He began writing The Bill James Baseball Abstract in 1977 which was “the first of its kind to scientifically analyze and study baseball, often through the use of statistical data, in an attempt to determine why teams win and lose.”
Since I got their inaugural copy last year I have been waiting for Hockey Prospectus to make their 2011-12 annual available. Finally, I got to download it last week.
For those not familiar, the book is, for the most part, an in-depth analysis of each NHL team. It certainly has a #fancystats element to it, so those who love stats will enjoy it. But make no mistake: this is for anyone interested increasing their knowledge of hockey, sounding smarter on Twitter or just as a guideline for expectations for the 2011-12 season.
For example, here’s a look at some of the Washington Capitals content:
This team is pretty loaded with offensive talent, and just needs to take advantage of it. For instance, the second-best player in the world, Alexander Ovechkin, cannot possibly be worse than he was last season, can he? Expect the most physically dominant player in the world to at least eclipse 45 goals next season.
His linemate Nicklas Backstrom did not have an impressive season or playoff campaign. Some suspected Backstrom was playing with the weight of his contract extension on his shoulders, which may be true, but he also faced tougher competition and was put in less favorable offensive situations. Combine that with his poor shooting percentage, and it is at least a partial explanation for his offensive totals. With some favorable bounces, and increased intensity (he lost a lot of puck battles during the playoffs, seemingly looking lazy at times), there is no reason he should not bounce back to be a top NHL scorer.
There are also projections for every player. Here is friend of the blog Andrew Gordon’s who hopes to catch on with Anahaim:
And lastly, there are some great essays, including revisiting Corsi, Timo Seppa’s Ultimate Faceoff Percentage and how age affects a player’s development.
The PDF version is $10 bucks (also available on Amazon) and is money well spent. Just think, you’ll be able to tell people “before Moneypuck, there was Hockey Prospectus.”