What Was The Best Baseball Thing You Read In 2013?

For the second year, our friends at SABR are going to be giving away three Research Awards at their annual Analytics Conference in March, intended to honor the best baseball writing from the previous year. However, there is so much good baseball writing happening in all corners of the world now that it is impossible for anyone to read all of it. So, to make sure the nomination process is as thorough as possible, we would like to ask you for your help in rewarding those who published something particularly notable about the sport last year.

From SABR’s own website, here are the guidelines for nominations:

What are the best baseball analytics articles you’ve read in 2013?

We’re seeking nominations for the 2014 SABR Analytics Conference Research Awards, which recognize baseball researchers who have completed the best work of original analysis or commentary during the preceding calendar year in the following categories:

Contemporary Baseball Analysis: Honoring the best analysis focusing on a subject related to the modern game(s), team(s) or player(s).
Contemporary Baseball Commentary: Honoring the best commentary focusing on a subject related to the modern game(s), team(s) or player(s).
Historical Baseball Analysis/Commentary: Honoring the best original analysis or commentary focusing on a subject related to a game(s), team(s) or player(s) throughout baseball history.

Works of “Analysis” will be judged on the following criteria: thorough examination of the subject matter; originality of research; factual accuracy; significance in advancing our understanding of baseball.

Works of “Commentary” will be judged on the following criteria: distinguished writing; profound insight; factual accuracy; significance in advancing our understanding of baseball.

A work can be in any format except books, including but not limited to articles, columns, blog posts, television, film, websites, spreadsheets or databases, but it must have been first published in the preceding calendar year. No unpublished work will be considered. No work published, in part or in whole, prior to the preceding calendar year will be considered.

No work will be considered in more than one category. Multiple nominations can be submitted, but only one work per author will be considered as a finalist.

I’ve got a few pieces in mind that stand out to me, but we’d love to hear your suggestions as well. If you’d like to submit a piece to be considered for nomination, please include the category you believe the piece fits into, the author, the title of the article, the date it was published, and a link to the article. If it is not online, please provide a brief summary of the work and the best way to get access to the work.

Suggestions from any publication are welcome. We’re happy if you really liked something we published (and our own Bill Petti and Jeff Zimmerman won the Contemporary Analysis award last year), but if you think the best thing you read last year was published elsewhere, that’s totally okay too. The nomination deadline is tomorrow, so make sure you get your suggestions in today.

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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

78 Responses to “What Was The Best Baseball Thing You Read In 2013?”

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  1. Derek says:

    My favorite was “Joey Votto On Hitting” by Eno Sarris March 20, 2013
    Contemporary Baseball Analysis

    +27 Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Brian says:

    I loved Jonah Keri’s “The Growing Legend of Clayton Kershaw” (Grantland, 5/8/13)

    +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Sam says:


    If GIFs can be considered part of “distinguished writing”, then my vote is clear.

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Morty says:

    “Alex Rodriguez suspended for 162 games.”

    -11 Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. Spudchukar says:

    “Bonzai, Babe Ruth”. Don’t know if it qualifies, but 2013 is when I read it, and page after page it had me going “no fu**ing way”. Highly recommended.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. QuinnM says:

    Carson Cistulli’s Daily Notes from September 26 of this year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Matthew S says:

    Can we go ahead and nominate Wendy’s breakdown of the A-Rod fiasco for 2015?

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. adm says:

    Gabe Kapler’s piece on the judgement or lack thereof of steroid users

    +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. aglinch says:

    Ben Lindbergh’s piece on Grantland from May 16 looking into the art of framing pitches, a topic that is just beginning to become quite popular. Definitely great contemporary baseball analysis.


    +7 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Scooter says:

    This article by Andrew Yoo at Baseball Prospectus (not sure if it’s paywalled or not) was my favorite piece of baseball analysis of the year. Really great work, used numbers to explain something I hadn’t noticed before but which now seems to be quite important.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Rhubarb says:

    “A Season of Hawk Harrelson Superlatives” by Jim Margalus of Southsidesox.com 10/9/2013 Commentary http://www.southsidesox.com/2013-white-sox-season-in-review/2013/10/9/4818756/a-season-of-hawk-harrelson-superlatives

    One of the best article since Yaz.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. odbsol says:

    Interesting. I ask the question last year of what books Dave is reading in a chat and get the reply that the KLaw chat is down the hall on the right.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. E says:

    Corey Kluber Daily Notes

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Eric Garcia says:

    Ben Lindbergh’s Baseball Scout School series that appeared on Grantland.

