“A delight for baseball lovers” (Kirkus Reviews) and “one of the most significant baseball books of the year” (Bob Costas) Ahead of the Curve uses stories from baseball’s present and past to examine why we sometimes choose ignorance over information, and how tradition can trump logic.
Forget batting average. Kill the “Win.” Say goodbye to starting pitchers. And please, please stop bunting. MLB Network anchor and commentator Brian Kenny provides “an excellent, entertaining read for the all-around baseball fan” (Library Journal) and shows how baseball has been revolutionized—not destroyed—by analytical thinking.
Most people who resist logical thought in baseball preach “tradition” and “respecting the game.” But many of baseball’s traditions go back to the nineteenth century, when the pitcher’s job was to provide the batter with a ball he could hit and fielders played without gloves. Instead of fearing change, Brian Kenny wants fans to think critically, reject outmoded groupthink, and embrace the changes that have come with the sabermetric era. In his entertaining and enlightening book, Kenny discusses why the pitching win-loss record, the Triple Crown, fielding errors, and so-called battling titles should be ignored. He also points out how fossilized sportswriters have been electing the wrong MVP’s and ignoring legitimate candidates for the Hall of Fame; why managers are hired based on their looks; and how the most important position in baseball may just be “Director of Decision Sciences.”
“Prepare to have your brain and your assumptions challenged. Guided by data and a deep love of the game, Brian Kenny takes a cutting-edge look at where baseball is and where it is going” (Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated). Illustrated with unique anecdotes from those who have reshaped the game, Ahead of the Curve is “a great story about the game in the age of information and technology” (Billy Beane).
Brian Kenny is an Emmy Award–winning broadcaster and host for the MLB Network. The foremost proponent of analytics on sports television, he founded the first and only TV program devoted to sports analytics, Clubhouse Confidential. He currently hosts the daily panel shows MLB Now and MLB Tonight and is a columnist for Sports on Earth. Previous to his tenure at MLB, he spent fourteen years at ESPN hosting SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, The HotList, Friday Night Fights, and The Brian Kenny Show on ESPN Radio and on NBC Sports Radio. Ahead of the Curve is his first book.
"A delight for baseball lovers but also a useful parable about the power of habit and tradition, barriers to accepting answers hiding in plain sight for years."
– Kirkus Reviews
“One of the most significant baseball books of the year. I not only enjoyed reading it, I know I will continue to refer to it.”
– Bob Costas
"Loaded with thought-provoking info."
– Phil Mushnick, The New York Post
“Brian Kenny’s passion for the game jumps off the page to tell a great story about how the game is being watched and analyzed in the age of information and technology.”
– Billy Beane, Executive VP, Oakland A’s
“Prepare to have your brain and your assumptions challenged. Guided by data and a deep love of the game, Brian Kenny takes a cutting-edge look at where baseball is and where it is going.”
– Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated
“Traditions are built on wisdom and experience, but learning from the past helps us challenge conventional thinking. Brian Kenny does just that.”
– Buck Showalter, Manager, Baltimore Orioles
“Ahead of the Curve is at once illuminative and surprising, respectful and rebellious. You won't agree with all of Kenny’s conclusions—now, what would be the fun in that?—but the book’s bedrock of logic keeps those conclusions on solid ground.”
– Kostya Kennedy, Sports Illustrated
“Just as Brian does on television, he presents his arguments eloquently, passionately and (just ask him) intelligently. His writing is highly entertaining, his perspective completely unique.”
– Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports
"Baseball traditionalists who prefer the old ways of doing things won’t find an ally in Brian Kenny. He is considered one of the foremost proponents of statistical analytics on television. . . . Whether you agree with him or not, Kenny keeps things interesting."
– Ross Atkins, Christian Science Monitor.com
“Once again Brian Kenny valiantly tries to lead mainstream baseball analysis and coverage away from the albatrosses of tradition and superstition.”
– Keith Olbermann
“You may not be up to date with all of the theories that exist in the game today, but with this book, you will be both informed and entertained by Brian's research and opinions. As a former player, I have really enjoyed reading this book.”
– John Smoltz, Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher
“Brian Kenny gives you (and yes, a few holdout managers) one last chance to join baseball in the 21st century.”
– Rob Neyer, author of the Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Series
"An excellent, entertaining read for the all-around baseball fan, whether you love sabermetrics or avoid them."