Did you happen to see Moneyball, you know, that baseball movie starring Brad Pitt? I did and then I read the book because I wanted to know more. The book is not as entertaining or fast paced as the movie but it was interesting and opened my eyes to all the crazy stats used in baseball. There was so much I didn’t know about the history of advanced stats.
I have never been a huge follower of stats; things like +/- didn’t seem to reveal a lot about the game and how to improve but I do love numbers. After reading Moneyball I can see how advanced stats can help build a team. I don’t think stats are everything. Like any workplace personalities need to click and players need to have some drive to perform.
Although I can see the importance of advanced stats I was still a little shocked when articles started popping up about the Coyotes hiring 25 year old John Chayka as the new assistant general manager. But just who is John Chayka?
Chayka is a Canadian who played hockey in the MJAHL, OHL and BCHL. According to LinkedIn he attended the University of Western Ontario and received a bachelor of business administration. He originally started a hockey school in 2010 and asked Neil Lane to join and bring stats to the sport. The two men along with Chayka’s sister Meghan then founded Stathletes Inc. As of 2014 Statlethes had 40 employees and more than 1 million in revenue.
Stathletes is a subscription based service and is tailored to the customers needs. Analysts watch past games in slow motion and gather over 30,000 data points per game. (According to their website Stathletes is currently hiring video analysts but I am pretty sure you’d have to move to Canada.) They are looking to develop a camera to install in arenas which will have software that turns images into data. It is estimated to costs $200,000 to create but is expected to increase sales as much as 15 million over the next 5 to 10 years.
Ok, but what are these advanced stats?
The two most recognized are Fenwick and Corsi. Both measure shots for and against. Fenwick is shots, including shot attempts that missed the net. This includes shots that hit the post or crossbar and shots that go wide. Corsi is Fenwick plus shot attempts that were blocked by the defending team. For example, Stone would benefit from Fenwick/Corsi because he always shoots wide.
But why are these stats important? Both Fenwick and Corsi paint a picture of possession trends. And what does possession mean? Winning. The team that controls the puck the most is more likely to win. The Coyotes lost a lot this past season. I watched a lot of games and we did appear to lack puck possession. According to War on Ice, the Coyotes Corsi was 48.6 last season compared to 50.5 during the 2013-2014 which means they took less shots compared to their opponents.
One stat I find interesting is the G+/- (goal differential). The Coyotes were -68, which was by far the worse season since 2002-2003 (the furthest back War on Ice goes). The second worse was -39, highest 24. Let’s hope that improves next season as -68 is a huge problem. We had too many games with one or no goals while teams just ran up the scoreboard. We need more of the games when we put up 5 to 6 goals. We need consistency with scoring.
Advanced stats can be a useful tool if you look at them and have all the information to analyze them. You also need coaches who understand the stats and can adjust training based on the information gathered.
Are the Coyotes about to be the next Oakland A’s? Wait… does that make John Chayka Jonah Hill?