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Old
01-06-2004, 12:23 PM
  #1
Big T
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MoneyBall

Any of you guys ever read 'MoneyBall'? It's about the Oakland A's and how they always do so well even though they're one of the poorest teams in baseball.

I wonder if anything there applies to the Oil? Maybe I should buy K-Lowe a copy as a belated Christmas gift. Really cool book though, even if you're not a baseball fan.




T

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01-06-2004, 01:07 PM
  #2
Guy Flaming
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Is this Bob Stauffer? He's in love with this book and every time I get together with him he convinces me a little more each time that the Oilers need to follow the example of the Oakland A's.

Is it a good read?

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01-06-2004, 01:08 PM
  #3
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Talk to Igor and LT about it. I think they've read it and liked it.

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01-06-2004, 01:43 PM
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuyF
Is this Bob Stauffer? He's in love with this book and every time I get together with him he convinces me a little more each time that the Oilers need to follow the example of the Oakland A's.

Is it a good read?
It's supposed to be, if you're into that sort of thing.

The problem is that hockey is not nearly as simple a game as baseball to analyze statistically. Fundamentally, baseball is a game of one-on-one matchups between pitcher and batter, and there are a plethora of valuable statistics you can put together and look at. Hockey, in comparison, is a mess.

For Lowe to take advantage of the things that Billy Beane has taken advantage of, they would have to exist first. (Although, if they do exist I'm sure Igor's got them.)

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01-06-2004, 02:29 PM
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Funkymoses
It's supposed to be, if you're into that sort of thing.

The problem is that hockey is not nearly as simple a game as baseball to analyze statistically. Fundamentally, baseball is a game of one-on-one matchups between pitcher and batter, and there are a plethora of valuable statistics you can put together and look at. Hockey, in comparison, is a mess.

For Lowe to take advantage of the things that Billy Beane has taken advantage of, they would have to exist first. (Although, if they do exist I'm sure Igor's got them.)

The only failing of hockey is that it doesn't follow the beautiful logic of baseball. It's like a Seinfeld episode, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If a pitcher gives up a double, the batter got a double.

In hockey, a guy can get buried on the 4th line and never get an opportunity, even if he's been a skill player all along his career. There's no measure that puts everyone on equal footing, no at-bat, no plate appearances, no ERA.

Funkey said it best. Hockey, in comparison, is a mess.

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01-06-2004, 02:58 PM
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big T
Any of you guys ever read 'MoneyBall'? It's about the Oakland A's and how they always do so well even though they're one of the poorest teams in baseball.

I wonder if anything there applies to the Oil? Maybe I should buy K-Lowe a copy as a belated Christmas gift. Really cool book though, even if you're not a baseball fan.

T
Big's A's fan here read the book and you could in theory try to do this in hockey as well. Shots on goal and shooting % would probably be your best stats to look at. GAA for a goalie in a comparable defense situation could be another stat. the problem in hockey as compared to baseball are why both are a team game Baseball is much more indivualized.

You'd have to find indivual stats for players something like shots but maybe also the hits, take/away to give away stat that they have already gotten rid of might be a good stat to look at. I think another stat may be the DCI check out his thread http://www.hfboards.com/showthread.php?threadid=36530

But what Lowetide says about a guy can get buried on the 4th line and never get an opportunity thats true but thats true in baseball players get lost in the minors are for whatever reason aren't given a chance (read the Bradford chapter)

One of the basic theories of the book and it holds true I feel as much for Hockey that it does for baseball. Is that an average to medicre player can be replaced by an above average minor league guy.

it could work i feel but you would have to find the right stats.

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01-06-2004, 11:52 PM
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowetide
The only failing of hockey is that it doesn't follow the beautiful logic of baseball. It's like a Seinfeld episode, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If a pitcher gives up a double, the batter got a double.

In hockey, a guy can get buried on the 4th line and never get an opportunity, even if he's been a skill player all along his career. There's no measure that puts everyone on equal footing, no at-bat, no plate appearances, no ERA.

Funkey said it best. Hockey, in comparison, is a mess.

LT, talk to Bob about this the next time you see him. He'd love to talk to you about it, the more people he can convert the better I think he feels!

Seriously though, we talked about it the day before you and I had lunch and he convinced me that shot % for skaters and save % for goalies could be used in similar fashion to how Billy Beane has used stats in baseball.

It's not MY theory though, talk to Bob... or rather, let him talk to you about it!

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01-07-2004, 08:41 AM
  #8
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I have to agree guys, hockey is a mess. It's very difficult to get accurate stats on individual players.

The best example of the difficulty of this is like trying to figure out a good fielding stat, except with a lot more movement, and a lot less time to record the stats.

