Baseball Reflections

The 7 Best Baseball Books of All Time

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Baseball is the heart of the American spirit, it is a childhood memory for most Americans, and since televised; has become a worldwide sensation. Major League Baseball stars like Babe Ruth have gone on to become characters who stood the test of time in history, and it seems that thousands of baseball books are out in the world to be chosen from. We have narrowed the field to our 7 best books written about the great sport of baseball.

1: K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches

The author, Tyler Kepner boasts an impressive track record; and he has every right to author this work. Tyler is an impressive pitcher and carries around an impressive amount of pitch variety in his own back pocket. Kepner has included the ten most sport-shaping and historical pitches in this work. As well as looking at the more historical side of baseball, the book allows readers to understand each of the ten pitches, and why they made each player who used them stand out so much. Each sequential chapter focuses on a different style of pitching, and the pitcher who made it so well known.

Through personal stories and a stream of second-hand knowledge, Kepner builds unique personalities for each style of pitching. This book is a uniquely painted picture of baseball’s history through its most famous pitches.

2: The Cup of Coffee Club: 11 Players and Their Brush with Baseball History

Dissimilarly to our first book, Jacob Kornhauser’s compilation of interviews with eleven baseballers is not a personal account but rather a collection of eleven separate professional accounts. Rather than being a diagnostic of their technique, the book focuses on the emotions of the game, the highs and lows, and details the difficult journey towards professional baseball. This book sidesteps the shiny façade of MLB, an substitutes it for the real stories of those who have climbed their way to the top.

3: The MVP Machine

‘The MVP Machine: How Baseball’s New Nonconformists Are Using Data to Build Better Players’ is a more analytical look into how baseball is changing every day. Accounts from both Ben Lindbergh and Travis Sawchik show how modern equipment, data, and other developments have allowed significant advancements in modern players. As well as this, the book also explores the developmental history of early 20th century baseball teams; and incorporates this into the modern understanding.

4: The Wax Pack: On the Open Road in Search of Baseball’s Afterlife

This book is unique in how it was crafted. Rather than following a script, the author, Brad Balukjian, traversed the United in search of the opportunity to interview former Major League players. Rather than being a bog-standard interview playlist, The Wax Pack is a freelance journalist’s journey to seek out the stories of baseball’s lost and famed. The most astounding thing about Brad’s book is that he did not chase only the famous, he simply drew their names from an old pack of baseball cards. He sought not to publish a pretty and polished version of the truth, but simply some of the stories that made baseball what it is today.

5: The Only Rule is it Has to Work

This book tells the tale of Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh, managers of the Sonoma Stompers, an independent league team. Unlike some of its rival baseball books, this work looks at baseball from a manager’s point of view. Though a lot of the book focuses on the analytical, this work also takes into account the value of personal interactions in baseball, as well as the relationship between player and manager.

6: Big Data Baseball

Big Data Baseball by Travis Sawchik is a ‘behind the curtain’ look at the professional journey of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Travis’ book details how the intertwined skills of and relationships between coaches, players, and technical analysts, led to their jump up the ladder. This is the story of one team’s journey through both wins and losses; and how they became a surprising contender in the Major League.

7: The Shift: The Next Evolution in Baseball Thinking

As a sport, baseball has always lent itself towards over-analysis, but even more so since modern advancements now mean plays can be watched back. In ‘The Shift’, Russel Carleton challenges accepted practice in baseball and questions assumptions that are often made in the sport. Carleton expertly breaks down the complicated into an engaging, intriguing read. 

Baseball is a hallmark of American sport, the analytics of which have been points of sharp debate since its inception. Though there are hundreds of options available when rummaging through the bookshelves for a baseball read, we hope that our 7 favourites give you a good place to start.

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