After a few more days with The Fielding Bible by John Dewan, I have to say it is a pretty darn interesting book. Certainly not a purchase for everyone, but I imagine that fans of statistical baseball analysis, fantasy baseball, and students of the game will really enjoy the book.
One of the most interesting sections of the book shows each team’s field (in glorious color) and indicates where hits landed in 2005. The layout clearly shows where a team is better than average, average, and worse than average. I always thought that the Braves were an excellent fielding team around the mound, but the book indicates that the Braves were worse than average compared to the rest of the league. This is certainly not light reading, but never the less interesting reading for most baseball fans.
Another section shows the author’s personal rankings and comments by position. In 2004 and 2005 Derek Jeter won the AL Gold Glove for shortstops, but according to the author’s plus/minus system, the awards should have been given to Miguel Tejada and Juan Uribe (respectively). It is all good stuff.
The book servers its purpose; it does a good job of putting its arms around fielding. With that said, I do not think the book is going to be relevant in a few years. Interesting, and historical (to review the three year fielding register), but this is not going to be a book that you will turn to year after year. Of course I have never read this sort of book, so I could be way off the mark. With all that said, the book is interesting enough (and priced cheap enough at $19.95) that I would certainly purchase the next edition, assuming Mr. Dewan decides to do a yearly annual.