alex-ovechkin

Photo: Rob Carr

On Wednesday morning, Sportsnet released an interview with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. They asked Ovi about lots of interesting things: the music video he co-starred in August, what he remembers from his first NHL goal, and fancy stats!

I’m going to go ahead and share that last part.

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Crash Course on Corsi, PDO, and Advanced Stats (Video)

It’s been a big summer for hockey stats. Hoping to improve their hockey intelligence, lots of teams have snatched up numbers-based hockey writers for the 2014-15 season. Even mainstream writers and pundits seem to be more open to some of the so-called advanced stats (which I don’t think is a good label).

Still, some people are still skeptical, or at least unclear, about the new stats. That makes sense; the community hasn’t always done a good job separating the jargon from the meaning those stats are conveying. To that purpose, I’ve made this short video to explain, visually, what Corsi, Fenwick, PDO, and Zone Starts actually mean.

If you’re not on board with the fancystats, this video could help. Consider this a crash course on the basics. Please feel free to share this video wherever you want– particularly wherever folks might get be getting confused.

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How I Learned To Stop Crunching Numbers and Love the Game

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[Ed. note: RMNB alum Neil Greenberg now writes for The Washington Post and ESPN Insider. He offers this special contribution.]

Baseball was my first love. I grew up as a Mets fan. I could hop on the subway and be at Shea Stadium in minutes. I’d watch every game in my bedroom on a small color TV with tinfoil on the antennae for better reception. At the stadium I would chant, “Give it a ride, Darryl! Give it a ride!” while the organ played, and I consumed my weight in pretzels before the fifth inning. I still can’t watch replays of Game 6 without tearing up when the ball gets by Buckner.

I joined a few fantasy baseball leagues. One of them had 16 teams and a $2,500 entry fee. Big money and lots of fun.

Then I found the 1987 Bill James Baseball Abstract at the bookstore and my life changed.

I learned that numbers could see the future. I learned about “new” statistics like baserunner errors, quality starts, total average, on base + slugging, and runs created. Then, in the 1988 version, James cited workload-related burnout as the reason the Abstract would stop. Yes, stop. No mas. So I went on a quest, searching on my bike every used bookstore I could find to buy the Abstracts from 1977-1986. Eventually, I had them all. Every Bill James Baseball Abstract was mine. And I truly knew baseball.

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The Washington Capitals at the Halfway Mark

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I have no idea who the Washington Capitals are. We are exactly halfway into the 2013 season, and the team seems to change identities on pace with the weather. After one of the slowest starts in memory, the Caps put forth some pretty stirring wins in late February. But now in March, the team seems poised to miss the postseason for the first time since 2007– unless they can turn things around.

This article takes stock of the Capitals’ first half and asks what the back half could look like. Plus like 7 megs of Game of Thrones GIFs.

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Proposal: Let’s Ditch Plus-Minus …and Introducing Ice Tilt!

Photo credit: Flickr / catrinamariee

[Editor’s note: Over the next however long, we’ll be pondering a few ways to brighten up the hockey world. Sometimes silly, sometimes not: here are our proposals for the 2012-2013 season… whenever that may happen.]

Goals, assists, plus-minus. That’s supposed to be how you tell how good a hockey player is. When a skater’s name pops up on the CSN-Washington chyron, they show goals, assists, and plus-minus. ESPN, Yahoo, and NHL.com place plus-minus among their marquee stats for ranking players. But the more we learn about hockey and statistics, the more we know that plus-minus kind of sucks at measuring talent.

Proposal: This season, let’s throw out the plus-minus stat. In this article I’m gonna tell you why I think plus-minus has gotta go, and I’m gonna pitch a stat to replace it.

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Book Review: Hockey Prospectus 2011-12

Hockey Prospectus 2011-12

Before Moneyball (the book, not the movie), there was Bill James.

For those of you who may not know, James is the grandfather of Sabermetrics (baseball #fancystats) and is currently a senior advisor on baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox.

Part of my personal #fancystats book collection

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.”

Luckily, Hockey Prospectus is there to carry the torch into the Moneypuck era.

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.

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