Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How does scoring in junior predict the likelihood of playing in the NHL?

In the past, I've examined how scoring translates from junior hockey to the NHL, but I haven't really considered how likely it is to get left by the wayside and not make the transition to the NHL. To produce the chart below, I normalized all junior scoring to an arbitrary level (QMJHL, 1997) and then looked at how likely players are to play 60 games in the NHL before age 24 based on their scoring. All ages are as of January 1st of a given season.

The results aren't in the least bit surprising: you're more likely to stick in the NHL if 1) you score a lot; 2) you score a lot when you're younger. If you're over 20 and you're still playing junior, odds are you haven't impressed a pro team in training camp and you're almost out of options.

Each age data point includes players that are three months younger and three months older. There is a small 'blip' in the data around 17.3 years old, roughly corresponding to the cut-off date for the NHL draft. Players who just miss the cut-off date and have to play an extra year in junior end up being slightly less likely to play in the NHL because they've lost a year of development.

If you want to draw a line in the sand, it would be this: a draft-eligible player who scores a point-per-game has a 50/50 chance of playing regularly in the NHL.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Looking Back at the 2002 'Moneyball' Draft

[Non-hockey post, yet again...]

Something I read today prompted me to take my annual look at the so-called 'Moneyball' Draft, where the Oakland Athletics had seven first-round picks and selected, among others, the now-legendary Jeremy Brown. Brown was an unheralded catcher played at the University of Alabama who signed with the A's for just $350000, compared to the picks before and after him who required at least a million dollars each.

Rather than re-visit the specifics of 'Moneyball', whether it's the A's strategy or the book my Michael Lewis, I thought I'd look at how the draft actually turned out - objectively - for the A's.

Here were their first-round picks:

16. Nick Swisher
24. Joe Blanton
26. John McCurdy
30. Ben Fritz
35. Jeremy Brown
37. Steve Obenchain
39. Mark Teahen

Keep in mind that this is not the optimal place to be drafting in the first round. The #1 player is usually far-and-away the best player available in the draft (though not in 2002) and after a huge drop to #2, the caliber of available players keeps dropping. To give you a sense of what we're talking about: from pick #16 to pick #102 at the end of the third round in the 2002 draft, just 38 players reached the majors (44%) and only 20 (23%) posted a WARP3 of 3 wins or more in a single season between 2002 and 2008.

So let's look at what the A's picks did:

Swisher: 26.4 WARP3
Blanton: 19.5
Teahen: 20.4

The rest combined for 0.1 WARP3 at the major-league level. The A's had 7 of 24 picks (between pick 16 and 39) and selected three players who totaled 70.3 WARP3. The remaining 17 players contributed 77.4. The A's clearly outperformed the other teams in this stage of the draft (the next four picks after Teahen have not accounted for any major-league production.) In the next 100 picks after Swisher, the only one who has outperformed him thus far is Curtis Granderson, who had to wait until the 80th slot for his name to be called. Brian McCann and Cole Hamels will probably end up with better careers than Swisher too, but the gap is not massive even if Swisher is just a cut below being a true star.

One story that everybody missed in the frenzy over Moneyball was the Cubs drafting 21st, 32nd, 36th and 38th. Not one of their four picks has yet to play in the majors. Even worse, of the top five overall picks, only B.J. Upton has produced anything of value in the major leagues. The A's Moneyball strategy may have been imperfect, but it was certainly a lot better than that employed by other teams.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]