Win Shares be gone
When Bill James came out with Win Shares in 2002 it was a stat I had been waiting for. Baseball Reference didn’t exist yet for me so until then I had no way to normalize the year to year variations of major league baseball statistics. With this book, you could look at trades and see the impact of the Claude Osteen/Frank Howard trade. At the time I just assumed Bill knew how to interpret defensive stats as he incorporated them into his Win Shares. I really didn’t question Bill James. I probably should have. Many would.
I went full throttle into Win Shares and manually entered every win share value for every Los Angeles Dodger into my Dodger spreadsheet. Each year the new Bill James Handbook would come out with new Win Shares value for the just concluded baseball system. When I first started writing in 2007 I incorporated my win share spreadsheet into a Win Share series that used Win Shares to show the best LAD at each position for a season and career.
I was already out of date.
WAR had replaced Win Shares and it is possible that someone born in the 21st century who is sabermetrically inclined has never even heard of Win Shares. Stats need to evolve and WAR would win out with Win Shares becoming the Cro-Magnon of stats. This which left my book and my spreadsheet pointless. This came to a head today when I got started on my spring cleaning and took a look at my baseball bookcase. I have a Kindle so I don’t need any hardcopy books and while the Kindle is incredibly useful for reading on the go, an actual book still has a place in my life. Maybe not new books, I’m still sorting that out.
I had every Baseball Prospectus and they are big and bulky. The survived the cut. My Dodger media guides survived the cut. Jon Weisman has two books and they survived the cut. Josh Wilker and Cardboard Gods survived.
Bill James did not. Win Shares didn’t even make the giveaway pile. I put him in the recyclable bin. I thought of how much work Bill James had put into creating Win Shares but I knew I’d never read the book again. Bill James was the reason I got into advanced baseball statistics, he made them come alive in the Baseball Abstracts.
I kept those.