Some guys figured out something like a thousand different places the ball could be hit to in a field and then recorded the velocity and trajectory of the ball, to get an estimation of individual fielding stats. Could something similar to this create any value in hockey.

The great difficulty is finding the meaningful stats.

One idea I did like, that I never realized before, was that ball clubs get two first round draft pics from the team that signs there free agent. They get the teams original first rounder, as well as an additional first round pic after the other 30 teams have drafted. Seems like a good way to limit free agents leaving their teams as even the rags or wings would not like to lose their first round pics.

Any thoughts?



T

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01-07-2004, 08:52 AM
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuyF
Seriously though, we talked about it the day before you and I had lunch and he convinced me that shot % for skaters and save % for goalies could be used in similar fashion to how Billy Beane has used stats in baseball.
Unfortunately, there is not that constant though. Shooting and save % has a complete set of outside influences not found in baseball.

Where baseball you can keep a stat for what a pitcher usually throws on a 2-2 count in the second inning against right handed batters, there aren't the same outside variables in baseball as in hockey.

The only similar thing you could draw are penalty shots, as they have the same variables every single outing.

For example... on a 1 on 1. You would assume that the only 2 true variables that exist are between the two players... but that isn't always the case. Other factors include things like where this one on one takes place. There is a difference between 10 feet and 100 feet away from the net. There is a difference between 2 feet away from each other and 6 feet. You also don't have the ability to plan for each instance the moment before it happens like you do in baseball.

Baseball is far more planned than hockey. Each situation is mapped out and figured out by the manager, then it is left on the player to react to that. For the most part, hockey players need to make individual decisions.

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01-07-2004, 10:08 AM
  #10
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I found this to be quite an interesting thread, as it kind of explicitly makes clear something that has been a bit of an undercurrent in this forum as long as I've been here, which is the role that stats can play in hockey. I got into Moneyball last summer, and immediately saw that it could be applicable to hockey. There are serious problems with the statistics that are available though. The traditional stats, while not meaningless, are almost impossible to objectively evaluate.

In order to properly evaluate players, and more importantly, find out which players are bargains, we need to have a better idea of what impact they have on the results on ice, and on the players around them. For me, the stat that I would most like to see made available, is who a player is on the ice with, and against what players is he on the ice against. I think it'd be interesting for a variety of reasons. We would have a truer idea of what situations it makes the most sense to put a guy on the ice, and with whom to put him on the ice. Right now, this is pretty much done by coaches opinions based on what they see, but, as illustrated by Lewis in Moneyball, its very difficult to tell the difference between players by sight alone. This could also lead to teams being able to identify someone who may be a cheaper replacement with similar results-something that has been key to the A's in their success. Another interesting result of having this information available is that we could more effectively evaluate the true effect of homeice advantage. How much is it that guys play better at home, and how much of it comes from coaches being able to get the matchups at home? How can the Oilers replicate this on the road. The use of these stats in baseball is premised on the idea that sport is a series of situations with different probabilities of certain outcomes ocurring, and that you maximize your chances of winning by being aware of, and trying to enhance the probabilities in your favour. I firmly believe that this applies to hockey.

I really think that the idea of using save percentages and shooting percentages is a bit off-there is some data that suggests that there is a relationship between save percentage and shots faced-ie facing more shots makes your save percentage go up. A team that gives up 50 shots from the perimeter will likely have a goalie with a save percentage higher than a team that gives up 10 breakaways to use an extreme example. It's a flawed stat. I think that the same does apply with shooting percentage as well. Smyth's is much lower than Stoll's, but I'd rather have Smyth on the ice if I needed a goal. If there was a way of comparing shots taken in the exact same situation, it might be worth something, but I suspect that the sample would be too small, and that there would be too many variables to generate truly meaningful numbers.

Interestingly, while many people have taken the point of Moneyball to be that you just need to look at the stats to make your decisions, I think that there is a much more important point. There is a market for talent, and you need to be able to properly evaluate it in order to find the players that are going to be bargains. It's difficult to do much more than break even on an investment in a player like Blake-you're paying him so much that he is unlikely to significantly outperform his salary. You may be able to get the same results from signing the components of his performance-say a Delmore and a Smith, just for example, and then using them appropriately as the situation dictates. As we all know, they make substantially less money.

A case in point for this stuff is Anson Carter. He is playing 15:49 a game right now, with 2:19 being spent on the PP, and 1:07 being spent SH, and the bulk at ES. Last season, he averaged 19:23, with just 0:45 at SH, and 4:23 being on the PP. Not surprisingly, his production is way down. This was a stupid deal for the Rangers, and had they properly evaluated him, and done some work on what he could be expected to do with reduced levels of ice time, they might not have made the deal. All of this is without even getting really technical and into it, which I suspect would make this incredibly clear. This stuff is, or should be, the wave of the future, and the Oilers would benefit from getting on board.