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Matt says:


      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Baltic Fox Has Cold Paws says:

        And now we have three. Excellent series. Everything Lindbergh writes is good.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Marcus Tullius Cicero says:

          Another vote for this one. There are few parts of the game these days that are legitimately unknown to even a serious fan. Until Lindbergh’s pieces, Scout School was one of them.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Fernando says:

      Read this series overnight per these recommendations. Great piece re-emphasizing human talent to supplement analytical data. Regarding using data or scouting: “What do you prefer tacos or beer? Choose both!”

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Book_Worm says:

    Two articles from the Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2014 stand out to me:

    The Strike Zone during the PITCHf/x Era by Jon Roegele


    The Science of the Art of Receiving a Pitch by Jeff Sullivan

    Both chapters combined a detailed, analytical look at their topic with superb writing. I really, really appreciate how well written and edited the Annual is. Not to detract from the daily content posted on these websites (HBT and FanGraphs), but every contributor to bring a little something extra to their submissions to the Annual each year.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Pirates Hurdles says:

    Dan Rosencheck’s work on factors influencing pitcher’s babip, the role of infield fly rate and rate of contact on strikes. Really nice steps in the direction of understanding larger sample FIP over and under achievers.


    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bjoak says:

      This is as interesting as it is problematic. As far as I know Rosencheck never released his formula, data, or results on-line. Also, he makes no discussion of ways in which his “new” factors are already counted by ERA estimators and projections. For example, z-contact correlates very well with strikeouts; therefore, when someone calculates the value of a K and incorporates it into an estimator, the value of any BABIP difference should be baked in. Same thing with any system that places value on GBs vs. FBs as IFFB% correlates well with FB%.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pirates Hurdles says:

        Oh I agree, but this is an area that should be very fertile in the near future and is really trying to move Dips theory forward in a meaningful way.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • cass says:

          FanGraphs did add IFFBs into WAR as a result. Frustrating that there is no rate stat version of this, though – FIP still lacks them.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • bjoak says:

          It’s an important item for study but it lacks the proof one needs for an award. I don’t know how Fangraphs counted IFFBs into WAR, but being careful is super important so you don’t double count. With FIP, for example, it counts homeruns, which correlate well with a high number of IFFBs. The original value of a homer in FIP, then, is going to be lessened somewhat by the value of IFFBs. It is unclear to me whether inducing IFFBs is a skill that exists outside of allowing homers or inducing groundballs/flyballs.

          I am currently doing a study to see whether IFFBs have any value outside of what may already be captured by estimators.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. bjoak says:

    For Best Analysis: “The Strike Zone during the Pitch F/X Era” by Jon Roegele in The hardball Times Annual 2014.

    The article notes how the strike zone has changed, how it affects the scoring environment and then quantifies how much it affects the scoring environment. Roegele fills in a big piece of the puzzle about why runs are down recently.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. bjoak says:

    For Historical Baseball Commentary: “The Summer of ’86” by Joe Posnanski in The Hardball Times Annual 2014.

    This article in humorous, brilliant writing discusses the Cleveland Indians improbable run in 1986, the author’s personal experiences of the season, and, finally, apt commentary on why some teams are not as good as we think they are and why breakout teams are likely to fall back to the pack.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. Tom Steele says:

    “Stan Musial: Here stands baseball’s perfect warrior, baseball’s regular guy” by Dan Moore, Jan. 20, 2013 for Historical Baseball Analysis/Commentary


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Joseph Barrett says:

    Ben Lindbergh’s series “This Week in Catcher Framing”. Great analysis of something 99% of baseball fans don’t really realize or understand — even myself. Looked forward to it each week. This was my 1st year on BP — so he might’ve been doing it before this past season.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Baltic Fox Has Cold Paws says:

    It probably doesn’t meet any of the criteria above, nonetheless it’s a great baseball yarn, except that it’s true.
    “Chasing A-Rod,” by Steve Fishman in the December 9 2013 issue of New York magazine is very entertaining reading about the events leading to the suspension of Alex Rodriguez by MLB.
    Populated by all kinds of shady characters, the piece truly reads like a plot from an Elmore Leonard novel.
    It is often said that “life is stranger than fiction.” This story confirms that adage.

