When Acta Publishing asked if I wanted to review a copy of Bill James’ newest book, Solid Fool’s Gold, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been a James fan for quite a while, but I’ve never read any of his essays (I’ve always wanted to track down his old abstracts). SFG is a collection of essays from James’ site (a href=”http://billjamesonline.com/”>Bill James Online) ranging from best rotations and worst teams to a cost-benefit analysis of TSA and a bio of a Supreme Court justice.
The baseball work is what you expect from James; well thought out and very numbers driven. He gives scores to the 33 best rotations in baseball, which definitely is a conversation piece for baseball fans. He also goes into his scoring for the worst franchise in baseball (sad to hear it was the Cardinals 100 years ago). I was fascinated by his way to project RBIs; it’s led to a side project for me in the future.
He also goes back and looks at some of his previous work with the idea to see if it stands up to the test of time. Some of the dated research is interesting to see, as you can see that he was ahead of his time and he also gives some insight into what he was wanting to do with the numbers.
A bonus feature was “The Law of Competitive Advantage” which was originally part of his 1983 Abstract; as I said earlier, I’ve wanted to find the old abstracts and this gives me a little taste of what James was doing 30 years ago.
I really could have done without the non-baseball articles. Some were entertaining (TSA, NASCAR as an Olympic Sport), but most were just filler to me. I wanted to read baseball and, while I didn’t skip over anything, I wanted to.
Overall, this is a great book for Bill James fans, baseball fans, and anyone who likes short reads.