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Playing the numbers,

A data-driven medium like the Internet is a natural for stat freaks, and no sports fans are more immersed in numbers than baseball fans.

Of the scads of baseball sites, however, a couple put the morass of figures into a historical context better than any others, including Major League Baseball’s official site. is low on graphic embellishments and long on content. Retrosheet’s main attraction is box scores–thousands upon thousands of them. In fact, the site has the box score to virtually every major league baseball game from 1969 and 1974-2001 (plus 1967 and ’68 American League games), with more coming in all the time. It also has downloadable game data, career stats for every major league player, narratives (text play-by-play descriptions), and day-by-day standings for all seasons through 2001.

What’s more, it has basic data for every major league games since 1900 including date, score, winning and losing pitchers, and a lot more. There are also downloadable data files and other tools designed for input into a database or spreadsheet program, making it easy for you to manipulate and update the data if you wish.

If it’s player stats that you’re more interested in, try Baseball-Reference. The site is updated daily with birthdates, essays, and tons of trivia, but that’s not the best part.

The site not only has all the standard hitting, pitching, and fielding data of every player to don a big-league uniform, but also many of the more esoteric statistics that have been dreamed up in the age of Bill James and SABRmetrics. For instance, did you know that Harmon Killebrew’s range factor at first base was 7.5 in 1969, down from 8.44 the year before? Or that the 1953 Cubs’ Pythagorean won-loss record was seven games worse than their actual record? Did you care? If so, you’ve found a home for the season. Play ball!

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