    It also raises serious questions about the efficacy of MLB’s drug testing program.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. Dead Opera Star says:

    Joe Po on the rise and fall of A-Rod was a riveting read:


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Nick says:

    Contemporary Baseball Commentary- When 772 pitches isen’t enough. Written by- Chris Jones ESPN the mag, Jul,21,2013


    Great insight on the culture of Japanese baseball, how they treat their pitchers in high school, the great tournament Koshien, and the national values that shape their game of baseball.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  24. Lauren says:

    This definitely doesn’t qualify as analysis, and it’s not even centrally about baseball, but I really enjoyed this piece on Clint Hurdle.


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. Dan Ugglas Forearm says:

    Steve Staude’s two matchup data articles, posted within these very internet pages, were pretty awesome, if you ask me. Awesome analysis with awesome graphs on a topic that will probably become very useful someday soon. That topic seemed to grab my attention more than anything else I read.



    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. Dave’s own “Looking for Bias in Top 100 Prospect Lists” was a real eye-opener, the most original and informative piece I saw last year. And I nominate my own Wise Guy Baseball 2013. It’s like, literature, dude.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Mr. Jones says:

    I didn’t “read” this per se, but this was my favorite baseball thing of 2013:


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. Clayton says:

    Jonah Keri’s Piece on Coco Crisp and stealing bases. Sorry if this has already been posted.


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  29. Clayton says:

    Any of Cistulli’s posts on the Corey Kluber Society. In particular, those suggesting one expose oneself (spiritually expose oneself, that is) while watching Corey Kluber pitch to gain full enjoyment.


    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Clayton says:

      The CKS posts should probably fall into contemporary commentary, but I would bet the organization survives for a long time and becoming historically relevant.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  30. James says:

    The Collected Works of Jeff Sullivan (Vol. I-IV)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. Nate says:

    My invalid nomination is not off-topic, but certainly out of range. I still go over and read this every couple of years:


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. B says:

    I liked “The Cano Decade” by Tony Blengino


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Chris Carruthers 3-part Breaking Blue series on his xxFIP. His goal is “to eliminate catcher framing and umpire bias from pitchers’ stats. This skill of framing should be attributed to the catcher, not the pitcher.”
    Part 3 http://www.breakingblue.ca/2013/12/18/one-estimator-to-rule-them-all-xxfip-part-3/
    Part 2 http://www.breakingblue.ca/2013/12/09/one-estimator-to-rule-them-all-xxfip-part-2-xbb/
    Part 1 http://www.breakingblue.ca/2013/12/03/one-estimator-to-rule-them-all-xxfip-part-1-xk/

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. CH Smoot says:

    I say, ‘Who cares? We’re in the fifth inning, there’s no score, there’s a runner on first, you have a 100 mph fastball. Give me that fastball, and we’ll get out of this.’ – Tony Sanchez on what he tells Gerrit Cole during visits the mound

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. LackLester says:

    Loved the work on this site this year, but the two articles that most advanced my understanding of baseball were community bits actually:

    1) Steve Staude’s “Introducing Another ERA Estimator to Confuse you All”

    2) Greenlee’s “Johnny B. Goode”

    I love the articles that analyze certain players, but these articles provided big strides in evaluating pitching in its entirety.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. Nick says:

    Probably doesn’t qualify, but this article is hilarious, and I think everyone who has thought of Maddux as a Wise sage/ baseball savant should learn about his other side.


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  37. Alvaro Pizza says:

    Times through the order penalty and a starting pitcher’s repertoire.


    Almost anything MGL writes is awesome, though some articles I understand just the conclusions and not the numbers.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  38. Metsox says:


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  39. Eric Garcia says:

    I’ll also add Dave’s “White Bred” from the Hardball Times’ Annual for situating baseball as an industry In a broad social context. Every front office should read it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  40. therealnod says:

    Given the title of this article, I’d have to say:

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  41. Reds Fan says:

    How Far Did That Fly Ball Travel by Alan Nathan


    Vote -1 Vote +1

  42. Pig.Pen says:

    It’s not really statistically based, but Adam Kilgore’s artical on Bryce Harper’s swing and the accompanying video was really special and a reminder that there are mechanics behind the statistics. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/sports/bryce-harper-swing-of-beauty/

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  43. Keegs says:

    Charlie Manuel tries the corpse of Pope Formosus, by the esteemed Dayn Perry


    Vote -1 Vote +1