomes fairly easy to glean a lot of important information in a short period of time without comparing endless columns of numbers. Raw numbers are often more accurate than graphs, but the latter succeeds at showing a player's trends in any number of different categories.

These charts come in particularly handy for roto, or fantasy, baseball leagues, which is actually the audience GP2007 is marketed towards. In fact, it bills itself as "a right-brain complement to the left-brain Forecaster", referring to Ron Shandler's long-running Baseball Forecaster series, a must-own for fantasy leaguers for more than twenty years.

=> Why Should You Buy It?

If you play fantasy baseball, Graphical Player is a must-own. You can get fantasy projections anywhere, but when it comes down to crunch time and you have to choose between two similar players, GP2007 will show you which player is trending upwards and which one is trending downwards. It will also show you which player underperformed expectations last year and is more likely to improve in the coming season. Even the casual baseball fan will find plenty to digest in this annual, which will open many eyes to the potential of baseball player analysis outside of a boxscore or stat line.

=> Where to Buy It?

As with most annuals, Graphical Player can be purchased via the publisher's website, in this case Baseball HQ. It can also be purchased at Amazon.com for a few bucks less, though the hard-working authors will benefit far greater through direct-website sales.

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