Two new "Moneyball"-type possibilities
I'm usually doubtful that significant "Moneyball"-type inefficiencies still exist in sports. But, recently, two possibilities came up that got me wondering.
First, in a discussion about baseball player aging, commenter Guy suggested that there are lots of good young players kept in the minors when they're good enough to be playing full-time in the majors. He mentions Wade Boggs, whom the Red Sox held back in the early 80s in favor of Carney Lansford.
It's certainly a possibility, especially when you consider the Jeremy Lin story. Of course, baseball and hockey are different from basketball and football, because they have minor leagues in which players get to show their stuff. But, still.
Second, and even bigger, is something Gabriel Desjardins discovered.
For the past several seasons, the NHL has been keeping track of the player who draws a penalty -- that is, the victim who was fouled. Desjardins grabbed the information and tallied the numbers.
Most of the players near the top of the list are who you would expect -- Crosby, Ovechkin, and so on. But the runaway leader is Dustin Brown, of the Los Angeles Kings.
Over the past seven seasons, Brown drew 380 opposition penalties. Ovechkin was second, with 255; Ryan Smyth was twentieth, at 181.
That means the difference between first and second place was almost twice the difference between second and twentieth place. Dustin Brown is exceptionally good at getting his team a power play.
"Incidentally, 380 non-coincidental penalties is worth roughly $33M in 2012 dollars relative to the league average, and quite a bit more relative to replacement level. ... Dustin Brown has made roughly $15M so far in his career, making him one of the biggest deals in the entire league."
Wow. If you had tried to convince me that you could find an official NHL stat that would uncover $33 million worth of hidden value, I wouldn't have believed you. But there it is.