As a result of a lunchtime conversation with Professor Wendell Garner concerning the productiveness of the sacrifice bunt, Earnshaw Cook took on the three-year task of presenting a formal analysis of baseball. His analysis, explained in terms perfectly clear to anyone with college freshman level mathematics, suggests that no one has ever known the true percentages, and if anyone did know them he could manage almost any team into the top ranks of major league baseball.
Among other theories that Cook attacks with irrefutable mathematical findings are the benefits of the sacrifice bunt, the use of relief pitchers, the traditional batting order, the hit and run play, and the standardization of baseball itself.
As with almost any serious innovation, the first edition of this book met with bitter controversy and criticism from some baseball fans, team managers, and sportswriters. James Gallagher in Sporting News wrote, "I do not understand how the Baltimore mathematicians reached their controversial conclusions, but in my book any generalizations about baseball have to be wrong." Yet in 1964 this "Baltimore mathematician," using his scoring index, K.2 factors, base-scoring equations, etc., predicted that the hometown Baltimore Orioles would finish in fourth place behind, in order, New York, Chicago, and Minnesota—with perfect accuracy!