Compiled by Iku Kawachi, posted Sept. 22, 2010

While the sports sections of mainstream media outlets are sometimes called “toy departments” for their alleged lack of journalistic value, sports journalism is a thriving industry that has gained a tremendous presence online. Here are a dozen Web sites — some professional, others amateur in nature — that stand out and have particular value to sports fans, professionals, and budding journalists.

1. Joe Posnanski: A blog written by one of Sports Illustrated‘s senior writers, it represents Posnanski’s personal insights into baseball, journalism and pretty much everything else, from Tiger Woods to getting old to Snuggies. Posnanski was twice voted the “Best Sports Columnist in America” by the Associated Press Sports Editors as a columnist for The Kansas City Star; his honest, witty writing style and his unique ability to make even the most mundane day-to-day occurrences sound hilarious are worth a closer look.

2. Sports Illustrated: While every American is familiar with the print publication and every young sports fan can find their way around their Web site, also allows users to follow individual columns and flip through specific writers’ archives. Veteran Tom Verducci has perhaps succeeded in striking the best balance between the traditional school of thought that most managers and coaches adhere to and the newer sabermetric approach that is quickly gaining followers. Also see Cliff Corcoran‘s “MLB Awards Watch.”

3. Baseball Musings: Detailed game notes, injury reports, and excerpts from notable news articles for all 30 Major League teams. The blog is written by David Pinto, a former statistician for STATS and ESPN, and has a robust, intuitive interface. It has enough information to be of use to fantasy baseball gurus without placing too much emphasis on the online activity.

4. The Baseball Analysts: A blog written by six different contributing authors that focuses on advanced statistical analysis (often called “sabermetrics” within the baseball industry). OPS+, strikeout rate, and WAR (wins above replacement) merely scratch the surface–if you’re looking for detailed graphs and analysis on PITCH f/x, release points, spray charts and pitch type linear weights, this is the place to go.

5. The Hardball Times: An “edited online magazine” co-founded by Aaron Gleeman and Matthew Namee in early 2004 that has since published over 10,000 articles featuring independent research and commentary, as well as a lighter side (see their Tuck! sez cartoons and THT Awards columns). The blog also does an excellent job of revisiting different former players, seasons and eras throughout baseball history.

6. Major League Baseball’s official Web site — which, unfortunately, uses Flash animation rather excessively and is often slow to load. Identical game stories and team/player information are available at a host of other Web sites, which, in a way, would negate the need to use — if the site weren’t the only provider of video content of top plays and game highlights.

7. Baseball Reference: The most comprehensive database of player and team statistics available on the Web, encompassing over 17,000 players and dating back to 1871. Fantasy baseball players, professionals in the industry and baseball fans alike can make use of their detailed year-by-year statistics, splits, and game logs, which also include numbers accumulated at every minor league level. Also see their blog, previously called “Stat of the Day“.

8. Fangraphs: A sophisticated resource catering specifically to fantasy baseball, the site also uses innovative methods to attach monetary values to players. They also have a cool “Live Scoreboard” consisting of interactive graphs, and keep record of advanced defensive metrics not found on many other sites.

9. MLB Trade Rumors: Despite its rather suspect name — its motto, “If it’s whispered, we hear it”, doesn’t do it any favors, either — the oft-updated Web site only reports information regarding player movements, contracts, and injuries that has been printed in other reputable publications, and always links to its sources. Written by Tim Dierkes, a graduate of the University of Illinois.

10. Part of the Fox Sports network on MSN, the site is the definitive resource for scouting reports and rankings of minor league, college, and high school baseball players, any of which could be the next Josh Hamilton or Ubaldo Jimenez.

11. Baseball Think Factory: A sabermetrically-oriented Web site featuring commentary and analysis by several different contributors and a large discussion forum for debating hot topics around the league. The site has been around since 2001 and is known for some of its original research — UZR and the ZiPS projection system are two examples.

12. Baseball Prospectus: Run by an organization that publishes annual titles devoted to advanced baseball analysis, the site itself also features articles on major- and minor-league players and hosts a number of individual blogs.

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