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Congratulations to Bill James and Rob Neyer!

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My good friends, Bill James and Rob Neyer, both received great recognition for their work recently.

I have known Bill for the last 35 years. When I first read his work in the Baseball Abstract series way back then, it hit me. Bill was doing the exact kind of work with baseball numbers that I was doing, as an actuary, with insurance numbers. When he decided to start Project Scoresheet, a grassroots effort to collect and computerize baseball scoresheets, I immediately called him via directory assistance. And amazingly, I got through to his assistant, Jim Baker. I eventually became the Executive Director of Project Scoresheet.

I am honored to be able to consider Bill my friend. Over the years we have stayed at each other’s homes, remained in regular communication, and worked together on a lot of projects. Friendship is more important to me than most other things, but one other important thing you should know (and probably already do) is that Bill is an absolute genius. His way of analyzing baseball and problems in general demonstrates that.

And I couldn’t agree more with the article in the New York Times last Sunday. It says that Bill should be in the Hall of Fame. The Hall is for players, umpires, executives and writers who have had the greatest impact on the game. Analytics have had a huge positive influence on the game of baseball over the last two decades and no one is more responsible for that than Bill James.

I am also honored to consider Rob Neyer my friend. I mentioned Jim Baker as Bill’s assistant; Rob worked as Bill’s assistant after Jim. I got to know Rob a bit when he worked with Bill, but I got to know him a lot when he came to work with me at STATS Inc. in the 1990s. Rob’s creativity and talent really showed in the books called The Baseball Scoreboard that we did back then. He brought so much to the table. And he has done even more since then at places like ESPN, SB Nation and FOX Sports. His most recent book is Power Ball: Anatomy of the Modern Baseball Game.

We had a ton of fun working together, but the most fun we had was playing basketball together. Rob was (is? – Rob, can you still play?) the prototypical speedy scoring-and-dishing point guard. I can’t tell you how many times he left me standing in one spot while he drove around me.

And I am super thrilled for Rob that he won the CASEY Award for the best baseball book of the year. It is an awesome book!

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