This is Rusty Staub. When I was 10, he was my hero. Any Canadian kid with a baseball glove knew who he was in 1970, as Staub was the best hitter (by at least a two-run double) on a veteran Montreal Expos team. The day he was traded I sat in my driveway and cursed New York City. Little did I know that the Expos had received three fine ballplayers (I can still name them: Ken Singleton, Tim Foli and Mike Jorgenson) in the exchange.
People make a big deal about that book “Moneyball” a few years back but to me and many baseball fans Bill James was the man most responsible for the change in the way we look at hardball.
Rusty Staub had increased value through any educated lens, whether it be Bill James or Moneyball. The man walked and walked and walked and then walked some more. In 1970, Rusty Staub slugged 30 homers, drove in 94 and hit .274, but the kicker (112 bases-on-balls) drove his value through the roof. That same season, the Pittsburgh Pirates employed Matty Alou in the OF and he hit .297 and scored about as many runs as Rusty (98-97 for Le Grande Orange, Staub) but walked only 30 times. Alou was in a lineup that boasted all-time greats Roberto Clemente, Wilver Stargell plus others and should have scored many more runs with that Murderer’s Row following him. Alas, he did not and it would be the next season (with Al Oliver, another guy who rarely walked) replacing Alou in CF that the Bucs won the entire thing.
“Moneyball” has apparently arrived in the NHL with the hiring of new Canucks GM Mike Gillis. There’s an article online by Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun) that focuses on Gillis’ preference for baseball-style “math” management.
I’m driving back from Medicine Hat today with my wife telling her about this story and she asks a great question: how would anyone apply baseball math to hockey and how would you measure it?
The answer comes from several sites you can click on to the right of this post: Mudcrutch, IOF, Nothing to See Here hell most of the blogs you can link to from here do some nice things combining math, logic and creative thinking.
Some of the things the blogs have suggested that math can tell us are:
- The goalies who will succeed upon NHL arrival (SP)
- The junior players and minor leaguers who should succeed
- The value of a true impact EV player
- The decreased value of draft picks outside the lottery
- The importance of situational stats
- No matter the math and the logic, luck exists.
- Most NHL teams make massive errors every summer.
Now you may say “well, Mr. Smart-Ass, NHL General Managers KNOW this stuff just by watching!” and my response would be “Oh yeah, well then explain #7.” WHY did everyone in the Oilblogosphere puke at the Souray signing? Call it Moneypuck, call it whatever you want, these things can be measured and decisions like the one to sign Brunnstrom to (what is likely to be) an enormous contract are being questioned before an NHL GM lines up for the magic pill.
I sincerely believe this Gillis fellow is going to be an interesting dude to follow this and the following summers, so I’m adding Tom Benjamin’s blog to the list at the right. I visit it daily, suggest you do the same.
Something is happening in Vancouver.