If Guy, as a media guy, has access to any statistics relating to time spent on the ice with certain players, I'd love to see it, as I think that there is a ton of stuff that can be learned from this.

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01-07-2004, 10:44 AM
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
Interestingly, while many people have taken the point of Moneyball to be that you just need to look at the stats to make your decisions, I think that there is a much more important point. There is a market for talent, and you need to be able to properly evaluate it in order to find the players that are going to be bargains. It's difficult to do much more than break even on an investment in a player like Blake-you're paying him so much that he is unlikely to significantly outperform his salary. You may be able to get the same results from signing the components of his performance-say a Delmore and a Smith, just for example, and then using them appropriately as the situation dictates. As we all know, they make substantially less money.
that's a good point.

I think the question is then: who's underpaid in the NHL? Given the strictures of the CBA and the vagaries of the CBA market, what types of players will cost the Oilers less than other equally effective players?

I think the answer to that question is disappointing in one way but hopeful in another. Arbitrators look at numbers, basically, soley at numbers, when deciding their cases. We've just discussed the fact that statistics available for hockey players are inadequate at capturing the whole value of a player, whereas in baseball they basically summarize a player extremely well. Bill James took those statistics and figured out what kinds of players produce wins most effectively (high on-base percentage was #1 I believe).

Hockey arbitrators have few things to go on, which means that certain kinds of players can be drastically undervalued because their stats don't match their value. Case in point: Anson Carter is consistently and dramatically overpaid because he scores goals. I believe Carter and Todd Marchant are making approximately the same amount of money, and who would you rather have? Carter's contract is artificially low, too, since he's been an RFA and Marchant's contract was a UFA signing.

My theory: players who don't score are undervalued by arbitrators. Forwards more so. That's why Minnesota can put together a trap team that can't score a lick for 16 million dollars and make the playoffs, because almost everyone on their team a) can play d and b) can't play offense. Now that's only feasible to a certain extent, you can't tie every game 0-0, but cheap teams that have a lot of success? All trappers.

Who's the most underpaid Oiler? Marty Reasoner. Look at the team's complete collapse without him. His points aren't high but the teams relative performance is drastically affected by his presence. I don't know if there's anyone obviously overpaid any more (other than Salo) now that Carter's gone.

I've just been thinking aloud and I've come to the conclusion that not signing Marchant to a ~ 2 million dollar contract was a horrendous mistake. And then playing him on the top line and getting him 60 points compounded that mistake. Look at our PK.

I'm beginning to think that the inherent lack of statistics that demonstrate the effectiveness of defensive forwards is the real culprit in killing the NHL's high entertainment style.

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Old
01-07-2004, 10:45 AM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mudcrutch79
If Guy, as a media guy, has access to any statistics relating to time spent on the ice with certain players, I'd love to see it, as I think that there is a ton of stuff that can be learned from this.
I don't, at least I don't have any in my possession at the moment. I can check into it though. I just recently sent an email to the one and only Bob Stauffer and pleaded with him to share his point of view with you guys. Really, he won me over with some of the points he was making... it really made sense to me.

Hopefully he'll share with the rest of the class.

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01-07-2004, 03:33 PM
  #13
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I think another conclusion that we could make is the large role of luck in individual hockey games.

In the final chapter of the book the writer talked about the difference between the Yankees and the worst team in the league at the time, the Diamondbacks.

He said basically that talent was four times less important to the outcome of a game than luck. He reasoned that over the course of the season, talent would win out, but over a small sample size, say a seven game series, luck played a much larger factor in the outcome. What this meant was that even the Diamondbacks had a 15% chance of beating the Yankees if they were somehow to make it to the World Series.

I think this would explain a lot of the Cinderella strories that happen every year in the playoffs, and why every team has a chance to knock off the champs, every year.

It also explains how a good team can go on a long losing skid through part of the season, but usually will end up where they should over the full season. The longer the season, the more talent comes through.



T

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01-07-2004, 03:36 PM
  #14
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Originally Posted by Big T
He reasoned that over the course of the season, talent would win out, but over a small sample size, say a seven game series, luck played a much larger factor in the outcome.

T
What about an all-or-nothing single game? Yep, the US lucked out in the WJC .

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01-07-2004, 05:57 PM
  #15
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What about an all-or-nothing single game? Yep, the US lucked out in the WJC .
I think what really happened is Canada was lucky they didn't lose 7-1.

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