I received my Baseball Prospectus Annual yesterday and spent a couple of hours reading it last night. The first thing I noticed is that the statistical profiles are less cluttered. There used to be so many columns that I wasn't sure what to look at. That's OK for the site database, but for the book, I think less is more. I believe most people buy the book for the commentary more than the stats anyway.
The text is informative as always and generally entertaining. There was a period a few years ago where I thought some of the writers got a little too cute with snarky comments and pop culture references. Over the past few years, they've gotten away from that a bit while still remaining clever. I also sense a somewhat more positive tone in this years book, which I think is a good thing. That's not to say they give cheery blue sky evaluations of every player. That's not the case at all. Rather, there is a good balance of critical analysis and optimism which I think is what most fans want to see in a pre-season preview.
The cover of the book still has the notorious "Deadly Accurate PECOTA Projections" phrase, but I think that's the work of the publisher rather than Baseball Prospectus. It's false advertising, but at least it stops at the cover. Inside the book, the writers don't give us the sense that the PECOTA projections are deadly accurate pointing out numerous cases where they should be viewed with caution. They use the PECOTAs as a baseline rather than as the final word.
On the back cover, Rob Neyer says that the Annual is "The best book of its kind". This I think is accurate and this year's book might be their best product yet.
Now, for a few teasers about the Tigers:
Jacob Turner: "Unlike most debuting young flamethrowers, he avoided walks with aplomb and commanded his fastball exceptionally well, while scouts think his curve count eventually rival anyone's. In short, he could be a behemoth."
Phil Coke: "The success of C.J. Wilson in escaping the bullpen will surely prompt a slew of copycat conversions, some better considered than others, but Coke's stuff makes him an excellent candidate for a transition to starting.
Nick Castellanos: "Castellanos's bat is what excites scouts, as he projects to hit for both average and power at a star level."
Will Rhymes:"Rhymes plays solid defense, works the count, takes his walks, lashes the occasional gapper, and most importantly looks like he belongs. . He doesn't have Sizemore's ceiling, but his broad-based skill set and patient lefty bat mean he'll probably have a career."